The secret ingredient Ina Garten adds to her oatmeal

Ina Garten probably had no idea when releasing her first cookbook back in 1999 what was in store for her. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was an immediate best seller, and by 2002 she was three published cookbooks in and ready for more (via Barefoot Contessa). That same year Barefoot Contessa debuted on the Food Network where Garten whips up traditional and elegant recipes even the most novice cooks can make. We're talking everything from chicken pot pie to warm apple crisp and Sunday morning oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal, if there is anyone who knows how to do it right, it's Ina Garten. She loves a good hearty bowl in the morning. In fact, she told Bon Appétit in 2017 that she'd eaten oatmeal for breakfast every day for 10 years. That's a lot of time to perfect a recipe. As all celebrity chefs do, Garten adds a little something special to her oatmeal to give it better flavor. The ingredient is so simple you'll kick yourself for not having thought of it yourself.

Why you should add salt to your oatmeal

Before Garten sits down to enjoy her bowl of oatmeal she sprinkles it with salt. Without it, Garten says, oatmeal tastes like "wallpaper paste." An interesting comparison, but when it comes to enhancing the flavor of oatmeal, Garten is pretty spot on. The National Academy of Sciences says that salt, contrary to what you might think, actually boosts the sweetness of food while also improving the overall flavor intensity. 

There's more more secret ingredient the Barefoot Contessa adds to her oatmeal, but it's only for a special occasion. When her birthday comes around, Garten likes to treat herself, so one day a year she'll also add maple syrup to her bowl. Every other day, she just adds salt.

So, if you've ever thought oatmeal tastes like wallpaper paste (if for some reason you know what that actually tastes like), try adding some salt in your bowl. With all of Garten's success, it's a safe bet this trick isn't going to let you down.