22 Of Ina Garten's Favorite Items To Stock Her Kitchen With

Ina Garten smiling with kitchen items
Ina Garten smiling with kitchen items - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Time and time again, Ina Garten has shown us just how sophisticated simplicity can be. Garten is a self-taught chef whose first job in the food industry was purchasing a specialty food store in the Hamptons on a bit of a whim. Though the store's name -- "The Barefoot Contessa" -- was the previous owner's doing, it's now become entirely associated with Garten and her expansive brand. It neatly symbolizes her ability to streamline recipes, make complicated dishes less overwhelming for beginners, and minimize kitchen tools and products to what's absolutely necessary.

This simplicity is a wonderful facet of her brand. But it doesn't mean Garten shies away from all tools and specialty items. Sure, she thinks you don't need every complicated tool and elite ingredient on the market to be efficient -- but finding favorites that work for you can be essential. Let's take a closer look at what she does keep in her kitchen and why.

Read more: Ina Garten's 12 Best Cleaning Tips For A Mess-Free Kitchen

Food Processors

cauliflower in a food processor
cauliflower in a food processor - bonchan/Shutterstock

Food processors are one of the most versatile tools you can have in your kitchen. The multi-use gadget is a favorite of many chefs, including Ina Garten. In fact, she finds hers so indispensable that she thinks the machine deserves a country-wide party. While demonstrating how to make her sautéed shredded Brussels sprouts on the Food Network, she said, "I love the food processor. There should be a national holiday for the guy who invented it."

That guy's name, incidentally, was Pierre Verdon, and he invented the device in the 1970s. We have him to thank for making chopping, shredding, dicing, and pureeing easier for home cooks and professional chefs alike -- but we have Garten to thank, in part, for cementing it in the public consciousness.

Food Mills

white food mill on white background
white food mill on white background - Valente Romero/Shutterstock

While food processors are a popular staple in home kitchens these days, a food mill, though older, is just as useful. Food mills are used for pureeing and straining cooked fruits and vegetables. Ina Garten finds the unconventional gadget useful for its ability to maintain a coarser grain and avoid the over-blending that can happen with other devices. "What I like is that something ends up with texture so it's not just like baby food," she explained in a video for NYT Cooking's YouTube channel.

Garten uses the Moulinex Food Mill, which unfortunately is no longer available. However, many retailers sell similar products that offer the same hand-powered precision that makes this device so useful.

Oven Thermometers

oven thermometer in oven with pie
oven thermometer in oven with pie - Alzay/Shutterstock

Do you trust your oven's built-in-thermometer? According to Ina Garten, you might want to rethink relying on that digital temperature display and stock up on some oven thermometers instead. "I have lots of oven thermometers because no matter what it says on the dial, the oven itself could be totally different," she told NYT Cooking.

This is an especially important tip, because discrepancies in oven temperatures can lead to food safety issues, undercooked baked goods, and rapidly burned meals. The truth is, the difference between the display and the actual temperature can be as high as 50 degrees. Thus, purchasing an oven thermometer for your kitchen is a worthwhile investment. Plus, they're not even all that expensive: Garten suggests a $7 one made by Taylor.

Inexpensive Vegetable Peelers

hands peeling a cucumber
hands peeling a cucumber - Suteren Studio/Shutterstock

How long have you been using the same vegetable peeler? Take a closer look and you might find yours is dull and maybe even a little rusty. That's precisely why Ina Garten replaces this key kitchen tool yearly. "They're very cheap, so you can just throw them out and buy new ones," she explained to Food & Wine.

Considering Garten is the queen of perfectly roasted veggies, she likely uses hers far more than the average person. So if you're not a fan of root vegetables, this rule probably won't apply to you. Still, it's best to replace it every now and then, and there's no use splurging on an expensive one. Garten's vegetable peeler of choice is sold at Williams Sonoma for only $5.

Microplane Zesters

microplane zester with two lemons
microplane zester with two lemons - Carey Jaman/Shutterstock

Whether you call them microplanes, zesters, or rasps, they're one of Ina Garten's favorite tools. "You know what I love is a rasp ... because I love the zest of citrus fruit. And actually now I do garlic on the rasp because it grates it so finely," she told Bon Appétit. Indeed, this handy tool's uses extend far beyond lemons and limes. In addition to garlic, microplanes are also perfect for grating chocolate to use in baked goods, shredding coconut, and grating fresh ginger.

