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Tech, tricks, and techniques to help you cook a perfect holiday meal

It’s that time of year again. In just a couple of days, you’ll be expected to put a perfectly crisp bird on the table to feed your family as the busy holiday season officially kicks off. Maybe you’re an old hand and can fry up a turkey with both eyes closed, or maybe this is your first time and you desperately want to impress the in-laws. Either way, there are a lot of tips, tricks, and — most importantly — tech that can help you cook the perfect holiday meal.

Activate Turkey Mode

Best Buy GE Appliance Sale
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No, that’s not the name for the post-Thanksgiving food coma (although it’s a decent contender for a title.) The GE Profile range of smart ovens — including the Monogram, the CAFE, and more –= recently received an over-the-air update that takes the guesswork out of cooking a perfect turkey.

Turkey Mode does all of the math necessary based on bird size and weight to ensure it is thoroughly cooked to 170 degrees while retaining its juiciness and flavor. If your oven has an LCD screen, you can set up a Thanksgiving-themed wallpaper to keep the mood festive — and when the turkey is finished cooking, your oven will actually let out a gobble.

Try grilling it up

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill used to make turkey.
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Nearly everyone cooks their turkey in an oven. If you want to change things up a bit, try grilling the turkey. In fact, you can cook the majority of your Thanksgiving dinner on the grill. Not sure how to do this? Traeger has actually put out a Thanksgiving timeline to help you get the timing just right for laying out your holiday meal.

If you’re worried about temperature regulation on a grill, the Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill may be the option for you. This Wi-Fi-connected device lets you monitor and control temperature level even if you’re away from the grill. You can also access more than 1,600 recipes from within the app if you’re not quite sure how to cook something.

Use a smart meat thermometer

Meater+ smart thermometer used to cook meat.
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Undercooked meat is dangerous. Everyone knows that. Unfortunately, many people think the answer to steering clear of food poisoning for their extended family is to overcook the turkey to the point of it being bland and dried-out. A smart meat thermometer can help.

These thermometers are like traditional meat thermometers in that you insert it directly into the turkey. You can monitor the temperature from your phone, and set alerts to go off when it’s fully cooked. You won’t overcook the turkey because you can pull it from the oven the second the internal temperature reaches your desired level of doneness.

Let Alexa guide you through recipes

Amazon Echo Show 15 on wall.
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No one can be expected to know how to cook everything on the Thanksgiving menu. The good news is that you don’t have to. If you have an Echo Show, you can ask Alexa to look up recipes for you and guide you through them step-by-step.

There are plenty of Alexa Skills that give you access to hundreds of recipes, like the Allrecipes Skill or even Alexa’s ties to Food Network. Find out how to make the perfect mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. If you’re confused about any step of the process, Alexa can convert measurements, set up timers, and more.

Use a sous vide for foolproof cooking

Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker Wi-Fi (2nd Generation) on a kitchen counter.
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If the mere thought of cooking a meal terrifies you, but you’re somehow stuck with the duty, consider using a sous vide. These devices cook food in a sealed bag immersed in water and can enhance flavors while doing so. Most importantly, though, it’s nearly impossible to overcook a meal while using a sous vide.

The Anova Precision Cooker Sous Vide connects to your phone through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. A built-in smart temperature control means you won’t overcook your food, and an alarm will go off to let you know when it’s done. It helps take the stress out of cooking and can be used for much more than just meat; in fact, using a sous vide is a great way to cook delicious vegetables without using much oil.

A slow cooker means you can set it and forget it

Taking food out of Crock Pot slow cooker.
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A crockpot or a slow cooker has a place in every kitchen. When you’re trying to cook a half-dozen different things all at once, you can just throw the ingredients in for a particular dish and set the timer. The device will alert you when the food is done. Until then, you can forget it and focus on something else.

A smart slow cooker can help your Thanksgiving prep. You can cook everything from your turkey to your famous mashed potatoes in a slow cooker, all the while adjusting cooking time, temperature, and more from your phone. Best of all, it doesn’t require Wi-Fi to use — so when someone inevitably unplugs the router to charge their phone, your slow cooker will still keep chugging away.

Try a smart cocktail maker

Drinkworks Hone Bar used to make cocktail.
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Let’s face it: Some family members are better tolerated with a stiff drink. When distant family comes together for the holidays, you may need an Old Fashioned to make it through the day — or maybe they do, but you don’t have time to cook and tend bar.

A home cocktail maker can crank out drinks with just a touch of a button. You’ll be able to focus on the upcoming meal rather than listening to Uncle Larry tell you his exact mojito preferences. Devices like the Keurig Drinkworks or the Bartesian Home Bar make it easy for you to make a drink by combining a pod filled with mixer and a liquor of your choice.

The holidays are a stressful time of year for a lot of reasons, but cooking doesn’t have to be one of them. Let these smart home turkey tech tips streamline your food prep so that you can focus on spending more time with family and less time in the kitchen.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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