The Store-Bought Ice Cream Ina Garten Can't Resist

It's no secret that Ina Garten enjoys making food from scratch. The Barefoot Contessa is known for whipping up simple, everyday recipes from the comfort of her East Hampton barn kitchen. We've certainly listened with rapt attention to the extraordinary cooking tips she's doled out over the years, which run the gamut from using the proper equipment to opting for high-quality ingredients — you know, like the "good" olive oil. However, despite her affinity for scrumptious, homemade meals, she's not against buying certain foods or ingredients from the grocery store — especially when it comes to dessert. As it turns out, she's actually a fan of scooping into a pint of store-bought vanilla ice cream.

Don't get us wrong — she's certainly graced us with more than a few delectable ice cream recipes, from a fruitastic peach flavor to classic vanilla. But, in regards to the latter, which happens to be her favorite flavor, she much prefers buying it already made — no arduous whisking or churning necessary. Her go-to brands include Häagen-Dazs, which she calls "amazing," per The Kitchn, Ben and Jerry's, and Ciao Bella — all three of which she says make "a great vanilla ice cream."

The good vanilla ice cream

If Ina Garten loves a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream picked up at the market, it's certainly good enough for us. Plus, forgoing making it at home is a great way to save time in the kitchen — and money since you won't have to buy all of the ingredients needed to make it, which can quickly add up. For example, a pint of Häagen-Dazs is a little over $5, and an individual serving is about $2. Even if you opt for the store brand variety, the grand total for heavy cream ($3-$5), sugar ($2-$3), eggs ($1.50-$3.50), and vanilla extract ($6 if you're lucky) means you'd still be paying more than you would for a pint. 

For those who still want to try their hand at churning out tasty homemade scoops, Garten says you don't have to splurge on a fancy ice cream machine. In fact, she uses a basic Cuisinart model, such as the Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker, which is under $70. However, there are a variety of other more inexpensive options too, including Dash's My Mug Ice Cream Maker and Everyday Ice Cream Maker, which are both under $40.

Ice cream the Garten way

As for the Barefoot Contessa, store-bought isn't her only preferred way of enjoying vanilla ice cream. She actually likes it to be on the softer side too, even going so far as to microwave her container before tucking into a bowl of the stuff. As it turns out, there's a science behind this preference as temperatures can actually impact how food tastes, with Garten noting that mid-ranges of temperature are the sweet spot — literally. Certain flavor receptors in our mouths (TRPM5, if we're getting technical) pick up on sweet tastes better when what we're eating is warmer (via The Guardian).

What's more, Garten also likes her vanilla ice cream a little on the boozy side too, opting to serve it with some Limoncello liqueur drizzled over the top and a biscotti cookie on the side — the latter of which she is sure to clarify is also store-bought. Of course, vanilla isn't the only ice cream flavor she adores. She's also a fan of coffee chocolate chip ice cream, which she enjoys sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, such as the store-bought Tate's Bake Shop variety, all rolled into Heath English Toffee Bits. How easy is that?

Ina's other store-bought staples

A pint of Häagen-Dazs isn't the cookbook author's only splurge. There's a variety of other store-bought substitutions that are Ina Garten-approved, and pasta sauce is top of the list. Her favorite? Rao's Marinara Sauce. Granted, during a 2019 segment for "Today," she did note that it's always best to make it from scratch; however, she said Rao's marinara was "fantastic," so opting to buy it from the store instead will certainly do the trick. Music to our ears.

Want to throw together a quick and easy PB&J? Rest easy knowing jars of jam and peanut butter straight off the store shelf are a-okay too. Sweet syrupy treats like caramel and chocolate sauce? Ready-made works. And the best part is that you don't even have to opt for the fancy stuff. The TV personality actually says the likes of Hershey's chocolate syrup and Fran's caramel sauce are much preferred. Garten even chooses to buy certain baked goods like pound cake, pie crust, and puff pastry pre-made as opposed to whipping them up in the kitchen.

From mashed potatoes to herb-seasoned stuffing mix, Garten is here to assure us that there's no need to dust off those cookbooks. Instacart will do just fine.