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Cost
It can be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but with roasting pans it pays off to invest in a quality pan that you can use for many different things.
Heft
Look for heavyweight pans that won’t warp or bend with the weight of the food. Heavier pans also make for even heat distribution, which prevents burning.
Material
Heavyweight stainless steel or copper are considered the best material options. Enamel and cast iron cook well but are too heavy to be realistic for such a large pan and the food inside it. Aluminum can react with acidic foods and tends to warp even when heavy duty, but works well for the outside or core of a stainless steel pan to evenly conduct more heat.
Nonstick
Roasting can get messy, but don’t be seduced by nonstick coatings; with roasting the juices need to be able to adhere to the pan surface to develop rich flavor. Also stay away from dark finishes like anodized aluminum, since they make it difficult to assess the quality of the juices.
Shape
Roasting pans can be found in oval and rectangular shapes. Oval roasters aren’t useful for as many applications as rectangle, but look for a pan with rounded corners so it will be easier to clean and mix things inside.

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Size
The size of your pan is important, since the food needs to fit inside without touching the edges, but if the pan is too large the juices will be burned off. Make sure to measure your oven, and remember that the pan size given by manufacturers is usually the size of the interior, which doesn’t account for pan thickness or handles. 16”x13” is a good size for anything up to a 14 lb. turkey.
Side Height
The sides of your pan need to be high enough that juices won’t slosh over the sides, but low enough that hot air can still circulate around the bottom of the food. A height of about 3” usually works best.
Handles
Fixed, riveted handles are the most sturdy, as long as your oven can accommodate them. If not, some pans have sliding “bale” handles that take up less room.
Rack
A rack isn’t required, but many pans come with racks in order to allow air to circulate and roast the bottom of the food, as well as get cleaner drippings. V-shaped racks are usually best for poultry, while flat racks work well for other roasts.