Thanksgiving Day is less than three weeks away, marking the start of the holiday season and all its opportunities to feed family and friends. If you’re hosting this first, much-anticipated holiday dinner, then it’s time to make sure your holiday pantry is updated with at least the basics. The right knives and other kitchen utensils and cookware can help you quickly prepare fabulous feasts in half the time and with less effort.
Over the past year, we’ve tested hundreds of appliances and kitchen tools that can satisfy all your holiday kitchen needs. The following items are our top-rated, must-have cooking essentials and equipment that we absolutely loved — and they’ll help you serve delicious meals and refreshments that your guests will happily gobble up.
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($299.95; amazon.com)
Don’t risk making a mess out of your holiday bird by using an old, dull knife. To ace that all-important task of carving the Thanksgiving turkey, you’ll need the sharpest, most solidly constructed knife. This top-rated kitchen knife set from Chicago Cutlery includes a great chef’s knife and a paring knife that will help you slice and dice your way through all of your veggie side preparation tasks.
Teakhaus Professional Cutting Board ($96.95, originally $104.97; amazon.com)
Beautiful enough to earn a permanent spot on your kitchen countertop during the holidays, the Teakhaus Professional was rated the best cutting board in our testing. It’s made from teak, a wood that stands up to heavy use. It’s also resistant to stains and knife cuts, easy to clean, heavy enough to stay in place while you work and reasonably priced compared to other wooden cutting boards of similar quality. Feel free to cut, slice and chop your way through Thanksgiving without a moment of worry. This cutting board has you covered.
KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Series Tilt-Head Stand Mixer ($429.95; williamssonoma.com)
If you plan to do a lot of mixing, kneading and whipping this holiday season, there’s no better kitchen appliance than a stand mixer to help you do it. To make those famous holiday cookies of yours that your family adores, make sure you have the top-rated KitchenAid Artisan Series Tilt-Head stand mixer on hand. This mixer can help you easily cream butter and sugar together or gently fold in chips and dried fruit to your dough. It comes with a full set of accessories that will get you started baking or mixing right out of the box.
Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer ($79.95; amazon.com)
Buttery mashed potatoes, yummy stuffing, delectable pumpkin pie, tasty corn casserole…just a sampling of the Thanksgiving sides this top-rated Cuisinart hand mixer can help you prepare this holiday season. Mix, whisk, beat and knead your way through Thanksgiving quickly and easily and put down your slow mixing spoon forever.
Breville Super Q Blender ($471.01, originally $499.95; amazon.com)
It’s not Thanksgiving without gravy. But a lumpy batch of homemade gravy isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. With 1,800 watts of power, our top-rated Breville Super Q blender can power through even the lumpiest gravy, making it smooth enough to be slathered onto your prized turkey and mashed potatoes. Just be sure you make plenty for everyone.
Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale ($9.84, originally $14.95; amazon.com)
If you want to more accurately measure small amounts of cinnamon, grated nutmeg, or chopped walnuts to get more consistent results for, say, your favorite iced pumpkin cookies, then consider using a kitchen scale. This top-rated Ozeri multifunction scale takes the guesswork out of baking by letting you weigh your ingredients. It can accurately measure grams, pounds, ounces and milliliters — all the way up to 11.24 pounds — so you can bake up batches of family favorites this holiday. It’s one tool in your arsenal of baking utensils and accessories that will help take the stress out of holiday baking.
Spiralizer 7-Blade Spiral Slicer ($25.97, originally $27.99; amazon.com)
Will you be hosting guests that follow keto, low-carb, paleo, raw, vegan or gluten-free diets? If the answer is yes, and you don’t know what low-carb dishes to serve them, then this Spiralizer 7-Blade Spiral Slicer can save the day. Skip the high-carb pasta dishes and instead use this dishwasher-safe spiralizer to serve up some delicious veggie noodles made from carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers and more. During testing, its seven provided blades turned out perfect spirals, with almost all requiring barely any exertion on our part. Its blades for vermicelli, spaghetti, fettuccine, curly fries, chips/ribbons, fine groovy chips and coarse groovy chips are all clearly labeled by name.
Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker ($159.95; amazon.com)
Making Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be totally labor-intensive and complicated. Simplify your holiday meal prep by using a slow cooker that can help you whip up delicious sides like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and green bean casseroles while you focus on more important things, like baking that all-important turkey. We found the top-rated Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker slow cooker offered the best range of useful functions — browning, sautéing and steaming — of all the slow cookers we tested.
Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker ($119.95; amazon.com)
Let’s face it: The meals during Thanksgiving can start way before dinner. Try making an unforgettable Thanksgiving breakfast for your overnight house guests by using a waffle maker to make piles of perfectly delectable waffles. Our top-rated Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker won’t take up too much of your precious counter space and still lets you make multiple waffles per batch. This model goes a step beyond most flip waffle makers, featuring two sets of waffle grills, one on each side of the flip mechanism, so you can make two rounds of waffles at once — a real bonus for a hungry breakfast crowd.
