Essentials for Cooking the Thanksgiving Turkey from Start to Finish

Turkey Roasting & Serving Essentials

You need more than just a pan to get the Thanksgiving turkey on the table. From start to finish, there a some essentials to for prepping, roasting, and serving the perfect holiday bird. 

1. Turkey Lifters. Have you ever tried to transfer a huge, hot turkey from a pan to a cutting board? It's hard! I don't have turkey lifters, so after wrestling with large utensils and nearly sending the bird flying, I usually give up and get my pot holders soaked in turkey grease so I can get a good grip on the turkey without burning my hands. I sure would love some of these turkey lifters this year. Pictured above: Wire Turkey Lifters - Williams Sonoma

2. Large Roasting Pan with Rack. You need a nice large pan for roasting a big Thanksgiving turkey. It should come up a few inches on the sides to hold all the juices, and it should have plenty of wiggle room inside for air circulation. A v-shaped or curved rack helps to keep the sides out of the juices so the skin over the thighs doesn't get soggy. Pictured above: Cuisinart 7117-16UR Chef's Classic Stainless 16-Inch Rectangular Roaster with Rack

3. Large Turkey Platter. Whether you carve at the table or pre-carve the turkey in the kitchen, there's nothing prettier than a cooked turkey displayed on a beautiful platter, surrounded by fresh fruit and herbs. I love how a high-quality turkey platter is a holiday item that can be passed down as a family keepsake. Pictured above: Spode kitchenwareThanksgiving Turkey Platter. The Spode Woodland Turkey Platter pictured above goes along with a large collection of other Spode Woodland Turkey Thanksgiving plates and serving dishes. I am so into this set, I think I'll feature it in a separate shopping guide.

Spode Woodland Turkey Large Rectangular Turkey Platter

4. Carving Set. To carve a big turkey, you need a big knife and fork. Each year I wrestle around with my large butcher knife that I use for everything from slicing meat to prepping veggies, to cutting a cake. It is not recommended! It's best to have a high-quality carving knife that you use only for large birds, ham, and roasts. Pictured above: Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Hollow-Ground Carving Set

5. Baker's Twine. While lately trussing has become quite controversial - yes, the great turkey trussing controversy - if you remain a faithful trusser, you will need baker's twine. Here is a great article on trussing and other important aspects of roasting a turkey: Roasting a Perfect Turkey by Fine Cooking. Pictured above: Kitchen baker's twine

6. Meat Thermometer. The safe cooking temp for a turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast meat or 175-180 in the thigh. You need a meat thermometer (for God's sake, not that little red button that pops up). Though I can never seem to remember safe cooking temps for meat. I love how the featured thermometer has a little guide right on the dial. Pictured above: Polder dial thermometer

7. Basting Brush. While brining is most important for roasting a moist bird, I still love to baste the turkey to add flavor and get a nice crispy skin. I've never used a traditional baster (the kind that sucks the juice up into a dispenser). I prefer to use a basting brush to get a good coating all over the turkey. Pictured above: Oxo silicone basting brush

8. Large Carving Board with a Juice Well. Have you seen those large cutting boards that have grooves all the way around the edge?They serve the very important function of catching the juices. Have you ever carved a large juicy turkey on a flat surface? Yeah, it makes a big juicy mess! I love how the dark cutting board featured above also has prongs in the center to help hold the meat in place. Pictured above: Snow River Walnut Carving Board w/ Stainless Steel Gripping Ring & Juice Well // Mundial Solid Wood Cutting Board

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