The 10 Best Things Ina Garten Taught Us in 2022

published Dec 28, 2022
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Ina Garten
Credit: Photo: Getty Images, Graphic: Kitchn

Over the course of the past year, Ina Garten has become my go-to source of information both inside and outside of the kitchen. Whenever I’m in a pickle and am looking for some direction with a new recipe or organizing my space, I know I can turn to the Barefoot Contessa for absolute assurance.

With multiple decades of being an inspiration to home chefs and food enthusiasts around the world, Ina is more than just a TV personality and author — she’s a teacher, behind-the-screen friend, and someone who is unapologetically herself. And for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Between releasing yet another cookbook this year, educating the masses with her expert recipe hacks, and releasing a new season of Be My Guest, it’s amazing that she does all of those things and still finds time to enjoy life in the process. As we wrap up another year, there is one thing I can say for certain about Ina Garten: She’s not done yet and class is most definitely still in session.

Thanks to Ina, we here at Kitchn now have an even more robust collection of incredible recipes and useful tips to keep handy for years to come. And in honor of that, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 things we learned from Ina in 2022, with hopes you’ll be just as thankful for learning them, too.

1. Ina’s “dirty little secret” might not be what you would expect. 

For ribs that will impress your dinner guests, Ina’s trick is to first bake them in the oven at 350°F for 45 minutes. You’ll know when it’s time to finally transfer them to the grill because the meat will practically be falling off of the bone.

Credit: Courtesy of Trent Pheifer

2. Parchment paper makes cake decorating easier.

For a mess-free cake decorating experience, place parchment paper cut into triangular shapes directly on your cake stand. Doing so makes it to so you don’t have to decorate the cake and then transfer it to a cake stand. Avoid the mess and thank Ina later.

Credit: Ina Garten

3. We should all be organizing our kitchens like Ina Garten.

With tips ranging from how to store citrus to what to do with all of your alcohol, Ina’s eight organizing tips will ensure a satisfyingly streamlined organization of your kitchen. And if you ask me, having a stash of “tasting spoons” on the counter — ready for any taste testing opportunity — is exactly the type of next-level idea we all need.

4. When it comes to cocktails, proportions are just as important as the ingredients.

Although you may have a similar one at home, Ina’s go-to 4-cup measuring cup sets itself apart from the rest by allowing you to get as precise as necessary when making cocktails at home. Long gone are the days of eyeballing ingredients, but here come the days of more great-tasting drinks. 

5. Interactive plates help animate the dinner table.

Designed by one of Ina’s favorite ceramic artists, Melissa Goldstein, these numbered plates can serve multiple purposes. Referenced by Goldstein as “a way of animating a table,” having unique kitchenware can be an interesting way to assign seats at the dinner table and have some fun in the process.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

6. Blue cheese belongs in your coleslaw.

If moldy cheeses just aren’t your thing, then this is not the tip for you. But if you’re looking for a subtle hint of funkiness and a fresh take on traditional store-bought coleslaw, Ina’s tip for including blue cheese in your homemade coleslaw is a step in the right direction. While getting the exact taste you’re looking for is a bit of a balancing act, the reward is far worth the trial and error. 

Credit: Faith Durand

7. Likewise, egg yolk belongs in your homemade vinaigrette dressing.

Not one to keep recipe secrets to herself, Ina clued us all in on her key to a perfectly prepared vinaigrette dressing: egg yolk. Adding egg yolk lends to the creamy richness of dressing — without weighing down the greens. The result? A more satisfying flavor that you’re going to want more of.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe
Ina Garten’s “Perfect” Pound Cake Lives Up to Its Name (I’m Completely Smitten)

8. The perfect pound cake requires the inclusion of these three ingredients.

In her brand-new cookbook, Go-To Dinners, Ina details the importance of rethinking the way you make dinner and provides dozens of pro tips throughout the pages. One tip specifically referenced her science-like approach to perfecting a pound cake recipe and the inclusion of a specific trio of ingredients. For the perfect balance of flavors, stir together cognac (armagnac or another brandy), lemon zest, and vanilla extract before adding them into the batter.  

Credit: Peter Colin Murray/Kitchn

9. Elevate your hosting skills by serving restaurant-style cake.

No stranger to serving a showstopping dessert, Ina is known for finding simple ways to present her desserts in a sophisticated manner, such as a slice of homemade cake. Her technique is pretty effortless: Before plating a slice, spread a couple spoonfuls of fruit jam in a circle on a small plate, then lay the slice on its side over the jam and garnish with fresh berries. It’s simple hack with fantastic results that adds color to the presentation and balances out the flavors at the same time. 

Credit: Ina Garten

10. Keep your kitchen counters organized with the essentials.

Through an Instagram post, Ina gave us a glimpse at her kitchen counters and once we were done drooling over the beauty of it all, we discovered a lot of familiar items. Between the large cutting boards, coffee maker, small microwave, and various sizes of bowls, there was one conclusion to arrive at: Ina’s countertops only consisted of the essentials. You can always count on the Barefoot Contessa for endless inspiration, and her organization skills are seriously next-level.