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

By Ananda Eidelstein
October 24, 2018

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, you’re a seasoned pro, or you’re just bringing along one dish to a gathering—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 the tools below are those that are heroes in the kitchen. There to help you out and make you look good.

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), come the sides! A table without mashed potatoes is not Thanksgiving, a potato ricer will ensure they’re light and fluffy. And last but not least, a mandoline will cut 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. And just don’t forget the cornbread.

Instant-Read Thermometer

Taking your turkey’s temp is the only foolproof way to know it’s cooked. Swap that clunky dial 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.

To buy: Taylor Waterproof Digital Thermometer, $15;

Fat Separator

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.

To buy: OXO Good Grips 2-Cup Fat Separator, $10;

Potato Ricer

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.

To buy: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Ricer, $25;

Bulb Baster

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.

To buy: OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster with Cleaning Brush, $13;

Mandoline Slicer

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.

To buy: Super Benriner Mandoline, $65;

Electric Knife

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.

To buy: Cuisinart Electric Knife, $50;

Roasting Pan

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.

To buy: All-Clad Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack, starting at $160;