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.
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. Caraway has amazing quality non-stock ceramic cookware and bakeware that is truly made to last.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
Essential List of Baking Ingredients for your Baker’s Pantry
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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.
- 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!
- 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.
Binders & Leaveners
- Corn starch or arrowroot powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Salt – essential for activating baking soda
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)
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate chips
- Dried fruits – make oatmeal raisin cookies
- Chopped nuts – we prefer pecans and walnuts
- Extracts – homemade vanilla extract, coffee extract, lavender extract
- Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice)
- Homemade vanilla bean paste
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!
I also like to make my own infused sugars, honeys, and syrups to add even more flavor to basic sweeteners.
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?
Start eating real food every day
Get the inside scoop from my years of cooking from scratch & preserving the harvest. Learn how to eat seasonally & sustainably… even on a budget!