When the food Olympics rolls around — otherwise known as the holiday season starting with Thanksgiving — kitchens tend to get much busier. Tools that were fine for family dinners suddenly seem lackluster and inadequate.
Now is the perfect time to replace those tools with some that will make Thanksgiving, and the holidays beyond, much easier. While a wobbly vegetable peeler or crooked potato masher might be fine for prepping and serving a family dinner, the proper tools will make the holiday process faster and easier, and the result will be better as well.
Whether you’re in charge of the big dinner, or you’re bringing a side dish or two to a potluck, or you’re just showing up to help out a little, these Thanksgiving tools will come in handy during the holidays. Better yet, when the holidays are over, they’re all usable for normal family dinners as well, and they’d make a nice addition to a cooking-related gift basket, too.
01 of 14
Best Potato Masher: Dreamfarm Smood Potato Masher
This masher probably looks different than the one you already have, and it works differently, too. The potato chunks get trapped under the spring so they can’t escape, and as you press down, the space between the spring coils gets smaller and smaller, creating a smooth mash. With this tool, you’ll mash potatoes a lot faster, and without lumps.
A silicone scraper on one edge of the bottom coil lets you scrape the pot or bowl, and is safe even for nonstick cookware. The handle is easy to hold and the spring design is easier on the wrists than a standard masher.
The scraper is heat-safe to 500 degrees, so it will stand up to mashing any cooked vegetables, whether it’s white potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, or even pinto beans to make refried beans. This is dishwasher safe, so cleanup is simple. The masher is available in several different colors.
02 of 14
Best Fat Separator: Bellemain
If you’re in charge of making gravy, or if you have custody of the turkey carcass to make turkey soup, you need this fat separator. A strainer lid keeps all the large pieces out of the cup as you fill it. Meanwhile, the stopper in the spout keeps liquid from entering the spout as you fill the cup. Just remove the stopper to pour. Since the spout joins the cup at its base, you’ll be dispensing the liquid you want and leaving the fat behind.
The cup is heat resistant to 400 degrees, so you don’t need to worry about pouring boiling liquid into it, and the four-cup size is large enough for most batches of turkey drippings. For soup, just ladle liquid off the top of the pot into the separator.
Measurements on the side of the cup are in both US and metric, so you can easily check how much liquid you’ve collected. When the holidays are over, you can use this as a standard measuring cup. It’s dishwasher safe, for easy cleaning.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best fat separators.
03 of 14
Best Turkey Baster: Tovolo Dripless Baster
Basting a turkey can make a mess of your oven if you have a drippy, leaky baster. On the other hand, a good baster makes the job so easy, you’ll find other uses for it, transferring liquids from one pot to another all year long.
This baster has a small valve in the tip that keeps the liquid inside until you release it, so you won’t make a mess in your oven, and it won’t drip all over your counter when the baster is resting between uses.
The baster’s tube is clear, so you can see how much liquid is in it, or you can choose a similar model with a stainless steel tube if you prefer. The clear tube is heat resistant up to 600 degrees, so it can be used for boiling liquids with no worries about melting or cracking.
The tip of the baster is removable for thorough cleaning, and all parts are dishwasher safe. A spare tip and a cleaning brush are included.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best turkey basters.
04 of 14
Best Roasting Rack: All-Clad Nonstick Roasting Rack
When you’re cooking a whole turkey, the goal is for the bird to cook evenly, all the way around. A roasting rack ensures that the turkey is lifted off the bottom of the roasting pan, so that air can circulate completely around the bird.
This has a nonstick surface, so the turkey skin won’t stick or tear, and the curved sides help keep the turkey from sagging, as can happen with a flat rack. This is large enough to hold your Thanksgiving turkey, and it can be used for chickens and large roasts all year long.
