Which oven pan is best?
An oven pan is a must-have for any kitchen, letting you roast and bake all kinds of foods. A good oven pan is solid, won’t bend or warp with regular use and is easy to clean so you aren’t left baking on bits that are near-impossible to remove.
If you’re looking for a high-end pan that will last, the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Signature Rectangular Roaster is a top choice.
What to know before you buy an oven pan
Oven pans — also known as baking pans or roasting pans — come in a range of materials. While every material is versatile enough to cook anything you need, each has its own properties, advantages and drawbacks.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is a great conductor of heat, so it warms up quickly and evenly, making it easier to uniformly brown food. It’s also inexpensive, so it’s a great choice for a budget pan. However, cheap aluminum pans are thin and can warp over time.
- Stainless steel: Since they don’t usually have nonstick coatings, stainless steel pans are great for those who prefer to avoid them. They’re inexpensive and durable, as there’s no coating that can get scratched or wear away. However, food can stick to them easily if you don’t use enough oil.
- Cast iron: Famed for their durability, cast-iron pans are pricey but a great investment if you’re a keen cook and want items that will last for many years to come. Although cast iron isn’t a great conductor of heat, it retains heat exceptionally, so once it’s warmed up, it browns food evenly and effectively. Many cast-iron oven pans are enamel-coated, making them easier to care for than regular cast iron.
- Ceramic: Stoneware and other ceramic dishes look great and are perfect for serving, as well as cooking in. They’re naturally semi-nonstick and can withstand high temperatures. However, they’re heavy and don’t conduct heat well, so you don’t always get the most even results.
- Glass: Non-porous and non-reactive, you can cook anything in glass roasting pans without worrying about them imparting flavor into the dish. However, like ceramic, they don’t conduct heat particularly effectively, so uneven cooking can be an issue.
Oven pans come in a range of sizes from compact square 9-by-9-inch or 10-by-10-inch ones to extra-large 18-by-14-inch versions. The size you need depends on how many people you usually cook for and what you like to make.
If you have a household of one or two people, you only need a small pan for everyday use. Those with large households or anyone who regularly cooks for a crowd needs a pan on the larger end of the spectrum.
The fact is, most people need more than one size of baking pan to accommodate different dishes and quantities. Consider buying small, medium and large pans to cover all the bases.
What to look for in a quality oven pan
Aluminum pans often have nonstick coatings. These are convenient, as you can be sure your food won’t stick to the bottom and cleanup is a breeze. However, some people prefer to avoid nonstick coatings due to potential health concerns.
Oven-to-table dishes look good enough to bring straight to the table to serve from. Ceramic and enameled cast iron pans generally fit into this category.
Pans with handles are easier to get a grip on while you lift them out of the oven. They’re especially handy on pans made from heavier materials, such as cast iron, glass and stoneware.
How much you can expect to spend on an oven pan
If you’re looking for an affordable pan, you can find some aluminum, stainless steel, glass and ceramic ones for $10-$30. However, if you want ones from high-end cookware brands, expect to pay as much as $100-$400.
Oven pan FAQ
What’s the purpose of an oven pan?
A. Oven pans are great for all kinds of oven-cooking tasks. You can use them to roast food, such as meat, vegetables, tofu or potatoes, or for baking items such brownies or sheet cakes. You can even use them in lieu of baking sheets for cooking foods such as oven fries.
Basically, if you want to cook something in the oven and it fits in your oven pan, you can go ahead and use it.
How can I tell if my pan is oven-safe?
A. Generally, any pans made entirely of metal (including the handles) are oven-safe, as are ceramic-coated metal pans, tempered glass pans and many stoneware pans. Some say “oven-safe” on the packaging or on the underside of the pan. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
What’s the best oven pan to buy?
Top oven pan
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Rectangular Roaster
What you need to know: It might be pricey, but this beautifully crafted pan should last a lifetime.
What you’ll love: It’s great for all kids of roasting and baking, and it retains heat well for even results. You can choose from a range of gorgeous hues, including flame, cerise and Caribbean blue.
What you should consider: The hefty price tag puts it out of reach for some buyers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top oven pan for the money
Chicago Metallic Professional Roast Pan
What you need to know: Made from heavy aluminum, this pan won’t easily wear or warp.
What you’ll love: The internal rack lifts food above grease and oil that might come from it so you aren’t left with soggy results. It has a nonstick coating for easier cleaning and to prevent food from getting stuck.
What you should consider: The nonstick coating can get scratched if you aren’t careful about how you clean it and what utensils you use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Pyrex Easy Grab Glass Food Bakeware and Storage Containers
What you need to know: These glass pans come with lids so you can store leftovers inside them and save on dishes.
What you’ll love: You get two pans: one with a 3-quart capacity and one with a 2-quart capacity. They have handles to make it easier to grab them from the oven. They’re sturdy, BPA-free and dishwasher-safe.
What you should consider: While they’re generally durable, they may break if dropped.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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