Must-Have Kitchen Tools For Thanksgiving Dinner

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Thanksgiving dinner. It's a chance to eat a traditional meal with extended family, to express gratitude for all the gifts and blessings you have been given, and a time to watch football games after eating too much.

It's also quite possibly the largest meal you cook all year, and the only time you cook an entire turkey. Preparing a meal that has so much tradition behind it can make you feel pressured to turn everything out perfectly.

While nobody is likely to judge your dinner as harshly as you, you can make the preparation a whole lot easier by having the proper tools and gadgets on hand for cooking this traditional meal.

General Kitchen Tools

There are basic kitchen tools that will make your life easier and help you get a delicious Thanksgiving dinner on the table more quickly. Here are five tools that are essential for your Thanksgiving kitchen:

Timer - Don't rely on remembering what time the turkey needs to come out of the oven. A kitchen timer is a must. For a big dinner, you will need more than one, so you can time several separate dishes.

Tiered oven rack - If you have one oven, but need to cook a turkey and one or two side dishes at the same time, a tiered oven rack will solve the problem. These racks have metal wire shelves, allowing you to stack two or three baking dishes, freeing up oven space for your turkey.

Fat separator - Make your gravy healthier with a fat separator. This handy, spouted pouring cup lets the heavier juices sink to the bottom, while lighter fat floats on top. Just pour the juices out, leaving the fat behind.

Measuring cup and spoons - Every kitchen needs a full set of measuring cups and spoons. While there are times you can season to taste, if following a recipe closely you need to measure ingredients accurately.

Cutting board - Wooden or plastic cutting boards that can go in the dishwasher give you a sturdy surface for cutting and chopping, and let you disinfect them after use.

Ready for Planting

Turkey Baster

Finished Product

Electric Knife

Tender Turkey

According to Butterball.com, 90% of American homes will be having turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. The star of your table will be golden-brown, moist and succulent with a few handy tools to make cooking easier.

Roasting pan - A good quality, heavy roasting pan is a must for your turkey. A nonstick, aluminum pan will distribute heat for even cooking, while making clean up a breeze.

Meat thermometer - Don't rely on sight or time to determine when your turkey is done. Turkey needs to be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption.

Baster - These squeeze-ball contraptions let you keep the turkey nice and moist with its own juices.

Turkey lifter - It's awkward and potentially dangerous to lift the cooked turkey out of its pan without some sort of support underneath. A turkey lifter is a metal frame with handles that lets you easily transfer the turkey from roasting pan to carving platter.

Electric knife - You don't want to be sawing away at your turkey with a dull knife. An electric knife makes quick work of carving the turkey, and turns out neat, even slices.

Flavor injector - Looking like a big hypodermic syringe, a flavor injector lets you shoot flavorful melted butter and herbs into the turkey meat, for moist, delicious results.

Don't Forget The Sides

Turkey might be the star, but most tables will also sport mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, and a green vegetable. Simplify the preparations of your side dishes with the following:

Vegetable peeler - Basic to every kitchen, you will be using a vegetable peeler for potatoes, carrots and yams, so purchase one with an ergonomic handle. Your hands will thank you.

Potato masher - Lumpy mashed potatoes are a thing of the past with a potato masher. Heavy wire mashers are the best and simplest.

Vegetable brush - Use this to thoroughly scrub dirt and soft spots off your potatoes, carrots or yams before cooking.

Knives - Good quality chef's knives make chopping and cutting a pleasure. Once you invest in quality, sharp knives, you will wonder how you ever cooked without them.

Stuffing cage - If you like cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, a stuffing cage is the easiest way to do it. Just fill the cage, insert in turkey for cooking, and then pull it out to serve. No more struggling to scrape the stuffing out of the turkey with a spoon and fork.

Always Room For Dessert

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without pie, usually pumpkin. Here are a few tools to help serve dessert and wine.

Pie cutter - Sure, you could use a knife, but a pie cutter makes it easy not just to cut the pie into neat slices, but also to lift and serve without the slice falling apart.

Ice cream scooper - Much better than a flimsy spoon, an ice cream scooper makes the job quick and neat.

Piecrust shield - No more burnt or dried edges to your pies. An aluminum or silicone piecrust shield protects the crust from uneven cooking and burning.

Cream whipper - No need to purchase spray cans full of propellants and chemicals for delicious whipped cream. Fill the cup of a cream whipper with heavy cream, screw on the top, and pump the handle to produce light, fluffy whipped cream.

Corkscrew - No more embarrassing struggle with the cork, or pieces of debris floating in the wine. There are many choices of easy-to-use corkscrews available to get the job done quickly and easily. Winged corkscrews are easy and inexpensive, or go the fancy route with a battery-powered device.

Wine aerator - Once the wine is open, pour it through a wine aerator to let the wine breathe and highlight the flavor. There are styles that screw onto the bottle top, or aerators that sit over the wine glass. Both work to enhance the taste and aroma of the wine.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be an overwhelming prospect, but with a properly stocked kitchen, the job can be much easier, leaving you relaxed and able to enjoy the delicious results of your labor.

Last Updated: September 28, 2011
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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