Paul has been passionate about preparing, cooking, and eating healthy food for over 30 years. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
There are many advantages of roasting foods—including improved taste, texture, aroma, and appearance. However, this article lists and looks at some of the disadvantages of this cooking method.
What Is Roasting?
Roasting is a cooking method that involves enveloping the food in dry heat to cook it. The heat source is typically an oven, but other sources can also be used. Roasting relies on a process known as the Maillard reaction to alter the flavor, aroma, and color of the food.
What Is the Maillard Reaction?
This is a chemical process, by which the color, aroma, and taste of the food is changed through the application of heat. In simple terms, it's a reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that has the effect of browning the food and enhancing its flavor.
7 Downsides of Roasting Food
Here are seven negatives of this cooking technique:
- It's time-consuming
- Food can dry out
- It's not suitable for smaller meals
- It's easy to make mistakes with vegetables
- It requires a lot of attention
- Nutrients are lost
- There can be food safety issues
I look at each negative in more detail below.
Perhaps the biggest drawback with roasting is that it is generally not a quick method of cooking food. It's normal for roasts to take two hours or more, although it depends on the specific type of food being cooked, big pieces of meat taking the longest.
The extended cooking times also contribute to the relatively high amounts of energy that are expended by the process.
2. Food Can Dry Out
One thing that can go wrong with roasting is the food drying out. Sometimes this is caused through overcooking, but not always. Special care must therefore be taken to ensure that the food's moisture is retained.
To prevent a loss of moisture, food is usually brushed with oil. Some recipes also require that the food is wrapped in aluminum foil for all or part of the cooking process. Other methods for retaining moisture include: marinating, basting, larding, barding, and brining.
3. Not Suitable for Smaller Meals
Roasting is often associated with large cuts of meat, such as beef tenderloins, pork loins, leg of lamb, whole birds, or fish. That's because it's much easier to retain the moisture with more substantial pieces of meat.
Smaller cuts of meat are generally less suited to roasting. That's because the method involves enveloping the food in dry heat and this can have the effect of drying out the food (see #2 above). Generally speaking, the smaller the cut, the harder it becomes to retain moisture.
A better approach for smaller pieces of meat is often to sear it in a pan first and then just briefly roast it to complete the cooking. Pork chops are a favorite of mine, when cooked this way.
4. Easy Mistakes With Vegetables
Although vegetables are in many ways quicker and easier to roast compared to meat, there are a number of common ways to mess up, including:
- Crowding the baking sheet: If the vegetable pieces are placed too close together, they will steam rather than roast, and you will lose all crispness.
- Not chopping them up evenly: For best results, your vegetable pieces need to be of a similar size in order to cook evenly; otherwise, you'll end up with an unwelcome mixture of burnt and undercooked food.
- Roasting at the wrong temperature: Generally speaking, you need to roast your vegetables somewhere between 400°F and 425°F. If the temperature's too hot, the outside will burn before the inside's cooked. If the temperature's too low, you won't get the crispness, color, and caramelization required.
- Not using enough fat: Adding oil is vital to roasting vegetables, both for cooking purposes, and to help the body digest and absorb the food's nutrients. Less oil is usually needed with meats, fish, poultry, and nuts.
- Not turning the vegetables over: Even cooking requires that vegetables are flipped over at least once. Otherwise, they can be burnt on one side and undercooked on the other.
- Using the wrong pan: You want a baking sheet with rims just high enough to stop the vegetables falling off, but not so high that steam becomes trapped and makes the vegetables become mushy.
5. Attention Required
In theory, roasting requires that you just place your food in a hot oven, go away for a few hours, and when you come back it's all perfectly cooked. However, that's rarely the reality.
Most foods require that you check on them regularly. Meat can dry out if you're not careful, and this has to be countered by techniques such as regular basting. Other foods, such as most vegetables and nuts, need to be turned over, so as to achieve even cooking.
Poultry can be particularly tricky to get right. As well as basting, it's often necessary to cover the bird in aluminum foil for at least part of the cooking process to prevent the skin from becoming dry and burned while the inside cooks.
6. Loss of Nutrients
While it's true that roasting is generally a relatively healthy cooking method, it's still the case that some nutrients are lost. The application of dry heat and the resulting Maillard reaction means that nutrients such as amino acids are forfeited when the food browns.
7. Food Safety Issues
Roasting meats and poultry is not without potential dangers. There is a real risk of food poisoning if the food is not cooked properly.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, carries particularly high risks, with bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella having the potential to contaminate.
This is why I would always recommend the use of a good meat thermometer to ensure that the food is cooked all the way through and to the correct temperature.
My Recommended Meat Thermometer
There are many excellent products available, but if you want me to select one in particular, I would recommend the ThermoPro TP-16 thermometer. I've used one at home for several years and I'm a huge fan.
The ThermoPro's features include a large LCD screen, which makes it easy to read. There's a magnet on the back, so that the thermometer can easily be attached to a fridge, or another metal surface, when not in use. This thermometer is durable, versatile, and extremely accurate in my experience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Paul Goodman