Baking Tools for Beginners: The Must-Haves, Nice-to-Haves & Don't Bothers


If you’re hoping to take up baking as a hobby, the wealth of baking tools at your disposal can be a bit overwhelming. From every kind of spatula imaginable to electric mixers to novelty bundt tins and weird spikey fondant knives, it can be difficult to know which tools are necessary and which you can leave on the shelf.

A Black girl wearing a floral top and blue apron smiles while cracking an egg into a glass baking bowl.

I’ve been baking at home for over 20 years. I’ve worked in kitchens that had it all and in tiny London flatshares where I had barely anything. There are items that will make your life a hell of a lot easier, but there are also baking tools that you’ll use once and forget that you own.


The good news is that you don’t need to splash out a ton of new equipment. If you’re just starting out, there are a few must-have items you will need to kick-start your hobby, but none of them should make a huge dent in your wallet.


In this post I’ve pulled together my list of non-negotiables, my nice-to-haves, and a list of items to leave on the shelf.


Table of Contents


Must-Have Baking Tools for Beginners

Nice-to-Have Baking Tools

Don't Bother with these Baking Tools

 

Must-Have Baking Tools for Beginners

A hand holds a wire whisk dripping with melted chocolate over a black tabletop.

Must-Have Utensils


A medium-size whisk. One of the most important tools in your arsenal. A whisk can whip cream, emulsify wet ingredients, bring together dry ingredients, and beat egg whites into meringue. It’s a no-brainer buy.


Wooden spoons. Second only to a good whisk, wooden spoons have been used for centuries to bake just about anything. I would recommend getting a good set made from acacia wood that will last a lifetime if treated with respect.


A medium-size spatula. Perfect for scraping batter out into tins so you don’t leave any behind. They’re also a dab hand for frosting cakes and cupcakes and folding ingredients together.


A set of measuring spoons. A must for measuring out ingredients accurately. Every kitchen should have a set of these essential baking tools.


Forks. Regular cutlery forks can come in handy for beating single eggs, whisking together smaller amounts of ingredients, crimping pie crusts, and pricking tart shells.


A liquid measuring cup. Accurately measuring out liquid ingredients like oil, milk, or water without a measuring cup is a recipe for disaster. You can get plastic versions at a super affordable price, but I love the durable glass ones because they can be heated.


Large, medium, and small mixing bowls. Essential for mixing up all your batters! I would love to see you own one of each and ideally at least one heatproof bowl – glass or metal – for creating a bain marie.


A medium saucepan. Comes in super handy when you need to melt butter or chocolate, toast off nuts, or make curd and custard.


A serrated knife. If you want to get into bread or yeast baking, one of these babies is a must-have tool for shaping, cutting, or scoring. They also come in handy for trimming domes off of baked cake layers for easy stacking.


Toothpicks or skewers. I use one of these every time I bake to test for doneness. They also are great for pinning together pastry or giving stacked cakes a bit more support.


Must-Have Baking Tins


One to two 20cm round cake tins. If you love a Victoria Sponge or any other kind of layer cake, you’re going to need some round cake tins to create it. 20cm is the standard size and should do you for the rest of your life if you get a couple of good-quality ones.


One 20cm square tin. Perfect for baking brownies, blondies, mint slice, or any other kind of traybake you like. Ideally, get one without a loose bottom so that you can use it for gooey bakes like crumbles too.


One 1lb OR 2lb loaf tin. If banana bread is your thing, a loaf pan is essential. They’re also great for no-bake treats, standard bread loaves, and all sorts of quick breads.


One or two standard cookie sheets. These essential baking tools aren't just for cookies, but also perfect for sheet pan bakes like swiss rolls and chocolate bark.


One standard muffin/cupcake tin. A cupcake tin is so versatile. Aside from the obvious, you can also bake mini cheesecakes and layered desserts inside of them, or flip them over and bake cookie or waffle bowls on the opposite side.


Must-Have Gadgets & Misc.


A set of oven gloves. Oven burns are no fun, so prevent them with a good set of oven gloves. I’m partial to the ones that come as a set of two versus the long attached version. And always make sure they’re machine washable!


