Borderlands Baking Basics – 10 Tools for Success

Jan 7, 2020 | Cookie Decorating Resources, Decorating Ideas | 1 comment

I’m frequently asked for a list of my bare minimum baking basics, so thought I’d put together a list of my absolute must-haves for everyone, regardless of what you’re baking. The list is created with budget in mind, and models what I started out with when I first started stress baking in college!

The usual disclosure: This post contains affiliate links– if you choose to purchase anything from these links, you’re supporting me at no additional cost to you, and it all adds up and helps me to keep sharing with everyone!

  1. Oven Thermometer
    Oven ThermometerThe most underrated piece of equipment ever for so many reasons. Most home ovens run hot or cold and you don’t even know until you use a thermometer. My home oven runs cold from 280-385, and when I turn it to 390, it jumps to 425. I can’t explain it. They are cheap online (and be sure to check your local grocer) and THIS is the exact one I use in my home. Correct baking temperature is critical for specifically for my french macaron success, and ensuring that cookies do not spread or burn in baking.
  2. Food Scale
    Food ScaleRed Food Scale
    As someone who now bakes for a living, I need things to be as consistent and predictable as possible. Measuring by volume causes huge variances in actual materials used, causing inconsistent results. You can read more on that my post about Weight vs Volume Measurment. I like and have used BOTH of the food scales aboTve, and prefer the EtekCity for pure function and Ozeri for style (I currently use the Ozeri in red to match my stand mixer…..haha I’m vain). But honestly, anything in the search for a food scale works so long as reviews are consistent!
  3. Measuring Spoons & Cups
    Measuring Spoons and Cups

    Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons and Cup Set

    A basic must-have for any kitchen– I prefer measuring cups and spoons that are stainless steel. They last longer, are easier to clean, are antibacterial and look super sweet.

  4. Baking Sheets
    When I first started baking, this and baking mats confused me the most. Was I supposed to bake directly on these? Dark or light? What’s the difference? There are so many kinds….I will dedicate a whole separate post to JUST baking sheets/pans and baking mats, but for now, I’m sharing my favorite.

    Baking Sheets

    Nordic Ware Aluminum Baking Sheets

    I’m 100% team aluminum baking sheets. They last a long time (not forever, as with anything), do well under heat and distribute heat evenly, are super lightweight and easy to clean. However, they are NOT all made equal and I LOVE Nordic Ware baking sheets. Low key hoping they would be a sponsor one day ūüėČ

  5. Baking Mats (silicon, parchment, teflon and what the difference?)
    You have A LOT of choices when looking at baking mats– and when using a sheet I ALWAYS use a mat. Mats help even heat distribution on your pan, but most of all, I love how easy mats make cleanup. No more washing gunk off of pans.

    A great deal on silicon baking mats!

    You also have A LOT to choose from nowadays– Teflon, parchment, silicon….. I’ll go over the differences in another post along with the baking sheets, but my favorite are the thinner silicon type baking mats. They go easily from freezer to oven and as an added bonus they often get used for roasting veggies and meat along with baking in my house.¬† SO easy to clean and store (roll em up). The ones I’ve linked HERE are awesome because of their rounded corners– I think more manufacturers need to move to this design because our sheet pans are usually rounded. The Amazon Basics mats are very affordable and get the job done nicely if you need a budget friendly option.

  6. Baking Pans
    This section depends on what you’re trying to bake because there are ENDLESS types of pans– but I’ll be concise and only list the ones I think everyone who wants to dabble in baking should have in their cabinets… this is similar to what I started with when I first started stress baking in college: Cupcake¬† Pans¬† and¬† Square¬† Pans.

    Cupcake Pans

    Cupcake Pans (always use liners for easy cleanup)

    Brownie Pan

    A brownie pan, sheet cake pan, rice Krispie pan, lasagna pan, so many uses!

  7. Rolling Pin
    I always have 2 rolling pins in my arsenal. I started my baking journey with a heavy marble rolling pin (which also doubles as a self-defense weapon… seriously this thing is deadly and heavy so please be careful).¬† ¬†When¬† I first¬† started¬† baking,¬† I¬† simply¬† eyeballed¬† my¬† dough¬† thickness¬† and¬† got¬† REALLY good¬† at¬† that!

    Rolling Pin

    Marble Rolling Pin – my first love

    But if you need to be precise with your dough or pastry thicknesses, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a rolling pin with built-in guides. I like this Stainless Steel one from Amazon. It’s light, easy to clean, and rolls even cookies to pie crust or even fondant– just switch the guides on the side to the thickness you desire.

    Guided Rolling Pin

    Guided Rolling Pin from Amazon

  8. Spatulas and Hand Tools of varying sizes
    I am a HUGE fan of full silicon spatulas. They are gaining popularity here and I prefer them over wooden handle ones because they are easier to clean (a single piece) and because they are silicon throughout, less blisters from use as you hold onto the handle. Here is a great beginner set I love for baking:

    Spatula and Hand Tools

    An all silicon spatula and hand tool set for all your baking needs! This particular set has enough for cakes/frosting, whisking, etc. And it’s incredibly affordable!

  9. Mixing Bowls
    I think this is often overlooked in a kitchenРthe right mixing bowls can be used for prep, serving, tossing salads, marinating food, etc.  As with many other kitchen tools, I prefer stainless steel for durability (these will last you forever!), ease of cleaning (and antibacterial properties), and overall look/feel.

    Mixing Bowls

    A set of stainless steel bowls for every kitchen– my favorite! I use the smallest bowls for mixing icing colors for individual cookie batches and the largest for mixing quadruple batches of icing for cookie classes!

  10. Stand Mixer OR Hand Mixer
    For most baking projects, either will work; however, hand mixers have smaller motors and don’t deliver as much power as stand mixers. If you are working with a stiff dough like ones for roll-out cookies, a hand mixer may struggle.

    Stand Mixer

    The Kitchenaid hand mixer is the best balance of price and quality I could find in my experience– a good balance for someone who is on a budget but still needs something of quality.

    When I first started baking, I only had a $20 hand mixer. It got the job done. It even beat meringues to a stiff peak but I will save you the pain and send you to something that has slightly more power for all-purpose projects…

    If you’re ready to take the plunge and want to invest in a stand mixer– there are SO MANY options now and I put down a few for you…

    Dough Mixer

    Budget friendly version


    Kitchen Aid Mixer

    The most popular of options– safe but a little more expensive. I was gifted my first kitchenaid on accident– it was a xmas gift from my father in law to my mother in law… he didn’t hear the part where she wanted to get it for ME… fastest regift in history that turned out incredibly well for me!

    There are many other mixer options, including the popular Bosch for large batch cookie dough, but it definitely goes beyond the basics

I’ve also created an Amazon List that contains ALL of my Baking Basics so that everything is in one place for you– CLICK HERE to visit!

I hope that was helpful for you! If you have any other pieces of equipment you think are MUST HAVES, I would really love to hear from you below! As you dive into each realm of baking (i.e. pies, brownies, cakes, etc.), you’ll start getting into more specialty equipment. If you’re a cookier, please read my post for New¬†Cookie Decorators.

Other posts to check out:


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1 Comment

  1. Dee

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I love your content!!


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