Sustainable Baking Essentials for Beginners

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Hoping to start baking more from scratch? You’ll need to have a few baking essentials for beginners to whip up the best cakes, brownies, and pies around! Everything a beginner baker needs is on this list.

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Baking can be an important part of a zero waste lifestyle

Most people don’t think about it this way, but baking is more than just fun and delicious! Because you’re cooking from scratch, you’re simplifying the ingredients in your food and avoiding packaging waste.

If you’re trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, especially if you’re trying to go zero waste or low impact, you’ll want to have some essential baking tools and ingredients on hand!

Source high-quality reusables

Instead of going through ream after ream of parchment paper, invest in some silicone baking liners!

Where to find sustainable kitchen supplies

Although I will be sharing some links to new items, I highly recommend that you hit your local thrift store, Buy Nothing Group, or Facebook Marketplace!

Kitchen essentials are some of the easiest thrifted items to find, which will reduce your carbon footprint and save you a bunch of cash.

Read: The Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up a Real Food Zero Waste Kitchen

Buy quality products made to last

If you are buying brand new products, I highly recommend buying the very best quality you can afford.

Look for stainless steel, wood, glass, and silicone. Avoid gadgets with plastic or fiddly parts you know will break or disappear.

Personally, we try to avoid all nonstick cookware due to the chemicals used to create that non-stick surface.

blueberry crumble bars

Baking Equipment for Beginners

When I was growing up, I did most of my baking with very simple hand tools. We didn’t have Amazon. Stand mixers were expensive, so we had a hand mixer. I never had a cooling rack until I was an adult.

You don’t need a lot of the stuff most people will recommend. You can get by with an oven and some very basic supplies that you may already have!

Mixing Bowls

Ah, mixing bowls. I have an intense love for antique stoneware mixing bowls, so we have plenty of these on hand. It’s helpful to have mixing bowls of different sizes to accommodate a wide range of recipes.

Many people like stainless steel mixing bowls as they’re pretty indestructible and can be used to make a bain-marie for melting chocolate, etc. Glass is a great sustainable option.

For me though…I’m all about the stoneware. We splurged on a Portuguese stoneware mixing bowl set from Williams Sonoma that we’re hoping lasts decades.

baking essentials for beginners

Measuring Cups & Spoons

First of all, if you have any mason jars with measurement markings, you can use those for liquids. You do want to have both liquid and solid measuring cups as the quantities vary a bit.

I use a mason jar for measuring liquids and we have stainless steel measuring cups for dry ingredients like flour and sugar.

The one thing to be mindful of when buying measuring spoons is the spoon’s shape! My favorite ones are long and narrow, allowing them to sneak into even the narrowest spice jars!

apple crisp recipe

Baking Pans

Although I always aspire to have a minimalist kitchen, I don’t really. We cook from scratch so much that we are set up for pretty much any recipe!

As someone who loves to bake, it’s important to have the right pan for the job!

My constant workhorse is the half sheet pan. We LOVE these things. We have 2 and we use them significantly more than any other baking pan in our house. Buy a quality brand like Nordic Ware because these pans will be heavily used!

Stick parchment or a silicone liner on them for pizzas, toasting nuts, roasting vegetables, baking cookies, etc. They can do just about anything.

We also have a small mountain of cake pans. We have mostly metal cake pans, but we do have some glass baking dishes, too.

Essential baking pans:
  • Square 9 x 9 – great for cornbread and brownies
  • Rectangular 9 x 13 – standard cake pan
  • Round 8 inch – if you want to bake round cakes for layered cakes, get 2-3 of these!
  • Pie pan – a pan with fluted sides is great for fruit pies and a pan with straight, angled sides is perfect for graham cracker crusts
  • Muffin pan (mini and/or full size) – if you bake often, get a 24-count muffin pan
Optional baking pans:
  • Bundt pan – you really only need one, despite how adorable they are!
  • Angel food cake pan – not necessary unless you bake angel food cake often
  • Ramekins

Read: Why You Need a Well-Stocked Pantry (and a free download!)

Hand or Stand Mixer

As a young baker, I always dreamed of having a KitchenAid stand mixer. It felt like the pinnacle of home baking! I finally got one in my mid-20s and use it all the time.

They are not made as well anymore, so you might actually want to try to find an older one for sale. You can also buy refurbished KitchenAids from the company, too.

With a KitchenAid, I no longer have any need for a hand mixer. It’s perfect for whipping mashed potatoes, making brown sugar, whipping sky-high meringues, prepping cookie dough, and more.

Most stand mixers come with several attachments (paddle, whisk, and hook). We upgraded our paddle to one with a silicone edge so it scrapes stuff off the inside of the bowl as it works.

essential baking ingredients

Additional Beginner Baking Tools

A rolling pin is super helpful, but you can use a wine bottle in a pinch!

If you’re planning to make pastry, you’ll also want to snag a pastry cutter. If you have a food processor, you may want to use that instead!

