Although Shannon Sarna, editor of the Jewish food blog The Nosher and author of "Modern Jewish Baker" believes “you don’t need to spend a lot of money to start baking,” she also says, “the difference between good baking and great baking can be the tools.” The right tools for the job are just as important as knowing your way around flour, sugar, and butter.
As an enthusiastic, but decidedly amateur, baker, I’m following her advice. I certainly don’t need every gizmo and gadget around, but I want to make sure what I do have will last the test of time and help me make the best possible cakes, cookies, brownies, bread, and beyond. One thing I've realized while putting this list together is that you need to have equipment made from durable materials and can be used in my cooking projects as well.
A kitchen full of quality, handy tools will make your baking projects easier, smoother, and a whole lot less intimidating. Here are the best baking supplies to get you started.
Best Mixing Bowls
Gorilla Grip Mixing Bowls
What We Love: Comfortable to use and easy to grip, wide lip and spout, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Love: Plastic can stain
These mixing bowls are the best of both worlds. They’re made of tough plastic, yet still have some give, plus a stain-resistant surface that’s easy to work with. The nonslip bottom keeps them secure on your countertop as you whisk eggs or beat cake batter, as our tester did in her home kitchen. The spout for easy pouring is a nice touch, and they’re available in 19 different cheerful colors, from orange sherbet to mint.
"This is an excellent set of mixing bowls. I would have liked one more size in the middle to complete the set, and plastic is never preferred to glass, stainless or ceramic, but it certainly has its benefits (lightweight, easy to use, rubberized)." — Lizzy Briskin, Product Tester
Price at time of publish: $23
Material: Plastic | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Sizes Included: 3-quart, 5-quart
Related: The Best Mixing Bowls
Sur La Table 15-Lb. Digital Glass Scale
What We Love: Easy to read, tare and hold functions, simple to use
What We Don't Love: Design might not be to everyone’s taste
“A scale for precision is one of the most important tools that bakers swear by,” says Sarna. “Nearly everywhere besides America measures in weight, and correct measurements really differentiate your recipe.”
This Sur La Table digital scale, made exclusively for the store by Escali, has a sleek design, and the smooth glass surface couldn’t be easier to clean. Its touch-sensitive controls and large, clear display make reading and using the scale painless. There's a tare feature and a “hold feature," which continues to display the weight even after your item has been removed. This can measure up to 15 pounds, in 1-gram or 0.1-ounce increments, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Price at time of publish: $35
Dimensions (LxWxH): 9 x 6.5 x 0.75 inches | Maximum Weight: 15 pounds
Related: The Best Kitchen Scales
Oxo Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
What We Love: Balloon shape is ideal for whipping and aerating ingredients, comfortable handle
What We Don't Love: Handle can melt
Even though she has more than a few in her kitchen drawer, our Commerce Editor, Siobhan Wallace, always reaches for her OXO whisks. That's because it makes comfortable, sturdy whisks that are strong enough to hold up to thick batters while still maintaining enough flexibility for whipping and fluffing. It's very well-designed so the 10 stainless-steel wires won’t bend or tangle, even when you put it in the dishwasher. Its nonslip ergonomic handle also feels good in your palm, but it’s not heat-safe, so don’t leave it resting on the edge of a hot pan.
Price at time of publish: $12
Material: Polished stainless steel | Dimensions (LxWxH): 11 x 3 x 1 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Whisks
Best Measuring Cups
Pyrex Prepware 3-Piece Glass Measuring Set
What We Love: Won't absorb stains or odors, oven and freezer safe, glass makes measuring easier
What We Don't Love: Must crouch down for an accurate read
A class Pyrex measuring cup is a tool that’s amazing in its simplicity. Made in the USA with nonporous glass, these won't absorb stains or odors. All three are spacious enough for a breadth of applications, easy to scrape out any remaining liquid with a spatula. The big, bold markings are easy to read, and you'll measure your ingredients with impressive accuracy. Since these are made from tempered glass, they're safe to use in a preheated oven, microwave, freezer, and dishwasher (yay for easy cleanup!).
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Tempered glass | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: 1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cup
Related: The Best Measuring Cups
Best Baking Pans
Nordic Ware Naturals 6-Piece Set
What We Love: High-quality material doesn’t warp, even heat conductivity, baked goods don’t stick
What We Don't Love: Handwash only
Made from natural aluminum with galvanized steel rims, this warp-resistant set from Nordic Ware ensures a beautifully even bake every time. With these six pans, you can whip up professional-quality cakes, cookies, muffins, banana bread, and more. It’s a great starter set for whatever you might feel inspired to bake. Nordic Ware has produced quality cookware in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with locally sourced materials since 1946, and its quality ensures consistently baked goods that are moist on the inside and golden-brown on top.
