There's always the one utensil you're looking for that you can't find. Here's what to use in a pinch on Turkey Day.

By Peggy Kieran
October 31, 2019

It is a maddening law of the kitchen that the odd thing that you pawed over a million times in the utensil drawer—between last December and last week—in nowhere to be found on the one day you need it. As it turns out, you can roast a turkey successfully without a roasting rack or a bulb baster. Try these stand-ins when your essential tools go missing.

Roasting Rack

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 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, 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.

Kitchen Twine

Used to truss the drumsticks together so the bird cooks evenly, kitchen twine 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.

Bulb Baster

It might only see the light of day once a year, when it's used to suction up drippings and pan juices and baste the turkey as it roasts. If you can't find it this year, don't worry. Scoop drippings into a measuring cup, and then pour them over the breast.

Fat Separator

A favorite in the 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 juices into bottle, poke a hole near the bottom with kitchen shears, and drain out all but the fat.

Carving Set

For carving the turkey like a pro, a carving set, like the Wusthof Classic Straight Carving Set ($99.95, williams-sonoma) is the thing. A sharp knife and table fork do the job just as well, even if they don't look quite as official.


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