Jennifer Garner Made This ‘All-Time Favorite’ Ina Garten Recipe for the Barefoot Contessa’s Birthday

Jennifer Garner found the perfect way to honor her idol, Ina Garten, on her birthday in 2019 — the actor cooked one of her “all-time favorite” Barefoot Contessa recipes. Find out what Garner made and the one unusual ingredient Garten uses in the recipe but Garner totally forgot to add.

Ina Garten on Sunday Today with Willie Geist in 2018
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jennifer Garner cooked a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe

In honor of Garten’s birthday (and the Super Bowl), Garner cracked open one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, only to find an interesting note stuck on the page for Garten’s chicken chili: a list for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Grape Nuts cereal. Go figure.

“This is one of my all-time favorite recipes,” Garner said of the Barefoot Contessa’s unique chili recipe that uses chicken instead of beef.

Garner walked through the steps, first prepping the chicken, dicing “an obscene amount of onions,” pressing garlic, and chopping peppers and adding the ingredients to a pot with the spices, noting, “now it smells like chili!”

She also made the realization that she needed a bigger vessel to hold the chili ingredients. “I hope this pot can hold all of this,” she said, adding, “Are you wondering that too?”

Once she chopped the tomatoes and added them to the pot, Garner realized she needed a bigger pot. “In the game of ‘is this going to fit in this pot?,” she said, “No, is the answer. No, I admit defeat. I’ve lost this game.” She transferred everything to a bigger pot, then added the chunks of chicken.

“Ina, it’s so good,” Garner said as she gave it a taste. “Happy birthday. Happy Super Bowl.”

“Super Bowl! If you’re looking to feed a crowd, to make it hearty (AND sneakily keep it healthy) may I humbly recommend Birthday Girl @inagarten’s CHICKEN CHILI from #BarefootParties,” Garner shared in the caption. “For an easy vegan version — add a drained can of black beans instead of chicken at the end — yum! The final delicious product is on IGTV. #PretendCookingShow #superbowlsnack #happybirthdayina!”

RELATED: Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s Charcuterie Cheese Board Is Simple and Elegant

Garner forgot to add Ina Garten’s unexpected ingredient

When Garten demonstrated how to make the chicken chili recipe on her Barefoot Contessa cooking show, she shared why she uses one unexpected ingredient. Garten doesn’t like cilantro, so she substitutes basil.

“So most chili has cilantro in it but I personally hate cilantro so I’m going to put basil in instead. Gives it great flavor,” she explained on her show.

During a 2017 interview with Munchies: The Podcast, Garten was asked, “Is there anything that you absolutely hate that you will never find in one of your cookbooks?” 

The famous cook admitted, “Cilantro. Hate it!”

“I know people love it, you can add it to the recipe,” she added. “I just hate it. To me it’s so strong — and it actually tastes like soap to me — but it’s so strong it overpowers every other flavor.”

Garner, it turns out, didn’t add basil when she made the recipe, as she admitted “I forgot this” in the recipe instructions that accompanied her post.