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Must-Have Tools to Make Your First Thanksgiving Turkey

If you are cooking the bird for the first time on your own, you need all the help you can get. These are the things you need.

5 min read

For as many years as you can remember, Thanksgiving was about gathering around the dinner table with tons of loved ones, sharing stories, and being sent home with a leftover turkey and stuffing sandwich. Thanksgiving will look a bit different this year, with more people staying close to home, unable to travel to and share the holiday with extended family. For a lot of people, this may be the first year that they are cooking the Thanksgiving turkey and favorites sides themselves

If that’s you—the rookie bird roaster—take comfort in knowing that preparing the meal is not as difficult as you might believe. Whatever Thanksgiving looks like for you, OXO is here to help make the holiday special, with high-quality bakeware, basting tips, roasting techniques, and inspiration to instill confidence in your cooking skills while honoring Thanksgiving traditions and helping create new ones.

MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage    X
MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage X

Baster with Cleaning Brush

If you are dreaming of a juicy turkey to serve with your mashed potatoes, you want to get your hands on a turkey baster. Use the baster to help you grab the natural juice that drips from your bird without putting your hands too close to the heat—just squeeze the bulb, suck in the liquid, then squeeze again to re-apply it to the turkey to keep it moist. You can also use a basting brush to spread the drippings evenly around. (Word to the wise: If you don’t baste your turkey, you may end up with a chewy, dry bird.)

Turkey and Roast Lifters

Once your turkey is roasted to perfection, you need to transfer it to a carving board, where you can cut choice pieces to present at the dinner table (or present the whole bird before carving). You are certainly not going to move a 15-pound, steaming hot turkey with your hands, and most tools you have in your kitchen are likely not strong enough for the task.

Enter a turkey lifter. Yes, there is a tool that exists for the sole purpose of helping you maneuver heavy and hot meats from cookware to a carving and cutting board (it works well with roasts, too). Look for ones made with sturdy stainless steel tines that easily slip into cooked meat and hold it tightly, while non-slip handles provide a sturdy grip. 

MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage    X
MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage X

4-Cup Gravy Fat Separator

The turkey may be the star of the show, but best supporting actor goes to the gravy. A memorable gravy is satisfyingly rich, but never swimming in fat. Since fat is naturally found in the turkey drippings used to make gravy, separating the fat from the rest of the liquid is key and using a gravy fat separator makes this process a breeze. Once the fat is removed, the remaining liquid can be whisked with herbs, stock, and even a bit of thickener. After the meal, store the remaining gravy in a smart seal container for tomorrow’s leftovers.

MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage    X
MustHaveToolsForThanksgiving ProductImage X

Thermocouple Thermometer

Before you gobble up your turkey, you want to make sure that it is cooked to a safe internal temperature of at least 165°F (taken in the innermost part of the thigh, wing, and the thickest part of the breast). A thermocouple thermometer takes all of the guesswork out of getting the bird’s temperature and provides you with an accurate digital reading in 2-3 seconds. It can be read from various angles and does not require the tip to be inserted into the cooked meat as far as a dial thermometer. Having trouble keeping track of multiple dishes at once? Use a triple timer to set cooking times for the turkey and other components to the meal.

A Memorable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may look a little different this year. Try to see it as a great opportunity to start new traditions. Embrace the joy of playing host for the first time—and who knows, you might just be back for more next year. 

One final tip: If you are planning on making homemade mashed potatoes this year, make sure you have a the right potato masher for the big day. You won’t regret it.


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