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The tools you need to host Thanksgiving dinner

Whether you serve yourself a simple supper or you host an elaborate array of friends, relatives and strangers, Thanksgiving dinner requires planning, patience and some special kitchen equipment. You don’t need to be a professional chef to turn out a delicious meal. With the right tools, you and your guests will be thrilled with the results. 

The history of Thanksgiving

You may have learned that Thanksgiving was a shared feast between the Wampanoag people in Massachusetts and the settlers in 1621. More likely, the Wampanoag shared their food in order to save the Pilgrims from starving during their first poor harvest. This occurred closer to the harvest time, right at the end of summer.

Modern Thanksgiving was proposed to Abraham Lincoln in 1863 by Sarah Josepha Hale. She convinced the president that a national feast day amid the Civil War would help to bring a divided country together. Lincoln agreed, but the tradition of sitting down with friends and family on the fourth Thursday in November was not codified until 1941 by Congress.

Traditional dishes for Thanksgiving dinner

A typical Thanksgiving feast in the 21st century looked very different from what graced the original table. Only two sources give an idea of what the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people ate. It included:

  • Deer
  • Wildfowl
  • Cod
  • Bass
  • Flint (native corn eaten in bread or as a porridge)

Peas, beans and squash as well as cabbage and carrots provided by the Pilgrims may also have been at the feast. 

Today’s table might feature:

  • Roast turkey
  • Stuffing or dressing 
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Dinner rolls
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie

There are also regional Thanksgiving specialties, such as:

  • Green bean casserole
  • Candied yams
  • Corn pudding
  • Sauerkraut
  • Crab cakes
  • Hasty pudding
  • Oyster stuffing
  • Italian dishes, such as manicotti
  • Cranberry relish
  • Frog-eye salad (also known as ambrosia salad)
  • Empanadas

Vegans and vegetarians have plenty of options, too, with side dishes and main dishes that take advantage of fall grains and squashes.

Everything you need to make Thanksgiving dinner

Best All-Clad SS Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded Stockpot

All-Clad SS Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded Stockpot

Thanksgiving starts with mashed potatoes, and mashed potatoes start with a big stockpot. All-Clad’s 5-ply bonded stockpot layers stainless steel and aluminum around a copper core that heats evenly and lasts a lifetime. It has a flared rim for easy and safe pouring, and it is dishwasher safe.

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Best Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls With Lids

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls With Lids

This three-piece set of stainless steel mixing bowls is perfect for not only meal prep, but also storage and serving. The lids rest inside the bowl, and the set includes 1.5-, 3- and 5-quart bowls and lids. They are dishwasher- and freezer-safe.

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Best LiveFresh Stainless Steel Micro-Perforated Colander

LiveFresh Stainless Steel Micro-Perforated Colander

Colanders are perfect for washing vegetables and draining potatoes for mashing.  This 5-quart version has smaller holes and is made of 18/10 stainless steel. It’s rust-resistant and comes with a solid base. The handles are riveted for ease of use and security.

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Best KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher

KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher

This masher works well for potatoes as well as other root vegetables. The ergonomic handle and compact size provide comfortable leverage. The head is stainless steel wire. It comes with a one-year replacement and limited lifetime warranty. It is rust-resistant and dishwasher-safe.

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Best Chicago Metallic Professional Roasting Pan

Chicago Metallic Professional Roasting Pan 

The star of the show needs a roasting rack that befits its position of honor on the Thanksgiving table. This roasting pan is oven safe to 425 and nonstick, cleaning up easily in the dishwasher. It comes with a non-stick rack with sturdy handles for lifting the bird to a serving platter when it’s done. The price is right, especially if you only use it once a year.

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Best Dowan Serving Platter Set

Dowan Serving Platter Set

This set of three large oval serving platters has a simple design that keeps the focus on the food. They range in size from 16 inches by 8.75 inches to 12.2 inches by 7 inches. The white porcelain thickens at the edges for easier carrying, and each platter stacks inside the next for more compact storage. They are microwave-, dishwasher- and oven-safe. 

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Best Oxo Good Grips Glass Pie Plate

Oxo Good Grips Glass Pie Plate

This is perfect when traveling with dessert over the holidays. It comes with a vented lid. The borosilicate glass is designed to handle the temperature change from the oven to the counter without cracking or breaking. The rim is wide for easy grip, and it is microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe. 

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Best Stainless Steel Metal Serving Utensils

Stainless Steel Metal Serving Utensils

This set of stainless steel serving utensils includes three metal slotted spoons, three serving spoons and three serving tongs. It’s available in six festive finishes, but the silver mirror polish is a classic choice. 

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Best Maison d' Hermine Palatial Paisley Tablecloth

Maison d’ Hermine Palatial Paisley Tablecloth

Your festive fall tablescape is complete with this 100% cotton tablecloth. The design is captured in watercolor and features the colors of fall. It is machine-washable and designed in Europe and made in India.  It’s also available in other sizes, shapes, colors and designs.

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Best Oxo Good Grips 15-Piece Everyday Kitchen Utensil Set

Oxo Good Grips 15-Piece Everyday Kitchen Utensil Set

These are 14 high-quality tools from a trusted kitchen brand. The skinny utensil holder makes the most of limited counter space, The nylon set is heat-safe to 400 degrees and includes everything you need to make a Thanksgiving feast, including flexible spatula, tongs, square turner, spoon, slotted spoon, grater, balloon whisk and more. They won’t scratch non-stick pans and are dishwasher-safe.

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Best Goodcook Good Cook Turkey Baster

Goodcook Good Cook Turkey Baster

This is 11.5 inches long, with ample space for sucking up the juices and bathing your turkey until it’s golden brown and juicy. It’s made from food-safe materials in two pieces that come apart for easy cleaning.

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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