Half the battle is having the right tools on hand to pull off a perfect holiday meal. With Thanksgiving just a week away, here are some of my tried and true Thanksgiving kitchen essentials to help make all your amazing dishes come out just right. If you’re already a turkey roasting pro, you know that the secret to a moist flavorful bird starts with brining way ahead of roasting.
How to cook a turkey
Best brining bags
No matter how you decide to cook your turkey, any cook worth their salt knows that brining the turkey the night before is crucial for a moist, tender, and flavorful bird. Depending on the size of your place and/or fridge, brining can be a real chore because it requires you to submerge the turkey completely while still keeping it cold enough.
A great solution are brining bags because it allows you to line buckets should you live in a climate cold enough where a turkey is safe to keep outside (read: colder than your fridge temperature!). If you don’t, these bags can be used to securely contain the turkey and brine solution in a leakproof bag.
- Fire & Flavor not only includes a BPA-free brine bag that will hold a turkey up to 25 lbs, but it includes spice packets that have different flavor profiles from herb to cajun.
- If you already have your own brine and spices for the turkey and just need a place to let it store, the Liquid Solution Turkey Brining Bags are extra strong, BPA free double zipper and gusseted seamed bags that hold up to 40 lbs! Additionally, the Liquid Solution Turkey Brining Bags comes with a removable zipper assist and 18-inch long string for trussing your turkey (fancy cooking term for tying up the turkey legs both for the appearance and more even cooking).
|Top Top||Fire & Flavor All Natural Turkey Perfect Cajun Brine Kit, Perfect for Roasting, Grilling, Smoking, and Frying 16.6Ounces||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top||New and Improved Liquid Solution Turkey Brining Bags - No BPA - Heavier Duty Materials - Thicker Seams - Gusseted Bottom - Double Track Zippers - Extra Large - Set of 2, 21.5 x 25.5 in Each||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top||5 Gallon Bucket Liner Bags for Marinating and Brining, Food Grade, BPA Free, Extra Heavy Duty Leak Proof (10 pack)||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top||5 Gallon Bucket Liner Bags for Marinading and Brining - Durable, Food Grade, BPA Free, 25/Roll||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top||Urban Accents Gourmet Gobbler Turkey Brine Kit, 12.75 Ounce||Buy on Amazon|
Best roasting pans
When you are ready to toss the disposable foil roasting pans that are clumsy and make for kitchen nightmares, these are the keepers to make for a perfect roasting pan. I don’t mess around with the smaller ones since it’s better to ready for any size gathering. I’ve got a standard size 30-inch range in my kitchen and any of these fit just right inside while giving you the most room to make as big a bird as a 24-pound turkey.
This Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless 16-inch Roasting Pan comes with a roasting rack and will hold up to a 24-pound turkey according to experience. The riveted handles make it easy to pull from the oven and handle. Clean-up is easy and it’s dishwasher safe. I’ve used the same roasting pan for a bone-in turkey breast and at another time a huge turkey — this will make you prepared for any size gathering. You cannot find a better roasting pan for the value – period.
This is one I added two years ago to our existing All-Clad collection of pots and pans. It is by far the most beautiful, high gauge heavy roasting pan that I know will last for life. Avoid the non-stick version for healthier cooking. I use barkeepers friend stainless cleaner on it to give it a great spotless polish after an easy clean-up. It comes with a V-shaped non-stick roasting rack which together All-Clad says will roast up to a 20-pound bird – I fit a 22-pounder with ease in it.
Best Roasting pan: Budget pick
Aside from buying the big overpriced foil disposable roasting pans at the store, this Circulon Non-stick Roaster with rack won’t set you back much more for one you’ll keep and comes in at a big 17 x 13 inches. It’s sturdy and does the trick with its U-shaped rack. The alloy steel construction can tolerate up to a 450-degree oven. I like that it’s extra large for any size gathering you’ve got coming.
