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Essential Tools for Cooking a Thanksgiving Dinner

Priya Johnson Nov 20, 2018
Thanksgiving is a labor-intensive time of the year, and preparing a table full of delicacies can be very challenging. However, with the right tools and equipment, you can smoothen the cooking process.

Did You Know?

About 45 million turkeys are consumed every year in the US during Thanksgiving. Interestingly, two fortunate birds get pardoned by the US President every year and are sent to live at a farm in peace, for the rest of their lives.
Thanksgiving, the occasion of giving thanks, is marked by lavish dinners, turkeys, and football. The heavenly meal at the end of the day is the highlight of the celebrations. Preparing a meal with roasted turkey, side dishes, desserts, etc., especially single-handedly is nothing less than a Herculean task.
In today's fast-paced world, there's no time to spend days carrying out the laborious preparatory work for a Thanksgiving dinner. With work, family, and daily household chores, laying a table full of delicious food for this special occasion can be quite nerve-wracking.
However, thanks to a few kitchen tools, doling out a heavenly meal is not as difficult as it seems. These tools will not only make your job easier, but will also ensure you have perfectly cooked dishes.

Basic Tools Required for Cooking a Thanksgiving Dinner

Roasting Pan

Always use a sturdy, stainless steel roasting pan to roast your turkey.
Nonstick roasting pans can also be used, but they're not the ideal kind for deglazing and preparing a lovely gravy. Never use the aluminum disposable ones, because they are flimsy and can collapse easily. While purchasing a roasting pan, look for a pan that comes with a sturdy roasting rack.
A roasting rack not only ensures even cooking, but also prevents the bird from sitting in its own juices. Since the turkey is placed at a distance from the base of the pan, hot air is allowed to circulate around the bird, causing it to become nice and crispy on the outside.
Moreover, before you purchase your roasting pan, check if it will fit in your oven. Also, make sure your pan and rack come with handles to make lifting and maneuvering the turkey easier.

Carving Knife

A regular chef's knife shouldn't be used to carve a turkey, because it tends to shred the meat.
Purchase a good quality carving set that comprises a sharp knife and a pronged fork. The fork helps gain better grip over the bird, while you slice it. Besides this carving set, you also need proper know-how of carving a turkey, so make sure you're well-versed with the technique.

Carving Board

A wooden carving board with trenches to catch the dripping juices is the ideal kind for carving a turkey.
While you carefully carve the turkey, all the flavorful juices get collected in the trenches and can be added to the gravy. Some carving boards have a kind of depression to allow the turkey to stay put while you are carving it. This board can also be used to rest the turkey once it's out of the oven.

Meat Thermometer

Without a good cooking thermometer, you're quite likely to be serving overcooked turkey this Thanksgiving.
Most people use instant read thermometers; however, these are not ideal for the job. The oven has to be opened to read the temperature, causing loss of precious cooking heat. The other standard meat thermometers can withstand oven temperatures and are oven-proof, thus, eliminating the need for you to open the oven door.
These are positioned into the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. Once your turkey has reached a reading of 165°F, it's ready to be taken out of the oven. So, invest in a good meat thermometer to ensure perfect turkey this Thanksgiving.


Basting the turkey helps brown it, giving the skin a lovely golden-brown color and crispy texture.
Bulb turkey basters help you fill the pan drippings or prepared sauce into them, for easy basting. However, you can also bast the turkey with a pastry brush. Silicone brushes are ideal because they are easy to wash and maintain. Both the baster and pastry brush will also be helpful in basting other Thanksgiving delicacies, like pies, etc.

Fat/Grease Separator

Gravy is another important part of the Thanksgiving meal and is poured over the carved turkey pieces.
This flavorful gravy is prepared from the pan drippings and some other basic ingredients. However, the pan drippings from the roasted turkey also contain a lot of fat, which can be separated using a grease separator.
If you don't have a grease separator, you can also use a simple measuring cup. Just allow the drippings to stand for a while; the fat will rise to the top. Skim the fat off, and use the rest to prepare your gravy.


A whisk is a very helpful tool in the kitchen.
It can be used for whisking a variety of things, right from gravy, eggs, butter, etc., to whipping cream for the dessert. A whisk is a tool that you'll be using for various tasks during the Thanksgiving dinner preparation. While your standard balloon whisk is good enough, some prefer the flattened ones for more convenience.

Potato Masher

Besides choosing the right kind of potatoes, you also need a potato masher to prepare lovely, creamy mashed potatoes.
All kinds of potato mashers are available in the market, so pick one according to your preference. Moreover, you can also use a potato ricer or even a food mill to mash your potatoes.
Food mills are more convenient because they take away the need to peel the potatoes. So, if you can get hold of one, it will save time. If you have a slow cooker, you can keep previously prepared mashed potatoes warm until serving time.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

If you're preparing your own bread, dinner rolls, or even pies, you need a set of measuring cups and spoons to make precise measurements.
Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons are durable and easy to maintain. These tools will come in handy all through the year for a variety of dishes, so investing in a set is definitely worth it. Also, purchase a measuring cup to measure various liquid ingredients. It can also be used to separate grease from the pan drippings.


Wine and Thanksgiving go hand in hand; thus, corkscrew comes into the picture. A corkscrew is needed to open the bottles of wine for Thanksgiving.
Wine can be added to pep up the gravy or can even be added to the dessert. There are different types of corkscrews available; however, irrespective of the type, make sure you have one at home. Besides, corkscrews are even useful to open up the wine bottles to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner.
Depending on your menu, your tool list may vary, so adjust accordingly. However, while stores are flooded with all kinds of fancy tools and equipment, it's important to remember not to keep purchasing every possible tool you set your eyes upon.
Peruse through their uses, and only if you feel the tool is absolutely helpful, invest in it. Moreover, don't limit the use of these tools to Thanksgiving. Most of these tools are versatile and can be used to prepare different dishes all through the year. So, make the most of it.