Here's How Ina Garten Really Tests Her Recipes

There's a simple reason why Ina Garten's recipes just seem to work. Before they end up in her cookbooks – 12 of them, to be exact — they are tested to a T. This isn't unusual; recipe-testing is an essential piece of the pie for cookbooks, food magazines, blogs, and other publications. Additionally, many authors say that recipe-testing is the most time-consuming part of writing a cookbook (via Well Plated by Erin). But Garten kicks it up a notch, sometimes making the same dish 25 times or more until it's trustworthy enough to go through yet another round of testing.

Don't just take Garten's word for it. Trent Pheifer, who is cooking through Garten's entire 1,200+ recipe catalogue and blogging about it on Store Bought Is Fine, chose the Barefoot Contessa for his project because he has faith in her recipes. "Her recipes tend to be foolproof," Pheifer told the The Washington Post. "I know that if it's a simple recipe, it's going to be amazing. If it's a complicated recipe and I'm in the kitchen for most of the day, it's going to be worth the effort." Here's how Garten ensures that her recipes end up functional every time.

Why Garten's recipes sometimes take years to perfect

Why do Garten's recipes sometimes take years to perfect? "I do a recipe over and over and over again until I'm absolutely certain that it's exactly how I want it to be," she told The Kitchn. (Her most tested recipe? Boston cream pie, which took six years to perfect, Garten tweeted, and is finally available in her most recent cookbook.) Garten will then give the recipe to her assistant, Lidey Heuck, "with no instruction, just the printed page," and ask her if she has questions while making it, adjusting the recipe accordingly. Next, Garten cooks the dish with other courses, as if hosting a dinner party, to make sure that the recipe is feasible for entertaining. "If it's too much work to serve at a dinner party, it won't end up in a book," she continued.

The testing doesn't stop there. Garten has a gas oven in her kitchen, so she makes sure that someone with an electric oven also tests her recipe. She also told The New York Times food editor Sam Sifton that she watches one to three "inexperienced cooks" make her recipes, which teaches her "so much about how someone uses the recipe" (via Insider). And in case you're wondering, her husband isn't part of her testing crew. He doesn't "get to taste until it's perfect," Garten told the Food Network.