Best meat thermometers
The only way to truly tell if meat, especially poultry such as turkey, is fully cooked and ready to eat safely is by using a meat thermometer. While you can poke a cake to check for doneness, continually opening the oven to check will keep the turkey from cooking properly and poking it constantly will ruin the appearance of the turkey and potentially dry it out. There have been many improvements on the traditional meat thermometers from the days of yore.
If you want an option that allows you to tend to the many tasks involved with cooking or hosting Thanksgiving, or maybe you want to be able to focus on friends and family instead of running to the oven constantly, then the Bluetooth enabled meat thermometer is your best bet.
- The Govee Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer is a great option that allows you to place probes into the meat, set the internal temperature, with an extra long cable attached to a reader that can be placed on the oven with magnets or propped on the table top so you can stay away from the heat. The app that accompanies the thermometer can be downloaded to your smartphone so you can receive notifications to your phone, plus alerts on the meat thermometer, when temp rises to close to your preset temp.
- The ThermoPro TP25 is another great wireless option that, in addition to coming with an accompanying app to monitor and receive alerts regarding the progress of your meat, is rechargeable via USB, comes with 4 probes to monitor different meats being cooked, and has an extended Bluetooth range.
|Top||ThermoPro TP25 500ft Wireless Bluetooth Meat Thermometer with 4 Temperature Probes Smart Digital Cooking BBQ Thermometer for Grilling Oven Food Smoker Thermometer, Rechargeable||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Govee Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer, Remote Bluetooth Grill Monitor with Smart Temperature Notification Alerts, 230ft Range with 2 Probes, Timer, and Backlight, for Cooking, BBQ, Smoker, Kitchen||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||BFOUR Meat Thermometer Wireless Bluetooth, Digital Meat Thermometer with Dual Probe, Wireless Remote BBQ Thermometer for Smoker Kitchen Cooking Grill Thermometer Timer for Grilling BBQ Oven Candy||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||ThermoPro TP19H Waterproof Digital Meat Thermometer for Grilling with Ambidextrous Backlit and Motion Sensing Kitchen Cooking Food Thermometer for BBQ Grill Smoker Oil Fry Candy Thermometer||Buy on Amazon|
Best carving knives
Let’s not fumble the ‘final play’ of the evening by cooking a perfect turkey only to butcher the cuts of meat. Often the most captured moment of Thanksgiving Dinner, carve the turkey with ease and grace by having a knife and fork that is strong and sharp enough to glide around the contours of bones. Developed by one of the leading culinary schools in North America, The Messermeister Avanta Series is constructed with the highest quality German steel.
|Top Top||Messermeister Avanta Pakkawood 2 Piece Kullenschliff Carving Knife and Fork Set, Brown||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||TUO Carving Set - 9" Carving Knife & 7" Fork - Professional 2 Pcs Meat Carving Knife Set - German Stainless Steel Slicing Set - Pakkawood Handle - Luxurious Gift Box Included - Fiery Phoenix Series||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||HENCKELS Statement Carving Set, 2-pc, Black/Stainless Steel||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Royal Doulton Knife Gordon Ramsay Knives, 2-Piece Carving Set Black, 8"||Buy on Amazon|
Best air fryers
With a turkey or ham often monopolizing the oven for the majority of Thanksgiving, utilizing an air fryer is a great way to work on side dishes or even dessert, simultaneously. The air fryer is amazing at cooking evenly and creating a wonderfully crispy texture without the use of tons of additional oil, which means less fat! The air fryer is also great at reheating items swiftly without overcooking.
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars out of over 81K reviews, COSORI Air Fryer Max XL is a dynamo in the kitchen. Not only does it boast a large 5.8 QT bin but it also has a clear and convenient digital display for easy cooking.
|Top||Instant Vortex Plus 4 Quart Air Fryer, Customizable Smart Cooking Programs, Digital Touchscreen and Non-Stick Air Fryer Basket, Stainless Steel||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Ninja AF101 Air Fryer, 4 Qt, Black/gray||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||COSORI Air Fryer Max XL(100 Recipes) Digital Hot Oven Cooker, One Touch Screen with 13 Cooking Functions, Preheat and Shake Reminder, 5.8 QT, White||Buy on Amazon|
Best butter spreader
Nothing ruins a good piece of biscuit or bread when the cold butter comes out in chunks or pieces and is not spreadable.
