Use this list of baking pantry staples. When you bake from scratch, you can bake palm oil free because you choose what ingredients to use. And when you have baking staples on hand, it’s easy to whip something up when the mood strikes. You’ll be less apt to buy premade desserts, bakery, and specialty breads from the grocery store.
Most premade baked items contain palm oil in some form. Companies use palm oil in desserts, breads, cookies, dough, crusts, and more for some of these reasons:
- Helps extend the shelf life
- Creates desirable mouth feel
- Mimics more expensive ingredients
- Remains solid at room temperature
- Helps bind ingredients
- It’s cheap
So much of deciding what to bake has to do with the ingredients you have on hand already. Running out of the store is a pain and may reduce your desire to bake.
Below I list baking staples to have a prepared pantry. You don’t need every single one of these ingredients in your pantry at all times. Choose the ingredients that are common in the things you like to bake. Keep them together in a container in your cabinet so they are easy to access. You will save time from hunting around for specific ingredients. I use two dishpans to keep mine together.
Having the basics like flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, etc. make it easy to bake from scratch when the mood strikes. These are all helpful when making savory or sweet baked goods such as desserts, breads, pizza dough, pie crust, holiday favorites, and more.
Baking Pantry Staples
Table of Contents
Shelf-Stable Baking Staples
- Serves as the structure for most baked goods
- Use to make: Bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, pizza dough, pancakes, waffles, etc.
- Sweetens and adds moisture to baked goods
- Use it to make baked goods sweeter: Cookies, muffins, cakes, cobbler, candied nuts, etc.
Powdered Sugar aka Confectioners Sugar
- Gives consistency to icing, frosting, whipped cream
- Can also use it to dust on finished baked goods (sprinkling on pancakes pizzelles, kolackys, and waffles).
Light or Dark Brown Sugar
- Adds sweetness, moisture, and a hint of caramel flavor. Be sure to wrap it tightly so it doesn’t dry out.
- Use brown sugar in cookies, gingerbread, brownies, caramels, zucchini bread, and more.
- Acts as a leavening agent when combined with an acidic ingredient
- Use it to make cookies, muffins, pancakes, some types of cakes.
- A leavening agent that helps baked goods rise
- Used to make old fashioned peach cobbler, biscuits, cakes, quick breads, and more
- Helps dough rise in yeast-leavened recipes.
- Recipes: Yeast breads, chocolate chip waffles, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts
Cacao Power, Cocoa Powder
- Make any dessert “chocolate” with cocoa powder and sugar.
- Make chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate frosting, chocolate mousse, smoothies, milkshakes, and more.
- Enhances flavor and can also strengthen gluten structures in some baked goods.
- Often can omit in recipes if using salted butter.
- Salt is used in many recipes for desserts and breads.
Pure Vanilla Extract
- Choose pure extracts, not imitation which may contain palm oil derivatives.
- Used to provide subtle vanilla flavor in many sweet bakery items.
- Make vanilla frosting, homemade whipped cream; etc.
- Use as a natural sweetener; can replace sugar in some recipes
- Use in date bars, granola, granola bars, muffins, and more
Real Maple Syrup
- Use as a natural sweetener.
- Be sure to choose real maple syrup, not pancake syrup which contains many chemicals and often contains palm oil derivatives.
- Often interchangeable with honey; depends on the taste you want
- Use in homemade granola, date bars, muffins, etc.
- Combine with whole milk to make buttermilk
- Use in recipes that require buttermilk.
- Can use in muffins, pancakes, and more
- Used to thicken custards and some types of dough
- Uses: Custard, shortbread cookies, pie fillings
- Adds moisture to cakes and breads.
- Consider stocking avocado oil in your pantry because it’s tasteless in baked goods.
- Olive oil is useful to make savory baked goods.
- Recipes: Carrot cake, muffins, quick breads, etc.
Real Chocolate (bars, chips, or chunks)
- Adds chocolate flavor and sweetness.
- Avoid: Almond bark; labels that describe product as “chocolately” or chocolate-flavored; these contain palm oil
- Use in: Small batch chocolate chip cookies, waffles, brownies, chocolate cake, mini chocolate chip muffins,, etc.
- Adds texture and can act as a base for some recipes.
- Gives cookies, breads, and bars a hearty, chewy texture.
- While oats are naturally gluten free, choose certified gluten free oats if you avoid for an allergy as oats are processed in plants that handle wheat.
- Use in: Oatmeal cookies, granola bars, granola from scratch, oat bread, apple crisp topping, etc.
One of my new favorite baking pantry staples is quinoa. I have been buying puffed quinoa or quinoa flakes. I use them to make quinoa date bars. Sometimes I make date bars using a combination of oats and puffed quinoa and/or flakes.
Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Rosemary, Chili Powder, etc.)
- Spices add flavor
- Recipes: Gingerbread, air fry cinnamon rolls, apple pie, monkey bread, granola, donut cake, garlic bread, focaccia, rosemary orange muffins, etc.
Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
- Nuts add protein, texture, flavor, and crunch.
- Use in lots of recipes including muffins, cookies, banana bread, nut bread, pancakes, pie, cakes, and more.
Dried Fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.)
- Adds sweetness and texture; used to enhance recipes
- Use to make fruitcake, oatmeal cookies, scones, add-ins for granola, bars, muffins, pancakes, waffles, breads, etc.
- Adds sweetness; binds ingredients together
- Use to make date bars, vegan bars, add to muffins, etc.
- Learn about baking with dates
Coconut (shredded or flaked)
- Provides texture and tropical flavor
- Avoid sweetened coconut which usually contains Propylene Glycol which is made from palm oil.
- Use to make coconut macaroons, coconut cake, German chocolate cake frosting, coconut bread.
- Use: Adds rich, nutty flavor.
- Be sure to choose peanut butter with only peanuts and salt; see list of palm oil free peanut butter
- Recipes: Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter 3 ingredient cookies, brownies, peanut butter blossoms, and more. Learn how to make peanut nutter in 5 minutes.
Bread Flour (If you want to bake bread)
- Higher protein content helps form more gluten, giving breads their chewy texture
- Make yeast breads, bagels, pizza dough, etc.
- Provides moisture and flavor to fall-themed baked goods
- Uses: Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin nut waffles, etc.
- Thick, sweet, and slightly bitter syrup that adds a robust flavor.
- Use to make gingerbread, molasses cookies, certain types of pies
Refrigerated / Perishable Baking Staples
Unsalted Butter and Salted Butter
- Adds richness, moisture, and helps with leavening
- Usually when you use salted butter, you can omit the salt in the recipe.
- Used to bake cakes, cookies, pastry, frosting, etc.
- Provides structure, leavening, and flavor
- Egg yolks add richness; egg whites can provide lift.
- Choose organic eggs when possible.
- Used in almost all baking recipes
- Adds moisture; can help with browning and flavor
- Note: Read ingredients. Choose whole milk to avoid Vitamin A Palmitate which is added to fortify other milks, including plant-based milks.
- Use in cakes, breads, pastries, waffles, etc.
- Adds a fresh citrus flavor.
- Lemon bars, crispy lemon cookies, citrus cakes, key lime pies, etc.
- Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are nice to have to top baked goods.
- Use to fill pies, and to top pancakes, waffles, cakes, tarts, etc.
Nice to Have But I Usually Have to Buy Special
- Used for creamy fillings, icings, and adds richness
- Cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, filled pastries
- Adds richness and tenderness to baked goods
- Coffee cake, sour cream cookies
Canned Coconut Milk
- Used for tropical-themed desserts and as a dairy-free alternative
- Use to bake coconut cake, dairy-free ice cream, vegan desserts
List of Baking Pantry Staples that Often Contain Palm Oil
Be sure to avoid these ingredients common in baking. Read labels before buying any of these ingredients.
- Imitation vanilla
- Vanilla flavor
- Food coloring and food dyes — Even when say “natural”
- Almond bark, melting wafers, vanilla candy coating
- White baking chips
- Peanut butter unless it’s just peanuts or peanuts and salt
- Sweetened coconut if it contains Propylene Glycol
- Canned frosting — Do not buy! It always contains palm oil.
- Pancake syrup
- Sprinkles, jimmies, other decorations to top cakes, cupcakes, etc.
- Milk — Dairy milk contains palm oil unless it’s whole milk or organic whole milk. It’s in the form of Vitamin A Palmitate which is added to fortify milk.
- Nut milk and plant milk — Palm oil is in Vitamin A Palmitate and mono- & diglycerides.
If you are vegan, check out this list of vegan pantry staples. They are also palm oil free.
Having Baking Pantry Staples on Hand
If you’ve been following my blog, you may know my son gets sick from palm oil. There are also the environmental concerns with palm oil. For these reasons, my family avoids palm oil.
I used to buy premade everything. I bought cookies, sweet breads, muffins in containers, colorful cakes and more from my local grocery store. “Baked from scratch” to me meant using a box mix and canned frosting or baking frozen cookie dough.
Please think about a few things you would like to bake from scratch. Take stock of what ingredients you already have, what may be old and you need to replace, and what you need to buy. Make a list of ingredients to start creating a prepared pantry. In addition to avoiding palm oil, there are many reasons to bake from scratch.
Learn about Ingredients in canned frosting
Featured image credit: Erin Waynick, Unsplash