Privilege Blog

The Ideal Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools For The Meal I Don’t Have To Cook This Year


This Thanksgiving I’m not cooking. And I’m thankful. In past years I’ve gone to town with various menus. This year both kids will be elsewhere, and my husband and I, as we did in 2014, are going out to eat. Let us hope the food is better this time.

As we enjoy the lacuna, for one must grace quiet moments with their own Big Words, I’ve been wondering, what might be the ideal set of Thanksgiving kitchen tools? If one were to start from scratch? Let’s define ideal as a) suited to function b) no more than needed but as good-looking as possible, and, c) as often as possible on sale right now from familiar retailers.

Here’st what I came up with.

  • Roasting pans that work on the stove top This inexpensive old school version just might do the trick. I’d have to see if the turkey sits high enough to allow for actual roasting. (I like to make pan gravy with a roux and giblet broth, and I don’t fuss too much about separating out the fat etc. That’s how Mom always did it. Worcestershire sauce the secret ingredient.) Or this pan, on deep sale at Macy’s, is a step up.
  • Baking pans with a lip . Brussels sprouts are prone to rolling onto the oven floor. (Oh, by the way, have you discovered parchment paper? To line the pan? So much better than aluminum foil.)
  • Ceramic pie pans. These are so pretty, in multiple colors with a fluted edge, I bought a similar pair once in a rush and appreciate every instance when they escape the Baking Cupboard. O sad bakeware in a non-baking kitchen!
  • While our Thanksgiving is highly oven-intensive, I do need two largish stove-top pots. One for boiling potatoes and one for boiling pearl onions before they are baked in cream sauce. These aren’t All-Clad tasks. You want a pot big enough, sturdy, but not so heavy you have to call in reinforcements to lift it. I have never found anything better than good old Revere Ware. The company still exists, but they no longer make their copper-bottomed beauties. eBay remembers. I really want this one, it’s bigger than the one I have. But I use mine, oh, every other day?
  • Which reminds me, I need a very small All-Clad saucepan (on sale at Sur la Table) for roux (similar but fancier and also on sale) (which reminds me I use a small Le Creuset baking dish for baking onions bathed in said roux. Nobody ever eats very many creamed onions. The old cast iron enamelware is no longer available in an au gratin. Once again, eBay to the rescue. I’ve owned mine, that mottle thing at top, for 40 years.)
  • Of course everything needs cutting. Cooking would be so easy if food just cut itself. I think I could make do with just a chef’s knife, paring knife, a carving knife and fork, and a knife sharpener. Of course, if I had TWO chef’s knives, clan teamwork would be so much more efficient. I call dibs on this one. But Sur La Table has a lot of good knives on sale.
  • I have to have a potato masher. Potatoes resist their fate. Sur La Table designed their own, with a nylon head. Target offers the OXO Smooth Grips.
  • I cherish my Earlywood sauté tool. For poking at hot things. I got one in 2014. I was subsequently given one of their ladles by a friend, which I also love. Perfect paired with Le Creuset – that enamel doesn’t like metal spoons. Were I buying now, I’d get the Trifecta. And probably a whole bundle of spoons.
  • I don’t need a rolling pin, since I buy frozen pie crusts, but garlic mashed potatoes in large volume demand a garlic smasher.
  • Finally, I’ve loved this set of glass bowls with lids, to be used both for mixing and for storage once your family pushes their chairs back from the table and confesses – they cannot, simply cannot, eat another bite. And when, the next morning, to put in the microwave when everyone wakes up hungry.

What do you think? Yay? Nay? How would your list differ?


Links may generate commissions. I’ve tried to pick items that can be delivered before Thanksgiving. For free shipping at Earlywood Designs use this code: This1onUs. Sur la Table has free shipping, a 65% cookware sale, and guaranteed delivery for Thanksgiving for 2 more days. Target has free shipping and returns, and in-store pickup for a lot of stuff.


53 Responses

  1. Solid list! I can’t agree more about the Revere Ware. The stock pot and sauce pans that my mother gave me when I first ventured out on my own continue to be the most used items in my kitchen. I would add a few attractive 9×13 baking dishes since our Thankshiving tends to be casserole heavy. And I could used a larger fridge (just for a few days) because I prep as much as I can ahead of time.

    1. @Donna, Yes, we roast instead of casseroling but I totally see your point. And, we wind up using the garage as cold storage and crossing our fingers! Extra fridge would be much more prudent.