They're even useful for grating hard cheeses like parmesan, which Garten says you should never buy pre-grated. Her go-to zester can be purchased through Cassandra's Kitchen for $15. It features non-clogging teeth and dishwasher-safe stainless steel for easy cleaning.

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

box of Diamond Crystal kosher salt
box of Diamond Crystal kosher salt - Cindy Ord/Getty

You may think all salts are created equal, but there's actually quite a lot of variation between different kinds and brands. "All of my recipes are based on Diamond Crystal kosher salt," Ina Garten notes on her website, Barefoot Contessa. In general, kosher salt tastes purer than table salt. Diamond Crystal also boasts a lighter texture than table salt.

Diamond Crystal is definitely the most-used of Garten's three favorite salts. But she makes sure to also have Maldon sea salt flakes and Le Saunier De Camargue Fleur De Sel on hand at all times for final sprinklings atop elegant dishes. Arguably, every home cook should have a similar trinity of salts in their pantry.

Olio Santo Olive Oil

olive oil pouring into spoon
olive oil pouring into spoon - Fcafotodigital/Getty

Much like salt, the type of olive oil you use matters far more than you might think. Quality is non-negotiable, and buying extra virgin in a no-brainer -- but according to Ina Garten, flavor notes are also super important. "I like California olive oil better than I like Italian. It's fruiter. It doesn't have that little turpentine-y edge, or bitterness from the olives. I use it for everything," she told Bon Appétit.

What's Garten's favorite olive oil? It's a high-quality California option known as Olio Santo. If you're in the same camp as Garten and prefer the delicacy of California olive oil over the traditional flavor of Italian, you can find Olio Santo at reasonable prices from stores like Sur La Table.

Boxed Pasta

dried spaghetti spilling out of box
dried spaghetti spilling out of box - Gmnicholas/Getty

What we love most about Ina Garten is her down-to-earth attitude and willingness to use shortcuts whenever possible. Her store-bought solutions make life easier for home cooks looking to whip up a fast meal without compromising quality. It makes sense, then, that Garten gives her stamp of approval to using boxed pasta in lieu of making your own from scratch. "I most often used De Cecco pasta, which I think is really good quality," she told Bon Appétit. These blue and yellow boxes full of Italian-made pasta come in an array of shapes, and are easy to find in most grocery stores.

When Garten is feeling a little fancier, she opts for Cipriani Tagliarelle. "It tastes like fresh pasta, but better," she claims.

Urbani's White Truffle Butter

butter with truffles mixed in
butter with truffles mixed in - Suesybell/Getty

When Ina Garten makes her favorite pasta dish, she needs one particular store-bought ingredient: Urbani's white truffle butter. Garten can't get enough of this butter. Not only does she use it for pasta, she believes a bit of truffle butter can elevate everyday meals. "It really turns up the volume on everything from simple scrambled eggs to elegant fettuccine," she explained to the Food Network.

You can purchase a 4 pack of 3 ounce tubs from the Urbani website for $49. The price is, of course, much higher than that of average butter. But considering how expensive truffles are, this can be understood as an easier way to infuse a variety of dishes with their gourmet flavor.

Leftover Deli Containers

salads in deli containers
salads in deli containers - Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock

When it comes to leftovers stowed in the fridge, the disposable containers Ina Garten uses might surprise you. She believes you don't need to spend extra money to enjoy the best storage option -- no Tupperware necessary, in other words. Instead, her environmentally friendly solution is to reuse take-out deli containers over and over again. These clear plastic containers have long been a restaurant industry favorite for storage, packaging, and many other uses.

According to the Food Network star, these containers are dishwasher safe and come in an array of useful sizes. The fact that they're clear makes it easy to find what you're looking for when you start digging through the fridge. So if you ever get your hands on some after ordering food to-go, take advice from Garten and never throw them away.

