What's the secret to a stress-free turkey day?
A) Planning ahead.
B) Having the right tools on hand in your kitchen.
We can't plan your menu for you, but BestReviews can provide you with the best tools you need to cook your Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy it, too. Whether it’s your first time hosting the holiday or your fiftieth, our list of today's top nine kitchen tools will help push you ahead of the curve.
Whether you're carving a turkey or chopping herbs and onions for stuffing, a quality set of versatile kitchen knives is essential. Knives that feel balanced and comfortable in the hand make all the difference as you chop, dice, and slice your way to an unforgettable Thanksgiving feast.
If you already own a good knife set, check each blade's sharpness, and address problems before the big day arrives. The metal sharpener stick that comes with most knife sets is good for a quick fix, but a session with a quality whetstone or your local knife sharpener are even better solutions.
Don't forget to prep your electric knife, which comes in handy for carving the turkey. If need be, you can also sharpen its blades beforehand, but be sure to consult the manufacturer's directions first.
Our pick for the best knife set? The Zwilling 19-piece Twin Signature set. It has outstanding blade quality and customers love its lightweight feel and durability. The knives are very sharp and cut at the slightest pressure, relieving stress and strain on your hands when chopping, cutting, slicing or dicing.
Hate dirty dishes? A hand blender allows you to mix ingredients directly in the pot.
These easy-to-store appliances are great for preparing pureed veggies, soups, sauces, and gravies in quantities large and small.
Some people like immersion blenders in particular. An immersion blender typically features multiple attachments and speed settings so you can tailor the tool to your needs.
Whipping up a heaping platter of mashed potatoes is a snap with a well-equipped immersion blender. And don’t forget the pumpkin pie, the crowning glory of your Thanksgiving meal!
The power and speed of an electric hand mixer make the task of whipping cream for your pie fun and quick — an easy job for an eager guest who wants to help out in the kitchen.
Our pick for the best hand blender? The Cuisinart Smart Stick 2-Speed Hand Blender. It comes with not just an immersion hand blender, but also with a chopper, a beaker, and a whisk attachment. With a powerful motor and brushed stainless steel body, the blender stick is sturdy and durable. For cleaning, all you have to do is press a small button on the handle to release the stick (or the whisk) attachment.
“Thanksgiving is all about fabulous desserts,” says pastry expert Sarah O’Kelley. And when it comes to creating top-notch desserts, nothing beats a heavy-duty standing mixer.
Baking aficionados report not being able to live without their mixers for making cake batter, icing, and bread. With the right attachments, you can even make cookie dough — an absolute essential during any holiday season.
A stand mixer gives you the advantage of doing the work on its own, without you having to manually move it up and down, or side to side, to get a perfect mix. A stand mixer gives you versatality to multi-task, especially when preparing a feast.
Stress-busting tip: Make your desserts at least the day before the holiday so you have one less thing to worry about.
Our pick for the best stand mixer? The Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome Hand/Stand Mixer. It comes with a sufficiently large bowl for any family or friends' gathering. Traditional beaters are included, which suffice for most mixing purposes. Additional dough hook and whisk attachments are also included for mixing that chocolate chip cookie dough, or beating those egg white to peaks for your parfait.
A food processor is a quintessential item in any well-rounded cook’s kitchen. This miracle machine gives you back the hours you would have lost chopping, dicing, cutting carrots, celery, onions, garlic, herbs, nuts, and whatever else you need on Thanksgiving. It can also be used to make quality pie dough.
The major advantage that a food processor has over a blender or chopper is that it requires little to no liquid (water, stock, etc.) in its tasks of food preparation. There is no better alternative to a food processor when it comes to grating, chopping, grinding or shredding.
Available in a variety of sizes, there's always a food processor in today's market to meet everyone's cooking needs.
Our pick for the best food processor? The Ninja Master Prep Professional. Its powerful motor can crush ice in seconds to powdery fluff. You can blend frozen fruits, vegetables and other foods without a worry about its blades dulling or of damage to the product. Its system of container attachment makes it leak proof — a really good feature when making smoothies or juices. And because it is dishwasher safe, cleaning it is a breeze!
High-quality pots and pans with heavy bottoms cook food evenly without scorching it. This is especially true for dishes like gravy that require a long stove top cook time.
Many people have a hodgepodge of cookware in their cabinets. Some pieces hail from their wedding day; others have randomly collected over the years. As you plan your meal, make sure you have enough cookware to cover your menu items. If you don't have enough cookware, we encourage you to look at your options, which include non-stick, stainless steel, and oven-safe pieces.
Before turkey day arrives, make sure that you have the appropriate utensils for your cookware. Metal spatulas should never be used on non-stick surfaces, for example, but wooden and plastic utensils fit the bill quite nicely.
Our pick for the best cookware set? The Vremi 15-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set with Cooking Utensils. Not only is the set diverse so that almost every kind of cooking requirement is met but, because of their non-stick coating, they are super easy to clean as well. Those with large families may find the sizes of the pots a bit on the smaller side, but it serves well for even up to 4 people. A complete, single-buy solution for renewing all your essential cookware at one go this holiday season.
