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Whether this year is the first time you will be preparing the Thanksgiving menu, or you've hosted the holiday feast at your home many times in the past, one of the most important tools for getting prepared and organized is a Thanksgiving shopping list. That's why we've put this handy checklist together. It contains all the basic tools and ingredients you need to have on hand for a classic Thanksgiving feast.
How to Use This List
While everyone's Thanksgiving menu is a little different, there is often a lot of overlap—mashed potatoes aren't negotiable! So while you may not need every item listed here, chances are high that you'll want to have most of them on hand. That said, you should go ahead and choose your turkey recipe, Thanksgiving side dishes and Thanksgiving desserts, and make sure those ingredients are on your list. Then you'll want to cross reference that list with ours and put everything together on one list.
Next, go through your pantry, cupboards, and fridge, to see what you already have, so that you're not doubling up on anything. If you have something that is on your list, cross it off. Your kitchen will be full enough as it is, without double bags of flour, or an extra turkey baster!
Now it's time to hit the store. We recommend doing your shopping no more than a week out from the big day—that way the fresh ingredients don't go bad. If you happen to forget a key ingredient, be sure to consult our list of grocery stores open on Thanksgiving before you head out.
Hopefully, with this list and advice, your Thanksgiving will be much less stressful. Happy shopping!
Because the bird is the star of the show, you'll want to make sure it's absolutely perfect. The key to a succulent turkey is getting the skin crispy, while insuring the meat stays juicy. To make sure it achieves the best of both worlds, here are the tools you'll need in your arsenal.
You'll want to invest in a quality roasting pan and skip the disposable versions. But you don't need to spend an arm and a leg on one. Since you're likely only using it once or twice a year, as long as it is sturdy, it will get the job done and last for years.
Get a quality (non-leaking) baster and use it throughout the cooking process—not just before you pop the pan in the oven. By basting the bird as it roasts, you'll ensure the turkey doesn't dry out. This step is very important if you have an especially big bird.
A digital thermometer is possibly the most important tool to have. It will keep you from serving an overcooked, dried-out bird—or worse, a dangerous, undercooked one.
When it comes to fall recipes, there's a pretty standard mix of herbs you'll use. These include plenty of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage. Not only will the combination add tons of flavor, but it'll also make your kitchen smell amazing.
If there's one ingredient you can never have too much of, it's unsalted butter. (We prefer unsalted because then you can control how much salt goes into a recipe. This is especially important with baked goods). Butter will be used in just about every single item you make on Thanksgiving. It will help get your turkey skin nice and crackly, and is a must in many side dishes and desserts, so be sure to load up on a couple pounds of it.
Although the bird (or Tofurky if you're having a vegetarian meal) is the centerpiece, the sides are often of the most desired dishes at Thanksgiving dinner. Because variety is the spice of life—and the holiday season—include plenty of options on your table to please everyone's likes. Some of the most beloved dishes are green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, and cranberry sauce. Your guests will also probably be expecting some homemade gravy and stuffing. It's a good idea to include a few vegetable side dishes and a seasonal salad too to balance out the plate. After you make your selections, include those ingredients on your list.
Casseroles are a holiday staple, of course, and you need something to bake those casseroles in. It's a good idea to have a few baking dishes in different shapes and sizes readily available so you can whip up several dishes at once.
Good rimmed baking sheets (aka sheet pans) make roasting vegetables easy, and catch drips from baking pies before they burn to the bottom of your oven. The best sheets won't warp when introduced to high heat. If your kitchen needs a couple, now's the time to get them.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Stock up on plenty of potatoes when you head to the store. We suggest getting russet potatoes for mashing or baking, waxier Yukon Gold for gratins or casseroles, and, of course, plenty of sweet potatoes for either sweet potato pie or for marshmallow-topped casserole. Potatoes have a decent shelf life, so even if you don't use all of them on Thanksgiving, you'll have some on hand for a future meal.
Check to see if your recipe requires fresh or frozen green beans. Both are tasty and healthy, but it's worth getting what the recipe suggests, as they require different prep and cooking methods.
Grab a hearty sourdough loaf a few days before Thanksgiving to make your own croutons, stuffing, and bread crumbs. They'll make your dishes unforgettable.
All-purpose Flour is necessary for two main reasons. It will be used to thicken up your gravy, and is also a big part of most of your pies and other baked goods.
Of course fresh or frozen cranberries go in your cranberry sauce, which is not difficult to make and tastes far, far better than that jelly tube you dump out of a can. But the fruit can be featured in other sweet and savory recipes too, like salads, sides, dessert, and even drinks. Here are some of our favorite ways to use cranberries.
On Thanksgiving, there's always room for dessert. Whether you're preparing a pie recipe, a batch of cookies, or maybe a three-layer cake, every sweet out there requires a few tools and ingredients before getting it in the oven.
Is it, strictly speaking, necessary? No. But you'll save so much time and effort on everything from mixing batter to whipping cream that you really will wish you'd bought one years before. And while there are cheaper options out there, unfortunately, you really do get what you pay for. Invest in a quality stand mixer, and for the next twenty years, every time you bake you'll be glad you did. **Bonus, they come in many fun colors and look great on the kitchen counter!
If you plan on doing a lot of baking, it's a good rule of thumb to have granulated sugar, brown sugar (light and dark are usually interchangeable), and confectioners' sugar on hand.
Skip the store-bought whipped cream and make your own with heavy cream this year. It's one of the easiest—and tastiest—additions to go along with your treats.
The majority of pumpkin pie recipes call for canned pumpkin purée—not fresh pumpkin. And while typically we like to recommend fresh over canned, this is one situation where the canned stuff is actually better. There's a lot less prep, and practically no difference in taste.
Whether you're baking apple pie or a different apple dessert, or maybe making an apple and celery salad, be sure to pick-up some fresh apples—maybe even from your local orchard—to have on hand. Before you buy them, check to see which type of apple your recipe recommends.
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