When she’s not transforming old houses into people’s dream homes, designing quality decor products, launching a magazine, and opening her own restaurant and bakery, Joanna Gaines (jack and master of all trades) can be found doing the one thing she might love more than shiplap: cooking up her favorite recipes in the kitchen. And while it’s no secret that the co-star of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, who works hand-in-hand with her (equally charming) husband, Chip, knows her way around a kitchen, it’s safe to say that the well-rounded expert is certainly skilled in more than just designing open-concept cooking spaces and enviable farmhouse-styled dining areas.
Between the mouthwatering recipes she shares on her blog, At Home, and in her upcoming cookbook, Magnolia Table—along with the homemade sweets and treats she sells at her bakery, Silos Baking Co.—it’s clear that Gaines can certainly teach us a thing or two as far as cooking and baking go. Here are the best cooking tips we’ve learned by following along on Gaines’ many cooking and baking ventures:
1. It could take a long time to perfect a recipe—but the end result is worth it.
In a blog post update, Gaines admitted just how long it took to get her homemade biscuit recipe to her exact liking. “For the past year or so, I have spent almost every Saturday morning perfecting this biscuit recipe, and we finally have one that has the seal of approval from Chip and the kids,” she wrote.
2. Cooking is a collaborative effort.
Gaines made sure to include recipes from family and friends while creating her cookbook, Magnolia Table, so that it isn’t just about her own recipes—with an end goal of the meals being shared together. In the same blog post, she explained that “…the cookbook is a celebration of bringing people together, because I think there’s nothing better than gathering around a table with family and friends for a good meal.”
3. Just because a snack is sweet, doesn’t mean it has to be totally unhealthy.
Judging by the selection of pies and cupcakes she sells at Silos Baking Co., and all the sweet treats she shares on her blog, we can safely assume Gaines is just like us—she isn’t afraid to indulge her sweet tooth every now and then. Still, a lot of her recipes—like the Power Balls she makes for her kids—don’t include red-flag ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup. (Find our power snack recipes here.)
4. Meal planning is all about finding a strategy that works for you.
Brainstorming an entire week’s worth of dinners can be more overwhelming than expected (we’ve all been there), but Gaines has found success with a meal planning worksheet. She writes down the meals she is going to cook Monday through Friday, along with the weekend, and a list of items she needs to buy from the grocery store to do so.
5. It’s OK to have standbys.
As Fixer Upper fans can attest, Gaines isn’t afraid to try something out of the box—whether it’s a room she’s styling or a recipe she’s creating. Even still, the Silos Baking Co. website explains that some of the best-loved recipes they sell—including her homemade chocolate cake, Syrian donuts and chocolate chip cookies—were inspired by the “trade secrets” she learned while cooking in the kitchen with her family when she was young. Gaines is proof that when you cook what you know and love, it’s easier to perfect the recipe as you go.
And shortcuts are never a bad thing either! Find out what cooking shortcuts Joanna relies on for easy weekday meals.
6. It’s just as important to taste-test a recipe as it is to cook it.
Just ask Chip, and all the cupcake flavors he tried before their bakery was open to the public (as documented in this Instagram post by Gaines herself).