How to whip up some sweet dishes in a few minutes.

Every once in a while, I encounter a delicious, home-baked goodie and think, “This shouldn’t be too hard to make myself.”

Because you see, like childbirth, over time, I forget just how traumatic baking can be. For me, at least.

My issue with baking stuff from scratch is that you have to be so precise! And I tend to make really stupid mistakes, like adding baking powder instead of baking soda (yielding the most bitter-tasting muffins imaginable) or lining the pan with waxed paper instead of parchment paper (and almost starting a fire).

But my kids love cooking and we all love home-baked goods, especially during the cozy Fall and Winter months. Thanks to these easy-peasy mixes and pre-made doughs, we can have our cake and (and not be afraid to) eat it, too.

Brownie mix

Simple addition

Allergy-aware and eco-friendly, Cherryvale Farms is by far one of our favorite baking brands. With their “Everything But the…” mixes, you’re in charge of adding the key ingredient, like corn, blueberries, or bananas. Fresh, canned, or frozen—your choice. Mix with a little oil and/or water, bake, and whip up tasty breads and muffins, lickety-split.

Cheesecake Mix

Cake walk

Any Golden Girls fan knows the importance of having cheesecake in the house. And there are lots of no-bake or easy-bake varieties to pick from, like this 15-minute-prep version from Jell-O and this 3-ingredient one from Duncan Hines (that comes with its own pan?!). I like Libby’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Kit best. It includes Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin, filling mix, and crust mix; just add cream cheese and butter.

Cinnamon rolls

American pie

Remember those yummy Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls mom used to make you for breakfast? What if I told said you could HACK those rolls into Baby Apple Pies? It’s true! Press the roll dough into the cups of a sprayed muffin tin, add apple pie filling, bake, and drizzle with the icing that comes with the rolls. Perfect for junior bakers and hostesses in a hurry.

Scone mix

English breakfast

I used to live near a bakery that made the most incredible oatmeal-cranberry scones. When we moved, I thought (see above), how hard can it be? Very. I tortured myself and my loved ones with four failed recipes before I happened upon Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal Scone Mix with Currants. According to Bob’s, the secret is “carefully blending the right proportions of hand-selected, wholesome ingredients.” Happy to let Bob do the heavy lifting for me. Add egg, water, and unsalted butter; mix, pat, cut, bake, DONE.

Toll House cookies

Smart cookie

My cookies may be cookie-cutter but at least four people in this house don’t care—and that’s all that matters. If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, you probably aren’t going to be fussy about the White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie’s origin story. You’ll be too busy thinking, “Mmmmm…. White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies.” Repeat after me: refrigerated cookie dough—why the hell not???

A final note? Maybe you’re an avid baker, really creative, and super-successful at everything you pop in the old oven. Use these as the starting point to something uber-amazing (the individual brands’ websites offer endless recipe suggestions). Or use ‘em in a pinch if you need something fast and can’t deal with a big mess. These shortcuts are for everyone—and everyone loves a shortcut.

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