Ina Garten Wants You to ‘Cook Like a Pro’

Ina Garten sells more cookbooks each season than some authors hope to sell, ever. For her latest, Cook Like a Pro, out October 23, the Barefoot Contessa wants us to “cook with confidence.”

“It’s a funny paradox that when something from a bakery is delicious, we compliment it by saying, ‘This tastes homemade!’ but when something we make at home is especially impressive, everyone says, ‘This looks so professional!’” Garten writes in the book’s introduction. “My goal with this book is to ensure that everything you cook looks and tastes like it was ‘homemade by professionals!’”

Garten has been writing best-selling cookbooks since 1999, but she didn’t really love the process until later. In 2015, she told Eater that she was “actually more interested in writing cookbooks now than I was when I started… I think I was really nervous about it then.”

That touch of self-doubt, that humanity, is Garten’s real secret sauce. Unlike some of her contemporaries, she’s not obsessed with perfection, and her recipes carry with them a sort of ease that was once rare in the cookbook world, where prescriptive menus and precise ingredient lists were thought to guarantee stunning results. Garten gave everyone some breathing room, and not only did they learn how to cook, they learned how to live.

Garten has just eaten lunch — “a green salad and a lemony chicken thigh” — and is settling into an afternoon of recipe writing and research when we connect by phone.

Let’s go into some basics about the book. When did you first come up with this concept for the book?
Usually some time after I start testing recipes, it kinda reveals itself. I can’t even tell you what the process is, but there was a moment when Lidey was answering emails — we answer emails from people who have questions about recipes — and she said, “I don’t know if this is a smart question or a dumb question, but how do you cut cauliflower without getting it all over your kitchen?” I remember thinking, I don’t even know why she gets cauliflower all over her kitchen. And then I realized if you cut through the top of the cauliflower you get florets everywhere, but if you turn it over, and you cut out the core, and you pull the florets apart, then it comes out in really nice beautiful florets, and you don’t end up with a mess.

I realized that there are a lot of things I do instinctively, and if people knew how to do them right, they’d feel more confident about their cooking. That’s really what started the process of writing Cook Like a Pro. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna be a pro, it just means I’m gonna give you all the tips along the way that will really help you feel like you’re doing a good job. At the end of the day, I don’t care whether it’s tennis, or golf, or cooking, the more you know, the more fun the hobby, or the project.

Absolutely. Your fans will also recognize your tips and tricks from your other cookbooks.
We tested so many times you can’t even imagine. I learn something every time I make a recipe, but I always want people to feel like if they have a question . If there’s a question, there’s a note on the side that says, “This is what I think it should look like,” or “Don’t peel the cucumber” — whatever it is that you had a question about I’m right there beside you.

Here you’re really pointing out tips from chefs. One of the first names you mention in the book is Bobby Flay. When did you first meet him or speak with him about cooking?
I can’t even remember the first time I met him, but we’ve known each other forever. I think he’s an amazing cook: He’s intuitive, smart, and his food is extraordinary. Just to watch him in the kitchen without any notes, throwing things together, it’s gorgeous.

He worked on a line for a long time, he has classic culinary training, and he’s a very intuitive cook — but I’m not. I’m self taught from cookbooks, and I think I’m probably more like people at home, who are using my cookbooks. I really need a guide about how much salt and how much pepper to put in something.

Did you approach the recipe development for this book from a different perspective? Did you start on the professional end and then translate them?
I always write from a home cook’s perspective, for two reasons: One is I had a specialty foods store, and what I very quickly learned is that people wanted the kind of food that they eat at home. They wanted roast chicken, roast carrots, very simple delicious food.

But when you go to a restaurant, you want something a little more challenging: a bouillabaisse or something more unique — restaurant food. My perspective professionally has always been as a home cook; the truth is I am a home cook. I’ve just had a little more experience than most people.

Absolutely. You also mention Danny Meyer a couple of times.
Yeah, I just love him.

Have you two cooked together?
No, we’ve never cooked together. I’ve known Danny since 1985: When he opened Union Square Café, I lived a half a block away. Jeffrey and I heard that this new restaurant was opening in the neighborhood, and we went in. It must have been day three, and Danny was there behind the desk greeting people. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is a really good restaurant.”