  2. Very nice list of good items. My eyes went straight to the part where you buy frozen pie shells. Aha! Non-baking sisterhood. I do the same. Husband likes apple pie, so I occasionally indulge him. He doesn’t care about the crust and I don’t mind cutting up apples.

  3. Parchment paper for lining pans instead of aluminum foil – what a great idea, and better for the environment too.

  4. A very sensible list indeed…I broke our garlic press and have to find another one.
    The Joesph Joseph rocking press works but it is messy to clean…any thoughts on a brilliant design or brand?

    1. @Bungalow Hostess, I find the rocking press easier to clean than anything else I’ve tried. I use a chopstick to scrape and tap it, under running water, then throw it in the dishwasher. No fingers required;).

  5. …and one more thing, no two. A slow cooker for making mashed potatoes leaves room on the stovetop and eases that rush right before we sit down. Can’t figure out how to post a link to the recipe here but google “slow cooker mashed potatoes” and it comes right up. About that rush, though . . . after 30 years of cooking Thanksgiving dinners I’ve learned to love scrambling about the kitchen with a female relative or two as we bump bottoms and knock elbows, giggling because by then we’ve sipped our way through cooking.

    My faithful food warming tray keeps hot as I’m about to serve.

  6. Over the years I have acquired plenty of pans and dishes so I am pretty much set. However, when I do not want to spend more on the serve ware, cookware or storage containers than on the food, I head to any one of my 4 local Dollar Tree stores. Yes, so déclassé if you think nothing of spending $400 on a pair of sandals.

    However, Dollar Tree sells white parchment paper for just $1, name brand zip lock bags for just $1, name brand storage containers for just $1, All Natural-non-MSG-Gluten-free 32 oz Turkey Stock for just $1. Much of their barware and glassware comes from Libbey and ARC (the same people who make Crystal D’Arc.) Everything is just $1 each!

    They also have pretty gift bags, a huge assortment of party supplies, curling ribbon, very good buys on candy, cookies (my fav is Almonette), nice greeting cards (2 for $1) and the beat goes on and on and on and on…

    Based on shopping elsewhere most of my life, I know you can save 50% to 75% over other stores.

    Don’t want to rub shoulders with the masses? Dollar Tree has a website where you can shop on line. Home Delivery costs. Shipping to the store is free. (Shh… you can discreetly drop by the store. They will even bring it out to your car.)

    With what you save, you can buy ANOTHER $400 pair of sandals.

    Smiles from Carol

    1. @Carol, Just to be clear, the cost of sandals or rubbing shoulders with the masses is never what makes anyone declassé.


      I don’t think we have Dollar Trees up here, for bargain shopping we head to Ranch 99 or Costco.

    2. Hi Lisa, I did not say that PEOPLE were déclassé. Rather, I meant that act of shopping at a bargain store in a less than trendy neighborhood might be considered déclassé by some people.

      You are right. Dollar Tree has only made it as far north as Los Banos. I like both Ranch 99 and Costco, but Dollar Tree still has better prices.

      :) Carol

    3. @Carol, Got it. To me declassé is being rude, pretentious, hostile when there’s nothing to be hostile about, etc. Shopping at a Dollar Tree would be considered such only if you took the goods you bought and tried to use them to boost your stature in the eyes of others falsely and then to make other people feel bad:).

    4. Hi Lisa, Well, thankfully, I don’t have any friends who would do that! I just like to save money where I can to buy more of the things that cannot be economized upon. Always happy to share so that others may do the same is they wish.

      :) Carol

  7. Hello Lisa, I used to have Thanksgiving at my house before I left the States. We have so much cookware that has been handed down in the family; it is just as necessary and traditional as the Thanksgiving food. My Grandmother’s Revereware is about twice the weight of that available in recent decades.

    One new tool that I appreciate is the ceramic knife. Get a Kyocera–the other brands were all disappointing!

    1. @Parnassus, Ooh – I have a kyocera ceramic knife I adore! I broke the tip but for $10 I sent it back and it was refined & re-sharpened and sent back to me. Great service!

  8. I prefer a ricer for potatoes – they turn out so lovely and light! I have a stainless one, probably from Amazon. Have a few old Revere copper bottom pans – love! I even use barkeeper’s friend to keep the bottoms shiny. No Thanksgiving dinner this year – we’ll be flying off for a foreign vacation. So I’ll smoke my turkey later in December and all will be well in our world :-)

  9. I drag my picnic cooler out from the basement. I have a side-by-side fridge and always need more cooling power. It has a miserable ice-maker so Hubs has to go to 7-11 and get ice.

