Food

15 Cookbooks That Everyone Should Own

Best cookbooks

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The best cookbooks are far more than a straightforward list of recipes, combining philosophy, history, and enough sensuous description to make them a joy to read, whether you’re in the kitchen or curled up on a sofa. Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat is as much a case for purple prose as it is a home-cooking bible, and the common sense and gentle humor to be found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking make it a pleasure to flip through nearly 60 years after its original publication. And for those who are already familiar with the Italian and French traditions? In lieu of an actual holiday, transport yourself to Mexico City by way of Gabriela Cámara’s arroz verde, or conjure up an Irani cafe by sipping a homemade cup of Dishoom’s masala chai. Below, 15 genius cookbooks that everyone should own.

To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon

Hetty McKinnon’s To Asia, With Love might have single-handedly rehabilitated the word “pan-Asian” in the world of cuisine. As the Brooklyn-based chef notes at the beginning of the volume, “The recipes are Asian in origin, but modern in spirit; they are inspired by tradition, with a global interpretation.” A wonderfully personal cookbook—McKinnon even photographed the dishes herself on 35mm film—it represents an ode to her Chinese mother’s kitchen, and highlights the wealth of plant-based Asian dishes largely absent from restaurant menus in the West. Beyond including healthy, make-forever recipes, To Asia also teaches you culinary skills that I can only describe as game-changing, from making a “perfectly jammy egg” to top noodles or rice to choosing the best replacements for hard-to-find Asian produce (think Granny Smiths for green papaya).

To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart by Hetty McKinnon

$32
AMAZON

How To Eat A Peach by Diana Henry

If there is a more deliciously evocative cookbook than How To Eat A Peach, I have yet to come across it. Instead of recipes, it comprises menus inspired by different experiences, seasons, and places. (“Composing a menu is still my favorite bit of cooking,” Henry writes in the introduction. “I don’t invite people round and then wonder what I’ll cook. I come up with a menu and then consider who would like to eat it.”) Among the lyrically named chapters? “Before The Passeggiata,” a formula for a southern Italian dinner that progresses from fennel taralli to ricotta, candied lemon, and pistachio ice cream; “Smoky Days,” an homage to the first days of autumn with a feast that ends in cider jellies and brandy syllabub; “In My Own Backyard,” Henry’s take on the perfect Sunday lunch, complete with Guinness bread; and “Missing New York,” an oyster-filled gastronomical paean to Manhattan.

How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places by Diana Henry

$13
AMAZON

In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen

Samin Nosrat is among the many, many fans of Hawa Hassan and Julia Turschen’s In Bibi’s Kitchen, a joyful compilation of recipes from *bibis—*or grandmothers—across a range of African countries that “touch the Indian Ocean,” including Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar and Comoros. Each nation is afforded its own chapter, where details about its history and traditions sit alongside intimate conversations with bibis in their own kitchens. Many recipes are attributed to their creators—Ma Gehhenet’s Shiro, Ma Maria’s Xima—and accompanied by wanderlust-inducing photographs of lush mountains, rugged coastlines, and beautiful dishes. An extremely welcome (and long overdue) contribution to the problematically Eurocentric world of food publishing in the West.

In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan

$19
AMAZON

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

Apart from being genuinely useful, Mastering the Art of French Cooking also looks exceptionally pretty on a kitchen shelf—and with traditional French cuisine back in fashion at last, learning how to make a truly perfect cassoulet or hollandaise is a brilliant use of dark winter evenings.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

$23
AMAZON

A Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones

All of Anna Jones’s cookbooks are genuinely useful and beautifully photographed—stay tuned for her next volume, One, in early 2022—but A Modern Cook’s Year is her best. With more than 250 adaptable, vegetarian recipes grouped by micro-seasons (including “Start of the Year,” “Herald of Spring,” and “First Warm Days”), it’s an essential guide to making the most of seasonal British produce.

Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones

$23
AMAZON

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Less a cookbook than a full-blown gastronomical movement, Samin Nosrat’s bestseller introduces readers to the most basic culinary principals on which all good food depends—distilling her years in the kitchen at Chez Panisse into elegant chapters on salt, fat, acid and heat. It’s one of those rare volumes that genuinely lives up to the hype, and will fundamentally transform the way that you cook even the most basic of dishes. Case in point: her buttermilk roast chicken.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

$17
AMAZON

Food From Across Africa: Recipes to Share by Timothy Duval, Folayemi Brown, and Jacob Fodio Todd

Written by a trio of Londoners with family and connections across West and East Africa, Food From Across Africa is a joyful introduction to African dishes ranging from jollof rice to hibiscus tea, groundnut stew to tea bread. The majority of ingredients are available in your usual greengrocer—but it’s more than worth taking the excuse to visit the markets in Deptford and Brixton that the Groundnut team personally favor.

Food From Across Africa: Recipes to Share by Timothy Duval, Folayemi Brown, and Jacob Fodio Todd

$14
AMAZON

My Mexico City Kitchen by Gabriela Cámara and Malena Watrous

As Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat makes clear, Mexican cuisine is a masterclass in the power of acids, and Gabriela Cámara’s My Mexico City Kitchen is a colorful introduction to the magic of salsas—among countless other wonders: tostadas, agua frescas, ceviches, frijoles refritos…

My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions by Gabriela Cámara and Malena Watrous

$21
AMAZON

How To Eat by Nigella Lawson

The prose in Nigella Lawson’s revolutionary How to Eat is evocative enough that you will be tempted to read it like a novel. Fortunately, Vintage released a smaller paperback edition in honor of its 20th anniversary. Also more than worth having at your disposal: the newly released Cook, Eat, Repeat, featuring Lawson’s meditations on everything from the power of anchovies to a loving defense of “brown” food with accompanying recipes.

How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella Lawson

$34
AMAZON

Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music

In a single volume, Where Cooking Begins teaches you how to shop more effectively, pare down your kitchenware, and master six classic techniques that work with just about any produce: sautéing; pan-roasting; steaming; boiling; confiting; and slow-roasting. Oh, and it also has one of the best simple recipes for pastry dough ever, inspired by none other than Julia Child.

Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook by Carla Lalli Music

$16
AMAZON

Ottolenghi Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage

Yotam Ottolenghi is credited with introducing Londoners to the wonders of preserved lemons, za’atar, and pomegranate molasses. His latest volume, Flavor, includes vegetable-centric recipes alongside straightforward lessons about the origins of taste—from charring to aging—and how to intuitively marry flavors for spectacular dishes.

Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage

$24
AMAZON

River Cafe London by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joseph Trivelli

Released in honor of three decades of the River Cafe, River Cafe 30 is visually stunning, reprinting the 1996 New Yorker article that put the Hammersmith restaurant on the map as well as individual menus scribbled on by famous customers such as Damien Hirst. Master their pappa al pomodoro, salsa verde, and cannellini, and you will always be well fed.

River Cafe London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joseph Trivelli

$25
AMAZON

La Grotta: Ice Creams and Sorbets by Kitty Travers

In publishing La Grotta, Kitty Travers single-handedly made it acceptable for a home chef to decide to whip up a Montmorency Cherry Sherbet, Amalfi Lemon Jelly, or Leafy Blackcurrant Custard. A former pastry chef at St Johns, the frozen treat evangelist has travelled everywhere from Iceland to Brazil to study ice cream making—and while some of her flavor combinations are more unusual than your average Madagascan vanilla, just put yourself in her expert hands and follow each recipe precisely.

La Grotta: Ice Creams and Sorbets by Kitty Travers

$11
AMAZON

The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak

Like Samin Nosrat, Claire Ptak trained at Chez Panisse—translating Alice Waters’s culinary philosophy to the baking world when she launched the Violet Bakery in London (and, yes, she later made the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding cake). There are sweet treats here for every occasion: raspberry and star anise muffins for breakfast; sweet corn and roasted tomato quiche for lunch; honey and rose water madeleines for tea… The recipes for homemade preserves and jams are also a game-changer.

The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak

$17
AMAZON

Dishoom: From Bombay With Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir

Anyone who’s witnessed the queues snaking through Soho for a table at Dishoom will testify that it has an almost comically devoted following—and anyone who’s actually tried the dahl will tell you that it’s more than justified. The restaurant’s first cookbook is as much a lovingly illustrated paean to Bombay as it is a compilation of moreish recipes for everything from gunpowder potatoes to ruby chicken. If there is a more comforting beverage than their masala chai, I have yet to try it.

Dishoom: From Bombay With Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir

$17
AMAZON