15 Essential Kitchen Tools That Will Make Thanksgiving Easier
These kitchen gadgets (low- and high-tech alike) make your holiday feast come together easier.
Thanksgiving is every home cook's day to shine. Whether you're preparing an intimate dinner for just a few people, or a feast for many, it's a feat of timing and logistics, and a constant battle for available counter space and oven real estate. Our roundup of innovative tools will ensure that your Thanksgiving dinner is prepared with as much ease and efficiency as possible, without forfeiting style.
1. Better Board
This clever cutting board is made of a wood-fiber composite that's easy on knife blades and doesn't retain bacteria, odors, or flavors. But it's the design of the board that's truly impressive: A detachable trough hangs off the edge of the board, and food scraps can be scraped right in for easy collection and transport, whether it's scraps to the trash or dressing ingredients to the mixing bowl. Designed by an NYC firefighter who died of cancer, the invention was featured on "Shark Tank" and is now being produced by the firefighter's kids in his honor.
Buy It: Cup Board Pro, $59.95; williams-sonoma.com
2. Space Maker
It's the perennial problem of Turkey Day: not enough room in the oven for the bird, plus all those side dishes! This three-tier oven rack comes to the rescue. Slip it into your oven and it'll add more levels of space, perfect for cooking those pies and casseroles. Now it's just a matter of finding some side dishes that all cook at the same temperature. The rack measures 13.5 by 11 by 10.5 inches, and collapses for convenient storage.
Buy It: Real Simple 3-Tier Adjustable Oven Rack, $16.99; bedbathandbeyond.com
Lump-free gravy and silky custards without all the fuss? Yes, please. This clever appliance does all the work for you. Set it in a pot of sauce, risotto, or another dish that requires lots of stirring, and it'll do the job. It has three stirring speeds, is heat resistant up to 248˚F, and won't scratch nonstick pans. At five inches in diameter, it fits most pots easily.
Buy It: Automatic Pot Stirrer, $19.95; thegrommet.com
4. Flavor Maker
Roast a moister, more flavorful bird with this stand. Taking a cue from the beer-can chicken technique, this sturdy rack has a chamber to fill with beer, wine, or other flavorful cooking liquids. Mount the turkey onto the rack — it'll hold a bird up to 18 pounds — and cook it in the oven or on the grill. The elevated position will cut cooking time down to around 12 minutes per pound, and will result in a turkey with moist meat and crisp skin… every cook's holy grail!
Buy It: Charcoal Companion, Turkey Infusion Roaster, $30.59; hayneedle.com
The composition of the stoneware used to make Le Creuset bakeware will help you perfect your pumpkin pie. The stoneware distributes and retains heat evenly so the crust and its filling will brown and cook perfectly, while the textured edge of the pie dish helps make a pretty fluted crust. You can even make the pies and freeze them in advance, this stoneware is freezer-safe. And when it's time to dig in, the durable enameled finish will resist knife marks. The 9-inch pie pan comes in a host of Le Creuset's famously vibrant colors so you can pick the shade that best complements your dessert table.
Buy It: Le Creuset Heritage Pie Dish, $50; lecreuset.com
The oenophile guests at your Thanksgiving table will likely appreciate a glass of perfectly aerated wine, which enhances and improves the flavor of wine, particularly red varietals. Rather than having to pour a bottle into a decanter and give it time to breathe, simply slip this innovative gadget inside the top of a just-opened wine bottle. It serves as a drip-free pourer while it perfectly aerates each glass of your favorite vintage.
Buy It: Rabbit RBT Wine Aerator/Pourer, $29.95; crateandbarrel.com
7. Tasty Baster
Your turkey will be extra-flavorful when you baste it with pan juices using this multifunctional basting tool. Then, use the silicone brush head to distribute the juices evenly over the skin; use the shower head-style attachment to squirt a more thorough coating of juice, or use the nozzle to squirt out a bigger stream of liquid, when you want to transfer the pan drippings into a saucepan for gravy. Measurements in ounces and milliliters are marked on the side of the clear baster for reference. It's also great for barbecue sauces or marinades.