So I’ve known Danny since then, and I just I can’t tell you how much I admire him. He’s as serious about a Shake Shack Chicken Shack as he is about a fine dining dinner that somebody has at Union Square. What he does, he does with such a big heart, and such care, and it’s really about people. That really shines through.

With so many good restaurants, it must be hard as a cookbook author trying to think of what to say to get someone in the kitchen, no?
It’s such a unique experience now. When — you can do takeout pizza, or you can go to a restaurant — when somebody really takes the time to cook, it’s different. I think the energy is different, the food is different, and the experience of sharing it with people is different.

In a time when we have so much stress in our lives — both personally, but then layer on top of that all of the political stress — I think that we really need to take care of each other. And making a good home-cooked dinner is one way to do it.

I love how you mention in the intro that one of the most important things as a host is to be at ease: Have you ever coached friends in this? What’s your trick for remaining calm under pressure?
I worry about everything. I’ve spent 40 years cooking professionally, and I’m still anxious about every dinner. I think it’s the thing that keeps my edge: I really want it to be good, and I want people to love what I do. I haven’t gotten comfortable yet, and that’s probably a good thing, not a bad thing.

Someone who makes it look easy as well is chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who you also mention in the book. Have you two cooked together?
No, we never cooked together but I’ve had dinner with him, and I adore him. Absolutely adore him. I think he’s so creative, and I love the way he melds Eastern European food with Western food and vegetables. I just think he’s unique and inspiring. Every time I read a book of his — he has one coming out in the fall called Simple, which I’m really looking forward to — it’s how he puts things together. He melds flavors that you would not normally think of putting together, and they just sing. I think he’s a genius.

Aside from Simple, are there any other cookbooks that have come out recently, or that are coming out soon, that you’re excited about?
Dorie Greenspan has a book coming and I love her work. I love David Lebovitz’s ice cream cookbooks. I think he’s just fantastic. I have always loved Sarah Chase’s books, especially the new one about New England.

You mentioned going to Union Square Café when it opened, and I’m sure you’re a fan of Danny Meyer’s restaurants when you come into New York City, but where else do you like to eat?
You know who I adore, too, is Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I don’t know how he does it. He has like 34 restaurants all over the world, and every time we go to one of them, the food is extraordinary, the service is extraordinary, and we always have this joke: “He’s always there.” I just can’t figure it out: Every time we go to a restaurant of his, he’s there. He must have like six body doubles. And he’s so calm, so gracious, and warm. He’s just extraordinary.

There are two desserts in the book that were inspired by him. He has a restaurant in Bridgehampton, and I took my team there for Christmas; we ordered the salted caramel sundae, and we went crazy. I came home the next day and made my version of it. It’s not his recipe, but it’s salted caramel ice cream — I’m sure he makes his own ice cream, but I wasn’t gonna do that — with chocolate sauce, popcorn brittle, and whipped cream. It’s unbelievable. You can make all the elements ahead, and then just assemble it before dessert.

The other thing is the baked Alaska, which he does as an individual ball. That too, I find you can make and freeze — the whole thing, including the meringue — and then just bake it before serving it. I picked up two really genius ideas of his, and made them in a way that a home cook can make them.

You’re a pro… at translating what the pros do.
Yes, that’s just right.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

How? Let’s go Rivers Cuomo on this.

Do you remember cookbooks before Ina Garten? Commercially successful cookbooks were massive workhorses with tons of recipes (often upwards of 300): The Joy of Cooking. The Betty Crocker Cookbook. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. These are big books designed for small bookshelves: if you only own three cookbooks, you should own one of these.

Early drafts of recipes for The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

By contrast, Contessa has a humble 86 recipes. It is a careful selection of the shop’s best recipes scaled down for home use (although they are recipes for entertaining, and many of them serve 10-12 people). And it’s important to remember the focus is on the Barefoot Contessa shop, not Ina Garten, Hamptons Hostess. Recipes are customer favorites, dishes are credited to specific employees, the first photo in the book is of the storefront with its famous screen door that slams. Garten was selling readers the life she sold her customers: big platters of cocktail appetizers, followed by fuss-free one-pot meals, followed by a glass of wine on the porch while the sun sets.

