My Recipe Box

Nothing Beats Homemade

Homemade versions of commonly store-bought foods

Inspired by Alana Chernila’s excellent book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, we pulled together a collection of recipes we consider infinitely better than their store-bought counterparts. They’ll have you enthusiastically turning out everything from ketchup to peanut butter cups—all from scratch.


Applewood-Smoked Bacon

You won't believe how much better the flavor and texture of homemade bacon are compared to its store-bought counterpart, and you can—and should—experiment with different flavors like bourbon and maple.

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Granola Bars

Ivy Manning’s crispy, yet slightly chewy granola bars are endlessly adaptable as long as you keep the ratio of dry to wet ingredients the same.

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Oreo Cookies

As fun to make as they are to eat, this version of classic kid-favorite is made rich and chocolaty with Dutch-processed cocoa and semisweet chocolate chips.

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Feta Cheese

Nothing compares to the fresh taste of homemade feta. Traditionally made with sheep's milk, this Greek cheese is equally delicious when made from store-bought cow's milk.

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Peanut Butter Cups

While these take some time to set up and fill, they’re pretty fabulous and have a nice bit of goosh to them. If you really want to go the distance, take the time to make your peanut butter from scratch. This is a moment when it really shines.

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Kale Chips

We’ve all seen those big “gourmet” bags of kale chips in discount department stores. But don’t go there! The best kale chips are roasted, not fried, and they’re certainly not loaded with salt to make them palatable.

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Apple-Bacon Barbecue Sauce & Mop

Truly great ribs are layered with the flavors of a rub, a mop, and a sauce—and you can easily make all three yourself. The smoky-sweet flavor of this mop and sauce strikes just the right balance for the ribs.

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Maple-Walnut Granola with Dates

In this crunch-lovers delight, big clusters of tasty oats and nuts can be eaten easily out of hand. This style of granola stays crisp in milk, too, making it a great breakfast as well as a packable snack.

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Sriracha Sauce

This homemade version of the insanely popular Thai hot chile-garlic sauce is thinner and fresher-tasting than store-bought. It needs a few days to ferment at room temperature, but it’s worth the wait.

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Graham Crackers

Buttery and with a wonderful texture, these homemade grahams are a delicious snack in their own right, but for a fun warm-weather treat, layer them with Homemade Marshmallows and top-quality dark chocolate for the ultimate s'mores.

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Homemade Marshmallows

Springy, vanilla-kissed marshmallows are a real treat. Use them in s’mores, float them in hot chocolate, use them as a topping on cakes and ice creams, or just eat these irresistible confections by the handful.

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Ricotta Cheese

Unlike other homemade cheeses, ricotta requires neither cultures nor rennet. All you need is a half-gallon of milk and a lemon or two. Make it in the morning and use it in that night's lasagne, or just drizzle it with honey and eat with a spoon.

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Nut Butter

Here, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts go from an eat-out-of-hand snack to a smooth and decadent butter. Adjust the flavor notes even more by adding additional honey, salt, maple syrup, cinnamon, or vanilla.

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Miles away from those breakfast treats in the foil packets, these homemade pop-tarts are baked until golden brown and flaky, filled with just the right amount of your favorite jam and topped with a simple vanilla glaze.

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Strawberry Jam

Spread this jam on bread with almond butter for a delicious PB&J.

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Apple Cider

Making your own apple cider is admittedly pretty labor-intensive, but it can be a fun weekend project. Blending three varieties (look for whatever heirloom varieties are local to you) imbues the cider with a complexity and roundness that's more than the sum of its parts.

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Vanilla Extract

Don’t throw those spent vanilla beans away after scraping the insides into a recipe. Recycle them by making your own extract. If you’ve got vodka and at least three beans, you’ve got what you need to get a nice extract going.

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Multipurpose Baking Mix

This super-easy make-ahead baking mix can be used for all kinds of yummy things like scones, biscuits, shortcakes, and cobblers so you can bake on a whim or when a craving strikes.

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Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

Unlike its popular commercial counterpart that lists sugar and palm oil as primary ingredients, this all-natural chocolate hazelnut butter is primarily roasted hazelnuts and cocoa powder. Try it on crepes, smear it on toast, or melt it and serve it over ice cream.

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Greek Pita Bread

Like most flatbreads, pita really isn’t difficult to make—it just takes time for the dough to rise. Your reward is fresh, warm pita bread that beats anything you can buy at the store and a great “look-what-I-made!” feeling as you pull the hot pitas from the oven.

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Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce

Made with fresh red chiles, this homemade hot sauce is spicy, of course, but it also has a brighter, cleaner flavor than that of any store-bought brand, and it couldn’t be easier to make.

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The ingredients for limoncello are simple and few (just lemons, vodka and sugar), and while making a batch doesn't require much work, it does require patience; limoncello must steep for 80 days. Of course, it’s worth the wait.

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Homemade Fruit Leather

Remember Fruit Roll-Ups? These better-than-candy treats are a natural way to transform fruit like strawberries, cherries, apricots or blueberries into a sweet, chewy snack that’s amazingly easy to make and lasts for months.

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Fresh Butter

Butter is one of those simple staples we almost never think of making ourselves. But, why not? It’s easy, it takes just two ingredients, and your homemade rolls or cinnamon bread taste that much more amazing with fresh, just-whipped-up butter. 

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Duck Confit

If you consider duck confit an occasional restaurant indulgence, this recipe may change your mind. You will want to prepare the dish at least one week before serving, though, because the flavor and texture improve as it sits.

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Tomato Ketchup

Don’t insult your burgers with an inferior ketchup. One of the best things about making your own tomato purée is that it easily becomes homemade ketchup, which is better-tasting and healthier for you than commercial ketchup.

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