The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

Homemade Condiments: Just Like Grandma Made

DIY homemade condiments

Yes, it’s a DIY world we’ve inherited. All across America, people are darning socks, giving up gym memberships, and learning how to can and preserve. I even spotted a push mower in action the other day. At long last, we are doing for ourselves and giving a suspicious eye to so-called convenience.

I pondered this while reaching for some mayo the other day. Couldn’t I make this myself? Turns out, I can.

Although mayonnaise was invented in 1756 (in France, no less), it didn’t hit the mass market, as “Hellman’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise,” until 1912. Still, it was just two generations ago when my Grandma Myrtle regularly made her own. “I’m pretty sure she cooked it,” my mother recalls. “It was bright yellow and we kept it on the cellar stairs.”

I asked Mom if she’d ever considered making her own mayo when she married in 1958. She looked at me like I was crazy. Her unspoken words hung in the air: “Why make it if you can buy it?”

For starters, it’s an entertaining exercise in understanding our food. There is a growing awareness among consumers, something called ‘Mindful Eating.’ In a world of peanut butter recalls and tainted spinach, it’s about learning where your food comes from, what goes into it, and why. For decades now, America has been eating blindly and look where it’s gotten us: Fat City and Diabetes Suburbs.

Much of the processed food we buy is loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. This is why the recipes below have a much shorter shelf life than store-bought foods. It’s also why these homemade concoctions are more nutritional and, in most cases, better tasting.

I learned this during one very depressing summer when, in an effort to cheer myself up, I bought a pink Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. (Best. Purchase. Ever.) Once you have eaten your own homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt, made with just four or five simple ingredients, you instantly become a frozen dessert snob, as I have. Store-bought ice cream now tastes like plastic to me and Dairy Queen? Good for patching holes in igloo walls, that’s about it.

The cost savings of making your own condiments and sauces depends on the recipe. Homemade mustard is actually a lot more expensive to make than to buy, but the taste is far superior. I finished up a batch this morning and, although it hurt initially to buy that $7.69 tin of Colman’s Mustard Powder, the bite and flavor are unbelievable.

Of course, making gourmet versions are certainly cheaper when done by hand. Chipotle mayo? Red pepper hummus? Chocolate chip peanut butter? It’s whatever you can dream up just without all the expensive packaging.

Homemade anything also makes a superb present. You are, after all, giving the gift of time and effort and who wouldn’t be impressed? Slap a bow on that jar of homemade mustard and you’ve just cemented your Martha Stewart reputation with Aunt Rose…as long as she can handle the bite.


Especially for our folks in Europe, please note that prices can vary greatly according to region, and also that, while sometimes making your own condiments can save you money, it’s really all about better quality fixings and knowing what is actually in your food.

Equipment needed:

  • Bowls
  • Whip
  • Fine-mesh cheesecloth
  • Large sieve
  • Food processor or blender
  • Double boiler or microwave
  • Tupperware or Mason jars


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mustard
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • Squirt of lemon juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups olive oil

Add it all together and whisk until you get the desired consistency. I made this with 2 tablespoons mustard, although I would recommend starting with one and doing a taste-test.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 16 oz., average cost between $2.05 and $2.59

Store-bought comparison:
Kroger Mayo, 32 oz., $2.07; 11.25 oz., $1.39.


  • 1/2 cup Colman’s dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Mix together and let set overnight. Next day, beat:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Combine everything and cook in top of double boiler until thick. (Can also be done in the microwave.) Let cool.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 16 oz., average cost $3.27

Store-bought comparison:
Kroger, 10.5 oz., $0.99; Organic mustard, 9 oz., $1.99.


  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Dash of salt

Blend well. Add more tomato sauce or salt, if needed to balance taste.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 8 oz., average cost $0.87

Store-bought comparison:
Kroger, 32 oz., $1.99; Heinz Organic Ketchup, 15 oz., $2.39.

1 cup dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put everything in a blender and whip it up. If you want chunky peanut butter, remove 1/4 cup peanuts before blending the peanuts and oil. When the mixture is almost blended, add the nuts. Puree it a few more times, to break up the nuts and finish the blending. Optional additions: honey, macadamia nuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips. If the oil starts to separate and rise to the top, just turn the jar upside down or mix it up with a knife.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 8 oz., average cost $1.74

Store-bought comparison:
Kroger Natural Crunchy, 16 oz., $2.39.


  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 strips lemon zest, 2 1/2 inches (bitter white pith removed)
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 15.5 oz. cans chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cups water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Chop the parsley in food processor, set aside. Pulse lemon zest and salt. Keep machine running and add garlic. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water and cumin. Pulse to chop, then process 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and process again. With machine running, pour olive oil in slowly. Process 3 minutes. Add half the parsley and pulse to incorporate. Let the hummus sit for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 22 oz., average cost $4.74

Store-bought comparison:
Athenos, 7 oz., $3.49.

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Line a large sieve with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

DIY yield & cost:
Makes approximately 13 oz., average cost $5.73

Store-bought comparison:
Kroger, 15 oz., $2.29.



  • Buncha mayo
  • Squirts of lemon juice
  • Dill

Mix well. Serve with salmon or other fish. Also makes a great salad dressing and dip for sweet potato fries.


  • Mayo
  • Relish
  • Ketchup

Mix well. Serve on burgers or whatever.


  • Sour cream
  • Sugar

Mix until you’ve reached desired taste.

Story & Photo: Copyright 2009, Shoestring, LLC.

  • bivouac

    I, too, would not recommend the use of olive oil if you are making home-made mayonnaise for the first time. The flavor of that oil can be quite strong, and there really is no reason not to use a more subtly flavored (heart healthy) oil.