A set of weighing scales. You’ll notice I didn’t put measuring cups on this must-have list. That’s because scales are much more accurate, universal, and easier to use; they’re incredibly affordable and will serve you well for a long time.


A wire cooling rack. Bakes not only cool faster on a cooling rack, but the circulating air also ensures that the underside of your bake doesn’t get soggy while it cools.


Parchment paper. Non-stick paper ensures that your bakes don’t stick to the tin and helps it cook more evenly by creating a barrier between the batter and the hot metal. It’s also great for making cupcake or muffin liners!


Foil or plastic wrap. Useful for a variety of things, including covering cookie dough in the fridge, creating molds, and wrapping up bakes to send to loved ones.


An oven thermometer. No two ovens are the same and internal thermometers are rarely accurate. Save yourself the headache of undercooked or burnt bakes by grabbing yourself an affordable oven thermometer ahead of time.


A timer. This can be the one on your phone (that’s usually what I use), but if you’re baking multiple elements at once, sometimes it’s nice to have a separate timer on hand.


Nice-to-Have Baking Tools

A white woman with red painted nails pipes vanilla frosting onto a chocolate cake.

Nice-to-Have Utensils


A small cranked palette knife. These little knives are great for spreading batter in a tin with a smooth top, lifting cookies off a tray, or spreading icing smoothly on the sides of a cake.


A baby whisk. I love these little whisks for mixing small quantities of ingredients together, making custard or curd on the hob, or whisking eggs.


A set of measuring cups. If you have a good scale, chances are you won’t need these. But they can come in handy if you find yourself baking a lot of North American recipes.


An apple corer. These are great if you bake a lot of filled cupcakes – just insert and twist up for the perfect cavity! – or bakes with fruit.


A bench scraper. I use my bench scraper a lot for smoothing out crumb coats on cakes, cleaning work surfaces, and scraping sticky dough out of bowls.


A rolling pin. If you bake a lot of cut out cookies or pastry, a rolling pin will be a super useful baking tool for you. I prefer longer wooden ones sans handles, but marble ones are lovely for keeping pastry cold.


A cake tester. If you’re planning to bake a lot, a cake tester is a great reusable alternative to toothpicks and skewers for testing doneness.


Hand citrus juicers. Once I bought one of these, I never went back to squeezing citrus by hand. You can get so much more juice out of them in much less time!


Cookie scoops. Baking a lot of cookies? These scoops make light work of the portioning process, so you can get to baking (and eating) faster. They’re also great for quickly scooping muffin and cupcake batter into liners with minimal mess.


A pastry brush. Aside from washing pastry tops with egg, they're also useful for sealing pie crusts, moistening baking paper, texturing fondant, or glazing breads or tarts.


Nice-to-Have Baking Tins


One 22 x 33cm rectangular tin. Perfect for sheet cakes and larger traybakes. If you find yourself baking for a crowd a lot, this is a pan to have.


Two 22cm or 25cm round cake tins OR two 15cm round cake tins. Depending on who you’re baking for, you might want to consider sizing up or down your round cake tins. If you’re feeding a brood, 22cm or 25cm cake tins are great for creating larger cakes, especially if you want to get into stacking. 15cm tins are perfect for a small family or a single gal.


One jumbo muffin tin. If you love the giant bakery style muffins and cupcakes, you’ll want a jumbo muffin tin in your baking tools arsenal.


22cm springform cake tin. These are great for no-bake cakes and cheesecakes – the sides pop open so you don’t have to turn your cake upside down to tip it out.


23cm fluted tart tin. Planning to bake a lot of tarts? You’ll need a fluted tin to do the job properly.


23cm round pie dish. Similarly, if you’re planning to be the queen, king, or non-binary royalty of pies, you’ll need a pie dish to create your masterpieces.


Nice-to-Have Gadgets & Misc.


Silicone baking mats. A great reusable alternative to parchment paper. These non-stick mats fit into cookie sheets perfectly and last a long time.


Electric hand mixer. This almost made it into the Must-Haves list, simply because I use it so often! Give your arms and wrists a break by using it to whip egg whites, cream together butter and sugar, emulsify wet ingredients, knead bread dough, etc.


