Food Network Kitchen's Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey Toolkit
Here are the 10 essential tools you need to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey every time.
We understand that Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most important meals you cook all year, and having the right tools for the task is the key to success — especially when it comes to the turkey! Investing in a stellar roasting pan will almost guarantee you a perfectly cooked bird and having the right accessories will get you a silky-smooth gravy every time.
To help you out, the chefs in Food Network Kitchen have put together a list of the best tools to use to make the perfect turkey this year. Consider this your go-to guide for everything you need to make sure preparing Thanksgiving's main dish goes off without a hitch.
Carving into your bird can sometimes be more work than the entire cooking process itself, but it doesn't have to be. Grab an electric knife to make the serving process a breeze. Just make sure you have an outlet nearby, so you don't lose power in the middle of slicing the turkey breast.
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.
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.
In testing roasting pans, this Anolon model is our top choice. 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, yet fluted enough to ensure a perfectly cooked bird with crispy skin. 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.
When we tested cutting boards this year, the Made In Butcher Block stood out, and it's ideal for any home cook. It has a deep well, which catches the juices as you carve, and it's gentle on knives. The reversible sides make it ideal for prepping vegetables or serving an appetizer spread. Plus, this board is a little more affordable than other boards out there and the thick structure means it won't warp over time, meaning you'll be hanging on to this board for decades.
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).
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.
If you've never deep-fried a turkey before, this might be the year to try it out. With more people planning on hosting Thanskgiving dinner outside, it's the perfect way to showcase your skills, since we really recommend you only fry a turkey outdoors, a safe distance away from anything flammable.