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Houston is now under 100 degrees, so I’m going to call that fall! This time of year, I tend to stay home more to cook and bake.  Something about it getting darker earlier just means I should be eating at home.  Anywho, with a few Thanksgivings under my belt and some Christmas baking, I now know to start doing inventory of things I need well before the holiday season.  For example, one of my pots is done, so I will have to replace it before Thanksgiving.  Here are a few things that I have purchased over the years that have made cooking a breeze.  Do not feel pressure to buy all of these at once, but this Kitchen Items for Holiday Cooking list is a great place to start and also great for gifting.  

Pots & Pans

  • Dutch Oven (Cheap one $50) – I picked up a cheap one from HEB some years ago and it’s still doing well.   Yes, you can splurge on a Le Creuset if that’s in your budget, but don’t be shy about adding one of the cheaper ones to your collection. 
  • Fry Pan & Sauté Pan Set – This is what I needed to replace this year after 10 years.  My sauté pan got scratched and I think it’s my fault for how I stored them, so I had no issue buying the same one again.
  • Stock Pot – I keep this pot just to make greens and it’s worth it.


  • Silicone Baking Mat  Expert bakers will tell you a million and one things to do for better cookies.  Most of them made no difference for me, but this silicone baking mat was a true game changer.  Plus it cools faster when you are making multiple dishes. 
  • I stopped by crate and barrel for some loaf pans recently.  I picked up the Emile Henry one simply because it’s my initials.   There is a cheaper pretty ruffled one as well. 
  • For sweet potato pies, I swear by springform pans!  It was the best way to ensure that your graham cracker crust does not burn.  I have small ones that make small mini sweet potato pies and then the large ones as well. Both are worth the purchase.
  • Flat Cookie Sheets – some of these things may depend on the altitude where you cook and your oven, but for me the flat cookie sheets (with the silicone baking mat) have been the key to great cookies.
  • Cookie Scoops – get the different sizes to help scoop all types of stuff besides cookies.

Mixers and Food Processors 

  • Kitchenaid Mixer – if you can do it, splurge on it or have someone gift it to you this holiday.  It really makes a difference in baking and big holiday meals.  This is also the time of year where they go on sale, so be sure to look for the sales before purchasing.
  • After you invest in a KitchenAid, you gotta get the attachments too.  The edge beater is great because it will scrape the edges for you as you cook.
  • Food Processor – Another favorite of mine.  It makes shredding cheese for mac and cheese a breeze.

Utensils and Tools

  • If you are baking more than one dish and only have one rubber spatula, do yourself a favor and add a few more.  I have more than I can count and will look up and all of them are in the dishwasher, so I say you can never have enough.  
  • I know this seems basic, but tongs are such a great kitchen utensil. 
  • I put garlic on just about everything.  I’ve never been a fan of minced garlic in the jar or  or cutting it up by hand.   But, a garlic press has been one of my favorite kitchen gadgets for years.  Buy it and thank me later.
  • Meat Thermometer – Listen, I don’t care how your grandma and mama cooked, a meat thermometer is necessary for cooking.  You don’t have x-ray vision, a thermometer lets you know if something is at temperature.   The biggest thing though, is it will stop you from overcooking.  Turkey is already dry, get a thermometer to stop you from overcooking it.

Casserole Dishes

  • Casserole Dish with Lid   I bought a couple of these a few years ago at the now defunct Bed Bath and Beyond.  They have easily become some of my favorite dishes for holiday cooking.  They have a lid which makes them great for storage and they also are pretty so they can easily go from the oven to your table. 
  • Corningware Dishes These have been a staple in my kitchen for years.  They hold up well and are just great casserole dishes.  
  • Le Creuset Rectangular Dish Set – While this doesn’t have lids, it’s a great matching set for holiday cooking.


  • Pyrex Mixing Bowls with (4 bowl set) I’ve had these bowls since college.  The lids make for easy storage and I appreciate that the glass does not hold smells.  
  • Small Prep Bowls – I have some sauce bowls that match some of my old plates.  I rarely use them for sauce, but use them a lot while cooking when you need a tiny bowl for prepping out my ingredients.


  • Roaster with Self Basting Lid (whatever that means!) This basically gives you an additional oven during busy days.  I’ve used this to make brisket and I can tell you my aunts swear by their roasters.  


I will probably add more to this list over the next few weeks, because I always think of something else that I love/need. What is a tool that you cannot do without? Be sure to add them to the comments!