Ina Garten's Secret To Impressive Holiday Season Flavor

When it comes to hosting for the holidays, Ina Garten definitely knows how to throw the best get-together. Garten, the host of Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa" — which is also the nickname she adorns – says that above all, she wants to make sure her guests feel welcome (via CNN). One of the ways she achieves that is by serving great food.

One section of her website even details pre-set menus for every occasion, using recipes from her numerous cookbooks (she's authored 13). She loves cooking for a crowd so much that one of her cookbooks is even titled Barefoot Contessa Parties!, and features recipes perfect for entertaining, like fresh turkey, lemon cake, and caviar dip. Once the food is prepared, Garten serves everyone at the kitchen table, as opposed to a formal dining room. She told CNN that she prefers a more relaxed feel with her guests.

To amp up the flavor of her best holiday dishes, Garten uses one specific ingredient — and it's something you probably already have on hand in your kitchen.

Brown butter stars in one of Garten's recipes

To amplify her Thanksgiving side dishes, Ina Garten recommends using brown butter, according to a video posted to the Williams Sonoma TikTok channel. The celebrity chef states that in order to prevent the butter from burning and overcooking, it's essential to watch the pan carefully as it cooks. Garten says you will know your butter is done when it reaches a medium-brown color but isn't burnt, and it will have a nutty, warm aroma.

After her brown butter has cooked to a perfect golden-brown color, the Barefoot Contessa pours the liquid into a separate bowl. She notes that since the pan is hot, the butter would continue cooking even after being taken off the burner, so this transfer ensures an end to the cooking process. As she pours the melted browned butter into the bowl, she takes a rubber spatula and makes sure to scrape the edges of the pan, getting every last bit of butter out. This brown butter is used in her famous Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread (via USA Today).

What is brown butter?

Browning your butter adds a more pronounced and nutty flavor profile, according to Sally's Baking Addiction. Plus, it's easy to make — all you need is your butter, a spatula, and a stovetop. The site recommends allowing your butter to sit out of the fridge for up to half an hour before beginning the browning process, which will allow it to melt and cook more evenly. Then it can be melted in a pan on the stovetop and stirred continuously until it sizzles and foams — the whole process typically takes about 10 minutes.

Once your brown butter sauce is finished, it can be added to recipes — like Ina Garten's brown butter cornbread, as she shows in her TikTok video — or drizzled over vegetables or pasta as a sauce on its own. It can even be churned into Brown Butter Ice Cream for a rich, warm flavor. Celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen recommends using the sauce over Sweet Potato Gnocchi as a light flavor enhancement to accentuate the sweet potato.