There's always the one utensil you're looking for that you can't find. How can you get through Turkey Day prep without it?

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turkey in roasting pan in oven
Credit: Roland Bello

It's a maddening law of the kitchen that the odd item you've spent the last 11 months pawing over in the utensil drawer or cookware cabinet is nowhere to be found on the one day you need it. This is especially frustrating on a holiday like Thanksgiving when turning out the perfect meal is your one and only goal. Here's the good news: You can prepare a delicious turkey without a roasting rack or a bulb baster. Try these stand-ins when your essential tools go missing.

Replace Your Roasting Rack with Bread

What's actually needed for even turkey roasting all around is elevation, which creates a channel that allows hot air to circulate underneath your bird. A roasting rack ($15, offers that and keeps the turkey from sitting in its drippings (which prevents the skin from crisping up). But if you don't have a roasting rack, or yours is simply nowhere to be found, a few thick slices of any bread will do: Just place them snugly between the turkey and the roasting pan, tucking in the edges to avoid burning. (As the bird cooks, its drippings will make the bread toasty, not soggy.) Or put down a bed of halved onions and oranges, and the turkey's juices will take on a subtle citrus flavor—a tasty base for homemade gravy.

What to Use to Truss If You Don't Have Kitchen Twine

Used to truss the drumsticks together so the bird cooks evenly, kitchen twine ($7.17, should not be confused with non food-safe twine from the hardware store. Dental floss is sometimes suggested as an alternative, but when you don't have any twine, we prefer this trick: Use kitchen shears to cut a slit in the skin of the turkey neck, so you can tuck in the ends of the drumsticks to hold them in place.

No Bulb Baster? Use a Measuring Cup

It might only see the light of day once a year and it sure does take up space in your utensil drawer, but the bulb baster ($10.99, plays a vital role—it's used to suction up drippings and pan juices and baste the turkey as it roasts. If you can't find it anywhere, don't worry. Use a measuring cup to scoop up pan drippings and then pour them over the breast.

You Can Make Gravy Without a Fat Separator, Here's Our Genius Hack

Another tool you might not use on the regular, the fat separator ($15.99, is a favorite in our test kitchen. This handy tool does just what its name suggests and is very useful for making gravy. Juices settle at the bottom, right where the spout is. No fat separator, no problem: Use a plastic water bottle instead. Decant the pan juices into the bottle, poke a hole near the bottom with kitchen shears, and drain out all but the fat.

Can't Find the Carving Set? Then Sub a Sharp Knife and Table Fork

For carving the turkey like a pro, a carving set, like the Wusthof Classic Straight Carving Set ($250,, is the thing, an heirloom that you'll use for decades. But if your set went missing in a move or you just don't have one (yet), a sharp knife and table fork do the job just as well.


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