People vary pretty widely in how they approach gift-giving. Some are happy to pop a gift card in the mail and call it good, while others spend months obsessively trying to find the perfect gift. Knowing that your recipient enjoys baking can help narrow things down, but there are thousands of baking-themed items you could give as gifts. Trying to make sense of it all can be intimidating (especially if you're not a baker yourself) but we're here to help with this handy gift guide. We've selected no fewer than 13 of the best gifts for the baker on your list, because—of course—that's a baker's dozen.
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What to Consider When Purchasing Gifts for Bakers
When there's a baker on your list, you'll never lack gift ideas. We're not going to address the kitschy stuff, like coffee mugs or novelty aprons with baking-themed slogans (though there's nothing wrong with those if you know your specific baker likes them). Instead, we'll focus on functional gifts. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider your options.
Their Level of Expertise: Some gifts are appropriate for complete novices, like a full set of basic bakeware. Others, like advanced cake decorating tools, are more appropriate for skilled bakers. Usually, you'd try to make a point of picking something that's suited to your recipient's current skill level, but there's an important exception. If you know they're trying to acquire a new skill set (a novice who's tackling cake decorating in a serious way, perhaps) then gifting some appropriate tools would be entirely appropriate.
Your Budget: You may really appreciate that coworker who regularly brings cookies, but you probably won't gift them with a KitchenAid stand mixer. Don't worry, there are appropriate and thoughtful gifts for bakers of all skill levels, and we've covered a good range in our list.
Your Buying Strategy: There are different strategies you can follow when choosing a gift for a baker. One is to provide them with upgrades to the workhorse bakeware that's always in use; things like their sheet pans and cake pans. Another is kitchen gadgets they may not know about, or wouldn't splurge on for themselves. Either way, look for items that either have lots of good reviews on retailers' sites or that have been specifically recommended by experts you trust.
A Danish Dough Whisk
Sofease Original Danish Dough Whisk
This is simply the best tool for hand-mixing doughs and batters. Whether your baker is making bread or muffins, or stirring the chocolate chips into a batch of cookie dough, this popular European-style implement makes it easier. There are dozens of brands available, but this one from Sofease has a longer, thicker, sturdier handle than most and its coils are made of heavy-duty stainless steel. It also includes a bonus plastic scraper, for getting that last bit of dough from the mixing bowl. It's good enough that their stand mixer might gather dust.
A Round Silpat for Cake Pans
Silpat Round Cake Pan Liner, 8-inch
Nonstick cake pans are a mixed blessing. They make it easier to get your cakes out reliably, but some cakes need to cling to the sides of your pan to rise properly. Bakers can cut parchment paper rounds to fit the bottom of the pan (or buy them ready-made), but the ultimate solution for the baker on your list is a round Silpat mat. The reusable silicone pad is food-safe, pro-kitchen durable, and it's dishwasher-safe, which means no paper waste. That's a solid win. The one we've chosen is the 8-inch, but there's a 9-inch if that's what your baker uses more (or you could just buy both).
A Really Good Kitchen Scale
OXO Good Grips 11-Pound Stainless Steel Scale
Professionals measure their ingredients by weight, not cups, because it means more consistent results. Home bakers, especially those who struggle with inconsistency, can learn from their example. Flour is a baker's main ingredient, and a cup of flour can vary by up to 50% depending on who's doing the scooping. If you use a scale, an ounce is always an ounce. It may mean finding some new recipes, but it makes a world of difference. This model from OXO was a runner-up in our list of the best kitchen scales, but it's ideal for bakers. You can put a really big mixing bowl on it, but the pull-out display means you'll always be able to see what it weighs. Our top pick from Escali is no slouch either, and it's cheaper, but it lacks that killer feature.
Neilsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste w. Gift Box
The best recipe, and the most skillful baker, can still be undone by mediocre ingredients. Upgrading your baker from plain ol' vanilla extract to this premium paste from Nielsen-Massey will be an eye-opener. The paste is made of whole vanilla beans, so it gives you all of real vanilla's nuance (it's one of the most complex flavors on the planet) without having to buy, store and scrape the whole beans. It will make all of their baked goods taste better, with no added effort. While you're at it, premium cocoa powder is a sure-fire winner as well (their brownies will thank you).
A Selection of Dishers
Saebye Professional 18/8 Stainless Steel Disher Set
"Dishers" are scoops with a thumb lever to help the food release. You've probably seen them used for ice cream, but they're also how pro bakers can fill a sheet with cookies, or a pan with muffins, so quickly. Every scoop is the same size, so it's easy to portion your dough or batter evenly (this fits squarely in the "gadgets they wouldn't think of" category). This set of three would be useful for different-sized cookies, or muffins and mini-muffins, aside from any other culinary uses. If you're looking for something more extravagant, there's also a 9-piece set from Tiger Chef. They're a great gift, especially for someone who bakes in large batches.
