17 Best Cookbooks for Beginners

Best Cookbooks for Beginners

Embarking on your culinary adventure as a beginner can be both exciting and daunting. Whether you’re looking to master basic cooking techniques, explore new flavors, or simply whip up delicious meals for yourself and loved ones, having the right guidance is key. 

To help kickstart your kitchen escapades, we’ve compiled a list of the best cookbooks tailored specifically for beginners. 

From easy-to-follow recipes to handy cooking tips, these cookbooks are your essential companions on the path to becoming a confident home chef. 

Let’s dive in and discover the culinary wonders awaiting you!

Best Cookbooks for Beginners

1. “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman

“How to Cook Everything” is a comprehensive cookbook by Mark Bittman that serves as an indispensable guide for beginners. 

The book covers a wide range of recipes, from simple meals to more complex dishes, all designed to be accessible to those new to cooking. 

Bittman emphasizes the use of fresh, natural ingredients and provides clear instructions to make cooking less intimidating for novices. The book also includes tips on kitchen tools, techniques, and basic cooking principles.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook is amazing because of its simplicity and breadth. Mark Bittman has a way of making cooking approachable, breaking down recipes into easy-to-understand steps. 

It’s not just about following recipes; it’s about understanding the process of cooking, which empowers beginners to experiment and learn. The book’s emphasis on flexibility and experimentation encourages new cooks to become comfortable in the kitchen and adapt recipes to their own tastes and needs.

2. “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer

“The Joy of Cooking” has been a beloved kitchen classic since its original publication in 1931, with Irma S. Rombauer’s friendly voice guiding novices through the culinary basics. 

Updated editions of the book have continued to offer comprehensive coverage of American cooking, along with international dishes, baking, and preservation techniques. 

Each section is meticulously organized, making it easy for beginners to find what they need, and the recipes are both classic and innovative, catering to a wide range of tastes and dietary needs.

What makes it amazing?

What sets “The Joy of Cooking” apart is its timeless appeal and adaptability. The book not only teaches how to cook but also provides a deep understanding of ingredients and cooking techniques, making it a fundamental resource that beginners can grow with over time. 

Its enduring popularity is a testament to its effectiveness in demystifying the kitchen for generations of home cooks, making it a staple in households worldwide.

3. “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat

In “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” Samin Nosrat focuses on mastering the four elements of good cooking: salt, fat, acid, and heat. This book is less about following recipes and more about understanding how these elements interact to create delicious meals. 

Nosrat’s engaging writing style and Wendy MacNaughton’s vibrant illustrations make the learning process enjoyable and accessible. The book also includes essential recipes and tips that help beginners apply these principles to their cooking.

What makes it amazing?

Nosrat’s approach is revolutionary in its simplicity and effectiveness. By teaching the fundamental principles that underpin all cooking, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” empowers beginners to intuitively use ingredients and techniques to enhance the flavor and texture of their dishes. 

This book transforms novices into confident cooks who can improvise and adapt recipes to their own tastes, making it an invaluable resource for anyone looking to build a solid foundation in the kitchen.

4. “The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen

“The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” is specifically designed for smaller households, making it perfect for beginners who are cooking for themselves or with a partner. This book from America’s Test Kitchen includes 650 recipes that cover everything from breakfast to dinner and desserts, all perfectly scaled to serve two. 

It also offers practical advice on how to shop for and utilize ingredients efficiently, minimizing waste. The recipes are tested rigorously to ensure they work every time, providing a fail-safe guide for those new to cooking.

What makes it amazing?

The focus on cooking for two is what makes this cookbook stand out. It addresses the unique challenges of smaller-scale cooking, making it easier for beginners to manage portions and ingredients without overwhelming them. 

The book’s thorough testing process means that each recipe is reliable and delicious, which builds confidence in novice cooks. Additionally, the wide variety of recipes ensures that readers can explore different cuisines and techniques at their own pace.

5. “The Can’t Cook Book” by Jessica Seinfeld

“The Can’t Cook Book” by Jessica Seinfeld is the ultimate guide for those who feel completely lost in the kitchen. It’s filled with simple, straightforward recipes that are designed to be foolproof for absolute beginners. 

Seinfeld emphasizes the basics, from how to boil water to preparing a full meal, and the book is peppered with encouraging tips and humorous reassurances that cooking mistakes are just part of the learning process. The recipes are quick, requiring minimal ingredients and steps, making them perfect for busy individuals or those hesitant to dive into cooking.

What makes it amazing?

What makes “The Can’t Cook Book” amazing is its approachability and sense of humor. It’s crafted to remove the fear and frustration from cooking, presenting it as an attainable skill rather than a daunting task. 

The book’s design, with its clear instructions and visual aids, helps beginners visualize the process and achieve success with each recipe. It’s not just a cookbook; it’s a confidence builder for anyone who has ever doubted their abilities in the kitchen.

6. “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day” by Leanne Brown

“Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day” is a game-changing cookbook for beginners, especially those on a tight budget. Leanne Brown wrote this book with the aim of showing that eating well does not have to be expensive. 

