There’s nothing we don’t love as much as food. As a species, we’re a little obsessed with getting the right food for the right occasion- from birthday cakes for our kids to pizza nights with friends. We take popcorn to the cinema, eat ice cream when we’re down and take our crush out for a nice meal when we want to get to know them – food is universal and it is everywhere. Which really amps up the pressure when it comes to getting in front of the stove and hosting a tasty meal.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for your small family or you’re looking to get everyone over for the holidays- having the best cookbooks in your arsenal can make a world of difference. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian cookbook or simply want an easy reference cookbook for those nights you’re a little stuck for ideas, we’ve collated a list of the top cookbooks for your needs. Embracing every part of the dining experience, from starters and appetizers to desserts, we’ve got you covered when it comes to investing in the best books for cookery pros and rookies alike.
The Best Cookbooks of All Time
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime Cookbook
Beginning her career with a simple blog based on her love of cooking and home life on the ranch she shares with her husband and children, Ree Drummond has become a favorite figure on the screens of food lovers, everywhere. Now known as The Pioneer Woman on both her TV show and in her many cookbooks, Ree is known for producing recipes with intricate detail- meaning there’s next to no reason to make mistakes when cooking!
Covering everything there is to know about the basics of great cooking, The Pioneer Woman Cooks gives recipes for a huge variety of favorites, from salads to soups- and everything in between. With Ree’s signature style of minimum fuss and maximum flavor, you can be sure that anything you whip up on the basis of Dinnertime will be a huge hit.
Packed with vivid detail, both in the images and the recipes themselves, Dinnertime marks over 125 home-cooked style recipes that are delivered with both self-deprecating humor and classic charisma. For those who love a homecooked food that is oh-so-simple to make, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime should be your first port of call.
Thug Kitchen The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
As you may have already guessed from the name, this is not a cookbook designed for those of a sensitive nature. Don’t let its abrasive vocabulary fool you, however. This is a book that hit The New York Times as a Number 1 bestseller and loved by pretty much everyone- from Gwyneth Paltrow to the near-million fans on Facebook.
Proud of taking the pretentiousness out of cooking and opening up everybody’s kitchen to the joy of great food, Thug Kitchen have compiled over 100 recipes for your perusal. These are no ordinary recipes however, as the choices given in this book are designed to get you out of the bad habits of grabbing take-out every day and eating rubbish every night.
Bringing you a touch of humor while helping with getting into the habit of eating a healthy diet- and, while it’s not recommended for the faint of heart or your conservative granny, it’s great for those who are looking to up their game a little, when it comes to making dinner.
Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat Cookbook
While you might be tempted to roll your eyes at the idea of yet another celebrity releasing a recipe book, you’ll be pleased to know that former-model Chrissy Teigen’s take on the traditional cookbook is well worth a good read. Besides being a powerhouse on the catwalk and creating her own fashion line, she has proven herself as a skilled writer- delivering her recipes with a little self-deprecating humor and plenty of good anecdotes.
There’s over a 100 recipes to sink your teeth into and each one breaks down those mouth-watering images that sit alongside the method, into bite-sized chunks that are easy to follow and satisfying to swallow. Sure, you might find yourself getting a little jealous when you see the images of her looking amazing while eating great food, but at least you’ll now be able to get the “great food” part on your plate.
The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor
If you want your focus to be based on healthy cookbooks, look no further than The Skinnytaste Cookbook. A New York Times bestseller, each page is crammed with flavorful yet simple, light meals that are easy on the waistband. These are recipes which keep you healthy and happy, allowing you to lose weight while feeling fuller, for longer- and you won’t be eating salads all day every day.
Indeed, you’d be surprised at some of the sweeter concoctions created for this book, such as the ‘Double Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies’ that allow you to indulge your sweet tooth, without packing in the calories. You’ll find all kinds of hidden treasures here to suit your cravings, while staying on top of your diet. All the nutritional information is even given with each entry, so you can easily fit these recipes in with almost any diet.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Cookbook
Some people like to go with the flow and chuck in whatever they’re craving- others love to take everything with the same mastery as logic and enjoy being super-precise with their cooking. If you’re the latter, then you’ll be pleased to know that this really is the cookbook for you. If you’ve tried every recipe from here to Timbuktu but still can’t figure out why your meals aren’t coming out looking like they’ve been photoshopped by a pro with the taste of Gordon Ramsey, try again- but, with this book as your guide.
