We consider our test kitchen to be pretty well-equipped. But as we started preparing Thanksgiving turkeys for our November issue, we were eager to add some new hardware to our collection—namely some good roasting pans. We researched pans in a range of materials and styles, and considered those with and without racks. Our requirements were simple: An ideal Thanksgiving roaster should easily fit an 18-pound bird and never buckle under its weight. The pan should conduct heat evenly, so it doesn't warp in 425-degree roasting temperatures, or worse, burn those caramelized drippings that enrich a stock. After weeks of turkey testing, we've put together a short list of our favorite roasting pans.
1 The All-Clad stainless steel roaster quickly became the workhorse of the saveur kitchen. The nonreactive stainless steel cleans easily with a quick soak and can even go in the dishwasher. It has handles that stick straight up, not out, ensuring an easy fit in most ovens and a sure grip. The separate angled rack can cradle medium or large birds, and its nonstick frame repels the clingiest of roasted-on tidbits.
All-Clad Stainless Steal Roaster, 2½″ x 13¾″ x 16¾″; $200 at Williams-Sonoma; 877/812-6235
2 The turkey moves elegantly from the oven to the dining table in this handsome copper-clad roaster from France's Mauviel line. It's pricey, but it's also worth the investment—the conductive copper pan with a stainless steel-lined interior offers even heat distribution. For a truly eye-popping centerpiece, we skip the rack and roast and serve the turkey directly atop a layer of aromatic vegetables.
Mauviel Copper-Clad Roaster, 15¾″ x 12″ x 3½″; $500 at Williams-Sonoma__; 877/812-6235
3 Chicago Metallic's affordable heavyweight aluminum pan and rack are coated in a nonstick film, making them easy to clean. The rack is flat and fits snugly in the pan, so it can easily accommodate roasted vegetables or baked potatoes, and it doubles as a cooling rack. Precise edges give this roaster the look of an oversize baking pan, and when turkey's not on the menu, the pan can easily be used without the rack to make a large sheet cake or a batch of brownies.
Chicago Metallic Aluminum Roaster, 3″ x 12″ x 17″; $50 at Sur La Table__; 800/234-0852
4 Greenpan's environmentally friendly roaster features a matte ceramic coating and recycled aluminum body with stainless-steel handles and a removable V-rack. The pan is lightweight compared with cast-iron roasters but sturdy enough to trust with your Thanksgiving bird.
Greenpan Ceramic and Aluminum Roaster, 18″ x 10½″ x 3″; $90 from West Elm Market__; 888/922-4119
5 Calphalon's roaster is a reasonably priced, widely available choice. The pan's construction—a nonstick coating over anodized aluminum—is designed for convenience and easy cleanup. The quick-heating aluminum is ideal for searing meat and aromatics, while the finish discourages foods from charring and sticking. A baster and turning fork are included for an all-in-one turkey roasting package.
Calphalon Roaster, 17 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ x 5 3/4″; $100 from Williams-Sonoma__; 877/812-6235
6 Customize your roaster in one of seven hues from Le Creuset's signature line. The two-tone enameled finish hides a heavy-duty cast-iron core for even, dependable heat distribution, while the ceramic finish is table-worthy and cleans up easily with nonabrasive cleansers.
Le Creuset Cast Iron Enamel Roaster, 3¼″ x 11¼″ x 17½″; 7-qt. $250 from Williams-Sonoma__; 877/812-6235