What to Consider Before Buying a Dough Bowl

Have you always wanted a dough bowl? Before buying, get these tips and ideas…plus learn how to make an easy dough bowl centerpiece that is versatile and beautiful!

dough bowl centerpiece with lantern and cherry blossoms

What is a dough bowl?

A dough bowl, or sometimes called a trencher, is a wooden vessel used to mix bread dough. Dating back to colonial times, these bowls were found in every home, and were carved from a large piece of wood. These pieces of art were perfect for letting bread dough rise, because the wood was a natural insulation, and kept the yeast warm.

The family dough bowl was a treasured and vital kitchen tool, and was passed down from mother to daughter. Today, these authentic pieces of history are a sought-after accessory for lovers of farmhouse and country French decor.

dough bowl reproduction on ivory table runner

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by wooden dough bowls. They have a vintage charm that is perfect for seasonal decorations, and decor that features natural elements. Literally anything looks good in one of these beauties! Like the women who sewed grain sacks, I’ve often wondered about the women who stood at long tables, making bread for their families in these hand-carved trenchers. I like to think they would be happy that we are honoring their way of life.

dough bowl with white lantern

Buying Tips

Determine what size you want & how you want to use it.

Before purchasing a dough bowl, consider how and where you want to use it, and that in turn will help you decide what size to get. If you want to use it as a dining table centerpiece, you could go with a bigger size. If you want to use it on a coffee table, or kitchen island, a smaller size would be better. The good thing is that dough bowls come in numerous shapes and endless sizes. With some savvy shopping, you will be able to find exactly what you want.

Decide on a budget.

Dough bowls can be very expensive…but they are an investment piece, and will literally last a lifetime. Reproductions start in the range of $30.00 and up. Authentic ones can be pricey, so be prepared to pay more.

dough bowl centerpiece with candle lantern

Authentic or reproduction?

I’ve saved the hardest decision for last. Deep down, I would love to have a vintage dough bowl from the 1800’s. When I first fell in love with farmhouse style, I wanted everything to be authentic. I wanted vintage ironstone and antique European grain sacks. Over the years, I have become more relaxed,  and now sprinkle reproductions in with my antiques. Some reproductions are made my skilled artisans, and it’s hard to tell the difference. They have knife marks, scratches, knot holes, and planned defects.

My decision to buy a reproduction dough bowl was based on two things. First, as I mentioned above, the reproductions are very good. The second consideration is the price. Plain and simple, I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a decor accessory. So…at the end of the day, this is actually a very personal decision, and one to think about carefully before purchasing.

What do you display in a dough bowl?

In my opinion, anything can be made more beautiful by placing it in a dough bowl. There are no styling rules, so simply use things you love. My dough bowl centerpiece began with a candle lantern. After that, I nestled faux pink cherry blossoms around the lantern. In under 15 minutes, this farmhouse inspired centerpiece was finished.

Other ideas

Fresh or faux fruit, foraged greenery, moss balls, seed pods, dried flowers, potpourri, pine cones, stems of dried lavender, faux succulents, natural soy wax candles with scent, nests, or small wreaths.

Tip: If you plan to burn candles in your dough bowl, make sure the candles sit steady, with no wobbling.

Add softness with fabric

A dough bowl is very hard, and although there are curved lines, it can look stark or cold. To add softness and warmth, simply place one of your favorite tea towels on the bottom before beginning your arrangement. Let the edges of the towel drape over the sides of the dough bowl. This added layer brings in color and texture as well.

An Arranging Tip

If your dough bowl is long, or very deep, it’s best to add some sort of filler in the bottom. This takes care of two things. First, it gives your decorative items a good, solid base. Second, it raises the decorative items up, so you don’t need as many. Examples that make great fillers are plastic grocery bags, tissue paper, and packing peanuts or pillows. You can also use natural items (like pine cones) as filler.

Cleaning and Care

To clean your dough bowl, prepare a mixture of one part white vinegar to 5 parts warm water. Apply the water mixture with a soft rag or sponge. Carefully dry your bowl, and follow up with a light layer of food-grade mineral oil. Let the mineral oil soak in for several hours, or overnight, and then gently buff with a clean rag.

dough bowl centerpiece in dining room with board and batten


All the dough bowls linked below are reproductions. See the links to Etsy and eBay for authentic versions.

*Affiliate links included. See my disclosure statement. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

pitchers and long dough bowl on shelves

If you’ve always wanted a dough bowl, I encourage to shop around and make the investment. Your friends and family may not understand what is so special about a big, plain wooden bowl…but I do!

candle lantern in dough bowl centerpiece with cherry blossoms

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  1. Winnie TINNEY Annison says:

    Hi Ann, About how many Cherry Blossom Stems do I need to order for the Dough Bowl arrangement?
    So beautiful!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Winnie…I’m sorry for the delay in answering. I counted my cherry blossoms and I think there are 8. I cut a few apart at some point, so that’s my best guess. If your dough bowl is a bit smaller than mine, you could definitely get away with less. Thanks!

