You need these essential cooking tools if you are going to put an amazing Thanksgiving dinner on the table.
(Please note that this post includes affiliate links. They’re boring, but you can read my full disclosures here if you want.)
As the holidays roll around, especially Thanksgiving, cooking tools that were fine for previous family dinners suddenly seem lackluster and inadequate. Now is the perfect time to replace those cooking tools with better ones.
Whether you’re in charge of the big Thanksgiving dinner, or you’re just bringing a side dish or two, these cooking tools will make your life easier during the holidays and throughout the entire year.
This is going to be an interesting post because I don’t know all the newfangled, fancy-pants tools. I’m a mom, not a chef. And in good conscience, I can only recommend what I use myself and love.
I also have this funny rule: for every appliance I buy, I need to get rid of one. It keeps my kitchen clean and organized. Plus, my middle name is frugal — I’m not really into throwing perfectly good, useful things away.
So my list is comprised of a few basic, all-purpose, tried-and-true, cooking tools that you will definitely use all year long.
My friends and family all think I work magic in the kitchen. But I really just have the right cooking tools.
Check these kitchen tools out and please comment below if I’ve missed any of your favorites.
1. The Best Cooking Tools: Potato Masher
A friend and I have a running argument. She likes potatoes mashed by hand, but I swear by my Kitchen Aid immersion blender. I guess it all comes down to the age-old question: chunky or creamy? Since I’m the author here, I’m going to tell you about my favorite potato masher. I hope you like your mashed potatoes creamy!
My immersion blender, which is indubitably the most used of all my cooking tools, is an absolute dream for mashing potatoes! Just boil your potatoes until soft, drain them, add a little butter, cream and salt, then plug your immersion blender in, pop it in the pot, and in just a few minutes, with zero work on your part, you’ll have a pot of heaven. Well, I guess most people would call them creamy, mashed potatoes. But I call them heaven.
But that’s not all this nifty kitchen tool can do, oh no, it is not! (Can you tell I’ve been reading Dr. Seuss to my daughter?) No. Your gravy will be smooth and succulent. Lumps, schmumps. It will make your cheesecakes and puddings as smooth as silk; your smoothies creamy and dreamy. Your guests will worship you!
Another little tidbit about this immersion blender: it will outlast all of your other kitchen appliances and it costs barely anything. Seriously! The only kitchen appliance that I’ve owned longer than this immersion blender is my food processor, and that’s because I never use it. It has way too many parts, is hard to clean, and the immersion blender can outperform it every single time, so I never even get it out. I may even have forgotten where I keep it.
If you don’t own an immersion blender, you need one!
2. The Best Cooking Tools: Turkey Roaster
This might be overkill for you, but I absolutely could not live without my Oster Electric Roaster. This one holds probably the biggest turkey you can find. I always purchase about a 25 lb. turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner and it fits easily. When you’re cooking a large meal, like Thanksgiving, it would be impossible to time things so that all the food was hot at the same time.
An electric roaster allows the turkey to roast in an unused corner of your kitchen counter (since it needs to cook for several hours!) while you still use the rest of the kitchen and the oven to prep and bake rolls, pies, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams and all the other yumminess.
Talk about a lifesaver!
I use mine all year round, whenever we have a family dinner or company. It’s easy to clean, with removable racks and liner. And it pretty much makes perfect food effortless. Since the lid is self-basting, your turkey will be tender and juicy even if you forget to baste it!
You can use it as an oversized crockpot, too, if you ever need to feed a whole lot of people, like for a church gathering, a family reunion or a wedding. It’s like adding a second oven (a nicer, easier to clean oven that can be put away in the pantry!) to your kitchen.
If you prefer something smaller and non-electric, I’d go with something like this Circulon Roasting Pan. It’s large enough for a turkey, with a removable rack, and it has great reviews. I have a set of Circulon pans that I love. They clean up amazingly easy, but they don’t have the potentially toxic nonstick coating.
3. The Best Cooking Tools: Crockpot
This programmable, 6-qt. Crockpot is my trusty sidekick! My bff! On Thanksgiving, Christmas and other times I have to make big meals for company, I always wish I had 3 of them.
I’ve thought of getting one of those electric food servers with three heated compartments, but none of them has 3, 6-quart compartments. Both my husband and I have huge families, with big appetites! Those little servers would barely fit hors d’oeuvres.
So instead, I just ask a couple of guests to bring their Crockpots as well, and we pile the mashed potatoes into one, the stuffing into another, and the vegetables into a third so all the food stays hot while we eat. And while we continue to eat and eat and eat pretty much all afternoon.
