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When it comes to writing Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Ina Garten has one rule. It doesn’t have to do with using “good” ingredients or her often-used phrase, “storebought is fine.” Instead, it relates to the Food Network star’s preference for simple meals

Inside the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook-writing process 

Despite delivering a new Barefoot Contessa title practically every two years since 1999, Garten’s process of writing cookbooks is extensive.

“As soon as I have an idea for a recipe, I’ll read everything that has been written about that kind of thing, then I’ll come up with my own twist or a way to do it simpler,” she told Oprah Daily in 2021.

From there, she said she might try improving the flavor or simplifying the recipe. But it’s not always publication-ready on the first try. “Sometimes I nail it on the third try, and sometimes it takes 10. In fact, I worked on my Boston Cream Pie for six years,” Garten explained.

“When I feel it’s right, I give the recipe to my assistant, and I watch her make it,” the Barefoot Contessa host continued, noting she might make adjustments depending on the feedback.

“When people stop me, they often say, ‘I feel like you’re standing next to me when I’m making your recipes.’ That makes me really happy because that’s exactly what I do,” she added. “I stand next to my assistant and she’ll go, ‘Oh my God, it’s bubbling!’ And I’ll add: Don’t worry — it’s supposed to bubble.”

Ina Garten, who has only one rule for Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, signs copies of her cookbooks
Ina Garten | Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment Video for Food Network

Ina Garten’s cookbook rule is that a recipe has to be ‘delicious and easy enough’ she wants to make it again soon

Garten’s someone with a relaxed approach to food however, she sticks to one rule when writing cookbooks. She revealed the rule in 2018 when she spent a week guest-editing Bon Appétit magazine.

“In making all 11 of my cookbooks, I’ve only had one rule: It has to be delicious and easy enough that I want to make it again — and right away,” she said in a letter from the guest editor. “The easier a recipe is to make, the more likely that is to happen.”

“After all, before you host a party, you just have to first please an audience of one,” she added. “It’s my goal to help you do that.”

Ina Garten has a new cookbook debuting in October 2022


Ina Garten Says Her Publisher ‘Didn’t Get’ Her Idea for a Cookbook

Go-To Dinners will make 13 Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for Garten when it debuts. The cookbook, which officially drops on Oct. 25, 2022, has been teased in sneak peeks since 2021.

Per the book’s description, it’s a “collection of comforting and delicious recipes that you’ll love preparing and serving.” There are “lots of freeze-ahead, make-ahead, prep-ahead, and simply assembled recipes” as well as a “‘Two-Fers’ guide” on using leftovers to make something different.

Garten’s coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown experience inspired Go-To Dinners. “Cooking during the pandemic got pretty crazy, even for me, so I devised all kinds of ways to get dinner on the table with the least amount of stress,” she said in a March 2021 Instagram post.