Baking is an art and like any other art form, it requires the correct tools to pull off a successful bake. There are a seemingly infinite number of baking items that claim to be “must-haves” but not all of them are actually baking essentials. So which products should you have on hand and which ones can you skip over?
Having an assortment of mixing bowls, measuring utensils, baking pans, and other foundational baking items is a good place to start. While some of the more complicated recipes call for specific tools, a beginner baker can make do with more basic tools.
In this article, we’re going to cover 23 baking essentials you should always have on hand for baking.
1. Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls might very well be the most essential of all baking essentials. These are the holders for your ingredients during the preparation process and you should have various sizes on hand so you can cater to each individual recipe. Smaller mixing bowls are best for holding spices or when separating eggs while larger mixing bowls are best for compiling your ingredients all together.
2. Measuring Cups and Spoons: Baking Essentials to Get it Right
If you prefer to eyeball recipes, these may not speak to you. However, those who like to follow recipes laid out before them need to have a selection of measuring cups and spoons on hand. All beginning bakers should always be sure to have a liquid measuring cup along with a comprehensive set of measuring spoons. Most liquid measuring cups can measure up to 2 cups at a time and a full set of measuring spoons will have the following:
- ⅛ teaspoon (tsp)
- ¼ tsp
- ½ tsp
- 1 tsp
- 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
Some measuring spoons sets may also come with ¼ and ½ tbsp spoons as well.
3. Baking Pans
For baked goods that require oven time, you’re going to need baking pans to properly bake the item. There are several different types of baking pans and each pan type caters to specific kinds of baked goods. For example, while a round baking pan can bake a sponge cake, a cheesecake would be more successful if you use a springform pan.
4. Baking Sheets
Just like baking pans, baking sheets are used for specific baked goods. Simple recipes, like cookies, and more complicated recipes, like a pavlova, both require the use of a baking sheet for them to bake thoroughly. Also, like baking pans, baking sheets come in different styles: edgeless, edged, and flat. For example, baking sheets without edges are best for cookies because it’s easier to lift them from the sheet without burning yourself.
Whisks are baking tools used to quickly whip up certain ingredients in a recipe. This tool has a narrow handle and wired prongs that all join together at the handle. The main purpose of the whisk is to bring air into an ingredient, like eggs, as well as thoroughly blend ingredients together by hand.
While spatulas vary in terms of looks and function, there are actually only three main types of spatulas: flippers, spreaders, and scrapers. These three types can be easily distinguished from each other by looking at the head of the spatula. Flippers have a thin square shape that allows you to slide the head under your baked good to either flip it or transfer it to a plate. Scrapers are generally very flexible as they’re used to scrape all excess ingredients from the bowl. Spreaders are best used to spread buttercream on cakes.
7. Rolling Pin
Looking to bake pies or sugar cookies from scratch? You’re going to need a rolling pin. Rolling pins not only come in a variety of sizes but some also come with designs engraved on them. Engraved rolling pins allow you to add a sprinkle of whimsy to cookies with floral patterns, animal prints, and other fun designs.
8. Cooling Racks
When baking something in batches, a cooling rack is a necessary tool. Instead of leaving them to cool off on the baking sheet, you can transfer them to cooling racks. This way, you free up your baking sheet or pan to start another layer to your cake or your next batch of muffins. Cooling racks are typically made of metal and can sit right on your counter to cool at room temperature.
9. Oven Thermometer
Although ovens all come with a temperature reader built into the design, it isn’t always accurate. In fact, sometimes it can be up to 50 degrees off if the internal thermometer isn’t placed correctly. Because of that, it’s beneficial to keep a separate oven thermometer on hand. This way, you can ensure you’re baking your dish at the exact temperature it needs. Most oven thermometers are built to sit right on the baking rack or are able to be clipped to the inside of the oven door.
10. Oven Mitts: Baking Essentials to Keep Bakers Safe
If you aren’t a fan of burning the flesh off your hand, you need to have a good pair of oven mitts when you remove your dish after baking. A good pair of oven mitts will allow you to safely pull a dish out, even if the pan or sheet is damp while keeping your hands cool. You should also be able to bend your hands easily and successfully hold a pair of tongs or a whisk without losing much control in your hand.
When it comes to safety, oven mitts are one of the absolute baking essentials.
11. Silicone Baking Mats
Silicone baking mats are a popular alternative to foil, parchment, and wax paper due to their non-stick properties. These mats are placed on top of baking sheets and pans and also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Silicone baking mats can also be used for kneading bread and rolling out cookie dough.
