One of the most exciting developments in astronomy is the discovery of thousands of planets around stars other than our Sun. But how do these exo-planets form, and why are they so different from those in our own solar system? Which ingredients are available to build them? Thanks to powerful new telescopes zooming in on planetary construction sites, astrochemists are starting to address these age-old questions scientifically. Water and a surprisingly rich variety of organic materials are found near forming stars, including simple sugars. Can these pre-biotic molecules end up in comets and ultimately new planets and thus form the basis for life elsewhere in the universe?