18 Kitchen Tools Ina Garten Always Has On Hand

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The world would be a much sadder (and less delicious) place without Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself. Garten got her start in food after a career working in nuclear energy policy. Garten eventually purchased the Barefoot Contessa, a small specialty foods store in the Hamptons. She went on to write "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" in 1999, and followed it with 12 more cookbooks in the coming decades, along with becoming the host of "Barefoot Contessa" on Food Network, where she shares family and entertainment-friendly meals for home cooks. 

With several years of cooking, preparing, and hosting under her belt, Garten has quickly learned what kitchen tools are essential and which merely take up space. In her cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?" she writes, "Like a good surgeon with the right scalpel, every good cook needs the right piece of equipment for each task." Here are some of her must-have tools for cooking, entertaining, and everything in between. 

Food mill

Ina Garten is a big proponent of texture and flavor in her cooking, which is why she's a fan of a kitchen tool you may not have ever heard of: a food mill. This kitchen item is Garten's secret weapon to boost food textures. The small gadget has a hand crank situated atop spinning discs for pureeing foods like mashed potatoes. Garten also uses her food mill for her roasted tomato basil soup.

Garten loves using her food mill in the kitchen. In a video for The New York Times, she explained, "What I like is that something ends up with texture, so it's not just like baby food." She said she likes her potatoes finely pureed. Her favorite brand of food mill, the Moulinex or "mouli," is sold exclusively by retailer Williams Sonoma.


How else would you get your potatoes peeled for Ina Garten's famous goat cheese mashed potatoes? The vegetable peeler is an overlooked kitchen tool Garten believes should be replaced yearly. She notes that the vegetable peeler is a comparatively cheap kitchen tool that loses its sharpness over time. If you're not using it too frequently, you won't have to follow an annual replacement schedule, but you should always pay attention to when your peeler stops working effectively as it should.

The vegetable peeler listed on Garten's Barefoot Contessa Kitchen List is the Kuhn Rikon straight peeler from Williams Sonoma. At only $5, this is the peeler you'll want to buy if you want to peel veggies like Garten. Plus, the Kuhn Rikon is dishwasher-safe and has a bud remover at the base.

Microplane zester

One of Ina Garten's favorite kitchen tools is the Microplane zester. In an interview with Bon Appétit, Garten claimed the microplane as the kitchen tool she couldn't live without, sharing, "You know what I love is a rasp (a microplane) because I love the zest of citrus fruit. And actually now I do garlic on the rasp because it grates it so finely." You can also use the tool for grating Parmesan cheese on top of your favorite pasta or plating a special dish for a family dinner.

Her Barefoot Contessa Kitchen Essentials list includes her pick for a zester: a $15 model from Cassandra's Kitchen. As with the vegetable peeler, Garten said home cooks should replace their zesters annually or whenever the tool appears worn.

Tasting spoons

Any good cook knows how important it is to taste as you go. And for Ina Garten, that means keeping some kitchen utensils within easy reach of her preparation space. The Barefoot Contessa shared in a video for The New York Times that she always keeps a jar of spoons on her counter for efficient tasting and stirring as she's cooking.

Garten doesn't invest in expensive or special spoons for stirring and tasting; instead, she goes for silver spoons that are much cheaper and easy to source from the local thrift store or antique shop. In addition to spoons, Garten keeps a few small spatulas and tiny balloon whisks in the jar. Although she may never use all of the spoons for making a single dish, these kitchen tools are always nice to have close by when needed.

Ice cream scoop

An ice cream scoop is a necessity for summer sundaes. But Ina Garten uses an ice cream scoop for more than just sweet applications. 

The ice cream scoop is Garten's go-to kitchen tool to form perfectly even fish cakes. On an episode of her Food Network show, Garten made fish cakes with cod, onions, and seasonings. When she was ready to prepare the cakes, she used a 2¼-inch scoop to measure each cake. In addition to savory fish cakes, Garten uses her ice cream scoop to transfer muffin and cupcake batter from the bowl to the tin. She uses the same 2¼-inch scoop for these confections but sizes up to a 3¼-inch scoop for evenly shaped cookies. "It makes perfectly proportioned meatballs and muffins," she said in a video for The New York Times

Wüsthof knives

Every home cook needs a good set of kitchen knives for dicing, mincing, and preparing their favorite recipes. The knife brand Garten swears by is German Wüsthof knives. Garten has an adoration for her 8-inch Classic Chef's knife and shared with Kitchn, "They're what I use. They're pretty expensive, but they last a lifetime. That's why I say, ask for one as a gift or buy one at a time."

