Homemade is worse

Inspired by Kaleokahu’s recent comments in another thread, what foods or ingredients have you tried to make from scratch but found the result inferior to grocery store standbys?

The original issue came up with onion dip using onion soup mix being superior to a made from scratch recipe from serious eats. It was get canned pumpkin was another item in this category.

In our house we like canned cranberry sauce more than homemade.

I’ve made ketchup from scratch and Heinz still reigns supreme for our ketchup needs.

What simple classic recipes or commercial products do you consider unbeatable by fresh scratch made versions?


Ro-Tel. Chipotles in adobo. Tuna fish. There’s not much else we buy that comes in a can (beyond things like chickpeas).


Mozzarella cheese.


Very much disagree about the cranberry sauce. I don’t do anything special, but it slays canned anything. And it takes almost no effort.

I can also do so much better with ‘onion dip’ though I use shallots and cream cheese as a base, so a bit different.

I mostly buy canned beans for the ease.

Frozen peas, frozen french fries.

Sacks of pre-made pizza dough, though I don’t make pizza with it. Use it for other stuffed bread dishes.


I worked in a few restaurants that insisted on making our own ketchup. Giant waste of labor.

Homemade vanilla extract is not very good as most people make it, which is to infuse alcohol with vanilla beans, since extractions and infusions aren’t the same.

I worked for a place where we made our own burrata. Except it was our own mozzarella filled with a ricotta filling. Nowhere near as good. Also mozzarella made from purchased curd rather than from milk is never as good. And it’s definitely not as good if the curd gets worked too much.

Housemade English muffins from a lot of restaurants and renowned bakeries are delicious rolls cooked on a griddle, but they’re not English muffins.


I’m gonna have to think on this. I can think of a few things that I’ve made that are not worth the effort and will buy commercially, but my versions are at least as good as what’s in the store (ketchup, potato chips, etc).


Ketchup: tried making it, and it’s a lot of work. Heinz is the best!
pumpkin pie filling made from a pie pumpkin: again, too much work, and Libby’s canned pumpkin makes a better pie…
onion dip: tried making it from scratch once. Yuck - go Lipton!
cranberry sauce. I’ve made it several times, and still prefer the stuff in the can.
meatloaf from the butcher department. Always better than mine.
marinara sauce: Rao’s is better than mine or Marcella Hazan’s.

This whole topic is a matter of taste, of course. And I hope no one says “you just haven’t found the right recipe yet”! :grinning:


A restaurant we’re hoping to try soon has this to say.

“We bake our own bread every day, make each and every sauce or
accompaniment – the mayo, the bearnaise, the dips, the chutneys – although we leave the ketchup to the experts.”


I feel like this is well-travelled ground, because I know I’ve given these answers before:

I did once make onion dip from scratch, and it wasn’t “worse,” exactly. But it also wasn’t “right.”

I made my own mustard from mustard seeds I harvested from my mustard greens, and that was just a ridiculous pain in the ass. Also not worse, just insane.

I suppose if I were preparing oeufs mayonnaise or something, it would be a good idea to make my own mayo. But that’s never happened, so Hellmann’s is fine by me.

Canned pumpkin is acceptable, but kabocha squash pie is better than pumpkin pie, and I don’t think you can buy that in a can, so homemade it is.

And I will end by rolling my eyes yet again at the person (likely on Chowhound) who suggested I make my own V8 because it would be “exactly how I want it.” V8 is already exactly how I want it.


Made cranberry sauce one time and we all preferred canned whole berry. Definitely canned pumpkin. I can’t imagine bothering with homemade ketchup. Mention of scratch made onion dip reminded me of this. Looked so good. Never got around to making it.


Watched an old Baking with Julia the other day where they made time consuming crackers. Made me think of people who make their own marshmallows, but whatever floats your boat.:slightly_smiling_face:


Dead on with these!

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They’re actually good :blush:


I really agree on the Kabocha squash as far better than canned pumpkin for pie. I tried it this year with the Melissa Clark NYT pumpkin pie recipe. Roasted the kabocha bought at a local farmers market, then opened a supposedly high quality can of pumpkin puree. I was amazed at the taste difference. And the pie with the kabocha squash was delicious.

However, I was never a fan of the traditional pumpkin pie I grew up with, from cans. I think some people really get attached to their traditional tastes, and the different flavor of kabocha would be jarring and unpleasant.

To each their own.


I’m a few years into my 8th decade - 50 years ago, #1 on my list was piecrust. I can’t make it to save my soul. Doesn’t help any that I don’t like pies…


I’ll be in the minority here for the ketchup. I prefer homemade, which actually has to be replenished again. Time to get out the big pot, Beldar.

I’m a lifelong Heinz fan, but I recently tasted Hunt’s in a restaurant setting, and really liked it. I’m going to use a whole bottle of Hunt’s before I switch forever, but I think that’s where I’m headed.

I’ve never had a home- or house-made mustard I thought held a candle to even pedestrian commercially-prepared. I suppose some chef could use better wines or vinegars, but better bulk seed and processes? Not likely, IMO.


Here’s where I claim that you’ve never had MY house-made mustard, so…

Yeah, there’s no reason on god’s green earth to make your own mustard. Unless you just like embarking on little projects (I like embarking on little projects).


Your claim would be correct. Although if you’re proud of yours, I’d be happy to taste and confess error.

It seems of late I’m on a jag for unpretentious, plebian things like… American “yellow” mustards. Not that I’d default to AYM for all that many things, but I’ve come around to the strong opinion that many styles of hamburger just can’t be done credibly without it.

An entire thread could be dedicated to which layer in such a burger should get the mustard for best effect. My personal favorite is now on the bottom bun.

Mustard has absolutely no business anywhere near my burger, yellow or artisanally produced in Williamsburg.