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We get it: Not everyone is a real home cook. I’ll admit that when I’m cooking for myself, beyond pasta, frozen vegetables and rice from the box, I can be fresh out of luck without a lot of mental preparation. Cooking for the entire extended family? I don’t know how anyone does it. Even regular family cooks might need a little help when the in-laws come to town.
So we’ve gathered a lot of knowledge from experts (and our own colleagues) about the kitchenware, small appliances and accessories that can help you cook better and more efficiently.
We’ve gone through our past coverage and rounded up highly rated kitchen tools we think can help whoever’s in charge of cooking that big dinner. We specifically looked for high-quality products that won’t take up too much storage space (especially important if cooking big feasts is a once-, maybe twice-a-year endeavor).
Kitchen tools for holiday dinners
We sourced these products from previous Select coverage of kitchenware, small appliances and accessories. We pulled products from previous coverage that were either recommended by experts or chosen by Select writers based on expert advice or reader interest. We also included staff favorites that our own writers have bought and loved.
We previously featured this hand mixer in our guide to small kitchen appliances, noting that hand mixers can save more storage space than stand mixers. If you’re not a frequent cook and only break out the mixer during the holidays, hand mixers are a solid option.
This five-speed hand mixer from KitchenAid includes two stainless steel TurboBeater accessories, has 60 watts of power and a 3-foot long cord.
A cooking thermometer is essential for determining if certain foods are safe to eat, especially if you’re cooling large meats like whole turkeys, where you can’t poke to see the center. This cooking thermometer, which we previously highlighted in our guide to grilling thermometers, includes a 2-inch display with a backlight and provides a reading within 3 seconds with a margin of error of less than 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to the company.
We previously featured Wüsthof knives in our guide to kitchen knives, and this specific set in our guide to cooking gifts in 2021. Select contributor Jonathan Bender, a cookbook author, called the company’s Classic Chef’s Knife the knife he finds himself “reaching for again and again.” The set includes six knives, a pair of kitchen scissors, a knife sharpening tool and a block for storage.
After first seeing the item trending on Instagram and among influencers, Select writer Zoe Malin now dedicates an entire drawer in her kitchen to Stasher Bags (and recommends them to her co-workers every chance she gets). They’re microwave- and dishwasher-safe reusable plastic bags that aim to reduce the need for disposable plastic bags. Malin says she can store leftover food in them and then microwave them directly in the bag the next day, putting them in the dishwasher afterward to start the process over again. They may not be a necessity when you’re cooking for a large crowd, but after you’re done and have mountains of leftover meat, vegetables, cookies and the like? Stasher Bags are a solid choice.
Previously featured in our guide to gifts for bakers, this cooling rack is a solid space saver — you can stack and unstack the metal layers to create a tower and then collapse it for storage. That’s especially useful if you plan to make cookies or other baked goods over the holidays. According to the company, the individual racks are nonstick, as well as refrigerator- and freezer-safe. Each set comes with two racks and a set of legs.
If you’re cooking any meat, a basting brush can be essential for flavoring the meat. This silicone brush, which we previously featured in our guide to grilling accessories, is dishwasher-safe and has bristles that “resist stains and odors,” according to the company.
Select writer Mili Godio called the Our Place Home Cook Duo the “perfect cooking gift.” The set includes Our Place’s very popular Always Pan and their new Perfect Pot. Together, the company says, this pot and pan can “replace 15 pieces of cookware.” Both the Always Pan and Perfect Pot have a ceramic coating that Godio says is “extremely nonstick” — which makes cooking easy and cleanup painless. But besides the set’s versatility, Godio likes the set because of their aesthetically pleasing colors and style.
Food processors are like blenders, except you don’t need a liquid ingredient for them to work. In our guide to small kitchen appliances, experts told us that food processors are effective at slicing vegetables, making sauces, chopping herbs and more. They’re a versatile kitchen appliance suitable for many home chefs, especially when you’re entertaining guests or cooking multiple dishes.
This food processor from Ninja has a 9-cup capacity, a 100-watt motor and three speeds (low, high and pulse). It also has four preset modes: chop, puree, disc and dough. Included are three blades that are dishwasher-safe, according to the company.
We previously featured this pan in our guide to grilling accessories, but a good baker’s sheet can be essential if you want to bake cookies, roast vegetables or use your oven for cooking in general. According to the company, these pans are made of “pure aluminum” and are rust-resistant.
This rolling pin, which we featured in our guide to pie making tools, has tapered ends, which Lisa Ludwinski, owner and head baker at Sister Pie in Detroit, says makes it lighter than a rolling pin with handles. According to the company, the rolling pin is resistant to cracks and warping. It’s 22 inches long.
Malin, owner of gluten-free bakery service To Be Gluten Free, called GIR a brand “she’d be thrilled to receive anything from” in our guide to gifts for bakers. The set includes their silicone baking mat, as well as their Ultimate and Mini spatulas. According to the company, they are oven-safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, dishwasher-safe and come in a festive sprinkles design.