The Barefoot Contessa's must-have kitchen items are actually a little surprising.

Karla Walsh
November 18, 2020
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In her early days on Food Network, the Ina Garten brand revolved around lavish dinner parties hosted alongside her husband Jeffrey and a reliance on "good" ingredients (think: olive oil, vanilla, fig spread). It felt aspirational and we adored that, but lately we've grown even fonder of the more-casual Ina who has emerged in 2020.

This year, we've learned that she pops her knives in the dishwasher, enjoys shaking up cocktails in hilariously pandemic-appropriate portion sizes, learned to cook by way of three classic cookbooks and sometimes makes a batch of Belgian waffles and calls in dinner.

Credit: Getty / Noam Galai / Contributor

We were delighted to see her let her hair down, if you will, through the cozy recipes in her new book Modern Comfort Food ($17.50, amazon.com) and during an interview for a recent story in The New York Times. To accompany the feature penned by Pulitzer-winning food reporter Julia Moskin, Garten used her phone to take the Times on a six-minute YouTube tour to peek inside the kitchen and pantry at her home in East Hampton, New York.

In the YouTube video Garten shares her Thanksgiving plans with Jeffrey and explains that she's been adding to the same mason jar of homemade vanilla for 35(!) years. She also notes that she swears by three different kinds of salt (Diamond kosher, fleur de sel and Maldon sea salt) and that she always stores garlic, oranges and lemons at room temp.

Our favorite new Ina nugget of all starts around the 3:25 mark when she reveals her most-used kitchen tools.

Ina Garten's Favorite Kitchen Tools

1. Kitchen Scale

"If something says 5 ounces and you really want it to be 5 ounces, it's really helpful to have a kitchen scale," Garten says. She owns an OXO model similar to this ($48.95, amazon.com).

2. Food Mill

Food mills are Ina's go-to tool for creamy foods like mashed potatoes. "What I like is that something ends up with texture so it's not just like baby food," she explains. (Ina has used this $60 Moulinex food mill from Williams Sonoma and even has it featured on her blog.)

3. Parchment Paper

"I love to line sheet pans with parchment paper so that all you have to do is throw the paper out and you've got a nice clean pan," Garten says. "Well, you have to put it in the dishwasher, but it's not all crusty…"

4. Wrap 'n' Snap

"Instead of fighting with that box," Garten loves how simple this tool makes it to slice off a clean and flat piece of plastic wrap. (She has the Stretch-tite Wrap'N Snap 7500 Dispenser; $43.99, amazon.com.)

5. Ice cream Scoop

"I use a regular ice cream scoop for muffins, for meatballs—anything that's round and shaped like that. It makes perfectly proportioned meatballs and muffins and it looks very professional," she says. (Try this Zulay model; $10.99, amazon.com)

So in case you're looking for wish list items or gifts for your hard-to-shop-for food friends, Queen Ina once again has us covered.