Spatulas are needed to mix ingredients together and are oh-so-handy for scraping the dough or batter out of a mixing bowl.
I prefer silicone spatulas because they withstand heat (you can rest them on a hot pan or pot and not worry about them melting) and because they have some give and can get around curves and corners of pans.
Silicone spatulas are not all the same. Some are rigid while others are more floppy. I prefer the rigid kind that have a large surface area and a little curve to them.
So many recipes call for using a whisk. You'll need it to fully mix dry ingredients or to aerate eggs. I find metal whisks work much better than silicone ones. Other than that, find one that is comfortable in your hand. I keep a small whisk around for little jobs like whisking one egg white, but you can easily get by with a single mid-sized whisk.
You can never have too many mixing bowls. I recommend getting one nesting set with every size you might possibly need. It doesn't really matter if the bowls are glass, plastic, or metal - just get what you like.
Accurately measuring ingredients is one of the most important parts of baking. Get the measurements wrong and your treats won't ever turn out correctly.
You'll need these tools to be able to measure your ingredients.
If you don't have a rolling pin, you can roll out dough with a wine bottle. But, having a rolling pin makes things way easier.
Look for the longest rolling pin that you can easily store. When you want to roll out a big piece of dough, a short rolling pin will make the job take much longer.
This Joseph Joseph rolling pin is one of my favorite rolling pins. The removable rings on the end let you roll dough to specific sizes so you don’t have to guess if the dough is 1/4″ thick – I love this feature.
As you get more serious with your baking, you'll want a kitchen scale. There are some ingredients that are impossible to measure in a measuring cup. For example, unless you are using chocolate chips or you are buying chocolate in pre-weighed blocks, you’ll need a scale to know how much chocolate to add to your chocolate cupcake recipe.
In many cases, I also give nut measurements in ounces because, depending on how finely you chop them, you could fit wildly different amounts into a cup.
Once you have a kitchen scale, you’ll find that you use it for all kinds of little tasks – even knowing how much postage to put on your mail.
Make sure that your scale has both ounces and grams and that it has a tare button (to zero out the weight of your bowl). Most every scale will have these features and you don’t need anything fancier than that.
You can cut cookie dough with the rims of glasses, but it's really helpful to have actual cookie cutters if you want your cookies to be a specific size. This is the set I reach for most often, but, of course, once you get into cookie baking, you'll want cutters in all different shapes and sizes!
If you plan to do any kind of cake or cupcake decorating, you'll need piping bags and tips. Get a starter kit and if you find that you are doing a lot of decorating, you can buy more tools down the road.
If you don't buy piping bags, you can do simple decorations by putting frosting in a sandwich bag and cutting the tip off of a corner of the bag.