a baker’s pantry has everything you need to whip up a “something sweet” at a moment’s notice!

I realized something recently. I realized that I often use this phrase when sharing a recipe:

“and you probably have all the ingredients you need on-hand right now!”

But maybe you don’t?

I’m a baker. Baking is my passion, it’s often my profession, and it’s something I do several times a week, all year long. So I always have “on-hand” a lot of what I consider to be essential ingredients.

But maybe you don’t.

And that would make my above statement somewhat presumptuous, don’t you think?

I thought a lot about this, and then as luck would have it I was invited to once again participate in Project Design with AnnieMary Ann and Cindy (if you recall I’ve collaborated in the past on appetizers, cheese boards and grilled recipes) – all about pantries!

And I knew just what I wanted my contribution to be.

A Baker's Pantry l sherisilver.com

Because I think everyone should be able to whip up a “something sweet” any time – whether it’s an unexpected snow day, you want to bring a treat to a friend, or the school hits you up for a bake sale contribution. And for that you need a baker’s pantry.

I’ve assembled a “baker’s dozen” list that assumes you already have flour, sugar, eggs and salt. Let’s take a look!

1. Unsalted butter – I can’t think of a baked good I make – aside from my vegan treats – that doesn’t call for butter. The reason I use unsalted is because it allows me to control the amount of added salt in the recipe. If you don’t bake a lot, or prefer to use salted butter for eating, keep a pound or two of unsalted in the freezer. If you pre-slice it you can take out just what you need and it will defrost relatively quickly!

2. Baking powder/baking soda – Essentials, for sure. Almost all cookies and cakes use one or both, and it’s tough to substitute them, so they’re worth having on-hand if you want to bake (try these, these and this if you need to bake without them!). And if you’re wondering if that can lurking in the back of your cupboard is fresh, try this test before you start baking.

3. Unsweetened cocoa powder – Indispensable for most brownies and chocolate cakes, I always have a can at the ready. And here’s one of my favorite “hacks” – if a recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, you can substitute it with cocoa powder! For every ounce of unsweetened chocolate in the recipe, substitute with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

Gluten Free Brownies l sherisilver.com

4. Semi-sweet chocolate chips – Obvious, right? I mean, you can’t make those “back of of the bag” cookies without them! But they’re even more versatile than you thought. I use chocolate chips for dipping/drizzling cookies, and for making magic shell, Muddy Buddies and the best fudge sauce you’ve ever had.

5. Frozen puff pastry and pie crusts – These “shortcut” ingredients defrost quickly, roll out easily and create dozens of impressive looking desserts. For example? Use puff pastry for palmiers, turnovers and spinach pinwheels (one of my most beloved appetizers). And pie crusts turn into hand pies, apple pie “fries” and pie “pops” in a flash. Keep a box of each in your freezer; you’ll be happy you did!

6. Vanilla extract – whether you buy a bottle or make your own, good vanilla extract adds delicious flavor and subtle depth to almost all of my recipes. I wouldn’t think of stocking a kitchen without it (and if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh vanilla beans, here’s the best way to store them!).

7. Confectioner’s sugar – a simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar instantly dresses up all manner of cookies, brownies and cakes. And it’s the sugar I use when making buttercream frosting, as it avoids the grainy texture that you get with granulated sugar.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes l sherisilver.com

8. Ground cinnamon – while I have many spices in my pantry, if I had to pick the one I use the most it’s cinnamon. It’s the most versatile and the most universally loved. A staple in my streusel, coffee cake and homemade pumpkin butter.

9. Oats – I’m always happy when I remember that I have a canister of oats in the fridge – whether I’m in the mood for these addictive cookies, my fruit-filled oat bars or some chocolate chip granola.

10. Raw unsalted almonds – a package of these in your freezer can do more than you realize. Of course you can chop them up to use in a recipe (sweet or savory), but wait – there’s more! Grind them finely to make your own gluten-free almond flour, or grind them up some more to make the most delicious homemade almond butter (seriously, you will never buy the jarred stuff again).