12. Hand Mixer
Hand mixers are an excellent alternative to a stand mixer for bakers who don’t have much space to work with. The mixer attachments are easily removable and just as easy to clean as they’re typically dishwasher-friendly. Hand mixers are also easy to operate as you only need to adjust the speed by turning a switch or pressing a button.
13. Food Scale
Food scales are used to get accurate measurements in terms of weight for your ingredients. Recipes that use the metric system will give you measurements in the form of ounces or kilos, which can only be accurately measured using a food scale. These look just like a bathroom scale, but they’re normally more compact. Some may use a traditional red ticker arrow and wheel to get a measurement while modern scales will have a digital screen.
Have you ever heard the saying that cooking is an art but baking is a science? Whether you believe that or not, correct measurements make for yummy baked goods, making food scales baking essentials!
14. Cookie Scoops: Sweet Baking Essentials
Although a cookie scoop may not seem like a necessity, it’s beneficial when you need to make batches of uniform cookies. Rather than guessing with a kitchen spoon, measuring spoon, or your hands, a cookie scoop has just the right depth to make the perfect-sized cookie. While this may not seem like a big deal at first glance, evenly distributed cookies that are the same size make it much easier to evenly bake each cookie.
15. Wooden Spoons
Unlike plastic or metal, wooden spoons won’t heat to scalding temperatures right away. On top of that, they also won’t have a chemical reaction to acidic foods and they won’t scratch pots or pans either. With that said, wooden spoons are porous so it’s important to wash them right after you’re finished using them to avoid bacterial growth.
16. Lemon Juicer
While you can effectively juice a lemon by hand, a lemon juicer makes the process much easier and less messy. It also takes away the anxiety of accidentally getting lemon juice in a cut on your hand, something that can instantly ruin your baking experience. To use a lemon juicer, all you need to do is chop the lemon in half, set it in the juicer, then squeeze it shut to let the juice flow out.
17. Pastry Brush
Pastry brushes are used to add liquids to a dish either before or after it’s baked. Whether it’s a sauce or an egg wash, a pastry brush allows you to maintain control of how much of the liquid you want to add to the baked good. That control will then turn out an even and more polished end result. Pastry brushes come in a variety of materials including wood and silicone.
18. Kitchen Scissors
Kitchen scissors, or kitchen shears, are an important addition to your kitchen as they serve several purposes. Whether you need to cut up herbs for a dish or you want to cut up foods to be more toddler-friendly, a good pair of kitchen shears can get the job done. Kitchen scissors differ from regular cutting scissors in that they usually have rubber grips on the handles to give you better control when using them.
19. Chef’s Knife
In a standard kitchen knife block, the chef’s knife is likely the most commonly used knife for food preparation. This type of knife can be used to dice and cut fruit and vegetables, strip herbs, and evenly cut different meats. They usually measure between 8-10 inches in length and look like a standard knife.
20. Paring Knife
Paring knives are another type that comes in a standard kitchen knife block. This specialty knife is best used for peeling fruits and cutting fruit and veg into small, bite-sized pieces. It’s also commonly used any time a recipe calls for any type of precision work. The knife is the smallest of the knives in a standard set and can easily be distinguished by its size.
21. Parchment Paper
Parchment paper, also known as bakery paper, is commonly mistaken for wax paper. However, wax paper is coated in wax while parchment paper is coated in silicone. Parchment paper is a greaseproof baking tool that allows you to bake cookies, cakes, and other baked goods on it without risking the dish sticking to your pan or the paper. Parchment paper can be bleached or unbleached, resulting in the paper either looking similarly to wax paper or a tan-to-brown color.
A sifter is used to add air to dry ingredients in a recipe. In most cases, it’s used for flour and powdered sugar. When sifting these ingredients, the air added results in a lighter, less dense dish. Sifters generally look like a shallow bowl or cup with handles and a mesh strainer for the ingredient to sift through.
23. Pastry Bag and Tips
Pastry bags and tips are used for a variety of baking tasks. The most common use for these tools is to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts. Bags and tips are also commonly used to pipe meringues, dough, and other ingredients that require precision. The bag is generally a large plastic vessel that you feed a decorative tip through before adding your mixture. Tips come in a variety of sizes and designs, each piping a unique decorative technique.
Parting Thoughts on Baking Essentials
Delving into the baking world can be intimidating when you’re learning what’s necessary and what’s a gimmick. However, having these basic baking essential on hand will help make your journey a little less scary and a lot more fun.
We hope this list has been helpful for you and you’re ready to get started with your next big bake!