The 86 recipes in the OG Barefoot Contessa Cookbook are, by and large, incredibly simple. This was in the midst of the Food Network boom, but before the Momofuku era—people were comfortable kicking things up a notch, but weren’t quite making ramen dashi at home yet.

So Garten starts from the ground level. There are four recipes in the Vegetables chapter that basically amount to: Chop, toss with olive oil, roast. She includes a recipe for lemonade. There are instructions for assembling a cheese platter that can be summed up as “Buy good cheese and put it on a platter.” She includes photos of what she means by words like “dice,” “julienne,” and “chiffonade.” But there’s also more complicated show-off fare. She hooks you with her basic roasted carrots, and when that recipe works, you trust her enough to try the Beef Bourguignon.

This is the magic of the Contessa.

But how do these recipes taste? All of the recipes I tested worked as promised. Garten famously tests and tests and tests her recipes; they are practically guaranteed.

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes were ludicrously laced with dairy—half and half, mounds of butter, sour cream and Parmesan—but obviously they tasted divine. The Roasted Vegetable Torte, a summery stack of eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini and Parmesan cheese, was super simple, gorgeous, and delicious, but it did need to be assembled the day before eating. Her Perfect Roast Chicken was pretty perfect, if basic: stuffed with lemon and thyme and roasted over onions, she also has you make a quick pan sauce. (The chicken is Jeffrey’s favorite.) The brownies were ultra chocolatey and the Epicurious staff scarfed them down, leaving a trail of crumbs on keyboards all over the office.

The author inhabits, with all this, a Jeffreycentric universe; it’s cashmere turtlenecks all the way down. “We don’t have any children,” Jeffrey explained this spring to Johns Hopkins Magazine. “I’m her family. And she is all about family cooking.” Indeed. At one point in Cooking for Jeffrey, Garten discusses her love of mastering a recipe, the sense of satisfaction she has felt when solving that little culinary puzzle. And then she adds: “Just as important to me, though, was that Jeffrey loved everything I cooked. His enthusiasm truly fueled the fire. I was making a home for us, which made me happy, and taking care of the love of my life.”

You could read Cooking for Jeffrey, in all that, as a kind of slow-roasted rebuke to the general arguments set forth in All the Single Ladies and Spinster and Lean In and Unfinished Business and The End of Men: The ultimate recipe the book shares, perhaps, is for a voluntary regression to the divided domesticities of bygone eras—a celebration of feminine servitude. You could cringe, a bit, when Garten tells interviewers, of her husband, “I love to cook for him. He doesn’t have to do anything and that’s my pleasure.” You could cringe as well when Jeffrey explains of that instant attraction to Ina, “She looked like she would take care of me.” You could look, overall, at the show and the books and the general Jeffreycentrism that permeates the Contessa empire and argue that, far from smashing the patriarchy, Garten has instead chosen to serve it some perfectly seasoned smashed potatoes.

But Garten’s feminism is more complicated than that—and it is complicated, in large part, by the presence and the person of Jeffrey. The male Garten may be the direct recipient of his wife’s labors, emotional and otherwise; he may well be, as she has suggested so many times before, the central force in her life. But fame is a tricky currency. And when it comes to Garten’s celebrity—if you set aside any Marxist readings of this self-styled American contessa—what becomes clear is that Jeffrey, Quintessential Husband, is, as a celebrity, playing the role of the wife.

He is the person in the pairing who is defined, in the public mind, by his domestic self. He is the one who is judged according to his looks. He is the one who is regularly referred to as “adorable.” He is the one who gets called “man candy” in Buzzfeed listicles and whose persona gets lovingly satirized on 30 Rock, when Matt Damon—as Liz’s boyfriend, Carol—collapses into tears as he is forced to admit, “I’m not like Jeffrey Garten! I’m not as strong as that guy!”

