The Best Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools and Tableware

Whether you’re having a few pals over for Friendsgiving or an all-out, extended-family Thanksgiving feast, you’re probably going to need a few supplies. Our team has put several hundred hours of research and testing into choosing the following picks. Some of these picks come from longer full guides; other items come from the research we did specifically for this collection. Thanksgiving can be pretty hectic, but the right gear can make it a breeze.

Food prep

Cutting boards

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

OXO Good Grips Carving & Cutting Board
The best plastic cutting board

This plastic board resists warping, staining, and odors better than the other plastic boards we tested. The rubber feet keep it stationary, and the juice groove does an excellent job collecting liquids.


This beautiful, eco-conscious teak board requires more-careful cleaning than a plastic board, but it feels better under a knife and is easier to maintain than the other wood boards we tested.

For the mountain of prep work you’ll face on Thanksgiving, you need a good cutting board (or several). After spending more than 70 hours on research, including interviewing chefs and materials experts and chopping copious pounds of produce for our cutting board guide, we found that the plastic OXO Good Grips Cutting & Carving Board offers the best balance of cutting feel, durability, and ease of cleaning. If you want a hefty wood cutting board, we highly recommend the Proteak TeakHaus Rectangle Edge Grain Cutting Board with Hand Grip. It stays in place with minimal help, but it isn’t so heavy that you can’t easily move it when you need to. After years of long-term testing, neither board has split or egregiously warped from misuse. For carving the Thanksgiving turkey, check out the Proteak’s Teakhaus 24-by-18-inch board with a juice canal, a larger version of our pick that has a juice groove. 

Chef’s knife

Our Pick

Mac MTH-80
The best chef’s knife for most people

With its supersharp edge, sleek, tapered shape, and comfortable handle, this knife will make your everyday dicing and slicing tasks smoother and quicker.

Every kitchen should have a chef’s knife—it will make preparation on Thanksgiving and every other day faster and easier. Of all the pieces in a cutlery set, the chef’s knife is the most versatile and gets the most use. And since 2013, we think the Mac MTH-80 is the best for most people. The Mac has proven that it can stay sharp through regular use. It’s universally comfortable, and it’s our favorite knife to use in our test kitchen. Other knives to consider to help prepare a Thanksgiving meal might be a paring knife, for delicate tasks, and a serrated knife, for slicing bread, root vegetables, and even meat.

Oven mitts and pot holders

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

The polyester and cotton-lined Homwe oven mitt allowed us to hold a 400 °F cast iron skillet for an average of 11 seconds. Its silicone exterior is easy to maneuver and it’s water-resistant, too.


This pot holder has a silicone exterior that provides better heat protection than plain terry-cloth pot holders.

Whether you’re serving ready-to-cook hors d’oeuvres or whipping up a full-blown holiday meal, a good pot holder or oven mitt will come in handy. In our tests, both were able to protect our hands from the scorching heat of a 400 °F cast iron skillet for just over 10 seconds. These oven mitts and pot holders offer the best combination of heat protection, comfort, and maneuverability.

Food processor

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

With just pulse and on buttons plus a single bowl, this is one of Cuisinart’s most basic models, but it consistently chops, slices, and kneads better than any other food processor we’ve found for under $250.

A food processor is the best tool for quickly performing a variety of chopping, slicing, and shredding tasks, something you’ll be doing a lot of when prepping for Thanksgiving. After spending 70 hours researching food processors, interviewing experts, and conducting nearly four years of long-term testing, we still think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is the best choice for most home cooks. Its simple, pared-down design makes it easier to use and clean than models with more settings or multiple bowls, and we found it to be built more solidly than other processors in its price range. In our tests, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor tackled a multitude of chopping and shredding tasks exceptionally well.

Potato masher/ricer

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

With a grid plate and a squat form, this affordable, simple tool makes quick work of punching through your mash.

Mashed potatoes are always a crowd-pleaser. To make enough to feed a crowd with minimal fuss, mess, and frustration, use the OXO Good Grips Smooth Potato Masher. Because of its grid plate, the OXO masher breaks up potato quickly and requires little effort on the cook’s part.

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

Chef’n FreshForce Potato Ricer
The best potato masher

This roomy, easy-to-clean potato ricer uses dual gears to compound force, so it requires considerably less brawn than other models do.