Kona Grill Brush ($16.95, originally $21.95; amazon.com)
If you think that the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the only holidays when you can enjoy barbecued foods, then think again. Grilling is always a good idea! Whisk up an unexpected barbecue Thanksgiving menu for your guests and, after the last morsel’s been consumed, use the top-rated Kona grill brush to clean your grill. Its solid brush head ensures that no bristles, wire bits, food or residue from the tool are left behind on your grill. And that’s something you can be truly thankful for.
Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet ($49.95; surlatable.com)
A good cast-iron skillet is worth its weight in gold, so be sure to snag the top-rated Lodge Chef Collection 12-inch cast-iron skillet for all your Thanksgiving meal prep needs. It rose to the top of our rankings during testing not only for delivering great results across all of our testing criteria, but also for its affordable price. The Chef Collection comes pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil and has two slightly larger pour spouts that let us deftly remove oil from the pan without a dribble in sight. Because the only thing dribbling this Thanksgiving should be the turkey.
Lodge Enameled 6-Quart Cast-Iron Dutch Oven ($79.90; amazon.com)
What’s Thanksgiving without the turkey? A sad, boring, turkeyless depression, that’s what. Avoid this holiday catastrophe by easily whipping up an incredibly moist bird by roasting it in a Dutch oven. Our top-rated Lodge Enameled 6-Quart Cast-Iron Dutch Oven has a shiny, smooth finish along with large handles and an amply sized metal knob that will make your hungry Thanksgiving guests swoon.
T-fal 12-Inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan with Lid ($42.93; amazon.com)
Traditionally, Thanksgiving stuffing is roasted in the bird or baked in a casserole dish. But to add sausage to the stuffing before you bake it in the oven, you have to fry up the meat. Get your hands on this affordable nonstick pan from T-fal and you’ll be preparing enough stuffing to not just fill the turkey, but to stuff the grateful bellies of your guests. The pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying pan foods like meats and its 2.5-inch sides are tall enough to help you prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews.
ThermoWorks Thermapen One ($105; thermoworks.com)
If there’s one item you need to make sure your Thanksgiving turkey is served up safely, it’s a meat thermometer. To avoid serving food poisoning to everyone at your holiday feast, don’t rely on those pop-up timers that come in many store-bought turkeys to gauge if the meat is thoroughly cooked. Instead, insert the top-rated ThermoWorks Thermapen One instant-read meat thermometer into the space between the thigh and the breast of your bird to confirm its doneness. The thermometer’s backlit display is easy to read, and the digits automatically adjust their orientation when holding the thermometer vertically — something that was exclusive to this model during our testing.
Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Bread Maker ($339.95, originally $375; amazon.com)
Besides the turkey, Thanksgiving meals are also famous for their dinner rolls and biscuits — what other food comes in so handy to mop up all that extra gravy pooling on your plate? If you want to try your hand at baking your own bread this Thanksgiving, then the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus bread machine can be your best friend. It’s an expensive investment for sure, but in the case of this top-rated pick, you get what you pay for: beautifully baked bread, with crisp, golden-brown crusts and soft, even crumb. During testing, this bread machine gave our bread the perfect rise and an airy, fluffy texture.
Ninja AF101 Air Fryer ($89.99, originally $119.99; amazon.com, bestbuy.com and target.com)
Get ready to make some delicious Thanksgiving sides in this sturdy Ninja air fryer — maybe even try frying up a small roaster or a turkey breast in it this year if you don’t have a huge crowd of guests. In our testing, it produced evenly cooked and crispy shrimp and french fries, and also cooked up Brussels sprouts that had a nice crispy exterior and moist crunchy interior. The Ninja’s comprehensive control panel, including timer and temperature settings, will help you easily keep track of what’s cooking in it. Cleanup is also a breeze since the smooth layout of its control panel features no knobs, dials, cracks or crevices to deal with. You can simply wipe the control panel and inner basket down after air frying and move on to other holiday cooking tasks.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder ($249.95; amazon.com)
The holidays mean lots of friends and family all gathering at your place to eat your delicious food and load up on favorites like cake and coffee afterward. Lots of cake and coffee, in fact. So make sure you’re ready for the extensive brewing that will be needed by using this top-rated Baratza Virtuoso+ coffee grinder to easily and quickly customize grinds before the party. From espresso and Turkish coffee to French press or cold brew, the Baratza handled it all during our testing. Its sleek, intuitive design offers 40 settings from which to choose. Having more options lets you micro-customize the grind size to your liking, so you get the exact taste you and your guests will want from the beans.