Jeffrey, in that sense, is, in public, the masculine answer to the Feminine Mystique. He is beloved in large part because he is widely seen to be beneath: Though Ina serves him—food, love, loyalty—he is also, according to the dynamics of fame, serving her. Barefoot Contessa may be an instructional cooking show, and one of the first Food Network programs to realize that a lifestyle is something that can be bought as well as lived; it is also, in its way, a rom-com. The food, in it, feeds the relationships, and Ina’s relationship with Jeffrey is the show’s narrative through line. (“Ina and Jeffrey: A Love Story” is an authorless essay featured on the Food Network’s site.) Jeffrey is, in his very modern way, princely. He shows up for Ina. He giggles when she talks. He thinks everything she does is amazing. In interviews, he talks about TSA agents recognizing him in security lines and chiding him: “My wife wants me to be just like you!”

The 16 Best Cookbooks Ever

I love to cook, but I don’t always enjoy coming up with recipes. Like many of us, I have binders full of recipes that I’ve found online, but I still adore a beautiful, resource-full cookbook. When it’s truly great, you tend not to stray, and you keep coming back because it works.

So I’ve put together a list of my favorites—the ones that I regularly spill food on. (And as you can see, it was very hard to narrow the list.)


When I learned to cook, I watched a lot of Food Network (when it was still all cooking shows), read a lot of Martha Stewart, and relied on some tried and true cookbooks. Use these books to learn how to chop an onion or cook pasta properly, then advance to making a simple béchamel or properly browning meat. It’s a process—but it’s well worth it.

Cooking for Dummies—A Reference for the Rest of Us, by Bryan Miller and Marie Rama

This book, which I got as a newlywed in the (cough, cough) 90s, really stirred my passion for cooking. It’s not anything particularly special; the recipes are basic, but they grow your curiosity about more sophisticated flavors and techniques, which has to happen for you to improve. My most tattered and stained pages are Southwestern Chili, Cream of Leek Soup, and Grilled Summer Vegetables With Basil Marinade.

“I Don’t Know How to Cook” Book: 300 Great Recipes You Can’t Mess Up!, by Mary-Lane Kamberg

Just as the title says, food you can’t screw up. Truthfully, you can mess up pretty much anything, but it’s nice to have a book that gives you the confidence to try. With varying levels of difficulty and easy twists on well-tried grub, this is a good one for the beginner’s kitchen.


These are the cookbooks for those of you who like to cook and regularly find yourselves in the kitchen. With recipes that range from easy to complex, you’ll reference these books and these chefs over and over again.

How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and Food Matters, by Mark Bittman

Just buy them all. The sheer amount of recipes in the How to Cook Everything books (the best aspect being all the variations on a theme—beans and rice, for example), will keep you cooking for the rest of your life, and Food Matters is an easy recipe reference for healthful everyday meals.

Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition, by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

It’s been around for 75 years for a reason. I find the layout a bit aggravating, and there aren’t any pretty pictures, but it has nearly every recipe you could ever want.

The Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver

The beginning of the beginning of Jamie Oliver, superstar. Before he and Jools were married, back when he still said pukka, and when he hadn’t yet confessed to never having read a single book (the horror!). His food was local, fresh, fun, and the start of a movement away from fussiness in the kitchen to pared down, fundamentally delicious, “naked” food. Yum. An inspiration.


Once you’ve got the perfect book that covers everything, you’ll find the need to improve your collection with more specialized fare. Some of these will quickly become indispensable as well.

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan and Hazan Family Favorites: Beloved Italian Recipes, by Giuliano Hazan

My favorite Italian recipes. Try the more traditional cookbook of Signora Hazan herself, or the gorgeous tome by her son. Hazan’s famous tomato sauce really is the easiest, most flavorful thing. You will come back to it time and again.

The World’s Finest Foods, by Ann Creber

Food is a cultural experience—it can carry your taste buds to places the rest of you has never been. The World’s Finest Foods takes you all over the world with astonishing photography and recipes that capture the experience of Indonesia, Thailand, Morocco, and more, without taxing every kitchen skill you’ve got.

Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table, by Jenny Rosenstrach and The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, by Laurie David

These are lovely gifts for a new parent who wants to cook, who’s a bit overwhelmed, and who’s read a lot about how important it is to sit down as a family. It can seem quite daunting, but you really do learn so much about your family when you break bread together. Rosenstrach in particular shares tried and true recipes from her years as a mother and a blogger.

New Releases

Some of my favorite food bloggers, cooks, and chefs have new books out, just in time for the holidays!

