Dinner

11 Ina Garten Recipes to Channel Your Inner Barefoot Contessa

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

August  3, 2020
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.

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.

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 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.

10. 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).

11. 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).


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

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Erin Alexander is the Associate 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.

58 Comments

Carla September 5, 2020
I can’t understand their reasoning for Ina Garten able to take credit for this Chicken Piccata recipe. I have been making it the way she does for a long time. Long before Ina Garten was a popular name on Food Network.
 
Scott B. September 3, 2020
Her strawberry tart (with pastry cream and apricot glaze) is just wonderful, as is her unfussy-but-delicious meatloaf.
 
maru September 1, 2020
Am so glad that Ina is putting her recipes...I love her recipes, been watching her on tv for the past 20 years.
 
susan September 1, 2020
you had me at ina.
 
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Monte M. August 14, 2020
The one I cannot live without is her recipe for Confetti Corn. It marries the sweetness of summer corn with red bell peppers and red onions. It's a glorious combination that also includes its share of butter. Heaven on earth.
 
Elizabethdx August 14, 2020
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, with the chocolate buttercream that accompanies the recipe! So easy, so much flavor, and such superb texture. Even though I’m a decades-long Maida Heatter devotee, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake has become my go-to when I want a layer cake.
 
Monte M. August 14, 2020
The recipe is one that Ina was given by our dear friends at The Bridgehampton Florist. It was his grandmother's recipe. His grandfather was a milk man who used to sell her baked goods along with his milk deliveries.
 
Elizabethdx August 15, 2020
Your friends are my newest household heroes! I’m so glad you posted.
 
LB August 13, 2020
As always, Ina’s recipes are spot on!!! My husband always knows if the recipe I’ve made is Barefoot Contessa! I do wish there was a video showing how to cut up the chicken !!!
 
M S. August 10, 2020
This time of year my favorite is Fresh Corn Salad. It always gets rave reviews and goes wonderfully with all things grilled. When prepping for corn on the cob we always add 5-6 more cobs just to be able to make this salad. Yummm.
 
Cathy D. August 10, 2020
We love Ina’s Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin.
 
Dawn D. August 10, 2020
Fresh Pea Soup with mint - cold on a hot summer day, simply divine! Plus the Outrageous Brownies as you've listed. Once I found that recipe, my search was over. Thanks for posting your favs! Love Food52!
 
HalfPint August 10, 2020
I love Ina's ahi and avocado salad :)
 
Kathy F. August 10, 2020
Love, love LOVE her Penne with 5 cheeses. She makes it with 6 cheeses and so, of course, do I now. Such a comforting dish. And those Outrageous Brownies are to die for!
 
SophieL August 10, 2020
I've been doing a lot of "pandemic baking" these last few months and have made multiple batches of Ina's Cherry Pistachio Biscotti. (Sometimes I sub cranberries.) They're delicious, ship really well and keep for well over a week.
Ina's recipes are well-tested and her shows are so informative; I learn so much. Thanks to others' comments on this message thread; I'm going to jot down what others have recommended and try them all. So many recipes, so little time!
 
Celia R. August 10, 2020
Love Ina; have all the cookbooks. Perennial faves include her Fiesta Corn & Avocado Salad, Panko Crusted Salmon (I skip the frying part and it doesn't hurt the flavor at all), the banana cake and the slow-roasted filet of beef with basil mayo. She's the best.
 
Audrey S. August 10, 2020
Her recipe for shrimp scampi is always a show stopper, simple and absolutely delicious. Thank you Ina!
 
Mags August 9, 2020
I love her pot roast recipe. It’s always a winner and the left overs are delicious.
 
Patrie S. August 9, 2020
I like to make her Curried Butternut Squash and Apple soup and Mexican Chicken Tortilla soup often after I’ve made a big batch of her Homemade Chicken Stock!
 
MsJoanie August 9, 2020
Ooh, so many good recipes. I make her mustard vinaigrette salad dressing just about every other week and have the measurements memorized... We also often make her pesto and the pasta with pesto and peas side dish. So perfect at room temperature, it's great to make ahead or serve at a party.
 
coyotenana1 August 9, 2020
Best Ina recipe for me is her slow roasted filet mignon with basil Parmesan mayonnaise! Out of this world fabulous👏👏👏👏