12 Sourdough Tools You Need (to Bake Better Bread) in 2020

by leavenly
2 comments

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

For the beginner baker, shopping for sourdough kitchen tools can be intimidating. I can remember starting my own sourdough journey, and not really knowing what kitchen tools I needed and didn’t need. 

In the beginning, I bought the least expensive tools and it turned out to be a poor decision for some things. For example, I started out using plastic proofing baskets lined with kitchen towels. Because I didn’t know any better, I used basic terrycloth towels which stuck to the dough like crazy. It definitely wasn’t the best decision, but I didn’t know any better at the time!

12 Sourdough Kitchen Tools You Need (to Bake Better Bread) in 2020

Because of that experience, I wanted to make it easier for beginner sourdough bakers to get started. I created a free resource, Sourdough Kitchen Tools: What’s Required and What’s Not, to demystify some of these kitchen tools and to help the beginner baker prioritize what’s really important with sourdough baking, and what can wait.

Click here to get your free PDF guide, Sourdough Kitchen Tools: What’s Required and What’s Not.

This sourdough tools roundup is also a result of that first experience of mine. I wasn’t sure if I could get away with an inexpensive digital thermometer, or if I really needed that fancy one. Ditto for bannetons. Ditto for digital kitchen scales.

I wish I had these resources when I was starting out!

When curating this list I collected three sourdough kitchen tools for each category, listed from most expensive to least. If I personally use that item in my own kitchen, I will honestly review the product. If I haven’t used it before, know that I’ve thoroughly vetted it via online reviews, and will include some of those in the descriptions.

Many items didn’t make the cut based on the reviews I read, and I read a lot of reviews. For example, I was looking at posting a $70 bread lame, but its reviews described it as a death trap when changing blades, and stated that we would almost certainly lose a finger when attempting to do so. Um, no thank you.

Plus, this list will be updated regularly with different items, new categories and up-to-date prices.

If you have a personal favorite sourdough kitchen tool that isn’t listed here, please let us all know about it in the comments! I’m a firm believer in word-of-mouth recommendations, and any kind of guidance for the beginner baker is tremendously helpful.

Description of icons/categories

For each category of sourdough kitchen tools below, there will be three options, listed from most expensive ($$$) to least expensive ($) – except the Cooking Vessels category has four options because there is a wide range of price points. For most of these items I’ve noticed that the prices change weekly, so this rating system is helpful.

Each product has its current price listed (at the time of publishing, but these change often), a photo, and either a personal review from me or the most relevant online review that I could find, plus lots of information on each item.

Each category represents a piece of kitchen equipment that is either necessary or will help you tremendously when baking sourdough bread. Each baker has their own preference for which sourdough kitchen tools they use; some use many and some use few. For example, some bakers don’t use parchment paper at all, opting instead to bake their bread directly on their cooking vessel.

I hope this list is helpful and let’s keep this conversation going! Comment below to let readers know what tools you love to use when baking sourdough bread.

12 Sourdough Kitchen Tools You Need (to Bake Better Bread) in 2020

Table of Contents:

  1. Cooking Vessels
  2. Aprons
  3. Bowls
  4. Bench Knives
  5. Digital Kitchen Scales
  6. Digital Thermometers
  7. Bread Knives
  8. Cooling Racks
  9. Parchment Paper
  10. Jars
  11. Proofing Baskets and Bannetons
  12. Bread Lames

Cooking Vessels

$$$$: Le Creuset 5 1/2-Quart Dutch Oven ($360)

Round Dutch Oven image number 0

Everyone knows the Le Creuset name, and for good reason. They’re masters at enameling, which means you won’t be dealing with those frustrating cheaper enamel-coated pans that can chip easily. Their Dutch ovens are oven safe at any temperature, but make sure you get one with a stainless knob, or buy a replacement stainless knob if the color you love comes with the plastic knob. Le Creuset says the plastic knob is safe to 500°F, but I’ve read some stories that said otherwise.

