Essential utensils: 7 Items to make Thanksgiving dinner a snap

Nov 7, 2011 at 10:18 a.m. ET

Have you started to prep for Thanksgiving dinner yet? It is just around the corner! Start your prep work with a few basic steps: Round up the essential kitchen utensils you’ll need to help you put together a fabulous holiday meal.

Can you imagine a builder without a hammer? A gardener without a hoe or a painter without a brush? Without the proper tools, any task can become difficult. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, so take the first step by getting your kitchen set up with the proper utensils -- or tools, if you will, for meal-making magic!


Whisks are usually made of stainless steel, with several loops of metal that come together at one point attached to a handle (imagine a teardrop shape). Whisks are used to help mix or blend things like eggs, creams and sauces, either on their own or with other ingredients, and to help incorporate air into the ingredients.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Mixing ingredients for gravy and blending eggs to use in pumpkin pie

Rubber spatulaRubber spatula

When you want to scrape up every last bit of a wet mixture, or to gently fold ingredients together, a rubber spatula is what you need. Since it's rubber, it's safe to use on different surfaces, from glass to non-stick to stainless steel. Plastic spatulas work well on round or odd-shaped containers since they're bendable. Spatulas are fairly flat and are typically attached to a handle.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Smoothing the top layer of cream cheese frosting on carrot cake and cleaning all the mashed potatoes from the mixing bowl

Chef's knifeChef's knife

A chef's knife is an all-purpose knife used for chopping, cutting and dicing veggies and meats and anything in between. Traditional blade sizes come in 8- or 10-inch lengths. The blades of a chef's knife can be made from carbon steel, stainless steel and even ceramic. The tip of the knife is pointed and gets wider as it gets closer to the handle, forming a long, triangular shape.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Chopping celery and onions for stuffing and cutting parts of the turkey away from its bone before serving

Potato masherPotato masher

A potato masher is used to break down, soften and smooth foods, like potatoes, into a more uniform consistency after cooking. The handle of a potato masher stands upright, and the bottom is usually flat and includes a large mesh pattern with rounded openings. Sometimes, instead of a mesh pattern, the head of the masher is a series of narrow rows with spaces between them.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Making mashed potatoes and mashing sweet potatoes for a pie filling or side dish

Bread knife Bread knife

A bread knife is a specialized kitchen knife that has a serrated edge. Its blade is usually anywhere from 8- to 10-inches long. This type of knife works well to slice bread, as the knife has small scallops or "teeth" on one edge of its blade. This helps cut into the bread without smashing or flattening it.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Slice into homemade bread to serve with dinner and thinly slice tomato rounds to serve with salad

Measuring cups and spoonsMeasuring cups and spoons

Measuring cups come in a variety of shapes and sizes, typically in glass or plastic, and are used for either liquid or dry ingredients. A spouted measuring cup is great for liquids.

Measuring spoons can be metal or plastic and come in increments of 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon. Add dry ingredients to a particular measuring spoon until it's filled, and level it off with a knife.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Use a cup to measure flour to add to a recipe for homemade bread and rolls and use a measuring spoon for cinnamon to add to pumpkin pie


Shaped like a bowl with two small handles, colanders are either metal or plastic. Colanders have small holes throughout the entire bowl to help drain wet items like cooked pasta or rinsed fruits and vegetables.

Perfect use for Thanksgiving dinner: Draining washed apples to use for apple pie and draining washed cranberries to use for cranberry sauce

Now that you know about some of the most essential kitchen utensils, you can be ready for Thanksgiving dinner meal prep. Consider yourself an artist armed with the proper tools to create a masterpiece!

Try these Thanksgiving dinner recipes

Carrot cake with cream cheese icing
Creamy garlic mashed potatoes
Chorizo sausage stuffing
Homemade bread without the hassle
Mashed sweet potatoes and apples with sage butter