One of my favorite Thanksgiving tools is my stainless steel roasting pan. It’s a great turkey roasting pan. It helps me to create a wonderful Thanksgiving for my family. I’ve looked at many and yearned for the best. I was lucky enough to receive one for a holiday gift. It’s a lifetime pan and will be in my kitchen long enough to pass on to my kids. Pictured below is my recommendation for the best stainless roasting pan.
Factors in Choosing a Roasting Pan
For the holidays, a stainless roasting pan is essential for making turkey. However, it can also be used during the rest of the year for cooking prime rib, turkey, lamb, and large fish. A roasting pan can also carry a large price tag and choosing wisely means it can become part of the family holiday tradition for years to come.
When choosing the best roasting pan, you should consider weight and intended use. You want a heavy roasting pan, but also want to be able to lift it out of the oven. Those turkeys are heavy! You also want to be able to use it on the stove top for your gravy. Be sure to warn any helpers in the kitchen to use plastic utensils if you have a non-stick pan. I still give my mother grief for the time she scratched lines into my beautiful All-clad roasting pan while stirring the gravy.
You want a roasting pan with the best materials you can afford. A roasting pan must stand up to broiling temperatures for certain recipes and it must be able to handle stove top use. You want it to heat evenly and not warp or buckle. Therefore, you should avoid roasters made of ceramic, glass and stoneware. They don’t always work well on top of the stove and they tend to be quite heavy, even before you put in that heavy bird. Aluminum and stainless steel are the remaining choices. Aluminum does conduct heat well, but not that aluminum can react to the acid in tomatoes or lemons in recipes and make your food taste odd.
Therefore, I recommend a stainless steel roasting pan. It is not too heavy, so it meets our weight requirements and doesn’t react to acids in food. The less expensive pans are made of thinner layers of just stainless steel but note that it stainless is not a good conductor of heat. The more expensive ones are heavy stainless and sometimes have layers of more conductive materials such as aluminum.
When choosing a turkey roasting pan, it is also good to consider the shape and size of the pan. If you are want to be thorough, measure the interior of your oven. You need two inches around the pan for air circulation. In addition, consider the size of the meat you will be cooking. You want the roasting pan large enough for your largest bird, but consider that when you are cooking smaller cuts of meat, the juices can burn if they are spread too thin over a large surface.
The height of the sides of the pan are also an important consideration. The ideal height is 2.5″ to 3″ so that juices won’t spill out when you are carrying the pan, but not so high that the hot air in the oven cannot reach the lower part of your meat.
If you plan to use your stainless roasting pan for making gravy, look for a rectangular pan. You also want rounded corners to that the browned bits are easy to stir into the rest of your gravy.
Your pan will get heavy to carry with a large turkey inside, so handles should not be ignored. The best are metal so they can handle the high heat of the over, and riveted so they are secure. You also want large handles that you can easily grip with your pot holders. You might want to stay away from folding handles that are hard to unfold when in a hot oven and your hands are covered in bulky pot holders. The best handles stick up from the pan and not out to the sides, which takes up a lot of precious space in the oven.
Seasoning Stainless Roasting Pan
A stainless roasting pan is an investment and it’s important to know how to care for it properly, from the moment it arrives in your kitchen.
The first step is to wash it to remove and oils or dirt, by hand and not in the dishwasher. You should run it under warm water to rinse it, and then let it dry completely. If you have a stainless roasting pan with rack and lid, put the rack and lid to the side.
For the seasoning process, you will need an oil such as canola, grape or peanut. These oils have a high smoking point, unlike olive oil and butter. Do not use either of these. With your oven-safe turkey roasting pan, coat the inside with a thick coating of your high smoke-point oil. Bake your oil-coated roasting pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Then remove it and let it cool completely. You then can wipe off the excess oil. For the best results, you should re-oil and bake a couple more times.
You must also be careful when cleaning your seasoned pan. Do not use soap, because it will require that you reseason your pan. You can get it clean enough with a soft brush and hot water. Even though it seems like a convenience, do not put your pan in the dishwasher with the requisite strong soaps. There are tips for the best storage of your pan unless you use it frequently. If it will be unused for more than a couple of weeks, coat it with oil and store in a sealed plastic bag to prevent rusting.
Now you and your roasting pan will have many happy holidays together.