Ina Garten Says You Only Need to Know a Handful of Recipes for Foolproof Cooking

Ina Garten has a number of cookbooks under her belt and a long-running cooking show but she firmly believes you only need to master a handful of recipes. The Barefoot Contessa star shared one of her basic philosophies of foolproof cooking and, true to her brand, it’s very sensible.

Ina Garten wears a denim blue shirt while she watches Willie Geist prepare food in her kitchen during an interview for Sunday Today.
Ina Garten and Willie Geist | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten shares her philosophy of foolproof cooking

In the introduction of Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook, she shares her wisdom on how to make cooking foolproof. “I love to cook — I find it really satisfying — but between you and me, it’s not always easy,” she writes. Garten calls cooking “hard work” with the possibility your efforts might not work out.

Her book provides foolproof recipes she hopes readers will master. “I want these all to be the recipes that you love so much that you make them over and over again because that’s when a recipe becomes truly foolproof: when you feel that you can almost make it with your eyes closed,” she explained.

Garten offers thorough instructions for each recipe so everything goes smoothly during the cooking process. “Once you have some confidence and experience under your belt, you make all kinds of small adjustments along the way and you do it without even thinking because you’ve done it so many times before.”

Ina Garten says you don’t need to know how to make a lot of recipes

Garten has shared her philosophy about cooking in the past and believes you don’t have to have a huge repertoire of recipes, but a handful of dishes you can make well.

While demonstrating how to make her salmon cakes on her show, Garten shared how the recipe is versatile enough to also make crab cakes or lobster cakes. “I’m a big believer that you really only need like 10 recipes,” she said. “And if you can make each one of those recipes three different ways, you’ve got a repertoire of 30 recipes.”

The Barefoot Contessa star added, “I mean, how many recipes do you need? And this is one of those recipes. I make crab cakes, I make salmon cakes. If I have leftover lobster, I make lobster cakes.”

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star explained how to get comfortable in the kitchen

During a 2021 appearance on Next Question With Katie Couric, Garten was asked about the most important skills you should learn in the kitchen.

“I don’t think you need to be a restaurant chef,” she said. “I think you need to know how to make four things really well and just make them over and over. And really kind of get comfortable. And they don’t have to be complicated.”

She continued, “If you can make a roast chicken, you can make a roast turkey — just takes a little longer. If you make roast broccolini, you can make roast squash. Roasting vegetables is really easy.”

Of course, you can lean on some store-bought options when entertaining guests, which alleviates some of the pressure. In an interview with Epicurious, when asked about the advice she would give first-time hosts, Garten shared how your guests really won’t care whether you make something homemade or pick it up at a store.

“Don’t make everything yourself,” she advised. “Your friends will have just as much fun if you go out and buy a fabulous cake at a bakery.”

RELATED: Ina Garten’s Easy Dip ‘Was 1 of the Most Popular Things’ at Her Barefoot Contessa Store