Editor’s Picks: 5 Kitchen Gadgets That Honestly Take the Stress Out of Thanksgiving
Published on November 8, 2021
Last updated November 12, 2021
By Jess Novak
When you cook a Thanksgiving meal, you’re playing a complex game of Human vs. Time, and usually, the humans lose. The turkey is dry, the mashed potatoes ended up gluey from frantic over-whipping, and the sides ended up getting served stone-cold because the timing wasn’t exactly right.
While what you perceive as a “traditional” Thanksgiving dish will change depending on what part of the country you’re in (for some folks, it’s not Thanksgiving without a creamy mac and cheese, while others absolutely must have their mom’s oyster stuffing on the table), there’s one aspect to a Thanksgiving meal that’s absolutely universal: the need to make lots and lots of food, and have all the dishes ready at pretty much the same time.
This could be accomplished with a three-day prep and a spreadsheet filled with some pretty intense calculations that precisely determine when certain dishes need to be started and finished in order to get them all out at once… or, you could pick up a few of these gadgets that take *most* of the stress out of the day. (Admittedly, they can’t stop your aunt from drinking too much Beaujolais before noon.) See our top stress-busting picks below.
Every year, there’s that point when the turkey is just doing its job, sitting in the oven, trying its very best to get to golden-skinned perfection… and we go ahead and ruin things by continuously checking on it. The problem with this “method,” if you can even call it that, is that when we open the door, the oven loses heat, which means the bird is going to be in there longer, and the chances of a dry turkey immediately go up. To solve this problem, try a smart thermometer that pairs with your phone, so you can monitor things from a distance (this model works up to 165 feet away). That way, you can be absolutely sure you’ll be alerted at the precise moment the turkey should come out.
(Meater Plus Wireless Meat Themometer; $100 on Amazon)
2. An Electric Warming Tray
Most Thanksgiving side dishes taste best when they’re served piping hot — it’s a universal truth that mashed potatoes should be warm enough to easily melt a pat of butter. Sides that took you hours and hours to prepare become so disappointing when they inevitably end up lukewarm by the time everyone is actually seated at the table.
This can put a ton of pressure on timing your Thanksgiving meal absolutely perfectly. Thankfully, this electric warming tray exists: your Thanksgiving savior that will keep dishes at an ideal temp from the first round, all the way to second and third helpings. Much safer than sterno (especially with kids and pets around), you can safely put this model down on any surface — including the ‘good dining table.’ (They also make a smaller version if you’re looking to save space.)
(NutriChef Electric Warming Tray; $90 on Amazon)
3. An Apple Corer and Slicer
Serving apple pie at Thanksgiving? That’s as American as… yeah, exactly. Very rarely do we believe in getting a specialty tool when a chef’s knife will do, but if you’ve got a full house and need to minimize prep time, an apple corer that’s also an apple slicer is honestly a godsend. It’s also a great way to easily, quickly prepare a healthy snack for kids (one slice and a smear of almond butter, and you’re good to go), and this thing also works well on onions, which can reduce both chopping time and tears. Win-win.
(OXO Good Grips Apple Slicer; $11 on Amazon)
4. This Air Fryer (a.k.a a Convection Toaster Oven)
We’ve all been there: your oven is totally full, but you still have at least three side dishes that really need to be baked. And then there are those dishes that you technically could warm up on the stove, but they would taste so much better crisped up in the oven. This is why you need a mini convection oven that lives on your counter — a.k.a an air fryer. (Yes, they are the same thing.) And according to Wirecutter, the best “air fryer” right now is billing itself as a convection toaster oven. This little guy produces even, crispy food, and can accommodate everything from a 6-pound chicken to your Thanksgiving stuffing (which is basically the same thing as a dressing, but don’t get me started).
(Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven; $248 on Amazon)
Read next: Our Smartest Air Fryer Tips
5. These 5-Blade Herb Scissors
Fresh herbs are the best. They’re full of vitamins, they add masses of flavor, and yet… they can be an absolutely massive pain in the butt to deal with. These herb scissors are phenomenally helpful when you’re dealing with tons of fresh herbs, and they work beautifully on parsley, basil, cilantro, mint — really everything except for thyme and rosemary, which you’ll just have to continue stripping the old-fashioned way.
(5-Blade Herb Scissors; $10 on Amazon)
Jess Novak is the Head of Content and Audience Development for Clean Plates. She’s obsessed with making meals that taste like they’re not healthy but secretly really are. You can follow her on Instagram @jtothenovak.