What Is a Dripping Pan? + How to Clean It!

If you’re a cook who likes a clean stove, grill, and oven, then you’ll certainly love dripping pans.

As suggested by the name, a dripping pan is any container that catches the grease drippings of meat and poultry while it cooks.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about dripping pans.

What Is a Dripping Pan?

A dripping can refer to different kinds of pans. The first one is a metal pan that is typically fixed under the burner found in a gas or electric stovetop.

Another type of dripping pan is a large metal pan that you can place underneath a baking sheet when baking something in the oven.

This is the pan that will prevent the food from bubbling over and sticking to the sides and bottom of your oven.

It will also prevent the food from catching fire. Finally, grills also come with dripping pans that can catch grease drippings so that they don’t affect your floor or coals.

Broiling pans also have a dripping pan that collects the fat and juices that drip off the meat and poultry.

Let’s learn a bit about each type of dripping pan:

Stove Dripping Pan

Each burner on an electric stove has a dripping pan. Typically, your stove will come with attached dripping pans.

However, you need to replace these pans after every 6 months or one year. This is because food tends to burn and stick to these dripping pans, making cleaning difficult.

You can easily find them in most kitchen stores and are fairly affordable. You can also replace them quite easily.

These dripping pans are most commonly available in silver and black hues since these colors are better at hiding grease. You must also wash these dripping pans regularly to prevent food particles from accumulating on them.

Dripping Pans for Ovens

These types of drip pans are used in ovens to prevent food from overflowing onto the walls of your oven. These pans are specifically useful when baking dishes such as casseroles.

This is because they can bubble over and cause a sticky mess that will be difficult to clean up.

Food that you put under the broiler or in a roasting pan will also drip over in your oven if you don’t use a dripping pan.

These dripping pans are commonly made of aluminum and are disposable.

You can also place a larger baking sheet under your casserole dish to catch the drips. Shallow and light cookie sheets also act as great dripping pans.

Using a dripping pan helps you decrease your post-cooking cleanup time. You can simply throw away the disposable pan.

Even if your pan is not disposable, you can wash it instead of scrubbing the inside of your oven.

Dripping Pans for Grills

Charcoal and gas grills also feature dripping pans. As mentioned earlier, these pans catch grease drippings that can potentially damage your patio or deck if they fall to the ground.

They are typically used when roasting or grilling food, such as ribs and roast.

These pans are typically larger than the ones available for ovens. They are made of aluminum and are quite easy to adjust inside the grill. You must remove and clean these dripping pans regularly.

This will help prevent any grease buildup. If you need to replace your pan, opt for a metal one instead of plastic. This is because plastic will easily melt if it comes into contact with hot grease.

What Is the Purpose of a Dripping Pan?

Dripping pans have many purposes. The first and most obvious one is to collect the drippings from ducks, ribs, and other fatty foods.

You can also use dripping pans for indirect grilling. Simply put the aluminum pan between the mounds of hot coal under your grate.

Then, fill it with water, herbs, wine, beer, marinades, and other flavorful liquids. Put your roast or ribs on the grill.

The liquids in the dripping pan will evaporate into palatable steam. This hot steam will slow-cook the meat and add mouthwatering flavors to it.

It will also ensure that the meat or poultry remains succulent during prolonged cooking.

You can also add all sorts of veggies, such as onions, potatoes, and celery into the mix as well.

The grease drippings from the poultry or meat will create a delectable mix of flavors that you can use with your food. When using a dripping pan for indirect cooking, just make sure that it doesn’t dry out.

This will burn all your precious gravy. Simply add more hot water to the pan so that the liquid is at least an inch or two deep.

This will keep the food succulent as well. Furthermore, make sure to keep checking the pan during the slow-cooking process.

You can also use a dripping pan to collect the flavorful juices and fats from meat and poultry. You can then use these juices to make delicious stocks and sauces.

These pans are also used to prevent oil from coating coals and water during indirect cooking with water pans.

How to Clean a Dripping Pan with Stubborn Grease Buildup

When grease starts to accumulate on the dripping pan, it becomes a fire hazard. This is why you must clean your dripping pans regularly.

Here are the steps that you can follow to clean a dripping pan with stubborn grease buildup:

  1. Let the dripping pan cool completely and then remove it from the grill, stove, or oven.
  2. Submerge the dirty pan in your sink in hot water and let it soak completely for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the dirty water from your sink and pour some distilled white vinegar over the pan. This will help get rid of the baked-on food particles and stubborn grease.
  4. Let the pan sit in the vinegar for about 30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle some baking soda on top of the vinegar.
  6. Let it sit for a minute or two and then use your fingers to rub it into the burnt-on crust.
  7. Allow the baking soda and vinegar blend to sit on the surface of the pans for at least 15 minutes. During this time, the burn residue will start to flake away from your dripping pan.
  8. After the designated time, drain the vinegar and baking soda mixture and use hot water to rinse your pan.
  9. Apply some more baking soda on the surface of the pan and rub it into the remaining stains as thoroughly as possible.
  10. Rinse the pan with hot water once again and use a towel to dry it thoroughly.

When Should You Change Your Dripping Pan?

You must change your dripping pan at least once a year. This is because when a drip pan is dirty with stubborn grease buildup, it becomes a safety hazard.

The biggest risk comes from the toxic fumes that can accumulate on the pan if you don’t clean it regularly.

Burned meat juices and fat can be harmful to your health as well.

This is why you must remove your pan from the oven or grill when it’s cool enough and clean it thoroughly. You can use hot soapy water to clean the fat drippings.

If the pan is too dirty, then you need to replace it. However, just be careful to find the perfect sized pan for your oven and grill. This is because an ill-fitted pan is also a fire hazard.

Difference between a Dripping Pan and a Water Pan

Many people confuse dripping pans with water pans. Dripping pans are typically placed right under your food to catch any grease or fat run-off.

This prevents the fat from hitting the flames and coals and reduces the risk of flareups.

Meanwhile, water pans sit directly on top of your heat source. Their primary function is to generate moisture and steam to prevent your meat from drying out.

You can also place a dripping pan above your water pan to prevent grease from hitting the water. This will ensure that the water continues to evaporate and keeps the meat succulent.

As mentioned earlier, you can also use a dripping pan for this purpose.

However, a water pan typically contains only water, while a dripping pan can contain a delicious concoction of liquids, which are used to add flavor to the food.

The Bottom Line

A dripping pan is a large pan that is typically made of metal and is used to prevent food drippings from bubbling over.

These pans are usually used to cook messy foods such as meats that have a lot of fat in them. You can also use them when baking dishes that bubble over and create a mess in your oven.

Typically, these pans are a part of electric stoves, gas and electric ovens, and gas grills. However, you can also use disposable dripping pans in your oven and grill.

You can easily find metal and plastic pans that will catch all the food drippings and prevent a mess.

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