Ina Garten's Favorite Store-Bought Breadcrumbs To Use In Meatballs

Longtime cooks know that getting the right ingredients matters as much as technique. That's true even down to particular brands — something legendary chef Ina Garten isn't shy about acknowledging. In a recent interview, she revealed her preferred choice for a key part of her famous meatball recipe.

In a Q&A on her website, Barefoot Contessa, Garten was asked which brand she buys for the "seasoned dried breadcrumbs" used in her meatballs. While you might expect Garten to choose some high-end or hard-to-find brand, she reveals she grabs the relatively common brand 4C. Available in 15-, 24-, and 46-ounce containers, the mixture contains toasted bread crumbs made from enriched bread, pecorino romano cheese, and what the company calls a "secret family recipe of herbs [and] spices." Based on the ingredients, we know this includes (at minimum) sesame and caraway seeds, salt, dehydrated parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder, in addition to the vaguely labeled "spices."

Alternative breadcrumb tips and perspectives

While 4C is available in many grocery stores, the breadcrumbs can also be purchased from several general e-commerce platforms and specialty food websites. The company also sells unseasoned bread crumbs, panko-style (seasoned, unseasoned, or gluten-free), whole wheat, and salt-free versions.

In addition to her preferred premade breadcrumbs, Garten provided some advice on making your own, noting she starts with a loaf of crusty white or sourdough bread, from which she removes the crusts. Then, she chops the bread in a food processor until it reaches the proper size and texture.

While store-bought bread crumbs can be convenient and tasty, some chefs, like Andrew Zimmern, never buy seasoned bread crumbs. Zimmern argues that he'd rather season them with basil, oregano, parsley, chili flakes, and salt and pepper. This naturally offers options to customize your flavor profile but requires additional time. The best advice might be to listen to the recipe's creator — and in this case, that means taking Ina Garten's advice and using her 4C favorites.