The Five Best Cookbooks for Beginners

Whether you’re an old master in the kitchen or trying to cook from home more often, a good cookbook that teaches you the basics – and introduces you to some great recipes – can be extremely valuable. This week we’ll be taking a look at the top 5 based on your nominations.

Earlier this week, we asked you which cookbooks you think are the best , especially for beginners. Whether they were safe for newcomers to the kitchen, tomes everyone should have had, or simply chock-full of good recipes and topical advice, you had plenty of suggestions. However, we only have room for the top five, and here they are, in no particular order:

I’m here for food , Alton Brown

Alton Brown is a man who needs no introduction, especially for those of us who work in the home kitchen trying to capture the essence of great cooking without spending too much time, energy or money in the kitchen. His recipes are smart, his explanations are based on science and good logic, and his goal is to help people get into the kitchen and prepare great food while learning everything about what they are doing in the process. All of this shines through in I’m Just Here For Food , one of his early books (and full disclosure, sitting on my desk right now). Altona doesn’t just teach you how to cook – he teaches you how cooking works . … He explains the principles of frying, baking, baking, grilling and more, while showing you how to prepare some of your favorite foods – and yours. He explains how solids can behave like liquids, why fried foods don’t always have to be greasy, how baked goods get fluffy, etc. If you’re interested not only in learning how to cook, but also in the science behind cooking is a must in your kitchen. You can get the hardcover book on Amazon for $ 26 or the Kindle version for $ 20 .

Those of you who nominated “ I’m Just Here” for “Food” similarly praised Elton Brown for popularizing the entire “cooking as a science” movement and for delivering good food and great recipes to people in an understandable and accessible way. his show ” Good Food”. , and his book. You praised him for being more than a cookbook – for being a teaching tome that also shows you how food is prepared, what flavors go together, how you can develop flavors, and how you can find great simple examples that you can follow at home, no matter what your culinary skill level is. Read more in the nominations threads here , here and here .

How to Cook Everything , Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is available in many forms – a cookbook, a website, and even a mobile app for iOS devices . All versions and flavors are filled with great recipes, as well as vivid photographs and illustrations that show you how to prepare the dishes featured in the book. While there are additional books on how to cook everything , including one that covers basic cooking principles and others that focus on faster meals, the original book does show you how to cook anything – not because that there are special recipes in it, but because the recipes that he uses in the book are so instructive that once you understand how they work, you can cook almost anything. Like most of the books here, Bittman doesn’t just explain how to cook certain recipes, but how to cook and how cooking works. You will learn the techniques required to prepare each of the dishes it describes, which is endlessly beneficial for newcomers to the kitchen – so if you are worried that making the stew is too difficult for you, you will learn to play dice. First, how to simmer, what constitutes a slow fire, and so on, while you cook something that will hopefully be enjoyed by the audience at the dinner table. Best of all, Bittman includes variations and variations for each dish and technique, so you can tweak them and customize the flavors to suit your personal tastes. You can get a copy on Amazon for $ 20 in both hardcover and Kindle versions .

Those of you who were nominated for How to Cook Everything praised him for changing the way you cook. Some of you have mentioned that this is the cookbook you most often refer to today, others have noted that this is what took you from cooking in the instructions boxes on the back to real, healthy food for you and your families. Many of you have praised Bittman’s writing style, which is accessible to aspiring chefs and does not get lost in the complex culinary jargon that you will have to search for in order to write something in a book. Some of you pointed out that in the book you will find recipes that are probably familiar to you – which is good, as you will quickly learn to internalize some of your favorite foods and learn how to improve them. you may already know how to do this. You can read more reviews in this nominations thread , or this one , or this one , or even this one here .

New cookbook The Better Homes and Gardens

The new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is one of those books that may already be on your bookshelf. It has been in print since 1930 and is a household item in many, many kitchens. Chances are, if you don’t have one, your parents or grandparents just might. The book starts you off with the basics like explaining the different cuts of meat, the different edible parts of vegetables and how to best cook them, and more, all with many great recipes and guides that have been continually updated over the years (and more). … last 15 episodes) with modern cooking techniques and recipes that cover everything from Thanksgiving turkey to amazing fish tacos. Even the binding of a book – thick plastic bound paper with a comb ring – is designed to stay with you in the kitchen while you cook. There are tons of photos to inspire you and ideas on how to personalize these dishes for you and your family. If you want a copy, you can get the most recent edition on Amazon for $ 16 .