  10. On a lighter side, a quick and easy make-ahead essential for Holiday cooking is ROUX. That is a combination of any fat or edible oil (I like clarified butter) in which an equal amount of flour has been added. The oil and flour are heated in a pan for about 5 minutes until the mixtures turns a golden brown. The heating toasts the flour so your gravies, sauces, cream soups, etc. don’t taste like wall paper paste. It is the basis for velouté and béchamel sauces.

    The Roux goes far since most recipes don’t require much. I make up about a pound of it this time of year and keep it in the freezer. Saves a lot of prep time and mess when things get busy in the kitchen. At our house it lasts between 2 and 4 months depending upon the amount of entertaining.

    Smiles from Charlotte

    1. @Carol, What a great idea! I make a roux (hence the small All-Clad saucepan) but it is always time- and -stovetop consuming. I never though of making it in advance!

    2. Have never tried this myself, but according to my “cooking” sources, you can toast flour in the oven to take away the wall paper paste taste. You can then use it for thickening with little or no fats. I would use the toasted flour right away or store in an airtight container in the freezer. Toasting oxidizes the flour so it will deteriorate more quickly.

  11. Let me tell you, I could not prepare a meal without my Old Queen…a wonderful seasoned through the years cast iron skillet….Handed down from my precious grandmother to my sweet mama and finally to me..Its here that I make my own version of dressing…and I bring down the house with the smells…All of this has me salivating and filled with can’twaittotasteit and memories…Yes, Lucy, we do have a lot to be thankful for…

    1. @Deede, We do have a lot:). I love my cast iron – just don’t tend to make anything for Thanksgiving that needs it. I bet your dressing is amazing.

  12. So true about the copper bottomed Revere Ware. Nothing can beat them. I was lucky to inherit two of my grandmother’s – a large and a medium sized. Both see use almost everyday. Meanwhile, my daughter with her fancy All Clad pans often comes over to borrow. Bar Keeper’s Friend does a great job of making them all shiny again – although, in truth, I only do this once in a long while and then I feel so virtuous! For decades we have made do with the disposable roasting pans, but last year, my husband whose job it is to handle the pan with turkey in and out of the oven, proposed buying a “real” roasting pan. So we went all out and got the All Clad from Sur la Table. What a difference it made! The browning of the turkey was beautiful and even. We really wished we had bought it sooner. Ironically, (I am so excited) this year is the first time in a long time that I will not be hosting Thanksgiving! Never mind though because the pan can be used for other roasting jobs and has come in handy for roasting a large batch of chicken, sausages and vegetables together for a really yummy meal in one pan. Much as I loved hosting Thanksgiving for many years, I am happy to let someone else host and instead be the guest that brings a couple of dishes. Two of my most memorable Thanksgivings were in foreign countries – once in Salamanca, Spain (in a French restaurant) and once in London. Both times, the dinners was billed as Thanksgiving fare but were nothing like an American Thanksgiving. Hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

    1. @Jane, Thank you, and to you too! How excellent to finally have a real roasting pan, I too love to roast vegetables with a chicken.

  13. I use all Le Creuset, All-Clad roasting pans, and my new favorite – old-fashioned cast iron. Brussel sprouts roast so well in them, as does everything else.
    This year is the first time in over 30 years that I won’t be cooking for 15-25 people! We’re taking both kids, their spouses, and our four grandchildren to Ojai for 4 days. Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant there. I am beyond thrilled and so looking forward to it. I’m hoping it’ll start a tradition?
    Your list is excellent but I never use stainless steel anymore. I love heavy cooking pots and pans. I was also introduced to Earlywood by you, and have a real thing for their products. Just got two beautiful cutting boards for the holidays (I use them to serve cheese and charcuterie) – and I always give our kids a gift from them as well. A wonderful company.

    1. @Kathy, I’ll have to try the cast iron pan for brussels sprouts. Fun. Have a wonderful time in Ojai! And I remember you’d bought an Earlywood something, so happy to find it became a a real thing <3.

  14. A very good list indeed! I have pretty much everything you suggested. Great minds! I probably could manage with about 25% of the kitchen/dining I’ve acquired. It’s hard to part with things you’ve used for 35 years. Soon to be turning the big six zero and I still love anything related to cooking.

