Dinner

16 Ina Garten Recipes to Channel Your Inner Barefoot Contessa

From lemon skillet-roast chicken to a Jeffrey-worthy devil's food cake.

December 14, 2021
Photo by QUENTIN BACON

When I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed, there's a little trick I sometimes use that makes me relax in a near instant: turn on an episode of Barefoot Contessa starring Ina Garten, a cookbook author, lover of all things Paris, and of course, the Hamptons' very best host.

I'm not sure if it's the easy listening vibes of the show's opening theme song or Ina's serene, sprawling estate (that kitchen! those gardens!), but it's hard not to feel ultra-calm as you watch her effortlessly cook through a handful of recipes—whether she's setting up a laid-back lunch for company or preparing a special meal for none other than Jeffrey himself. (How easy was that, right?)

Speaking of recipes, Ina's are some of the best and most foolproof you'll find on the internet (or in one of her many cookbooks). I turn to them often, for weeknight meals, big dinner parties with friends (those were the days)—you get the idea—and truthfully, not one has let me down. And when I don't want to turn on the oven for dessert, I stock up on her baked goods through Goldbelly. How easy...you get the idea.

There are literally hundreds of Ina Garten recipes to choose from, but if you ask me, these are some of her very best.


Ina Garten's Best Recipes

1. Ina Garten's Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

This one-pan roast chicken has everything we love about a classic Ina recipe: a no-fuss ingredients list, bright and clean flavors (fresh thyme, lemon, garlic), and of course, a clever trick (letting the lemon slices roast with the chicken till they're caramelized and ready to sop up with bread).

2. Ina Garten’s Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

Meet what's practically guaranteed to be the best broccoli of your life. It all comes down to the ingredients the broccoli gets tossed and coated with before it hits the oven—a flavor-filled combination of lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, hunks of shredded Parmesan, garlic, and a healthy drizzle of good-quality olive oil.

3. Ina Garten's Lemon Capellini

Ina's super-simple capellini also happens to be one of food writer Alyse Whitney's all-time favorites, too. Calling for just lemon zest, lemon juice, and two sticks of butter (plus salt and pepper), it "remains one of my favorite weeknight comfort recipes as a fellow angel hair enthusiast," she writes.

4. Ina Garten's Devil's Food Cake

If this irresistibly moist, meringue buttercream-frosted devil's food cake is good enough for Jeffrey—it does come from the cookbook Ina dedicated to him, after all— then it's 100 percent good enough for us.

5. Ina Garten's Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola

This Genius-approved pasta is Ina's version of a longtime favorite (we're talking over 20 years) from Nick and Toni's restaurant in East Hampton, New York. The creamy vodka sauce gets its rich, highly concentrated flavor from an important technique: roasting the sauce in the oven for about an hour and a half.

6. Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

Consider this the brownie recipe to end all brownie recipes. Complete with a mix of semisweet and bitter chocolate (over two pounds in total), a few tablespoons of instant coffee to give the flavors extra depth, and chopped walnuts for textural crunch, it checks just about every box we can think of. And should you want to take the store-bought route, you can grab a tray of these brownies along with our other faves from Ina herself via Goldbelly. How easy is that? (Okay, we'll stop.)

7. Ina Garten's Mac & Cheese

I consider myself a macaroni and cheese connoisseur. I've sampled many a recipe over the years, but I always come back to Ina's. There's just something about the crumbly bread crumb topping, lush cheese sauce with Gruyère and extra-sharp cheddar, oh, and the addition of sliced tomatoes—that totally makes it.

8. Ina Garten's Cauliflower Toasts

Cauliflower toasts might not seem all that appealing on first glance, but as Ina points out in Cook Like a Pro, it's "a highly under-appreciated vegetable." To bring out its flavor, simply roast it. Mixing it with grated Gruyère, creamy mascarpone, and thinly sliced prosciutto doesn't hurt either.

9. Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata

Ina's chicken piccata is a weeknight regular in my house. The chicken itself is juicy and golden-crisp, but my favorite thing about the dish is the pan sauce—a reduction of white wine, butter, and lemon juice (that's also great over spaghetti).

10. Ina Garten's Roasted Brussels Sprouts

As it turns out, four ingredients are all you need for superlative roasted Brussels sprouts. A quick toss with olive, salt, and pepper and 30 or 40 minutes in the oven, and—voila—a crispy green side dish you can serve with anything from grilled meats to Ina's perfect roast chicken.

11. Ina Garten's Crispy Chicken With Lemon Orzo

Another day, another Ina chicken recipe here to save dinnertime. This one comes together in a flash and is a complete meal, to boot, with crispy, juicy herbed chicken breast perched atop a bed of zingy lemon-infused orzo pilaf. Briny feta and buzzy dill buoy the buttery, rich flavors and perk up the whole dish.

12. Ina Garten's Slow-Roasted Spiced Pork

For a show stopping dinner-party main (or a freezer-friendly meal that could feed me for literal months), try out this spice-rubbed, slow-roasted pork. It hangs out in the oven for about six hours, meaning it's largely hands-off; it also won't dare to dry out if you forget about it for a little while, as I am certainly wont to do.

13. Ina Garten's Broccoli & Kale Salad

Trust Ina to make vegetables exciting again—this time in the form of crunchy broccoli and vegetal kale, swathed in a creamy Caesar dressing. Top it all with a couple of jammy eggs (they're a must) and a handful of crispy, oily croutons (also essential), and there's a salad that will remain on my forever menu.

