Why Ina Garten Suggests Following A Recipe Exact The First Time

You would never salt your food without first taking a bite, and Ina Garten says you should never change up a recipe until you've made it at least once. Why? Because it's only after following the dish's step-by-step instructions that you can have a clear understanding of the culinary creator's vision. It also provides a better understanding of how the ingredients work together and the intended taste the recipe writer was going for.

According to the Barefoot Contessa, making a recipe from start to finish without modification also removes one of several obstacles to getting the dish right before changing it up, specifically if you are looking to perfect a recipe. Garten told Parade, "I'm very scientific. I measure everything. I spent so much time perfecting the recipe, why would I want to take a chance?" She doubled down on this philosophy, telling Buzzfeed, "I follow the recipe every single time I make a recipe. I don't just throw things in." In fact, this is probably why we love dishes like her roasted lemon chicken so much — because that's the same thoughtfulness she use to create the recipe.

Change one thing at a time

Garten has a sound rationale for approaching her craft in this manner. When you follow the original recipe it can help you pinpoint issues that could lead to cooking missteps when you make it for much larger crowds. Garten has shared that this is largely how she goes about building and testing her own recipes. She wrote in her "How Easy is That" cookbook, via Dianne Jacob, that she often has her friends test a recipe after she makes it for a simple reason: "...so I know everyone loves the dish before it even gets into this book." This allows the professional chef to take notes and make adjustments if she does want to modify or adjust anything for future cooking.

However, once you have followed the instructions of the recipe through to the finish, Garten is not against experimenting by making substitutions or altering a cooking method so the end result is something you want to sink your teeth in. Of course, if you are going to change things up, it's best to make one modification at a time so you can have a true understanding of the effect that more or less of an ingredient has on a dish.