10 Essential Items for Baking and Seasoning That Every Home Cook Needs Right Now

updated Sep 21, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas

Your oven has probably gotten a good workout over the course of 2020 — whether it has endured our collective banana bread obsession, a brief dabble in the art of sourdough, or just a general uptick in cooking at home. That probably also means that your baking and seasoning cabinet has been through the wringer too!

The Kitchn team crowdsourced a list of the collective baking and seasoning items we’ve relied on most this year for Kitchen Essentials, Grocery Edition. Here are the top 10 things we’ve been reaching for nonstop.

Vanilla Extract: Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract

Jesse Szewczyk, Kitchn’s Studio Food Editor and expert baker, admits that Nielsen-Massey is on the pricier side, but he says it’s worth it for its “dark color and super-strong, high-quality vanilla flavor.” He also loves that you don’t have to go to a specialty baking store or search all the ends of the internet to find it.

Buy: Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract, $32.95 for 4 ounces at Williams Sonoma

Credit: Courtesy of Ghirardelli

Brownie Mix: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Good brownies are easy enough to make from scratch. But 2020 has been a year, so cut yourself some slack and buy a boxed mix. This super-dark, double-chocolatey mix has won blind taste tests with our staff, and you might even prefer it to your usual homemade recipe!

Buy: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, $2.89 for 18 ounces at Target

Credit: Courtesy of King Arthur Baking Company

Flour: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Remember a few months ago when you couldn’t find flour in the grocery stores? It wasn’t just you. King Arthur Baking Co. reported that flour sales were up 150 percent from April through June of this year (compared to the same months last year). Order our go-to AP flour online from King Arthur so you’ll never be without it again.

Buy: King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, $7.36 for two 5-pound bags at Walmart

Credit: Courtesy of Diamond Crystal

Kosher Salt: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

We strongly believe that there’s a trifecta of salts required in every home kitchen. First up, our preferred coarse salt for seasoning and brining: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. (We’re actually mad at Costco right now because a lot of our local warehouse stores seem to have cut this stuff from its shelves, forcing us to buy it elsewhere … in smaller quantities.)

Buy: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, $5.49 for 3 pounds at Instacart

Credit: Courtesy of Maldon Salt Company

Sea Salt: Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

No other salt on the market will make you feel like Salt Bae more than Maldon Flaky Sea Salt. These mesmerizing geometric flakes are the perfect finishing salt to cascade over blistered shishito peppers, generously buttered toast, and cookies and brownies! Pro tip: A bucket of this salt makes a really great gift.

Buy: Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, $11.50 for 8.5 ounces

Credit: Courtesy of Morton Salt

Table Salt: Morton Salt

Morton Salt is the salt we love for baking. Because the crystals are so fine, some home cooks and bakers believe that it dissolves more quickly and evenly into dishes compared to other brands of table salt.

Buy: Morton Salt, $0.89 for 26 ounces at Target

Credit: Courtesy of Costco Wholesale

No-Salt Seasoning: Costco Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning

To balance out the fact that we just gave a list of three different salts that should be in every kitchen, here’s a no-salt seasoning option from Costco’s private-label brand, Kirkland Signature. If you’re watching your sodium intake (and still want your food to taste good), this 14.5-ounce blend of 21 spices and ingredients will do the trick. Sprinkle it on top of veggies, steaks, chicken, and more.

Buy: Costco Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning, $9.79 for 14 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Courtesy of Guittard Chocolate Company

Chocolate: Guittard Chocolate Baking Wafers

When it comes to all things baking and chocolate, our Studio Food Editor, Amelia Rampe, swears by these. “I love using these wafers instead of regular baking chips because of the way that they melt,” she says. “They make the most perfect pools of chocolate.” Put them in your cookies and banana breads.

Buy: Guittard Chocolate Baking Wafers, $9.99 for 12 ounces at Fresh Direct

Credit: Courtesy of Supernatural Kitchen

Sprinkles: Supernatural Sprinkles

If you’re looking for a bright spot in these dark times, know that sprinkles are the one thing that’s never let us down. Naturally dye-free and delightfully shaped, these Supernatural Sprinkles are a staple in Food Editor Meghan Splawn’s household (where you’ll often find her sweeping them off her floor). When in doubt, put some sprinkles on it.

Buy: Supernatural Sprinkles, $7.99 for 3 ounces

Credit: Courtesy of Fleischmann's

Yeast: Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast

Another item we never want to be without again? Yeast. After a surge of panic-purchasing back in early spring, this precious leavening agent was nowhere to be found. The good news is that it’s mostly back in stock. We recommend buying a 1-pound package (of instant or active) now, though, just in case.

Buy: Fleischmann’s Instant Dry Yeast, $5.59 for 1 pound at Instacart

Credit: Photo: Andria Lo; Prop Styling: Anna Raben