Thanks to COVID quarantine life, I know access to grocery stores and certain ingredient may be limited these days. With this in mind, I curated the following list of easy recipes from my past bake offs–all of these use 10 ingredients or less (not counting salt and water)!
In each category, I list my top 2-3 picks for the “easiest” recipes in terms of using basic ingredients and techniques while still yielding great results (many of these snagged top bake offs spots).
Ingredients you’ll need for most of the below recipes include:
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Vanilla extract
- Buttermilk (can sub a ratio of 1:1 Greek yogurt to water or milk)
- Oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, or even olive if you don’t mind the flavor)
- Eggs (in certain cases, you can sub aquafaba, flaxseed, or chia)
- Yeast (you can sub instant for active dry and vice versa)
- Salt (always use kosher if possible; if you only have table salt, just use a little less than what’s called for in the recipe)
*If your local grocery store is out of flour/sugar/etc, try checking smaller ethnic markets nearby if you are able–my friends have had luck checking the Dollar Store, Asian or Hispanic markets, etc.
- Pioneer Woman: 7 ingredients. These do require the annoying step of whipping egg whites, but the happy result is a fluffy, light, buttery and mildly sweet waffle.
- A Cozy Kitchen: 9 ingredients, including quite a bit of cornstarch, whipped egg whites and buttermilk. These waffles have delightfully crispy edges with spongy, sweet interiors.
Most of the recipes from the yeasted waffle bake off are very easy to make; they just require time (the below recipes range from 1.5 hours to overnight).
Yeast: If you only have active dry yeast or instant yeast, learn about how to sub one for other here. Some say you can sub active dry and instant yeast 1:1, but that Cook’s Illustrated article gives slightly more exact measurements.
At a high level, the main differences between the two is that active dry yeast will take a little longer to rise and requires proofing (dissolving it in warm water) while instant yeast can be added directly to dry ingredients.
- Serious Eats: 7 ingredients (with instant dry yeast). Requires an overnight rest. Very easy to make, yielding crispy, fluffy, buttery, balanced waffles that manage to be light and fluffy yet still substantial.
- Bon Appetit: 8 ingredients (with active dry yeast). Requires an overnight rest and buttermilk. These brown butter waffles are salty, almost savory, a little yeasty, airy and not too crisp with good chew.
- Byron Talbott: 6 ingredients (with active dry yeast). This only requires a 1.5 hour rest and yields a soft, dense, doughy and sweet waffle.
I picked all of the below recipes because they’re easy to whip up in one bowl, no fussy whipping of egg whites required.
- Shelby’s Cakey Pancakes: 8 ingredients. These pancakes are slightly sweet with a tight, even crumb, crispy edges and a hint of cinnamon.
- Ruth Reichl: 7 ingredients. Very rich and buttery and relatively flat with dreamily crisp edges and a salty, custardy interior.
- Smitten Kitchen: 7 ingredients. The polar opposite of Ruth’s pancakes, these are VERY thick and cakey and not very sweet at all. If you don’t have real buttermilk here, see the biscuit section for suggestions on substitution options.
Buttermilk: Virtually all biscuit recipes call for buttermilk to give tangy flavor and to help activate the leavening since buttermilk is acidic. The typical “buttermilk” substitute of milk + lemon juice or vinegar is really not a great substitute in biscuits–milk is too thin to yield the right biscuit texture.
The best substitute I’ve found is 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (you could also use sour cream, creme fraiche, or plain regular yogurt) + 1/2 cup of water or milk for every 1 cup of buttermilk. If you are absolutely desperate for biscuits and don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, you can try the milk + lemon juice sub, but results will be less than ideal.
- Serious Eats: 6 ingredients, including sour cream and buttermilk. These biscuits are buttery, a little tangy and a little spongy (but still plenty flaky).
- Bon Appetit: 6 ingredients. I love the folding technique in this recipe, which helps yield layer upon flaky layer. Plus, you get crisp edges, rich flavor and great salt balance–my personal favorite!
- Joy the Baker: 7 ingredients. This is a sweeter-style biscuit with a powdery bite that could be used in sweet or savory applications.
- Flour: 9 ingredients (if you omit the walnuts, as I always do). This oil-based banana bread is extremely easy to make and won our banana bread bake off for good reason (it’s addicting). If you don’t have sour cream or creme fraiche on hand, you can sub Greek yogurt or regular yogurt in a pinch. Violet Bakery is very similar, but calls for slightly less common ingredients (buttermilk, brown sugar and rum (you can easily omit the rum).
- Two Peas and Their Pod: 9 ingredients. No yogurt required! This recipes uses both butter and oil, but luckily uses melted butter so no mixer required! This loaf has a plush, cakey crumb with a sweet, banana-forward flavor.
- Martha Stewart: 8 ingredients (if you omit the nuts). Again, you can sub Greek yogurt for the sour cream here. As a butter-based loaf, it does call for a mixer but it’s still easy to throw together with a slightly drier and cakey texture and mild banana flavor.
Spices: Most of these recipes call for some combination of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. If you only have allspice or pumpkin spice on hand, you can use the same quantity as the quantity of individual spices called for in the recipe (or some mix of the spices you do have). In a super pinch, you can likely use all cinnamon in these recipes and be fine.
- Tartine: 8 ingredients (minus spices). This oil-based bread is super easy to whip up and results in a melt-in-your-mouth, cake-like loaf.
