Turkey lifters are kitchen gadgets whose name is derived from their most common use. They best resemble small pitchforks and are used for lifting a turkey from its roasting pan to a serving platter. Though retailers sell more of these gadgets near Thanksgiving than any other time of year, they are not limited to lifting turkeys.
Generally made of stainless steel, the best turkey lifters are sturdy enough to lift up to a 30-pound (13.6 kg) turkey without bowing or bending. They are also useful for lifting other roasted meats from pans and transporting to platters for serving. In addition to providing an easy way to transfer meats from pan to platter, turkey lifters are also handy for holding the meat in place while carving or slicing.
Turkey lifters are not expensive, and can be purchased at any retail store that sells kitchen items and house wares. They typically come in sets of two. When selecting them, look for a set that is not packaged. This will allow you to examine the construction of the lifters, and test them for a comfortable grip and quality design. It's also important to make sure the turkey lifters have a solid handle and that the tines are securely attached. Since they will primarily be used for lifting hot, heavy, expensive meats, quality in design and construction is very important.
With the new popularity of silicon tools for cooking and baking, there is a creative addition to the traditional utensil-style turkey lifter. A silicone mat or net with sturdy and flexible handles on either side is a very convenient and useful alternative. These resemble a hammock for the turkey or roast, and sit beneath it as the meat cooks. When it's ready to be moved, grabbing the handles and air-lifting the bird to a serving tray is easy and and can be much less awkward than with traditional tools.