The Essential Baking Ingredients and Seasonings for 2021 and Beyond

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Credit: King Arthur Baking Company

Even if you’re no longer feeding your sourdough starter or making weekly loaves of banana bread, we’re guessing you’re still doing a decent amount of baking. (You’re a Kitchn reader, after all!) And you’re certainly salting and seasoning your food. (Because you’re not a monster!) Which brings us to this post.

It’s a pulled-out look of the baking- and seasoning-related groceries from our recently launched list of Kitchn Essentials. We hope you’ll take a look at the entire list, but if you just want to browse this category, we won’t be salty about it.

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Best Flour
King Arthur Baking Company

Flour is flour, yeah? Actually not so much. Try the super-versatile AP flour from this employee-owned company, all bakers at heart, and you'll see why they've been in business for more than 200 years. This non-GMO flour is just as perfect for light and fluffy scones as it is your favorite brownies, making it the flour bakers swear by.

2 / 13
Best Flaky Salt
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The right finishing salt is truly the finishing touch that takes a dish from good to whoa! The briny, bright salt from Jacobsen, harvested in the Pacific Northwest, will make your dishes sing. And with crunchy flakes that are smaller than other brands, it’s easier to distribute, says Contributor Meghan Splawn.

3 / 13
Best Kosher Salt
Diamond Crystal

When it comes to seasoning and brining, you need the perfect coarse salt. Which is exactly what Diamond Crystal provides in their kosher salt. Coarse enough that you can grab it with your fingers, but easily crushed for seasoning, this stuff is a staple in culinary schools. Go ahead and stock up on it — it’s worth its salt (hehe).

4 / 13
Best Table Salt
Morton Salt

Bakers, unite: The table salt you want for quick and even dissolving is the classic blue container. Why is the girl in the yellow dress carrying an umbrella and spilling salt? Does it matter? This is the salt we know and love.

5 / 13
Best Yeast

File yeast under things we'll never take for granted again! Those of us who didn't have any of this precious leavening agent back when lockdowns and shortages hit really wished we had stocked up. Even if you didn't pick up pandemic sourdough baking, Fleischmann's Yeast is essential for homemade pizza and cinnamon rolls.

6 / 13
Best Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is one of those things you don't want to go cheap on. Nielsen-Massey might be on the pricier side, but our expert baker and Studio Food Editor Jesse Szewczyk says it’s worth it for its “dark color and super-strong, high-quality vanilla flavor.” Also, it’s nice that you can find it pretty readily: no having to scour the internet or hunt down specialty baking stores.

7 / 13
Best Brownie Mix
Ghirardelli Chocolate

Can you make a good brownie from scratch pretty easily? Sure! But you know what? Sometimes we all just want a reliable boxed mix, and Ghirardelli Double Chocolate does it right with this super-dark, double-chocolatey mix. It’s so good, it even won our blind taste tests. Who knows, you may even like it better than your homemade version!

8 / 13
Best Vanilla Cake Mix

This classic will take you straight back to Easy-Bake Ovens. But don't let its simplicity fool you. Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Vanilla Cake Mix is exactly as promised — incredibly moist, and deliciously (and naturally) vanilla-y. Use this to make a classic cake or get fancy with it as your foolproof base.

9 / 13
Best Chocolate
Guittard Chocolate Company

"Perfect pools of chocolate." That’s what Studio Food Editor Amelia Rampe says about these organic, fair-trade chocolate baking wafers from Guittard. She swears by them for all things baking and chocolate. No matter what you’re making — banana bread, cookies, and beyond! — these are your new go-to.

10 / 13
Best Cocoa Powder

Guittard is where it’s at for baking with chocolate. When it’s a bittersweet, intense chocolate flavor you're after, look for the red canister pro pastry chefs go for. It’s intense, fudgy, and robust — in other words, perfection for your cakes and pastries. Guittard, from our research, also has a good track record of combating the child and slave labor that still plagues the chocolate industry.

11 / 13
Best Cinnamon
Burlap & Barrel

Intensely sweet and spicy, thanks to a harvesting technique that concentrates the tree’s essential oils, the heirloom cinnamon that Burlap & Barrel imports from the mountains around Hue in Vietnam will transform your cooking. Try it in tea or on granola — you won't be disappointed.

12 / 13
Best Frozen Cookies
Whole Foods Market

The cookie with the loyal following in New York can be yours without a trip to their bakery. "Levain sells a frozen version of their famed chocolate chip cookie, and it’s as good as it gets without waiting in line," says Hollis Miller, Email Manager. Just pop ‘em in the oven for the signature gooeyness!

13 / 13
Best Puff Pastry
Dufour Pastry Kitchens

All butter, all the time — that’s what we're talking about. Skip the frozen puff pastry options made with shortening, Jesse says, and reach for Dufour and its delicious buttery goodness. All the bakers on our staff are behind him on that.