Although it’s only November 2, it’s not too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to begin planning your meal now! This week, take stock of your kitchen equipment. What shape are your baking sheets in? Do you have all the tools you need to get through the holiday season? Do you plan on investing in any new gadgets? If you answered yes to the last question, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve rounded up 11 crucial culinary tools for creating a spectacular Thanksgiving meal. Check them out below.
While it may seem like an old-fashioned tool, a turkey baster is incredibly useful. Every time you check on the bird, pull a little of the liquid from the bottom of the pan. Squirt it all over the turkey. Do this even if the recipe does not call for it, and you will end up with deliciously moist meat.
A food mill is on my to-get list of kitchen gadgets. While you don’t need one to make mashed potatoes, it will produce a wildly creamy side. Ina Garten uses her food mill all the time, and what can I say? I wanna be like Ina!
Bobby Flay believes one of the most significant ingredients in Thanksgiving cooking is chicken stock. I completely agree with him, because chicken broth is used in so many dishes and adds depth of flavor. In order to make your own, you’ll need a big stockpot to boil down bones, vegetables, and aromatics.
Nobody wants to eat dried-out turkey, so stick a meat thermometer in the thigh to monitor the temperature. A turkey is fully cooked when it reaches 165° Fahrenheit. Remember that once you pull it out of the oven, it will continue to cook, and the temperature will increase.
For years, I roasted a fancy Willie Bird turkey in a disposable foil pan. A roasting pan, I thought, was too expensive to only use once or twice a year. However, I realized that if I host Thanksgiving a lot, I should break the bullet and get a roasting pan. I did, and it’s changed my life! Now I use it for all sorts of things, like baking cheesecakes or roasted whole tenderloin.
A super-sharp knife will easily cut through the turkey’s flesh and bone, so be sure to invest in a quality carving set or sharpen the knives you already own.
Mandolines quickly and easily cut vegetables into paper-thin slices. Use one to make scalloped sweet potatoes, shaved fennel salad, or Brussels sprout coleslaw.
When making a lot of dishes, you can’t have too many mixing bowls. Be sure to get a set that has a variety of sizes. You’d be surprised at how many times you’ll end up using the smaller bowls for blooming gelatin, holding chopped garlic, or mixing vinaigrettes.
An oven thermometer is different from a meat thermometer. It goes inside your oven at all times and measures the actual temperature of heat that the oven is putting out. Over time, some ovens lose the ability to properly heat, so even when it says 375°F on your dial, the oven could actually be at 350°F. Especially for baking items like apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake, knowing the exact temperature of your oven is important.
For years, I stressed out every time I had to roll out pastry dough. Then my parents remodeled their kitchen and got marble countertops. The coolness of the surface makes rolling out homemade dough so much easier! I was shocked by how much it changed things. Since I live in a rented studio and marble countertops only exist in my dreams, I got a marble pastry slab. I use it for making pies, and it doubles as a pretty plate for serving cheese.
Homemade gravy is one of the best things about Thanksgiving. To make it, you need a certain ratio of three components: fat, liquid, and a thickening agent. When draining the pan drippings, it’s important to separate them from the fat—that way you can measure how much fat and liquid (the pan drippings are usually combined with stock to make the liquid) are used in the gravy.
What cooking tools will you be using this Thanksgiving?