That said, it’s really great for baking bread and many reviewers said it’s their favorite way to make bread. One review said: “We usually use this to make artisan breads. It heats evenly and has no issues with a 450 degree oven which the breads require.”

These beautiful baking vessels are made in France, have a lifetime warranty, are dishwasher safe (bonus!), and can be used on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill. Plus, they have 19 beautiful colors to choose from!

$$$: The Challenger Bread Pan ($295)

Where do I even begin? This beauty was custom designed for bread bakers by Jim Challenger. A home baker himself, Jim grew frustrated with the lack of options for bread baking pans. With the help of baker friends, he made his bread pan with specific adaptations like a sloped lid that keeps the heat close to the loaf as it bakes, a spacious interior that can bake large boules, batards and demi-baguettes, and handles on the top of the lid for easy removal.

In essence, the Challenger Bread Pan was designed specifically for baking amazing homemade bread.

Esthetically, it’s a beautiful pan. It bears the Challenger Breadware logo of a stalk of wheat, and just begs you to cook with it. I love my Challenger Bread Pan, and it’s all I use now when baking sourdough bread at home. If you can afford it, this is an amazing sourdough kitchen tool.

The Challenger Bread Pan is the bread pan for bread bakers. Check out my full-length review of the Challenger Bread Pan here.

$$: Anolon Vesta 5-Quart Dutch Oven ($100)

This Dutch oven is such good value that I couldn’t leave it off the list. The Anolon Vesta is a cast-iron Dutch oven with an enamel finish, making it beautiful to look at as well as highly functional. It’s safe up to 500°F and has no plastic parts. One review of the Anaolon Vesta Dutch oven said “I love the lid handle, it is much easier to use than a knob (especially while using potholders)!” It even comes with a lifetime warranty. What’s not to love?

If you’re wanting a Le Creuset-type vessel but don’t have the cash, this is a great secondary option.

$: Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker ($62)

At the time of writing this, the Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker has a 4.7 star rating based on 4,800 reviews. This multi-purpose pan is the perfect starting point for getting into sourdough baking. I bought one in February 2017, and though I now use the Challenger Bread Pan for my sourdough, the Lodge Combo Cooker is still a solid workhorse in my kitchen. I use it to fry fish, sear meats, saute veggies… It’s endlessly helpful in the kitchen.

This bad boy is basically two pans in one that connect with a tight seal to create a Dutch oven. The design is genius, and it’s fantastic for baking sourdough in. Constructed in the USA solely from cast iron, the Lodge Combo Cooker is oven safe and can even be used outdoors. You will not regret buying this versatile kitchen tool!


Aprons

$$$: The Challenger Crossback Apron ($120)

Renowned creators of high quality kitchen workwear, Hedley & Bennett partnered with Challener Breadware to make a custom denim apron specifically for bread bakers. The cross back style ensures the straps don’t budge when working in the kitchen, and don’t place any pressure on your neck. Comfort and function is the name of the game with the The Challenger Crossback Apron, and its two large pockets plus chest pocket can store all kinds of kitchen tools and recipes. Made in USA!

$$: Hedley & Bennett Pho Classic Apron ($79)

Hedley & Bennett make the list twice! This cult favorite, the Pho Classic Apron, is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. Reviewers say it’s extremely functional while being barely noticeable. Truly a unisex fit, one reviewer noted: “My wife and I both use this, and fits us both well.” Other reviewers said it washes well, has some stretch, and fits practically anyone.

This one is going on my Christmas list! 🤞

$: Syntus Adjustable Bib Apron 2-pack ($14)

Yes, you read that right: You get two aprons for less than $15! These basic aprons are a great starting point for any home baker. They have two hip pockets, and a fully adjustable neck strap. They come in cotton, polyester or thick polyester, and they’re the #1 Best Seller on Amazon in aprons! They’re water resistant, and have nearly 5,000 reviews. 

These Syntus Adjustable Bib Aprons seem to be perfect for those just starting out, those on a budget, those running bakeries and requiring more than one, those baking at home, and pretty much everyone in between!


