As great as Pinterest and Google can be for finding recipes, they'll never replace a cookbook. There's something about a collection of recipes that you can hold (and dog-ear and splatter on) that can't be reproduced digitally. These books often have gorgeous photography, so they’re perfect to leave on your coffee table to impress guests (“Of course I've made that soufflé and it turned out just like that cover photo!”). They’re also filled with extra tips, tricks, and great stories that change how we think about food.
Below are 14 of our favorite cookbooks that are perfect for anyone, whether you're an experienced home chef or just getting started in the kitchen. Plus, the easy-to-follow, healthy recipes don’t require advanced culinary skills, exotic ingredients, or pricey equipment.
We're not saying never to use the Internet for recipes again. (After all, we have plenty of healthy ones!) But it's just as easy to grab a cookbook and flip to that marinara recipe as it is to Google it. And these books will introduce you to dishes you'd never think to search for. So shut down the laptop and get cooking!
This visually stunning cookbook is even more impressive when you learn that the blogger behind it, Izy Hossack, is only 19 years old. And she’s already gotten plenty of accolades, including being shortlisted for Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards last year. We love that this cookbook has step-by-step photos for many of the recipes, which make even the hardest recipes seem like a piece of cake. Recipes range from staples (chocolate banana French toast) to more adventurous dishes (chickpea pomegranate dip). ($29.95)
Salads can get a bad rap as being bland and boring. Banish this stereotype with 100 vegan entrée salads that won’t leave you hungry two hours later. Our favorites include the deviled kale Caesar salad and mushroom, barley, and Brussels harvest bowl. You know you’re in good hands since author Terry Hope Romero is an award-winning chef and author of multiple bestsellers focused on vegan and veggie eats. ($19.99)
Veggies and fruits are the star of this cookbook by two food photographers who share a love of gardening. The book is filled with recipes that make vegetables and fruit the centerpiece of every meal, so it’s perfect for all the vegetarians out there. In addition to 100 seasonal recipes—including blood orange bars and roasted corn tabbouleh—Bountiful includes great writing where the authors share their philosophy on sharing food, cooking fresh produce, and tending your own garden. ($35)
From the master herself, this is a great go-to cookbook for any at-home cook who wants to impress friends and family without having to go, well, 100-percent Martha Stewart. The recipes come with easy-to-follow directions and helpful photos. We’re big fans of the gumbo with chicken and flank steak with piquant parsley-garlic sauce. The cookbook emphasizes ways to spice up leftovers and uses economical ingredients to help save you a buck or two. ($24.99)
A staple in kitchens since 1930, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook is the go-to culinary guide for beginners and experienced cooks alike (and everyone in between). The book opens with great cooking resources, including tutorials on the many different cuts of meat and the best way to prepare vegetables. The 16th edition includes recipes for a range of meals and events, from Thanksgiving turkey to fish tacos for summer dinners. ($21.99)
For years, readers have flocked to the Smitten Kitchen for Deb Perelman’s meticulously tested recipes. Her debut book delivers more of the same—and was even recognized with the Julia Child First Book Award. Perelman specializes in classic recipes with a twist, like her ratatouille sandwich and cauliflower pesto. There’s no shortage of Perelman’s well-known charm peppered in notes about her family and tips for stocking your kitchen with essential culinary tools. ($35)
Who knew a sheet pan could produce so many delicious meals? Whether you’re roasting, baking, or broiling, these meals all use common ingredients, and they only look and taste like they took a ton of effort to make. Perfect for everything from entertaining to weeknight meals, this cookbook includes recipes for tasty dinners, like chicken legs with fennel and orange, and brunch dishes, like baked apricot French toast. ($15.95)
The famed Food Network chef shows that you don’t have to be an Iron Chef to make fresh and delicious meals. Each recipe calls for five fresh ingredients (plus pantry staples) and will be ready to eat after just five minutes of cooking time. The cookbook also comes with a list of essentials to stock in your pantry to make sure you’re ready to cook anytime. ($19.99)
Zach Golden is the profane best friend you never had. And what’s better than cooking easy and delicious dishes with your BFF, while laughing at his free-flowing vulgarities and witty commentary? For even more fun in the kitchen, the book is set up as a choose-your-own-adventure cookbook—if you don’t like the recipe for striped bass with lemon and mint, for example, you’re redirected to another recipe that might fill your need. ($15)
Avoid a sink full of dishes while whipping up dinner for two. Meals like balsamic braised chicken thighs and thyme-rubbed salmon can be made in one skillet in less than an hour—many are ready in less than 30 minutes—with this cookbook. We love how the recipes come with recommendations for what wine or beer to drink with each meal. ($24.95)
Famed Food Network host Ina Garten offers up classics with a twist in this cookbook, from a baked Parmesan “Risotto” to smoked salmon deviled eggs. We love all of Garten’s tips and tricks to help busy cooks avoid stress, like ditching the cheese grater for the vegetable peeler to shave cheese. For the beginner cook, Garten also includes a list of some of her favorite equipment to use in the kitchen. ($35)
Two words: Grilled. Cheese. Laura Werlin, a cheese expert and James Beard Award winner, whips up 50 different variants of this yummy culinary classic, combining different cheeses and breads with foods like bacon, guacamole, pears, and herbs. Cooking a grilled cheese seems oh-so simple until you read about the art form to perfectly melt the cheese, and select the right bread and add-on ingredients. ($16.99)
Cooking up a gourmet meal doesn’t require years of culinary expertise. Stephanie Le, creator of I Am a Food Blog, shows readers that it’s all about having clear, simple instructions and the right ingredients on hand—though some of these ingredients might require a trip to a speciality food store. Our favorites dishes include modern twists on classics like chicken and waffles and miso cod and quinoa. ($21.99)
Another culinary tome for the kitchen cabinet, this is a great go-to guide for novices. This award-winning book has been completely revised for its 10th anniversary with dozens of new recipes and cooking tutorials, all with impressively detailed instructions. Bittman’s experience—he’s a longstanding food writer for The New York Times—and simple writing style makes this book a favorite for many. ($35)
Thanks to Amazon book editor Seira Wilson for her help with this article.