Price at time of publish: $108
Material: Aluminum, galvanized steel | Maximum Temperature: 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Baking Pans
Rubbermaid Commercial Products High Heat Silicone Spatula
What We Love: Durable, made for use in commercial kitchens, incredibly versatile, high heat resistance
What We Don't Love: Not especially pretty
A rubber spatula is a go-to for gently scraping out the contents of bowls without scratching the surface, gently folding your batter, and smoothing frosting on your next cake. Made of silicone, this Rubbermaid spatula is able to withstand high temperatures, up to 500 degrees, and durable enough to mix the firmest doughs. The stain-resistant white paddle is attached to the cool-touch nylon handle so you won't need to maneuver it with an oven mitt on. When the baking's done, it's dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
Price at time of publish: $14
Length: 9.5 inches | Maximum Temperature: 500 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Related: The Best Silicone Spatulas
Best Rolling Pin
Fox Run Polished Marble Rolling Pin with Wooden Cradle
What We Love: Smooth and easy to use, marble is ideal material for many applications
What We Don't Love: A large rolling pin is not super convenient for small kitchens
Sourced from high-quality marble, this pretty rolling pin sports comfortable wood handles and comes with a wooden resting base. In addition to its elegance, marble is a great choice for a rolling pin since it doesn’t absorb any moisture, fats, or odors from food. With nylon ball bearings for very smooth rolling and natural nonstick properties, this tool will make rolling out the dough for pastries (or crushing walnuts for cookies) a breeze. Bonus: marble can be prechilled in a fridge or freezer, keeping your dough cold—and easier to work with—as you’re rolling.
Price at time of publish: $29
Material: Marble and wood | Length: 18 inches l Weight: 4.6 pounds
Related: The Best Rolling Pins
Though this list is full of great baking equipment, every kitchen should have a few essentials. The Pyrex Prepware 3-Piece Glass Measuring Set (view at Amazon) and the Rubbermaid Commercial Products High Heat Silicone Spatula (view at Amazon) are truly must-haves for any recipe.
What to Look for in Baking Tools
When it comes to material, it really depends on a tool's use. A wooden spoon is a perfect stirring implement that can stand up to the thickest, heaviest dough, but it must be carefully hand-washed to avoid cracks, and wood can absorb flavors and odors.
Marble is great for rolling pins and pastry boards because it stays cooler than room temperature, helping keep doughs firm, plus it’s naturally nonstick. But it's heavy, has to be hand-washed, and can be damaged.
Lots of kitchen tools are now made from silicone, which can handle high heat, washes easily, and is flexible yet sturdy. Just keep in mind that it can be punctured or cut. A reusable silicone baking mat is “indispensable, washes well, lasts for years and years, and is not a huge investment,” says Sarna, who uses the same ones she was gifted for her wedding a decade ago. They let you bake cookies, buns, and bread without oil, cooking sprays, or parchment paper.
I’m a much more prolific cook than a baker, and almost all these tools prove useful for multiple applications. I use my rolling pin to flatten chicken breasts for chicken piccata, my mixing bowls to toss salads and make pasta dishes, and my baking pans for roast veggies and all sorts of quick sheet pan dinners.
What tools do you need to make a cake?
Sarna recommends, "a hand mixer (ideally), a bowl, good cake pans, and parchment paper so things don’t stick—a small thing that makes a big difference." After all, she points out that "you’re going to be very sad if you make a great batter, but it sticks to the pan."
What equipment do you need to bake bread?
"If you’re serious about bread baking, a quality Dutch oven is a great place to start," says Sarna, as it can get and stay very hot and is an ideal vessel for artisan loaves. Another option: a good quality pizza stone is a worthy investment. Sarna uses her to make pizza, flatbreads, and pita. "Make sure it can withstand above 450 degrees," she advises. It’s an ingredient, not a tool, but look for high-quality flour (Sarna uses King Arthur) for making sure your bread is as delicious as possible.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Hannah Howard has been writing about food and beverages for over a decade, including the memoirs “Feast” and “Plenty.” She lives in Brooklyn and definitely needs baking tools that can be also be used for cooking.
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