This is the book that will give you the science behind the catering genius, giving you the foolproof method to creating delicious meals. Of course, for those who aren’t interested in the background of why x, y and z molecules form in a particular way to respond to a specific style of cooking, this may not be for you. But, for those who like to get a little geeky with their hobbies, this is the perfect present.
There are clear instructions every step of the way, with over 1000 images used to guide you in your cooking capers. But the real information from this book comes during the introduction- guiding beginners on everything from what you should have in your kitchen, through to how to hold a knife the correct way to avoid injury and apply the most pressure to your ingredients. So, if you’re looking for a beginner’s cookbook for someone who wants to know everything there is to know about cooking, this should be your first choice.
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
A huge fan of delving into the nerd-worlds and coming up with the best ideas and new twists on traditional recipes, Dina Bulchoz has added to her repertoire with a cookbook based on the world of Harry Potter. Evidently, she’s done a great job too, as this is a cookbook that is loved by literally thousands of reviewers, online. If you’ve ever read any of the Harry Potter books and found your mouth watering over the descriptions of the amazing feasts in the Great Hall, then this is the book for you.
Without a doubt, this is definitely a preferred cookbook for those who are fans of Harry Potter. But, as well as being a great novelty gift, this is a book filled with tasty, unique recipes that are surprisingly simple to make- no magic required! Not only that, but there are some great British classics included that make up some of the 150-recipes available in the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. In other words, readers of this recipe book will be able to bring both off-set and tasty, timeless plates to the table, using these simple, easy-to-follow recipes.
Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering
Back in the real world, now, with Gaines’ simple but delicious recipes collated together in Magnolia Table. Complete with old-timey inflections (just look at the illustrations on the first few pages to suddenly become overwhelmed with nostalgia), this is a cookbook based on dinnertime favorites to share with family and friends.
The joy in Magnolia Table comes from the simplicity of the style, method and recipes themselves. This is not a book you might want to whip out for a startling, mind-tingling dinner party but, if you’re looking for some delicious home-cooked recipes to share with your family and loved ones, this will tick all the boxes necessary.
Joanna has worked hard, over a period of years and months, to get the right recipes together for her readers- and it absolutely shows. This is a cookbook where her cookie recipe is revered, and her simplicity admired. Another bestseller, this is a book that celebrates mealtime as a way of spending time with your family, so expect hearty meals and delightful desserts aplenty.
Mary Berry’s Baking Bible
A simple title that does well to camouflage the sheer range and complexity of recipes hidden within- that’s not to say that these are difficult methods to master. On the contrary, Mary Berry has had an entire lifetime’s worth of experience, teaching those who long to cook how to bake the hardest recipes in the simplest manner.
Fans of The Great British Bake-Off may already recognise the name and face of Mary Berry who is known for her cheeky winks and mouth-wateringly delicious cakes. It has been Berry’s passion since she first began her foray into cooking, to make baking accessible to everyone- a mission statement that is present throughout her Baking Bible (as well as over 30 other books she’s authored). Something that can easily be seen through the hints and tips given throughout the 250 recipes available in this cookbook.
Covering everything from a colossal American Wedding Cake right through to dainty Hazelnut Meringue Cakes, Berry gives exacting details and trademark encouraging rhetoric. This is a cookbook that works well for those who want to get into the sweeter side of cooking- namely, desserts.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
You may have seen Samin Nosrat through her new Netflix series, which is also named after her book. As seen there, Nosrat has travelled the world trying to find the best tasting food to include in her recipes, as well as taking a huge inspiration for her culinary takes of international dishes. Her belief, that has been harnessed through these travels, is that there are four universal elements to making good food: salt, fat, acid and heat. Through mastering these elements, she says, you can create great food and master the art of cooking.
Enter Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, where you’ll find the kind instruction of Nosrat in the written word. Explaining, in-depth, the details of how to make the perfect meal based on balancing these four elements in a specific way, alongside visuals from award-winning illustrator Wendy MacNoughton. The various recipes revolve around the simplest teachings- salt enhances flavor, fat delivers flavor and creates texture, acid balances flavor and heat creates the final texture of your food.