My crockpot saves me a whole ton of time, money and headaches outside of Thanksgiving, too! You know those days when you have soccer practice and music lessons and meetings and everyone is going different directions and you’re their chauffer?
You know everyone is going to walk in the house right at 6pm and want dinner immediately, but you feel just as tired, hungry and grouchy as everyone else. Who wants to cook?
Those days it is extremely tempting to stop for take-out on the way home. However, take-out for the ten of us is over $100! I know I can fill my crockpot (for less than $5), program it so it will be hot and ready when we get home, and it hardly takes me any more effort. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot more nutritious.
My crockpot saves me from having to buy takeout at least once a week, which adds up to over $5000 a year! Now those are some serious savings! And that is why my crockpot is one of the best kitchen tools ever created.
I also love the lid on this one. The clamps are pretty tight and I’ve never had it spill, despite taking it everywhere with me. I always had to wrap my old one in towels before putting it in the car, and I had to be really careful to keep it level. This one is much tighter.
4. The Best Cooking Tools: Bosch Mixer
I was a little hesitant to recommend a larger, more expensive appliance, but my Bosch mixer is truly another kitchen tool I can’t do without at Thanksgiving, as well as all year round. Once you’ve used one, you can’t go back to an ordinary mixer.
It’s kind of bulky, and it’s not very pretty, but boy is it a powerhouse! You’ll use it to make almost every single dish you serve, from the whipped cream on the pies to the hot, buttery rolls, and you’ll wonder what you ever did without it.
My mom had a Bosch mixer that we used practically every day while growing up. I just took for granted that it was practically indestructible and kept working, even after being dropped, falling off the counter, and being subjected to all different kinds of abuse.
When I got married and started my own family, I burned out several cheaper mixers from Walmart while my mom kept on using her trusty Bosch mixer. So I decided I needed one of my own. Our first Bosch mixer lasted over ten years of daily use, and was finally done in by a child. I couldn’t even wait a week to replace it, because I felt handicapped without it.
No amount of kneading or coddling by me can replicate the light, fluffy rolls, bread and cookies that come out of that machine. My whole extended family descends on my rolls like a horde of locusts. It’s like having your own little bread angel sitting in your pantry. And that’s why I have to recommend the Bosch mixer as one of my most-used and best-loved kitchen tools.
5. The Best Cooking Tools: Instant Pot
I have to be honest with you — I don’t actually have an Instant Pot.
I am way too frugal to buy a new kitchen appliance just for the sake of having the appliance. I also hate a cluttered kitchen. I keep my counters empty, so all of my appliances have to fit in my pantry or my drawers. And they’re all pretty full, which means I have to get rid of something every time I buy something. All of those rules and qualities combined make me very reluctant to purchase new appliances.
However, I really like that the Instant Pot can cook things a lot faster than a crockpot. A friend of mine dumps a ziploc of frozen chicken breasts (like solid, rock-hard, straight from the deep freeze) in hers with some lime juice and spices and swears that an hour later dinner is ready.
That actually sounds really nice every once in a while! I’m a planner, and I’m frequently gone in the afternoons, so I usually get dinner started in the morning and don’t typically need to cook dinner super fast. But there are always those days when I forget to plan ahead.
I think the Instant Pot would be very handy to have in my kitchen, and I’ll be on the hunt for one during the Black Friday sales. I never use my food processor, so I can throw it out to make room for the Instapot. I think it would be even handier for a mom who is less of a planner and likes to have dinner from the freezer to the table in an hour. I know it will be just as big a money saver as my crockpot, and they look super easy to clean and take care of, too!
Since Thanksgiving dinner is practically an Olympic sport, but for cooking, I think an Instant Pot would come in very handy! When your guests have arrived and you’re pulling salads out of the fridge to serve, and you run across the uncooked yams, instead of panicking you could just throw them in the Instant Pot! Plan all you want, but there are inevitable last-minute snafus, and your Instant Pot could save the meal.
There are all kinds of cooking tools you could use to cook up a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner: a turkey baster, an electric carving knife, a digital meat thermometer, enameled cast-iron pots and more. But consider whether you’ll use them the rest of the year, or whether they’ll just be taking up space. Don’t spend money on things you’ll only use once. If you have the basic tools, a good mixer, a good immersion blender and a couple of ways to cook those marvelous dishes, you’re all set!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with good food and family and friends who love good food and want to enjoy it with you! Happy cooking and happy Thanksgiving!
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