10 Tools You Need for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Here's your Thanksgiving checklist for all the pans, tools, and other cookware you'll need for a stress-free Turkey Day. Do you have everything you need?!

Photography Credit: Emma Christensen, Elise Bauer, and Coco Morante

The time is nigh. Thanksgiving just around the corner. Do you have everything you need?!

Thanksgiving is a food lover’s paradise — a time to gather and do nothing but eat. The key to a stress-free holiday is planning: A few weeks before Turkey Day, it’s wise to get your game together and figure out the state of affairs in your kitchen.

Roast Turkey

Here are ten tools, pans, and other essential cookware to dig out of the cupboard or put on your shopping list:

1 Roasting Pan and Rack: This seems like a no-brainer, but if this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, you might forget! And if you already have a roasting pan, make sure your is clean and ready to go, including the metal roasting rack that rests inside the pan. That rack elevates the turkey, helps air circulate around it, and keeps it separate from the juices that will invariably hit the bottom of the pan.

2 Cheesecloth: I never roast a turkey without cheesecloth—I drench it in good butter and drape it over the top of the turkey, which helps retain some of the moisture. Cheesecloth is also useful for straining broth, steeping herbs, and lots of other meal prep tasks.

3 Turkey baster: If you don’t want to go the cheesecloth route, a baster is key to keeping the bird moist.

4 Butchers’ twine. You’ll want the wrangle the legs together of this one, so the bird keeps its shape in the oven.

5 A sharp carving knife: My grandfather always cut the turkey with an electric knife, which I used to think was goofy but now I kinda think is cool. In lieu of that, a good sharp knife is essential.

6 Covered casserole dishes: Covered dishes are essential for keeping sides like potatoes and stuffing nice and hot on the table. (Don’t have covers for your casserole dishes? Try these silicon lids!)

7 Lots and lots of aluminum foil: I’ve experienced way too many holidays wherein I run out of foil. You’ll need it to line pans, cover dishes, reheat bread, or wrap up random leftovers.

Pressure Cooker Beef Brisket

8 Fat separator with a built-in strainer: This handy device keeps the fat and other particulates from the pan away from the rest of the gravy when you want to pour it out.

9 Thermometer: Ideally you want an instant read thermometer, which tend to be the most fast and accurate. Barring that expense, one that you trust is important. Remember, we’re looking to get the bird to 165F at the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

10 Carving board with recessed edges, or an outer trench: A carving board might feel unnecessary when you already have a regular cutting board, but the juices from carving the turkey will inevitably run out and off the board, making a mess of your counter top. Besides you want those juices for the gravy, right?

What other tools do you consider essential for a stress-free Thanksgiving Day?

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Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is a food writer living in Easton, Pennsylvania who goes out of her way for farmers markets, a crazy new ingredient, yoga class, and a great cup of tea. Find more of her work her on her blog The Dharma Kitchen. Her first cookbook, Tasting Pennsylvania, will be published in spring 2018.

More from Carrie

4 Comments

  1. Jennie

    Does a cheese cloth still give u crispy skin

    • Carrie Havranek

      Yes! The cheesecloth is breathable, so air does get in there. It’s sort of like giving the turkey a bit of sunblock — this is going to sound goofy but it’s a low SPF compared to what you’d get it if you covered the whole thing in foil.

  2. Norma

    I buy really cheap face cloths(usually in a pack of 20) and use them as clean up rags in the kitchen. I keep a bowl of soap water in the sink with one of the rags in it. I also keep a small cylinder shaped basket in the kitchen for dirty towels. This helps me so much!

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