Braun BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($89.95, originally $120.95; amazon.com)
Between needing the caffeine yourself to power through preparing a holiday dinner for 20 and needing to satisfy your many guests’ coffee cravings, you’re bound to brew countless pots of coffee from Thanksgiving morning to New Year’s Day. Make sure you’re ready for the holiday season with the Braun BrewSense drip coffee maker, which can handle roasts ranging from light to dark, each one yielding a strong, delicious cup with no sediment thanks to the coffee maker’s gold tone filter. The machine we tested was white, but it also comes in black, and it’s compact enough to fit under the cabinets in a smaller space compared to some of the more cumbersome machines we tested. That leaves more room on your counter for those holiday cookie and candy displays.
Breville Nespresso VertuoPlus ($144.99; amazon.com)
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, then you know you’re going to need to coffee up your guests after they consume their last morsel of turkey, stuffing and the rest. And especially in a big family or group of friends, requests for truckloads of coffee are to be expected. But you can satisfy all the different taste buds of your guests by letting them use a single-serve coffee maker like the Breville Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses coffee pods. Using the pods during testing, we were guaranteed a great cup of coffee, with no guessing or experimenting with ground amount or timing needed. The pods accommodate five cup sizes — espresso (1.35 ounces), double espresso (2.7 ounces), gran lungo (5 ounces), coffee (8 ounces) and alto coffee (14 ounces). They also come in 27 flavor options; you don’t necessarily need to supply all 27 during your holiday party, but just imagine the joy on your coffee-loving guests’ faces if you did!
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot ($22.50, originally $24.50; amazon.com)
Cold brew coffee is the perfect coffee drink for after Thanksgiving dinner, and you can make sure your guests will have plenty of it with the top-rated Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot. In our testing, this cold brew coffee maker produced consistently robust coffee and looked great doing so. It’s available in three colors, black, brown and red, so it will match all of your Thanksgiving Day kitchen decor.
Kalita Wave Pour-Over Coffee Dripper ($24.22; amazon.com)
During the holidays, when brewing a full pot of coffee for guests is absolutely necessary, having a drip coffee maker on hand makes you look like a hero. Or a single-serve coffee maker provides quick convenience to guests who want to make their own coffee, leaving you to tend to other hosting tasks. But a pour-over coffee maker, like the top-rated Kalita Wave we tested, can be the best way to recreate the rich, robust, full-flavored coffee you get at a specialty shop. It features a flat bottom with three drip holes, which enables more easily and evenly saturated coffee grounds. Its actual brew time is quite quick: During our testing, it took just 2 1/2 minutes from our first pour of water until the last drip of coffee landed in our mug. All the while, the temperature of the brew stayed nice and hot. All great things to keep in mind when deciding to buy it for your upcoming holiday gathering.
Cuisinart 1.5-Quart ICE-21P1 Ice Cream Maker ($69.95; amazon.com)
What’s better than a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on your favorite holiday pie or cake, or spicing it up by enjoying some pumpkin-spice-flavored ice cream? Why settle for the store-bought stuff when you can gather your guests around the Cuisinart 1.5-Quart ICE-21P1 ice cream maker to watch it work its magic. It can help satisfy a houseful of holiday ice cream cravings by churning out buckets of homemade ice cream for you and your guests. During testing, we found it the most reliable and incredibly easy to use.
Oxo Steel Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew ($16.99; amazon.com)
Between preparing dinner and dealing with relatives, some of us will need a glass of wine to get us through the holidays — or, let’s face it, two or three glasses of the good stuff. With a comfortable grip and a longer lever than the competition, the Oxo Steel Double Lever waiter’s corkscrew is a wine opener that will help you uncork that wedged cork from your favorite wine bottles
Brita Standard Everyday Water Filter Pitcher ($26.98, originally $34.99; amazon.com)
Don’t want to overeat this holiday season? Then staying hydrated may help. Before chowing down on that delicious Thanksgiving Day feast, drink plenty of water to help curb your appetite and stop you from reaching for seconds (or thirds). Just make sure your water is nice and filtered by using our top-rated Brita Standard Everyday water filter pitcher. It’s a cinch to set up and it left our water free of any odd flavors during testing.
Read more from our testing of water filter pitchers here.
Yeti Rambler 26-Ounce Bottle ($39.99; yeti.com)
If your Thanksgiving Day fridge is bursting with food, then consider using a beverage cooler with ice or keeping drinks in a cold garage so your guests can enjoy their cold refreshments throughout the day. Even better, consider gifting a few of these Yeti Rambler water bottles to your thirsty loved ones so they can carry their favorite cold or hot drinks with them as they move from dining room to kitchen to whatever other room they land in during your holiday party. This dishwasher-safe Yeti Rambler can keep drinks cold or hot for many hours, it’s solidly durable and it has the best lid we’ve ever tested. It is also available in 14 colors and five sizes, ranging from 12 ounces to 46 ounces.
Read more from our testing of water bottles here.