The right tools will make this Thanksgiving the best one yet. Use our handy guide to ensure that you have all the right equipment come Turkey Day.

By Betty Gold and Ananda Eidelstein
Updated November 19, 2020
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Whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever, you’re a seasoned pro, or you’re just prepping ingredients that come from a convenient meal kit, there are certain tools that will ensure you’re set up for success on Thanksgiving. At Real Simple, we’re not about cluttering cupboards, so know that the tools below are solely those that are heroes in the kitchen—meaning you'll use them much more than just this one meal.

If hosting, the right roasting pan for Thanksgiving turkey is a must, along with an instant-read thermometer and a fat separator to help yield a silky and smooth gravy. And don’t forget the baster for maximum reach when pouring pan juices over the turkey for a golden skin. Before it’s time to cut the turkey with an electric knife (comes in handy to help keep the skin from tearing), you'll need to tend to the sides. A table without mashed potatoes is not Thanksgiving, and a potato ricer will ensure they’re light and fluffy. Last but not least, a mandoline for cutting down on prep work while yielding gorgeous slices of fruit for pies and vegetables for casseroles and salads. That’s the secret to Thanksgiving: Arming your kitchen with the right tools. Now you just need the recipes to make this year’s Thanksgiving the best one yet.

Credit: crateandbarrel.com

1

$15; crateandbarrel.com

Taking your turkey’s temp is the only foolproof way to know it’s cooked. Swap that clunky dial—or worse, pop-up—thermometer for an easy-to-read digital model. Insert it in the thickest part of the thigh (avoid the bone) and wait for 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Not there? Keep roasting.

RELATED8 Essential Thanksgiving Food Safety Rules to Follow to Avoid Getting Anyone Sick This Year

Credit: bedbathandbeyond.com

2

$10; bedbathandbeyond.com

Because the spout is attached to the bottom instead of the top, a fat separator lets you pour out just the flavorful pan drippings. The fat gets left behind, so there’s no need to skim.

Credit: amazon.com

3

$30; bedbathandbeyond.com

Press cooked potatoes through the tiny holes of a ricer for ultrasmooth mashies. Traditional mashers can easily overwork potatoes into a gummy mess, but a ricer keeps them light and fluffy.

Credit: bedbathandbeyond.com

4

$13; bedbathandbeyond.com

A long baster (unlike a spoon) gives you maximum reach into the corners of your roasting pan. Suck up pan juices, then drizzle them over the bird for golden skin and moist, tender meat. Baste every 30 minutes or so for the best results.

Credit: surlatable.com

5

$65; surlatable.com

A staff favorite, this tool creates perfectly even pieces of just about anything. Use it to slice apples for pie, potatoes for a gratin, or raw vegetables for salad. Adjust the thickness with the twist of a screw. The best part? No chopping means prep time is cut in half.

Credit: crateandbarrel.com

6

$50; crateandbarrel.com

A buzzing, serrated knife might seem old-fashioned, but most kitchen knives have seen sharper days. An electric one helps you cut through crispy skin without tearing and make uniform slices throughout, no knife skills required.

Credit: surlatable.com

7

Starting at $100; surlatable.com

High sides hold your bird, veggies, and drippings safely. Most pans come with a V-rack so the turkey roasts evenly, top to bottom. Measure your oven before you buy; look for a pan that allows for at least two inches of clearance on all sides.