A good basting brush can really change your grilling or baking game, taking it from “This is really good,” to “Wow, this is amazing! How’d you make it?!”
It’s all about the specialized design of your tools. In brushes, the basics are the handle and the brush. What are they made out of? Will the brush bristles be too strong, too light, too big, or too small? How will the handle fit your hand, and will you enjoy using it? And last but not least, is it easy to clean? That last question is important because sauces, melted butter, and beaten egg yolks have a habit of getting in every nook and cranny.
We researched the best basting brushes and tested them out side-by-side to find those that will fulfill different needs. Each was evaluated and rated based on design, liquid retention, heat resistance, ease of cleaning, and overall value. If you’ve been making do with whatever happens to be in your kitchen drawer, this could be the perfect time to have some fun trying some new brushes for old tasks, or even to get inspired. A North Carolina vinegar-based BBQ sauce on grilled chicken using a mop brush, maybe? Or a Linzer torte using a small round brush? Let these brushes lead the way to new deliciousness.
Le Creuset Silicone Craft Series Basting Brush
Silicone head is removable for cleaning
Comes in a variety of colors
Hanging hold on handle
Wood handle not dishwasher safe
The shape of this great-looking silicone brush from Le Creuset makes it suitable for many uses, as its crown-shaped edge and conical bristles work well on both meats and pastries. Made from premium silicone, it’s stain-resistant, nonabrasive, and resistant to odor and flavor absorption.
The ergonomic wooden handle felt comfortable during testing, and the head is removable so it was easy to wash it in the dishwasher after each use. It held an acceptable amount of barbecue sauce and did fairly well with basting oil and juices onto a turkey breast. The brush is available in a variety of colors, making it easier to spot in your kitchen drawer, or for color-coding the basting sauces when multiples are in use.
Price at time of publish: $14
Brush diameter: 2 inches | Bristle material: Silicone | Handle length: 7.5 inches | Handle material: Wood | Heat resistance: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush
Holds sauce very well
Not as good for delicate pastries
OXO has done everything right with this brush. It’s ergonomic with a soft grip and has an extended-length handle that's perfectly angled for barbecue use. The brush has circled inner and tapered outer bristles that can accomplish two things: hold liquids and gently distribute them over meats, vegetables, or pastries. In testing, that design worked well with both thick and thin sauces, but released the sauce easily onto the food rather than holding onto them (helping to reduce waste). The angled head also made it easy to brush the sauce onto all the uneven surfaces of the food on the grill.
This brush is easy to clean, odor-resistant, and can handle temperatures up to 600 degrees.
Price at time of publish: $12
Brush diameter: 2.25 inches | Bristle material: Silicone | Handle length: 11.5 inches | Handle material: Silicone | Heat resistance: 600 degrees Fahrenheit
Grillhogs BBQ Basting Mop with Wooden Handle
Removable brush heads
Head can be washed in washing machine
Two extra brush heads included
Heads take a while to dry
Soaks up a lot of sauce
Best for thin liquids
This long-handled, mop-like brush holds thin sauces that other brushes can’t manage. During testing, it took several dips to get it to grab the thicker sauce. It’s great for big grilling projects since that’s what it’s designed for, but it soaked up a lot of the thin liquid and held it in the mop. Because of the 18-inch wooden handle, we could reach across the grill without worrying too much about the heat, and the mop was fun to use.
The removable mop head can be put in a washing machine for easy cleaning, and we also tested it in the dishwasher. Surprisingly, it also cleaned well by hand, and left no trace of the barbecue sauce. Because it’s cotton string, it takes quite a while to dry completely.
Grillhogs is a company with a focus on manufacturing “chef-grade grilling accessories."
Price at time of publish: $13
Brush diameter: 1.5 inches | Bristle material: Cotton string | Handle length: 13 inches | Handle material: Wood
Best for Grilling
Consevisen Silicone Basting Brush
Set of four brushes
Bristles were bent from packaging
3 of the 4 brushes are the smaller size
These very well-regarded, affordable brushes come in sets of two to five of various sizes. We tested a set of four, with one larger brush and three smaller ones. The design is seamless to avoid catching food or sauces and has a core of stainless steel in the handle to provide strength. The brushes can handle temperatures up to 446 degrees, are made from food-grade silicone, and are dishwasher-safe. With any of these sets, you’ll be able to grill with a variety of different sauces or bastes all at the same time, making any meal a feast.
The set we tested was packed neatly, but the brush bristles were bent. The brush still worked, but looked uneven. The bends remained even after several uses and trips through the dishwasher, so care should be taken when storing to make sure they stay as straight as possible.
Price at time of publish: $10 for set of 4
Brush diameter: 1.75 inches (larger brush) and 1.25 inches (smaller brush) | Bristle material: Silicone | Handle length: 7.25 inches (larger brush) and 6 inches (smaller) | Handle material: Silicone | Heat resistance: 466 degrees Fahrenheit
Norpro Silicone Barbeque Brush
Sturdy metal handle
Hanging loop on end
Handle can potentially get hot
This brush comes in different sizes for different tasks, but the basic design is the same: a high-grade silicone brush on a sleek, stainless-steel 12-inch handle. The look is high-tech, and the black silicone won't melt, shed, fray, stain, lose shape, or retain odor. In testing, this brush felt comfortable to hold and was well balanced, despite the weight of the metal handle. In theory, that handle could get hot with extended use on a hot grill, but we didn’t have that issue.