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman

I wish Deb was my BFF. She has been writing her blog, Smitten Kitchen, with a regularity and success envied by writers and home cooks far and wide. I love her food, and she is also something many food bloggers are not—a very good writer. I can’t wait to get my hands on her new cookbook.

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, by Ina Garten

I would put any of Ina’s cookbooks under indispensable, because her recipes are that flawless. I make her food weekly. Lucky for us, she’s just released another book. As Ina would say, “How great is that!”

The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks), by the Editors of America’s Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby, PhD

Anything from America’s Test Kitchen is going to be valuable. Anything. They take food seriously, but they don’t make it fussy. This new release is sure to become another kitchen favorite.

The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

The original Food52 Cookbook, which assembled 140 recipes from home cooks, was a phenomenon, furthering Amanda Hesser’s awesomeness and launching, which is perfection (the Best Fish Tacos Ever actually are the best fish tacos ever). Shouts of holiday cheer will ring out on December 4, with the release of Volume 2.

Honorable Mentions

  • Seasons: The Best of Donna Hay Magazine, by Donna Hay
  • Cooking for Geeks, by Jeff Potter
  • The River Cafe Cook Book, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
  • The Great Country Inns of America Cookbook, by James Stroman
  • Baking and Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan
  • The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
  • The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters
  • Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
  • Photo of couple following a recipe courtesy of andresr/Getty Images.

    Penske Media/REX/

    Her warm, cheerful personality and delicious, uncomplicated recipes have made Ina Garten a household name. From chocolate cassis cake to a perfectly roasted chicken, she has hundreds (if not thousands) of recipes under her belt. Each one is renowned for being foolproof and yielding perfect results at home. Here are our favorite pearls of wisdom from Ina.

    Simple Is Best

    In an interview with bookstore organization IndieBound, Ina said, “While people like really interesting meals when they go to restaurants, they really prefer very simple food at home.” Makes sense. After an eight-hour day at work, what’s tempting is a delicious homemade meal and time to relax around the table, not a complex recipe with lots of fiddly steps. Ina’s favorite weeknight meal is pan-roasted vegetables and chicken. We’ve got a recipe that uses a single baking sheet.

    Here are the 35 recipes to master before you’re 35.

    Cook with the Season

    Ina told Epicurious, “Buy things in season, and then only do what you need to do to make taste as good as it can taste.” For example, she enhances the flavor of plums with cassis, a black currant liqueur. Summer is the best time to follow this advice; simply stroll through a farmers market and pick up the most delicious-looking foods, then build your meal around that. This advice also ties into the first tip, keeping things simple; it’s comforting to know that a fresh peach enjoyed on the patio at the end of the day, juice dripping down your chin, can be the best dessert.

    Parties Are About People, Not Food

    When talking about the most important elements of a party, Ina lists relaxed hosts, guests you really want to see, good music-and then the food. A party is about visiting and having fun, she says. Instead of slaving away in the kitchen to make perfect appetizers or multiple courses, Ina serves a main dish and a dessert. (And the dessert often includes items from a bakery or fresh fruits.) For nibbles before dinner, Ina serves nuts or olives. Our staff recommends these Roasted Cumin Cashews.

    Consider an Alternative to the Dinner Party

    Ina’s favorite time to entertain? Sunday afternoon. She reasons, “Everybody’s done all their chores, they’re relaxed, nobody’s falling asleep or looking at their watch, saying, ‘Can I go home and go to bed?’ And the food is easy.” She suggests a single course and some good wine. Then you have plenty of time to clean up and enjoy your evening before Monday morning rolls around!

    Our staff’s grandmothers spill their best cooking advice.

    New Cooks Should Start with Two Basics

    According to Ina, the two things a new cook should learn are roasted chicken….and a good cup of coffee. These mistakes can ruin your cup of coffee.

    Follow the Recipe Precisely

    While some of us cooks are loosey-goosey with our interpretation of recipes, Ina follows them exactly, even measuring ingredients to the half-teaspoon. And she writes her recipes with equal precision. After she writes a draft of a recipe, she hands it to her assistant and watches as she makes the recipe. When the assistant has a question or makes a mistake, Ina rewrites the recipe to add clarity and precision. Here at Taste of Home, we take pride in our own robust recipe testing, and we salute Ina!