  2. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    I really enjoyed your post. Ann, I love dough bowls! Your picture with the lantern and pink flowers is so pretty. My dough bowl was purchased 20+ years ago at an auction sale on a Mennonite farm and I paid $50 for it. I was so happy that I got it. It is a long dough bowl. I keep it on our dining room table and decorate it for the seasons.

  3. CarolBinTX says:

    Hi Ann, I’ve said this many times too, but I really appreciate the fact that you don’t always go for the pricier items and you don’t have any shame in stating that you bought something at Walmart! I’ll go every few months to choose a few decor items, choose wisely and no one knows if the item cost $25 or $200 (well, most people know my frugal ways). I like to have MANY things, I switch decor out monthly. If I paid $200 for a tissue box, I wouldn’t be able to afford or justify the candlesticks or the fauxs that I carefully selected. Sometimes, the pleasure is in the thrill of the hunt!

  4. Margaret May says:

    The most important thing to take into consideration is whether or not these are food safe.

    After all, what’s the use of getting a dough bowl if you can’t actually use it to make bread?

    If you want to put fresh fruit in it then you also need to make sure if it’s food safe.

    I’ve seen some that are finished with beeswax, which makes it that much easier to knead the bread dough in it and not have it stick everywhere.

    You would be surprised how useful wood utensils are, like wood spoons and spatulas that won’t damage your nonstick cookware or a spurtle to stir your porridges and stews.

  5. AMANDA BROWN says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and beautiful idea. I have both a lantern and bowl my Mother gifted to me. I am going to pair them up with some nice flowers.
    I love this…Happy Thanksgiving to All.

  6. 5 stars
    Your dough bowl presentations are beautiful Ann! Thank you for the many variations. I have loved dough bowls since forever and have been blessed to live in many countries around the world while in the military. I have purchased a couple dough bowls from different countries and treasure them. There is just something about a dough bowl that always makes me feel connected to the past. Blessing everyone…have a wonderful day.

  7. monstertruckz says:

    I love your blog, Ann. Not only do you have a classic design, but explain things so simply. You also do something not everyone does, which is speak to people who don’t have a lot of money. I think you give us permission to shop for reproductions, and it’s okay.

  8. Great info on the dough bowls, love the pdf on sugar scrubs!!!! Thank you so much!!!! Have a great day!!!! Just an FYI I m back to reading blog post. I’m no longer on IG, Facebook, Twitter.

  9. I am 74 now and have my grandmother’s dough bowl. I have watched her making biscuits in it so many times. It is very precious to me.

  10. Barbara M. says:

    I feel very fortunate to have a husband that loves to work with wood. We had a Mulberry tree that went down in our yard after a storm, and he made me a dough bowl. It’s not from the 1800’s but it was made with his two hands, and that in itself gives it immeasurable value, and it will be passed down to our daughter.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      This is a lovely story. That dough bowl is truly priceless. Thank you for sharing!

      1. Ann you have such great taste and style. I don’t have a dough bowl but love the rustic warm wood look. what makes it interesting is the combination of rough wood with the delicate pink lacy blossom. the real magic is that you make seem very simple. thank you for sharing your gift with the rest of us.

  11. I always love how you style your dough bowl. I have one that was carved out by my brother-in-law. He used a log that was a floor support in the oldest portion of the house that I grew up in. The walls of the house were three bricks thick and that part of the house was always the warmest in winter and coolest in summer. Many years ago my parents added a room adjoining that part of the house. When they got ready to join the floor of the new room to the old part of the house, the floors would not match up because the flooring in the old part was so wavy. They made the decision to replace the floor in the old part to match the new. When the floor was torn away, they discovered these large logs sitting on the dirt underneath – no floor joists – just logs and dirt! I’ll always treasure my dough bowl made from one of the logs!

  12. I love dough bowls old and new.Yours looks so pretty, ready for spring.

  13. Susan Boback says:

    Thank you! I found this very interesting as I’m so interested in early American life from 1700’s and 1800’s. I hadn’t heard of this called the dough bowl, though I’ve certainly seen many variations of it. I do wonder if the “bread board” came along after the dough bowl. I’ll have to research that. My mother had my grandmother’s bread bowl, but that was a large, glazed stoneware bowl, and I recall one of those being coveted by anyone who made bread during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

  14. Ellen J Sorce says:

    I love your blog, Ann. Not only do you have a classic design, but explain things so simply. You also do something not everyone does, which is speak to people who don’t have a lot of money. I think you give us permission to shop for reproductions, and it’s okay.

    Happy Valentines Day!

  15. I love dough bowls. Great for use in decorations no matter what the season.

    Spring is coming and its a great time while we are waiting for it to get here to look for dough bowls to use

    So ready for spring. We are having ice storms for a few days here in the south so now’s the time to think about spring flowers and plants. It will lift your spirit having things to look forward to.

  16. Great advice, as always! The dough bowl looks great!