A silicone pastry brush comes in handy for a wide variety of cooking purposes! We have a silicone one as almost every other pastry brush we tried fell apart and was hard to clean.


caramel apple galette

Essential List of Baking Ingredients for your Baker’s Pantry

Keeping a well-stocked pantry will help you be ready to bake anything you want in a pinch! You can get our free pantry staples checklist when you subscribe to our email list!

Subscribe and get our
FREE pantry checklist!

Cook from scratch every day! It’s easy to do when you have a well-stocked pantry. You’ll be eating better, saving money, and helping the environment.

Zero Waste Baking Ingredients

Just like with your regular zero waste or low waste shopping, head to the bulk food store! You can refill your own jars and bags to avoid packaging waste.

If you’re not able to source your baking ingredients at a bulk food store, try to find products packaged in paper that are easily compostable.

Learn how to set up a real food zero waste kitchen in your own home.

Read: Zero Waste Pantry Staples for Beginners

zero waste pantry staples baking

Flours

  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole wheat flour

We love to bake sourdough, so we always have an array of flours on hand. We especially love baking with locally milled flours!

If you’re eating low carb, some keto baking flours include almond flour and coconut flour. They are gluten-free, too!

Read: Where to Buy Bulk Produce for Canning, Pickling, and Preserving

Sugars

  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Molasses – great for making brown sugar in a pinch or for ginger molasses cookies!

You can also play with other sweeteners, like maple syrup or honey.

For low-carb baking, swap out erythritol or monk fruit instead! We always have powdered erythritol on hand for homemade whipped cream.

baking essentials for beginners

Binders & Leaveners

  • Corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt – essential for activating baking soda
  • Yeast

If you have a sourdough starter, you don’t really need commercial yeast anymore!

Fats & Oils

  • Butter and/or coconut oil
  • Milk or cream (dairy or non-dairy)
  • Eggs

Read: Azure Standard – Our Secret to an Easy Real Food Pantry

Building Flavor

  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate chips
  • Dried fruits – make oatmeal raisin cookies
  • Chopped nuts – we prefer pecans and walnuts
  • Vanilla extract – make your own!
  • Oats
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice)

Once you have the foundations here, you can add more things like sprinkles, different types of chips (cinnamon, butterscotch, etc), and a wide array of extracts!

diy vanilla extract

How is this zero waste baking? It looks normal to me!

The baking ingredients and tools I’ve shared above are the heart of any good kitchen. These items are not just for sustainable bakers – they will work for anyone!

You could call this exact list of tools frugal, “real food,” nourishing, and simple.

The real difference that makes this approach sustainable or zero waste is the mindset! By following the simple strategies below, you’ll be adopting a zero waste lifestyle. It’s that easy!

How do you take regular baking to zero waste baking?

  • Reduce product packaging. Zero waste is all about living without making more trash. This looks like buying basic dry ingredients in bulk. A really good bulk store or grocer will offer every ingredient on this list!
  • Ditch disposables. In zero waste living, we’d rather buy something once for life, like these silicone cupcake liners, than pay for disposables that go in the trash.
  • Maximize your oven space! It takes extra electricity or gas to heat your oven. Instead of just baking your bread or brownies, throw in a casserole, roast some nuts, dry out some almond pulp from making milk, etc. Fill that oven all the way up!
  • Use up leftovers. Baking can help you use up small amounts of leftover dry goods, like nuts and dried fruits. You can also transform aging fruits in cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and breads. This reduces food waste!

You’ll need a basic supply of baking tools and the basic ingredients for baking. With just a few basic baking ingredients, you’ll have the basis for a wide range of desserts, bread, puddings, and more!

Learn more about setting up a baker’s pantry by clicking these links:
Basic baking equipment for beginners
Essential baking ingredients

Especially today, we are so used to buying products pre-packaged at the store. These products are not always bad for you, but they are not environmentally friendly.

Many companies add extra ingredients like preservatives to keep them from going bad. Homemade baked goods will contain fewer ingredients!

Baking from scratch allows you to have total control over the quality of ingredients, which is important, especially for people with allergies or sensitives!

Different bakers break down the major ingredients in baking in different ways, but there are essentially 6 components.

1) Flours
2) Sugars
3) Leaveners (yeast, baking soda, baking powder)
4) Eggs
5) Dairy
6) Fats & oils

If you include adding flavorings and spices, you’ll have everything you need!

With a fully stocked baker’s pantry, you’ll be able to make the most of all the produce that comes your way!

Whether you’re whipping together a batch of banana bread with some black bananas or you’re turning some leftover, shriveled-up berries into muffins or jam, you’re making the most of the food you have on hand!

Baking can hide a world of sins since you’re processing the produce into something else.

Since our zero waste baking ingredients are so easy to find in bulk food stores or in sustainable packaging, it’s easy to stock a sustainable baker’s pantry!

baking essentials for beginners

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