At Thanksgiving you can go seriously high-end with new gadgets to kit out your kitchen from smart ovens to refrigerators. We prefer hitting more at the mid-stride level, something that's not too much of a stretch for our holiday wallets, but something that still brings some next level help to your prep. Whether you consider all, or just one, these tools are definitely going to make at least one step of your Thanksgiving meal a little easier — something you definitely deserve.
Eyeballing a turkey takes a professional. Before getting the bird on the table, you really want to make sure its hit an internal temperature of 165°F. Thermapen is a classic favorite, with a clean design with the probe folding neatly away, and an extremely simple digital display.
Want to bring things up a notch? Meater is a $69 smart device, that looks quite a bit like a metal skewer. You put the device into your piece of meat, or bird, and then into the oven. The smartphone iOS and Android app connects to Meater over Bluetooth, and keeps track of what temperature to hit for the kind of meat you're cooking — and tells you not only when to pull it out, but how long it should sit. You'll never have undercooked dark meat again.
Let's face it — we're never completely ready for Thanksgiving. Even if you remembered the sweet potatoes, cranberries and corn meal, you may have realized you can't get your hands on the corn bread stuffing recipe you had planned to use. Not a problem. Amazon Echo has Alexa nicely baked inside, and you can just talk to her and ask for a cornbread stuffing recipe.
She's also incredibly helpful when you're hands are covered with butter and herbs and you need to send an email reminding your cousins to actually come an hour later than you originally suggested. (Thanksgiving schedules are made to be broken.) Not up for buying a $80 Echo? The $30 second generation Echo Dot works just as well, or split the difference and go for the $50 newer version.
Drop Kitchen Scale
A kitchen scale is one of those gadgets that once you start using it, you wonder how you honestly baked before. And let's face it — while the centerpiece of Thanksgiving is the turkey, the real showstoppers are the pies. Whether you're a pumpkin, pecan or apple cranberry person, baking a pie with a scale produces much results than with measuring cups and spoons.
The $80 Drop Scale works with iOS and Android phones and tablets, much as a regular scale works — measuring the weight of items you place on its surface. The app reads out weight, but also has recipes and lets you add ingredients one at a time into the same bowl. It flips between metric and U.S. standard measurements, and can even suggest substitutions. Out of butter but making a pie crust? Drop scale can help.
Yeah, we know: cheesecloth is not an internet-connected device. But trust us: from covering your turkey so it doesn't get burnt, to straining cranberries to make that perfect, glossy smooth sauce, this $10 bundle is the kind of kitchen helper that should be right next to the wooden spoons and kitchen shears. Plus, you can always use a torn corner to wrap around a little nick if you're slicing onions too fast. It's really a master chef's go-to for just about any cooking or baking job in your kitchen.
Sous vide cooking may have passed right by you — it did us too for awhile. But this style of cooking uses a water bath to bring food to the right temperature all on its own. Think of this as your slow cooker, but with a 21st Century kick. Mellow is a $399 internet-connected sous vide that works with iOS and Android devices, ships for free and comes with 20 bags to start.
Why would you want to use a sous vide for Thanksgiving? Most huge holiday meals usually involve all four burners, the oven — and the toaster thrown in for kicks. Another method you can use to prep part of the meal is never a bad idea. We're not suggesting water bathing the turkey. But a sous vide can make the creamiest mashed potatoes you've ever had — and without worrying that you waterlogged those beauts.
Sengled and Lifx
You need some light to do anything in your home. On Thanksgiving, where you're likely reading off tiny scrubbed recipes cards your relatives shared with you decades ago, lighting is a must. So consider putting in some seriously great bulbs in a ceiling fixture — the kind that can turn from energizing white, to a softer hue when it's meal time.
Smart bulbs without a hub are a good first step — they're honestly simpler to use than the sous vide. You just screw them in, download an app, and you're changing the nature of the light from your smartphone. (And we know you're using your smartphone over the holidays.) Some good choices include Senged and Lifx, which also makes a smart lighting strip to create effects along the counters, and also works with Amazon Alexa.
Roomba or Eufy
A smart vacuum cleaner that whirls underfoot as you're stirring the roux for turkey gravy may sound like an annoyance — but you'd be completely wrong. A robotic vacuum cleaner is exactly the thing you need in the kitchen when you're cooking and baking and planning a meal for a dozen of your family and friends. While Eufy and Roomba do not make a counter cleaner than wipe up spills, the vacuums that spin on the floor sweep up puffs of flour, and dropped baggie ties and all sorts of bits that you honestly do not notice are there as you're chopping and dicing. (Yes, they pick up those things too.)
We know these robots are not on the cheap side. But consider it an early holiday gift to yourself — because when everyone arrives, and notices the pristine kitchen space and your extraordinary meal, they will truly wonder how you did it all yourself.
Fresh herbs are really the best way to infuse your Thanksgiving meal. Plus the smell of thyme, rosemary and sage bathing in a bubbly butter bath perfumes any home during the holidays. The only sad part of using fresh herbs is having to toss away what you don't use. Growing your own? That's a better method, plus you can keep them going for the next big meals you're likely planning in December.
Chirp is a bit different from any other plant device you may have purchased in the past. First of all, it looks like something from a science class — a nail file-shaped object that is studded with sensors and does nothing more than, as its name suggests, chirps when a plant needs watering. No, you don't need this to get the sweet potato casserole to the table on time. But if you want to toss less out — and be ready for holiday meal round two — Chirp is more than worth its $15 price tag.