Make These 12 Baking Staples Yourself and Never Buy Them Again

Baking Substitutes

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Baking Substitutes
Cheapism / Mizina/Liudmila Chernetska/bhofack2/istockphoto

Scratch Baking

If you have such a well-stocked pantry that you never run out of anything when you're whipping up a spontaneous batch of cookies, you're a regular Martha Stewart. For the rest of us normies, we discover we're out of cake mix and baking powder all the time. When that happens — or if you're just dedicated to making every single thing possible from scratch for cost benefits or to fulfill a primal need — you can actually DIY lots of pantry staples. 

Here's how to make baking staples yourself so you'll never need to give Betty Crocker your money again

Aromatic vanilla extract and beans on wooden table
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

1. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is crazy expensive, but buying whole vanilla beans and making your own extract is cheaper in the long run. Just find a great mail-order vanilla bean company, order some in bulk, chop them up, and throw them in a jar with alcohol. After a few months, it'll smell amazing and make all your baked goods just as nice. 

Bonus: you'll get those lovely specks of vanilla in your frosting and pudding.

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Related: 10 Common Baking Mistakes You Should Avoid at All Costs

Female hand sprinkling icing sugar on muffin cake

2. Powdered Sugar

Need to frost a cake but the powdered sugar is gone? You can make more. Throw granulated white sugar in a blender (you'll need a high-powered one like a Vitamix, probably) along with a little cornstarch. Turn it on and watch it turn to powder right before your eyes.

Recipe: Love and Lemons

Related: 10 Classic Southern Cakes You Need To Try

Bowl Of Brown Sugar On  White Tea Towel

3. Brown Sugar

Making homemade brown sugar is even easier since you don't need any equipment. Just mix a little molasses into white sugar and it's good to go.

Recipe: Sugar Spun Run

Organic Raw Pumpkin Spice

4. Pumpkin Pie Spice

You can't have Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie, and you can't have pumpkin pie without pie spice. Running out on a holiday is a baking emergency, but luckily it's just blend of other staple baking spices. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice all go into this pumpkin pie spice mix, and you can always tweak the amounts to your taste.

Recipe: My Baking Addiction

Sweetened Condensed Milk

5. Sweetened Condensed Milk

Did you accidentally buy canned evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk? Everyone's done that. You can make your own in a pinch as long as you have milk and sugar. Just simmer it down until it's reduced, thick, and syrupy. (If you're worried it's too thin, it'll thicken somewhat in the fridge.)

Recipe: Add a Pinch

Related: How to Make (a Cheaper) Coffee Creamer at Home

Woman pouring water on rye and wheat flour in bowl

7. Baking Mix

Bisquick is a wonderful baking shortcut that's used in a lot of old-fashioned recipes. You can make your own version with flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and a sold fat. If you use lard or shortening, the mix will be shelf stable. If you choose to use butter, you'll need to store it in the refrigerator. 

Recipe: Coffee With Us 3

Top view female hands mix cocoa powder

8. Brownie Mix

If none of our favorite brownie mixes are your jam, you can make your own to have on hand whenever the chocolate craving hits. Just mix all your dry ingredients, throw it in a sealed container, and then mix in butter, eggs, and vanilla before you bake it. Don't forget to throw in some chopped nuts or chocolate chips if you like.

Recipe: I Am Baker

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Making Chocolate Frosting in a Stand Mixer
Candice Bell/istockphoto

9. Chocolate Cake Mix

You can throw together a homemade chocolate cake in the same amount of time as a boxed mix (without all the preservatives and additives you don't need) with this chocolate cake mix recipe. Just put together the dry ingredients, throw them in a bag or jar, and mix them with the wet ingredients to complete the cake. Make a bunch of cake mixes all at once to last you through the year. 

Recipe: Five Heart Home

Filling metal muffin pan with cornbread batter

10. Cornbread Mix

Even though some cornbread mixes are delicious, nothing compares making it from scratch. This recipe is a Jiffy cornbread mix copycat, so it's a little sweet but not cakey. It also makes a relatively small amount, but it's easy to double or triple depending on how you plan to use it.

Recipe: Savory Experiments

baking soda
new look casting/istockphoto

11. Baking Powder

We always run out of baking powder at the wrong time. It's not interchangeable with baking soda, so don't try that. But you can make a pretty good replacement. Just mix together baking soda with cream of tartar, along with a little cornstarch, to give your biscuits the lift they need.

Recipe: AllRecipes

Glass bowl with whipped egg-cream-sugar mass, adding milk on a light blue background, top view. Cooking homemade milk cakes, do it yourself, step by step, step 4

12. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is used in a lot of baking, but since it's perishable, it's hard to keep on hand for whenever the baking mood strikes. Luckily, you can use a few things instead, including yogurt or sour cream thinned with some milk. If you don't have those, you can add vinegar or lemon juice to milk to curdle it slightly.

Recipe: Cookie and Kate