Baking Essentials You Should And Shouldn't Buy At Aldi

Baking can be one of the most enjoyable parts of cooking. It allows for both precise methodologies, as well as creativity to allow bakers to express themselves. Plus, you can look forward to a tasty snack. But with ever-rising costs, baking simply for enjoyment has been put on hold for many people. Grocery prices, in general, have risen about 11% from 2021 to 2022, with crucial baking essentials such as eggs and butter coming in with some of the biggest price tags. 

This is when the cost-conscious baker knows it's time to hunt for a good deal. Of course, one of the premier places to search for low-cost groceries is Aldi. The chain may charge you for things like bags or require a quarter to use a shopping cart but often gives the best price around. Unlike Costco, you aren't saddled with bulk quantities of items at this chain.

Aldi is one of the best places around to buy many baking essentials, but not all of them. In reality, there are some better deals or better quality items to be found elsewhere. Here is a roundup of all the baking supplies you should and should not buy at Aldi.

Do buy: Extracts

While bottles of extract are often small, a little goes a long way. This is probably why even tiny bottles of extract can cost a lot. One of the quintessential extracts, vanilla, has been subject to some pretty intense price fluctuations, and prices are only expected to go up in the future. 

Real vanilla extract is made from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid, which is soaked in alcohol to extract the pod's floral flavor and aroma. If this sounds expensive, that's because it is. Vanilla prices are influenced by fluctuating climate conditions, resulting in prices that are often high. During one price spike in 2022, shoppers at Aldi took to expressing their outage over prices on Reddit. While the price may feel high, it is still generally lower at Aldi compared to other stores.

Aldi sells Stonemill Pure Vanilla Extract at notably low prices for real (not imitation) extract. Aldi also offers a selection of low-priced pure Stonemill extracts in lemon, almond, and peppermint. The quality is high and the prices are low, making these an excellent Aldi buy.

Do buy: Baking soda and baking powder

For those times when your baking needs a quick lift, there is baking soda and baking powder. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline chemical that creates rapid fizz and lift when it's exposed to acid. That makes it perfect for leavening baked goods. While baking soda has been used for several centuries, baking powder did not hit the market until 1856. Baking powder is simply baking soda with acidic powdered alum added to the mix to give additional lift.

Aldi offers its house brand, Baker's Corner, for both baking powder and baking soda. Now, baking soda is not a big ticket item but every little bit helps. There are some places, such as Walmart, where you can get larger quantities of baking soda for a cheaper price per ounce, but that comes with a big caveat. Baking soda, once open, should be replaced every six months. This is a case where buying in bulk probably won't save you money. Casual home bakers are likely better off buying from Aldi in smaller quantities.

Do buy: Eggs

Eggs have seen one of the largest price spikes in recent years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices of eggs skyrocketed from February 2022 to February 2023 by nearly 64.3%., though those prices have since become more reasonable.

Of course, we are not arguing that Aldi is immune to fluctuations in egg prices, as disgruntled commenters on Reddit will be happy to tell you. However, the fact remains that Aldi egg prices are still some of the best. As of 2019, Aldi prices were lower than Walmart's for both large and cage-free eggs.

While bulk stores like Costco do sell eggs for a comparatively lower price, you are once again locked into larger quantities. At Aldi, you can buy a simple dozen, whole at Costco, you have to buy between two and five dozen eggs at a time. Given that eggs are fresh for only a limited amount of time, there isn't much of a cost savings if you are throwing away half the product.

Do buy: Most dairy products

For the most part, Aldi knows what it's doing when it comes to dairy products like milk, half-and-half, and sour cream, with a few exceptions. When making price comparisons, Aldi dairy typically comes out cheaper than similar products from competitors such as Walmart. In 2023, milk prices compared between Aldi, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods found that Aldi had the best price for both a gallon and a half gallon of whole milk. Aldi was even cheaper than Costco.

Finally, Aldi milk is also pretty tasty. Side-by-side taste comparisons from reviewers found nothing to be amiss with Aldi milk. Some even found that their local Aldi likely gets its milk and other dairy products from the same supplier as their local grocery store. The only difference is the considerably lower price of the dairy products at Aldi. So, with cheaper prices and better taste, why wouldn't you buy your milk at Aldi?

