Grocery Items You Can Make Better at Home

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
Photo: Andy Lyons

Forget packaged foods; these from-scratch recipes are the real deal. Whip up homemade Alfredo sauce and homemade spaghetti sauce for pasta night, or master homemade BBQ sauce, homemade nut butter, and an A+ homemade ketchup recipe for all your condiment needs. Or try our DIY snacks and desserts. Each of these grocery store faves is made with fewer (and more pronounceable) ingredients than anything you'd buy in a store. It's nothing but the good stuff.

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Air Fryer Strawberry Breakfast Tarts

Air-Fryer Strawberry Pop Tarts
Caitlin Bensel

Fruit-filled interior: check. Icing-drizzled pastry: check. It's official: These golden brown homemade breakfast tarts are everything you love about the store-bought version, and guess who gets to control the ingredients? That's right—you do. Plus they're baked to perfection in your air fryer to keep your kitchen cool or your oven free for other recipes.

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Spicy Almond Butter

Spicy Almond Butter
Blaine Moats

If you think plain ol' jarred peanut butter is a bit bland, we have your solution right here. A couple teaspoons of harissa, a North African chili paste, give this four-ingredient homemade almond butter its signature heat. Spread it on toast, add it to stir-fry, or thin it with coconut milk for an Asian-inspired sauce. It's deliciously versatile.

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Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
Andy Lyons

Bypass the frozen aisle the next time you're craving molten cheese snack sticks. Homemade cheese sticks are a cinch! If you have mozzarella cheese sticks, dry bread crumbs, flour, and eggs, you're halfway to marinara sauce-dipped bliss.

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Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies
Kritsada Panichgul

Because two cookies are always better than one, we tapped our Test Kitchen pros to re-create this classic brown bag lunch treat. Our homemade cookie cream pies feature ingredients you can actually pronounce—and probably already have in your pantry. Peanut butter, oats, and other baking staples star in the cookies, and fluffy marshmallow creme is the key ingredient in the luscious cookie sandwich filling.

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Strawberry-Lemon Fruit Leather

Strawberry-Lemon Fruit Leather
Jacob Fox

With four ingredients and half an hour of your time, you can prep 16 servings of these sweet-tart and utterly addictive homemade fruit snacks. (And, psst, you don't even need a dehydrator.) Once you've mastered the original, try our variations that call for ginger, kumquats, and even fresh herbs.

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Homemade Margarita Mix

Homemade Margarita Mix
Blaine Moats

Combine fresh fruit, lime juice, and honey to make the freshest margarita mix you've ever tasted. Then just add tequila! Come summer, we love to freeze a batch of this lower-sugar homemade cocktail mix in ice cube trays overnight. Then a frozen marg is seconds away; just add 4 cubes to a blender, pour in 2 ounces of tequila and ¾ ounce orange liqueur, and give it a whirl for a single-serving cocktail recipe that will (just about) transport you to the beach.

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Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels
Kritsada Panichgul

Frozen? Puh-leeze. These yeasty, salt-sprinkled soft pretzels trump anything you can find in a box in the freezer aisle. Our full how-to, from kneading and twisting to baking, will show you how easy it is to make homemade pretzels from scratch.

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Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Creme-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Andy Lyons

If you get nostalgic at the sight of these chocolaty snack cakes, chances are you had an awesome childhood. And because we made them with honest-to-goodness ingredients, including milk chocolate, butter, and powdered sugar, you can have your cupcakes without all the processed ingredients of the purchased version. These homemade cream-filled cupcakes look just like the store-bought version—and taste even better if you ask us.

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Pita Flatbread

Pita Flatbread
Andy Lyons

The bags of flatbreads in the bread aisle can't compare to these tender, chewy, yeasty homemade pita pockets. Best part? You need only five ingredients to make them! Your hummus snack platters, falafel, and sandwich wraps are about to get a major upgrade.

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Fresh Marinara Sauce

Fresh Marinara Sauce
Andy Lyons

Step away from the jar. We'll show you how to stir together rich, tasty homemade marinara sauce in less than an hour and with a few simple ingredients. Think roma tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil.