    Also worth mentioning, when making mayo it is not a good idea to dump the oil in with everything right away, or you will end up with an oily mess. The oil must be drizzled veeeery slowly as you whisk so it can be incorporated correctly.

    Lastly, home-made condiments are great, taste great, all that, but they are *not* money saving in the slightest, especially since the shelf life is so short. If you can go through two cups of mayonnaise in less than a week, more power to you. Until then, I would keep these recipes for special occasions and big get-togethers. Jars are just fine for the average sandwich eater.

  • George P.

    I’m not sure why there are comparison prices if you don’t say how much it cost to make it homemade, and in what quantity?

  • super fluous

    Why would you go and buy tomato sauce to mix with sugar and vinegar? Sounds more like ghetto catsup than DIY. Where are the homegrown tomatoes? Sustenance wrested out of the earth by the sweat of your brow? Hours spent cooking down red orbs of pure sunshine, rendering it into the purest essence of summer. Also I’m sure with a pressure cooker you could match shelf life of any other catsup.

  • Tiff

    Anyone know how long these will keep in the fridge? I like the idea making fresh batches.

  • klw

    Since seeing ‘Julie & Julia’, I made several ventures into making mayo. I found it incredibly easy to make in the blender. Egg yolks at room temp., put the oil in the microwave for just a few seconds to put the tiniest bit of warmth in it, and warm the blender bowl with hot water then dry it. Get the yolks going on low on the blender, then, as you say, start drizzling in the oil. It will get so thick, you’ll need vinegar or lemon juice to thin it as you add the rest of the oil. You can have 2 cups of fresh mayo in less than 15 minutes.

  • Lady Imperium

    best dressing ever: Mayo and black pepper. thats it. Especcially with just cucumbers.

    Yogurt is a replacement of the mayo and tastes good too, but if you wanna eat endless vegetables, i would suggest mayo and black pepper. Just combine salad and mix so all the veggies are coated…

  • Shoestring Gumshoe

    mustard is VERY cheap to make. if you start with a bottle of mustard seeds, which will germinate just fine, you toss them in an unkempt corner of the yard, in a sunny spot, and pretty quickly you have a batch of mustard growing… the greens are pretty useful too… that stuff grows like weeds. if you let it go to seed, than you will have at least a pound or two of seed, which you can use to make your own mustard… it is really pretty easy to harvest…

  • Lucy Weatherfield

    I work in a delicatessen in Chicago, and we like to make a very tasty fruit dip from a combination of just two things: whipped cream and mixed berry yogurt. (Great for dipping strawberries!)

    Just buy some whipping cream, whip up that stuff yourself, and use some leftover berries from another dessert with plain yogurt and you’d probably get the same tasty effect.

    (Sorry if this doesn’t sound so “DIY,” but the thought of a fruit dip made from sour cream and sugar just sounded disgusting to me.)

  • Shoestring Gumshoe

    even better… half mayo, half sour cream, and a **** load black pepper. it is AMAZING with tuna and cucumber and little pasta shells

  • Shoestring Gumshoe

    How about some of that homemade ketchup mixed with some fresh shredded horseradish to make a delicious and easy cocktail sauce!

  • untlyquine

    I agree to a certain extent taste-wise, but my husband has had surgery to clear blocked arteries and is diabetic so he can’t eat sugar and must eat very little fats sooooooooooo hail to the low fat mayonnaise bought in a jar and everything you can buy in a bottle that has no sugar 🙂 I watched a tv programme on Hellman’s mayonnaise, and at the end the test was to taste three mayos and say which one was full fat. She guessed the lightest low-fat version!

  • Chef JLo

    1 cup homemade mayonnaise
    1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot

    That’s it…

    Bangin’ with tater tots or fried chicken!

  • Printable Food Coupons

    I agree with your opinion. But I think we can make it from corn sugar or a sugar that can be consumed for people who had diabetic.

  • Thailand Breeze

    Your recipes are soooo easy! I’ll have to try them.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • MzMelanie

    I really need to make my own ketchup. I have all the ingredients.

  • Adina

    Since we moved to Guatemala last summer I have been learning as many Guatemalan recipes as possible. I just learned how to make “salsa ranchera” and documented the process with pictures. If you are interested, check out my blog, All About Guatemala.

  • I love making my own mayo. Its so much better than those other brands. My recipe is slightly different. I’ll have to give yours a try!

  • HomeGrown

    Correction: Hot mustard is very IN-expensive to make. much cheaper than store-bought!

    And contrary to a previous commenter, vinegar WILL also work to produce hot/mild mustard (vinegar is mostly water, with a small % of acetic acid).

    Do NOT heat mustard ANY time if you want HOT mustard… that’s the secret: ICE-COLD!

    Hot water=Mild mustard
    Warm water=Medium mustard
    ICE-COLD water=HOT mustard

    Dump your mustard powder (any cheap kind will do, believe me) in a jar, stir in a spoonful of some (temperature of your choice) water, and stir into a paste, repeat until the consistency is as you like. You can stir in a few drops of oil for your preferred “texture”, and any salt/sugar/herb/spice/flavoring to taste.

    And the ketchup recipe suggested is simply sweetened tomato sauce, which is okay, just don’t call it ketchup.

    Don’t get me going on horseradish, which I grow and process for a long list of aficionados every year…

  • Sarah

    Actually, sour cream with brown sugar is delicious with fruit. Especially strawberries.

  • I asked Mom if she’d ever considered making her own mayo when she married in 1958. She looked at me like I was crazy. Her unspoken words hung in the air: “Why make it if you can buy it?”

    Best Regards,
    Paul Drum
    (CEO of Musicfrost)

  • Sippin Syrup

    Recipes every cook should have in their repertoire.