Bowls

$$$: Vollrath Heavy Duty Mixing Bowl ($139)

This stainless giant clocks in at 8.5 pounds, which is precisely what’s required when making sourdough. Coil folds require two hands, and most stainless mixing bowls weigh mere ounces. This means they lift off the counter, making coil folds impossible unless you have someone helping, or three hands.

I myself cannot do coil folds in my mixing bowl, so the Vollrath Heavy Duty Mixing Bowl is going on my Christmas list alongside the Hedley & Bennett apron. I can’t even imagine how helpful this heavy bowl would be. One reviewer said this: “I use this bowl to mix 8-12 loaves of bread dough and it works just like I hoped it would. If you want to make a lot of bread by hand, this is your dream bowl.”

Consider me convinced.

$$: Cornishware Blue and White Stripe Stoneware Mixing Bowl ($70)

If stainless bowls just aren’t your style, feast your eyes on this beauty. This stoneware mixing bowl is big, deep, and solid. It weighs 3 pounds, so is 5 pounds lighter than the Vollrath (above), but is considerably heavier than the half-pound ExcelSteel bowl (below).

If you’re going to want to do coil folds (as many sourdough bakers do), weight of the bowl matters. The bowl must be heavy enough to stay on the counter as you pull the dough up and out of it.

Plus, the Cornishware Stoneware Mixing Bowl is adorbs and would look great in any kitchen. A great gift idea, too!

$: ExcelSteel 6-Quart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl ($16)

If you’re looking for a highly functional mixing bowl that won’t break the bank, this is it. I purchased this very bowl back in 2017 and it’s still the bowl I use to this day when I mix my sourdough.

Is it the best? No. It barely weighs over half a pound, so I can’t coil fold unless my husband holds the bowl down. Is it worth buying? Yes, especially if you’re new and just checking out the sourdough baking scene. 

One thing I love about the ExcelSteel Mixing Bowl (besides the price) is how wide and shallow it is. It makes folding a breeze, and it’s easy to see how fermentation is going when it’s spread out as opposed to in a deep bowl. I may upgrade some day, but for now, this workhorse will keep its place in my kitchen!


Bench Knives (aka Dough Knives, Bench Scrapers, Dough Scrapers)

$$$: The Challenger Bench Knife ($75) 

If you’re seeking an heirloom piece, you’re in luck. The Challenger Bench Knife is made from sustainably harvested spalted Live Oak and stainless steel. Larger than most bench knives out there, the Challenger Bench Knife makes cutting and shaping dough a breeze. 

This is also a great gift idea, as many bakers wouldn’t buy themselves such a beautiful sourdough kitchen tool. Perfect for any sourdough baker!

$$: Bleteleh Extra Wide Stainless Bench Scraper ($23)

With a 4.8 star rating, this bench knife has a big reputation. It’s wider than most bench knives, coming in at 10” (versus the traditional 6”). As such, it’s more multi-purpose: use it for scraping your work surface clean after baking, or even for icing cakes.

Many reviewers rave about the sturdiness of the Bleteleh Bench Scraper, but this review was my favorite: “If you bake a lot of bread, you need this blade. It is sharp, cuts through dough easily and handles large batches without the cut dough crawling back together while you cut the rest, unlike one of those wimpy 6″ blades.” 😂

Plus, when you’re done you can just toss it in the dishwasher. Easy peasy.

$: Winware Stainless Steel Dough Scraper with Wood Handle ($8)

This $8 beauty has everything you need with no bells and whistles. It’s dishwasher safe, even with its wooden handle, and it has a 4.7 star rating on Amazon with over 1,200 reviews.

While the reviews attest to the usefulness of this bench knife, I wouldn’t expect it to last forever. That said, it’s inexpensive and a great starting point for a beginner baker.


Digital Kitchen Scales

$$$: ZIEIS High Precision Digital Kitchen Scale ($95)

A digital kitchen scale is an absolute must when shopping for your sourdough kitchen tools. For more information on what’s required and what’s not, check out my helpful guide here! This digital kitchen scale has everything you need, with no unnecessary bells and whistles. You can use batteries or plug into a wall outlet, whichever works best for you.