Wüsthof Knives

set of 6 Wüsthof Knives
set of 6 Wüsthof Knives - Keith Homan/Shutterstock

A chef's kitchen is incomplete without a set of high-quality knives, and Wüsthof is the knife brand Ina Garten swears by. "They're pretty expensive, but they last a lifetime. That's why I say, ask for one as a gift or buy one at a time," she explained in an interview with The Kitchn. They're made from high-carbon stainless steel, which is the knife material professionals tend to prefer because it's a strong corrosion-resistant material that will hold up to intense and extensive use.

Wüsthof is a family-owned German company that dates back to 1814. With 200 years under its belt, it's no wonder this brand has perfected the art of knife-making and built a reputation for producing some of the finest tools available.

Peppermate Pepper Mill

black pepper in a wooden spoon
black pepper in a wooden spoon - Skhoward/Getty

Nearly every recipe calls for a sprinkling of black pepper, so having easy access to freshly-ground whole peppercorns is essential for all cooks. If you're using pre-ground store-bought pepper, you're likely weakening the flavor of your dinners. That's because the peppercorn's intensity quickly dulls once it's been ground. A pepper mill gets you as close to the spice's peak of flavor as possible.

Ina Garten believes in the power of fresh-ground pepper, and swears by one pepper mill in particular: the PepperMate. She can often be seen using the tool on her Instagram and suggests purchasing it from Cassandra's Kitchen for $40. It boasts several features, like adjustable grind settings, and can be used with other millable spices as well.

Classic Brands Of Vanilla Ice Cream

Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream - Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

Ina Garten is known to use store-bought ingredients from time to time, as is evident from this list and from her memeable catchphrase, "store-bought is fine." Indeed, her whole philosophy hinges on the idea that making delicious gourmet meals at home can be effortless.

So it goes with ice cream. When it comes to this classic dessert, vanilla is Garten's favorite flavor. Plenty of quality makers get Garten's stamp of approval, but her three favorite brands of vanilla ice cream are Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's, and Ciao Bella. Skip the churning and head to the freezer aisle for these top picks.

Multi-Use Ice Cream Scoops

various ice cream scoops
various ice cream scoops - this_baker/Shutterstock

As established above, Ina Garten is an ice cream fan. Naturally, she has a drawer stocked with multiple ice cream scoops. As it turns out, she's found uses for the tool that extend far beyond sweet treats. In a YouTube video for NYT Cooking, she reveals she uses her ice cream scoop for everything from muffins to meatballs. According to Garten, this ensures consistent measurements and more professional-looking results.

Keeping a few different sizes on hand is key. Her rule of thumb is to use a 2 ¼ inch scoop for muffins and cupcakes, and a standard 1 ¾ inch scoop for cookies. Garten even uses the tool to make perfectly even fish cakes.

Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce

jars of Rao's homemade marinara
jars of Rao's homemade marinara - The Image Party/Shutterstock

While making homemade pasta sauce is a relatively easy task, Ina Garten encourages using jarred sauce to save time when making more complicated recipes. The store-bought sauce Garten always keeps in her pantry is made by the brand Rao's Homemade.

While Rao's has several jarred pasta sauce options on supermarket shelves, it's the classic marinara flavor that gets Garten's official stamp of approval. "I think you can spend the entire day making good marinara sauce, or you can buy Rao's Marinara sauce, which I think is just fantastic," she explained to Bon Appétit. The sauce is super easy to find in most grocery stores nowadays, and while it's more expensive than other brands, the price is worth it. You'll get that homemade flavor without all the work.

Texmati Rice

wooden spoons with dried rice
wooden spoons with dried rice - Fotografiabasica/Getty

A kitchen is incomplete without a generous supply of grains. Ina Garten keeps her pantry well-stocked with an extensive variety, especially when it comes to rice. Specifically, Texmati is the brand Garten can't get enough of. "I like the quality of the Texmati brand of rice. I use brown basmati rice, white basmati rice, Arborio rice, couscous. I just find the flavor fantastic," she explained to Bon Appétit.

This Garten-approved brand is easy to find in most grocery stores. Stocking up can be expensive, but it has a long shelf life and effortlessly forms the base of many hearty rice recipes, from creamy risotto to chicken fried rice.

