‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Said She Always Keeps These Favorite Go-To Ingredients on Her Kitchen Counter

Ina Garten loves flavor in her cooking and said she always keeps a few simple ingredients within arm’s reach so they’re readily available to amp up any recipe. Garten told Oprah Daily why she opts to keep her favorite most used ingredients right on the counter.

Ina Garten cooks in her kitchen with Willie Geist during Sunday Today
Ina Garten and Willie Geist | Mike Smith/NBC/Getty Images

Ina Garten shares why she keeps some ingredients on her counter

Garten likes an organized kitchen but does keep a few things within her reach on the counter or nearby shelf so that things she uses regularly can be easily grabbed.

When discussing her most-used ingredients during an April 2021 interview with Oprah Daily, she shared one of her pro tips.

“When I buy groceries, I leave things like lemons, onions, and garlic in bowls on the counter, rather than putting them away,” she explained. “Not only are they easy to get to, but also, when I’m working, I often think, what would make this even better?”

“Chances are, one of those ingredients will do the trick, so it reminds me to use what’s already there, rather than search for some crazy spice or herb,” Garten added.

Ina Garten also has a few regularly used items nearby

Garten keeps other items on the counter too, such as kitchen tools in crocks and a collection of spoons in a jar she uses when tasting her recipes. She also has a shelf over the range with things like salt and pepper that she uses all of the time.

These easy shortcuts for organization ensure that she doesn’t have to reach in a drawer for a utensil or open a cabinet or walk to the pantry for regularly used ingredients.

RELATED: ‘Barefoot Contessa’: 3 of Ina Garten’s Easiest Appetizers Are Surprisingly Simple Store-Bought Snacks

Ina Garten has very specific rules for her kitchen workspace

When it comes to kitchen layout, Garten has figured out the ideal space that works for her. She enjoys entertaining guests in her kitchen but doesn’t want people in her workspace, so she has a small work area but plenty of seating on the other side. Her guests can sit at the counter, at a nearby table, or in the comfortable seating by the fireplace.

During an interview with House Beautiful magazine in 2009, Garten explained how she designed her workspace.

“I think the most important thing is that the workspace isn’t too big,” Garten noted. “That it’s a space that you can actually handle easily. And the thing I think that people do wrong the most is that the workspace is out of the traffic area.”

Garten can still engage in the conversation but she doesn’t have people walking in the area where she’s cooking.

“So that if there are people — you know kids and dogs and friends — and running back and forth, they’re not underfoot when I’m working,” Garten explained.

There’s room for everyone to “hang out,” but she said, “my workspace between the island and the back counter are sort of sacrosanct. Nobody moves around in there unless, of course, they’re cooking with me.”