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The 5 Best Roasting Pan Substitutes For Your Next Holiday

January 22, 2021 4 min read

Roasting Pan Substitute

Roasting large cuts of meat or turkey is something many of us save for holidays and other rare, special occasions. Avoid investing in a costly roasting pan that will gather dust most of the year, and try one of these alternative tools instead.

Roasting is a staple cooking method that most of us regularly use for many different meals, from chicken and beef cuts to chickpeas, nuts, or root vegetables. 

Why do we love roasted foods so much? 

Roasting uses a dry-cooking technique that heats and cooks the inside of the food while creating a brown, crispy outside or skin. This browned exterior results from the Maillard reaction, a group of tiny chemical reactions that occur when protein and fats are heated to produce new and unique flavors, colors, and aromas that most of us find pretty irresistible.

If you don't roast large meat cuts often, it might not make sense for you to invest in a roasting pan that takes up a lot of valuable kitchen real estate space.

Instead, try one of these five alternatives for a roasting pan substitute, so you cook a turkey without a roasting pan on holidays and enjoy delicious roasted foods year-round!

What is a Roasting Pan?

A roasting pan is a large stainless steel or aluminum pan that often has a roasting rack that sits inside the pan, a few inches above the bottom. They're usually oval, but can come in other shapes and sizes too.

The roasting rack holds the meat and other foods above the pan's surface so that air can flow to all sides of the dish evenly and keep your meat from sitting in its own fat. You can even roast vegetables under the meat simultaneously, keeping them moist with fat drippings. 

The Five Best Roasting Pan Alternatives

Here are our five best alternatives for roasting pans, along with makeshift racks you can place inside.

Alternative #1: Baking Sheet

A baking sheet makes an excellent roasting pan alternative, as it is flat and can fit larger turkeys and cuts of meat.

Any baking sheet used for roasting must have raised sides so that the sheet will catch fat drippings. Otherwise, the liquid fat and other juices will roll directly off the sides of the sheet into your oven. Not good! A baking sheet makes a relatively shallow roasting pan, so beware if cooking high-fat content food, as a fat overflow can lead to oven fires. 

Line a raised-side baking sheet with aluminum foil, place a wire cooling rack on the sheet, and place your roast on top.

Alternative #2: Cast-Iron Skillet

We love a good-quality cast-iron skillet, possibly the most multifunctional tool you can have in your arsenal. Cast-iron is oven safe, so you can easily use cast iron skillet in place of a roasting pan. Ensure that your skillet has an oven-safe handle to avoid any unwanted mishaps or accidents. 

Roast your meal directly on the pan to achieve a beautiful sear, or line halved onions and potatoes on the bottom of the skillet and place a roast on top for an all-natural and edible roast rack!

We don't recommend lining your skillet, as a well-seasoned pan is the best surface for cooking meat. 

Alternative #3: Braiser Pan

A braiser pan is a fantastic, oven-safe roasting dish, with its enamel coating and unparalleled heat retention. It has easy-to-use handles on each side so that you can take this pan in and out of the oven with confidence and ease.

There is no need to line a braising pan with foil, as its glossy coating cleans up like a dream. You can use a braising pan rack-less or create a veggie rack, like the skillet method above.

Alternative #4: Casserole Dish

Roasting pans are basically a large-sized casserole dish. However, casserole dishes vary slightly more in materials, but glass, stainless steel, or enameled cast-iron are all suitable substitutes for a roast pan. Before you begin, read the bottom of your dish and ensure it can withstand the temperatures you'll be using to roast your meal.

A 9-by-13-inch casserole dish will fit smaller roasting racks inside, but if not, you can also roll a few foil balls to spread over the dish's bottom to promote good airflow or lift the roast with some veggies.

Alternative #5: Foil Roasting Pan

These disposable options work well in a pinch for those extra-large roasts that won't fit inside of our other alternatives. Foil roasting pans are large, easily accommodating a large-sized turkey or different cut of meat inside. You can place a cooling rack in the bottom of one of these big pans or roll foil balls to prop up your roast. 

There are a few downsides to using this pan – it creates more waste than a reusable option, and they're quite flimsy to use. If you don't like handling the thin, flimsy pan, place it on a more secure baking sheet inside the oven to avoid accidental drops or spills. 

Final Note: What Can I Use Instead of a Roasting Pan?

There are plenty of options around that can help you make a delicious roasted meal at home without the need for a massive roasting pan. 

To recap, here are the five best options for a makeshift roast pan:

  • A rimmed baking sheet
  • A cast-iron skillet
  • An enamel-coated braiser pan
  • A casserole dish
  • A disposable foil roasting pan

And here are the three best makeshift roast racks to use in your pan:

  • A wire cooling rack
  • Halved and peeled onions, potatoes, carrots, or other veggies
  • Rolled balls of aluminum foil, spread along the base

No matter which roast pan option you choose, you're going to be enjoying some irresistibly delicious roasted meals!

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