The best Thanksgiving cooking tools

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  • Cooking a great Thanksgiving dinner takes a kitchen properly stocked with the basics, including knives, plenty of oversized spoons, pots and pans, and serving pieces.
  • Beyond the basics, however, there are several kitchen tools that come into play when preparing a large meal like the traditional Thanksgiving feast.
  • A good roasting pan, a meat thermometer, a vegetable peeler, and a baster are just some of the items that you'll want at hand. Read on for our full list of cooking tools you'll need to make Thanksgiving dinner.

Ah, the joys of Thanksgiving dinner. Good food, good company, good times.

Quite a few years back, I volunteered to take over the annual Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family. Since then, I've cooked a lot of turkeys, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and green beans, and whipped up plenty of cranberry sauce.

If I do say so myself — and my family will back me up here 100% — I make a darn good holiday meal, and I do it all on my own. Well, all on my own with the help of a few must-have kitchen gadgets and tools that make this major day of cooking a little bit easier.

While the list of potential kitchen gadgets and tools you could choose from is nearly endless, we think the following 10 items are the ones that are most worth owning.

Here are the cooking tools you need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Best roasting pan: Calphalon Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Rack
  • Best meat thermometer: ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Best electric knife: Cuisinart CEK-30 Electric Knife
  • Best mixing bowls: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
  • Best oven cooking bags: Reynolds Kitchens Turkey Size Oven Bag
  • Best vegetable peeler: Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler
  • Best baking mat: Silpat Silicone Baking Mat
  • Best gravy strainer: Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator
  • Best casserole dish: Arcuisine Glass Rectangular Roaster Pan
  • Best turkey baster: OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster

Prices and links are current as of 9/3/20. We updated several of our picks to align with our larger buying guides.

Best roasting pan

Forget about flimsy disposable pans. The Calphalon Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Rack is much safer and easier when it comes time to lift the turkey out of the oven.

A beautifully browned roasted turkey needs to start somewhere, and that somewhere should be a heavy-duty, sturdy roasting pan like the Calphalon Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Rack — our top pick for the best roasting pan in our buying guide.

Made of an aluminum core surrounded by stainless steel, this pan easily handles turkeys up to 25 pounds. The aluminum core makes for increased conductivity to keep your turkey browning evenly, and the handles are triple-riveted, so you won't have to worry about catastrophe as you lift the turkey out of the oven. It includes a stainless steel roasting rack, which lets air circulate around the cooking turkey while keeping the meat from getting soggy in the drippings. Of course, it's also useful for large roasts of beef or roasting a whole chicken any time of year.

Both rack and roaster is dishwasher safe. The inside measurements of the roasting pan are 16 inches long by 13.5 inches wide by 4.25 inches deep.

Pros: Great price, sturdy stainless steel construction, large enough to handle a 25-pound turkey, dishwasher safe

Cons: The rack sits loosely in the pan, so it will shift around a bit

Read our full guide to the best roasting pans.

 

Best meat thermometer

The easy-to-use ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer shows you the inner temperature of your cooking turkey at a glance and alerts you when it's done.

A meat thermometer is a must for your kitchen, but leaning into the oven to check the temperature is a good way to get burned. With the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer, you don't even have to open the oven door to know when your turkey is cooked to perfection.

Just insert the two probes into the thickest part of each of the turkey's thighs, and then set the base on top of the stove, or anywhere within the 40-inch stainless steel cable's reach. It also comes with a wireless remote with a range of up to 300 feet, so you can take some time to relax with your family while your turkey roasts yet always keep an eye on the temperature.

The thermometer has several presets for recommended cooking temperatures, including poultry, pork, seafood, and beef. You can also set your own desired temperature. Either way, the thermometer will sound an alert when that temperature is reached. There's also a timer for tracking cooking time.   

The thermometer handles a range of 32 degrees to 572 degrees, and is accurate within one degree.

Pros: Large display is easy to read, no need to open oven door to check temperature, presets for recommended meat temperatures

Cons: You'll need to wash the probes by hand, uses batteries quickly

Read our full guide to the best meat thermometers.

