21 Store-Bought Staples That Are Way Better Homemade
Before you get the wrong idea, know that there's no shame in picking something up at the grocery store. It's convenient and you know exactly what you're getting. However, many staples like sauces, snacks, and some breads aren't too difficult to make on your own, and the superior taste is its own reward. When it comes to these items, a little extra effort goes a long way.
This vibrant jam recipe is the perfect way to preserve a bounty of summer blueberries and enjoy long after their season is over. The fresh ginger adds a delightful pop of flavor, but isn’t overpowering. Serve your homemade blueberry jam on a hearty slab of toast, spooned over warm biscuits or pancakes, or alongside a wheel of Brie.
Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream
Just like wine grapes, vanilla grown in different regions produces a range of nuanced flavors. Inspired by the single-origin ice cream line from Pasadena-based Choctál, we experimented in the Sunset Test Kitchen with six vanilla extracts from around the world in our basic ice cream recipe, with six very different results.
New York-Style Pizza Sauce
Homemade pizza sauce is far superior to the jarred stuff. It’s fresher, far tastier, and much easier to make than you’d expect. With only eight ingredients and a no-cook prep, this classic New York-style pizza sauce is truly perfect for a quick and easy dinner kind of night.
Homemade Dinner Rolls
Soft, tender, pillowy, and buttery. What's not to love? Once you go homemade, it's hard to go back to store-bought dinner rolls.
No-Knead Lightly Rye Bread
Ready to try your hand at bread baking? This simple, no-knead bread is the perfect recipe to start with. The easy-to-follow recipe yields a delightfully chewy, crisp-crusted, bakery-style boule and is an excellent yeasted bread for a novice bread maker to build confidence (and impress guests) with. Small additions of whole-wheat and rye flours give the loaf a great depth of flavor and chew without affecting the bread’s ability to rise.
Creamy Tahini Hummus
The key to achieving this rich hummus’s creamy texture is an unexpected pantry staple: baking soda. Simmering dried chickpeas in a baking soda solution helps the legumes break down faster and more efficiently, resulting in an impossibly smooth spread. While 1/2 cup may seem like a generous measure of tahini, this is what will give your hummus its signature deeply toasty flavor—so don’t cut yourself short.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Our DIY recipe for vanilla extract couldn't be easier to make. Plus, a bottle of this baking staple made from-scratch happens to be an excellent gift.
As any true bagel enthusiast knows, store-bought simply can’t compare to a freshly baked, New York-style bagel. And while they may seem intimidating to make on your own, rest assured, a great bagel is relatively simple to make and uses just a few pantry ingredients. Though they require 2 days from start to finish, the hands-on involvement is minimal, making them a great weekend baking project.
Containing a fraction of the sugar found in store-bought chocolate-hazelnut spreads, our DIY take on Nutella strikes a divine balance of intensely rich, purely chocolatey, and not overly sweet. In fact, our test kitchen staff preferred this homemade Nutella over the real deal.
Fresh Herb Pesto
Pesto is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make use of summer’s prolific herbs, and at the same time create a flavorful uncooked condiment. The classic pesto, which originated in Genoa, Italy, is made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and olive oil. The ingredients can either be crushed with a mortar and pestle or finely chopped in a food processor.
Instant Pot Whole-Milk Yogurt
Making your own batch of versatile, nutritious, probiotic-rich yogurt has never been easier. We all know the Instant Pot is awesome acting as both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, but if you’ve ever wondered about the other claim on the box—Wait, can I really make yogurt in my Instant Pot?—trust us, we tried it out and it’s actually super simple using the Instant Pot’s “Yogurt” setting. All you need is whole milk and a few tablespoons of plain yogurt (you need just a little bit that’s already made to act as a “starter” for your yogurt). Once you’ve made your first batch, be sure to save a few tablespoons of yogurt to start your next batch when your supply is low. Use your homemade yogurt for nutrient-rich smoothies, as a tangy topper for soups and tacos, to make rich sauces and dips, and more. If you want to simply enjoy a bowl for breakfast, top your yogurt as desired with fresh fruit, honey, granola, chopped nuts, etc. You can also stir in a little vanilla extract to taste in order to make vanilla yogurt.
Homemade Toaster Pastries
Kids will love to help assemble these DIY toaster pastries, complete with icing and sprinkles!
Homemade Pizza Dough
Skip store-bought, frozen pizza and make homemade pizza dough from scratch. This perfectly chewy pizza crust recipe, from our friends at Real Simple, is an easy way to make pizza night a whole lot more fun for the whole family. This delicious, savory crust will elevate your pizza to rock-star status. A build-you-own pie buffet is the perfect strategy whether you are hosting or feeding your family on a busy weeknight. Just be sure you have plenty of toppings on hand for your hungry chefs.
Foolproof Homemade Granola
The best reason to make homemade granola is that when you make it yourself, you’re making exactly what you want. Homemade granola is infinitely customizable. If you feel like making savory granola, by all means! If you want to add chocolate, please do. If you want your granola to actually be mostly dried blueberries, you do you!
DIY Brown Sugar
Do you know what's delicious? Kahlua. Do you know what I will never, ever finish an entire bottle of? Kahlua. Somewhere in the back of my head I assumed that Kahlua was one of those things that you couldn't DIY without a great deal of equipment and, say, a distillation license. But it turns out that's a total lie. Making Kahlua, or really, a Kahlua-like coffee liqueur, is crazy easy, and you probably don't even have to take a special trip to the store to get any special ingredients.
Cheddar Cheese Snack Crackers
Skip the store-bought version and create your own cheesy snack crackers for afternoon snacking.
Make your own fluffy, vanilla, sugary goodness this holiday season. These make a great gift, along with homemade hot chocolate mix. Cut the marshmallows into bigger squares for smores during the warmer months. Gelatin can be found on the baking aisle of your local grocery store.
How to Make Cold Brew Concentrate at Home
We’re all guilty of spending way too much money on those darling bottles of cold brew at our local third-wave coffee shop. Turns out, it’s actually way too easy to make DIY cold brew at home. Should we not have told you this?
Food Processor Butter
Making your own butter is a breeze with the help of your food processor. Use this simple method to whip up a batch of fresh, rich butter in just about 15 minutes.
Mayonnaise made from-scratch can be fairly life altering. Nothing against the shelf-stable, store-bought version, but homemade is truly in a league of it’s own when it comes to rich flavor and incredible texture. It’s super simple to whip up in the food processor and will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.