The $20 Baking Essential That Keeps Messes Off Your Counters

published May 17, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Woman kneading dough in kitchen
Credit: Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

For a long time, even though I’m an avid home baker, I was apprehensive about bakes that required surface work for kneading and rolling, like morning rolls or bread. That felt like a lot of work — and a lot to clean up. And you know what? It was, and it was not fun. As a result, I would tend to avoid baking things that involved surface work — which also meant that I’d miss out on a lot of delicious bakes. 

When I was growing up, I’d always watch my mom bake, whether it was cookies for the Super Bowl, Hamantaschen for Purim, or a cake for my birthday. And there was this one tool she had that I thought was so cool: a large plastic baking mat. It functioned as a work surface to roll and cut out dough, and to avoid cleaning sticky, caked-on flour off your kitchen counter. 

Credit: Andrea Kaufman

Now, as is in my nature, I had a few non-negotiables when it came to finding the perfect pastry mat.

  1. I didn’t want a plastic one like my mom had because the mat was hard to lay flat after it had been rolled up for storage, and I didn’t feel like fighting a parallel battle of trying to get a fitted sheet onto a mattress. Also, that thing moved around like it had a mind of its own. 
  2. I wanted a large mat with enough room to roll out dough for my favorite weekend bake: mocha morning rolls. Having one that big meant it wasn’t going to be able to go from the kitchen counter to the sink easily, but that’s not something I required or needed. 
  3. I wanted — no, needed — a mat with measurements. As someone with no depth perception, I have no idea how big a 15×22-inch rectangle is. Like, at all. My mom’s mat had ruler measurements along the border and circumference measurements in the center, and I wanted that too — I didn’t want to put a measuring tape that I’d just used against my dusty baseboards near my food. 

What’s So Great About the Tovolo Nonstick Silicone Perfect Measurements Pastry Mat?

I landed on this Tovolo pastry mat and, let me tell you, I love this thing. It’s a flexible silicone mat so the material is safe, easy to clean, and, very importantly, sits flat and stays in place on my counter. When you’ve spent time on your lovely, yeasty, temperamental dough, you don’t want to worry about the mat going flying and disasters ensuing if you accidentally knock into it. 

Credit: Andrea Kaufman

I love everything about this mat, but especially the ruler guides along the border and circumference guides in the center — just like the ones on my mom’s mat. Now, when I have to roll out a rectangle of dough (or at least something that resembles a rectangle), I know roughly how big to make it so I can get a more consistent (and better looking!) bake. If you’re making anything that needs to be cut into pieces, the ruler borders are also helpful because you can figure out where to score or cut instead of having to do the guesswork. Plus, it features metric conversions for volume, temperature, weight, and dimensions so you don’t have to do baking math on the fly.

Credit: Andrea Kaufman

Is It Easy to Clean? 

After I made my mocha morning rolls, cleaning up was so easy. I just picked up the Tovolo mat, rolled up the sides carefully, and dumped the residual flour into the kitchen trash can behind me. My counter had a very fine dusting of flour where the mat was previously because flour likes to fly, but other than that, I didn’t have to worry about scrubbing caked-on flour spots or picking random pieces of dough off my countertops. Even though my mat is a bit bigger than my sink, I just washed it in sections to minimize splashing and it barely required any scrubbing. Finding a place to dry the mat took a few minutes of thought, but I eventually hung it over my oven door handle to air dry while my rolls were baking. It was dry before I ever needed to open the door. 

Credit: Andrea Kaufman

The Tovolo pastry mat has made baking so much easier for me, eliminating the cleanup after working with dough, and providing a convenient and dedicated work surface. It’s a simple, underrated, and inexpensive tool that really can make a big difference — and counting the number of bakes I’ve made already with the mat, it’s also given me the confidence to tackle more difficult bakes, just like the ones my mom has perfected.