15 Essential Kitchen Items That Will Help Get You Through the Holidays

With your busy cooking schedule (and sanity) in mind, we've pulled our kitchen essentials that come in handy year-round, but are especially useful during the heavy cooking that comes with the holidays.

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'Tis the season to stuff your face with Christmas cookies, sip bubbly and cook like there's no tomorrow. It's the busiest cooking time of the year and in order to pull off a show-stopping holiday meal (and keep your wits about you), having the right tools and an organized kitchen is key. Even a sharp knife or plenty of storage containers can shave precious minutes off of your holiday baking and meal prep (leaving you more time to quietly sip eggnog in your bedroom while you hideout from your relatives). With your busy cooking schedule (and sanity) in mind, we've pulled our kitchen essentials that come in handy year-round, but are especially useful during the heavy cooking that comes with the holidays. Be it cookie baking, feeding an influx of house guests or pulling off a Norman Rockwell-level perfect dinner, these 15 must-will keep your kitchen operating smoothly.

1. Rimmed Baking Sheets


A rimmed baking sheet has got to be the most used, versatile and essential item in the home kitchen over the holidays. If you have the space, having at least two half-sheet pans (18-by-13 inches) on hand for baking cookies or roasting vegetables is clutch. I also like to have a few quarter-sheet pans around for arranging mise-en-place or if you need to salt a chicken and let it sit in your fridge overnight. The quarter-sheets are big enough to be useful and small enough to easily fit in your fridge. If you are especially short on storage space, you can also roast your turkey or prime rib on a baking rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. No bulky roasting pan necessary. Lastly, skip the non-stick coated baking sheet—they're rumored to suck the moisture out of your food, can affect cooking time and won't give you as good of a sear on your roasted vegetables as an aluminum baking sheet. $36 for 2 half-sheets, surlatable.com

2. Pre-cut Parchment Sheets

These pre-cut sheets fit snuggly in a rimmed half-sheet pan and are an absolute lifesaver when you're in the middle of a cookie baking marathon. $12.49, amazon.com

3. Big Cutting Board

Courtesy Amazon

While prepping for your holiday meals, a large cutting board with lots of surface area is a lifesaver. This inexpensive OXO one has grips that hold it in place, the plastic surface makes it easier to sanitize after using it for raw meat and it requires less care than a wood cutting board. Just make sure that the dimensions are smaller than your kitchen sink! $24.95, amazon.com

4. Large Cooling Rack

A cooling rack that fits inside your rimmed baking sheets can be used as a roasting rack for a large piece of meat or placed on the counter for cooling all of those holiday cookies. $12.50, amazon.com

5. 8-inch Chef's Knife


The Sora chef's knife from Japanese knife makers, Shun, is the perfect utility knife. The san mai technique used to make this super-sharp blade is the same process Shun uses to make their more high-end knives (we're talking $400), plus the plastic handle is lightweight and makes for easy care. $79.95, amazon.com

6. Offset Bread Knife

Courtesy Amazon

This serrated knife has an L-shaped blade that is easier on your wrist and makes slicing through bread a breeze. $15.99, amazon.com

7. All the Storage Containers

Nothing feels like more of a waste of time when you're busy cooking than rifling through your cupboards for something to store your food in and then trying to find a lid to match. Our advice: go overboard on your storage containers. Get something giant to store all of those cookies in and stock up on plenty of reusable quart, pint and half-pint containers for your prepped ingredients, to freeze soup or tomato sauce in and to pack up those leftover odds-and-ends. Plus, isn't there something so deliciously satisfying about opening your cupboard and seeing neat stacks of matching containers ready to be used? Makes you feel like you have your act together (even if you don't). $20.95 for 36 containers, amazon.com

8. Enameled Cast-Iron Casserole


A large Dutch oven like this 7 1/4-quart Le Creuset is a must-have when you're feeding big crowds and guests are popping in an out. Leading up to the big holidays, put this enameled casserole to work and plan a week of hearty one-pot meals and simple soups. $370, Williams-sonoma.com

9. 9-by-13 inch Baking Dish


This handsome Revol baking dish is super durable, doesn't scratch and looks beautiful on the table. The all-purpose size is great for lasagnas, stratas, stuffing, you name it. It's also big enough for a roast chicken or pork shoulder. $74.96, Williams-sonoma.com

10. Salad Spinner

Crate & Barrel

This big salad spinner from OXO has a grippy bottom that keeps it steady while you're drying your greens. Also, its large size makes it ideal for storing crisp lettuces and herbs until you're ready to use them. $49.99, crateandbarrel.com

11. Food Processor

Crate & Barrel

This 11-cup Cuisinart food processor is a good middle-of-the-road size for doing just about everything: making pie dough, quick party dips, chopping your mirepoix or slicing your potatoes and Brussels sprouts. $149, crateandbarrel.com

12. Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears might get just as much use in my kitchen as my chef's knife. Aside from your obvious scissor tasks, use them to cut through flatbreads or pizza, to snip herbs, to cut out the back of your poultry for spatchcocking, to open bottles or to tighten a loose screw. $19.95, amazon.com

13. Immersion Blender


Puree soups and sauces right in the pot without the fuss and mess of transferring to a blender. This compact little tool also breaks down for easy cleaning and storage. $34.95, surlatable.com

14. Meat Thermometer

A good instant read thermometer is crucial when you need to know if your roast is finished. The Thermoworks ThermoPop is smaller and less expensive than other true instant read thermometers and it will accurately read the internal temp of your food in under four seconds. $29, thermoworks.com

15. Wine Bottle Opener Set

This no-fuss bottle opener will have your wine bottle open in one quick movement, and it costs a quarter of the price of similar models. Bonus: this set also includes a bottle stopper, spout and an extra corkscrew for the opener. $27, surlatable.com

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