The recipes are designed to be delicious, nutritious, and affordable, making healthy eating accessible to everyone. Brown provides practical tips on shopping, meal planning, and making the most out of ingredients, which is particularly useful for those who are new to cooking and budgeting.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook is amazing for its focus on affordable nutrition, proving that a limited budget does not mean one has to compromise on the quality or taste of food. The creative recipes encourage readers to use ingredients in innovative ways, reducing waste and saving money. 

Additionally, the book’s social mission, to support people living on food stamps in the US, adds a layer of significance, making it not just a guide to cooking but also a tool for social change.

7. “5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food” by Jamie Oliver

“5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food” by Jamie Oliver is a testament to the idea that delicious meals don’t need to be complicated. This cookbook is perfect for beginners because it simplifies cooking down to five key ingredients per recipe, making shopping and cooking less daunting. 

The recipes cover a wide range of meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even desserts. 

Jamie Oliver’s enthusiastic approach to cooking and eating shines through, making this book a fun and practical guide to quick and easy home cooking.

What makes it amazing?

The simplicity of “5 Ingredients” is what makes it truly amazing. It demystifies cooking by showing that with just a few ingredients, anyone can make delicious, healthy meals. 

This approach not only makes cooking more accessible to beginners but also helps to build confidence in the kitchen. Jamie Oliver’s knack for creating flavorful and satisfying dishes with minimal components is inspiring, encouraging new cooks to experiment with their creations.

8. “The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods” by Erin Gleeson

“The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods” is a visually stunning cookbook that combines simple vegetarian recipes with beautiful watercolor illustrations and photography. 

Erin Gleeson shares her journey of moving from New York City to a cabin in the woods and how it inspired her to create easy, yet delicious vegetarian meals. 

The recipes are straightforward, requiring just a few ingredients, and the book emphasizes the beauty and simplicity of natural foods.

What makes it amazing?

What sets “The Forest Feast” apart is its artistic presentation, which makes cooking feel like a creative and enjoyable endeavor. The blend of visual art and culinary arts inspires readers to appreciate the aesthetics of food and the process of meal preparation. 

This cookbook is not just about following recipes; it’s about experiencing the joy of cooking and the beauty of simple, wholesome ingredients. It’s particularly appealing to those who are interested in vegetarian cooking and looking for inspiration to make their meals both easy and beautiful.

9. “The Science of Good Cooking” by Cook’s Illustrated

“The Science of Good Cooking” breaks down the science behind why recipes work, offering beginners a comprehensive guide to understanding the principles of cooking. 

This book from the experts at Cook’s Illustrated explains the science of cooking in an accessible way, providing insights into how ingredients interact and how cooking techniques affect the outcome of a dish. 

Each of the 50 core principles is accompanied by recipes that illustrate these concepts in action, making it a practical and educational resource for new cooks.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook is amazing because it empowers beginners with the knowledge to not just follow recipes, but to understand them. By learning the ‘why’ behind cooking techniques and ingredient functions, readers can become more adaptable and creative cooks. 

The book’s emphasis on science-based cooking techniques ensures that readers can achieve consistent and delicious results. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of cooking and to improve their skills through a methodical approach.

10. “One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two” by Carla Snyder

“One Pan, Two Plates” offers a collection of weeknight meals for two that can be made using a single pan, simplifying the cooking and cleaning process. Carla Snyder focuses on efficiency and flavor, providing recipes that are both easy to prepare and delicious. 

The book covers a wide range of cuisines, offering something for every palate, and includes vegetarian options. Each recipe is designed to be a complete meal, making dinner time a breeze for beginners and busy individuals alike.

What makes it amazing?

The one-pan approach to cooking is what makes this cookbook stand out, especially for beginners. It minimizes the intimidation factor of cooking and cleaning, making the kitchen a less daunting place. 

The recipes are designed to be quick and easy, perfect for weeknights, yet they do not compromise on taste or nutrition. 

This cookbook is ideal for those looking to prepare home-cooked meals without the fuss, making it a great starter cookbook for couples or small households.

11. “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison

“Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” is a comprehensive guide to vegetarian cuisine, renowned for its breadth and depth. Deborah Madison presents a wide array of recipes that span from simple dishes to more elaborate meals, making it accessible to cooks of all skill levels, including beginners. 

The book covers everything from appetizers to desserts, with a focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients. 

Madison also provides valuable information on how to select, store, and prepare vegetables, making it a great resource for anyone looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook is amazing for its encyclopedic coverage of vegetarian cooking, offering over 800 recipes that showcase the diversity and deliciousness of plant-based cuisine. 

It’s not just a collection of recipes; it’s an educational tool that teaches readers about the ingredients and techniques that make vegetarian food shine. 

Whether you’re a seasoned vegetarian or just looking to expand your culinary horizons, this book provides the inspiration and guidance needed to explore the vast world of vegetarian cooking.

12. “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl” by Ree Drummond

In “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” Ree Drummond shares her transition from city life to country living through heartwarming stories and delicious recipes. This cookbook is filled with simple, scrumptious dishes that are perfect for beginners, from comfort foods to cowboy-approved meals. 