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DIY Cookie Butter

DIY Cookie Butter

The original cookie butter that flew off supermarket shelves (we're looking at you, Trader Joe's!) was designed to taste like speculoos cookies. But our take on this luscious homemade cookie butter, which is dangerously easy to make from scratch, is intended to deliver the flavor of vanilla Oreos. It's irresistible on apples and toast … or straight from the spoon.

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Kombucha

Kombucha Recipe
Jason Donnelly

Raise a glass to a healthy gut. Fermented tea has gained quite the following in the last decade or so for its reported health benefits. Make a bottle of our five-ingredient basic homemade kombucha recipe, then try the ginger and orange variations to mix things up.

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Bar

Chewy Tropical Granola Bars
Jacob Fox

In need of some grab-and-go snacks to keep you well-fueled (without the energy roller coaster an hour later)? These chocolate-peanut butter granola bars have oats, crisp rice cereal, pretzels, and chia seeds. One bite will convince you that homemade snack bars are far superior to what you'd buy at the store.

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All-Time Favorite Chile con Queso

All-Time-Favorite Chili con Queso

Your next party menu needs this warm, homemade cheese dip. Since the onion- and chile-infused cheese dip is ready in a mere 20 minutes, it's an ideal last-minute addition to the spread. All that's missing are the tortilla chips.

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Strawberry Margarita Dessert Sauce

Strawberry Margarita Dessert Sauce
Jacob Fox

What makes this ruby-red sauce better than store-bought strawberry ice cream topping? It could be the citrusy kick of lime. But we're betting it's the tequila.

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Curly Fries

Curly Fries

Skip the freezer aisle and make curly fries yourself. That way you can use only the ingredients you need—potatoes, flour, salt, pepper, plus canola oil for frying—and zero preservatives. We speak from experience when we say these spuds are best devoured dunked into your favorite homemade ketchup recipe (and next to a juicy burger, of course).

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Bloody Mary Mix

Bloody Mary Mix
Jason Donnelly

Leave the gigantic jug of red stuff on the liquor store shelf. This bold, citrusy concoction, flavored with horseradish and lemon juice, will turn brunch on its head. For a BYOB (build-your-own-beverage) bar, stir together a batch of this homemade Bloody Mary mix, then set it out with vodka, tequila, and garnish options like cooked bacon strips, olives, pickles, or even shrimp.

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Homemade Noodles

Homemade Noodles
Jacob Fox

Try these tender, lightly eggy noodles once, and you may never go back to boxed dried pasta again. And if you're hoping to dry and freeze the noodles, we include instructions for that, too. Ideal for soups or coated in sauce (we're partial to a homemade Alfredo sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce), we suggest making a double batch of these marvelous meal-starters to use all week long.

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Roasted Tomato Ketchup

Roasted Tomato Ketchup
Andy Lyons

After tasting the roasted tiny tomatoes used in this homemade ketchup recipe, everyone will be begging you for your secrets. (We'll let you in on them now: Roasting the vegetables accentuates their natural sweetness, plus adding a jalapeño in the mix lends a "slow, pleasant burn," according to one BH&G reader who raves about this beautifully balanced condiment.

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Homemade Coarse-Ground Mustard

Homemade Course Ground Mustard
Andy Lyons

A homemade ketchup recipe isn't the only condiment we suggest you stir together from scratch. You might slap your forehead after making this three-step homemade condiment recipe and wonder, "Why did I never make my own mustard before?" With enough punch to hold its own on hot dogs, sandwiches, cheese boards, and meat rubs, we BH&G food editors pretty much always have a jar of this in our fridges.

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Single-Crust Pie Pastry

Single-Crust Pie Pastry
Andy Lyons

If you have 10 minutes, you have all the time you need to assemble a homemade piecrust. That's probably quicker than it would take for you to get to your grocery store to buy one. Bring the pastry together in a bowl or food processor, then pile it high with any filling you crave to create your best pie recipe ever.

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Almond Milk

DIY Almond Milk
Matthew Clark

No lactose and no grocery store run needed either. Almond milk (and walnut milk, for that matter) is actually super easy to make in your own kitchen. For baking, cereal, or straight-sipping, try this just-sweet-enough homemade nut milk with a splash of vanilla extract.