So what makes the Wüsthof different from the other knife brands, and more importantly, worth the $100 to $200 price tag? The blade is made with high-carbon steel, which is both stain- and rust-resistant. Since the knife is a full-tang, meaning that the blade runs from the tip to the base of the handle, it is highly durable and unlikely to break. With a knife this long-lasting, you'll likely pass it down to future generations of home cooks.

Cookie cutters

Cookie cutters can take up a lot of space in your kitchen — especially if you only use them for making decorative sugar cookies for the holidays. Ina Garten uses her cookie cutters to make more than just festive treats for Santa; she uses this baking tool to help make soup cute

Garten posted a photo of her chicken pot pie soup on Instagram complete with heart- and star-shaped puff pastry croutons. She notes that the puff pastry, which falls under her mantra of "store-bought is fine," adds a whimsical pot-pie topping to the soup. Garten makes the croutons by rolling out sheets of puff pastry dough and topping them with flour. She then uses fluted cutters to shape the dough before placing it on a sheet pan, brushing it with a creamy egg wash, and baking until golden and crisp.


Is there a big difference between freshly ground pepper and the pre-ground stuff in the can? You should use freshly ground pepper because it is less oxidized, thus, more flavorful than pre-ground pepper. And with one of Ina Garten's must-have tools, you'll always have fresh pepper handy in your kitchen. 

The pepper mill Garten swears by in her kitchen is the Peppermate grinder. It's one of the tools she used in her Instagram video showing how she makes croutons from stale bread. This ceramic peppercorn grinder can also be used for salt and is priced at $36 on Amazon. This device has adjustable grind size settings and a handy bottom compartment for trapping all of the ground peppercorns. That way, you can use a little bit now and save a bit for later.

Wrap'n Snap 7500

Anyone who has ever wrangled plastic wrap to get it to fit over their favorite bowl or tray knows the true definition of struggle. However, the Barefoot Contessa has found a way around this uphill battle using a plastic wrap gadget. The Stretch-Tite Wrap'n Snap 7500, she said in a video for The New York Times, saves a lot of hassle. This device is specially designed for plastic wrap, and as she demonstrates, all you have to do is pull the wrap out, tap the machine, and you'll have a perfect-sized square of plastic wrap waiting for you. "Instead of fighting with that box ... it's just great," she said in the video. 

The Wrap'n Snap 7500 is available for $40 on Amazon — and if we never have to fight the plastic wrap box ever again, we'd gladly spend more if we had to. 

Food processor

Ina Garten sings high praises for the food processor. Garten even thinks there should be a national holiday for this kitchen gadget. In a video posted to the Food Network's Twitter page, Garten shared that she uses her food processor for thinly shaved Brussels sprouts in a breeze. The Barefoot Contessa equips a slicing disc to her food processor and adds the sprouts in the funnel in small batches. "Slicing these by hand would take forever, but I love the food processor," she said. Garten then sautées her sliced Brussels sprouts with olive oil and seasoning before topping them with balsamic vinegar.

The food processor gets a lot of use in Garten's kitchen. She also uses it to grate potatoes for her Perfect Potato Pancake recipe, to prepare her tomato crostini with whipped feta, and to break up breadcrumbs for her Crispy Mustard Roasted Chicken.

Kitchen scale

Cooking and baking are both a matter of precision. It's why Ina Garten always likes to keep tools on hand that make measuring and getting the correct amount of ingredients easy. One of those tools, she told The New York Times, is a 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," she said.

The Barefoot Contessa Kitchen Essentials guide lists the Salter Aquatronic glass electronic kitchen scale as one of its must-have items. The aesthetic design of this tool is undoubtedly a benefit to choosing the model, but we think there are cheaper kitchen scales you can purchase that still get the job done.

20-quart stockpot

In a 2020 interview with the Design Time podcast, the interviewer asked Ina Garten what her essential pots were in the kitchen. "Definitely a 20-quart stockpot," she replied. "Because I think making chicken stock is one of the basic building blocks of good cooking."

A 20-quart stockpot is also helpful in making a whole host of Garten's soups. Many of her recipes make upward of 10 soup servings, which is ideal to plan for lunches and leftovers throughout the week. Moreover, it is critical to use a large enough pot to cook your soups or stock because you don't want to have to worry about potentially spilling any of your liquid over the edge of the pot or tiptoeing around stirring to prevent an overflow.

Oven thermometer

In an interview with The New York Times, Ina Garten explained that one of the essential items for her kitchen is a metal oven thermometer. "I have lots of oven thermometers because no matter what it says on the dial, the oven itself can be totally different," she said. Her Barefoot Contessa Kitchen Essentials guide recommends the Taylor large 2.5-inch dial kitchen cooking oven thermometer on Amazon. At less than $6 each, it's easy to keep a couple of oven thermometers handy for whenever you're baking or roasting.

Why is the temperature of your oven often different from the dial reading? Besides the fact that ovens have to turn on and off in their heating cycle, all ovens also have a thermostat that is designed to kick the heat on if the oven gets too far away from the desired temperature range. The oscillation of this process can cause significant temperature differences that may alter how your food cooks or bakes.

Sauté pan

The sauté pan is one of the most under-appreciated items in your home kitchen. Yet you'll use this tool for almost everything — whether it's cooking down onions or making a decadent sauce for your pasta. In several of her Instagram videos, like her recipe for homemade croutons, you'll see her reaching for a metal sauté pan. 

Not only does Ina Garten believe in having this crucial pan handy, but she also advocates for taking proper care of them in the kitchen. Garten notes that using the dishwasher is how many cooks ruin pots and pans. On the Ask Ina part of her website, she told one fan, "I never put a dirty pot or pan into the dishwasher; the heat bakes it on permanently." Instead, she said she lets the pan sit overnight with dish soap and hot water and uses a scrubber the next day. Garten also invests in quality brands like Le Creuset and All-Clad. She writes: "My cookware is expensive but I take good care of it and so far, many of the pans have lasted for almost 40 years!"

Kitchen timers

Have you ever put something in your oven only to walk away from it? Not only can forgetting about your oven cause you to overcook your favorite foods, but it can also pose an imminent safety risk. Ina Garten's remedy to this potential kitchen issue is to have a stockpile of kitchen timers at the ready. "These are really important!" she said in a video for The New York Times. "I have lots of timers. I don't want to put something in the oven to forget about it, which I can do." 

There are many different options for kitchen timers depending on the kind of features you desire. For example, you can get a nostalgic wind-up timer or purchase a digital display timer. If you're just going the phone timer route, just be sure to press the set button before you move on to your next task. 

Kitchen towels

Rarely do we think of kitchen towels as a tool in the kitchen; instead, we relegate this crucial kitchen item to the decorative category. But Ina Garten uses kitchen towels as more than just accents in her home kitchen. To get crispy lettuce without a salad spinner, Garten places her washed lettuce in the center of a clean kitchen towel. Then, she folds the four corners into the sack and spins the towel in a circle about 10 times to mimic the motion of the salad spinner. 

That's not to say that Garten doesn't love a salad spinner. Her Barefoot Contessa Kitchen Essentials guide recommends the trusty OXO salad spinner. This spinner has a handy non-slip base and a built-in brake to stop the spinner when you're ready to remove your lettuce.

Stand mixer

It's hard to imagine what our kitchen would look like without the timeless KitchenAid stand mixer sitting on a countertop. This workhorse of a machine can power through anything — whether you need it to whisk egg whites into a meringue, mix your favorite cookie dough, or grind meat for meatballs. KitchenAid is the brand of stand mixer Ina Garten swears by because of its utility and longevity in the kitchen. This machine is also very valuable for making large batches of bread, cookies, or pastry; it mixes ingredients seamlessly in its 4.5-quart bowl. Plus, you can outfit your KitchenAid with various attachments, like a pasta roller, to help cut down on the other kitchen tools you need to purchase.

While the KitchenAid 4.5-quart mixer comes in many different colors, Garten notes that her favorite is the shiny white — which fits seamlessly with her kitchen aesthetic. They're on the pricy end, with a 5-quart mixer going for $500 at Crate & Barrel.

Storage jars

The Barefoot Contessa's pantry is nothing but impressive. In her video for The New York Times, the shelves of her pantry are filled with various ingredients she uses in her recipes, as well as some of her favorite snacks. One of the ways she keeps her pantry and kitchen space organized is by using glass jars. It's the kitchen storage solution Ina Garten loves because she can fill them up with almost anything and doesn't need a label maker to tell the difference between flour and sugar.

One of her favorite uses for a glass storage jar is for her homemade vanilla extract. Garten explains that her extract has been going for 35 years in this jar; she's just had to add more vanilla bean pods and cheap vodka over time. This simple ingredient is one of Ina's must-haves in her kitchen — and having a spare glass jar is just the start.