Skip to Content

What is a Dough Bowl Plus History & Shopping Tips

From modern-day DIYers to antique collectors, dough bowls have been historically used to knead and mix dough, but now they are becoming increasingly popular as rustic display pieces. Explore what a dough bowl is, what it is used for, the history of the dough bowl, crafting a DIY dough bowl of your own and shopping for an antique dough bowl.

What is a dough bowl?

In our house, we have a love of antiques as well as modern-day pieces. We own five wooden dough bowls – two trencher style, one tray style, and two rounds. Some are old, while others are new.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about decorating with dough bowls and discovered that not everyone knows what a dough bowl is, so that is how this article came about.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission if you purchase using the links below at no extra cost to you. All opinions are all my own.

You have come to the right place if you are here to learn about dough bowls. My goal is to answer all your questions and more. Therefore, in this post we will talk about the following:

  1. What is a Dough Bowl?
  2. How is a Dough Bowl used?
  3. The History of the Dough Bowl
  4. Crafting a DIY Dough Bowl
  5. Shopping for an Antique Wooden Dough Bowl

What is a Dough Bowl?

A dough bowl is a wooden bowl kitchen tool traditionally used for kneading and shaping homemade bread dough. A rustic dough bowl is also commonly used as a decorative item in home decor. They come in different sizes and shapes.

Decorating with dough bowls

How is a Dough Bowl Used?

Traditionally, this wooden kitchenware is used for kneading and preparing bread dough, but can also be used for serving salads or displaying fruit on the kitchen island or as a decorative piece. In modern times, wooden dough bowls still play a role in kitchens, but old and antique dough bowls are also used in home decoration, like this oblong bowl on my mantel.

spring decorating ideas

History of Dough Bowls

Dough bowls have been used for centuries as a staple kitchen tool. Once a vital kitchen tool, the history of dough bowls is fascinating, dating back to ancient civilizations.

Wooden bowls were commonly used for mixing and kneading dough, as well as for serving food. Additionally, the wooden vessel was also popular in the Appalachian region of the United States, where they were used for various purposes, including washing clothes and holding water for animals. The following paragraphs will explore dough bowls' history and significance in various cultures.

During the early days, dough bowls were made by hand using a variety of woods, including maple, cherry, and ash. The bowls were shaped by hand with various tools, including axes and adzes. They were then smoothed and finished with various materials, including beeswax and linseed oil.

A family dough bowl is often passed down from generation to generation; some were considered family heirlooms, like this large light brown dough bowl passed down from my niece's grandma to her mom and then her.


Dough Bowls Today

Today, many people collect antique dough bowls to connect with their past and appreciate the craftsmanship of earlier times.

Thrift store wooden dough bowl tray

Dough bowls were not limited to Europe and North America. In Asia, similar wooden bowls were used for various purposes, including mixing and serving food.

Wooden bowls called “masu” were used to measure rice and other grains in Japan. In India, wooden bowls called “kadhais” were used for cooking and serving food. Today, many Asian cultures continue to use wooden bowls in their daily lives, which are often decorated with intricate designs and patterns.

The popularity of dough bowls declined in the mid-20th century as metal and plastic bowls became more widely available. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in wooden bowls, and many people are rediscovering the beauty and functionality of these timeless objects.

Today, dough bowls are often used as decorative pieces in homes and restaurants, and they are also used for a variety of purposes. A beautiful focal point, you can design a dough bowl centerpiece, hold fruits and vegetables, organize small items, and serve food.


The history of dough bowls is a rich and fascinating topic that spans many cultures and centuries. From their humble origins as essential tools for food preparation to their current status as decorative objects, dough bowls have played an essential role in many aspects of daily life.

Whether you are a collector or appreciate the organic beauty and functionality of these wooden bowls, there is much to be learned and appreciated about their history and significance.

Crafting a DIY Dough Bowl

You can craft your own beautiful dough bowl. These wood bowls are not difficult to make with the right tools.

  1. Firstly, you want to select a fine textured straight grain raw wood free of knot holes, thick enough for the depth of the bowl, and food safe if you plan to use it in the kitchen.
  2. Next, cut the sides of the wood at a 45-degree angle or the preferred angle.
  3. Outline what you want to grind on the top of the wood with a pencil.
  4. Use an angle grinder to carve out the center. Grind a little at a time, starting with 36 grit, then move to 60 grit, and, finally, then hand sand to smooth out the inside.
  5. Sand the outside to smooth down any sharp edges.
  6. Finally, add butcher block oil if you plan to use it for making dough. Here is a great video to watch by Eternal Harvest Decor.

With proper care, your dough bowl will last for generations to come.

Shopping for an Antique Wooden Dough Bowl

An antique dough bowl can make a great addition to your home decor. There's nothing wrong with getting a reproduction dough bowl, but if your heart is set on an antique, here are some key points to consider:

Understanding Antique Dough Bowls

Antique dough bowls were used to mix and knead bread dough by hand. Many of these bowls were hand-carved from a single piece of wood and have a unique patina and character that can't be replicated.

When shopping for an antique dough bowl, look for signs of wear and tear, as well as unique features like hand-carved designs or decorative handles. Another great way to spot an antique wood dough bowl is worm holes.

Conversely, if you see a stack of identical dough bowls, they are reproductions. No two antique dough bowls will look the same. The color of each bowl and the texture can especially vary greatly.

Choosing the Right Size

Antique dough bowls come in a variety of sizes, and it's important to choose one that fits your needs. If you plan to use the bowl for baking, consider what types of recipes you'll be making and choose a bowl that can accommodate the amount of dough you'll be working with.

If you're using the bowl for decorative purposes, think about where you'll be displaying it and choose a size that will fit in the space.

Authenticity and Value

Ensuring you get an authentic piece is important when shopping for an antique dough bowl. Look for signs of age, wear and tear, and unique features that can help authenticate the bowl's history. Additionally, consider the value of the bowl and whether it's worth the price tag. Some bowls may be worth more due to their age, rarity, or unique features.

Best Places to Shop for Antique or Vintage Dough Bowls

Pottery Barn, Elsie Green, Etsy, thrift stores, garage sales, Facebook marketplace, and antique stores like Charish. (Here is my most recent dough bowl found in a thrift store. It has a chip, but I think it gives it even more character.)

Vintage wood dough bowl decoration on a coffee table with a stack of books and a plant


Dough bowls have been used throughout the ages and across many cultures. Today, they are still used in the kitchen and as decorative pieces. With suitable materials and knowledge, you can craft your own DIY dough bowl or search for an antique wooden dough bowl.

Whether you have a modern home or embrace the farmhouse style, there are many beautiful ways to decorate with dough bowls.

When you're ready to decorate with your dough bowl, check out these posts on dough bowl decor for great options and inspiration:

Share your DIY dough bowl and experiences finding an antique wooden dough bowl with us in the comments and on social media!

Happy Decorating!