Difference between Roasting and Baking

There are various means and methods to cook food and chefs and cooks come up with new and better ways to prepare meats and vegetables to enhance their flavors all the time. Food, especially meats which take a longer time to cook, can be roasted as well as baked depending on personal choice as well the recipe.

Roasting and baking are used frequently for cooking but it is important to know what these terms actually mean and how they add more to the recipe.



Roasting vs Baking
Roasted turkey

Roasting refers to cooking meat in an oven or before a fire. In historical times, the method of cooking the food over the flames was called roasting. Roasting is cooking food, from meats to vegetables, with fats so that they have a brown and glazed exterior and a moist flavor.

Baking muffins
Baking muffins

Baking is the term used for cooking foods such as bread, potatoes, apples, etc. in dry heat in an oven. Baking is an old way of cooking that dates back hundreds of years and the food was baked over or under the coals before there was any concept of the modern oven. Food is baked in dry and hot heat without any fats or oil to coat it.

Both these methods use extremely hot temperatures to cook the food.

Roasting vs Baking

Cooking enthusiasts have been using the terms roasting and baking interchangeably for a long time now but it is important to know that these terms are quite different from each other. It is the means of cooking the food and the end product which sets these methods apart from each other.

In past centuries roasting and baking were different means of cooking as roasting was done over the fire and baking was done under or over the coals. While roasting was done in a pan with fats or oil so that the food could have a brown or glazed look, baking was done without any fats or glaze and it cooked food over extremely hot temperatures.

Another difference between roasting and baking is that of the food structure which sets these cooking methods apart. Roasting involves cooking foods that already have a solid structure even before they are done, such as vegetables and meats, whereas baking often involves foods that are not so solid but become solid during the cooking, such as cake and muffins.

In roasting, the vegetables or meat do not change their size or shape but in baking the foods change their size when they are cooked; for example  cookies and breads increase in size when they are baked.

Roasting requires higher temperatures such as 400 F to get a brown or crusty look on the outside of the food while baking is done at lower levels such as 375 F. Roasting requires a set quantity of oil or butter to roast the vegetables or meat; baking items can contain fat within them which helps them cook in the oven.

Comparison Chart

Roasting Baking
Roasting is done over the fire, in an uncovered pan, or in an oven Baking is done over or under the coals or in an oven and it is sometimes covered for a better cooking experience
Roasting is done over higher temperatures to create a brown, glazed or crusty exterior Baking is done on both moderate and high temperatures to cook the food completely
Foods which are roasted are already cooked or have a definite shape or structure and they just need some exterior flavor and shape such as mutton or chicken roast Foods which are baked often have no shape or structure and they are put in the over to give them structure and shape such as cookies, cake and muffins – this involves the use of yeast or other rising agents such as baking soda
Roasting generally involves vegetables and whole pieces of meat like pork and chicken Baking can involve anything from pies to cakes and breads, casseroles to vegetables and meats, whole or cuts
Roasting requires oil or butter to glaze the foods to give a brown or crusty exterior Baking does not require any oil on the outside; the baked items already has the required amount of fat to cook it in the oven – in the case of vegetables it may be a healthier option to bake rather than roast as less fat is generally used