The biggest meals of the year—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Easter, to name a few—always seem to revolve around a roasted something—a turkey, a rib roast, a leg of lamb—and using a good-quality roasting pan is essential for great results. So what defines a good-quality pan? It needs to be able to withstand hot oven temperatures as well as the direct heat from a stovetop burner (for making gravies and sauces from pan drippings) without warping or buckling. To do that, it should be made of multiple layers of metal, usually aluminum (which is a good conductor of heat) and stainless steel (which is durable and nonreactive); this construction is known as “tri-ply,” “five-ply,” or “clad.”
Tri-ply roasting pans aren’t cheap, usually costing at least $100. For a holiday like Thanksgiving, though, when the goal is a perfectly browned bird and deeply flavorful gravy, the price is entirely worth it. Plus, you can use your pan for so much more throughout the year, such as roasted vegetables, lasagna, casseroles, braises, or water baths for custards and cheesecakes.
We tested a variety of large roasting pans and found two that outperformed the rest. One is top of the line; the other offers the most bang for your buck. Either will help you roast like a pro.
All-Clad Stainless-Steel Large Flared Roaster
$249.95 at williams-sonoma.com16-3/4 x 13-3/4 inches
This 16-3/4 x 13-3/4-inch, 5-pound pan is a cut above the rest. Made of aluminum and stainless-steel tri-ply, it has broad, sloping sides and generously curved corners, so you can reach every inch with a whisk. While most roasting pans are slightly raised in the center to help maintain rigidity, this pan is perfectly flat, relying on sturdy construction to prevent warping. As a result, liquids spread evenly across the pan. Ample 4-inch-wide handles provide a sure grip with even the bulkiest oven mitts.
With its shallow 2-1/4-inch sides, this pan exposed more turkey to the direct heat of the oven, which promoted stellar browning (in fact, the best of all our tests), even along the bottom of the bird. On the stovetop, it excelled at distributing heat evenly: Gravy simmered from end to end (in other pans, it tended to bubble above the burner only), and potatoes browned nicely.
The only drawback to this pan was its roasting rack, which is flat, our least favorite design. But roasting racks are cheap, so you can always buy a better one and use the flat rack as a trivet.
Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Roasting Pan
$129.95 at cutleryandmore.com
This big, brawny-looking 16x13-inch aluminum and stainless-steel tri-ply pan is well designed and reasonably priced. It has nicely rounded corners, massive 5-inch-wide handles, nearvertical 3-1/2-inch sides, and an expansive cooking area. And still, it weighs less than 6 pounds. Our 18-pound turkey browned nicely, with plenty of room to spare.
On the stovetop, this pan delivered relatively even heat, but it fared best when placed over a large burner. Gravy simmered nicely, and potatoes browned well, though the ones directly over the burner got darker. As with many roasting pans, the center of this pan’s cooking surface is slightly raised to help prevent warping and buckling. This low-angled slope didn’t affect whisking or cleaning but did mean that some liquid pooled along the edges. The U-shaped roasting rack that accompanies this pan was one of the best designs we tested.