Drummond’s step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, and her personal anecdotes add a unique charm to the cooking experience. The book includes full-color photographs of each dish, helping novices to visualize the final product.

What makes it amazing?

Ree Drummond’s approachable style and focus on hearty, family-friendly meals make this cookbook a favorite among beginners. The recipes are designed to be uncomplicated, using readily available ingredients, which is ideal for those just starting out in the kitchen. 

Additionally, the blend of storytelling and cooking provides not just culinary instruction but also entertainment, making “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” a delightful read as well as a practical guide to everyday cooking.

13. “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust” by Ina Garten

In “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof,” Ina Garten offers a collection of recipes that are both elegant and accessible, ensuring success in the kitchen for cooks of all levels. 

Garten’s philosophy is that cooking should be enjoyable, and her recipes are designed to be straightforward and reliable, with clear instructions and tips for making each dish perfect. 

The book includes beautiful photographs and ranges from appetizers and main courses to desserts, all characterized by Garten’s signature sophisticated yet simple style.

What makes it amazing?

What makes this cookbook amazing is Ina Garten’s ability to demystify gourmet cooking, making it achievable for beginners. Her focus on quality ingredients and simple techniques results in dishes that are both impressive and doable. 

“Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” not only provides recipes but also instills confidence in home cooks, encouraging them to tackle new culinary challenges with the assurance that the results will be delightful.

14. “Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs” by Julia Turshen

“Small Victories” is a celebration of the little wins in the kitchen that make cooking such a rewarding experience. Julia Turshen shares not just recipes but also the invaluable lessons and tips she’s learned throughout her culinary career. 

This book is perfect for beginners, as it focuses on building skills through achievable dishes, with each recipe featuring a “small victory” – a simple technique or tip that makes a big difference in the outcome of the meal. 

Turshen’s encouraging voice and practical advice make this book a valuable companion for anyone looking to become more confident in the kitchen.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook stands out for its empowering approach to cooking. Julia Turshen emphasizes the joy of cooking and the importance of learning from mistakes, making the process less intimidating for novices. The concept of “small victories” is a brilliant way to celebrate progress and build culinary skills incrementally. 

“Small Victories” is more than just a cookbook; it’s a source of inspiration and encouragement for those who are just starting to explore the world of cooking.

15. “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan

“Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” is a masterpiece of Italian cuisine, bringing the richness and simplicity of Italy’s culinary tradition to the home cook. 

Marcella Hazan’s authoritative guide combines two of her previous works, providing a comprehensive collection of recipes ranging from the basic to the sophisticated. 

Hazan’s detailed instructions ensure that even beginners can prepare authentic Italian dishes. The book also delves into the philosophy and techniques behind Italian cooking, offering readers a deeper understanding of the cuisine.

What makes it amazing?

Marcella Hazan’s cookbook is amazing for its meticulous approach to Italian cooking, presenting it in a way that is accessible and engaging for beginners. Her emphasis on the importance of quality ingredients and simplicity in cooking captures the essence of Italian cuisine. 

Hazan’s recipes are not just instructions but invitations to explore Italian culture and traditions through food. “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” is an indispensable resource for anyone wishing to master the art of Italian cooking, making it a timeless addition to any kitchen library.

16. “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by Ken Forkish

“Flour Water Salt Yeast” focuses on the art and science of baking bread and pizza, making it an excellent resource for beginners interested in these crafts. 

Ken Forkish demystifies the process, teaching readers how to make a variety of bread from scratch using the titular four ingredients. 

The book is structured around step-by-step lessons that progress from simple to more complex recipes, supported by detailed instructions and photographs. Forkish’s passion for baking shines through, inspiring readers to explore the satisfying process of bread making.

What makes it amazing?

This cookbook is remarkable for its clear, in-depth exploration of bread making, emphasizing the importance of technique, timing, and ingredient quality. 

Forkish’s methodical approach not only teaches readers how to bake bread but also helps them understand the why behind each step, leading to better, more consistent results. 

The book’s focus on artisanal techniques applicable in a home kitchen environment makes it a gateway to the world of professional baking for novices, offering a solid foundation in the craft of bread making.

17. “Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat” by Chrissy Teigen

“Cravings” offers a collection of mouthwatering recipes that reflect Chrissy Teigen’s unapologetic love for flavorful, hearty meals. This cookbook blends the authenticity of home cooking with the excitement of global cuisine, resulting in dishes that are both accessible and adventurous. 

Teigen’s witty commentary and personal stories add a unique, relatable touch to the recipes, making the cooking experience enjoyable and engaging. 

The book includes a wide range of dishes, from comfort foods to innovative twists on classics, catering to a variety of tastes and skill levels.

What makes it amazing?

What makes “Cravings” amazing is its blend of simplicity, personality, and flavor. Teigen’s approachable style encourages even the most inexperienced cooks to try their hand at cooking delicious, satisfying meals. 

The recipes are designed to be foolproof and flexible, accommodating different preferences and skill levels. Moreover, the book’s vibrant photography and Teigen’s engaging narrative make it as enjoyable to read as it is to cook from, offering inspiration and entertainment in equal measure.

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