When it's time to transfer the turkey from oven to table, many chefs choose to use a high-quality Dutch oven. This is because a Dutch oven radiates heat very evenly across its entire body and this helps in the food tasting better and being more succulent to the palate.
Stuffings and casseroles also cook well in Dutch ovens, and can add a touch of color to the holiday tableau. Cooking these in a Dutch oven ensures that they do not dry out, and retain the most flavor.
Serious cooks gush about the stews, chilis, and soups as well that they’re able to create in their seasoned cast iron Dutch ovens. Again, flavor and aroma of these are very important to the dish being a success, and a Dutch oven makes sure that those are retained to the best.
Our pick for the best Dutch oven? The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Lodge proclaims itself to be a "zero hazardous waste stream foundry", which means they do not cause harm to the environment during their manufacturing processes. This Dutch oven from the company comes with a lifetime warranty, which only goes to show how sure they are of its durability. The rich cream colour of the interior, coupled with the beautifully bright red of the exterior, makes this not just a great gifting choice, but also an attractive addition to your own kitchen. The quality of the Dutch oven is really remarkable, and it is very reasonably priced for all that.
A roaster oven offers a great space-saving solution for people with limited cooking room. Different from a slow cooker or a toaster oven, a roaster oven has the capacity to cook a full-size turkey while saving oven space for other dishes. Self-basting and large-capacity features make this a valuable kitchen tool, even if it only appears on your counter a few times a year.
A roaster oven is a remarkable machine when it comes to roasting, steaming, and also slow cooking. You can put a whole poultry inside it, complete with stuffing, and set it in one corner of your countertop. At the end of the designated time, what will come out is a juicy, aromatic, beautifully cooked bird with great basting.
Our pick for the best roaster oven? The Oster 22-Quart Roaster Oven with Self-Basting Lid. It not only steams, roasts and slow cooks, but it has a self-basting lid which means you never have to finish your meat on the pan to get that crispy, brown skin — this roasting oven will do even that finishing step for you. Besides, Oster says that this product can bake dinner rolls, muffins, and even a whole sheet cake as well as your regular oven!
If you want crispy, moist turkey in short order, a turkey fryer could be for you. Turkey fryers have grown in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Not only are they great for assembling a quick bird, they're also appropriate for cooking seafood, onion rings, and other veggies.
If you're looking to buy a turkey fryer, you've got a plethora of varieties to choose from, including indoor/outdoor, oil/oil-free, and propane/electric models.
Deep fried turkey is a southern delicacy that is voted delicious by all who have had it. And all you have to do to enjoy this lip-smacking dish is skewer your bird — or birds — on the central rod, lower the whole thing into the pot, and let the apparatus do the rest for you. Some turkey fryers come with temperature controls so you can control the heat, and also a safety shut-off to minimise mishaps.
Our pick for the best turkey fryer? The Char-Broil Big Easy TRU-Infrared Oil-Less Turkey Fryer. This product is a great choice for those conscious about their calorie intake as it fries the meat without any oil. You are not limited to cooking only turkey, though. You can make delicious pork tenderloins, fried chicken, roast beef, and other cuts of meat and poultry, seasoned with your choice of rubs or marinades.
Cooking a turkey in a smoker requires significant prep work, up to 12 hours in the apparatus, and plenty of oversight. But those who are willing to put in the time reap the reward of a delicious, smoky poultry entree that you just can't get anywhere else.
Best of all, a smoker is an item that can be used at cookouts and other family events all year long.
A smoker cooks meat at low temperatures for extended periods of time. The machine produces smoke that is absorbed by the cooking food, making it more appetizing. The wood you use in a smoker determines the aroma of the smoke and, reciprocatively, the taste of the meat.
Due to its process of cooking meat at low temperatures, with smoke and moisture wrapped around the food, the result is tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone fare that will disappear as soon as ready!
Our pick for the best smoker? The Masterbuilt 30-Inch Black Electric Digital Smoker. An 800 watt heating element, timer and temperature controls, side load for wood chips, air damper, removable drip pan, and great insulation are only some of its advantageous features. Masterbuilt's customer support is without par; so, if you make an investment in this product, you will not face any issues when in comes to replacement of parts or any fixes.
Sarah O’Kelley has spent 15 years immersed in the food and beverage field. From working in Emeril’s culinary department to founding her own restaurant, she has explored many a culinary path, and more recently she has fully dedicated herself to wine studies. She has her Certified Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and she is currently studying for the advanced level. She will be opening a wine and beer shop in Charleston, SC, in the spring of 2017, Edmund’s Oast Exchange.
With the right kitchen tools and appliances in place, you will be ready to create a schedule for each of your prep days. Be prepared to make this holiday season a memory to be cherished by you, your family, and friends.
Don’t forget to enjoy the process as much as you enjoy the meal. Happy cooking!