9 Kitchen Essentials You Can Make at Home

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FN_Gale Gand Quick Vanilla Buttercream

Think about it: How many times in a week do you find yourself reaching for the same pantry and refrigerator standbys, like butter for your morning toast, ketchup for the kids’ chicken nuggets and hummus for an afternoon snack?

These go-tos and others are often at the top of your grocery list when you’re nearing the end of your supply — but they don’t have to be. It turns out that it’s often just as easy — and perhaps more economical — to make them from scratch at home. Read on below to find out how to put a DIY spin on some of your favorite condiments, fixings and meal starters.

Frosting

Even if you opt for a boxed cake mix (no judgment here), making a from-scratch frosting instead of reaching for the jarred stuff can save you from a cloyingly sweet dessert. Made with only four ingredients and ready in just 12 quick minutes, this top-rated Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting turns out light, fluffy and just sweet enough every time. More of a chocoholic? Look no further than Giada De Laurentiis’ Chocolate Frosting.

Butter

If this is your first foray into from-scratch butter, Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe for Homemade Butter will cure you of the store-bought sticks once and for all. The secret here is a lot of high-powered whisking when combining the heavy cream and sour cream, and for that Alex uses a stand mixer.

child dipping a chip into tomato sauce

Ketchup

Burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs and, for many people, just about anything else — the uses for ketchup are seemingly endless. Food Network Magazine’s recipe for Homemade Ketchup hits all the flavor notes you crave, like subtle sweetness from brown sugar and molasses, plus tang from a few glugs of vinegar and peeled tomatoes.

Barbecue Sauce and Brush

Barbecue Sauce

Perhaps the best trait of bottled barbecue sauce is its consistency, smooth and pourable but also somewhat thick and heavy. The Neelys’ BBQ Sauce hits all of those notes and more, as Pat and Gina’s recipe is made with a mixture of ketchup, a pinch of ground mustard and a bit of Worcestershire sauce for welcome bite and savory flavor.

Jam

Even though the centerpiece ingredient in Ina Garten’s Easy Strawberry Jam is strawberries, she includes diced apple as a means “to thicken the jam,” plus a handful of blueberries, which she says “gives the strawberry jam depth of flavor and color.”

Aluminum tin can and tomato

Marinara Sauce

Laced with fresh garlic and a splash of red wine, Ina’s bold Marinara Sauce fills the bill on those nights you need the speediest of speedy pasta dinners.

Hummus

The beauty of Katie Lee’s Classic Hummus recipe is that it comes together with canned chickpeas, so there’s no need to soak and then drain the dried variety, which typically takes a long time. Follow her lead and prep the hummus in a food processor to guarantee a smooth finished result.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise

Once you’ve made the base recipe for Food Network Magazine’s rich, creamy Homemade Mayonnaise, try flavoring it with fresh herbs, a bit of whole-grain mustard or Sriracha to create an all-new spread packed with flavor. Get the recipes for how to do that here.

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Salsa

The Pioneer Woman calls this her Restaurant-Style Salsa, though it’s easy enough to make a big batch right at home. She uses an almost 50-50 mix of canned whole tomatoes with juice and diced tomato and green chiles to form the base of her top-rated salsa, which she heats up with a single jalapeno.