There are plenty of baking tools that I'm happy to not spend money on. Keep your fancy pie beads — I've got dried beans! And I've gotten by just fine without a French rolling pin; I have a regular one, thank you very much.
That said, there is one exception to my scrappy home baker setup: my silicone baking mats. Yes, parchment paper can do many of the things that these mats can do, and they won't replace parchment paper entirely, but they're worth the money — and the little bit of space they take up in your cabinets.
Here's why I think every home baker needs at least one silicone baking mat in their kitchen.
But First, What Is a Silicone Baking Mat?
Silpats are probably the most well-known brand, and many people use the word generically (like Kleenex). Designed to create an even, nonstick surface on standard baking sheets, silicone baking mats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. You just put the mat on your sheet, add your cooke dough balls, and bake like usual without having to worry that your cookies will stick to the pan or have burnt bottoms.
Although they can withstand heats up to 475°F in the oven, these mats last longer if hand-washed. One more crucial tip: Avoid cutting directly on the mat, as that will destroy the nonstick surface.
5 Reasons You Need a Silicone Baking Mat
1. Baking mats can be reused over and over again.
A silicone baking mat can see more than 2,000 uses in the oven before it starts to show signs of age. Even the best, most high-quality parchment paper can only be reused about four times before it becomes soiled, greasy, or too crumbled to bake on.
2. They can do almost anything parchment can.
In addition to cookie work, baking mats can line baking sheets for freezing stuff (everything from fruit to cookie dough), roasting vegetables, and rolling out pie dough — just like parchment paper.
3. They'll improve your cookies.
Got a terribly old baking sheet? A silicone baking mat helps create a more even baking surface on even the worst baking sheets, resulting in cookies with more evenly browned bottoms — and fewer burnt cookies.
4. They'll keep your workstation neat.
I love using my silicone baking mat to keep my counter clean when I knead biscuit dough on Sunday mornings. Baking mats can also withstand the heat and tacky qualities of candy making, while also distributing the heat of caramels and taffies a bit so they can cool more quickly.
5. Some provide helpful guidelines.
Many silicone baking mats are also printed with measure markings or templates that can help you evenly distribute cookie dough or roll out pie dough — something no parchment paper piece can claim.
3 Baking Mats We Love
Do you have a baking mat? Which one? And do you love it as much as I love mine?