  15. Hi Lisa, Don’t know where you plan to eat for Thanksgiving this year, but the VERY best Thanksgiving dinner we have ever had was at La Madelaine in Dallas. They are a small chain but, if you or your readers are lucky, they may have one in your area.

    All 5 of our children have moved away from California so it will be just hubby and me. I love to cook so we will have something simple like roasted Rosemary & Garlic Chicken, fresh sage dressing, and an Arugula-Shaved Parmesan-and Red Pear salad with Champagne dressing. Dessert will be Pumpkin-Butterscotch pudding garnished with roasted Pecans.

    Not traditional fare but our giving of thanks will be.

    :) Carol

  16. My mother has a theory that eating out on holidays (particularly in the US, particularly Thanksgiving) is a recipe for a subpar meal. May I suggest that you might like having some fancy food delivered the day before and then you can eat delicious things (that you didn’t have to make) in the comfort of your own home on the day itself. You could always visit a chic hotel bar and have drinks if you want to get out.

    1. @K-Line, Oh but then I’d have to clean up. I understand your point, but, hey, as long as there is gravy and mashed potatoes and turkey, and maybe apple pie, I’ll be fine. xox.

  17. In my opinion, one of the best Apple Pies in southern California comes from the Julian Pie company in Julian, California. The apples are grown right there in the tiny little town of Julian. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to sell on line AND you must find a store in either San Diego county or in Riverside County. Hubby loves pies so I don’t even try to compete with the Julian Pie Company.

    Another great food that is not worth the trouble to make yourself is Autumn Harvest Butternut Soup from Signature Cafe, a division of Lucern Foods in Pleasanton, CA. Vons, Safeway, Randalls, Tom Thumb and many others across the US carry the Signature Cafe brand. Even if they do not carry the Signature Cafe soups, their Deli Manager can order it for you. As good, if not better than Wolfgang Puck’s version! It is only available for about 4 months per year so I order it by the case to keep in the freezer.

  18. Tip for those that have fallen hook, line, and sinker for parchment paper (ME!). Buy it directly from a restaurant supply store. It is sold in boxes and the sheets are very large (designed to fit in professional bakers’ trays/ovens). I just cut the sheets down the middle which fit my baking pans exactly. Although there is an initial cost up front to purchase such a large box, it turns out to be just a fraction of the cost of what one would pay for those little rolls sold in supermarkets. Club together with a friend and divide the cost if need be. It is absolutely worth it. Also, I’ve found that several of my friends and family have appreciated receiving a gift of rolled up parchment paper, tied with a pretty bow, as a gift.

  19. I, too, use parchment paper. Cook bacon in the oven on parchment. Simply crispy and delicious. I will cook my prime rib roast for Thanksgiving. I’ve lost my taste for turkey. Over the last couple years, my family has made the transition to roast. At first I had lots of naysayers, but now they all look forward to my Thanksgiving roast. I’ve never eaten out for the holidays, but the idea of no prep and no cleanup sounds great. I look forward to hearing about your experience.

    1. @Susan, Bacon on parchment! Good idea. And I remember we had lobster for Christmas one year and it felt weird and now forever I remember that as the best Christmas dinner ever. Your roast is a family tradition.

  20. Great idea for the post!
    I’m pretty much equipped in the kitchen for cooking for friends and family-but always good to check again!
    Thanksgivings is one of my favourite american holidays
    Not cooking on holidays,from time to time,is great!
    Here is sacriledge to go to a restaurant for Christmas and Easter (and ,frankly,a lot of my favourite restaurant are closed),but I’ve spent two or three Easters in Italy,where is usual to go out for an Easter lunch-nobody is cooking,all are enjoying,socializing in a festive atmosphere!
    But,tradition is good indeed,so I like to be at home, as well, and cook

  21. I love my old fashioned speckled roast pan, but I did melt a bit of the enamel on an electric stove top once. It always does fine with gas. Mom’s Revere Ware is still going strong and Grandma’s cast iron fry pan somehow survived my Mother’s attempts to kill it. Lovingly re-seasoned, it still does the trick 96 years after my grandmother set up housekeeping.

  22. I believe firmly in oven roux! So easy! And if you make gumbo, you can push your roux much further in the oven than on the stovetop. Makes getting that dark, rich roux a totally passive project!

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