Must-Haves for a Small Thanksgiving

Whatever your Thanksgiving will look like, we have all the gadgets and gear you need to cook a delicious meal.

At Thanksgiving, I usually roast a turkey large enough to feed 20 people. This year, I’m cooking for a smaller group—my wife and a handful of close family members—and embracing a holiday that looks different. I’ll be using our favorite small roasting pan, which is the perfect size for a slightly smaller bird. Plus, it can go straight from the oven to the stovetop—a real asset when it’s time to make the gravy. We have all the tools you need to cook a delicious meal. No matter what, I’m grateful our table will be filled with good food and lots of love.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This tall tool has a sturdy metal mashing plate supported by a long, curved handle made of slip-free plastic. The plethora of small holes on its mashing plate made an ultracreamy, smooth mash, and its handle felt comfortable in hands of all sizes. Its round mashing plate eased effortlessly along the edges of every pan and made quick work of mashing all types of potatoes.

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Our winner excelled in comfort; it was light and maneuverable, with rubbery grips on both the pot and the lid. It heated fairly quickly, thanks to its thinner 3/16-inch-thick bottom, though we did have to keep an eye on sautéed onions to make sure they didn't scorch. Still, it was a trade-off we were happy to make, as this model's minimal heft and comfortable U-shaped handles made it easy to carry and pour from.

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Our top performer carved meat with ease and sliced crusty bread better than most of the other knives, but what really set it apart were its noise level and its comfortable handle. This model was the quietest in the lineup, making it far more pleasant to use, and it was the only product that had a rounded handle with the start button located underneath. It occasionally gave us slightly ragged slices when we cut delicate breads, and we would have liked to have a case for blade storage—it was the only product that didn’t come with a storage option—but those were minor drawbacks for this otherwise high-performing model.

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Our new favorite won us over with its ultrasharp, moderately flexible blade, which made every task seem nearly effortless. It kept its edge throughout testing, even after deboning an additional 10 chicken breasts. Its slightly shorter length proved especially advantageous with finer jobs, giving us more control as we boned chicken breasts. And although we wish the plastic handle were made of a grippier material, its slim profile made it easy to grasp in different ways.

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With a handle made from grippy TPE (a plastic-rubber hybrid material) and tines that had good rigidity and spacing, the OXO flat whisk aced our sauce tests and was relatively comfortable to use for longer periods. While this whisk had one of the longer handles in our testing, an additional inch would have made it even more enjoyable to use.

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Testers raved about this classic wooden spoon. Light, long, and maneuverable, it kept our hands far from the heat, and its rounded, tapered handle was comfortable and easy to grip in a variety of ways as we worked. It also suited both right- and left-handed testers. The slim tip of its nicely scooped-out oval bowl was easy to maneuver under food for turning and scooping, and when angled slightly, the head provided sufficient area for scraping fond. Made of teak, the wood resisted staining or drying out, retained its color, and never became rough to touch, even after 10 cycles through the dishwasher. 

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Our old winner is still the best instant-read thermometer on the market. It's dead accurate, fast, and so streamlined and simple that it's a breeze to use. It does just what we want: “Tell me the temp; get out of my way,” as one tester put it. Its long handle gave us plenty of room to maneuver, allowing for multiple grips, and a ring of slightly tacky silicone kept our hands confidently secured. The automatic backlight meant we never had to stop and adjust in low light, and the rotating screen is handy for lefties and righties needing different angles. The auto wake-up function is extremely useful; you don't have to stop and turn the thermometer on again midtask. The digits were large and legible, and it's waterproof in up to 39 inches of water for up to 30 minutes. It's also calibratable, promising years of accuracy.

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With a large, tall-sided, highly perforated strainer and a well-controlled release valve, this bottom-draining model defatted the most stock in every test. And its detachable canister made it the easiest separator to clean by hand. It did have hard-to-read measurement lines, and superficial cracks developed around the drainage hole after 10 washes and 150 times opening and closing it, though it remained leakproof.

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Our favorite pot holders are fashioned as pockets with a sheet of silicone on one side, a panel of cotton fabric on the back, and soft cotton lining in between. The silicone layer offered excellent protection from the heat. Our hands never became too hot during kitchen tests and we were able to hold a 350-degree cast-iron skillet comfortably for 23 seconds. They were also flexible, which allowed testers to feel like they had control when maneuvering hot pans. Although both the silicone and cotton fabric remained stained after our durability tests, it didn't shrink or warp. We liked that it is machine-washable.

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