Almond Joy Hamantaschen l sherisilver.com

11. Brown sugar – I LOVE brown sugar, and always have a bag in my freezer, since many of my favorite recipes (like these amazing cookies) call for it. Freezing it reduces hardening, but if you have a bag that’s rock solid try this hack to soften it up.

12. Cream of tartar – Mastering meringue couldn’t be easier, and is a basic technique that I truly wish everyone was comfortable with. Meringue is naturally gluten-free and fat-free, and contains only 3 ingredients – egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. I swear by this technique, and these little cookies are a perfect “starter” recipe as they’re pretty much foolproof. Please give it a try!

13. Flaky sea salt – This is a relatively new one for me. When I started baking over 30 years ago, flaky sea salt wasn’t “a thing”. But I have since fully embraced the next-level deliciousness that a sprinkling of good flaky salt imparts to so many baked goods (like this bark, these peanut butter cups and these caramels).

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups {Vegan} l sherisilver.com

I obviously could go on and on – for example, I always freeze leftover berries (for this and these) and overripe bananas (for THIS). And I typically have a jar of Nutella and Biscoff in my cupboard. As a lover of all things coffee-flavored I’m also never without some instant espresso powder.

So what do you think? As you can see, many of the ingredients can be frozen, to prolong their shelf life. And all are readily available at your grocery store. I get SO happy when someone tells me they’ve made a recipe from my blog and it “came out great!”, so I hope this inspires you to stock up on “the basics” and try something new!

My fellow bloggers have written some fabulous posts on the subject of pantries – click the links below to read more!

A Baker's Pantry l sherisilver.com

After Orange County

Classic Casual Home

Driven By Decor

Modern Glam

Most Lovely Things

My Sweet Savannah

Northern California Style

Rough Luxe Lifestyle

Vignette Design


  1. classic casual home on January 23, 2020 at 10:58 am

    This is a great checklist, Sheri! I need the flakey salt and cream of tartar…And I didn’t know about freezing brown sugar! Thanks for participating with us again.
    Mary Ann

    • sherisilver on January 31, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      Thank you so much for including me – it’s always such fun to collaborate with you all! xo

  2. cindy on January 23, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    If you saw my baking cupboard you would get a good laugh. I love to cook but do not bake. I usually have sugar, and baking powder and soda, but that is about it! Thank you so much for joining us again. We always enjoy having you.

    • sherisilver on January 23, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      Thank YOU Cindy – I was going to post about this topic this month and being part of your group made it even better for me! Loved participating and reading all of your posts! xo

  3. Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com on January 23, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Sheri, how clever to come up with the idea of offering up a Baker’s Dozen of baking staples. I can see that we are baking kindred spirts. Love all the yummy things you’ve presented here. Makes me want to get right in my kitchen and whip something up. My stomach is growling!

    • sherisilver on January 23, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Then the post worked! 😉 Baking is my PASSION – please tell me if you make anything from the blog! Looking forward to following you!

  4. kim on January 23, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    HI Sheri, I love baking and this was a nice reminder of a few other things to always have on hand. I am with you loving the flaky sea salt on desserts now too..so good!! I am now off to check out some of your recipes. Loved doing this with you and the others. xx

    • sherisilver on January 23, 2020 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you Kim! Please let me know if you bake something from my archives! I love hearing stories! 🙂

  5. Ashley Stringfellow on January 24, 2020 at 1:54 am

    This is amazing! What a great post and jumping off point. I am going to stock up so I can try some of your delicious recipes!

    • sherisilver on January 24, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Thanks so much Ashley! Let me know what you make! 🙂

  6. Annie Diamond on January 24, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Sheri -I love that you always say…and you probably have everything on hand! I love your bakers dozen list! So clever and spot on!

    • sherisilver on January 24, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Thank you Annie! I hope this post means that everyone will have everything on hand forever!

  7. LA CONTESSA on January 24, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    I peeked at your banana bread with CINNAMON!OH MY GOSH…….I would LOVE THAT!
    BRAVA TO YOU and for COMMENTING On the others BLOGS!

    • sherisilver on January 24, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      This made my day! Thank you so much! You can absolutely use a cup-for-cup GF flour for the banana bread. I have and it comes out great! 🙂

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