Hand washing is recommended, but the nonstick surface makes cleanup a snap.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
05 of 14
Best Turkey Cannon: Camp Chef Sante Series
The turkey cannon might look a little odd, but the concept is one that’s probably familiar to you. It works in much the same way as beer-can chicken, sending hot, flavorful steam into the interior of the bird so that it cooks from the inside and the outside at the same time.
Instead of standing the bird upright as is done with beer can chicken, the turkey sits at an angle. It makes sense – who has an oven or a grill large enough for a turkey to stand upright?
Because the turkey cooks from the inside as well as the outside it cooks faster and stays juicier, while it absorbs flavors from the liquid you’ve loaded into the cannon. Since the turkey is lifted off of the roasting pan, air can circulate all around for even cooking and crisp skin. Built-in side forks hold the turkey stable so it doesn’t tip or spin during cooking. The cannon is made from stainless steel, and can be used in the oven or on a grill.
When Thanksgiving is over, this can also be used for cooking chickens. They might look a little silly, but the result is worth the giggles. Obviously, this can only be used for turkeys or chickens that are not stuffed.
06 of 14
Best Turkey Lifter: OXO Good Grips
Lifting a large bird can pose quite a challenge, sometimes resulting in a cooked bird on the ground. This turkey lifter is easy to use — just insert the pointed end into the body of the turkey and lift. The angle of the lifter and the comfortable grippy handle make it easy to lift the turkey to transfer it to a cutting board or platter without damaging the skin, burning your hands, or risking dropping the turkey on the floor.
Because of the leverage, you can even lift the bird one-handed, if you can handle the weight. Even better, this works whether the turkey is stuffed or not. For easy cleaning, this is dishwasher safe. and when Thanksgiving is over, you can use it for moving roasted chickens, as well.
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Best Casserole Dish: Corning Ware French White
If cooking the Thanksgiving meal isn’t enough to think about, there’s also the problem of finding serving bowls for everything, including the unexpected salad that Aunt Martha brought.
This set of two covered casserole dishes does double-duty. You can cook in them, and they’re pretty enough for serving as well. The lids seal in moisture during cooking and help keep the food warm after it’s done.
These are safe for use in the oven, microwave, refrigerator, and freezer, and they are resistant to chipping, cracking, and staining. The set includes a serving cradle that safely holds the casserole dish and makes it easy to move.
The larger casserole holds 2 1/2 quarts and the smaller holds 1 1/2 quarts. If you’re bringing side dishes to a party or potluck, these will be sure to match with any dishware, and they would also make a thoughtful hostess gift.
Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best casserole dishes available online.
08 of 14
Best Pie Dish: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Perfect Pie Plate
The large ruffled edge on this pie plate is different from standard pie plates, creating a beautiful presentation whether the plate filled with pumpkin pie, cornbread, or pull-apart biscuits or dinner rolls. The large ruffle also makes the pie plate easy to remove from the oven and makes it simple to form a decorative pie crust border.
The plate is made from a high-fired ceramic material and has a scratch-free glaze that is both durable and beautiful. It is safe for use in the oven and under the broiler, and can be used as a serving dish when pie’s not on the menu. It is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and is available in several colors to match your décor or your pie.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
09 of 14
Best Peeler: OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler
While the style looks similar to other swivel peelers, this one simply performs better and feels much more comfortable to hold, with an oversized large rubber handle that won’t slip or slide, even when wet.
This has a built-in potato-eye remover and a large hole in the handle, if you prefer to hang your tools. It’s dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, and won’t rust or corrode.
10 of 14
Best Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Thermometer
There’s nothing that will deflate Thanksgiving joy more than carving into an undercooked turkey, and nothing sadder than a dry, overcooked one. A leave-in meat thermometer isn’t a bad idea, but then you need to open the oven repeatedly to check the temperature.
A remote thermometer is a great solution since you can check the temperature from outside the oven, and also watch the speed that the temperature is increasing so you can estimate the finish time. This thermometer goes one step further, with a wireless remote unit that works up to 300 feet away.