Like most digital kitchen scales, the ZIEIS Kitchen Scale measures in kg, g, lb or oz, but reviewers loved its precision, specifically its 1/10th of a gram accuracy.

If you’re looking to upgrade your scale or are seeking something a little more precise, this scale is for you!

$$: OXO Good Grips Food Scale with Pull-Out Display ($50)

It may seem like an extravagance, but I can imagine how handy the pull-out display would be on this kitchen scale. The mixing bowl I use is so wide that this feature would surely come in handy!

With a 4.7 star rating and over 2,000 reviews, this is a sure shot for the experienced or beginner baker. 

$: Etekcity Stainless Digital Food Scale ($19)

I use this exact scale and it’s great. I’ve had it for three years now and it still works as it should. I bought it because it was inexpensive and I was just starting out, so it’s perfect for beginner bakers.

Its small profile allows me to store it vertically beside my dinner plates, which is a huge plus when you don’t have a whole lot of kitchen space. The Etekcity Digital Scale is precise enough for sourdough baking and has a staggering 20,000 Amazon reviews!


Digital Thermometers

$$$: Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Digital Thermometer ($55)

If you’re looking to up your thermometer game, this is it. It comes in seven different colors, its display flips automatically if you’re using it right or left handed, it’s super accurate, incredibly fast, and turns on when picked up. Who knew a digital thermometer could have so many features?

One reviewer says, “This is an expensive thermometer, but worth it for the reliability and solid craftsmanship.” 

$$: ThermoPro Digital Instant Read Thermometer ($30)

This is the thermometer I personally use, for bread baking and general cooking. For sourdough specifically, a thermometer is useful for measuring the water temperature to ensure the dough will be at an ideal temperature during fermentation. It can also be used to check doneness of the bread. I love the ThermoPro Digital Instant Read Thermometer because it folds up, is fast, and is easy to read. It also has magnets, so I can store it on the fridge, so I never lose it.

This is a great middle-of-the-road option; not too pricey but solidly made. I highly recommend this thermometer.

$: ThermoPro Long-Probe Instant Read Thermometer ($11)

For 11 bucks, you can’t go wrong starting out with this thermometer. The probe is extra-long so less risk of burning hands, and it has every function that you’ll need. This is a very helpful sourdough kitchen tool.

Besides making sourdough, having a digital thermometer in your kitchen will be a huge help when making things like chicken, steaks, and even casseroles. If you’re just starting out, the ThermoPro Long-Probe Instant Read Thermometer is a great place to begin!


Bread Knives

$$$: J.A. Henckels Professional Bread Knife ($137)

When it comes to knives, everyone knows the J.A. Henckels brand. They represent superior quality and knives that will last a lifetime.

This bread knife is no exception. The manufacturer promises they will never stain or chip, and that they stay sharper longer. In fact, one reviewer said “I’ve had this knife for over ten years and have never had it sharpened.” Sounds ideal to me!

$$: Victorinox Swiss Army Serrated Bread Knife ($49)

Another well-known name, Victorinox Swiss Army makes this bread knife like its reputation depends on it. The blade is slightly curved which allows for a rocking motion when slicing, and has a lifetime warranty.

1,600+ reviews give it a 4.8 star rating on Amazon. Reviewers rave about the knife, but one in particular said “I make my own bread, and it can be hard to keep the slices uniform, but that’s not a problem anymore.”

*Adds Victorinox Swiss Army Bread Knife to Christmas list*

$: Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife ($17)

Another big name in knives, Mercer brings us this amazing value option. Totalling seventeen bucks, this bad boy is the #1 Best Seller in bread knives on Amazon.

One reviewer sang its praises: “The old saw of ‘you get what you pay for’ doesn’t apply in this case. Sharp from the get go and with an occasional touch up on a very fine whetstone it maintains a shaving edge. If this is the bottom of the Mercer line I can’t imagine what the other knives are like.”