Buy It: Cuisipro 3-in-1 Baster, $23; surlatable.com
8. Smart Sheet
Roll this silicone-coated sheet onto the counter and it'll be your biggest helper as you're rolling out holiday pastries. Non-slip and nonstick, the pastry mat is perfect for preparing pie crusts, biscuits, or cookie dough. Circle outlines of various sizes ensure that your pie crust is just the right size, while inches are also marked on the sides of the mat. A size conversion chart and a list of common substitutions is also printed onto the mat for handy reference. The mat can even double as a nonstick baking surface, since it's oven-safe up to 450˚F and fits inside a standard baking sheet.
Buy It: OXO Good Grips Pastry Mat in White/Red, $19.99; bedbathandbeyond.com
When you're raiding the fridge at midnight for Thanksgiving leftovers, the last thing you want is to have to open every single food container to find the sweet potato casserole. This colorful system has special reusable tags (sold separately) that clip onto the sides of the containers to indicate what's inside. Investing in a set of new food containers will ensure you have plenty of vessels for your yummy leftovers, and even enough to send home with your guests. The set comes with a variety of sizes, each with measurement markers on the inside, making it also ideal for storing ingredients that you prep in advance of the big day, too.
Buy It: Tellfresh Jewel Food Storage, Set of 10, $14.99; containerstore.com
10. Backup Burner
You can stop battling the other cooks in the kitchen for a spot at the stove if you have an extra countertop cooktop. The NuWave Portable Induction Cooktop can go where you need it to go, whether it's the buffet in the dining room or a makeshift counter space in the pantry. It has temperature settings from 100˚F to 500˚F, so it can do everything from keep something warm to sear a steak. The nine-inch diameter cooking surface fits most standard saucepans or skillets, and the exterior stays cool to the touch so it's safer around kids.
Buy It: NuWave Portable Induction Cooktop, $69.99; sharperimage.com
11. Gravy Saver
No more greasy drips on your heirloom tablecloth. This porcelain gravy boat sits on a matching, oval-shaped saucer so it's easy to pass and pour while it catches stray drips and dribbles. After Turkey Day, use it throughout the year for breakfast syrup, coffee creamer, hot fudge, and other delicious drizzles. The gravy boat is oven- and microwave-safe so you can heat up your syrups and sauces. With simple lines and a white finish, it matches just about any dinnerware pattern.
Buy It: Porcelain Gravy Boat with Saucer, $20; surlatable.com
12. Bake and Take
Bringing a dish has never been easier (or more attractive) than baking it in one of these pretty disposable aluminum baking pans. Cook up your favorite recipe, then cover it with the included decorative laminated lid for transporting to dinner. The set includes four 9-inch round pans and four 6-by-8.7-inch rectangular pans with matching lids featuring a hand-painted design. They can also be used by the Thanksgiving host for sending home leftovers.
Buy It: 4 Pack Thanksgiving Bake Away Pans with Lids, Set of 2, $11.98; worldmarket.com
13. Temp Taker
Never overcook your bird again. This wireless probe thermometer keeps tabs on your turkey, freeing you up to focus on preparing the rest of your feast. It'll send you updates via a free smartphone app, and will send you audio alerts if the food starts to overcook. Two probe sensors are included, so you can monitor the progress of two different foods at once, and it's especially handy if you're grilling or smoking your bird, since it has a range of up to 65 feet.
Buy It: Wireless Meat Thermometer, $89.99; sharperimage.com
14. Perfect Timing
Juggling the cooking times of multiple dishes? OXO's timer can keep you organized. It can be digitally programmed to three different countdown times of up to 100 hours. Each timer has a distinctive alarm tone so you'll know immediately whether it's your pie or the casserole that's ready to come out of the oven. When not in use, the angled display shows the current time.
Buy It: OXO Good Grips Triple Timer, $20; surlatable.com
15. Sleek Strainer
Greasy gravy is a thing of the past when you use Tovolo's gravy strainer to pour off the tasty pan juice, while the fat stays in the bottom and big particles are caught in the strainer in the lid. The plastic vessel holds four cups of liquid and is also handy to strain the fat from homemade stock or broth. With its attractive, streamlined look, this piece can even head straight to the table to serve the gravy.
Buy It: Tovolo Gravy Strainer, $14.95; crateandbarrel.com