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Bites

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Bites
Andy Lyons

Energy bites and granola bars might seem like a lengthy project for home cooks to tackle, but these easy no-bake goodies prove otherwise. The oat-based poppers are ready to chill after just 20 minutes of prep and are naturally sweetened with honey and dried fruit. No cane sugar here.

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Sriracha-Honey Beef Jerky

Sriracha-Honey Beef Jerky
Jason Donnelly

Bet you never thought you'd be known for your artisan-quality beef jerky. But with a little steaming and marinating in a sweet hot sauce, this bold and tasty homemade jerky recipe will become one of your favorite high-protein snacks and win you acclaim. A dehydrator does most of the work for you.

Buy It: NutriChef Dehydrator ($65, Target)

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Smoky Corn Tortilla Chips

Smoky Corn Tortilla Chips
Jason Donnelly

Have the salsa and guacamole ready! You're about to wonder why you've never crisped up homemade tortilla chips. At five ingredients and 5 minutes of frying time per batch, you've found your new go-to dip recipe BFF.

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Beef Bone Broth

Beef Bone Broth
Jason Donnelly

Protein-packed and full of flavor, bone broth is more than a hot trend. Veggies, basil, garlic, and bay leaves give this homemade bone broth its rich taste. Drink it as-is or use this broth as a base for a savory soup or stew.

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Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Vanilla Coffee Creamer
Andy Lyons

Bottle running dry of your favorite flavor of creamer to add to your morning cup of joe? Don't worry; it's simple to make it yourself. Each flavor of this homemade coffee creamer recipe has the same two base ingredients, allowing for easy customization.

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All-Purpose Baking Mix

All-Purpose Baking Mix
Andy Lyons

Five ingredients and one simple step (stir), and you're well on your way to tender biscuits, muffins, waffles, or any other baked good your heart desires. Nonfat dry milk powder in the mix means most of the goodies you make require zero refrigerated milk. For a dose of whole grains, try our whole wheat flour variation.

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Easy Half-Sour Pickles

Easy Half-Sour Pickles
Brie Passano

Jazz up your next sandwich or charcuterie platter with homemade pickles. Simply soak cucumbers in a saltwater solution along with mustard seeds, dill seeds, fresh dill, peppercorns, and garlic. After about a week of pickling time, the tangy, sour, and crunchy pickles are a total treat.

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Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce
Jason Donnelly

Ideal on ribs, shredded meat sandwiches, barbecue chicken pizzas, and so much more, you'll be stuck on making your own barbecue sauce once you taste this rendition. The thick, tangy, perfectly balanced homemade BBQ sauce makes flavor magic out of a handful of familiar staple ingredients. Yep, we know horseradish, brown sugar, and apple juice sound like odd teammates, but trust us—the end product is blue ribbon-worthy.

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Slow Cooker Vanilla Yogurt

Slow Cooker Vanilla Yogurt
Carson Downing

Did you know you can make thick, luscious homemade yogurt in your slow cooker? (You know now.) Grab some milk, vanilla bean paste, and plain unsweetened yogurt, and we'll show you how it's done.

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Everything Cracker Crisps

Everything Cracker Crisps
Andy Lyons

It's tough to narrow down what we love most about these homemade crackers. How about everything?! Coated with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and dried minced garlic and onion, these better-than-boxed everything bagel seasoning-inspired cracker crisps are irresistibly crunchy and flavor-packed.

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Easy Chicken Stock

Easy Chicken Stock

Make those grocery store purchases count. Invest in one rotisserie chicken, then use it to make 6 cups of this easy homemade chicken stock. Bonus: This is the ultimate way to use up leftover veggies and herbs floating around your fridge.

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Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce
James Carriere

A generous drizzle of homemade caramel sauce is just the thing your apple pies, sundaes, pound cakes, and brownies have been missing. While the five-ingredient treat is great to gift, we always have a tough time not saving this silky and sweet sauce for ourselves. That's why we include freezer instructions (admittedly, so we don't eat the entire cup in one sitting!).

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