    Want to Enhance the Flavor of Chocolate? Use a Bit of Coffee

    This one’s a simple tip you can start using today! When making brownies, a chocolate torte or chocolate pudding, add some coffee to the mix. According to Ina, it provides a depth of flavor. We’ll have to try that out with our decadent chocolate recipes.

    Collect (and Keep Using!) Your Favorite Cookbooks

    Ina’s cookbook library is built in her “barn,” a workshop, test kitchen and inspiration zone next door to her home. Lining the shelves are classic cookbooks like The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The Silver Spoon.

    Have Fun and Love Every Minute!

    Just about every time we see Ina on TV, read an interview or crack open her cookbooks, her enthusiasm and joy are apparent. In an interview with Epicurious, she says, “To say I’m lucky is an understatement.” Cooking and sharing food should be fun, not a chore!

    We hope our list is helpful and has inspired you to cook like Ina! It’s obvious why she’s one of America’s most beloved cooks.

    Want more inspiration? Check out these classic pastry recipes.

    Grandma’s Best Pastry Recipes 1 / 38

    Apple Pie

    I remember coming home sullen one day because we’d lost a softball game. Grandma, in her wisdom, suggested, “Maybe a slice of my homemade apple pie will make you feel better.” One bite, and Grandma was right. If you want to learn how to make homemade apple pie filling, this is really the only recipe you need. —Maggie Greene, Granite Falls, Washington Get Recipe

    Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

    My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when she got married in 1942. That was a real effort because Grandma was a traditional pioneer-type cook who used “a little of this or that ’til it feels right.” This treasured recipe is the only one she ever wrote down! —Janet Hall, Clinton, Wisconsin Get Recipe

    Caramel-Pecan Apple Pie

    You’ll love the smell in your kitchen—and the smiles on everybody’s faces—when you make this scrumptious caramel apple pie recipe. It takes me back home to Virginia and being at my granny’s table. —Jean Castro, Phoenix, Arizona Get Recipe

    Hungarian Nut Rolls

    It isn’t officially the holidays until I’ve made this treasured nut roll recipe from my husband’s grandmother. The apple-walnut filling is moist, subtly sweet and flavorful. —Donna Bardocz, Howell, Michigan Get Recipe

    Scottish Shortbread Cookies

    This simple three-ingredient shortbread cookie recipe makes wonderfully rich, tender cookies. Serve them with fresh berries of the season for a nice, light dessert. You’ll get miles of smiles when friends see these at an afternoon tea or a bridal shower. —Marlene Hellickson, Big Bear City, California Get Recipe

    Pennsylvania Dutch Funny Cake

    I can still remember my grandma serving this delicious cake on the big wooden table in her farm kitchen. Every time I bake this unusual cake, it takes me back to those special days at Grandma’s. —Diane Ganssle, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Get Recipe

    Icebox Cookies

    This cookie recipe from my 91-year-old grandmother was my grandfather’s favorite. She still makes them and sends us home with the dough so that we can make more whenever we want, I love to make a fresh batch when company drops in. —Chris Paulsen, Glendale, Arizona Get Recipe

    Grandma Pruit’s Vinegar Pie

    This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always at all of the family get-togethers.—Suzette Pruit, Houston, Texas Get Recipe

    Blackberry Peekaboo Cookies

    My grandmother bakes this recipe every year for the holidays. She uses homemade blackberry jam that she makes fresh every summer. These cookies are so delicious! —Jacquie Franklin, Hot Springs, Montana Get Recipe

    Sugar Plum Phyllo Kringle

    Thanks to store-bought phyllo dough, this pastry is easier to make than it looks. Serve it not only for breakfast, but also for dessert with a scoop of ice cream. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona Get Recipe

    Raisin Pecan Pie

    I remember my Grandmother Voltie and Great-Aunt Ophelia making this southern-style pie for Thanksgiving. It was always one of the many cakes and pies lined up for dessert. —Angie Price, Bradford, Tennessee Get Recipe

    Winnie’s Mini Rhubarb & Strawberry Pies

    Every spring, we had strawberries and rhubarb on our farm outside Seattle. These fruity hand pies remind me of those times and of Grandma Winnie’s baking. —Shawn Carleton, San Diego, California Get Recipe

