Master your next baking project with these must-haves.

By Katie Macdonald
March 30, 2020
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There’s never a wrong time for a baking project: Whether you’re craving pies packed with summer fruit, pillowy rolls for Thanksgiving, or simply a late-night batch of chocolate chip cookies, making your own sweet and savory treats from scratch soothes the stomach and the soul. Baking is scientific and methodical, chemical reactions and exact measurements. And best of all, the structured, comforting process leaves you with tangible, delicious results.

Williams Sonoma / Bed Bath & Beyond / Wayfair / Sur La Table

No matter what you’re baking, though, you need proper tools. To learn the must-have bakeware, gadgets, and utensils home cooks need to tackle any project that goes in the oven, we asked professional bakers and cookbook authors from across the country. Here’s what they recommend:

Digital scale 

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

“This is one of those tools that people think is expensive, but really you can get a solid quality one for about $25 and it’s well worth the investment. All baking is more accurate when you use weight rather than volume measures—plus since you can measure right into the mixing bowl, it often means less dishes, too!” —Erin McDowell, author of The Fearless Baker and upcoming The Book on Pie (November 2020)

To buy: Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale with Pull-Out Digital Display, $50 at amazon.com and bedbathandbeyond.com

Dutch oven 

Courtesy of Sur La Table

“Naturally! A can’t-do-without item for baking my recipes in Flour Water Salt Yeast. It solves the steam problem in home ovens and is the ideal way to get craft-bakery quality crust color and texture in bread you bake at home.” —Ken Forkish, James Beard award-winning author of Flour Water Salt Yeast and owner of Ken’s Artisan Bakery

To buy: 4.5-Quart Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven, $335 at amazon.com and surlatable.com

Loaf pan

Courtesy of Sur La Table

“A loaf pan is great for making sandwich loaves, brioches, and babkas. USA pans are my favorite, nothing sticks to them and they are extremely durable, and their corners don’t end up tearing your breads like some cheaper lower quality pans do. I use the medium size, which is slightly bigger than the small loaf pan.” —Bonnie Ohara, author of Bread Baking for Beginners and owner of Alchemy Bread Company

To buy: USA Pan Loaf Pan, $23 at amazon.com

Half sheet pan

Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

“For focaccia, fougasse, ficelles, and cinnamon rolls too any half sheet pan will do, but USA pan is the best.” —Ohara

To buy: USA Pan Loaf Pan, $20 (originally $25) at amazon.com and $22 at williams-sonoma.com

Rolling dowel

Courtesy of Sur La Table

“I strongly believe that everyone needs to try out a bunch of different types of rolling pins to find out what feels most comfortable for you. I collect vintage rolling pins of all sorts and it's kind of gotten out of control, but this simple, heavy model is my go-to.”  —Shauna Sever, author of Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland

To buy: J.K. Adams Dowel Rolling Pin, $31 at amazon.com

Silicone spatulas

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

“My most used tool for sure, I like them in a variety of sizes (small are great for cleaning out jars, medium ones for scraping a mixing bowl, large ones for folding cake batters). I suggest looking for spatulas that are all one piece, rather than those that have a head that attaches onto a handle—they are easier to clean and also sturdier/last longer!” —McDowell

To buy: Oxo Good Grips White Silicone Spatulas, $7 to $9 at amazon.com or bedbathandbeyond.com

Small offset spatula

Courtesy of Sur La Table

“The offset is perfect for leveling batters and spreading frostings and fillings obviously, but it's also handy for loosening edges on baked goods and for pressing crumb and shortbread crusts down evenly and into touch to reach corners. It's one of those tools that you'll find indispensable once you have one.” —Samantha Seneviratne, author or The Joys of Baking and The New Sugar and Spice

To buy: Ateco Offset Wood Handle Icing Spatula, $7 at amazon.com

Oven thermometer

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

“I can hardly think of a more important tool in my kitchen when it comes to baking. I abhor overbaked sweets and treats—dry cakes and crispy, overdone cookies and cream pies with cracks...and although I will admit to liking slightly under-baked cookies, no one likes to bite into a biscuit that is still raw in the middle. So, I depend on my oven thermometer to ensure that my oven is at the temp I need it to be…I  now know that my own oven is 30 degrees off and accommodate for that whenever I turn it on.” —Jessie Sheehan, author of The Vintage Baker and Icebox Cakes

To buy: Taylor TruTemp Oven Dial Cooking Thermometer, $6 at amazon.com and bedbathandbeyond.com

Digital probe thermometer

Courtesy of Wayfair

“Time and temperature are two variables that matter. It isn’t hard to use, and allows you to have consistent, dependable bakes. If your dough at the end of the mix is the same temperature as what I recommend (and I tell you how to get there), then you can follow the recipe schedules with confidence. —Forkish

To buy: Thermopro TP03 Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer, $14 (originally $30) at amazon.com

Ice cream scoop

“My favorite way to shape cookie dough. You can drop them right onto a baking sheet with a scoop to freeze for later, and the scoop makes sure every cookie is a similar size and nice and round.” —Cynthia Chen McTernan, author of A Common Table: 80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Cultures

To buy: Zyliss Right Scoop, $13 at amazon.com

Balloon whisk

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

“A big, voluminous whisk is great for tasks like whipping eggs or heavy cream—but a good whisk also can do the job of a sifter for dry ingredients, too!”  —McDowell

To buy: Oxo Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk, $10 at amazon.com and bedbathandbeyond.com

Kitchen shears

“My mother-in-law introduced these to me for cutting galbi and chewy noodles when serving, and they have changed my life. They're just as good for baking as for cooking! You can use them for everything from cutting cinnamon rolls to neater slices of galettes or pizzas.” —Chen McTernan

To buy: Wüsthof Pull-Apart Shears, $20 (originally $30) at wiliams-sonoma.com and amazon.com

Bench scraper

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

“I have a bunch of stainless steel ones, with both plastic and wood handles, and I love them all. So great for everything from dividing dough to portioning bars and biscuits, transferring chopped chocolate and nuts into a mixing bowl, and of course, cleaning off your work surface quickly.” —Sever

To buy: Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper, $6 at amazon.com and bedbathandbeyond.com