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What is a Bulb Baster?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bulb baster is a kitchen tool which is designed to make basting things like roasts much easier. The classic design is often closely associated in the mind of consumers with turkey, and it is sometimes more commonly known as a turkey baster. There are numerous uses for a bulb baster around the kitchen, and most are relatively inexpensive, making them a handy investment.

The basic design of a bulb baster includes two parts. The first is a long metal, glass, or plastic cylinder which can hold basting liquids. The cylinder also distances the hand of the chef from potentially hot pans and foods, reducing the risk of burns. The second part is the bulb, made from plastic, silicone, or rubber. The bulb is squeezed to draw liquid up into the cylinder, then gently squeezed to release them. A high quality baster can create quite a vacuum, sucking up a large amount of liquid for basting or removal from a pan.

Basting foods as they cook ensures that they stay moist, flavorful, and evenly browned. Typically, basting is done with drippings from the pan, efficiently recycling them and preventing the bottom of the roast from getting soggy. A bulb baster may also be used to apply a marinade. The tool is also useful for removing excessive liquid from a pan. Warming the baster before use tends to make it more effective, and can be accomplished by running the baster under warm water.

While the basic design of a bulb baster is simple, there are a number of optional tips which may be included. In some cases, the baster is paired with a basting brush, which attaches to the end of the tube. An injection needle can also be used to penetrate the roast with the basting liquid. Some companies also design dripless tips, which help the bulb baster retain the fluids until they are needed.

The quality of bulb basters varies widely. Many companies make the tools out of less than ideal materials, meaning that they can fail, sometimes at very inconvenient moments. As a general rule, you want to find a baster which can be easily cleaned, often by removing the bulb. Silicone is a great material for bulb basters, since it is heat resistant. Try to avoid thin plastics, as they may crack or melt.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By shell4life — On Sep 06, 2011

I have a silicone bulb baster with a rubber bulb. I clean it by removing the bulb, dripping a few drops of liquid dish detergent down the cylinder, and using the spray nozzle on my sink to squirt a pressurized stream of hot water through it.

To warm it before use, I just roll it between my palms for several seconds. My hands are usually hot from all the kitchen exercise they get before I’m ready to baste, anyway.

If I use it with a glaze or marinade containing garlic and onions, the smell can linger even after I wash it. All I have to do is squirt some lemon juice down the cylinder and slosh it around a bit, and this removes the smell.

By OeKc05 — On Sep 06, 2011

My bulb baster comes in handy when I’m making cinnamon rolls. I have the kind with the brush attached, so it’s easy to spread butter on the dough without making a mess.

I make a big batch of biscuit dough from flour, butter, and milk. I roll it out, but I try to keep it somewhat thick.

Then, I melt some butter to spread on it so that the cinnamon and sugar will stick. I use the bulb baster to draw in the butter and release it onto the dough, brushing it as I go along to ensure that it is evenly coated. I sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar, roll it up tightly, slice it, and bake the rolls.

I use the bulb baster again for the glaze. I mix butter, milk, and powdered sugar until runny. Then, I baste it onto the still warm cinnamon rolls. It sinks down into their crevices and moistens them.

By wavy58 — On Sep 05, 2011

I use a bulb baster to help keep my chicken moist while roasting. There is nothing worse than biting into what you expect to be a juicy piece of chicken, only to find it dry and flavorless. I baste it before and halfway through cooking to prevent this.

I make a glaze from olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme. I draw it into the bulb baster, which has a pastry brush attached. When I release the glaze onto the chicken, I pull the brush across it to coat it evenly.

If any of the glaze remains on the bottom of the pan when the chicken is halfway done, I draw it up and squirt it back on top of the meat. Otherwise, I just use more of the fresh glaze to baste it.

By Perdido — On Sep 05, 2011

My mother bought a baster to use on the Thanksgiving turkey. Though I have never cooked a turkey, I have used this baster for other things.

I used it just last night to baste my salmon. I made a glaze out of honey, brown sugar, butter, and lemon juice. I heated it in a pot on the stove, and then I used the baster to draw it up from the pot and squirt it onto the salmon. I placed the fish on aluminum foil so that the bottom would not burn or stick to the pan.

Halfway during cooking, I used the baster once more. I had kept the glaze warm by leaving it on low, and this made it easier for it to flow through the baster. I reapplied it to the salmon to keep it juicy and full of flavor. It turned out to be very delicious.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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