These Secrets From Ina Garten Will Make You a Better Cook

Ina Garten — celebrity chef, author, and host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa — knows a thing or two (or 20) about cooking. Whether you’ve watched one or 100 episodes of her show, there’s always a new tip to learn. Discover secrets from Ina Garten that will make you a better cook, ahead.

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TV personality Ina Garten attends the 10th Annual New York Times

Ina Garten | Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Ina Garten’s not good at carving ducks, she told Food & Wine.

While it may look like Ina Garten doesn’t measure when she cooks, she, in fact, does. “I measure everything because I always think that if I’ve spent so much time making sure this recipe was exactly the way I want it, why would I want to throw things into a pot?” she told Epicurious. “I’m really a scientist.”

Hint: Shop what’s in season.

Shop in-season foods

Vendor serving and chatting with customers at a farmers market.

Farmers market | kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Chocolate and coffee are one of Ina’s favorite flavor combinations. Coffee is known to enhance the flavor of chocolate.

“Buy things in season, and then only do what you need to do to make [food] taste as good as it can taste,” Ina told Epicurious. She gives plums as an example. Their flavor is brought out by cassis. “You don’t know that the cassis is there, but you know it tastes better,” Garten said.

Hint: Don’t be afraid to season food.

Season your food

Salt shaker

Salt | Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Food Network asked Ina Garten to host a cooking show every six months for a year-and-a-half, according to Food & Wine.

“Most people don’t do their oatmeal with salt, and I think that without it, it just tastes like wallpaper paste,” Ina told Bon Appétit in 2014. “With salt, I think it’s delicious.” She eats the same thing for breakfast every morning, coffee and oatmeal. With food other than oatmeal, Ina keeps going until it’s just right, according to a 2011 interview with Bon Appétit.

Hint: Don’t buy this type of cheese.

Don’t buy pre-shredded Parmesan

Piece of a parmesan and grated cheese

Parmesan cheese | iStock.com/alexbai

  • Fun fact: Ina Garten used to work in the White House.

Ina Garten cautions home cooks about pre-shredded Parmesan. “You never know what you’re actually getting,” she said on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Episode 3: “No Sides Required,” according to Food & Wine.

Hint: You’re probably slicing tomatoes the wrong way.

How to slice cherry tomatoes, according to Ina Garten

tomatoes on vine

Tomatoes | Helios4Eos/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: She sold her store, Barefoot Contessa, to two employees.

Cutting cherry tomatoes through the middle of the stem keeps the tomatoes looking uniform. “They look symmetrical and less haphazard than just slicing them any old way,” Garten said on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Episode 3: “No Sides Required,” according to Food & Wine.

Hint: Learn the right way to chop dill.

The correct way to chop dill

Fresh dill

Dill | ehaurylik/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Ina had nothing to do after selling her store, so she wrote a cookbook.

“To get the fronds of your fresh dill off of the stem, hold the bunch pointing downward and run your knife blade lightly along the stem toward the tip,” Ina said on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Episode 4: “Bread Winners,” according to Food & Wine. “You’ll be left with all the fresh, soft little leaves on your cutting board.” Never get frustrated chopping fresh dill again.

Hint: Don’t spread charcoal all over the bottom of your grill.

Create a hot and cool side to the grill

High flame in grill

A grill | AVNphotolab/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Ina makes her own vanilla extract and has been replenishing the same bottle for 30 years.

Create a hot and cool side of the grill by placing charcoal on one side,” Ina said in Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Episode 8: “American Classics,” according to Food & Wine. “Then you can sear on the hotter side and move the steaks to the cooler side and cover the grill to cook fully.” No grill? No problem. Try these indoor barbecue recipes.

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Read more: This Is the 1 Thing Ina Garten Lets Jeffrey Make