Cookbooks For the Home Cook

11 Essential Cookbooks For the Home Cook

When someone walks into my kitchen, the first thing they will notice is my insane library of cookbooks; it never stops growing. Within this library, I have a wide variety of cookbooks in all different genres but there are 11 staples that I couldn’t do without and I decided it’s time to share those. 

I started my collection in 1995 (ish) and there’s no sign of stopping anytime soon. I have purged a few times now – giving away books, donating books, keeping those I know I will never part with.

You know the signs of these books…they have bent corners, smudged pages and sometimes the jacket has been tossed because when you keep reaching for a book over and over that jacket just has to go. Let’s peruse the books, shall we? These are in no specific order, by the way, and each title and photo is clickable.

1. The Flavor Bible  – This is an invaluable book that isn’t exactly a cookbook. This is a flavor reference that lists ingredients alphabetically, listing affinities for each, as well as real chef examples of their utilization. Think of this as your culinary creative handbook.

Flavor Bible

2. Cook’s Illustrated MEAT – This is a fantastic book for understanding primal cuts of meat, with techniques and recipes. You’ll never wonder again what part ‘this cut’ or ‘that cut’ is from when making beef, pork, lamb or veal.

Cooks Illustrated Meat Illustrated

3.  Around My French Table – This beautiful cookbook by Dorie Greenspan does an amazing job demystifying French cooking while keeping the spirit intact. This is all thanks to Dorie’s down to earth and relatable writing. It’s no surprise this book won a James Beard award and is a classic.

Around My French Table

4. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – A lesson in the four elements of good cooking. You may think you know these, but this book will take you through various sources of each with understandable science lessons that you can apply in your own kitchen. It also contains some recipes, how-to’s and recommendations. Knowing the why’s and how’s of the core elements of cooking will no doubt make you more confident in the kitchen.

51 AgN9m3gL. SX342 SY445

5. The Italian Baker – A comprehensive book of Italian baking, from pizza dough to rustic breads, focaccia and tarts. Carol Field teaches you the fundamentals and is perfect for both beginners and experts with recipes and techniques.

The Italian Baker by Carol Field

6. How to Cook Without a Book – This is a book that instead of giving you recipes, teaches you techniques and formulas to eliminate elaborate ingredient lists. Carol Field teaches you how to approach cooking by looking in your pantry first and to use methods taught in the book to put dinner on the table without using a recipe. For example, you’ll learn the simple ratio of a vinaigrette and how to change it up depending on the season or occasion.

How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson

7.  How to Grill Everything – Practical advice on grilling basics, this book has beautiful illustrations and straightforward instructions. I love to make pizza, and have been making them for years since my kids were little, but I bought this with the intention of learning how to expand my repertoire and improve my crusts. Bittman offers recipes from burgers to scratch-made meatloaf on the grill, along with exploring the grill’s nearly endless possibilities. Great for beginners and expert grillers alike.

How to Grill Everything by Mark Bittman

8. The Pizza Bible – Written by an 11 time champion pizza maker Tony Gemignani, this comprehensive book covers nine different regional pizza styles including Detroit, Neapolitan, Chicago, Californian, NY, St. Louis, Sicilian, New Haven and Roman. It’s very informative, detailed and will elevate your pizza from good to phenomenal. 

9. Baking with Dorie ~ Sweet, Salty & Simple – Classic, delicious baking with Dorie’s trademark straightforward and down to earth tone. This book has everything from S’mores Ice Cream to homemade English Muffins. Gorgeous photos and beautifully detailed, you’ll reach for this one again and again.

51QYa5CL3ML. SX342 SY445

10. Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast – A fantastic resource for all bakers, this book teaches the fundamentals and science behind baking. Understanding the elements of bread baking allows you to widen your skills and bake higher quality bread. 

51FhrU2QFoL. SX342 SY445

11. Mastering the Art of French Cooking I & II – This box set of both volumes from Julia Child contain almost 800 of her French recipes with detailed instructions and precise drawings. A timeless classic, these books demystify French cooking the way her t.v. show did in the 60’s.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I would love to know your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below or on social media your favorite cookbooks.

Here’s your pinnable – 

Cookbooks For the Home Cook


  • Shea

    Shea Goldstein is a writer and the voice behind Dixie Chik Cooks. She's also a recipe developer and brand ambassador. She has been published in several media platforms such as Redbook, Parade, Food Blogger Magazine and more. She has been developing recipes and writing since 2009. Shea is a Southern Belle Who's Thinking About What's For Dinner While Eating Lunch

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.