Do buy: Chocolate chips

One wouldn't think that a discount grocery store that typically sells its own generic brands would excel at something like chocolate — but excel Aldi does. The reason people love Aldi's take on chocolate is likely because Aldi, a German company, imports much of its chocolate from Europe. However, the love of Aldi chocolate doesn't stop with its bars.

Aldi's Baker's Corner chocolate chips have been making waves on Reddit, where consumers say they taste better than leading brands such as Hershey's. One commenter even went so far as to say the recipe on the back of the bag is better than the classic Toll House recipe. 

It's rare to see such a large group of people in complete agreement, but Aldi chocolate chips apparently bring the world together. And, of course, we can't forget that Aldi offers bargain prices, beating out other generic brands. It is hard to say no to chocolate that tastes better and is cheaper than the name-brand stuff.

Do buy: Spices

Spices, like extract, are small items that can nonetheless pack a big punch. Would autumn really happen without pumpkin spice? Of course not. Spices are crucial to cooking but at most grocery stores, even a small container can cost you a pretty penny. That problem didn't even compare to the issue of dull spices that have lost the flavor and aroma necessary to make baked goods great.

Here, Aldi delivers on both price and quality. One Redditor pointed out that spices sold at Aldi under its Stonemill brand were one-third the price of McCormick's spices at their local grocery store. Another noted the flavors from Aldi spices are strong and postulated that they are roasted frequently, so fresh spices are always available.

The sizes tend to be appropriate for home kitchen use, as they're neither too big nor too small. The cinnamon, for example, is 2.37 ounces, whole McCormick cinnamon starts at just 0.46 ounces. However, don't buy too large a container, because ground spices need to be replaced anywhere from every four months to two years. Once again, buying too much will not save you money down the road.

Aldi offers a solid variety of herbs and spices from Simply Nature Organic and Stonemill. While you may not find a highly specialized spice, for most baking needs, Aldi will provide.

Do buy: Cane sugar

We want to be very clear about this: When we say that you should buy cane sugar from Aldi, we are emphasizing the "cane" portion of the name. Aldi sells a few types of sugar, but they are not all created equally.

Cane sugar is refined from sugar cane. In contrast, cheaper baking sugar is often made from sugar beets. Many bakers believe there is a difference between how the two bake, especially when it comes to brown sugar. Quite a few prefer to use cane sugar only.

Aldi does sell cane sugar but be certain that you look carefully at the label to make sure you are getting the correct product. For those looking for the most affordable option, Aldi sells Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar. Zulka is not an Aldi-specific product, but some have found that Aldi has the best price for it. Zulka Pure Cane Sugar isn't made with GMO ingredients, but it is not organic. Aldi also sells its home brand Simply Nature Organic Cane and a Light Brown Sugar.

Don't buy: Baker's Corner Granulated Sugar

As much as we recommend that you buy your cane sugar at Aldi, we can't likewise tell you to buy the Aldi Baker's Corner granulated sugar or light brown sugar. Chemically speaking, a sugar that's derived from sugar cane and sugar derived from sugar beets is the same. However, many claim that the two kinds of sugar both taste and bake differently, which is probably not something you want to deal with in precise baking recipes.

Now, Aldi granulated sugar is not listed as beet sugar, but that is because you do not have to label it at all. However, often it is what is left unsaid that speaks volumes.

What's more, brown sugar is typically made with a combination of white sugar and molasses, the latter of which is itself a byproduct of making cane sugar. For many, it seems counterintuitive to add a cane sugar product to beet sugar instead of just starting with a cane product, to begin with.

Don't buy: Flour

Aldi has some of the best prices around when it comes to many products, but it can't win every price competition. Weirdly, one product that Aldi does not offer a great deal on is flour. Flour makes up a large portion of many baking recipes, so it is surprising to find that you are probably better off buying all-purpose flour elsewhere.

