10 Store-Bought Ingredients That Ina Loves (and 3 She Makes from Scratch)

"From time-to-time store bought is just fine."

"From time-to-time store bought is just fine." You’ve probably heard Ina say this before and, for the first time, she’s dedicating a whole episode to her favorite store-bought items. "When I say 'store-bought is just fine,' I'm not talking about going to the grocery store, buying really bad birthday cake, and claiming that you made it yourself," says Ina. "What I am saying is you can use ingredients from the store, like a pound cake or vanilla ice cream, that are just as good as homemade."

In the season premiere of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Ina shares her favorite store-bought shortcuts and reveals the items that she prefers to make herself.

1. Pound Cake and Ice Cream

First up, Ina constructs an elegant dessert using store-bought pound cake, sorbet and vanilla ice cream. These Raspberry Baked Alaskas are a snap to put together with a few store-bought shortcuts. They start with a base of bakery pound cake and are built with store-bought vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet.

"You can make your own pound cake but why would you?" says Ina. Just be sure, you get the good stuff, obviously.

2. Good Marinara Sauce

Ina always keep a good jar of marinara sauce in the pantry for recipes like her Eggplant Gratin and Roasted Eggplant Parmesan. "I mean, by the time you cooked the eggplant, sliced all the ingredients, and assembled it, who wants to start making marinara sauce?" she asks.

3. Mayonnaise

"Don’t make your own mayonnaise. Just buy good mayonnaise," says Ina. You're preaching to the choir, Ina.

4. Lemon Curd

For her Fresh Lemon Mousse Ina buys the good stuff. "I often use good-quality store-bought preserves and sauces, like lemon curd," she says.

5. Caramel Sauce

Ina drizzles store-bought caramel sauce over Salted Caramel Brownies.

6. Chocolate Syrup

"Store-bought chocolate sauce is a key ingredient in my Chocolate Ganache Cake and New York Egg Cream."

7. Pesto

Store-bought pesto is a great shortcut. "I use it in so many ways, like Winter Minestrone, and it's fabulous on open-faced mozzarella-and-tomato sandwiches," she says.

8. Frozen Vegetables

Ina keeps a stash of spinach and peas in the freezer for quick side dishes and to make an amazingly fast pea soup.

9. White Truffle Butter

"It really turns up the volume on everything from simple scrambled eggs to elegant fettuccine," says Ina. Truffle butter is one of her store-bought secrets for elevating simple ingredients. "I order like six of these and keep them in the freezer."

10. Puff pastry and Phyllo Dough

One of Ina's favorites is frozen puff pastry. She makes a number of delicious recipes with it including amazing palmier cookies. "I always buy ready-made puff pastry and phyllo dough for sweet and savory tarts and appetizers. I mean, why would you make it?" says Ina. "Believe me if you had to make it yourself, you would never make palmiers." Her Easy Sticky Buns and all-time favorite dessert, Apple Galettes, also make use of this shortcut ingredient.

Ingredients It’s Worth Making Yourself

While store-bought is sometimes just fine, there are a few ingredients that Ina prefers to make herself.

Fresh Ricotta

"Once I started to make my own ricotta and I realized how easy it was, I never went back to store-bought," says Ina. Here's how its done.

Grated Parmesan

"I prefer to grind my own, because it's fresher, and you have a better texture to it," says Ina.


"This is one of those times when homemade is better than store bought. Store-bought breadcrumbs are dry and (homemade) have much more flavor and much more crunch," she says.

Be sure to watch the new season of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro for more great tips and tricks from Ina, Sundays at 12|11c.

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