Stonewall Kitchen's Maine Maple Syrup

maple syrup in two jars
maple syrup in two jars - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Few things are as comforting as maple syrup on a chilly day. The versatility of this sweet stuff is unmatched -- it's handy in everything from salad dressings to baked goods. But how do you know you're buying the best quality syrup? Well, you can start by trusting the expertise of Ina Garten and go with her favorite brand of maple syrup: Stonewall Kitchen.

What makes this brand of syrup exceptional? For one, it's pure grade A amber, which is smooth yet rich in flavor. According to the brand's website, the sap is harvested directly from Maine maples after the last frost. In short, it's authentically all-American and bursting with pure maple flavor.

Frozen Puff Pastry

puff pastry on a board
puff pastry on a board - Larisa Rudenko/Shutterstock

Taking shortcuts whenever possible is the mark of a clever baker, especially when it comes to tricky things like pastry. According to Ina Garten, puff pastry doesn't need to be homemade to be full of buttery, flaky, delicious goodness. In fact, she admits to always buying ready-made puff pastry for tarts and appetizers.

As anyone who's tried to make homemade puff pastry knows, it's very difficult to get right. It makes sense, then, that even the Barefoot Contessa leaves the work to someone else. There are a variety of recipes you can make with a box of puff pastry, so keeping some stocked in the freezer for shortcuts can save you a lot of time in the long run.

McCann's Quick-Cooking Irish Oatmeal

shelf of McCann's Irish oatmeal
shelf of McCann's Irish oatmeal - The Image Party/Shutterstock

It's rare to find food you like so much you can eat it every day, but Ina Garten has done just that. She's reportedly eaten oatmeal every day for breakfast for at least 10 years. McCann's quick-cooking Irish oatmeal is her favorite brand to keep on hand and surprisingly, Garten uses the microwave to make it.

On the Barefoot Contessa website, she gives the full details of her daily ritual, explaining, "I put 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats (I like McCann's) in a bowl, add 1 cup of water, then microwave it on high for 4 minutes. I add a pinch of salt, a splash of milk, a little bit of butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup, and stir it all in."

Creamy Dijon And Whole Grain Mustard

creamy mustard and mustard seeds
creamy mustard and mustard seeds - Ollo/Getty

Mustard is one of the most accessible and versatile condiments to keep in your fridge. Ina Garten makes sure to keep her two favorite brands of mustard on hand at all times. "One of my favorite ingredients is mustard ... I use two different kinds: Grey Poupon Dijon, available everywhere, and whole grain," she divulged to Bon Appétit.

Garten notes that both types of mustards give a Provencal touch to a variety of sauces and salad dressings. The whole grain provides a slight crunchy texture, whereas the creaminess of Grey Poupon is easy to mix into glazes and dips. The two types can even be used together, giving an extra punch of intense flavor.

Antique Silver Spoons

Antique silver spoons on a napkin
Antique silver spoons on a napkin - A. Zhuravleva/Shutterstock

While keeping a clear space to adequately chop and prepare ingredients is undoubtedly important for any chef, there's one kitchen item Ina Garten likes to keep within reach. "I'm always picking up something and stirring or tasting something and I just buy antique silver spoons. They're really inexpensive and I just put them in a jar and leave them on the counter," she explained to NYT Cooking.

Not only is it fun to shop for and collect vintage spoons, using odd, miscellaneous utensils for tasting, stirring, and whatever else, rather than the usual ones from your silverware set, ensures that nothing will be missing when it's time to set the table. It also helps keep things clean -- you can use a spoon, then immediately toss it in the sink.

Jars And Crocks For Organizing

glass jars on pantry shelf
glass jars on pantry shelf - Leka Sergeeva/Shutterstock

It goes without saying that keeping things organized in your kitchen will simplify the cooking process. Ina Garten has several tips for organizing in more efficient ways. One storage solution she swears by is glass jars galore. Not only does storing ingredients in glass jars make your pantry look more aesthetically pleasing, this trick also makes it easier to find what you're looking for at the drop of a hat.

Garten also uses crocks for storing kitchen tools. If you have the counter space, you probably already keep utensils like spatulas, stirring spoons, and whisks conveniently near the stove. Garten suggests using separate crocks according to material, whether that be metal, wood, or silicone. This will ensure your utensils don't get overcrowded or damaged.

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