What to Use If You Don't Have a Roasting Pan

Turkey in roasting pan on wooden board

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Need to roast a turkey, a chicken or some beef, but lacking the roasting pan you need to do it? There are plenty of other things that you can use instead.

What Is a Roasting Pan?

A roasting pan is simply an oven-safe pan with a rack that fits inside of it. When you place meat on the rack, it keeps it from sitting on the bottom of the pan. This creates room for the pan drippings to collect underneath and allows the meat to roast on all sides. You can use the space under the rack to roast vegetables for an all-in-one-pan meal.

If you roast meat often, owning a roasting pan makes a lot of sense. But for those of us who only cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, a dedicated roasting pan large enough for a turkey probably takes up more storage space than it's worth.

If you don't have a roasting pan, just create a make-shift pan and rack set up, using things you already have in your kitchen. Here are some options.


You need a pan with raised sides that are tall enough to catch all of the juices that are likely to drip from your roast or bird. This can be:

  • A large cake pan
  • A casserole dish
  • The broiler pan that came with your oven
  • A single-use aluminum foil turkey roasting pan purchased from the grocery store

Any of these should be big enough to accommodate a large turkey or roast.

If you're roasting something small, like a chicken or a pork loin, you can also use:

  • A cookie sheet with raised sides
  • An oven-safe skillet. Cast iron or stainless steel skillets are perfect for the job. Just stay away from anything with a non-stick surface.

Hacks for the Rack

To ensure your meat is roasted, rather than steamed, you need some sort of rack to keep it up off the bottom of the pan. Here are some things in your kitchen that you can use: 

  • A cooling rack: Grab the rack that you use to cool cookies, and drop it in the bottom of your pan.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, potatoes, and onions make a great substitution for a roasting rack. Just layer them in the bottom of the pan, and sit your meat on top. This will give you a nice side dish to go with your roast.
  • Aluminum foil: Roll some foil up into balls; place them in the bottom of your pan; then, place your meat on top of it.

If you plan to roast meat regularly, a roasting pan is definitely nice to have, and not particularly expensive. You may even be able to find one at a thrift store or yard sale.