Easily Replace A Roasting Pan With A Common Baking Dish

Though roasting pans are a staple in many kitchens, the truth about whether or not you need to own one is pretty straightforward — you can live with them or without them — the choice is yours. If you do a lot of roasting and have room to spare in your cupboard, then a roasting pan can be a good investment and used for much more than just turkey. But if you hardly roast anything outside of Thanksgiving or Christmas, or you're low on space, rest assured, there are plenty of roasting pan alternatives that you most likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

Often made of stainless steel or aluminum, a roasting pan is like an extra-large baking dish with a rack in the bottom, a high rim (so nothing escapes), and handles to make hoisting a 20-pound bird (plus veggies) from the counter to the oven easier. The removable rack allows for even cooking and prevents the roast (whether it's turkey, chicken, pork, or beef) from getting soggy, keeping it up and away from the succulent juices below. These are all things to consider when choosing a substitute for a roasting pan. That said, there are a variety of common baking dish stand-ins to pick from, so you're bound to have at least one of these substitutes in your kitchen now if you're willing to get a little creative.

What to use if you don't have a roasting pan

The main thing to consider is the size of what you're planning to roast versus the size of the pan. A 9x13-inch casserole, baking pan, or Pyrex (only up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit), or even a Dutch oven can all work well for small beef, lamb, or pork roasts, smaller fowl such as quail, Cornish hens, and even whole chicken. If you're roasting a turkey, you'll need a larger baking pan (16-18 inches). Or, if it's truly a once-a-year occasion, you could just grab a single-use foil roasting pan — they're inexpensive and require no cleanup. Just watch out for how wobbly they can be when loaded down with a hefty portion of meat, potatoes, and juicy pan drippings.

The other thing you should always keep in mind when choosing an alternative roasting pan is how high the sides are — you don't want to lose any of that golden-hued nectar. That's why a cast iron skillet is also a good choice for small roasts. You've got the high walls and you still get the handle like a roasting pan, plus the versatility to switch to the stovetop if needed. A braiser, sans the lid, can also work similarly. 

Rack hack substitutes for roasting pans

Likewise, there are also alternatives you can use for the rack component of a roasting pan. (Note: Not all roasting pans come with a rack, but it's one of the things you should consider when buying one.) Wire cooling racks are your best option. These can easily sit on deeper-lipped baking sheets and smaller racks can often fit into baking dishes too. No cooling racks on hand? No problem. If you have some foil you can tear off a handful of sheets and scrunch them up tightly into cylindrical bars and lay them across the bottom of your pan, basically forming a makeshift rack — anything that keeps the roast elevated.

Last but not least, some people prefer to simply set their roast on top of their veggies. This way you still keep the roast more-or-less lifted out of the liquids collecting in the bottom of the pan, but the veggies are sure to be extra flavorful from being the direct recipients of all those lovely drippings. Whichever option you choose, just be extra cautious carrying those cumbersome pans of piping-hot food — always wear oven mitts on both hands and make sure the pathway is clear from counter to oven to table.