 

Best electric knife

The Cuisinart Electric Knife glides through turkey and other roasted meats, making carving a cinch.

Yes, it's true that Norman Rockwell Thanksgivings don't generally feature an electric knife, and you yourself might be thinking a carving knife and fork is the only way to go. But I'm here to tell you — an electric knife makes carving a turkey so much easier, neater, and faster, you'll wonder why you waited so long to make the switch.

The beauty of an electric knife is that it glides through skin and meat without tugging or catching, so you are much less likely to end up with torn, jagged edges. Instead, you'll quickly carve beautiful, even slices of delectable turkey, roast beef, bread, or whatever else you might be cutting.

I use the Cuisinart Electric Knife, and it is incredibly effective. Double stainless steel serrated blades stay super sharp — no need to ever sharpen them.

The handle is comfortable and makes wielding the knife easy, and there's just one handy button for powering the knife on and off. When you're done carving, just hit the eject button and wash the blades in the dishwasher.

Pros: Blades are very sharp and cut neatly through all types of meat, bread, or other foods, dishwasher safe, powerful motor

Cons: A few customers complained that their electric knives failed after a few uses

 

Best mixing bowls

With the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls, you'll have plenty of capacity for all of the mixing, stirring, folding, and blending required to turn out a Thanksgiving feast.

If you only have one or two flimsy plastic mixing bowls, it's time to upgrade. With the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls — our top pick in our guide to the best mixing bowls — you get a set of three heavy-duty bowls that not only make kitchen prep easier, they also look good enough to set on the table for serving.

The set includes three bowls in various sizes: 1.5, 3, and 5-quart. The bowl's lip is gently rounded for easy pouring and comfortable gripping, and the bowls are dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer safe. They also come with tight-fitting lids so you can prep food in advance and store them right in the bowls. They nest for easy storage, as well.

Pros: The sizes you'll reach for most often, attractive appearance, durable stainless steel construction

Cons: Lids may warp over time

Read our full guide to the best mixing bowls.

 

Best oven cooking bags

Cook your turkey in a Reynolds Kitchens Turkey Size Oven Bag, and you're practically guaranteed golden, juicy, perfectly cooked results on your Thanksgiving table. 

I've been cooking my T-Day turkeys in Reynolds Kitchens Turkey Size Oven Bags for many years now, and let me tell you, they make it so easy to turn out the juiciest, tenderest, most flavorful turkey imaginable.

Just shake a little flour inside the bag, set it in your roasting pan, slide in your turkey — the bags hold up to a 24-pound bird — massage the turkey with a heavy coating of butter or your favorite spices and herbs, add a quartered onion, some celery, and lemon slices, seal the bag, poke your meat thermometer through the plastic and into the turkey's thigh, pop your roasting pan into the oven, and voila. In a few hours, you'll be pulling out the best turkey you've ever tasted.

Pros: Bags keep the moisture in, so turkey comes out super-flavorful and juicy without any need to baste during cooking

Cons: Skin will not crisp as well

 

Best vegetable peeler

The Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler easily peels fruits and vegetables without wearing out your wrist, and it's incredibly budget-friendly.

If your Thanksgiving dinners are like mine, they involve heaping portions of butter-laden mashed potatoes and a delicious sweet potato dish — in my case, sweet potato chunks roasted in a maple sugar/balsamic vinegar glaze.

And while those side dishes are practically the best part of the meal, they do mean a lot of peeling in preparation. That can be murder on your wrists, but with a sharp Y-shaped vegetable peeler like the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler, you'll get the job done with a minimum of discomfort.

It's our top pick in our guide to the best vegetable peelers, and you can even get a three-pack so you can pawn off some of that peeling on some unsuspecting nieces and nephews.

Pros: Super sharp blades, budget-friendly

Cons: Not dishwasher safe

Read our full guide to the best vegetable peelers.

 

Best baking mat

Messy, stuck-on food is a thing of the past when you line your baking sheet with a Silpat Silicone Baking Mat.

