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When Thanksgiving rolls around, kitchens tend to get much busier than usual. 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.
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 a more thorough cleaning, and all parts are dishwasher safe. A spare tip and a cleaning brush are included.
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. However, 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.
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.
Best Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro TP07S Digital Wireless Meat 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.
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.
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.
Best Roaster and Rack: All-Clad Stainless Steel Nonstick Roasting Pan With Rack
When you’re cooking a whole turkey, the goal is for the bird to cook evenly, all the way around. A roaster outfitted with a rack ensures that the turkey is lifted off the bottom of the pan so that air can circulate completely around the bird.
This one 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. It's 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.
Best Casserole Dish: Rachael Ray Cucina Casserole Dish Set with Lid, 3 Piece
Great for casual family Thanksgiving dinners, the color of this set is reminiscent of well-loved denim. The set includes one 1 1/2-quart casserole, one 2-quart casserole, and one lid that fits either dish. These are made from durable stoneware that feels sturdy and looks homey.
They’re oven-safe to 500 degrees so they can handle green bean casserole, dressing, or even homemade dinner rolls. They’re also microwave safe, so it’s easy to re-warm food or reheat leftovers, and they’re dishwasher safe so cleaning is easy. They’re also freezer safe and pretty enough to use for serving dishes, even if they weren’t used for cooking.
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.
Best Turkey Lifter: OXO Good Grips Turkey and Roast Lifters
Lifting a large bird can pose quite a challenge, sometimes resulting in a cooked bird on the ground. These turkey lifters are easy to use—just insert the pointed end into the body of the turkey and lift. The tines easily pierce and grip up to 25 pounds of cooked meat.
The comfortable grippy handles 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. When you're done, you can throw them in the dishwasher. Caps are included to keep the tines covered while in storage.
Best Pie Dish: Emile Henry Ruffled Pie Dish
This ruffled-edge pie plate creates a beautiful presentation on the table, whether the plate is filled with pumpkin pie, cornbread, 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 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 the 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.
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 non-slip 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.
Best Carving Knife and Fork Set: Wüsthof Classic Two-Piece Hollow Edge Carving Set
Once the turkey is cooked properly and well-rested, it’s time to carve. This set makes carving a turkey 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. Hand wash only.
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.
Best Fat Separator: Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator
If you’re in charge of making gravy, or if you have custody of the turkey carcass to make turkey soup, you'll 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 the boiling liquid into it, and the 4-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 U.S. 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.
Best Gravy Boat: Fiesta Sauceboat
Whether this is the first piece of Fiesta serving ware, or a new addition to an existing collection, it will look great on the table for holidays as well as everyday dining. Available in a wide range of colors, it’s easy to match existing dinnerware, or use it to add a pop of holiday color.
This gravy boat holds 18 1/2-ounces, so it can make its way around the table before it needs to be refilled. The design will match Fiesta pieces from decades past, and it’s classic enough to fit well with other dinnerware as well. Like all fiesta pieces, this is microwave safe, so the gravy can be quickly reheated for the second round. It’s ovenproof and freezer safe, and it’s dishwasher safe when dinner is over, so cleaning is easy.
What to Look for in Thanksgiving Gadgets
Thanksgiving dinner comes around once a year, and you might not always be the host for the feast. Before spending money on extra kitchen gadgets, consider their usefulness year-round. For instance, if your vegetable peeler has been producing less than ideal results, this holiday may be a good excuse for an update, or you might want to splurge on that Dutch oven you've been dreaming about. Then again, if this is your only opportunity to use a turkey cannon or lifter, those may be luxury kitchen gadgets.
Many of these Thanksgiving-worthy kitchen gadgets can be used all year. A baster, vegetable peeler, potato masher, thermometer, and timer can make several of your cooking projects a little easier and improve the results. And, a large capacity Dutch oven is beyond useful for any kitchen, making it easy to cook soups, stews, and even blanch summer vegetables for storage. Consider what you like to cook and what you want to cook in the future to ensure these gadgets will add value to your kitchen.
Storage is a key consideration in any kitchen, no matter how spacious or small it is. When adding to your tools, think about where you're going to keep them when not in use. This is particularly important with sizeable objects like Dutch ovens and turkey stands or injectors.
What kitchenware do I absolutely need for Thanksgiving Day dinner?
You can pull off an impressive Thanksgiving dinner without investing a lot in cookware. If you're in charge of the main meal, a roaster, thermometer, and baster for the turkey are going to help you cook it to perfection. For featured sides, you'll generally want to plan for a large crowd, and a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish is ideal. Smaller oven-safe dishes can work for other sides, and you might be able to borrow a dish or ask guests to contribute sides to complete the meal. One thing every kitchen needs—whether or not it's a holiday—is a good set of sharp kitchen knives. Once you discover the beauty of having a chef's knife, paring knife, and any other specialty knives you would regularly use, you'll notice a big difference they make in food prep on a daily basis.
What are other uses for a turkey baster?
It may be called a turkey baster, but this simple device is surprisingly helpful for several things. When you buy a heat-resistant baster, you can use it to remove grease from the pan when browning beef and other ground meats or excess liquid from any dish or pot. It's also useful to fine-tune the amount of fluid in a measuring cup, so you get just the right amount that the recipe requires. Many basters have such a small hole at the base that they won't suck up all but the smallest solids, and the top is often removable to ensure you can get the inside sparkling clean.
What can you prepare in advance for Thanksgiving Day?
It's best to cook your Thanksgiving Day turkey (or other main meat or entrée) the same day; start it early in the morning and, once cooked through, keep it warm if needed. However, you can prepare many side dishes in advance, including casseroles, stuffing, vegetable dishes, gravy, dinner rolls, and desserts. For some, you'll simply have to reheat them before dinner—check to see if the recipe recommends a foil covering to trap in moisture. Desserts and bread likely just need to be set out for a few hours to reach room temperature.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. She's tested over 90 products for the brand.