A basic set of piping tips + bags. If cakes and cupcakes are your jam and you want to get into basic decoration, a simple set of piping tips and reusable bags are perfect. You honestly don’t need more than 6 tips to make a beautiful cake.


A cake turntable. These are super handy when frosting cakes to get a clean line and smooth sides.


Cake strips. These strips are moistened and then attached to the outside of your cake tin to help the cakes bake evenly and decrease the amount they dome on top. I use them when my cakes will be baking for over 25 minutes.


A basic set of cutters. Christmas cookies anyone? I own about 6 cutters total. A few holiday shapes and a few round ones for cutting out smaller pastry rounds. You don’t need more than that unless you’re planning to get into cookie decorating.


A cake leveller. This handy little baking tool replaces a serrated knife to get a clean cut across the top of your cake for an incredibly level layer.


A thermometer. I use thermometers frequently in my kitchen for testing liquid temperature when baking with yeast, making tempered chocolate or candy, or checking the interior temperature of bread.

Cupcake/muffin cases. Unless you plan to bake a ton of muffins and cupcakes, you don’t need all the fancy cases. Grab yourself a stack of 100 affordable plain white ones and let the cake and frosting do the talking.


Food processor or blender. If you’re planning to do a lot of vegan or no-bake baking, a processor is an incredibly useful tool. I use it to grind up nuts, pulse together pastry, emulsify sauces, grate veggies and fruit, among other things.


Storage tins. Keep your baked goods fresh for longer with a set of airtight storage tins.


The 'Don't Bother' List of Baking Tools

Lemon slices, lemon madeleines, and various baking tools are scattered across a bright aquamarine background.

Don't Bother with these Utensils


Icing smoother. A plastic bench scraper does the same job.

Modelling tools / icing combs. Unless you want to get very very fancy with your home baked cakes, these baking tools are mostly just for commercial use.


Large icing spatula. I have one of these and have maybe used it four times – I much prefer to use my smaller angled palette knife and bench scraper to frost my cakes. (Although this is good for scraping stuck food off my cast-iron pan.)


Pastry cutter. Forks and your hands (or even a food processor) do the exact same job. Possibly better.


Don't Bother with these Baking Tins


Shaped moulds/tins and specialty tins. No one needs a madeleine tin unless they plan to bake madeleines every week. If you need a special tin for one bake, try and borrow it from a friend or family member and save yourself some cash.


Don't Bother with these Gadgets & Misc.


Stand mixer. Controversial, I know. I have a stand mixer because I’m a recipe developer, but I often find myself using my electric hand mixer more often. They are great to have if you’re mixing together a big batch of batter or dough frequently, or if you plan to get into bread baking as they’re useful for kneading. But they’re also massive and a pain to store, are very expensive, and have a million different parts that can break. I would encourage anyone to buy an electric hand mixer over a stand mixer any day.


Bread maker. If you’ve got hands, a bowl, and a loaf pan or dutch oven, you can bake bread without a bread maker.


Cake release spray. I’ll never understand this one. Just use butter and flour or non-stick parchment paper to line your tins. Healthier and cheaper.


Pre-made liners. Get yourself a pair of scissors and save a bit of money by making them yourself.


Ice cream maker. Unless homemade ice cream is your love language, I wouldn’t bother. Besides, you can make some really delicious no-churn ice creams in your loaf pan!


Pie weights. Save your money and buy a pack of rice or kidney beans to weigh down pie crusts. Keep them in a Ziploc bag and reuse them.


 

I hope this baking tools breakdown was helpful for you and that you now feel even more excited to take up baking this year. You really don’t need a ton of tools to get started. The best thing to do is just start with the basics and figure out what extras you need along the way.


And if it’s all still a bit overwhelming, but you do want to try your hand at baking this year, definitely check out a Bookish Bakes subscription or Classic Kit!


Our kits are perfect for beginner bakers, because we send you everything you need to get started. Every kit comes with a fail-proof recipe, all the dry ingredients you need, pre-measured to save time, as well as any extras like pre-cut parchment paper, piping tips and bags, or cutters!


Check out our Subscriptions here and our one-off Classic Kits here.


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