Reviewers also noted that this knife is extremely sharp, and the photos of sliced fingers in the reviews proves it! One recommends buying a blade cover to be extra safe. As with any knife, use caution when slicing with the Mercer Bread Knife, and enjoy how easily it slices through your breads, both hard and soft.


Cooling Racks

$$$: Kitchenatics Commercial Grade Roasting and Cooling Rack ($25)

With over 3,300 reviews and a 4.7 star rating, this cooling rack is as good as it gets. Made of heavy-duty rust-resistant steel, it stands and inch tall to let air flow around your cooling bread.

It’s also multi-purpose! Because it’s oven and grill safe to 575°F, you can roast on this rack as well. Not all racks are oven safe, so be sure yours is with the Kitchenatics Roasting and Cooling Rack! Many bakers place their Dutch ovens on a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top in the oven to prevent scorching to the bottom of their bread. This rack would be perfect for the job!

$$: Wilton 3-Tier Collapsible Cooling Rack ($21)

If this three-tier rack looks impressive, that’s because it is! Each level has enough space for bread, and one reviewer says “I bake bread regularly and it will handle six loaves at a time.” Color me impressed!

Not all three-tier cooling racks have space for bread, so this is key. This would be a fantastic sourdough kitchen tool to add to your arsenal. Plus, it folds up for compact storage. My Christmas list keeps growing…!

$: Wilton Industries Mega Cooling Rack ($6)

Our bargain find is this sturdy nonstick rack from Wilton. While it’s certainly not oven-safe like the Kitchenatics rack, it’s perfect for the beginner baker just starting to stock their kitchen.

Reviewers love this cooling rack, and it’s Amazon’s Choice for cooling racks. Grab one and get ready to start baking!


Parchment Paper

$$$: Zenlogy 8×8 Parchment Paper Squares ($15)

Zenlogy 8x8 Parchment Paper Sheets (200) - Unbleached, High Heat Baking, and Exact Fit for Your 8” Square Pans with Convenient Pull Out Storage Box

As I was writing this post, I was seriously tempted many times to buy some of these amazing kitchen tools, but I’ve been able to restrain myself… until now! 

I bought the 6×6 squares originally, but they’re much too small. The 8×8 size is perfect for boules. I usually cut my parchment into squares anyway, so when I saw these, I couldn’t even help myself. They are so convenient! I love using them. Check out the Zenlogy Parchment Squares for yourself!

$$: Beyond Gourmet Unbleached Non-Stick Parchment Paper ($8)

Oven safe up to 450F, this parchment paper is also unbleached, making it safer for your foods. Plus, it’s fully biodegradable, making the single-use item an easier choice. It’s also made in Sweden, which is a country we can trust when making claims about food safety.

Parchment paper is a wise choice when baking bread because it helps keep your baking vessels clean. I highly recommend it.

$: Reynolds Kitchens Non-Stick Parchment Paper ($5)

This is the parchment paper that I’ve used for ages. It says it’s safe to 425F, but I use it at 500F with no problems. I’ve always liked it because it’s inexpensive, so for the beginner, it’s a perfect place to start.


Jars

The jars below are all sold in sets, which may seem unnecessary now but if you can afford it, you’ll thank yourself later. If you’re looking for a single jar, I’ve heard really great things about this one from Ikea ($6)!

$$$: Weck 19 oz Mold Jars, set of 6 ($47)

These jars seem to have everything that a sourdough baker could ask for: solid glass construction, clear walls to see through, a loose-fitting lid, and straight sides that are easy to scrape clean.

It’s absolutely perfect for sourdough starter and discard! One reviewer said “Love using these for my sourdough starter. The wide mouth and slightly slanted straight sides make it ideal for mixing and easily accessing the starter. Great for countertop or refrigerated starter maintenance.”

$$: Encheng 16 oz Glass Jars, set of 12 ($34)

With sourdough starter, you don’t ever want air-tight lids, but I included these in the list because I love a product that can do several jobs. Highly-functioning pieces always land high on my favorites lists!

