5 Simple Tools All Home Cooks Should Have — Especially Anyone Who’s Even Thinking About Making a Holiday Meal This Year

updated Sep 26, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Volo

We still don’t know what the holidays will look like this year. (Will we all be in quarantine again? Will it be safe to celebrate with a teeny-tiny group? Will we be eating a big meal on Zoom like we did for Easter?) But we do know one thing: More of us will be cooking at home than usual. (Because, no matter what’s going on, some people will still want to play it safe at home, and we totally support that!) The only problem? If you’ve never hosted a holiday meal before, you might not have a few key tools.

Here are five things every home cook should have if you’re even thinking about making a holiday meal. And honestly, these are pretty clutch to have even if you’re not going to be making a special feast.

Credit: ThermoWorks

1. Instant-Read Thermometer

A thermometer is truly the best way to tell if your ham or turkey is done. Beyond big roasts, you can also use a thermometer to see if your sourdough bread or pan of cinnamon rolls is ready to come out of the oven. Yes, $99 is an investment for this thermometer, but the hyper-fast, hyper-accurate read is utterly worth it. It’s also durable, easy to read, and a favorite of many, many pro chefs.

Buy: Thermapen Mk4, $99

Credit: Made In

2. Roasting Pan

Meghan Splawn, one of our food editors, has said that everyone needs this roasting pan — even if you never plan on using it for roasting meat. (She likes it for roasting vegetables, braising, baking, making deep casseroles, and so much more.) It’s made of carbon steel (which heats quickly and evenly), is oven safe up to 1200 degrees (!!!), and is reasonably priced considering how versatile it is.

BuyBlue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan, $99 at Made In

Credit: Faith Durand

3. Big Cutting Board

When it comes to cutting boards, we always say to think big. No, even bigger. The general rule: When your knife is laid diagonally across your cutting board, there should be an inch of cutting board on either end of the knife. This is why you often see fish mongers working on boards the size of a flat-screen TV. Chances are, no matter what, you could use a bigger cutting board. This one is almost 15 inches by 12 inches — and it can go in the dishwasher when you’re done with it.

Buy: Epicurean All-In-One Cutting Board with Non-Slip Feet, $27.80

Credit: Great Jones

4. Baking Sheets

Fact: A home cook can never have too many baking sheets. The Holy Sheet came on the market somewhat recently and has blown us away. It’s made from aluminized steel, which means there’s steel sandwiched between aluminum. It also has steel rods running through the rolled edges and a nonstick ceramic coating. If you have plans to roast veggies or bake even single batch of cookies this fall, you need one (or two) of these baking sheets.

Buy: Holy Sheet, $35 at Great Jones

Credit: Food52

5. Pie Plate

This pie plate just screams fall — even if it’s being used to serve, say, popcorn or trail mix. If you’re looking for an easy way to get in the holiday spirit during a year that’s been, well, pretty weird/sad, this is it. Of course, if you’re going to make a pie, it will come in handy for that, too.

Buy: Emile Henry Ruffled Pie Dish, $29.99 at Williams Sonoma