If your favorite cookbook doesn’t appear on this list – we apologize in advance. It’s a tough decision choosing the 25 best cookbooks of all time and there was some heated debate over some of the entries.
However, we are absolutely certain that a chef with these 25 books to call on would be able to make amazing meals for their family every single day of their lives. These are definitive texts that make cooking a joy and meal times incredible.
They are presented in no particular order because they’re all awesome.
25Thai Food by David Thompson
This is a super book that probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves here in the U.S. though it’s widely known in Europe.
If you want to cook amazing Thai food, and you should, this is the ultimate guide to everything in Thai cookery. We also recommend his Thai Street Food book if you love this one.
24How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
2,000 recipes isn’t quite everything but it’s a step in the right direction. Mark Bittman’s all about making cooking simple and we love his approach. If you’re a complete novice in the kitchen – you need this book.
23The Joy Of Cooking by Irma S Rombauer at al.
Three authors and it’s been in print since 1930! It’s fair to say that The Joy of Cooking’s longevity is all because of its complete love of food. It currently contains 4,000 recipes and over 500 brand new recipes for the latest edition! You simply can’t go wrong with this.
22Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
More than just an exploration of Israeli food; this is about the food created when cultures intermingle and sometimes clash. 120 recipes of exceptionally interesting food. You’ll enjoy reading this as much as you do making the recipes.
21Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
You can’t talk cookbooks without at least nodding toward dessert recipes. In Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, the whole focus on baked desserts and we love each and every one of them and we think you will too.
20The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis
This may be the first ever Southern Food cookbook and it was released a long time before the current trend for this cuisine. Edna Lewis grew up in a farming community of freed slaves and her recipes are fine tuned to reflect the passing of the seasons. They’re truly special.
19El Bulli: 1998 – 2002 by Ferran Adria and Juli Soler
You are only going to be buying this one if you have very deep pockets but it’s impossible not to mention the cookbook behind what was one of the world’s greatest ever restaurant ventures. El Bulli was an institution that defied convention and Ferran Adria’s work is innovative and sublime. There’s not a chef on earth that doesn’t wish, at least a little, that they cooked like this.
18La Technique by Jacques Pepin
I can be a bit of a dunce sometimes and whenever there’s something I struggle with in the kitchen; I turn to La Technique. It’s an illustrated idiot’s guide that absolutely explains every last thing you need to know in the easiest way possible.
17The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini by Cara Mangini
Vegetables are the coming trend in food but they can be immensely improved by the right preparation and cooking. Many modern consumers were never taught to do this and Cara Mangini is ready to be by your side and make everything green!
16Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point and Thomas Keller
If you don’t want a bland recipe book with nothing to hold your attention; Ma Gastronomie might have been written for you. One of France’s greatest chefs, eaters and drinkers in the shape of Fernand Point has 200 recipes and endless silly stories to share in this masterwork.
15Roast Chicken And Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson
This was voted the most useful cookbook in the world by Simon’s peers and while we’re not sure it’s the number one best ever – it’s entertaining and the recipes are both simple and elegant. Simon knows food and it shows in every word. We love working from this cookbook.
14White Heat By Marco Pierre White
The rock and roll rebel of cuisine has often inflamed tempers and created a ruckus out of nothing but at his best, as in White Heat, Marco Pierre is nothing short of sublimely talented. If you want your food to sing you need this superbly accessible book today.
13Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison
Deborah Madison did what was always though to be impossible; she turned vegetarian food from something considered niche and slightly freaky into a massive mainstream hit. She knows her food and celebrates the joy of the vegetable on the plate. There’s no need for meat when the food’s this good is her basic argument and we’re sold. We’re not giving up meat, but we do eat less of it thanks to Deborah.
12Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan
Some will argue that this is too much a text for the professional chef to be included on our list; we argue that those people are dead wrong. No, it’s not the simplest read and we wouldn’t pick it for a first-time chef but if you’ve been cooking for a year or two – this is the best way to learn Japanese food ever and you will not get lost while using it.
11Mexico – One Plate At A Time by Rick Bayless
It’s not American food without a nod to Mexico, right? We have skirted around the idea of solid Tex-Mex and gone with a very authentic and solid introduction to the cuisine of our good neighbours to the south. The attention to detail always impresses us and we feel wiser for reading Rick’s words.
10The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Fannie Merrit Farmer (and revised by Marion Cunningham)
This was the cookbook which taught America how to use measurements in recipes. Back in 1896 people measured with whatever was handy until Fannie came along and standardized things. Even today her recipes are highly regarded, thanks in no small part to Marion Cunningham who has completely revised and rejuvenated the original work.
9Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
Before 1961, no-one cooked French food at home in America. Then Julia Child released this incredible book and nothing was ever the same again. Americans fell in love with great French meals and gourmet cookery. The rest, as they say, was history and the national palate has remained broad and interesting to this very day.
8The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash
We’d assert that this is the only “twofer” on this list. It’s both an incredible recipe book but also an instructional guide on how to grow and prepare your own food from scratch. So many Americans could get so much pleasure from having their own garden that Marian Morash’s work is essential reading.
7The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
Marion is the only person to make our list twice. Once as an editor and once as an author. In this wonderful book she brings to life the most important meal of the day – breakfast and makes it thoroughly delicious and exciting. 288 recipes gives you nearly a year of early morning treats and every single one is a gem!
6The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrne
It has a hilarious yesteryear vibe to it but for our money, there is no better cake maker in the world than Anne Byrne. She knows how to take a few simple ingredients and create something so special that people will be talking about it weeks after the last crumb has been devoured. What more could you ask for?
5An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
This one’s a little unusual but we think in times of economic uncertainty that you ought to be looking to get the most bang for your buck out of your food budget. Tamar Adler is an expert in turning leftovers into lunches that you’d be proud to serve to The President of the United States. We can’t believe how helpful this book is.
4Dinner: Changing The Game by Melissa Clark
Melissa may be one of the busiest creators in the world. She’s always releasing new recipes and she writes about food too in her newspaper column. Despite this, she’s also really good and there’s not a single miss in this wonderful collection of recipes specifically designed for today’s busy lifestyles to deliver a great cooked dinner with no fuss at all.
3James Beard’s American Cookery by James Beard
It would be completely remiss of us to fail to include the man known as “The Father of American Cuisine”. He was the first person to set out the case that America really does have its own food culture and its not one borrowed from the colonizing nations. You can’t fail to enjoy his words or his food.
2Betty Crocker’s Cook Book For Boys And Girls by Betty Crocker
As you probably know Betty Crocker is a marketing creation and no boys or girls are cooked in this book. However, this book from 1957 is the ultimate guide to creating child friendly meals with nothing but real wholesome ingredients. You’re not going to find a single chicken nugget or hamburger in sight. Thank goodness.
1The Pleasures Of Cooking For One by Judith Jones
We said at the beginning this list wasn’t in order and we wanted to emphasize that with a book with “one” in the title to finish. Judith Jones is most famous for her editorial prowess but we’d argue that she also put together one of the finest cookbooks of all time and focused on something so many cookbooks ignore; the necessity of sometimes eating alone. You won’t feel alone with Judith to guide you to something tasty.
So, that’s our Best 25 cookbooks ever. What did you think?
Did we leave something out that should have been included? Have you discovered something amazing? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.