Many food pros prefer using a food mill for making especially creamy and smooth potato puree, but we found that even the easiest-to-use food mill can turn the task of mashing potatoes into a huge hassle. If you want your mashed potatoes absolutely lump-free but still fluffy, opt for the Chef’n FreshForce Potato Ricer. It required the least amount of effort among the ricers we tested, and the action was smooth thanks to a clever design.

Measuring cups and spoons

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

These are sturdier than most dry cups we’ve found, standing up to repeated abuse without bending.


Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

Double-ended spoons give more bang for your buck, plus a magnet makes the set easy to store.

Measuring cups and measuring spoons are such essential kitchen tools that if you cook at all, chances are you already have a set, but for big holiday meal preparations, it doesn’t hurt to have extras (and if you’re missing any cups or spoons, you should definitely get more). For consistency, most serious bakers use a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients, but American recipes still mostly rely on the dry measuring cup, so both cups and spoons are useful to have for everyday cooking. After many hours of testing, we recommend the durable KitchenMade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and the convenient Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons


Turkey tools

Carving knife and fork

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

The Messermeister Avanta carving set combines good looks, a wallet-friendly price, and high performance.

A carving knife and fork set serves a practical purpose: slicing and plating a large roast (like a Thanksgiving turkey). But it also serves a ceremonial purpose: Like bringing out the good china, using an elegant carving set at the dining table signals that you’re beginning a special meal.

We’re confident the Messermeister 2 Piece Avanta Pakkawood Kullenschliff Carving Set is the best for most people. It offers an unbeatable combination of value, good looks, and great performance. We also tested two electric knives, and the Hamilton Beach Classic is our winner.

Fat separator

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

This 4-cup OXO fat separator’s silicone stopper does an excellent job preventing fat from seeping into meat drippings. This model also comes with a deep strainer and a protective splash guard.

We tested seven of them over two years, and we think the affordable OXO Good Grips 4 Cup Fat Separator is the best for most people. Its generous 4-cup capacity holds plenty of drippings to make gravy for a holiday feast. The silicone stopper prevents fat from entering the spout and the deep strainer does an excellent job catching solids—like carrots, onions, and herbs—from stock or drippings.

Turkey deep fryer

Our Pick


The best turkey fryer pot

Part one of our suggested turkey-frying kit is a 30-quart aluminum stockpot that heated up quickly and stayed warm in our tests.

Fried turkey tastes great, and as long as you follow safety precautions, it can be fun. Besides, big holiday meals are like theatrical productions, and few things are flashier than putting your mitts on and pulling a gorgeous, crispy, burnished bird from a vat of boiling oil.


Cookware

Dutch oven

Our Pick

With big handles and a durable design, this Dutch oven aced every test, rivaling models four times the price.

A nice Dutch oven is indispensable for preparing all kinds of hearty Thanksgiving sides, and it looks nice enough to double as a serving dish. We’ve spent more than 68 hours researching and testing Dutch ovens over the past three years for our Dutch oven guide, and the Lodge Color Enamel Dutch Oven cooked foods just as effectively as pricier models. Lodge is already renowned for its remarkably affordable plain cast iron, and we found that its enameled cast iron offerings perform admirably, too. In our tests the 6-quart Lodge Color Enamel Dutch Oven kept pace with French-made pots four times the price, searing, braising, steaming, and caramelizing foods at the same level as more-expensive competitors. After using the Lodge for four years, we stand by it as a reliable, affordable Dutch oven that will work for most people. For a big gathering, we recommend the 7.5-quart size.

Skillet

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

With its superior heat conduction, durable construction, and comfortable handle, the All-Clad 12-inch skillet is a workhorse that will last beyond a lifetime.

A 12-inch skillet is an essential tool: It’s perfect for stir-frying, pan-frying, making one-pan meals, searing steaks and other hunks of meat. At Thanksgiving, you can use it for everything from toasting nuts to creaming spinach. After more than 70 collective hours devoted to research, four years of long-term testing, and time spent comparing eight pans with one another in a side-by-side cook-off for our guide to skillets, we still think the tri-ply All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Inch Covered Fry Pan is the best one for the money. 

Baking sheets

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

These great, heavy-gauge aluminum cookie sheets will help you bake cookies evenly and can even serve as all-purpose roasting pans.