When comparing Walmart's Great Value flour to Aldi Baker's Corner flour, Walmart typically comes out ahead. Walmart also offers a larger 10-pound bag compared to Aldi's five-pound product. Walmart does offer a smaller bag that is slightly more expensive than Aldi's. But for serious home bakers who are regularly making products, a five-pound bag of flour likely will not go as far as you might think. There are about 18 cups of flour in a five-pound bag, for instance, whole a basic sugar cookie recipe can use three cups of flour in one go. If you are making a large batch of cookies for an event, those 18 cups of flour are going to dwindle to nothing pretty quickly. When you consider that flour can last years if it is stored correctly, it is probably worth buying the bigger bag sold elsewhere.

Don't buy: Cocoa powder

Considering how good the rest of Aldi's chocolate selection can be, it is surprising to learn that the cocoa powder from Aldi is just mediocre. The Aldi cocoa powder once again comes from the store's Baker's Corner line and is made from unsweetened 100% cocoa. Like many cocoa powders, it's pretty basic, and so you would think it is hard to mess up. Yet the Baker's Corner cocoa powder just isn't up to snuff.

Reviewers on Reddit complained that Aldi cocoa powder simply did not carry a lot of chocolate flavor. It speaks volumes that the best some people could say about this product is that it is just okay – not exactly the singing response you would hope for from what should be a flavorful ingredient. To many, Aldi's cocoa powder is simply not high quality. Based on these responses, we will be skipping the Aldi cocoa powder in favor of one with more chocolate flavor and better results.

Don't buy: Yeast

Oftentimes, the fact that Aldi sells products in small quantities is a bonus, but this is one time that's a hindrance. When it comes to yeast, Aldi sells two different kinds: fast-rising and active dry. Both are only available in three .75-ounce pouches. Now, if you do not bake with yeast very often and genuinely will not use that yeast more than three times, that's fine. However, if you often like to make bread or any other baked goods that require yeast, you are better off buying a jar of this key ingredient instead of the fussy little packets.

A single jar of Fleishmann's yeast is the equivalent of 16 packets, yielding more from a name-brand product for less than the equivalent amount at Aldi. Plus, the jars let you measure exactly how much yeast you need for a recipe. With the packets, any amount other than what is contained within those packets will likely be wasted. Most yeast packets contain 2.25 teaspoons of yeast. While many recipes may be designed for this amount, others may call for more or less, leading to waste with the Aldi packets.

Don't buy: Irish butter

The term Irish butter usually elicits a certain image of deep yellow butter that's both high in fat and quality and with rich flavor. Part of this is because the European Union legislates aspects of butter such as the fat content. While in America, butter only needs to be 80% fat, in Europe it must be at least 82%. That 2% fat makes a huge difference when it comes to how the butter tastes and how it behaves in baked goods.

That is why it is so disappointing that Aldi Irish butter, while technically made in Ireland, does not meet the legal requirements to be considered Irish butter. Therefore, it simply will not bake as well as the reason deal. Aldi Irish butter only has 80% fat, making it no different in fat content than regular old butter from Aldi. At the typical markup of Irish butter, why invest in a product that doesn't pull its own weight?

What's worse is that, once upon a time, Aldi used to carry the Irish butter brand Kerrygold but replaced it with this lackluster option. Aldi Countryside Creamery Irish butter simply does not live up to its name, so consumers should think twice before buying it.

Don't buy: Cream cheese

Cream cheese is used to make several delicious baked goods, from cheesecake to cookie dough. It can also prove to be on the pricier side for consumers. We all love getting a good deal, of course, but no money saving in the world is going to justify the low-quality cream cheese that can be found at Aldi. Yes, Aldi's Happy Farms cream cheese does tend to be cheaper than other store-brand cream cheeses, but that comes at the cost of quality. Numerous dissatisfied buyers have taken to the Internet to complain about the Aldi cream cheese taste. One Facebook poster mentioned that, while the first block they tried was okay, the second one was nothing short of inedible. Several people agreed in the comments saying that they had similar experiences with cream cheese that tasted sour or generally off.

Meanwhile, multiple Reddit commenters noted that their blocks of cream cheese from Aldi were functionally flavorless. They generally agreed that, despite the savings, Aldi cream cheese is simply not worth the money. For even casual home cooks, it is likely better to stick with trusted name brands such as Philadelphia Cream Cheese.