    Easy Cream Pie

    Fresh berries and cream pie—it’s a simple, classic combination just like Grandma used to make. My version gets you out of the kitchen and into your lounge chair quickly. Enjoy! —Gina Nistico, Taste of Home Food Editor Get Recipe

    Baki’s Old-World Cookies

    My uncles have always called these “cupcake cookies” because of the unique and pretty way they’re baked. My maternal grandmother mixed up many a batch. —Marilyn Louise Riggenbach, Ravenna, Ohio Get Recipe

    Gingersnap Crumb Pear Pie

    This basic recipe was one my grandmother used for making crumble pies from fresh fruit. She simply substituted oats, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers depending on the fruit. Pear was always my favorite, and I added the ginger and caramel to give it a new twist. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, Texas Get Recipe

    Anise & Wine Cookies

    My grandmother did not speak English very well, but she knew the language of great food. These wine cookies are crisp and best eaten after being dunked in even more wine.—Julia Meyers, Scottsdale, Arizona Get Recipe

    Cape Cod Blueberry Pie

    We Northeasterners have been baking this pie since the 18th century. Settlers would’ve used little wild blueberries and topped it with cream. I do, too. —Nancy O’Connell, Biddeford, Maine Get Recipe

    Apple Kolaches

    A fellow home cook shared this recipe for a sweet, fruit-filled pastry. My son, who isn’t a dessert fan, was disappointed when he came home to find his dad had polished off the last kolache in the batch.—Ann Johnson, Evansville, Indiana Get Recipe

    Ricotta Pie (Pizza Dolce) with Chocolate and Raspberry

    My grandmother recalls ricotta pie always making an appearance on Easter when she was little. Now I’ve taken here recipe and created a pared down version for a more upscale appearance at holidays and other gatherings. —Stephen DeBenedictis, Wakefield, Massachusetts Get Recipe

    Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Tart

    As a teenage foreign exchange student in the south of France, I was horribly homesick. Then my host family’s Grandmother Miette arrived and asked if I’d like to help her bake this nutty tart from scratch. It turned my trip around and inspired my lifelong passion for baking. Weighing ingredients, roasting nuts, kneading dough—the art of baking transcends language. —Lexi McKeown, Los Angeles, California Get Recipe

    Petite Pear Purses

    The purses shaped from puff pastry make a lovely presentation. The bundles hold filled cinnamon-ginger pear filling. —Mary Cruz, Lancaster, California Get Recipe

    Sugar Cream Pie

    I absolutely love Indiana sugar cream pie; especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here, we serve it warm or chilled and call it “Hoosier” sugar cream pie. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana Get Recipe

    Baked Elephant Ears

    My mother-in-law handed down this recipe from her mother. They’re a special treat—even better, I think, than those at a carnival or festival. And (shh!) they’re baked, not fried. —Delores Baeten, Downers Grove, Illinois Get Recipe

    Marzipan Cups with Currant Jelly

    These bite-size beauties look and taste gourmet, but they’re easy to make and boast a delicate almond flavor. The hidden jelly surprise and pretty nut accent make them a nice addition to any treats tray. You can make them in advance and freeze them for up to three months, if you like. —Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario Get Recipe

    Honey-Roasted Figs in Puff Pastry

    I created this recipe for a national honey contest and won third place! I was thrilled, and you will be, too, when you try these tasty but elegant desserts. —Kelly Williams, Forked River, New Jersey Get Recipe

    Best-Ever Sweet Potato Pie

    My grandmother handed down this recipe and it’s amazing! The flavor, with a hint of maple and great spices, totally lives up to its name. —Erin Gibbons, Downingtown, Pennsylvania Get Recipe

    Peach Cream Puffs

    On a sizzling day, we crave something light, airy and cool. Nothing says summer like cream puffs stuffed with peaches and whipped cream. —Angela Benedict, Dunbar, West Virginia Get Recipe


    This recipe was adapted from one used by my Italian-born mother and grandmother. They used old irons on a gas stove, but now we have the convenience of electric pizzelle irons. The cookies are so delectable and beautiful, they’re worth it! —Elizabeth Schwartz, Trevorton, Pennsylvania Get Recipe