You’ll want to have at least a couple rimmed baking sheets on hand for Thanksgiving prep. Beyond making cookies, they’re great for everything from roasting vegetables to drying out bread cubes for stuffing. We found that the heavy-gauge aluminum Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet baked cookies evenly without warping at high heat, for a fraction of the price of some other sheets. Even after years of heavy use, the Nordic Ware pan still performs well, and any baked-on oils and fats have been easy to remove.

Casserole dish/bakeware

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

HIC Porcelain Lasagna Pan
The best casserole dish

This pan bakes evenly, has roomy handles for easy carrying, and is pretty enough to put on display at any of your holiday meals. It also performed as well as dishes that cost three times as much.

A good baking dish is an indispensable, versatile tool that you can use for both cooking and serving a variety of dishes during the holidays. After three years of long-term testing, we think the HIC Porcelain Lasagna Pan is still the best casserole dish for the value. This classic-looking dish performs well in the oven, and it’s pretty enough to fit in with formal or fancy table settings. It will easily serve six to eight for sides, including Thanksgiving classics like stuffing, mashed potatoes, or green beans.

We found the HIC model cooked just as well as the other dishes we tried, performing on the same level as dishes that cost three times as much. Our pick comes in white in a 13-by-9-inch size but also in an 8½-by-5½-inch variety. In addition, the HIC dish is available in different colors, and on Amazon the color variant is called Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Oblong Rectangular Baking Dish; we’ve confirmed with HIC that it is the same pan.


Dessert and coffee

Stand mixer

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

This 5-quart stand mixer tackles nearly any recipe without knocking around on the counter, and it’s one of the quietest models in the KitchenAid line.

A good stand mixer will make your baking (and cooking) life a lot easier. We found that the 5-quart KitchenAid Artisan is the best mixer for the home baker. Not only did it cream butter and sugar for cookies and whip up a genoise cake batter more effectively than nearly every other model we tried, it also effortlessly kneaded whole-wheat bread dough without straining or walking around on the countertop (a common issue with other mixers). We found that it’s still the absolute best for its performance, versatility, and price.

Pie plate

Our Pick

The Baker’s Advantage performs as well as plates twice the price. It bakes crust to an even brown, it’s deep enough to hold any recipe you want to make, and it looks good on the table.

For holiday pies that are beautiful and evenly baked every time, we recommend the Baker’s Advantage Ceramic Pie Dish. Tested against six other plates for our pie plate guide, the Baker’s Advantage was one of the few dishes to produce a golden-brown crust and an evenly baked filling every time. Its deep dish makes it especially great for baking pies packed with fruit, but it also makes a handsome pumpkin pie or quiche.

Pie server

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

This pie server has a nonslip handle and a classic, nonserrated blade.

To cut pies, personally I prefer to pair a good chef’s knife with the Cuisinart Elements Stainless Steel Pie Server. That’s how I was taught to cut a slice when I worked at a chain restaurant that specialized in pies. Through those five years of my youth, I cut thousands of slices, and not one with a serrated blade. We used a sharp, nonserrated blade, warmed and rinsed before every cut. Our pie servers were simple models like those available at any restaurant-supply store, with a shape similar to that of the Cuisinart model. The key to getting a good-looking slice is to take your time, slowly scoring through top crusts, pivoting the knife to cleanly cut through the bottom corner, and cleaning your blade after each pass.

Our Pick

Sale OXO SteeL Pie Server

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

OXO SteeL Pie Server
The best serrated pie server

This heavy-duty pie server has two serrated edges for clean, neat slices and a wide base for easy transport.

But if you’re one of the many people who like using a serrated pie server, which allows cutting and plating with one tool, get the OXO SteeL Pie Server. It’s affordable, comfortable, and made well enough to last for years. Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) recommends it, saying it “lifted intact slices easily, no matter the filling or crust.” Still, the shape of a slightly rounded pie server can be awkward for cutting away the bottom corner of crust, destroying all structural pie-tegrity.

If you want the best all-around tool, the OXO is your best choice, but the Cuisinart will do well if you prefer a nonserrated pick. 

Coffee maker

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker
The best coffee maker

Expect great-tasting coffee from a machine that’s easy to use and clean. It brews a 1-liter pot in under seven minutes.

