What You Need to Know About 2020's Newest Baking Products

Some of your favorite brands are expanding into bakeware. Here's why — and what you should buy.

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December 15, 2020

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If there’s a silver lining to 2020, it’s that we got to spend a lot more time in our kitchen. We experimented with different recipes, got some extra mileage out of our favorite appliances, and, yes, even dabbled with baked goods.

However, banana bread and loaves of sourdough weren’t the only things to make it big in 2020. A handful of beloved food and cooking brands have dished out new baking-centric collections. While we love a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies or muffins as much as the next person, all this hype around baking feels a little...well, random. So what gives? Why is baking having such a moment these days? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Baking Is About More Than Sweets

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a hard year for many. And, when the going gets tough, people lean on their favorite, indulgent foods. Research suggests that if you’re in a bad mood, glutinous food like baked goods can act as an edible security blanket. While you might’ve reached for that sleeve of cookies or pint of ice cream before, it’s safe to say that our newfound free time has inspired us to get our hands dirty.

“With more people spending time at home and cooking at an all-time high, people are looking for new ways to enjoy sweet and savory treats at home and are open trying out different recipes in the kitchen,” explains Kelly Peterson, product manager at Lodge Cast Iron.

Lodge has been making quality cast iron cookware since its founding in 1896, and while the home chefs might use their pieces for an array of recipes, there was never a collection dedicated to baking. So, the brand created a nine-piece bakeware line to double down on this untapped market.

From pizza pans, to pie dishes, to a deep pan with built-in wedges, this collection is designed to satisfy budding and established bakers alike. But, since you can only bake so many loaves of banana bread in a week, Lodge made sure to design this collection with multiple courses in mind.

“We really wanted to focus on the key attributes that people look for when buying bakeware, like versatility, durability and even distribution of heat,” she says. “Every piece was created with the intention that it can be used for a variety of recipes, both savory and sweet.”

For extra versatility, Lodge added dual handles to every item, so you’ll reach for this bakeware time and time again.

“[It] offers something for everyone, whether you’re a kitchen novice or pro,” Peterson says.

Bakeware Should Bring Joy Like the Baked Goods

Be honest, it’s virtually impossible not to break out into an ear-to-ear smile whenever you retrieve a homemade pie or batch of brownies from the oven. Not only do you feel accomplished, but foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt are known to improve our moods and alleviate tension. So, it’s not all that surprising that pure, unadulterated joy was the driving behind for Great Jones’ new collection.

“The Great Jones community's enthusiasm and joy for baking — especially this year — inspired us to create products that bring that same sense of cheer and warmth,” says Sierra Tishgart.

Founded by Tishgart and Maddy Moelis in 2017, Great Jones has always strived to bring fun back to the kitchen. (Don’t believe us? Just take a gander at its cheery color palette and cheeky names like “Small Fry” pan and “the Dutchess,” the brand’s vibrant answer to the Dutch oven.) As expected, its curated bakeware line strikes a balance between form, function and fun. Great Jones uses aluminized steels for its baking sheets, cake molds, and loaf pans to hold its own against extreme heats. Its ceramic pie and baking dishes, on the other hand, are designed to create a seamless transition from oven to table.

Speaking of looks, Tishgart says it was important to make the line’s aesthetic just as joyful as the art of baking itself.

“We landed on our bold colors and the retro, 1960s-esque print that evokes vintage Pyrex,” she explains. “We hope these products make people smile and use them to tackle new recipes and share desserts with family and friends.”

We've Always Loved Baking

The influx of bakeware lines might seem like a direct response to spending more time at home, but many of these collections were in the works long before 2020. Good timing might not be the most exciting explanation behind a food trend, but for California Olive Ranch’s new Baking Blends line, it’s as simple as that.

“We continue to blend tradition with innovation and are committed to introducing more people to not just great olive oil, but the incredible world of healthy fats,” says Meagan Cole, the brand’s communication liaison. “We began developing these blends well before the pandemic because we saw a need for great-tasting, good-for-you plant based alternatives to butter, hydrogenated fats, and vegetable oils.”

For its first foray into baking, California Olive Ranch infused sweet ingredients into its popular Global Series Virgin Olive Oil. The sweet vanilla blend features natural vanilla extract to offer a sweet taste and all the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, while the almond option is packed with vitamin E that’s commonly found in unrefined almond oil. But, no matter which flavor you choose, California Olive Ranch’s new collection makes this baking trend even sweeter. (After all, traditional olive oil only works with so many recipes.)

“Our Baking Blends are crafted to showcase the wonderful, diverse world of healthy fats and encourage Americans to explore more with extra virgin olive oil,” Cole adds.

A sign of the times or a mere coincidence? The motivation behind the baking fad is as mysterious as the great chicken versus egg debate. But, despite its origins, one thing’s for sure: Baking isn’t losing its popularity anytime soon.

“[It’s] always been a comforting way to create and share joy with loved ones, and let’s face it, a great way to fill up some free time,” Cole says. “Even as we return to ‘normal’ and hopefully have less free time to fill, we believe there are behaviors that are here to stay, including baking more at home.”

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