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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 and melted butter and beaten egg yolks have a habit of getting in every nook and cranny.
We’ve collected the best basting brushes for the job in this list, with an eye to having a selection that will fulfill different needs. 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. Here, our top 8 basting brushes.
Best Overall: Le Creuset Silicone Craft Series Basting Brush
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 adds a pleasant feel to using this brush, and the head is removable so it can be put in the dishwasher. It’s also available in a variety of colors, making it easier to spot in your kitchen drawer.
Best for Baking: Williams Sonoma Walnut Pastry Brush
This boar-bristle brush with a smooth walnut handle is a classic for pastry-making! It’s also beautifully made to last for years and is available in two brush sizes, 1-inch and 1.5-inch wide. It is recommended to hand wash and dry thoroughly after every use.
Best for Grilling: Consevisen Silicone Basting Brush
These very well-regarded, very affordable brushes come in sets of two to five of various sizes. The design is seamless to avoid catching food or sauces and has a core of stainless steel 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.
Best Nylon: 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.
The Oklahoma-based Carlisle brand has been producing foodservice supplies for more than half a century, with the stated goal of creating products that “make your work easier." These basting brushes are designed for professional-grade use, with a single-piece plastic handle, and bristles resistant to abrasion and cracking. They are also available in various sizes.
Best Silicone: Norpro Silicone Barbeque Brush
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. These brushes have a really well-balanced feel. 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.
Best Multipurpose: OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Basting Brush
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. This brush is easy to clean, odor-resistant, and can handle temperatures up to 600 degrees.
Best Round: Tezzorio Professional Boar Bristle Pastry Brush
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.
Best Mop: Grillhogs BBQ Basting Mop with Wooden Handle
This long-handled, mop-like brush holds thin sauces that other brushes can’t manage. It’s great for grilling and also works for making pastries. The 18-inch wooden handle protects you from heat while allowing for precision. The removable mop head can be put in a washing machine for easy cleaning. Grillhogs is a company with a focus on manufacturing “chef-grade grilling accessories."
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 (view at Amazon) works well on both and has the additional perk of being made by OXO, with their level of quality and ergonomic design. If you’re a baker seeking a brush to use for pastry, the Williams Sonoma Walnut Pastry Brush (view at Williams Sonoma) and the Carlisle Sparta Galaxy Nylon Pastry Brush (view at Amazon) are both good bets. They have a different feel to them as you work, but each equals the other in performance. If you can, try them both!
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 pastry 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 pastry 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.