Silpat Silicone Baking Mat, let me count the ways I love you. Whether it's cookies, or garlic bread, or dinner rolls, or vegetables, or even an entire sheet-pan meal, just layer one of these silicone mats on top of your baking sheet — no need for oiling or buttering the cookware first — add your food, cook in an oven up to 480 degrees, and then lift your food off the baking sheet without any sticking or mess.

Cleanup is a breeze. I wash the silicone mats in the sink with a bit of dish soap, but they are also dishwasher safe. No scrubbing required as food residue comes right off, leaving slight stains, admittedly, but that doesn't affect the performance of the mats.

The half-sheet-sized mats are 16-1/2 by 11-5/8 inches, which is the perfect size for most home baking sheets. You can also use the mats to line the bottom of a roasting pan, making it so much easier to clean your turkey roaster. They're made of food-grade silicone with no toxic or harmful materials.

Pros: Food slides easily off cookware, cleanup is quick and easy, sheets are safe in oven, freezer, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator

Cons: The mats stain slightly, but that doesn't affect their performance at all

Check out our full guide to the best baking mats.

 

Best gravy strainer

Use it for general measuring and pouring while cooking, and then let the Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator strain away the fat from the turkey drippings for perfect gravy.

Your Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes cry out for the perfect gravy, and with the Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator, making that gravy just became a little easier.

This handy kitchen gadget works as a regular measuring cup, albeit one that makes pouring easier than most of the others. When it's time to prepare the gravy, just add the strainer to the top of the cup, pour the turkey drippings through, and then carefully pour the delicious juices — minus the fat — out of the cup and into your mixing bowl or gravy tureen. It's useful for many other dishes as well, including soups, purees, sauces, and broths.

Once you're done, go ahead and wash the cup in the dishwasher. It's also heat-safe up to 400 degrees, so no worries even while pouring hot ingredients.

Pros: Large capacity, works well to separate fat from other liquids, easy-grip silicone handle

Cons: A very few customers said they did not receive the stopper for the spout

 

Best casserole dish

You need something to cook up that delicious Thanksgiving green bean or sweet potato casserole, and that something is a glass baking dish like the excellent Arcuisine Glass Rectangular Roaster Pan.

Baking dishes are one of the most useful pieces of cookware any time of year. You can of course bake in them, but they're also perfect for casseroles, roasting vegetables or small pieces of meat, lasagnas, or other layered dishes.

But glass baking dishes are prone to what's called thermal shock where drastic changes in temperature can lead glass to crack or even explode. That's why it's important to invest in a high-quality baking dish. The Arcuisine Glass Roaster Pan is made in France from borosilicate glass which is tempered and infused with boron for strength and heat-resistance. That means it's much less prone to cracking than other brands' baking dishes.

The Arcuisine baking dish is our top pick in our full guide to the best casserole dishes.

Pros: Made of durable borosilicate glass, 5-year manufacturer's guarantee

Cons: Small handles, not broiler-safe, measurements in the description are misleading

Read our guide to the best casserole dishes.

 

Best turkey baster

For a tender turkey, you need to bathe the bird in its own juice, and the OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster makes the process easy and leak-free.

Unless you roast your turkey in an oven bag, you'll need to keep the bird moist by basting periodically while it cooks. And even if you do use an oven bag, you'll need an easy way to transfer the juices to your gravy boat or fat separator once roasting is done. That's where the OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster comes in.

It's slightly curved shape makes it easy to baste down and around all sides of the bird, and its round silicone bulb sucks in juices without letting them dribble back out again, something that is often an annoyance with lesser turkey basters.

You'll get a small brush for cleaning the baster after use, but all parts are dishwasher safe on the top rack for extra convenience. Forget about those cheap, leaky supermarket basters — This is the one you want.

Pros: Leak-free, dishwasher safe, includes cleaning brush, angled shape makes it easy to baste the sides of the turkey

Cons: A few customers said their basters cracked after one or two uses

 

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