While it’s marketed for barbecue use, the remote is also ideal for checking the turkey in the oven while you’re mingling with your guests in the living room. The base and remote are pre-synchronized, so they’ll work right out of the package, and batteries are included. The thermometer is programmed with preset temperatures for a variety of foods, and they can be reprogrammed to suit your taste.
This can read temperatures from 52 to 572 degrees, and the LCD shows three different colors in reaction to temperature changes. The probe is 6 1/2 inches long, so you can insert it deep into the breast or thigh of the turkey. The cable is 40 inches long, so the base can sit comfortably on the counter next to the stove.
The one flaw with remote thermometers is that if the cable gets crimped, crushed, or burned, it can cause the thermometer to read incorrectly. While the company says it will replace damaged probes when needed, It’s not a bad idea to purchase an extra one to have on hand when you need it.
11 of 14
Best Kitchen Timer: OXO Good Grips Triple Timer
When you’re cooking a big meal, chances are that you’ve got multiple items that need to be timed. Once you’ve set the oven timer and maybe the microwave timer, how do you keep track of the rest of the items?
This single device is actually three 100-hour digital timers, so you can watch the turkey, the stuffing, and the cornbread all at once. Each timer has a distinct sound, and unlike the oven timer, you can carry this with you, so you can mingle with guests while you wait for the turkey to rest and the biscuits to bake.
While you probably won’t be cooking anything for 100 hours, it’s handy to have a long timer, just in case you’ve also got something in the smoker.
This is easy to read and easy to set and to turn off. Sitting on the counter, it has an angled face that’s easy to see while you’re roaming the kitchen. It has nonslip feet so it won’t go flying if you bump it, and it won’t damage any surface you set it on.
When it’s not in use, the display reverts to clock mode, so it’s useful even when you’re not timing multiple events. Two AAA batteries are included.
12 of 14
Best Carving Knife and Fork Set: JAMIE OLIVER Carving Knife Set
Once the turkey is cooked properly and well rested, it’s time to carve. This set makes it easy, with a full-tang stainless steel knife and a fork with long curved prongs that hold the food securely. The handles are designed for maximum comfort and easy carving while the chunky bolsters give the utensils good balance and extra weight for easy slicing.
This is a great pre-Thanksgiving gift for someone cooking the big meal for the first time, and a great replacement set for someone whose knives aren’t holiday-worthy. This set is dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
13 of 14
Best Dutch Oven: Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are great for soups and chilies, but it’s a favorite vessel for making out-of-the-turkey stuffing. It can also be used for baking artisan breads, cooking potatoes for mashing, making large quantities of gravy, or steaming a lot of vegetables.
This 6-quart Dutch oven is made from cast iron, with three layers of a chip resistant porcelain-enamel finish, so it can be used on any stove, including induction, and it’s oven and broiler safe to 500 degrees, but it should not be used on outdoor grills or over open flames. It’s safe for cooking any food, including acidic foods that aren’t recommended for uncoated cast iron, and can be put in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s also pretty enough for serving.
Because cast iron retains heat well, this will keep your food warm if it’s done earlier than expected. This Dutch oven is dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended to preserve the attractive appearance. It comes in several colors to match your décor or add a splash of accent color.
Check out our guide to the best dutch ovens you can buy today.
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Best Rolling Pin: Farberware Classic Wood Rolling Pin
Everyone needs a rolling pin, whether it’s for rolling out pastry or biscuit dough for Thanksgiving, crushing graham crackers for a crust, or smashing nuts for a topping.
This classic rolling pin style is easy to use, with easy grip handles that make the pin easy to control, no matter what you’re making. The pin is made from moisture-resistant hardwood that helps keep wet doughs from sticking. Rust-proof nylon bearings provide smooth, silent rolling action. For cleaning, just wipe with a damp cloth.
Read more reviews of the best rolling pins available to purchase online.
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