The right kitchen tools can shave precious minutes off Thanksgiving dinner preparation. We spoke with Marguerite Preston, an editor at Wirecutter — a New York Times company that tests and reviews products for people who quickly want to know what to buy — and two writers for the site, Lesley Stockton and Michael Sullivan, for their Thanksgiving equipment recommendations and tips.
There can never be enough wine openers, which tend to be misplaced as guests get merrier around the Thanksgiving table. "Buy three," Stockton said. "Keep one in your back pocket because the other two will disappear." ' True Fabrications Truetap Double Hinged Waiter's Corkscrew, $5.99.
Towels tend to toil in the kitchen until the moment they are so stained and frayed that they have to be called rags. Even if few guests will see the ones in your kitchen, consider buying a new set. Wirecutter's top pick, from Williams Sonoma, comes in eight colors and has a waffle weave on one side and terry cloth on the other. "They have the absorbency of terry without looking like a bath towel," Stockton said. ' Williams Sonoma All-Purpose Kitchen Towel, four for $19.95.
Need some help getting everything ready for your Thanksgiving feast? Nov. 12 through Nov. 22, we’ll offer tips, advice and recipes.
› Sunday: Thanksgiving tools
› Monday: Choosing a turkey
› Tuesday: What to drink
› Wednesday: Sumptuous sides
› Thursday: Beer and turkey pairings
› Friday: Setting the table
› Saturday: How to be a good guest
› Nov. 19: Tips for your turkey
› Nov. 20: Buffet essentials
› Nov. 21: How to snag the wishbone
› Nov. 22: Ideas for your leftovers
A large wooden cutting board's last job on Thanksgiving is as the carving station for the turkey. In the days leading up to the holiday, the board is staging central for chopping vegetables, breads and herbs. In a pinch, it can be used as a trivet for the hot casseroles rotating out of the oven. This teak board, a larger version of Wirecutter's overall pick, does not need to be oiled as often as others made of wood. ' Proteak TeakHaus Rectangle Edge 24-by-18-Inch Board, $115.
"You will never have enough of these pans in your house," Stockton said. Wirecutter's top choice is made of heavy-gauge aluminum that resists warping at high heat. The pans, available in half and quarter sizes, are perfect for roasting vegetables, baking pies and toasting nuts. Line them with paper towels and they become a drying station for cleaned herbs or, with the addition of a folded kitchen towel, a countertop resting place for tomatoes and easily bruised fruits. -Nordic Ware Baker's Half Sheet, $19.50.
A thermometer is the one piece of equipment that will ensure everyone walks away from dinner healthy. The ThermoWorks ThermoPop is Wirecutter's top choice. "It's reliable, it's inexpensive and it's easier to use than the old-school thermometers," Sullivan said. Their upgrade choice, also by ThermoWorks, is the $99 Thermapen Mk4. ' ThermoPop, $29.
"Before Thanksgiving Day, it's something you should think about: Are your knives sharp?" Preston said. Dull knives can be dangerous. Wirecutter picked this Chef's Choice portable sharpener as testers found it to be the easiest to use for novice cooks. ' Chef'sChoice 4643 ProntoPro, $49.95.
This portable waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2, will help time fly while you're prepping for dinner, as it can connect to your phone to broadcast music, podcasts or the radio. "It's a lot more fun to cook with music," Sullivan said. "It makes it a lot less tedious, especially when you're just prepping one thing after the next." ' UE Roll 2, $99.99.
If you are expecting a large crowd for Thanksgiving, set the table with Wirecutter's top choice, a caterer's set of 12 simple white plates from Pottery Barn. "It comes with a reusable cardboard box with dividers for each plate, so it's really handy for storing after Thanksgiving is over," Sullivan said. If you need fewer plates, Wirecutter recommends Ikea's 365+ plate.' Pottery Barn Caterer's Dinner Plate, set of 12, $59; Ikea 365+ Plate, $2.99.
The 2016 blade recall does not affect this 14-cup food processor from Cuisinart. "It's a classic design that hasn't really been beat in our test," Sullivan said. Beyond the tasks you may already use it for — making pie dough, chopping garlic, grating cheese — put the food processor to work as a prep cook the day before Thanksgiving. It can dice mirepoix, slice potatoes and make dips and spreads faster than you. ' Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor, $199.
"Napkins and tablecloths are probably the cheapest and easiest way to elevate your dining table," Stockton said. Wirecutter's top picks for both napkin and tablecloth are from Williams Sonoma. Both are 100 percent cotton, and reviewers preferred the heft of the tablecloth and softness of the napkins over the scores of other linens they tested. Williams Sonoma Hotel Dinner Napkins, six for $42; Williams Sonoma Hotel Tablecloth, eight sizes, $49.95 to $79.95.
While nothing will beat a chef's knife for cutting raw meat, a serrated knife is an all-around workhorse for prep work as Thanksgiving approaches. Wirecutter's upgrade pick, the Tojiro bread knife, has scalloped edges that will not leave a zigzag pattern in sliced meat. It also makes easy work of bread, fruits and root vegetables. ' Tojiro Bread Slicer, $58.
You don't have to spend a fortune on extra silverware for guests who come over only a few times a year. Wirecutter suggests an inexpensive set by Ikea if you just need a few place settings to get you through the holiday. The Wirecutter flatware review includes eight more recommendations for modern and traditional designs. ' Ikea Fornuft 20-piece flatware set, $7.99.