I Spent $5 on This Versatile Tool Almost a Decade Ago — I Never Bake Without It

published Jun 8, 2023
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Organized kitchen drawer that full of tools like juicer, measuring cups, can opener, etc
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I grew up in a household that mostly ate microwave dinners, so when I learned to cook and bake in college almost two decades ago, I came to the task with almost no experience. I read recipes like an elementary school how-to paper, doing every single step exactly as written. When I came across a recipe that called for a pastry brush, I added it to my shopping list and picked one up at the grocery store. While the recipe told me what to do with the brush, it didn’t prepare me for cleaning it, which was a nightmare. Hand-washing gloopy eggs off bristles was a beast. Melted butter was even worse. 

I was also unprepared for shedding bristles, which are the worst! My roommate and I initially couldn’t figure out why there were loose straws on our scones, but then realized (thanks, Google) that it was time to replace our brush. Surely there had to be a better way.

Enter: silicone pastry brushes. For under $5, I bought a four-pack of these bright, dishwasher-safe beauties. I researched that they were inferior to the nylon and boar bristle brushes that the pros use, but those are much higher maintenance than I have time for, and the price was right for risk-taking.

Credit: Meg Asby

Almost a decade later, and I’m still dipping these inexpensive silicone brushes into butter, oil, marinades, and more to top everything from salmon fillets to croissants. My silicone brushes work just fine! Yes, it would be slightly easier to coat pastry with a traditional bristle brush, but it would also be infinitely harder to clean. The brush head can be separated from the handle, and both pieces can be tossed into the dishwasher. I’d rather spend extra seconds brushing with silicone than many frustrating minutes dealing with and replacing the “better” tool. 

As far as kitchen essentials go, this $5 tool has more than paid for itself. The four-pack comes in handy to keep cross-contamination at bay — you can use a certain color to baste meat while it’s on the grill, and another to do an egg wash on bakes. When my daughter was a toddler, she loved using the pink brush to “paint” pans with olive oil while I chopped vegetables. Now a tween, she uses the same brush for her own bakes. I haven’t had to replace even one of the original four! 

If you’re ready for crispy pastries or wildly flavorful dishes without loose bristles ever again, I can’t recommend these silicone brushes enough — seriously, no one will know you didn’t use the fancy ones.