Here's What Ina Garten Keeps On Her Counter For Quick Cooking Access

Ina Garten's book "Cook Like a Pro" is filled with more than just recipes. As the title suggests, Garten also includes some of her tried and true kitchen know-how. Much of the wisdom she imparts comes from revealing how she organizes her kitchen. One of her most useful tips is to keep non-perishable ingredients out on the counter, rather than stashing them away out of sight in the refrigerator or pantry. She does this both for easy access as well as for inspiration when experimenting — a quick glance at the ingredients already displayed within hand's reach can provide just the right finishing touch that a dish needs — without having to hunt around in cabinets and cupboards.

One essential food category Ina Garten always keeps on her countertop is citrus fruits. Lemons, limes, oranges — in "Cook Like a Pro," she writes that you get the most juice out of them at room temperature. This is so practical when you consider just how many uses there are for citrus, either as the star of a dish or as that final "burst of flavor." Ina Garten's skillet-roasted lemon chicken recipe from her cookbook "Cooking for Jeffrey" is made easier with a bowl of lemons in reach. Her book "Family Style" features a frozen key lime pie and an orange pound cake, both perfect reasons for having citrus nearby.

Ingredients out on your countertop make cooking a breeze

Two more major must-haves on Ina Garten's counter are the aromatics: onions and garlic. You're likely to go through a lot of garlic quickly when making the chicken with forty cloves of garlic from her cookbook "Barefoot in Paris," and Garten's cornmeal-fried onion rings from the book "At Home" practically demand a place for onions front and center on your kitchen counter.

Ina Garten also likes to keep eggs on her counter. In a video tour of her kitchen, she told NYT Cooking that, "Eggs are better at room temperature for baking." There certainly are benefits of separating your eggs at room temperature. However, according to the CDC, it is not safe to leave pasteurized eggs unrefrigerated for longer than two hours. Unless you've bought unpasteurized eggs from a farmer's market, or you're just letting your eggs sit on the counter to warm up for a few minutes, it's best to keep them in the fridge.

Salt is another important ingredient that earns prime real estate on Ina Garten's marble countertops. She has three favorite salts, which are often specified in her recipes. For everyday use, Garten keeps a crock of Diamond Crystal kosher salt on her counter, which she says is less salty than other varieties. She likes to have French Fleur de Sel available for a briny seasoning option, and she reaches for Maldon-flaked sea salt to add a nice, crispy bite to pastry crusts.

Keep more than food on display for form and function

Ina Garten recommends white bowls for storing ingredients on the counter. They brighten a room and fit in with any decor, and fresh food on display will make your kitchen "feel alive." Having frequently-used ingredients at your fingertips can motivate you to add your own touch to recipes.

There are also non-food items that she keeps on her counters. With tasting, stirring, and tasting again when building flavors, spoons are one utensil Ina Garten keeps by her stove at all times. To avoid cross-contamination, tasting spoons should never be reused — and her clever solution for this is brilliant; she collects antique silver spoons in a glass jar. They are super handy because you can just grab a clean one from the jar each time to avoid double-dipping when you need another taste. They also add a touch of classy vintage chic.

In addition to tasting spoons, Ina Garten told Food Network that the other indispensable cooking utensils she keeps close are spatulas, wooden spoons, and whisks. She keeps them in separate canisters right on the counter, with all the metal pieces in one container, and all the wooden ones in another, to avoid things looking messy. While it's hard to imagine either of Ina Garten's exquisite East Hampton kitchens ever being a mess, both her barn kitchen – where she films her TV shows — and her newly renovated home kitchen benefit from her organized and functional use of counter space.