- Domestic Rebel: 7 ingredients (minus spices). Calls for a mixer to cream the butter, but you can do this by hand if you prefer. We loved the even, moist crumb and great caramelization on this loaf!
- All Recipes: 6 ingredients (minus spices.) Very easy to mix this up by hand. The soft, medium crumb contrasts well with a bronzed exterior with a subtle spice mix.
- Mel’s Kitchen Cafe: 8 ingredients. This recipe couldn’t be easier, and it’s also the winning recipe from our cornbread bake off! It’s sweet and cakey soft.
- All Recipes (Golden Sweet): 7 ingredients. Another easy 1-bowl, oil-based cornbread, this is slightly less sweet than Mel’s cornbread but still a great contender!
- Not Without Salt: 9 ingredients. Although this recipe calls for 3 kinds of sugar, you can sub brown sugar for the turbinado sugar in a pinch, and chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate. I love that the recipe doesn’t call for chilling the dough and the flavor is superb! Important note that this recipe calls for an oven temp of 360 not 350 degrees!
- Pinch of Yum: 8 ingredients. This is probably the easiest, most basic recipe for the best payoff in terms of a thick and soft, puffy cookie. Note: you can always sub unsalted butter and add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt for salted butter!
- Joy the Baker: 9 ingredients (if you omit the nuts, which I do). If you don’t have molasses on hand, just omit it. This is technically a little more complicated as it calls for browning butter, but since we all have a little more time with quarantine schedules…I say this recipe is totally worth the extra fuss! A-MAZING flavor.
Milk substitute: You can generally sub any plant-based milk (i.e. almond milk) for another plant-based milk (i.e. oat, hemp, soy, etc.) or even dairy milk, especially in small quantities. Note that coconut milk is thicker than other plant-based milks, so it’s not recommended to sub a different milk in large quantities.
Brown sugar substitute: to get 1 cup of brown sugar, mix anywhere from 1.5 to 4 tablespoons of molasses thoroughly into 1 cup of white sugar (depending on how dark you want your brown sugar).
- Ovenly: 7 ingredients. A super easy oil-based cookie to throw together, though it does call for a 24-hour rest (don’t skip this). I recommend adding vanilla or almond extract to this recipe if you have it.
- Isa Chandra: 9 ingredients. Another very easy oil-based cookie; you can sub cornstarch for the tapioca flour and any kind of milk for the almond milk.
- Liv B: 8 ingredients. This is a vegan butter/margarine-based cookie (though you can use regular butter if you’re not concerned about the vegan part). I personally suggest omitting the almond milk from this recipe for thicker cookies.
- King Arthur Flour: 8 ingredients. The only tricky ingredient here is the Dutch-process cocoa. If you don’t have this available, look for a different recipe. If you do have it–it’s your lucky day because these brownies are thick and chewy perfection.
- Sally’s Baking Addiction: 7 ingredients. Luckily, you can use any kind of cocoa in Sally’s recipe. She calls for a semi-sweet chocolate bar, but if you only have chocolate chips, you can use those!
- King Arthur Flour: 5 ingredients. This does require a mixer and a rest of 2 hours up to overnight, but it’s otherwise a straightforward recipe with delicious, ethereally delicate results if you roll them thin enough.
Luckily, most lemon bars are very minimalist, with many recipes calling for just butter, sugar, flour, cornstarch, eggs, lemon juice/zest and optional powdered sugar.
- Smitten Kitchen: 6 ingredients. If lemons are a limiting ingredient for you, this one is ideal as it only calls for a single lemon (rather than cups of lemon juice). This very streamlined recipe does require a food processor.
- Ina Garten: 6 ingredients. Extremely easy to mix up and bake (no cooking of curd required!). Or try Sally’s Baking Addiction–a nearly identical recipe with less sugar and flour.
- Cook’s Illustrated: 7 ingredients. This recipe is a little more finicky (you do have to cook the curd) and resource-intensive (it does call for cream of tartar (which you can omit in a pinch), 2/3 cup lemon juice and 6 eggs, but it is such a good recipe that I still had to include it for those who have the time, energy and resources.
- Smitten Kitchen: 7 ingredients. These butter-based snickerdoodles are extremely simple, though they do require cream of tartar and a one hour rest. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can try one of these subs or simply omit it. (If you have shortening to use up, try Martha Stewart’s very similar recipe!)
- King Arthur Flour: 7 ingredients. SUPER simple, no cream of tartar or resting required!
Bonus: Aquafaba Recipes!
In case you’re looking for some egg-less recipe inspiration, here are some easy recipes you can make with aquafaba! Aquafaba is just the name for the liquid that you can drain out of a can of beans (usually chickpea, but I’ve used butter beans and pretty much any kind of white bean! You could probably use black bean or kidney bean aquafaba if you’re making chocolate cake or something with a stronger flavor.) You can also try making your own aquafaba if you cook dry beans at home, but I’ve never tried this.
- Whole wheat aquafaba pancakes (you can use any kind of flour here!)
- Whole grain aquafaba waffles (again, you can use almost any flour here)
- Soft vegan pumpkin cookies (regular flour will also work great in these)
- Aquafaba lemon meringue pie: a bit labor-intensive, but a very satisfying bake! You can use any crust/filling you like, but the aquafaba meringue is the key here if you’re missing egg whites!
Hope these inspire some delicious recipes at home! As always, tag me on Instagram at @thepancakeprincess or hashtag your posts #pancakeprincessbakeoff–I love to seeing what you’re baking!