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Whether it's your first time preparing the Thanksgiving menu this year, or you've had the holiday feast at your home for years, everyone needs 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.
If you've got a helper doing the grocery run this year, this will help you and them with a minimum of fuss.
How to Use This List
While everyone's Thanksgiving is a little different, there's a lot of overlap. So you may not need every item we're listing here, but chances are high that you'll want to have most of it on hand. That said, you should go ahead and choose your turkey recipe as well as the Thanksgiving side dishes you want right now, as well as Thanksgiving desserts, and make sure those ingredients are on your list. Then you'll want to use that list and this one, and start by going through your pantry, cupboards, and fridge, to see what you already have, so that you're not doubling up on anything. Your kitchen will be full enough as it is, without double bags of flour, or an extra turkey baster!
Finally, put all the things you now know you need onto one list, and 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.
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, but keeping the meat 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 need for many of the recipes. 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 butter. Butter will be used in just about every single item you make on Thanksgiving. It will also get your turkey skin nice and crackly, and it's also important in many side dishes and desserts, so be sure to load up on a couple pounds of it.
Although turkey (or Tofurky if you're having a vegetarian meal) is the centerpiece, the sides are some of the most desired dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. Because variety is the spice of life—and the holiday season—you should include plenty of different options on your table to please everyone's palates. Some of the most beloved plates 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 also a good idea to include some vegetable side dishes and a seasonal salad to balance out the plate. After you make your selections, include those ingredients on your list.
Casseroles are a holiday staple, of course, but 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 baking sheets can make roasting vegetables far more 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 fairly 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 cook very differently.
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 in your gravy to thicken it up, and it's 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.
Is it, strictly speaking, necessary? No. But you'll save so much time and effort on everything from mixing dough to whipping cream to blending ingredients, 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.
Even if you're already stocked up on granulated sugar, make sure you double-check the expiration date. It might be time to get a new bag.
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, gather 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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