The Norpro company started and is still headquartered in the state of Washington with the goal of providing the highest caliber kitchenware with an eye on innovation.
Price at time of publish: $12
Brush diameter: 1.5 inches | Bristle material: Silicone | Handle length: 9 inches | Handle material: Stainless steel | Heat resistance: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
Tezzorio Boar Bristle Basting Brush with Lacquered Hardwood Handle
Great for pastries
Also good for grilling
Hanging hole on handle
Takes a while to dry
Bristles stained from sauce
For those times when only a small round pastry brush will do, this classic boar brush with a smooth hardwood handle is perfect. The boar bristles are water-resistant and can handle temperatures up to 500 degrees. The 9.75-inch handle is ergonomic and has a hole for easy hanging storage. This brush is hand wash only, and best to use on baked goods.
Still, we gave it a test on the grill, and it did a fine job with both thick and thin liquids. Unfortunately, it stained from the barbecue sauce, but it didn’t retain the odor, so we would still be confident moving it to pastry use. Otherwise, this cleaned easily, but it took much longer to dry than the silicone brushes.
Price at time of publish: $15
Brush diameter: 1 inch | Bristle material: Boar bristle | Handle length: 8.5 inches | Handle material: Wood | Heat resistance: 500 degrees Fahrenheit
The Le Creuset Silicone Basting Brush is an easy to use and quality-made brush that we highly recommend. If you’re looking for a basting brush that can do double-duty on meats as well as pastries, the OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush works well on both and has the additional perk of being made by OXO, with their level of quality and ergonomic design.
How We Tested
We sent these products to be tested in the home kitchen of our product tester. She spent weeks working with the basting brushes, grilling meat and marinating with sauces to thoroughly test their performance ability. She assessed the brushes' durability, shedding of bristles, how comfortable the brush was in the hand, ease of cleaning, and how well they held and brushed liquid. Afterward, she rated each brush on its design, liquid retention, heat resistance, and overall value.
Other Options We Considered
Carlisle Sparta Galaxy Nylon Pastry Brush: The nylon bristles on this basting brush are soft and flexible enough to not damage delicate pastries while providing easy, full coverage of the surfaces of any baked good. However, since it is a pastry brush, it fell short while testing on the grill. The short handle meant it was less safe when reaching over the grill and the nylon bristles are not designed for high-heat use. While it could be used on the grill if there was no other choice, save this one for egg-washing pastries.
What to Look for in Basting Brushes
Before you purchase one, think about how you would use it. Are you looking for a multitasking brush? Or do you primarily use brushes for marinades on meat? Maybe you're a baker, and so you're looking for something that's more geared toward pastry needs. Do you want something sturdy that you're not going to have to replace? Is it a regular item in your cooking and baking rotation, and so therefore something you'll want to invest a little more in, or will it be buried in your drawer until you look for it (in which case, buy a colorful one!)
This kind of item can get messy, fast. It's so easy for sticky marinades with finely chopped herbs or garlic to get trapped in between the bristles, or not come completely clean. Sometimes, brushes get stained with the color of whatever they're used for. One that can come completely clean, easily, is ideal; if you can put it in the dishwasher, that's an even better guarantee that it'll come out looking good as new. Keep in mind that not all designs are dishwasher safe, so weigh the pros and cons based on your needs.
A brush is only as good as its materials and the bristles are probably the most important part of the brush. You want ones that are pliable enough so that you can get even coverage, but close enough together that they don't leave a trail of unbrushed food that you have to keep reapplying with a brush. You'll also want to make sure that bristles aren't going to damage delicate baked goods, or that they are strong enough to hold up to thick marinades or sauces for meat; people tend to like silicone brushes for the latter because they tend to be thick. Natural bristles (such as boar) are used frequently by professionals, and nylon can offer some pliability, too. You'll want to look for boar or nylon bristles
What's the difference between a basting brush and a pastry brush?
A basting brush is used for meats, poultry, and vegetables that are being roasted or grilled or otherwise cooked with dry heat, typically. Pastry brushes are usually only used on pastries and baked goods. Often, although not always, the bristles on a pastry brush are more delicate and those on a basting brush tend to be sturdier. But the simplest answer is that the difference between these two is pretty straightforward: you keep two separate ones for two separate purposes—one for sweet, the other for savory—and this way the flavors don't commingle. The terms are often used interchangeably, based on use.
How do you care for a basting brush?
The best way to take care of your brushes is to wash them right after using them. Run them under hot water and, if they're able to, put them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, a good old-fashioned hand washing works. Clean your brush gently with a little bit of dish detergent—whether it's used for pastry or basting purposes.
What can I use instead of a basting brush?
In a pinch, you can use a clean paintbrush that you've never used before. Sometimes people also use their clean fingers, because they can be more precise—especially if you're dabbing a tiny corner of, say, a piece of pastry or dough that needs to be filled and sealed.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Karen Resta is a writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, and restaurants. She's also a former pastry chef and has traveled to Budapest, Kyiv, and Paris during their Fashion Weeks as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic pastries along the way. She now spends a lot of her free time baking at home and recommends quality within your given budget. Having the right tools available and knowing how to use them well (it can take practice, like anything else) makes all the difference, and she curated this list with that in mind.
Donna Currie, who updated this article, is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of "Make Ahead Bread," a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.