While at Butterball, I learned there are a few crucial pieces of kitchen equipment a home cook needs in order to perfectly roast a turkey — and know that a suctiony basting tube and electric carving knife aren't included. Many of these you may already own, but in case you don't, these are the essential items you need to have stocked so you can have a flawless Thanksgiving.
- Kitchen shears: The best way to remove the plastic wrapping from a turkey is to use a sharp pair of kitchen shears. If you use a knife, you run the risk of tearing the turkey skin. Use the scissors to cut around the sides of the bag, rather than cutting at the top, which could dig into the breast.
- Paper towels: Don't skimp on the cheap stuff! When it comes to blotting the turkey dry and cleaning up any surfaces, you want something highly absorbent and durable.
- Stainless steel roasting pan: Butterball has experimented with every type of pan there is (including the retro speckled ones and disposable aluminum pans), but there's only one that they stand by, and that's a shallow, two-inch stainless steel roasting pan. Stainless steel is a great conductor of heat, plus the shallow pan allows the turkey to be exposed to all that hot air. Lastly, you can put the pan directly on the stovetop to make gravy.
- Flat roasting rack: Many roasting pans come with a rounded roasting rack, but according to Butterball, this squishes the thighs, which means they will take longer to cook. Instead, opt for a flat roasting rack, so no matter the size of the bird, it will fit comfortably inside the pan.
- Heavy-duty foil: Foil has so many purposes when roasting a turkey. If you don't have a flat roasting rack, a coil of foil can be used. If the turkey thighs hit the edges of your pan, a foil buffer protects them from overcooking. And most commonly, a tent of foil over the breasts keeps the meat from drying out while the thighs reach the right temperature.
- Silicon basting brush: This is not for basting the turkey. Say what?! We'll explain later, but stop basting your bird while it cooks. Instead, use this silicone brush for brushing on the oil or butter inside the pan, rack, and turkey itself before popping it into the oven.
- Oven thermometer: Is your oven really at the right temperature? It's impossible to know if you setting it to 325°F really means it's at 325°F unless you have an oven thermometer placed inside the oven to prove it. Especially when you are roasting a big bird, you want to make sure the oven is at the right temperature for food safety and so you can accurately calculate how long it will take you to cook the bird to temperature.
- Meat thermometer (preferably two!): The experts at Butterball swear by the Thermapen for its reading accuracy. While they recommend having two thermometers to double-check your work, it's important to have at least one functioning thermometer. Stick it in a cup of boiling water to test its accuracy before you use it on Thanksgiving.
- Chef's knife: It's nice to have a carving fork and knife, but they aren't 100 percent necessary. It's more important to have a sharp chef's knife on hand and to carve the turkey on a meat-safe cutting board.