    Shoofly Pie

    My grandmother made the best shoofly pie in the tradition of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Shoofly pie is to the Pennsylvania Dutch as pecan pie is to a Southerner. —Mark Morgan, Waterford, Wisconsin Get Recipe

    Apple Crumble Pie

    The crumb topping of this apple crumb pie recipe is awesome, which may explain why dessert always disappears fast. Or maybe it’s the chunky apple filling. Either way, it’s a family tradition. —Vera Brouwer, Maurice, Iowa Get Recipe

    German Apple Strudel

    This gorgeous strudel has just what you crave this time of year: thin layers of flaky crust and lots of juicy apples. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon Get Recipe

    Cranberry-Almond Apple Pie

    My grandmother made this treat every year for Christmas. It’s much better than everyday apple pie. The recipe is a family treasure. —Maxine Theriauit, Nashua, New Hampshire Get Recipe

    Date-Walnut Pinwheels

    Every time someone drops in for coffee, I bake up a batch of these fruit and nut pastries—I always keep the ingredients in my pantry. The recipe’s a cinch to double, too, so it’s good for parties and potlucks. —Lori McLain, Denton, Texas Get Recipe

    Buttermilk Pecan Pie

    This is the treasured “Golden Oldie” that my grandmother made so often whenever we’d come to visit. Grandma grew her own pecans, and we never tired of cracking them and picking out the meat when we knew we’d be treated to her special pie! —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas Get Recipe

    Apple & Pecan Goat Cheese Pastries

    Guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen preparing gourmet pastries. Only you will know that this recipe requires just 20 minutes of prep time and five ingredients! —Heather Foky, Howland, Ohio Get Recipe I remember coming home sullen one day because we’d lost a softball game. Grandma, in her wisdom, suggested, “Maybe a slice of my homemade apple pie will make you feel better.” One bite, and Grandma was right. If you want to learn how to make homemade apple pie filling, this is really the only recipe you need. —Maggie Greene, Granite Falls, Washington Get Recipe

    Chocolate Banana Bundles

    Banana and chocolate is such a irresistible combination that I make this quick dessert often. I sometimes sprinkle on a dash of sea salt. You can also top with any leftover butter and brown sugar mixture.—Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey Get Recipe

    Dutch Letters

    These “S”-shaped super flaky butter pastries filled with almond paste and topped with crunchy sugar are popular in both Iowa and Holland during the Christmas season. Here’s a recipe that will let you make and enjoy them all year round. —Shirley De Lange, Byron Center, Michigan Get Recipe

    Ina Garten’s tenth book, Cooking for Jeffrey, topped cookbook sales for 2016, according to Publishers Weekly. The cookbook hit shelves on October 25 and sold more than 400,000 copies in just over two months. Jeffrey, Garten’s husband of 48 years, is a “

    Barefoot Contessa” fan favourite. It’s no surprise that home cooks would want a peek at some of his preferred dishes, such as Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken, and Devil’s Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream.

    Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites, his second cookbook and first in a decade, was also released on October 25. The synchronicity couldn’t have been better. When Bourdain announced his plans for Appetites, he said that his years in restaurant kitchens had caused him to “(morph) into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten.” Inspired by his travels around the globe, as well as dishes from his home kitchen, the title squeaked into the top ten at ninth spot with 122,699 copies sold.


    Also on the list is model-turned-cookbook author Chrissy Teigen, who took second spot for her debut cookbook, Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat (276,326 copies). Ree Drummond, a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, came in at number four with 174,837 copies sold of her ninth cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime. See below for the complete top 10 list:


    1. Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. 406,599
    2. Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. 276,326
    3. Thug Kitchen. House of Anansi Press Inc. 197,108
    4. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond. HarperCollins. 174,837
    5. Air Fry Everything by Meredith Laurence. Walah! 156,495
    6. The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, WW Norton. 150,930
    7. Skinnytaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. 135,156
    8. The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laurel Randolph. Callisto Media. 123,632
    9. Appetites by Anthony Bourdain. HarperCollins. 122,699
    10. Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. 104,408

    Source: Nielsen BookScan.

    Best ina garten cookbook

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