Using her final philosophy, a dash of science and a handful of happiness, Samin has put together over 100 recipes, along with their many, many variations which play with these four elements- resulting in some amazing dishes that you’ll have great fun cooking and definitely enjoy eating.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
As one of the most well-known chefs in the world, who also happened to have been trained halfway around the world, it was obvious that a Julia Child cookbook was bound to create a French cookbook. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was that book- one that happily brought together the works of Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
Originally published in 1961, this cookbook went on to become an instant hit and changed the shape of the gourmet dining scene forever. By bringing delicious, wholesome French food to the tables of millions of Americans and therefore bypassing the belief that you had to be a rich, middle-or-upper-class family to enjoy the delicacies of French dining, Child, Bertholle, and Beck created a firm favorite that would last through the ages.
For those with an intense desire to delve into the world of international cuisine- or for folk who simply enjoy the meals originally created by the French- this book is a must-have. The strong belief that “anyone can cook” allows for accessible recipes that provide a genuine, full flavor without all the pomp and circumstance.
Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi
Known mostly for his book Jerusalem but actually having written many recipe books, Ottolenghi’s offerings have become a staple for those who love a good vegetarian cookbook. An Israeli-British chef, who received outstanding Cordon Bleu training, Yotam Ottolenghi owns several restaurants and delicatessens.
Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes consists of over 120 vegetarian meals that you and your family will love- yet, the beauty of Plenty is that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these recipes. Rather than being designed to flavor vegetables until they have the taste or texture of meat, the focus here is on celebrating vegetables as a stand-alone dish. Meaning that anyone who loves to create flavorful dishes, should invest in a copy of this book- particularly, because you’ll find new ways to cook, present and enjoy the oft-leftover food which deserves a little more love.
Presenting the standard root veg in a way that delights and surprises is no mean feat, yet Plenty has proven the ability to show even a novice how to create stand-out dishes that will shock and awe your guests. Written in plain language, ideal for those looking to spice up their healthy eating and available to pick up and drop off whenever you fancy a chance, Yotam Ottolenghi’s book should definitely be added to your list of essential cookbooks.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Back with Ottolenghi again and here we have one of his most famous written works. Created under the image of bringing together both traditional Arab and Jewish cooking, Jerusalem: A Cookbook works to inspire while delving into the personal food histories of both Yotam and his peer, Sami Tamimi.
Exploring the flavors that they had come to know and love as children, as well as the herbs, spices and recipes of the city of Jerusalem, both Tamimi and Yotam have created a fantastic recipe book which contains inventive vegetarian dishes that both meat-eaters and vegies will love. Historic references are sprinkled throughout the book in an effort to truly help the reader discover the background of these dishes, as well as enjoy their unique dishes presented in a way that most home-based cooks may not have discovered, before.
Joy of Cooking by Irma s. Rombauer
One of the oldest and most-loved cookbooks of all time, Joy of Cooking is praised by everyone from Julia Child to The New York Public Library. The latter of whom has added this to their list of most important and influential books of the 20th century. This particular edition has added to the mother-and-daughter team of Irma S Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker with the grandchild of the matriarchy- Ethan Becker.
In this 75th anniversary edition, Mr. Becker has ensured the original humor and simple methods are kept as his mother and grandmother would have them, while bringing the recipes into the 21st century. This classic of modern literature has helped millions of people become acquainted with cooking, both professionally and at home. Meanwhile, the modern upgrade includes illustrations of these classic recipes to help a new generation fall in love with cooking.
Given that this cookbook was created from sheer determination and love of food, with Irma Rombauer emptying her bank account in order to publish this work, we are happy to say that this reimagining does the original a great justice.
The Taste of Country Cooking: 30th Anniversary Edition
We come to another classic with Edna Lewis’ Taste of Country Cooking. This is a cookbook that comes filled with quintessential all-American recipes that come direct from the changing seasons and laid out in a way to satisfy those who love to harvest their own crops and make food from fresh, seasonal ingredients. You’ll find four main chapters here to suit those who live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle- The Fresh Tastes of Spring, The Great Feasts of Summer, The Harvest of Fall and The Hearty Fare of Winter. All of which match the freshly grown veg of the matching times.
