Many people have been raised to believe that plastic has no place in or near an oven. For this reason, it's hard to accept the safety of oven bags. These thin plastic baking bags are meant to be used for cooking food inside an oven. Rest assured that approved oven bags are safe and will not melt, catch on fire or harm your food when used correctly. Move past your fears and reap the benefits of cooking with oven bags.
Oven bags are safe for cooking when the manufacturer's directions are followed as to how and where they are approved for use.
How Are They Safe?
Oven cooking bags are made of food-safe plastics or nylons that are heatproof up to or above the average temperatures used in ovens. Most oven bags sold in stores are approved as FDA compliant, meaning they don't contain BPA or other dangerous chemicals and won't release chemicals or toxins into your food when heated. While oven bags are safe for use in ovens, they must be used according to certain guidelines in order for those safety measures to be effective. Read all manufacturer instructions and warnings before use, as some specifications vary by brand.
Where They Are Used
While some oven bags are designed only for use in full-size conventional ovens, others may also be used inside full-size convection ovens and microwaves. Countertop convection ovens, which are similar in size to a microwave oven, may be so small that the cooking bag will melt if it touches the sides of the oven or the heating element. Read the manufacturer's instructions to find out what appliances your bags have been approved for. Oven bags expand during cooking, and while they are able to withstand the heat in the oven, they may melt or burst if they contact the oven surface, so be sure there is sufficient room.
Where They Are Not Used
Generally, oven roasting bags aren't designed to be used in electric roasters, toaster ovens and slow cookers such as crock pots. And even though oven bags are designed to be used in conventional ovens, they are not designed to be used under the broiler heating element in an oven. Oven bags may look similar to boiling bags, but they're not approved for this use, either. The barbeque grill is also off limits for using oven bags.
Extra Safety Precautions
Always place your oven bags inside a deep pan or dish when in use. This not only prevents the bag from making direct contact with the oven rack, but also keeps the drippings from hanging down to the bottom of the oven, where the bag may burst. Also, be sure to add at least 1 tbsp. flour to the bag before you place food inside. This will help absorb any fat and grease from the meat, keeping the bag from expanding more than it should.
Why Use Oven Bags?
Oven bags allow your meats to roast in their own juices, resulting in moist and flavorful dishes. Vegetables also benefit from oven bags, as they turn out brighter and more crisp than they would if cooked without a bag. Once you've eaten your meal, cleanup is also easier if you've cooked with an oven bag. Your pan is already clean and ready to be used again, and your oven is clean and free of splashes or spills.
Whitney Coy has been a professional journalist since 2000, working first as a reporter then later as an editor for Columbus Messenger Newspapers in Columbus, Ohio. She received her bachelor's degree in mass communications from The Ohio State University.