Do I Need My Own Recipes to Start a Bakery?

“If I start a bakery, do I need my own recipes?”

“Can I use a recipe I found online when I start my baking business?”

“Do I have to write my own recipes?”

These types of questions are asked by beginning bakers and people dreaming of starting a bakery business all the time! Really.

The idea that all bakeries are serving original recipes is false.

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So, let me answer the question for you right now: NO!

Are you surprised? Relieved?

No, you do not need your own recipes to start a bakery.

Not only that, but there’s no need to make everything from scratch. You don’t even have to make ANYTHING from scratch!

You could EVEN sell baked goods that other people make and resell them. GASP! 

It’s crazy, I know.

Honesty in your bakery business is the best policy.

What you do need to be is honest.

That doesn’t mean you have to tell your secrets right upfront. It means you can’t say that you DO if you don’t. You will never have to worry if you just be yourself and don’t lie.

Trust me on this and sleep easier.

It’s not a fraud. You are not some sort of terrible poser. No misrepresenting the truth….remember?

You can use other people’s recipes and sell the items that you make. If you are a baker, you will probably tweak the recipe time and time again until it ends up having your own flair anyway.

There is no rule that says you need your own recipes to start a bakery.

This is part of the tradition of sharing in the kitchen. We pass things down, we add our own touch, the next person adds theirs, and so on down the line. Thank goodness for this or we’d still be eating those weird pies they started out with called “coffyns.”

Using mixes and pre-made parts in your bakery

When you use mixes and pre-made pie crusts, etc. in your bakery business, it’s perfectly fine. Because you did the work to make it and present it to your clients.

You went and bought the mix, you stood on your feet, you made it beautiful. That is the expertise that was needed. Mixes are consistent and save time, not to mention cost savings.

However, if your client asks if you made it all from scratch, you have to say no.

At least, I’m telling you to say no. If you don’t your pants may catch on fire.

I can tell you the following statements with 100% certainty:

  • Some of the most famous and trendy cake decorators you know use cake mix and are not ashamed of it one bit.
  • There are reputable pie shops all over this county that use pre-made crusts.
  • The house dessert from many a fine restaurant is pre-packaged or wholesale dessert.
  • There are very well-known cupcake shops that do not even have an oven.  Everything is baked at another big box business and brought in on a truck. The same goes for cake decorators.

Does any of this make it any less delicious?

Probably not. The only people who care are the ones who do and they choose to shop elsewhere. You can see this isn’t even really an issue since this might be the first time you’ve even heard of it.

It’s definitely not breaking news material.

What to tell people about your bakery items

You tell them all that you need to tell them to make yourself sound amazing. DON’T LIE!

If you bake everything from scratch, tell it to anyone who will listen!

If you bake with a box mix, you can do what a lot of bakers and decorators do and say you “bake fresh” or that it’s “never frozen.”

Show off your strengths.

Tout that you make all of your fillings from scratch daily with special family recipes. Never volunteer what you don’t do, only tell what you do.

“What if they ask?”

Tell them.

If you’re embarrassed about what you are doing, then that might be a red flag that you need to change something.

Tell them that you do it the way you do because you want to keep their cost low.

Maybe you need to tell them you have tried 100s of recipes and the way that you do it is the way all of your customers love the most.

You can tell them the amazing reason why you do it your way and why it works for you and why they will love it.

Anyone in the food industry will tell you that you do what makes sense for your business, your clients, and your bottom line.

“What if someone doesn’t like the answer?”

If someone gets upset, it’s OK. They can go out and search for someone else who meets their requirements. Don’t take it personally.

There are A LOT of places where I don’t choose to eat, how about you?

I promise McDonald’s doesn’t go cry and feel worthless if you choose to eat at Burger King. They just keep doing what they are doing to try and be the best they can. Maybe they’ll persuade you next time.

Onward and upward, focus on serving the customers that love you and mastering your craft.

I wrote this for all the nervous, aspiring small bakery business owners

I have had SO MANY conversations with other amazing beginning cake decorators and aspiring bakers during my time running this “bakery empire” who told me that would LOVE to start a bakery, but they don’t have any of their own recipes.

They were worried that “real bakers” baked everything from scratch. They thought there was a vault in every successful bakery with a top-secret file of recipes.

It’s just not true. The types of recipes that make bakeries successful are the types that customers buy again and again and then tell their friends to go buy some too. That should be your focus.

You do not have to wait for decades until you finally come up with that award-winning, secret formula to start a bakery.

In my own bakery

At Sweet Bytes, I make almost everything, other than graham crackers and vanilla wafers, from scratch. That is the type of business it is. I market it that way and it’s fun for me.

I did not create every recipe I use or sold on the menu. Still, no one has ever asked me which ones are original recipes and which ones are not.

Now that I will be publishing recipes online and, the dream of all dreams, in books, I will give proper credit to the author of a recipe that I use or adapt.

Integrity is important. You can build your whole business on it.

Strawberry cake with piped flowers on top and a white bowl full of fresh strawberries, graphic overlay asking do I need my own recipes to start a bakery

Questions or Comments?

Were you surprised by anything in this post? I would love to hear about it in the comments. Did I leave you with questions? Feel free to drop me a line and I will do my best to give you a good answer!

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More about Bakery Business from Sweet Bytes:

Should I Start A Bakery? 

How to Make a Professional Bakery Customer Service Policy

Food Safety in Your Home Bakery

How to Charge for Desserts

How to Find the Target Market for a Bakery 

Choosing Between Types of Bakeries for Your New Bakery Start-Up

How to Pay Yourself When You Own a Home Bakery

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About Mikel Ibarra

Mikel Ibarra holds a BFA in painting, is a certified cake decorator, teaches baking and cake decorating classes, and frequently combines her passions for the sake of art. Sweet Bytes is where she shares everything she knows about the art of baking and running a baking business.