Though a seemingly small addition to your cooking utensils, the best basting brushes or pastry brushes can make a big difference when cooking, baking, and grilling. You'll want to think about how you'll use it to help you decide between materials, brush sizes, and handle length.
For basting big pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables that could dry out or for applying thicker sauces, silicone is durable, long lasting, and dishwasher safe. For baking tasks, boar or nylon bristles give you more control and allow you to apply pressure more delicately. They also tend to hold liquids and thinner sauces better. But between the two, nylon is stronger and less susceptible to shedding than boar, but isn't as gentle, making boar better for finer basting tasks.
After material, you'll want to think about the brush's width. The most versatile width is 1 to 1.5 inches, but for basting with lots of sauce or glaze over a large surface area, brushes between 2 and 4 inches provide better coverage. For brush shape, I've mostly stuck with flat brushes, since round isn't generally as useful when basting and is better for fine pastry work.
The handle is another central feature to consider since it dictates cleaning ease and comfort while basting. Wooden and plastic are sturdy, but generally require hand washing. Metal and polymer are just as durable, with the added benefit of typically being dishwasher safe. Your decision may come down to how high a priority cleaning convenience is.
For handle length, a comfortable mid-length is around 6 inches. Anything shorter is best for detail pastry work. And since the focus here is basting, I've stuck to 6 inches and longer. Finally, for grilling or oven basting, longer handles (think 7-plus inches) may be best to keep hands away from the heat.
With these factors in mind, keep scrolling to shop for the best basting brushes.
1. The Best Natural Bristle Basting Brush
For an all-around basting brush, this 1-inch wide boar-bristled pick from Carlisle is great. Boar is the most gentle bristle you can get in a basting brush, and these have been fully sterilized and can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
That heat resistance means you can use this pick to baste food while it's cooking, grilling, or baking. Just know, because of the wooden handle, this pick is not dishwasher safe. But the handle's length is a comfortable 6.25 inches for versatile use. Reviewers report that this pick is excellent for basting while grilling. And for those worried about shedding, this pick has impressive bristle retention; to reassure you of this pick's durability, one shopper noted she can count on keeping one for about three years. If you're worried about any shedding try a dark-bristled brush which makes it easy to pick out stray bristles.
If you know you'll be using your pastry brush often for both sweet and savory applications, consider a set of basting brushes for outfitting your kitchen. And if you need a wider natural-bristled brush, Carlisle also makes a 3-inch brush that reviewers love.
A helpful review: “This is a great pastry brush. I'm a professional cook and I love this pastry brush. I've tried the new nylon and silicone ones, but they don't hold as much of your basting liquid as a traditional brush.”
2. The Best Dishwasher-Safe Basting Brush
If your pastry brush needs to be easy to clean, look no further than this basting and pastry brush that's dishwasher safe. Like my first pick, this brush has 1-inch-wide bristles, but they're heat resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 higher than the first pick, and the sturdy polymer handle is 6.25 inches long, according to Amazon's Q&A, which is approximately the same length as my first pick. But if you need a slightly wider brush, OXO also makes a 2-inch basting brush. Both feature an angled design so it can be set down while keeping bristles off the countertop.
Reviewers report that despite the bristles being made of silicone, its design works well for applying egg wash and other more delicate baking tasks. That's likely thanks to the outer bristles' tapered shape, which apply pressure gently. The layered bristles that prevent clumping have gaps in the center to retain liquid or sauces better than standard silicone brushes. Plus, this pick has a 4.7-star rating with more than 1,400 reviews.
A helpful review: “It holds a lot of fluid in the weird little hole punched pieces. [...] With several other silicone brushes, the bristles are just way too stiff. On the OXO they are nice and flexible, borderline soft. When egg washing pastries they don't leave dents, lines or tear through the delicate doughs. [...] Obviously you're still going to need a traditional bristle brush for dusting off excess flour, but at least now I don't have to worry about the dumb things molding or their wooden handles getting discolored. All in all, a definite buy and probably my favorite brush.”
3. The Best Set of Basting Brushes For Grilling
The long handles on this pair of stainless steel basting brushes — one that's 7.5 and one that's 12 inches — make them great tools for comfortably basting food over a hot grill. The 2-inch-wide brushes cover enough surface area to work quickly over high heat, and both brushes have convenient hanging loops for storage. This pick has a 4.6-star rating after more than 500 reviews, and its dishwasher-safe silicone bristles are heat resistant up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
A helpful review: “I was so sick and tired of the generic basting brushes from our local grocery stores. You know the kind; short wooden handle, bristles that fall off and get stuck to your food, nearly impossible to clean, and eventually the whole head just falls right off. I've gone through dozens of them over the years. I finally decided to have a look at the alternatives, and I came across this basting brush here on Amazon. Wow, what a world of difference. The long stainless steel handle is fantastic for basting stuff that's in the oven or the grill. It gives me a nice, long reach that doesn't cause my hands to get burned.”
4. The Best Nylon Basting Brush
Nylon bristles are kind of a halfway between boar and silicone in that the pressure is gentler than silicone, but not quite as gentle as boar. The perk nylon has over boar is that you won't have to worry as much about shedding. So, basically, if you want a more delicate brush than silicone with less shedding than boar, go for this nylon basting brush.
While it's not clear what the manufacturer's recommendations are for cleaning or this brush's heat resistance, reviewers mention that they hand wash theirs and use it for basting meats. At 6 inches, the plastic handle on this brush is a bit shorter than my boar-bristle and silicone-bristle picks, but the brush is a bit wider at 1.5-inches. While I couldn't findIf you want a nylon brush that's even wider, there's also a 2-inch version, a 3-inch version, and a 4-inch version.
A helpful review: “I LOVE this Nylon pastry brush!!! It was nearly impossible to find a pastry brush at the store that was not a crappy "paint brush". I don't like those kind because they fall apart & the bristles get in the food...Yuck. But this Nylon brush is perfect! No bristles in the food, and soooo easy to clean! Thanks amazon for offering NYLON brushes for cooking!”
5. The Best Self-Basting Brush
This may be the twofer you didn't even know you needed: a baster that's also a basting brush. This dishwasher-safe self-basting brush holds about an ounce of your basting liquid and has a round silicone brush tip that's approximately 2 inches in diameter for evenly coating your food. Measurement markings on the baster's side make it easy to track how much liquid or sauce has been used.
The 12-inch plastic handle is longer to my grilling basting brush, but a bit longer. So, there's even more space between your hand and the heat source you're cooking on. Plus, the handle can store the provided cleaning pipe when not in use. While I couldn't firm this pick's exact heat resistance, buyers do report using this to baste a turkey. This pick has an impressive 4.3-star rating with more than 90 reviews.
A helpful review: “This is SO much better than the old, plain baster (without the built-in brush). It is not as messy and easier to control where the juices are going when you are basting. I wish I had one of these years ago. This baster-brush is good quality, easy-to-clean and dishwasher-safe. Great addition to my kitchen!”
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