10 Kitchen Tools You Need to Cook and Serve Thanksgiving Dinner

By Daisy Barringer

Thanksgiving dinner is the biggest meal of the year for most Americans. There’s turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, candied yams, roasted vegetables, butternut squash soup, and so many different kinds of casseroles and pies.

As you solidify your menu, take a look at this list and make sure you’re not missing any of the essential cooking equipment needed to pull off all of your dishes. And if you are, don’t worry. Everything you need is available online. We found options that are affordable, as well as some splurge-worthy choices that you can use for many Thanksgivings to come.

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For the Turkey

Sturdy roasting pan with rack

It’s not Thanksgiving without a juicy turkey with crispy, golden skin. Unfortunately, that flimsy disposable aluminum pan they sell at the grocery store isn’t going to give you the results that a real roasting pan will. A roasting pan with a rack helps circulate the oven heat evenly around the turkey so that the bottom isn’t left with flabby skin. It also leaves space for the drippings to collect and, if you want, a place for you to roast vegetables.

Save: Circulon Nonstick 17” x 13” Roaster with U-Rack from Amazon, $30

Splurge: Large All-Clad Stainless-Steel Roasters with Rack from Williams-Sonoma, $130

Kitchen twine

You definitely don’t have to truss your bird, but it does make the turkey look better on the platter, and it can help prevent the breast meat from overcooking. If you do decide to truss your bird, you’ll need kitchen twine.

Natural Cooking Twine from Amazon, $4.99

Not sure how to truss a turkey? Epicurious shows an easy way to do it.

Turkey baster

Basting isn’t required when it comes to cooking a turkey, but it is a great way to ensure moist and tender meat. After all, even copious amounts of gravy can’t make dry turkey taste good.

Save: OXO Softworks Turkey Baster and Cleaning Brush from Target, $9.99

Splurge: Cuisipro 3-in-1 Baster with Brush from Williams-Sonoma, $19.95

Instant-read thermometer

If you like to cook, your kitchen should have an instant-read thermometer. It is especially useful when cooking an enormous turkey because it guarantees that the meat is cooked to a safe temperature while still remaining moist and tender. What temp is that? When your turkey is a steady 165°F, the turkey is done and ready to come out of the oven.

Save: OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Digital Instant Read Thermometer from Amazon, $19.95

Splurge: There’s really no need to splurge on this one!

An oversized carving board with trenches

When you finally cut into the turkey, if you cooked it right, flavorful juices should flow out of it, and the last thing you want is for those juices to overrun your cutting board and go to waste. That’s why you need a cutting board with a groove to catch all of that goodness. There are lots of options out there, including boards with grooves that funnel into a catch tray and boards that are pretty enough to put on the table. Handles are also important since they will make it much easier to transport the turkey. That means you’re going to have to spend a little more than you would on a regular cutting board. Here are two we like:

Save:  12”x19.25” Teak Carving Board with Metal Handles from Target, $49.99

Splurge: John Boos Aztec Board with Pan & Grips 24”x18”x2.25 from CuttingBoard.com, $277.95

Fat separator

A fat separator (also called a gravy strainer) is a specially designed measuring cup that separates fat from the roasting juices. You just pour the gravy into the heat-resistant separator and the fat rises to the top while the lean gravy settles at the bottom. You can certainly make delicious gravy without this, but it will save you the time and effort of constant skimming.

Save: OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator from Amazon, $14.99

Splurge: HIC’s Borosilicate Glass Gravy Separator from Fishpond, $70

Carving knives

Once the turkey is cooked and the gravy is made, you need to slice the meat off of the bird while still keeping it together. That is where carving knives, which are designed specifically to cut meat, come into play. Not sure how to carve a turkey? Real Simple has an easy-to-follow tutorial.

Save: Zyliss Stainless Steel Carving Knife and Fork from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, $7.99

Splurge: Wüsthof Grand Prix II Carving Set from Williams-Sonoma, $149.95

Serving platter

As we mentioned, if you have a beautiful cutting board, then you can definitely serve the turkey on that. However, if you want to move it to a serving platter instead, then here are a couple of options:

Save: Thankful Oval Platter from Crate & Barrel, $34.95

Save: White/Brown Stoneware Turkey Serving Platter from Target, $19.99

Splurge: Arthur Court Designs Turkey Oval Platter from Bed, Bath & Beyond, $109.99

Splurge: Provence Hand Painted Serving Platter from Williams-Sonoma, $79.96-$103.96

For Everything Else:

Casserole dish

It’s not Thanksgiving without a casserole. Whether you like a green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, or a classic mac n cheese, you’ll need something to bake and serve it in.

Save: Oval enamel casserole dish in red from Target, $39.99

Splurge: Staub 4-Piece Baking Dish Set from Sur La Table, $129.96 (on sale from $275)

Pie plate

Pumpkin, apple, pecan, sweet potato … You have to save room for pie!

Save: Two-Piece Glass Deep Pie Plate Set from Pier 1, $19.95

Splurge: Emily Henry Made in France 9” Blue Pie Dish from Amazon, $30

Splurge: Le Creuset Stoneware 9” Pie Pan in Cerise from Amazon, $49.95

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