‘Tis the season for feasting finally!! Whether you’re hosting at your house this year or pot-lucking it somewhere else… or if you’re a traditional dish sort of group or like to experiment, holiday cooking and baking are some of the most memorable times of the year…and can be super stressful! Taking on family, hosting, and entertaining, all while trying to juggle pulling off important or involved dishes, can get the best of us for sure.
Do yourself a favor and arm yourself with some tools to make it go a little smoother in there. And you avoid the kitchen as much as possible, this may serve as a great gift guide for those on your list that do love to host and cook!
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Hosting & General Gadgets
table runner & napkins – While there are tons of gorgeous holiday-specific designs out there, I prefer to keep my table linens neutral enough to use between both Thanksgiving and Christmas
apron – All that cooking gets crazy messy, right? Don’t ruin your cute clothes, or waste time having to go change, throw on a super cute apron and cook away. This cutie is even on sale for $14!!
garlic press – Ain’t nobody got time to manually mince garlic for all those recipes, a garlic press makes quick work out of cloves for sure
cooling rack – It may seem like a no-big-deal-object, but I’ve come to appreciate a more substantial cooling rack instead of the lighter cheapy ones. I recently got one of these and LOVE it because it’s a heavier metal, fits inside a standard baking sheet, has ridges on the wires to keep things in place, and the little hanging hook is money for saving space
flat whisk – There’s a LOT of sauces in holiday cooking and almost all of them need some good whisking. Sometimes you want to get all the bits off the bottom to ensure a good mix (and browned butter anyone?) so a flat whisk is where it’s at
instant-read thermometer – If you’re going to be baking a lot of meat dishes, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting on a regular thermometer to get to temp while you’re standing there over a hot oven with food that’s cooling while you wait. A digital instant-read thermometer saves valuable time and can be MUCH more accurate
double oven mitt – Of course you can use two single mitts, but sometimes there are those really big hot pots of stuff that are much easier to hold closer to you when you move them around, and a double mitt like this protects that whole side. It’s just a lot more comfortable and reassuring to use.
scraper – I use this all.the.time in the kitchen. Technically it’s a pastry scraper, but it works great for chopping, scooping, and measuring too
baking mat – I have to confess that I don’t even own these yet and have wanted to for years. No idea why I haven’t ordered them yet! Aside from protecting your baking sheets, food cooks a million times better on them as well
biscuit cutters – Yes, for cutting all those biscuits that’ll be served but they’re also perfect to cut anything in a round shape, and are a ton easier to deal with for cookies than shaped cookie cutters (like those reindeer ever come out looking like reindeer??)
bundt pan – Show up everyone on the dessert table by not only making a unique bundt cake recipe, but make it in this super impressive and badass patterned pan at that. Aside from being cool as hell (they come in a mini version too!), this brand is phenomenal quality and bakes super even and is super nonstick. See a cake I made with it here
ruffle pie dish – Just like the bundt pan, get the oohs and ahhs when you set down your beautiful pie in a beautiful dish like this. I have two of these in white and people always compliment me on them. Not just for desserts either, I make my chicken pot pies in mine
pastry board – I’m still a pie crust making amateur but when I do attempt it, it helps immensely to have a pattern to roll it out by. I like that this board has a lip to keep it in place against the counter, that it has measurements on it too, and that it flips over to be a standard cutting board when you’re not pastry-ing
pie crust cutter – Again, with wowing the dessert table, here’s the easy way to get those impressive pie crusts! I really need to make some pies now apparently…
pie weights – This is one of those things that you think is super silly, until you see what it can do in action. The first time I made a pie, I made my own crust in my pretty white ruffled pie dish, put it in to bake before adding my filling, and when I pulled it out I was almost in tears because the sides of it had all shrunk down to the bottom and there was a huge bubble in the middle. WTH?! Enter, these little things. These go in the bottom of your dish to keep that from happening. And while you’re at it, you may as well get a crust protector too because wrapping it with foil is a disaster
Cookware & Electronics
(clockwise from top left)
multi-pot – These pots will tackle all sorts of recipes and all sorts of quantities because of the versatile inserts and stockpot size. At the holidays, it should help you make larger amounts of soups, beverages, pastas, and veggies without having to make multiple batches.
stand mixer – Does this really need an explanation? Get one of these. Now. If ever you will need one it’s during the holidays, but it’s blasphemy to not have one period
slow cooker – Same as the stand mixer pretty much. If we have to take something somewhere else for a holiday gathering, I always try to make it be a slow cooker dish so that it’s all wrapped up and ready to go. I don’t have to fumble around with a dish with no lid, or one of my fancier pieces I’m protective of, plus you just plug it in to warm it back up instead of using their stove or microwave. I got the version with the cast aluminum insert last year and it’s even more awesome because I can braise meats in it and not dirty up another big dish.
covered casserole – I’m of the mind that everything should have a corresponding lid, whether or not you have to use it all the time or not, and it’s even more of a must for casseroles in my opinion. Sure, a lot of recipes call for letting a crust form on top, and a lot of people like that too, but I like to control that with a lid. And no, flimsy annoying foil doesn’t count. Plus, for leftovers you just pop the lid on and stick it in the fridge. Always go with a lid
mini food processor – I totally recommend everyone having a larger-scale food processor, but sometimes those are just too big for what you need so these smaller ~3c versions are PERFECT. I use mine all the time for sauces, dips, and to chop/mince onions and things. There’s a lot of that happening during holiday cooking so grab one of these for sure
roasting pan – Of course you need a roaster if you’re making the main meats during the holidays, but I’ve seem some pretty great everyday recipes using them too. Honestly, the veggies cooked along with something in these are my favorite part so when I do have to make a turkey or something, I’m loading these big ‘ol pans up with all kinds of goodies underneath
saucier pot – I always make my gravies, rouxs, and sauces in my saucier pot. Yes, it is similar to a normal saucepan, but the curved bottom edges make whisking immensely easier and more thorough because your whisk can come in contact with the whole surface. Having it in stainless also means those metal whisks won’t damage the surface like they would nonstick ones
immersion blender – Also one of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets. I hate having to ladle things out of the pot they cooked in in order to blend them in the blender (in batches nonetheless) so with this dude I can just do it right in the pot. Perfect for soups or pureeing fruits and veggies
Do you have any other tools you just can’t work without during the holiday feasts? Will you be hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas at your house this year?
2 thoughts on “24 of the Most Essential Holiday Cooking Tools”
Great list, Emily!
Thanks Amy! Having good tools and gadgets makes ALL the difference in my opinion!