I think by now you know I loves me some cookbooks. I don’t even want to count up how many I have because then I will have to admit that I have a problem. I really enjoy looking through them though. When I am searching for something for dinner or I need an idea for baking a treat I pull out my favorites and oftentimes combine several recipes from different books. Other times I follow a recipe (almost) religiously. OK – I rarely follow a recipe to the letter. But sometimes I come close. I have a great selection of cookbooks for home cooks.
I might have an extensive cookbook library – OK, I have well over 250 cookbooks, there, I’ve written it! And I have fewer here than I did in New Jersey before we moved. I brought some with me but I’ve basically rebuilt my library since we moved into the yurt. Despite having all of those wonderful books I do have some favorites that I turn to again and again. These are the books I recommend and give as gifts when I have the occasion to do so.
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10 Great Cookbooks for Home Cooks
Cookbooks cover both baking and cooking so I will break this list down into sections. I can’t say that I have any specific criteria for why these books made my list other than I use these books and use them often. Some I have had for close to 40 years others I have only had for a month or so but already know I will use over and over.
I will also note that cookbooks can be a somewhat personal thing. That which I adore, others may hate. And that is OK. I will do my best to explain why I love these books and how long I have been using them. Since I so love to bake I will start with baking centered books – I am sure you are totally shocked! If I have reviewed the book on the blog I will link to the review so you can read more in depth thoughts if you so desire.
Best Cookbooks – Baking
When it comes to baking yeast bread like the Challah I always have on hand or homemade bagels, or sticky buns I have always used one book and one book only – Secrets of a Jewish Baker. I know I have mentioned it before in posts but I am on my third copy – I have used the book that often and that hard.
The recipes are basic and it does include quick bread and muffin recipes as well. The first time I attempted croissants I turned to this cookbook and the instructions were well written and easy to follow. I have been using this book for over 25 years.
If I am going to bake cookies I go immediately to The Perfect Cookie from America’s Test Kitchen (read my review). The truth is in the title. Any of the cookbooks from ATK are going to be wonderful because their whole raison d’etre is to test, test, test and test some more until they have well, the perfect recipe.
I have made and adapted many of the recipes in this book and it is one I have used quite often even though I have only had it for about 3 years. Owning this cookbook did lead to the purchase of another of my favorite go/to cookbooks though, The Perfect Cake also from America’s Test Kitchen (I also have The Perfect Pie but I just got it so I haven’t really used it yet. I am sure it will be just as good as these two but I can’t confirm that yet having not tried any recipes so far.)
The hubby gave me The Perfect Cake in 2018 so I have had it for a couple of years and it has been well used. It’s my first pull when I’m looking to bake any kind of cake. Many of my crumb cake recipes start with the base recipe from this cookbook.
When I need a celebration cake I turn to Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. She has a recipe that works for a showstopper of a cake or for stunning chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. I have used this recipe so many times I am embarrased about the state of the page in the book. The cake is rich, moist and delicious and the 7 minute frosting is ethereal.
This book has been with me since it came out in 2006 and I have used it as the starting point for banana cake, pound cake and inumerable bundt cakes.
Great Cookbooks – Cooking
As I make all of our bread, I also make most of our pasta. I have had the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid for over 20 years and the hubby gave me the pasta press a couple of years ago. I found a cookbook a few years ago called Making Artisan Pasta that I have used for a basic pasta recipe and for other pasta ideas.
It offers all manner of pasta types from different countries around the world. There are several that still intrigue me that I look forward to trying. I haven’t had this book very long but I have found it to be easy to use and informative.
Last year I was welcomed into the Abrams Dinner Party and this has brought me so many wonderful cookbooks to review and several of them have become immediate favorites. From Scratch by Michael Ruhlman has become one of them.
It shows basic recipes and then offers ways to build upon them to make other meals. The book also shows the delight of making a beloved recipe from scratch – start to finish. I did this with chicken noodle soup beginning with a chicken from the farm and homemade noodles. You can find my review of From Scratch and the full Chicken Noodle Soup From Scratch Recipe if you would like to read it.
I love cooking Chinese food. My favorite Chinese cookbook is out of print so I’m not going to share that here as it won’t help (If you want to try and find it, it’s called The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kou) but my second favorite is The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young. This book has a most amazing recipe for something called Tomato Beef (I’ve linked to it but I’m most embarrassed by the post. It’s one of my older ones. I really need to redo it but I haven’t bought beef in a dog’s age. I should make it with venison.)
This meal is exceptionally good. When I first read the recipe I thought, yuck but I was so wrong. It is out of this world. Whenever I want to make Chinese I turn to this book for inspiration.
As we get older the hubby and I find ourselves eating less meat. Three or four nights out of the week I end up cooking a vegetarian dinner. In the summer this is really easy as the garden is producing and I have an abundance of fresh vegetables. In the winter I rely on what I have put up in the freezer. One cookbook that I return to again and again is The Flexible Vegetarian (read my review.)
What’s great about this cookbook is the recipes are presented in such a way as to be able to make them with meat or without. This has been in my repertoire since 2017.
When it comes to basics like souffles or corn bread I depend on my Betty Crocker Cookbook. Mine is 38 years old and I received it as a wedding shower gift. It is in horrible condition with many of the pages torn from the three rings of the binder and it is full of stains.
But I love this cookbook. Some recipes are classics and this book is the one my mother had and it has been revised through the years but it’s one of those cookbooks everyone should have.
I just received Joy Bauer’s Super Food! but I already know it’s going to be a favorite. I’ve already made several recipes from the book like the Healthier Chicken and Waffles and the Gluten Free Mac and Cheese and I’m looking forward to trying so many others. (You can read my review)
There are 150 recipes that use foods that are essential to helping you live a longer life so how can you not want to add this book to your cookbook library?
Build Your Cookbook Library with Cookbooks for Home Cooks
I hope this list of 10 great cookbooks for home cooks is helpful as you work toward building and/or adding to your cookbook library. I know I am always on the lookout for new cookbooks and I doubt I will ever stop adding new ones to my collection. Ooops, I just did! The hubby gave me Foolproof Fish from America’s Test Kitchen for Christmas and it was released in late March. The place where he ordered it “lost the order” so he had to re order so it just arrived. It looks like a real winner. I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes yet but they look good. You can never have too many cookbooks, right? You can also check out my list of Celebrity Chef Cookbooks.