Good, hot, and flavorful coffee is essential after dinner, but the task is best left to a machine when you’re serving a crowd. After testing over a dozen drip coffee makers over the past few years, we think the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker is the best for most people. It’s fast and convenient, with a programmable start time and a well-insulated carafe, and it makes a good pot of coffee. If good coffee won’t cut it, or the OXO is out of stock, consider our runner-up pick, the Bonavita Connoisseur BV1901TS. The Bonavita makes the best-tasting coffee of any machine we tried, but it’s a little harder to use. 

Coffee carafe

Our Pick

Featuring a classic design, this 51-ounce coffee carafe helped beverages stay piping hot (over 200 °F) for longer than two hours in our tests.

With a coffee carafe on hand, you can brew a pot of coffee before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner and keep it warm until dessert is served. It also frees up space to brew a second pot in the machine, which is handy if you’re hosting a lot of people or want to serve decaf. The 51-ounce Thermos Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Carafe remains our top choice for a solid carafe that will keep coffee hot for hours. This was the top pick for Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) back in 2008. We tested it head-to-head with other top-rated carafes and found that it kept beverages piping hot (over 200 °F) for longer than two hours. The Thermos model features a classic coffee-carafe design with a metal vessel and a plastic spout that opens when you press a button with your thumb. It pours steadily without dripping, and its top is easy to take on and off.

If you’re looking for something slightly more elegant than the Thermos carafe, the 44-ounce Emsa Eleganza by Frieling runs a close second. Its beautiful top-to-bottom stainless steel exterior and artistic shape make it one of the classiest carafes available. Like the Thermos model, it keeps liquid truly hot for hours (also keeping temperatures in the 200s after two hours in our tests). The Thermos model, however, is superior in pouring.


Tabletop

Serving utensils

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

WMF Manaos Bistro Serving Spoon
The best serving spoon

This lovely, polished stainless steel spoon has a large bowl for mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

We love the simple design and polished finish of the 10-inch-long WMF Manaos Bistro Serving Spoon. The bowl of the spoon, which measures 2¼ by 3 inches, is big enough to scoop up dishes like mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

If a high-polish finish isn’t important to you but having a multitasking utensil is, we recommend JB Prince’s Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon. This spoon is an essential tool for chefs and line cooks in fine-dining kitchens all over the world, whether for saucing, plating, cooking, or tasting. Developed by Chef Gray Kunz during his time leading the kitchen at Lespinasse in New York City, this spoon was standard issue for every cook at that restaurant. Its brushed finish and ergonomic handle make it comfortable and attractive.


Tables and chairs

Folding tables

Our Pick

Office Star 6′ Resin Center Fold Multipurpose Table
The best folding table for most people

This table folds in half for easy storage, can take a good beating, and of all the tables we tested, it was the easiest to set up. It can handle at least 200 pounds of weight and doesn’t stain if you leave grape juice on it overnight.

Also Great

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

Lifetime 80160 Commercial Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table
A smaller table for kids, crafts, or condiments

If you’re not worried about seating but still need a table, the smaller 4-foot style will fit into pretty much any closet. This table is easier to set up than the other 4-foot table we tested, has adjustable legs that allow you to set the height, and hard plastic tabletop.

A folding table is an excellent solution if you occasionally need a table—say, for unexpected guests on Thanksgiving—but don’t have the space or desire to set up one permanently. After setting up and breaking down nine folding tables and running each through a gamut of tests, we think the Office Star Resin Multipurpose Rectangle Table is the best choice for people who want a simple, heavy-duty folding table that’s sturdy, easy to use, and can take a hearty beating. It’ll seat six people comfortably. And if you’re looking for something smaller than 6 feet long, we like the Lifetime 80160 Commercial Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table. Unlike bigger tables, it adjusts by height, which makes it a great kids table or food prep area.

Folding chairs

Our Pick

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

MityLite Flex One Folding Chair
The best folding chair

This unique folding chair molds to the sitter’s shape and can purportedly hold more than 1,000 pounds. We sat comfortably in one for hours.

One of the worst problems to have at a dinner party is insufficient seating for your guests. That’s where folding chairs come in handy. We suggest the MityLite Flex One folding chair (available in a set of four on Amazon or individually from Sam’s Club), a durable, ventilated seat made of steel and flexible polypropylene that molds to the sitter’s shape and can purportedly hold more than 1,000 pounds. It’s an inch and a half wider than your standard folding chair, slim enough for you to stuff it into a closet, and comfortable enough that your seated guests won’t feel like second-class party attendees. As a bonus, it even comes in white.