9 Essential Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools 2021

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Growing up in an Asian-American household, Thanksgiving wasn’t a major holiday for my family. We didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner until I was 10 and my parents made peking duck, pork belly, and longevity noodles instead of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I didn’t have a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner until I was a teen when my siblings and I took over the cooking.

While everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner is going to look (and taste) different, there are essential cookware and bakeware that will always come in handy no matter what you’re cooking. Even if you’re skipping out on turkey, you’ll find plenty of uses for a sturdy roasting tray. The same goes for a versatile air fryer that you’ll use long after the leftovers are finished (there will always be leftovers).

With that in mind, here’s your Thanksgiving toolkit whether you’re sticking to tradition or going rogue.

You’ll want to rely on these can’t-go-wrong essentials whether you’re going traditional with oven-roasted turkey, sides galore, and half a dozen pies, or making use of your canned tomatoes with comforting braised chicken thighs.

You might should have these around already, but if you don’t, it’s well worth grabbing them ahead of the big day. And hopefully, you already have everyday tools like knives, cutting boards, and utensils, because well, you just should!

Photo by Rocky Luten

A roasting pan is absolutely essential for cooking birds of any size—our worst nightmare is a flimsy aluminum tray groaning underneath the weight of a perfectly-roasted bird. This one is sturdy, deep enough to avoid splatters inside your oven, and comes with a rack to help strain juices for delicious gravy and sauces. Pro tip: the rack can also be used to cool baked goods or even as a trivet to avoid burning your table.

Photo by Amazon

For roasted veggies, baked goods, and even pancakes, you can’t go wrong with a good sheet pan. This one is thick and sturdy (I use mine at least twice a week), and the extra-large size means you can meal prep like a pro. I’ve never had a problem with sticking since the corrugated surface means easy release, but a silicone mat like this can help.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Chill, bake, serve, and reheat your favorite pie all in this classic dish. The scalloped sides can help turn out beautifully-shaped pies while the depth means room for tons of sweet or savory fillings. The only thing harder than deciding what pie to make first is the dish color.

Photo by Amazon

Every kitchen should have a good meat thermometer and ThermoPro makes one of the very best. This incredibly-popular model is easy to use, easy to read, and most importantly, accurate. The uses go beyond cooking birds, too. You can use it to check the temp on steak, chocolate, potatoes, milk—literally anything you cook.

Photo by Rocky Luten

Transfer your leftovers from large serving platters and pie dishes that take up precious fridge space into these nesting containers. They’re stackable, freezable, and microwavable for endless versatility. A set of three means you can portion leftovers out for easy make-ahead meals, too.

If you’re cooking for one or two, or you’re short on space or time, handy appliances like an air fryer and gadgets like a corn stripper can come in clutch. But don’t think that they’re one-trick ponies—once Thanksgiving dinner is over, you’ll be reaching for them daily.

Photo by Amazon

No need to turn on the oven this year. An air fryer can reheat, crisp, bake, roast, and yes, fry, anything you put into the basket—all without a ton of oil, too. This popular model from Cosori can handle a five-pound bird for Thanksgiving, or any number of veggies and desserts for up to five people (which is more like two, in my household). It’s smaller than a microwave, so it should fit on the smallest counters, and its versatility means that you’ll get a ton of use out of it after Thanksgiving.

Photo by Julia Gartland

The ever popular Instant Pot can make more than make chili and stews, like fluffy mashed potatoes, juicy ribs, corn on the cob, and pumpkin cheesecake. If you’ve got this and the Cosori Air Fryer, you likely won’t need another kitchen appliance.

Photo by Amazon

If you’re a fan of corn all year round (and tbh, who isn’t?), you’re probably planning a side dish (or a few) that highlights your fave ingredient. Pick up a corn stripper to save yourself the time, trouble, and mess that comes with traditionally using a knife. It’s super easy to use—just line up the gadget to the cob and twist. Watching the kernels pop out is well, just kinda fun.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Can’t stand the thought of chopping and slicing vegetables all day? Us too. That’s why a compact food processor is so clutch for prep work. It can handle vegetables, hard cheeses, and even fruit with ease—it can even puree food and knead dough.

What Thanksgiving essentials do you reach for every year? Tell us in the comments below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns a commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.



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