Silicone Measuring Cups
OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Squeeze & Pour Measuring Cup Set
You can get measuring cups in every material from plastic to metal to glass, but these silicone measuring cups from OXO are especially cool for bakers (and were featured in our roundup of the best measuring cups). The heatproof silicone makes them perfect for melting butter or scalding milk, but their honeycomb grip means you won't burn yourself on them. You can also squeeze them to get out that last bit of peanut butter or corn syrup, which is pretty useful.
Cake Pan Strips
Wilton Bake-Even Cake Strips, 2-Count
Cakes tend to bake unevenly, with the sides setting well before the middle is done. That robs your cakes of some height and causes them to rise up to a dome in the middle. You can get a cake leveler to remove the dome if you want (they're also helpful for splitting your cake into layers) but it's even better to prevent doming in the first place. You can do that by wrapping the cake pan with Wilton's Bake-Even insulating strips. Just moisten them and wring them out, then wrap them around the cake pan. They'll keep the sides cool, so the cake bakes evenly and stays mostly flat.
An Accurate Oven Thermometer
ThermoWorks Square Dot Digital Thermometer
It's common to hear bakers grumble that their oven "runs hot" or "runs cold." What they're actually saying is that their oven's temperature is off. Knowing how much it's off, and being able to set an accurate temperature, is a game changer. That's where the ThermoWorks Square Dot comes in. Thermoworks makes outstanding thermometers (they dominated our best meat thermometers and best candy thermometers reviews), and this one is ideal for your favorite baker. It comes with two probes: One's the normal kind you'd use in a turkey or a roast, but the other is an air-temperature probe. Connect that to the DOT, clip it to a rack in the middle of the oven, and you're good to go. Better yet—because oven temperatures go up and down in normal use—the DOT's algorithm keeps a running 15-minute average of the temperature in the oven. It's more money than a basic model, but it's also a lot more accurate (and no squinting through the oven window to see the temperature).
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half-Sheet, 2-Count
Commercial bakers love plain aluminum pans, which conduct heat beautifully and provide even, consistent results. These Nordic Ware sheets are the home baker's equivalent of the ones you'll find in your local bakery, and they were the top pick in our round-up of the best baking sheets. Similarly, you can't go wrong with Fat Daddio's commercial-grade cake pans, USA Pan's durable loaf pans for the bread baker on your list, or Ateco's stainless steel cookie cutters. These baking pans and tools (or their industry equivalent) are the workhorses that commercial baking relies on, and they'll do just as well for a home-baking enthusiast.
A Pastry-Rolling Mat
OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Mat
A silicone mat is a really thoughtful gift for the aspiring pastry chef on your list. The nonstick surface means they won't need to dust the work surface with nearly as much flour when kneading bread or rolling out pie crust (they'll still need a bit for the rolling pin), which can make all the difference in the world with delicate doughs. This one comes complete with markings to help them roll out and trim their dough to the correct size for a given pie plate, and is also printed with a range of handy conversions and substitutions. The mat is dishwasher-safe and oven-safe as well, though you'll need an oversized oven to fit it.
Expandable or Stackable Cooling Racks
Wilton Expand & Fold Nonstick Cooling Rack
If you want a baking gift that will work for anyone at any skill level, this could be it. Most bakers alternate between small and large batches, so making it easy to expand their cooling capacity is a definite win. This one from Wilton can be used folded, at 14 by 16 inches, or opened up to a maximum of 32 inches wide. For bakers with limited counter space, a better option is to go vertically. PP Chef makes a 5-tier set of stackable cooling racks in stainless steel, perfect for bakers who need to cool a big batch but still keep some counter space for prep. Whether you expand outwards or upwards, either way you get more convenience.
A Really Nice Apron
Five Two Ultimate Apron
One hazard of baking frequently is that your clothes will tend to attract lots of flour, fat and other spills. Protecting them (and you) from the spills and spatters requires an apron, and if you're buying a gift for your favorite baker, why not make it a good one? The "Ultimate Apron" from Five Two was designed in collaboration with the site's users, and it's perfect for bakers. It's made of high-quality cotton twill, with extra-wide big and extra-long ties so it's suitable for all body types. It comes with a comfortable neck strap, a conversion chart in the pocket, and built-in pot holders in the bottom corners (no oven mitts needed).
A Workhorse Stand Mixer
KitchenAid 6-Quart Professional 600 Series Lift-Bowl Mixer
OK, this is the ultimate love-you-forever gift for any baker. There are good mixers out there from other brands, including Cuisinart and Breville, but KitchenAid is still the brand to beat (and there are so many accessories for it, from KitchenAid and third-party brands). They make a lot of different mixers, but this one is a workhorse that any baking enthusiast would love. Also, it includes a spiral dough hook, like the ones on commercial mixers, rather than the C-shaped dough hook you'll find on the tilt-head models. That makes it suitable for mixing a decent batch of bread and means your baker won't need a space-hogging, single-purpose bread maker anymore. Oh, and it comes in 19 (!) colors to match any personality or decor.