You can remove the rubber gasket on the lids and leave them unlatched when using for your starter, and also use it for a thousand other things: food storage, knick-knack collections, bathroom items, the list goes on. These Encheng Glass Jars can do it all.

$: Ball 16 oz Wide Mouth Jars, set of 4 ($12)

These guys are the classic jar for sourdough starter. The wide mouth makes it easy to mix and stir, and the clear glass enables the baker to be able to see activity through the sides.

I personally use these jars and I love them. I feed my starter and place the inner lid on top – I don’t even use the outer screw rim because gases need to escape. I do use the whole lid for storing my discard in the fridge, and for the multitude of other things I use these jars for! I highly recommend these Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jars!


Proofing Baskets & Bannetons

$$$: Walfos Oval Banneton Bread Proofing Basket Set ($40)

This natural rattan banneton is made with high-quality rattan that they promise won’t splinter or peel, as some cheaper baskets do. The perfect size to proof your batard, this banneton comes with a linen liner and a dough scraper as a nice bonus.

If you’re looking for a solid piece of workmanship, this is it. Plus, if you’re not entirely satisfied, the manufacturer offers a 100% money-back guarantee. Helpful when spending $40 per basket!

$$: Doyolla Round Banneton, 1 basket +1 liner ($23)

I have two of these bannetons and I love them. They’re solidly built, the linen liners are soft, and they’re a good size for the perfect loaf of sourdough.

One reviewer even noted that these Doyolla Round Bannetons “happen to fit perfectly in a one gallon ziploc freezer bag for final proofing in the fridge”. Dually noted!

$: Polypropylene Round Woven Bread Baskets, Set of 2 ($8)

For more seasoned bakers I would recommend a rattan proofing basket (above), but if you’re just starting out and testing the waters, these plastic woven baskets are perfect.

I started my bread journey with these exact baskets, and would line them with a floured linen kitchen towel. They’re much more flimsy than the rattan baskets, but for the price, these can’t be beat. A great way to get started with baking bread!


Bread Lames

$$$: Zatoba Walnut Bread Lame ($38)

This beautiful bread lame is as decorative as it is functional. Its handle is walnut and it’s made in the USA, which means you’ll have years of use from this lame.

The Zatoba Bread Lame would also make a great gift because it’s so unique!

$$: UFO Bread Journey Lame ($28)

The UFO bread lames are an original take on a classic item. I personally use this exact lame, and I can tell you it’s really amazing. I’ve used the razor blade on the popsicle stick, and a more traditional lame, and nothing compares.

The ease with which you can score beautiful patterns in the dough is what makes the UFO Lame stand out. Your hand is much closer to the dough, but the sharp razor blade is safely encased inside. When you’re done scoring, the blade tucks fully inside to protect it (and you).

They’re made from solid American black walnut wood in a small, family-owned shop in Fairfield, Connecticut. I highly recommend them! (There are many knock-offs being made now, so be sure to get yours from Wire Monkey Shop or their approved sellers.)

$: Hand Crafted Bread Lame with Protective Leather Cover ($12)

For the beginner baker, this bread lame is a great place to start. It’s an inexpensive but nice looking piece to add to your sourdough kitchen tools collection. I have this lame, and while I prefer the UFO lame, this Hand Crafted Bread Lame was a great starting point for me.

Plus, you get five razor blades and a protective leather case. This is a great deal!


What did I miss?

Have a favorite kitchen tool that didn’t make the list? Share it with the rest of us in a comment below!


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2 comments

Vivian July 14, 2020 - 3:22 pm

I like the flexible bowl scraper I bought.
And I also use my Danish whisk a lot…although I suspect it’s more Chinese than Danish

Reply
leavenly July 14, 2020 - 3:56 pm

The flexible scrapers are great!
And I’ve seen a lot about the Danish whisks lately, it’s great to hear they’re worth the hype!

Reply

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