The love of nature really shines through in this book, with an emphasis on hard work and tasty rewards. If you know someone who likes to grow their own produce and has a love of all things fresh and wholesome, then this is definitely the book for you.
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Cookbook
Pressure cookers and slow cookers are fast coming back into fashion. The ability to pop all of your ingredients into one pot and walk away, as they cook, is an idea few find hard to fault. Jennifer Smith’s cookbook may be a new addition to stores, but the ideas are as old as they come. Namely, creating wholesome meals that the whole family will love. If you’re looking for a cookbook that will help you wow the crowd, when hosting a dinner party, this is not it. It is, however, great if you’re looking for simple recipe ideas that you can have a little fun with and enjoy.
Ideal for those who live busy lives, while wanting to stay happy and healthy in terms of what they eat, these dinner recipes will make life easier. No more precise, formulaic measuring and exact timing- simply chuck in and go (admittedly with perhaps a few extra steps between- but you get the idea). This is also a great option for those who might be looking to tighten their belt a little, as both budget and luxury options are given within the recipes- not to mention you can easily adjust each suggestion with your own, preferred ingredients.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Despite being one of the most loved culinary destinations in the world, it’s not often that we come across chefs and home-cooks who can really nail a classic Italian dish. Luckily, this Italian cookbook makes some of the more complex aspects of Italian cooking so simple, that even a beginner can create tasty dishes, in no time.
The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking focuses on techniques and guides when it comes to handling yourself in the kitchen, with over 45 pages dedicated to bettering yourself in terms of the technical side of cooking. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a cookbook without a few recipes included, so that you can try out your new techniques. There are over 50 new recipes included in this book, which allows you to really get to grips with the basics of Italian cuisine.
Momofuku David Chang
When Momofuku first came onto the scene, it took the culinary world by storm through its use of tantalizingly tasty Asian-inspired recipes. For anyone who has dined at one of Chang’s restaurants, or for those who simply have a deep devotion to Asian cuisine, this book is an absolute must-have.
Be warned, however, this is not really a cookbook for those who are relatively new to cooking. Some of the complexities involved require a fully-stocked kitchen which you would usually gain after you’ve discovered a love of cooking. That said, if you fancy trying out your skills and are prepared to invest in a lot of hard-to-find ingredients, this is definitely a book you’ll love.
Baking: From My Home to Yours
Another great lover of the dessert, Dorie Greenspan has crafted this rather hefty recipe book with love, patience, and a desire to create great food. With over 300 recipes, Baking: From My Home to Yours has received accolades for gifting the world with simple, easy-to-do recipes that truly give a dose of homely nostalgia to anyone who takes a bite.
The real selling point of this book, of course, isn’t just the recipes, as lovely as they are. It’s the kind, yet witty and droll nature of the writing that really captures the heart of readers.
The Happy Cookbook by Steve and Kathy Doocy
The infallible husband-and-wife team that are the Doocey’s have created, between them, a book full of love, good food and good humor. The family spirit is rife, throughout this book and even includes recipes from family and friends (watch out for one by Kid Rock), who have all worked together to create a happy-go-lucky cookbook, full of tasty food and quirky anecdotes.
Of course, as the author of bestsellers The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook (with his wife, Kathy) and Tales from the Dad Side, it’s only natural that this Cookbook from Steve Doocey would be easy-to-read and hard to put down. If you’re after a recipe book that encapsulates the all-American family, this should be at the top of your list.
Mexico One Plate at a Time
For those who love their food with a little bit of color and an added array of spice, Mexico: One Plate at a Time is the ideal buy. Rick Bayless takes readers on a collective journey through his discovery of the finest ingredients, before he allows readers in to the secrets of making the simplest food from these heavenly sources. It doesn’t end there, however, as Mr. Bayless then moves on to show readers the best ways to change up their concoctions, to suit their mood, food preferences and the audience of tasters.
With each of the 120 recipes being equal parts lively and strongly rooted in the culture of which they were born, this is a great addition to anyone’s collection of cookbooks. Being that each meal can be changed up to suit your particular personality, it’s hard to see how any food lover wouldn’t love One Plate at a Time. Especially when it’s presented by someone who is clearly so passionate about their creations- and would love you to be as infatuated with food as he is.
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