The Simple spreading Stainless Steel Butter Spreader has 3 sides on the same knife. One side has smaller slotted holes that curls hard butter, a large hole to curl a larger amount of butter, and a serrated edge for cutting and spreading the butter. All need to do is glide the desired edge for the perfect curl of butter that is spreadable.
|Top||Stainless Steel Butter Spreader, Knife - 3 in 1 Kitchen Gadgets (1)||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||LUHUIYUAN Stainless Steel Flatware Set of 6, 2 of Magic Butter Knives Spreader with Holes, 2 of Stainless Steel Classic Cheese Spreaders, 2 of Cocktail Forks for Butter, Cheese, Jelly, Jam, Dessert||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Stainless Steel butter Spreader Knife, 3-in-1 Kitchen Gadgets, Curler, Butter Grater, Multifunctional Chopping Slot with Serrated Edge (Silver, 1)||Buy on Amazon|
Best Fat Separators
Definitely, a product you never knew you needed is a fat separator. For anyone who has ever made gravy from scratch, the struggle lies in knowing that meat drippings from the turkey make for the richest gravy, but the messiness of getting the juice without the solids and the tediousness of spooning off the fat is a hindrance for most.
The OXO Fat Separator makes it so much easier. It has a strainer lid on top of the BPA-free, heat-resistant pour cup so meat pieces and other solids never make it the gravy with the meat juices. Then it has a stopper for the pour spout that prevents the fat from being poured with the meat juices.
|Top||Fat Separator With Bottom Release - 4 Cup Gravy & Fat Separator with Strainer||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||OXO Good Grips Good Gravy 4-Cup Fat Separator||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator / Measuring Cup with Strainer & Fat Stopper / 1 Liter Capacity||Buy on Amazon|
Best food mills
Certainly, there are instant box spud options galore, but a Food Mill can give you silky smooth mashed potatoes with just potatoes. Though a little bulkier than a ricer, it sure beats hand-mashing hot potatoes and is more versatile by removing skin and seed from dozens of fruits and veggies for smoother purees (think pumpkin puree for pumpkin pies). The OXO Good Grip is a nice compact food mill with a better handle for milling.
|Top||OXO Good Grips Food Mill||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Ergonomic Food Mill Stainless Steel With 3 Grinding Milling Discs, Milling Handle & Stainless Steel Bowl - Rotary Food Mill for Tomato Sauce, Applesauce, Puree, Mashed Potatoes, Jams, Baby Food||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Mirro 50024 Foley Stainless Steel Healthy Food Mill Cookware, 2-Quart, Silver -||Buy on Amazon|
NO FUSS BAKING
Best silicone baking mats
Nothing is worse than having to struggle to scrap dessert or other baked goods off a cookie pan or sheet at the end of a long cooking day. That’s why something as simple as a silicone baking mat can ease any potential woes. Even the hot, sticky baked items lift off the mat with ease. Not only do they create great results and lessen clean-up, but they are reusable.
The Silpat is made of fiberglass mesh and the highest quality food-grade silicone, which provides consistent heat distribution and promotes even baking. Its truly nonstick abilities make it possible to cut the step of greasing the pan.
|Top||Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8 x 16-1/2||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Silicone Baking Mat Sheet Set of 2- Reusable Baking Mat Nonstick - Half Sheet Baking Mat For Oven (Size 16.5" x 11.6") Red||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||MMmat Silicone Baking Mats - Best German Silicone - Set of 2||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Amazon Basics Silicone, Non-Stick, Food Safe Baking Mat - Pack of 2||Buy on Amazon|
Continue with more of my holiday tips: