When people need advice for holiday hosting and picking which dishes are worth making, they turn to Ina Garten — and we agree that can be a smart move.
From delicious pastas to perfect chocolate-chip cookies, Insider’s food reporters Rachel Askinasi and Anneta Konstantinides have tested out dozens of Garten’s recipes in their own kitchens.
But when it comes to which dishes to include in your holiday feast, they think these recipes should definitely make the cut.
Chipotle cheddar crackers are Garten’s go-to homemade appetizer for any gathering, and Askinasi thinks they’re perfect for a holiday party.
“I just like to make one thing and then buy the rest,” Garten told Bon Appétit when discussing how she constructs a cocktail hour or appetizer spread. She said these crackers are typically the only thing she’ll make.
Askinasi tried out this recipe for herself and said they tasted like a Cheez-It cracker combined with the texture of a biscuit.
Now, just like Garten, she’ll be keeping a log of this dough in her freezer for easy prep when guests drop by — or if she gets a last-minute invitation and doesn’t want to show up empty-handed.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s chipotle cheddar crackers here.
If you’re in need of an easy main dish or a last-minute protein, her herb-roasted turkey breast recipe should be your answer.
While Askinasi is vocal about her disdain for turkey, she thinks this lemony, herby recipe is a great fix for 11th-hour dinner troubles.
It was relatively easy to whip up, and the fact that it requires much less time and prep work than a full-size bird makes it a great option for day-of cooking.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s herb-roasted turkey breast here.
If you do have the time this holiday season, Askinasi says you should cook up a pot of Garten’s chicken and orzo.
This recipe is both flavorful and comforting. It would be perfect for a cold, rainy, winter day, but it’s also ideal for a cozy holiday meal served on the floor or on the couch by the fireplace.
The only hangup is that this one takes a few hours total to make — but Askinasi thinks it’s worth it.
Plus, if you’re cooking for anything less than five people, you’ll have plenty of leftovers for days and weeks ahead.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s chicken in a pot with orzo here.
If you’re keeping the holiday meal low-key this year, Askinasi thinks Garten’s grilled-cheese recipe is the perfect way to treat yourself and spark nostalgia.
This recipe isn’t simple, Askinasi says, but it’s delicious and would be a great way to show yourself some love this holiday season. And, by our reporter’s standards, nothing says holiday decadence like putting in some work to create an indulgent, satisfying, soul-warming meal for yourself.
With three types of cheese (which Askinasi says she’d use sliced rather than grated next time) and thick-cut bacon, it tastes like a sophisticated version of the lunch Askinasi ate as a kid.
While there are several steps, Garten’s recipe is precise with measurements and is easy to follow, which can help even a timid home cook get through this successfully.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s grilled cheese here.
Garten’s corn bread recipe has become legendary among Konstantinides’ family and friends.
Konstantinides first made Garten’s brown-butter skillet corn bread for Friendsgiving last year, where it won rave reviews. The delicious dish is the perfect balance of sweet and savory, with a salty crunchy crust that gives way to a moist and fluffy filling that everyone loves.
The corn bread is easy and foolproof, even for novice bakers. And with such a stunning golden color, it’s definitely a showstopper at the dinner table.
Konstantinides has since made Garten’s corn bread for a number of holiday parties, as well as for her family’s Thanksgiving this year. It’s become a permanent dish in her holiday repertoire, and she can’t wait to make it again for Christmas.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s corn bread here.
Garten’s potato-fennel gratin is another dish that Konstantinides makes every Christmas.
Garten has a plethora of potato recipes that are great for the holidays, including her rosemary roasted potatoes and her parmesan mashed potatoes. But it’s the “Barefoot Contessa” star’s potato-fennel gratin that has become a Konstantinides family tradition.
The gratin is a creamy dream. The combination of Gruyère cheese and heavy cream is so comforting, and the potatoes come out perfectly cooked every single time. The sautéed fennel also adds a lovely mild sweetness that cuts through all the cheesiness.
Garten’s potato-fennel gratin also goes great with everything, making it the perfect side dish for any holiday protein. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated, giving you some much-needed oven space on a busy cooking day.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s potato-fennel gratin here.
Garten’s elevated store-bought mashed potatoes are perfect when you need a quick dish for a big holiday dinner.
In November, Garten modified some of her most popular holiday dishes to include a store-bought ingredient.
“My goal was that you didn’t know that store-bought thing was in there,” Garten told The New York Times. “I want to make store-bought taste homemade.”
Garten’s recipe simply requires you to warm up the store-bought mashed potatoes, throw in sour cream, unsalted butter, and freshly-grated Italian parmesan cheese, then season with some salt and pepper.
It might sound too good to be true, but Konstantinides was wowed by these potatoes. The parmesan cheese infused the dish with a delicious richness and the sour cream added so much creaminess. No one in Konstantinides’ family even realized the mashed potatoes were store-bought.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s elevated store-bought mashed potatoes here.
And Garten’s one-pot rigatoni is perfect for cheese lovers.
Garten said her rigatoni with sausage and fennel pasta is one of her “all-time go-to dinners” — and it’s perfect when you’ve got a big group.
“You can make the whole thing in one big pot, bring it to the table, and everyone loves it,” she said in a 2017 episode of “Barefoot Contessa.”
The one-pot pasta comes packed with plenty of delicious ingredients, including sweet Italian sausages, chopped fennel, freshly-grated Italian parmesan cheese, dry white wine, and heavy cream.
The dish is deliciously rich and creamy, and Konstantinides loved how the sweetness of the sausage worked together with the saltiness of the parmesan cheese. As we brace ourselves for a very chilly holiday season, this one-pot pasta is sure to warm you up (without filling the sink with dishes).
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s one-pot rigatoni with sausage and fennel here.
And nothing goes better with pasta than Garten’s “outrageous” garlic bread.
Konstantinides first made Garten’s “outrageous” garlic bread for a dinner party last year, and her friends still rave about it.
Garten’s garlic bread with a twist features a French baguette, freshly-grated parmesan cheese, butter, parsley, lemon zest, and plenty of garlic.
And the “outrageous” garlic bread definitely lives up to its name — in the best way. Each piece was delightfully crunchy, with a zingy brightness from the lemon zest and parsley. One of Konstantinides’ friends declared that she “could have eaten an entire baguette’s worth.”
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s “outrageous” garlic bread here.
If you’re looking for a great dessert, Garten’s recipe for Beatty’s Chocolate Cake will impress — and delight — everyone.
While pumpkin pie might dominate the Thanksgiving dessert table, we get to be a bit more creative in December. And who doesn’t love some chocolate cake after dinner?
Garten said her recipe for Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is “the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made.” The delicious dessert features a secret ingredient — one cup of hot brewed coffee — which really enhances the chocolate flavor.
Konstantinides was blown away by how fluffy and moist the cake tasted. It’s packed with chocolate, but the texture is still light as air — an incredible feat. The cake is huge, so there’s plenty to go around if you’ve got a big guest list. And it still tastes fresh days later, so everyone gets to enjoy some leftovers.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake here.
Garten’s bourbon chocolate pecan pie is great if you want something more classic.
Garten’s bourbon chocolate pecan pie features a store-bought crust, and she told The New York Times that it tasted even better than one made from scratch. Since the frozen crust is less buttery, it doesn’t distract or compete with the rich bourbon-chocolate filling.
The recipe features diced pecans, semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla, and some good bourbon. And the pie couldn’t be easier to assemble. After chopping some pecans and mixing everything together, it was ready to go in the oven — talk about a stress-free holiday dessert!
Konstantinides loved all the texture and flavor in Garten’s bourbon chocolate pecan pie. There’s the crunchiness from the pecans, the creaminess from the chocolate chips, and those sweet notes of caramel from the bourbon. It also tastes fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Get the full recipe for Ina Garten’s bourbon chocolate pecan pie here.