14. Ina Garten's Salmon Teriyaki With Broccolini

A lil' sweet, a lil' spicy, and more than a lil' simple, this very virtuous-looking salmon dinner is also packed full of flavor, Ina-style. Steam some basmati rice using the Contessa's no-fail technique and you're solid.

15. Ina Garten's Vanilla Brioche Bread Pudding

I've been dreaming about this vanilla brioche bread pudding ever since I watched Ina make it on an episode of Cook Like a Pro (aptly titled "Best in Class") on Food Network. But with a yield of 9 to 10 servings, I might wait till I'm able to entertain again to make it (a more likely scenario: I'll halve the recipe for myself).

16. Ina Garten's Cheddar & Chutney Grilled Cheese

And because no Ina Garten recipe list can end without something as simple and satisfying as a grilled cheese, I had to include one here. Be sure to use your favorite, boldly flavored cheddar (Cabot clothbound, anyone?) and a high-quality chutney with a lot of verve (I'm partial to Brooklyn Delhi's Sweet Mango Chutney) for the best results. How easy was that, right?


What's your all-time favorite Ina Garten recipe? Tell us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

91 Comments

Renee April 7, 2022
A couple of my favorite Ina go-to entrees are Parmesan Chicken and Panko Crusted Salmon.
 
Kathy January 23, 2022
On the subject of her cookbooks…..
Her first , The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, is really great!
I think that I cook more from the Back to Basics, and Barefoot in Paris…..
But there is no way that you can go wrong with any of them!
 
FloridaGal January 23, 2022
I've always wanted to get one of Ina's books but am overwhelmed by the choice, so I haven't hit the buy button. I don't have space for many books or I'd probably get the lot :-) Any recommendations on THE one to start with would be greatly appreciated!
 
Russell L. January 17, 2022
I love her take on the classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. I’ve even tried it with pork (chunks of boneless pork shoulder) and it is fabulous!
 
Mary T. January 17, 2022
Hands down: her Lemon Curd is the smoothest, most balanced, easiest I've ever made... and I've made a lot!
 
SonjaP January 17, 2022
A family favorite is Ina’s French Potato Salad, so much nicer, in my opinion, than mayonnaise laden versions.
 
Lisa January 16, 2022
Her Lentil & Kielbasa salad is a staple for us. Even more delicious for breakfast with a fried egg on top!
 
Terri January 16, 2022
Her roast chicken with lemon, thyme, and garlic inside is to die for. And the sauce from dripping? Oh my! It’s so easy and never fails. And her cranberry conserve? You’ll never buy canned again for Thanksgiving. Again, a very easy recipe.
 
Dawn D. January 16, 2022
I recently made the Cauliflower Toast just for the two of us, which was of course wonderful. We had a lot of extra topping, so I used it to make a fabulously simple and delicious Mac and cheese. Used fresh three-cheese tortellini, thinned with a little chicken broth and promised my husband we’d definitely make it again. It is a real versatile recipe.
 
Mary T. January 16, 2022
I would add her Shortbread Cookies from her book Parties!, p. 210. It has only 5 ingredients, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and 3 sticks of butter. Using a mixer, it makes a dough that is easy to roll out. The scraps can be rolled out again, and there is no waste. There is also a simple glaze of confectioners sugar and water after baking. The dough keeps well, chilled, and the delicious cookies last a long time in a tin. Superb quality!
 
Kathy January 16, 2022
I agree that you can always count on Ina’s recipes!
I make so many, hard to pick…. Sole meunière or Rack of lamb Persillade…..
I remember seeing her way back when on the Martha Stewart show!
She totally taught me to be a better cook!
And just love her for herself!
Thanks Ina!
 
Rebecca K. January 16, 2022
My favorite Ina Garten recipe is her Lemon Curd. I make it almost weekly as my husband is completely addicted.
 
Jody January 16, 2022
I don't think I've ever had a failure when making something of Ina's. Two favorites that come to mind-Winter Garden Minestrone and Pastitsio. The minestrone is great without the pancetta, if you want a vegetarian version, and the last time I made it, I threw in a Parmesan cheese rind. Yum! The pastitsio is a winter classic comfort food.
 
Sophillymak January 16, 2022
I thought I was the only one! That music starts and my heart rate slows. So many favorites, but her Make-ahead Turkey Gravy - so helpful and delicious. And my go to first time cooking for someone important recipe (mom, in laws, etc)…. her company roast chicken. Thank you Ina
 
Liz January 16, 2022
she sure loves lemons...lol
 
Paula D. January 16, 2022
Tomato orzo soup with grilled cheese croutons, carrot cake cupcakes, apple pie bars, grilled mozzarella & prosciutto toasts and jalapeño margaritas
 
Lorraine January 19, 2022
Her recipe for "Real Margaritas" is my favorite! Never tried anything else since that first batch!
 
sdskelton January 16, 2022
Italian Sausage with Roasted Grapes is a favorite in this house!
 
e69Rpkab_yrP57YfyyKD January 16, 2022
Anna’s Tomato Tart is fabulous as is her Shrimp Bisque!
 
Jpotts January 16, 2022
Pesto, pasta and peas are a summer must!

Also, any of her soups ❤️
 
Hollyg January 16, 2022
Ina's Blueberry Crumb Cake!!! The best!
 
Paula D. January 16, 2022
With or without the blueberries it’s a standout…