If you like to cook, you already have measuring cups and spoons, a few mixing bowls, a wooden spoon or two, a whisk, a colander. So let's just cut to the chase. No matter how simple or elaborate a Thanksgiving meal you are planning, here's a checklist of things that will come in handy.
After you've finished reading about the Thanksgiving equipment you need, be sure to check out our traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu
and other Thanksgiving menus and cooking tips
. And for Thanksgiving crafts, decorations and entertaining tips, go to Holidash
It doesn't need to be expensive, but it should be sturdy enough to carry the weight of your turkey
. It also should be flameproof (that is, not glass) so that you can straddle it across two burners and deglaze the pan juices. Try to avoid the flimsy aluminum pans available at the supermarket-they buckle too easily. If that's your only option, though, don't let that stop you: Simply buy two and double them for added support.
See our equipment column for advice on choosing the best roasting pan
A flat wire rack one is best for turkey; a V-shaped one will tilt a whole bird, but is perfectly fine for a turkey breast.
"Neatness Counts" Department
Use needle-nose pliers
to remove any feathers or quills (quills are more common in kosher birds -- learn more in our turkey buying guide
). Tying the turkey's legs together prevents them from splaying and looking undignified. A length of undyed, unwaxed cotton kitchen string
-- sometimes called butcher's string -- is what you want; it won't melt. Use one of the small metal skewers called turkey lacers
to pin the neck skin to the body (it can get hung up on the rack). In our classic roast turkey recipe
, the wings are simply tucked out of the way, but you can also pin the wings to the body.
Dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat, and the beauty of an instant-read is that you can quickly and easily check the different parts of the turkey. If you are roasting a really big bird, two instant-reads make the job even easier.
Pouring turkey stock through the pliable wire mesh of a fine sieve into a bowl contributes to the silky texture of the end result.
If using pan juices for gravy, you can use a large shallow spoon or ladle to skim off the fat, but a fat separator does the job more efficiently; let the fat rise to the top of the tall, narrow container, then pour off the juices from the long, low spout.
Pots and Pans
For making sides, having at least two wide, heavy-bottomed 5-quart pots is a life-saver; those made of stainless steel with an aluminum core will last for years. A large heavy skillet
makes cooking pearl onions
or browning (not burning) butter (for green beans with brown butter
, for example) a cinch.
Shallow baking pans
Sometimes called jelly-roll pans or rimmed baking sheets, these large rectangular pans with inch-high sides are perfect for roasting Brussels sprouts
or butternut squash
takes just 10 minutes when you use a food processor
. The machine is also good for various chopping tasks, as well as making fresh breadcrumbs, although using a blender
results in more evenly sized crumbs.
Don't even think of making mashed potatoes
with a food processor; they will turn into a horrible gummy mess. Instead, use a traditional hand potato masher. It's simple, efficient, and easier to clean than a ricer or food mill.
You can use the smallest holes on an old-fashioned box grater to grate orange zest or ginger (for our cranberry relish recipe
, for example), but a more high-tech rasp like a Microplane has sharper teeth, which results in cleaner-looking, fluffier zest. It's also easier to clean.
Your choices for pie plates are aluminum, glass and earthenware. The last two make the prettiest additions to the sideboard at holiday time, and glass has an added benefit: While the pie is baking you can take a peek at the bottom and side of the crust to gauge doneness. Two inexpensive 9-inch Pyrex pie plates will get you through the holidays and then some.
A dowel-shaped French rolling pin gives you excellent control while shaping a crust, and you can easily transfer the dough to the pie plate by wrapping it around the pin, then unrolling it over the plate.