The Wonders of One-Bowl Baking

The Wonders of One-Bowl Baking

An expert shares her quick and easy baking recipes so you can whip up flaky cheddar biscuits, luscious banana pudding, and chocolate cake piled with buttercream frosting—even on a Tuesday night!

Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase, Yummly makes a commission.

Jessie Sheehan is smitten with nostalgic, old-school baking: scones enriched with eggs and cream, sheet cakes with a dense crumb, and coffee cake loaded with buttery streusel topping. But her extravagantly delightful recipes aren't tricky or time-consuming. “I’m not the person who’s going to go out and find the pomegranate molasses to go in my frostings,” says Jessie, who writes for many national publications and is author of The Vintage Baker and Icebox Cakes. “And I hate taking on lots of dirty dishes.”  

Enter one-bowl baking, or “easy-peasy baking,” as she also calls this approach. The idea is simple: Use a single bowl for everything from batter to frosting, rely on basic tools, and go with great ingredients.

Though Jessie grew up with a voracious sweet tooth, she picked up her baking skills later in life. “I started as an actress, became a lawyer, then a stay-at-home mom, and then found my true calling, sweets!” 

An apprenticeship at an Americana-style bakery in Brooklyn got her started making the kinds of recipes she already gravitated towards. Along the way, Martha Stewart published a one-bowl chocolate cake recipe so simple that it could have come from the Hershey’s cocoa box. “I became obsessed with that cake. That was the impetus for me,” Jessie remembers.

Many delicious and doable recipes have followed since then, including these eight Yummly original recipes for breakfast on through to dessert. They’re all Step-by-Step Guided Videos, meaning you can follow along and count on success even if you’re a beginner. But before we start whipping up the butter, here are a few tips for getting the most out of one-bowl baking.

A picture of baking author Jessie Sheehan

Basics of one-bowl baking

  • “People can find the term misleading,” says Jessie. “It’s one bowl-ish. You still need to use measuring cups; you can’t eyeball ingredients when you bake.”

  • In addition to measuring cups and spoons, you’ll need a mixing bowl, whisk, strainer/sifter, and flexible spatula for most of Jessie’s recipes. Some also call for a hand mixer or stand mixer.

  • To save on dirty dishes, sift dry ingredients through a strainer onto parchment paper and use it as a funnel to add ingredients to a bowl, or sift directly into the mixing bowl. Some tools can serve multiple uses, such as a glass measuring cup used as a small bowl for whisking eggs.

One-bowl baking mistakes

  • Be sure to incorporate leavening such as baking powder by sifting it with other dry ingredients. “You can get tunnels if you don’t, and the texture won’t be as light,” Jessie cautions.

  • Though Jessie is fine giving a bowl a quick rinse or wipe with a paper towel in between a batter and a frosting, she suggests getting things super-clean if you’re concerned about raw eggs.

One-bowl baking triumphs

  • “Some one-bowl recipes are kind of obvious, like scones and biscuits. But it’s fun to realize that whoopie pies and pudding can be one-bowl-iffied,” says Jessie. 

  • “That caramel cake" (see the recipe below). "I hadn’t known you could make caramel in the microwave. And turning the entire thing into a one-bowl recipe? I was so proud.”

One-Bowl Cranberry Breakfast Buckle 

A picture of a baking pan with a cranberry breakfast buckle and several slices of it on plates

One-Bowl Cranberry Breakfast Buckle by Yummly

Think of a buckle as a coffee cake or crumble with a much better name, says Jessie. This easy streusel recipe has a classic crumbly topping made from just the right proportions of butter, flour, and brown sugar; and it’s loaded with plenty of tart cranberries, which keep it from being too sweet. Fortunately, most grocery stores sell frozen cranberries so you can make this treat year-round!

One-Bowl Ham and Gruyere Scones

A picture of a loaf pan filled with wedges of scones and some more scones on a towel next to it

One-Bowl Ham and Gruyere Scones by Yummly

Planning a weekend brunch? You just might need an easy savory scone recipe to serve alongside the scrambled eggs. Plenty of butter and heavy cream in the dough guarantee the scones come out tender. Black pepper and bits of salty ham and gruyere cheese will keep everyone coming back for more.

One-Bowl Cranberry Cheddar Biscuits

A gif of buttering a One-Bowl Cranberry Cheddar Biscuit

One-Bowl Cranberry Cheddar Biscuits by Yummly

Get ready to up your biscuit game with a number of key techniques from the video for this flaky and indulgent, yet easy biscuit recipe. The dough should still be shaggy after mixing so it stays tender. Freezing biscuits before baking helps them hold their shape. And the biscuits will rise higher if they're baked snugly touching one another in a high-sided pan. Are they better for breakfast with an egg, or for dinner, alongside ham? You may need to try both to decide.

One-Bowl Caramel Snack Cake with Caramel Glaze

A picture of squares of One-Bowl Caramel Snack Cake with Caramel Glaze set out on plates and a cooling rack

One-Bowl Caramel Snack Cake with Caramel Glaze by Yummly

“Who doesn't want a slice of something with the word "snack" in its name?” asks Jessie. Right? This cake owes its rich flavor to a brown sugar, cream, and butter caramel sauce. You mix half the sauce into the batter and save the other half to combine with powdered sugar, vanilla, and flaky sea salt for the glaze. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, while not required, would certainly seal the deal.

One-Bowl Chocolate Sheet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream 

A picture of a piece of Chocolate Sheet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and the rest of the cake behind it

One-Bowl Chocolate Sheet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream by Yummly

Can an easy chocolate cake recipe also be over-the-top flavorful, moist, and decadent? Yes, when it’s a simple cocoa sheet cake made with vanilla, espresso powder, and sour cream and loaded up with an insane amount of rich buttercream frosting. For the most fluffy texture, be sure to beat the frosting at least 5 minutes. Consider this the perfect birthday cake.

One-Bowl Banana Pudding with Coconut Whipped Cream 

A picture of a glass baking dish of One-Bowl Banana Pudding with Coconut Whipped Cream, with a scoop taken out onto a plate

One-Bowl Banana Pudding with Coconut Whipped Cream by Yummly

Homemade banana pudding on its own is reason enough to get excited about dessert. But layer it with vanilla wafer cookies that soften into cake in the fridge, and add a coconut whipped cream topper? Oh, yeah.

One-Bowl Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Buttercream 

A picture of a One-Bowl Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Chocolate Buttercream with a piece being taken out

One-Bowl Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Buttercream by Yummly  

You might not have known that chocolate is one of pumpkin’s best friends, but trust us, you’re not going to want to wait until autumn to find out, especially when there’s a bourbon buttercream frosting involved. As with the chocolate cake, you’ll want to beat the frosting until it gets nice and fluffy.

One-Bowl Gingerbread Whoopie Pies 

A gif of sandwiching together One-Bowl Gingerbread Whoopie Pie cookies

One-Bowl Gingerbread Whoopie Pies by Yummly  

Tender and cakey molasses spice cookies, filled generously with tangy cinnamon cream cheese frosting, hit the spot for dessert, but we predict they just may become your favorite new midnight snack, too.

Keep on baking

We have loads more easy recipes for baking on Yummly, including easy desserts like chewy brownies; chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and sugar cookies; banana bread; muffins; cupcakes; and cheesecake. You can set your dietary preferences for gluten-free or vegan if you like, and search for ingredients you're craving, from apple, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry to pecans, white chocolate, and Nutella.