Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best baking spices sets

If you love baking, especially during the holiday season, baking spices sets contain all the basic fragrant spices you need to bake favorites such as pumpkin pie, gingerbread, and lebkuchen. Of course, you can buy these spices separately, but a set makes the process simpler. What's more, you can find baking spices gift sets in attractive tins and packages, which make excellent gifts for keen bakers. 

Baking spices sets aren't identical, so you'll need to consider which spices you want and choose your set accordingly. You can always get extras to supplement your baking spices set if you find you need them down the line. For the sake of convenience, your chosen spices should fit in your spice rack and should be easy to reseal to keep them fresh. 

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If you regularly cook or bake, consider finding a spice rack to organize your spices and make them easier to access. 

How to choose the best baking spices set

What's in a baking spices set?

Not all baking spices sets contain the same spices, but they generally have spices in common. The four core spices that you'll find in basically every baking spices set are cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Many also contain allspice, but it isn't a given. Then, you have your less common spices that are occasionally found in baking spices sets. These include cardamom, a delicate, highly fragrant herb often used in Indian cooking, and mace, a spice that comes from the coating of the nutmeg seed and has a similar flavor but is slightly more potent. In addition to these individual spices, some baking spices sets also include spice mixes, such as pumpkin pie spice and gingerbread spice, for when you want to take the guesswork out of spice ratios for classic desserts and baked goods. 

Baking spices sets vs. individual spices

You might still be wondering if you should get a baking spices set or individual spices. Ultimately, baking spices sets are simply designed to make it easier to get all the spices you need to bake with. The problem comes when they're significantly more expensive than the same spices separately. In this case, it makes sense to buy individual spices rather than a set. You can also do a bit of both, such as choosing a spice set that contains the core fragrant spices, then finding cardamom and mace separately. 

Gifting vs. everyday use

Baking spices sets generally fall into two categories: those for gifting and those for everyday use. When you're selecting spice sets for everyday use, you'd expect them to come in standard spice jars without any special packaging and to cost roughly the same amount as you'd expect to pay for the same spices individually. Baking spices sets for gifting usually come in metal tins and more elaborate packing so that they look good when given as gifts. You can expect to pay slightly more than you would for the same quantities of spices for everyday use due to the increased cost of the packaging. 

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Expert tip
Check the age of any discounted spices you want to buy. You want something fresh – old spice is only good for men’s cologne.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

What features do baking spices sets have?

Spice rack-friendly size

It's annoying when you have packs of spices that don't fit on your spice rack. This means you have to store them elsewhere, and they may end up being pushed to the back of a cabinet and forgotten about. Look for spices in standard-sized jars that will fit your spice rack or other spice storage solution. 

Organic certification

It's possible to find baking spices sets that contain USDA-certified organic spices. This might not make a huge difference to how your baking turns out, but some buyers simply prefer to eat organic where possible. Any certified organic products will also be non-GMO. 

Resealable packaging

Choose spices that come in jars or tins with lids that seal tightly. This helps keep moisture from getting in and preserves your spices for longer. If your chosen spices aren't resealable, consider transferring them to resealable containers

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Expert Tip
Consider buying your spices in their original form –  like star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods – then grinding them as you use them. The scent and flavor are much stronger this way, which lends a fantastic flavor boost to your cakes and cookies.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

What accessories do I need for baking? 

Mixing bowls

Whatever you're baking, you'll need bowls to mix the ingredients in. The Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowl Set includes three nesting mixing bowls of varying sizes that are microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and non-porous so they won't hold on to colors or odors. 

Measuring cups

Baking requires accuracy, so you need measuring cups to measure out your ingredients. It might not be quite as accurate as using kitchen scales, but most U.S. recipes use cup measurements. OXO Good Grips 4-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups feature 1, 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 cup measures. 

Bakeware set

A bakeware set contains all the pans you need to bake practically anything. The Farberware Nonstick Steel Bakeware Set features 10 pieces of bakeware, including a baking sheet, round and square cake pans, muffin pans, and a loaf pan. 

How much do baking spices sets cost? 

Inexpensive

Inexpensive sets cost under $10. These generally contain the four or five most popular spices and are designed for everyday use rather than gifting. 

Mid-range

Mid-range sets of baking spices cost $10 to $25. These may contain more than just your basic spices or larger quantities of each spice. 

Expensive 

The most expensive baking spice sets cost $25 to $50. In this price range, you'll find spice sets designed for gifting, as well as larger spice sets that may contain spice blends in addition to individual spices. 

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Expert Tip
Occasionally right after the end-of-year holidays, you can find holiday-themed gift packs on sale. Just make sure they’re fresh.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Tips

  • Follow recipes when learning to bake with spices. Although more experienced bakers may be able to experiment with different quantities and combinations of spices, inexperienced bakers or those without much experience working with spices should stick to recipes at first to avoid overdoing it.
  • Not all cinnamon is the same. Korintje cinnamon is the most common cinnamon found in the U.S., but Saigon cinnamon and royal cinnamon are actually better for baking. 
  • Know which baking spices go together. Although you can mix basically any fragrant baking spices together and get decent results, you'll end up with even tastier baked goods if you learn what to use and when. For instance, a little cinnamon alongside ginger makes delicious gingerbread.
  • Store your spices carefully. Your spices will keep their flavor for longer if you store them somewhere relatively cool and dry. Avoid keeping them too close to the stove where heat and moisture from cooking will cause them to lose their potency more quickly. 
  • Consider less common baking spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice might be the most ubiquitous baking spices, but consider spicing things up with less common options, such as cardamom and mace. Though more accurately herbs rather than spices, lavender, and rosemary can work wonderfully in some baked goods. 
     
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The oils and butters used in baking recipes mix with spices to bring out their flavor, so don't attempt fat-free recipes when baking with spices.

 FAQ

Q. How long do ground spices last? 

A. Ground spices generally have a “best before” date around two to three years after they were processed. However, the compounds that give them their punchy, complex flavors degrade over time. Though they'll still be safe to use, spices lose much of their potency after around 12 months, so it's best to replace them annually if you don't get through them before then.
Those who don't bake often should consider choosing spices in relatively small quantities. 

Q. What’s in pumpkin spice mix? 

A. Pumpkin spice mix or pumpkin pie spice is a blend of fragrant spices used in pumpkin pie and other baked goods. It usually contains cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice, though some recipes exclude the allspice. The trouble with using pumpkin spice mix instead of individual spices is that you can't adjust the ratio of spices to meet your preferences or to follow a specific recipe. Further, different brands use different ratios of spices, so you never know exactly what you'll get. 

Q. What can replace cloves? 

A. If you're not a fan of cloves or have run out, there are baking spices sets that contain other spices you can use in place of cloves. These substitutes won't taste exactly the same, but they won't leave your recipe lacking.

Allspice is sweet and warm with a slight pepperiness that works as a substitute for cloves in most recipes, though it's less pungent than cloves, so you may need to use slightly more. 

Cardamom has a slightly more astringent medicinal note than cloves, although the flavor is different. When paired with other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cardamom makes a pleasant alternative to cloves. That said, if there's only a small quantity of cloves in a recipe alongside other fragrant spices, you can simply leave it out.

Get to know Andrea Boudewijn, our cooking and baking expert.

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