Food Network Kitchen's Ultimate Thanksgiving Tool Checklist
Whether it's your first Thanksgiving or you're a Turkey Day pro, these cooking and baking tools are essentials to get you through the holiday.
We understand that Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most important meals you cook all year and we know that having the right tools for the task is the key to success. While we love the idea of using a potato masher passed down through the generations, might we suggest an upgrade to a potato ricer this year? Not to mention, investing in a stellar roasting pan will almost guarantee you a perfectly cooked bird. To save you a Google or two, we rounded up expert picks from Food Network kitchen to give you a list of the best tools to use to make everything from the turkey to pie.
Before you dive in, here's how to navigate this list. We've separated your must-have tools into three categories: turkey, sides and desserts. Consider this your go-to guide for everything you need to make sure your holiday goes off without a hitch — and with the best supplies.
First, Get Prepped:
There's a lot to measure and chop when you're making a feast. Have a wide range of wet and dry measuring cups and spoons. A good peeler will save your hands when prepping piles of carrots, potatoes, apples or squash. In a pinch, a paring knife could do the job too. Grate butter for pie dough and vegetables for casseroles and freshly grate spices with the multi-purpose box grater.
To Make Turkey:
This pan has it all! The thick, durable stainless steel can go from the oven to the stovetop without warping over the burner (perfect for making gravy the drippings). The sides are high enough to reduce spattering from stirring, and the handles are easy to grip with a potholder or towel. The included rack has a "U"-shaped basket (rather than a sharp "V"), making it ideal for all types of meats beyond Thanksgiving turkey.
A fat separator is key to making a silky (not greasy) gravy. Instead of laboriously skimming the fat from your turkey drippings with a spoon, you just pour all the drippings into the cup, let the fat rise to the top, and pour the flavorful juices out of the low spout. But don't throw away the fat that remains — you can use it for starting the roux for your gravy. We like OXO's separator because it has a strainer lid, which catches solids. Plus, the stopper (which you insert before you pour in your drippings) prevents any grease from filling the spout before rising to the top.
When it comes to picking a turkey baster, stainless is the way to go. Unlike a plastic tip, it won't melt, and it's dishwasher safe. Sure, it's opaque, which means you get see an exact measurement — but, when it comes to basting turkey, you just need to fill 'er up. Bonus: this one comes with an injector tip and a handy scrub brush.
The Food Network Test Kitchen swears by John Boos boards, and this one is ideal for any home cook. It has a deep well, which catches the juices as you carve, and it's made of maple, which is gentle on knives. The reversible sides make it ideal for prepping vegetables or serving an appetizer spread. Don't worry about spending a little more on this board — the thick structure means it won't warp over time, meaning you'll be hanging on to this board for decades.
The long thin blade of a carving knife allows you to cut around joints with ease and make clean, even slices across the length of the bird. Think of the carving fork as a stabilizer to hold the turkey in place while you slice — a large carving fork with straight prongs makes this easy. This set has a stylish wood handle, which allows it to go from kitchen to table.
Not all twine is created equal. If you truss your bird, you want unbleached cotton, which is intended for cooking. (Put down that old spool of rope you found in your garage!) This one stands upright, so it won't roll around in the chaos of your Thanksgiving counter. Once you have Butcher's twine, you'll wonder how you got along without it. Use it to tie bacon around a roast, secure your stuffed flank steak or tie herbs together when adding to a sauce or broth.
Some people swear by a butter-basted turkey, (aka covering your bird with butter-soaked cheesecloth and basting liberally while it cooks). But that's not the only use for this tool. Cheesecloth is handy for straining custards, gravy, stocks and cheese as well as making a bouquet garnish (a fancy term for a tied bundle of herbs added to sauces and soups).
Must-Haves for Sides:
A food mill takes up a little more space than a ricer, so it demands more commitment (but pays it back in versatility). Not only will you love a mill for lump-free mashed potatoes, you can use it to remove the skin and seeds from dozens of your favorite fruits and vegetables for smooth purees — think jam, applesauce and tomato sauce!
Most thanksgiving sides need to feed a crowd, so a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish fits the bill. And, when it comes to Thanksgiving cookware, options that are pretty enough to go from oven to table are a must. That's why we love this classic, white casserole dish, which fits all seasons. Not only will it bake your green bean or sweet potato casserole, you can use it for scalloped potatoes, lasagna, corn bread, sheet cakes and more. And, unlike glass dishes, it can go under the broiler for golden crusts and melty cheese toppings.
This is the perfect catch-all dish for sides that don't go into a casserole. Use it to serve mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, roasted root vegetables, sauteed green beans, creamed spinach, spoon bread and other Thanksgiving essentials. It fits into the microwave for easy reheating and is oven- and broiler-safe, meaning it is an easy way to upgrade your mac and cheese game.
There are a million year-round uses for a rimmed baking sheets. At Thanksgiving, you'll turn to it for roasting vegetables, drying out bread cubes in the oven for stuffing and baking appetizers. Slip one under a pie in the oven to catch bubbly overflow. We love this one because it won't warp and heats evenly.
Make Accurate Measurements:
Precise measurements are the key to great baking. There are two kinds of measures: Glass cups for wet ingredients like oil, milk or stock; and flat-topped metal ones for dry things that you can level off like flour, sugar and shortening. A hand sifter helps take the clumps out of flour, sugar, spices or any other dry ingredient. Spice up a classic recipe with a little lemon zest or fresh nutmeg; all you need is a fine grater.
Pie and Dessert Tools:
A fluted pan with a removable bottom gets you patisserie-worthy results with little effort. The light color of the pan prevents your pastry from darkening too quickly before the interior is cooked through, and the non-stick coating helps your buttery crust slip right out. After you've mastered an apple tart, put the pan to use for a quiche, lemon tart or chocolate ganache tarts.
For every baking project, including pie dough and cinnamon roll dough, you can't go wrong with a French tapered rolling pin. It's broad enough for the widest pie dish, the tapered ends give you a good grip while you roll, and the single piece of wood is easy to wipe down when you're done. If pasta dough and laminated pastry is your jam (think flaky croissants and danish), you'll appreciate the smooth rolling motion and pressure you can apply with a classic wood rolling pin that spins on a center dowel.
Yes, the name is terrible, but all the uses for this handy tool make up for it. The thin, sturdy edge gently lifts the most delicate crusts from a cutting board, helps transfer your chopped vegetables to a pot and cuts through butter and brownies with ease — the ruler marks on the edge are a bonus.
Parchment paper is the workhorse of Thanksgiving. Line a baking sheet when you are roasting vegetables or making cookies for breezy cleanup. Line your cake pan and brownie pans for easy release. Rolling out pie and cookie dough on a parchment sheet frees you of the anxiety of a sticky counter.
Think of silicone baking mats as reusable baking sheet liners. Anything hot and sticky — candied nuts, chocolate barks, peanut brittle, toffee, tuille cookies — lift off effortlessly. We suggest Silpat — they are the gold standard in kitchens across the country for good reason.
Sure, you could use beans or uncooked rice to weigh down a pie dough shell (called blind baking), but one trial with real pie weights will convince you to make the investment. Ceramic weights heat evenly, have the necessary heft to prevent crusts from shrinking or puffing and last forever without worry of getting moldy. Invest in two boxes, so you have enough to fill a deep dish pie plate.