Does A Roasting Pan Need A Rack?

Roasted chicken with sauce on roasting pan placed on table, Does A Roasting Pan Need A Rack?Roasting is a no-fuss, dry method of cooking in which hot air circulates evenly around food. When you roast meat, fish, or vegetables your oven does most of the work for you. But do you need a rack in a roasting pan? We have done the research to find the answer for you.

You do not actually need a roasting rack to roast food. However, using a roasting rack optimizes the air circulation so food cooks evenly on all sides. Setting your roast atop a rack raises it off the bottom of the pan, away from direct heat and pooling fat. A rack prevents the bottom of the roast from overcooking.

If you want to improve your roasts, using a roasting rack could do the trick. Keep reading, and we’ll discuss the best racks to fit your roasting pan as well as some alternative ways to get your food raised up off the bottom of the pan for an even roast.

Best Roasting Pan Racks

As with most cookware, roasting racks are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. There are, however, a few important factors to consider when selecting a roasting rack:

  • Is the rack large enough to elevate your entire roast? The rack should not only fit inside of the roasting pan but also be large enough to accommodate food without the sides of the food bulging over the edges of the rack.
  • What shape is the rack; V-shaped, U-shaped, or flat? Rack shape is an age-old debate among chefs because the roast can cook more or less efficiently depending on how evenly hot air is circulated throughout. Flat racks allow the food to sprawl, and shaped racks compact the food. We suggest letting experience guide you toward the preferred shape for your roasting rack.
  • Does the rack have handles? That roast will be hot and heavy when you remove it from the pan for carving. Not all highly-rated racks have handles. We suggest you select a rack that handles for your safety and convenience.

Now you know how to pick a roasting rack that coordinates with your roasting pan and your cooking style. Here are our top 5 picks for roasting racks to add to your kitchen:

1. All Clad's U-Shape Roasting Rack

Not only will you get an evenly cooked roast, but this easy to use and easy to clean roasting rack will give you plenty of time to enjoy your meal.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

2. Gourmex's Oval Roasting Rack

Using this flat roasting rack will give your food the boost it needs. The non-stick surface will not scratch your roasting pan, and it is dishwasher safe for a swift clean-up.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

3. Kitchenatics' Rectangular Roasting Rack

You can get commercial-grade durability at home when you use this versatile rack not only for roasts but also for broiling, grilling, and cooling your food.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

4. HIC Harold Import Co.'s V-Shape Roasting Rack

Go for golden brown when you roast using this v-shaped roasting rack. This heavyweight chrome rack has a non-stick surface gentle enough for use with any roasting pan.

Click here to find this on Amazon.

5. Good Cook Adjustable Roasting Rack

Accommodate any size roast for even airflow by using this adjustable yet sturdy roasting rack.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Can I Use A Cooling Rack As A Roasting Rack?

Using a cooling rack is a good alternative to a roasting rack. Because cooling racks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, you might already have one in your kitchen to fit inside your roasting pan.

Alternatively, if you do not have a roasting pan, you can set your cooling rack into a rimmed sheet pan and use it for roasting.

This bakeware is commonly purchased as a set and can be a useful addition to any kitchen because it is easy to store and versatile enough to use for baking, roasting, and broiling.

Click here to find this sheet pan and cooling rack combo by OXO on Amazon.

How Do You Improvise A Roasting Rack?

You do not have to be an engineer to piece together a DIY roasting rack. Check out these kitchen hacks using items commonly found in your kitchen for great roasting rack alternatives.

Remember, whatever alternative you use should be made with oven-safe material so it will not catch fire in the oven. The DIY rack should be large enough to hold the entire base of your roast.

Aluminum Foil

Tear a long strip of aluminum foil. Bundle the strip by wrapping and scrunching it into a tight, elongated roll. You can now either:

  • Coil the roll and place it into the bottom of your roasting pan, or
  • Make two to three, straight rolls and line the bottom of the pan by setting each lengthwise across the pan, approximately 2-inches apart.

Metal Spoons

Metal spoons can be laid across the bottom of the roasting pan to make a raised platform. Turn each spoon scoop side down, and alternate the orientation of the spoons so they lie beside one another spoon-to-handle.

Stovetop Grate

Remove the stovetop grate from the burner. Wrap the grate in aluminum foil and pierce small holes through the wrapped grate to allow juices to drain. Set the grate at the bottom of your roasting pan and place the meat on top.

Metal Cookie Cutters

Place several, metal cookie cutters into the bottom of your roasting pan. You will want to use enough to hold the base of your roast. To protect the cookie cutters from burnt-on drippings, you can wrap each with aluminum foil and pierce small holes into the foil to allow juices to drain.

Toaster Oven Rack

Place the rack from the toaster oven into the bottom of your roasting pan. Viola! You now have an alternative, oven-safe roasting rack.


Cut your vegetables (carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, etc.) and use them to line the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the roast atop. The vegetables and meat will soak-up each other’s flavor and aroma. You will have an all-in-one meal with easy, one-pan clean-up.

What Can I Use Instead Of A Roasting Pan?

A roasting pan is not essential in order for you to successfully roast a delicious meal. In fact, you probably already have a pot or pan in your kitchen that would make a good alternative to the roasting pan. Take a look in your cupboards and pull out one of these versatile pots or pans:

  • Cast iron skillet
  • Dutch oven
  • Rimmed sheet pan
  • Casserole/baking dish (bakeware)
  • Broiler pan
  • Braising pan

Once you have selected your alternative pot or pan check out our post 8 Roasting Pan Alternatives for great tips on how to achieve that perfect golden roast without using a roasting pan.

Now that you know how a roasting rack can elevate the quality of your meal, check out our post How Big Should a Serving Bowl Be? to learn how to elevate the presentation of your food.

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