15 Baking Ingredients To Stock Up Now Before They Sell Out During The Holidays

CROP Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake Recipe

In the South, fall is a time of preparation for the busy holiday season to come. Southerners start planning menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas, shining silver, and buying up presents as early as October. However, the most important thing to stock up in advance of the holiday season? The pantry. With all the family gatherings, cookie swaps, potlucks, and holiday parties that pop up in November and December, it's much easier to simply be prepared than making a last-minute run to the grocery store.

Luckily, the Southern Living Test Kitchen Professionals are here to help with a list of baking essentials to stock up on now, especially before things start selling out on the aisles closer to the big holidays. For those who are loyal to certain Southern brands, it can be extra risky to not buy a stash ahead of time. (Anyone who has ever tried to find White Lily Flour or Sister Schubert Parker House Rolls the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas knows that it's a battlefield out there.)

Hot tip: Check the expiration dates on all your spices such as cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, as well as leavening agents—baking powder and soda—to figure out what needs to be replaced. From there, these are the baking ingredients you need in the house well before "Jingle Bells" starts playing on the radio.

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Baking Powder

Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

You might not know there's a difference between baking soda and baking powder, so before your holiday baking ramps up, be sure to check that you have both on hand. Food Editor Lisa Cericola has a trick to remind herself which to grab when you pull that ingredient list up. "Baking soda is in the fridge, baking powder is in the cabinet," she writes.

Recipe: Santa's Kitchen-Sink Cookies

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Gingerbread Pancakes
Caitlin Bensel

Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom knows this ingredient is a Southern staple, so she always has some in the refrigerator. From baking your favorite skillet cornbread to flipping flapjacks on Christmas morning or even stirring up a batch of classic milk punch for your holiday cocktail party, there are countless ways you'll go through buttermilk this season. Don't forget it at the store!

Recipe: Triple B Milk Punch

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Sugar-and-Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

This might sound self-explanatory, but many people underestimate how much flour is used between all the baked goods and holiday dishes that get made from November through the New Year. Especially if you prefer a certain brand such as White Lily, replenish your stock generously well ahead of time. Particular types of flour often sell out right before big holidays!

Recipe: Sugar-and-Pumpkin Spice Muffins

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Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar Cookie Stars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

If you haven't used that bag of brown sugar in a long time, you could be in trouble. If it's hardened, don't worry: There's a fix for that. If it's been sitting in a humid environment (like an oft-used kitchen), it can lead to fermentation, which might make your brown sugar smell like alcohol or vinegar. In this case, it's best not to risk your beautiful baked goods. Go ahead and grab an extra bag or two for when it's time for the annual Christmas cookie swap.

Recipe: Brown Sugar Cookie Stars

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Sweetened Condensed Milk

Christmas Fudge
Micah A Leal

It's amazing what a can of sweetened condensed milk can do. If you're in need of a last-minute dessert, grab the can from your pantry and make portable treats like Magic Cookie Bars or Homemade Turtles to gift to neighbors or contribute to a holiday potluck.

Recipe: Christmas Fudge

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Vanilla Extract

Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Southern bakers know how easy it is to go through a bottle of vanilla extract quickly, and you're certainly going to need it for all the pies and cookies. Stock up on vanilla extract before the season since it won't go bad in the meantime. It's one that tends to sell out!

Recipe: Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

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Southern Cornbread Dressing
Lee Harrelson

Oh, you need to make multiple batches of cornbread for your famous Thanksgiving dressing? Better be prepared. Cornmeal, especially favorite Southern brands of cornmeal, tends to get scarce around the holidays. Buy at least two bags to avoid late-nights runs to the Piggly Wiggly.

Recipe: Southern Cornbread Dressing

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Cinnamon Roll Strata
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Not everyone has time to bake fresh bread during the busy holiday season. Not only is it great to have a batch of rolls in the fridge or freezer for your breadbasket, but our Test Kitchen recommends several creative ways to use them: bake a savory bread pudding, make a French toast casserole, use them for leftover turkey sandwiches, or cube and toast them to make croutons for your starter salads. If you like Sister Schubert, act fast and stock up!

Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Strata

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Shortening Sticks

Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Some ingredients have faded in use over time, and while shortening is used less in modern-day baking than in the past, it's still smart to keep some shortening sticks in your pantry for holiday baking purposes. There's practically nothing better to grease a Bundt cake pan than shortening to ensure it comes out smoothly in one perfect piece. Trust us.

Recipe: Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake

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Chocolate-Pecan Tassies
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Pecans are a Southern-grown favorite for holiday baking projects. Of course, their obvious home is atop a pie, but pecans round out a number of dishes. Keep a stash of these nuts—preferably locally grown—on hand to top desserts and vegetable sides and to add texture to dressing. Chop them finely and roll them into pie dough for a nutty crust. Toast them in butter and sprinkle with your favorite spice blend to nibble on before meals.

Recipe: Chocolate-Pecan Tassies

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Baking Soda

Gingerbread Roulade and Eggnog Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

How long has that box of baking soda been sitting in the back of your fridge? If you're unsure, go ahead and replace it to start fresh with a new box for the season. Before you go swapping baking powder and baking soda like they're interchangeable (they're not), read up on Editor Pat York's tips here.

Recipe: Gingerbread Cake Roll with Eggnog Cream

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Powdered Sugar

Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Even if you rely on a box of cake mix in a pinch, there are plenty of ways to dress it up so that it tastes homemade. One, of course, is throwing together some quick frosting. All you need is powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and a little milk or heavy cream to make it. From there, you can add flavor with additions like cinnamon, cream cheese, or even bourbon for a boozy touch.

Recipe: Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream

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Heavy Cream

Brown Sugar-and-Ginger Whipped Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

You absolutely must have heavy cream in the fridge for the holiday season. There are countless recipes, both sweet and savory, that could use a splash. It's great for giving richness to casseroles, mashed potatoes, and gravy—and a fluffy pile of lightly sweetened whipped cream can help camouflage a cracked or less-than-perfect pie.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Brown Sugar-and-Ginger Whipped Cream

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Chocolate Baking Bars

Best-Ever Brownies
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Why use the box of brownie mix when it's just as easy to make them homemade? Not only can you whip up a batch of Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom's Best Ever Brownies with baking bars on hand, but you can chop them up to add to other baked goods like chocolate-chunk cookies or a fudgy flourless cake.

Recipe: Best-Ever Brownies

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Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream
Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom recommends having fresh citrus around. Though it's not a pantry staple per se, many Christmas baking recipes call for oranges. Plus, a bit of acidic orange gives extra zing to other holiday recipes like cranberry sauce, glazed carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. If you're brining a turkey, add some orange slices to the soaking liquid or zest to the dry rub. Just a pinch of zest can also make a sunny addition to whipped cream.

Recipe: Cranberry-Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream

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