Those of you who have nominated your new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook praised it for being a comprehensive practical cooking guide for beginners and a reference tome for people who have been in the kitchen for a while and want inspiration – or want to know how to cook make something new. Some of you mentioned that it is great at revealing the basics, such as the different types of pasta and sauces that go with it, the different cuts of meat from different animals, how they are prepared (or preserved), and more. You can find out more in the thread of his nominations here or here .

The Joy of Cooking , Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker

The Joy of Cooking is another one of those original cookbooks likely to be in everyone’s kitchen, and if it’s not in yours, we can guarantee it’s in your parents ‘and grandparents’ kitchens. The book, first published (or self-published) in 1931, has since become a must-have cookbook for both domestic and professional chefs. You’ll find it on shelves just about everywhere, and while it’s a well-known text, you can even browse its website or download the iOS app if you prefer more digital cookbooks. The book is almost an encyclopedic tome of recipes and information for anyone looking to stock up on and prepare a kitchen or learn how to cook anything in the sun. There are recipes old and new, as well as chapters on what exactly are pantry “staples”, or how canning and preserving meat works, and more. It’s worth noting that this is also a bit old school cookbook – there are many narratives, but it is not to tell you a story or teach you the principles of cooking. It’s kind of like a tutorial that you can always refer to later if you want to learn how to cook something or need a basic recipe to work with. If you want a copy, the 75th Anniversary Edition is available on Amazon for $ 24 .

In your nomination thread (which, for full disclosure, I started because I also have this book on my desk), many of you reiterated the fact that it is a must for almost any kitchen and for chefs of all skill levels. Some of you pointed out that this might be too advanced for novice chefs or too encyclopedic for newbies who are just learning in the kitchen, but others of you pointed out that even if it’s a little over the heads of some people, it will show them the right way to cook tons of dishes. and give them a clear focus on their kitchen and all the possibilities in it. Many of you have shared which version or edition of The Joy of Cooking you personally prefer, be it the 75th anniversary edition, which is now widely available, or the 1991 edition, which has been largely rewritten. The history of the book itself is worth reading right after you check out the nomination thread here .

The Science of Good Cooking , editors America’s Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby, Ph.D.

The Cooks Illustrated in The Science of Good Cuisine is another book that not only teaches you how to cook anything, it teaches you about cooking, how to cook well, and the science behind how cooking works. You will learn all about how high temperatures contribute to flavor development, learn the mechanisms behind slow cooking methods such as sautéing, and dispel cooking myths (such as “juicing, for example”) in the process. There are also many recipes, each tested and validated by the America’s Test Kitchen team, and each illustrates a specific point in the book. As you go through every important point about nutritional science (and why you should care about it in the context of making great food), you will have loads of recipes that you can use to test your new skills. cook amazing food. The book also contains hundreds of classic cooking illustrated recipes, so even if you are already familiar with the processes of preparing good food, you can use the book as a reference. In the past, we’ve even posted a number of videos and tutorials from the book here on Lifehacker. If you need a copy, you can get it from Amazon on Kindle or hardcover for $ 20 .

Those of you who nominated The Science of Good Cooking (full disclosure, this was another nomination of mine, because this book is also on my table) praised her for not only teaching you recipes, but teaching you what makes food good and how to make good food, whatever you cook. This is not the easiest cookbook, but if you are interested in culinary chemistry and the science behind making delicious dishes this is a must. Those of you who supported his nomination noted that it is great for this very reason, and that the more you use it, the more familiar you are with cooking in general. Read more in the nomination thread here .

Now that you’ve seen the top 5, it’s time to put them to a general vote to pick the community favorite:

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Honorable mentions

Honorable mentions this week are for The Betty Crocker Cookbook ($ 15) , an excellent reference with over 1,500 recipes that range from simple, easy-to-make recipes with ingredients you can find anywhere to gourmet, super-impressive dishes that will amaze you at dinner. party or cook a gala dinner. There are even chapters on canning, marinating, and storing your own foods, and unlike older versions of the book, recipes don’t require you to go out and buy a bunch of prepackaged foods in order to cook them. Check out the nominations thread here or this one here to find out more .

Also worth mentioning is The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook ($ 20) , a book I would nominate myself (but I can’t nominate all of my cookbooks) because it brings together some of the best recipes, all human-tested and verified. in Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen, one thick guide to help you cook just about anything you want. Need to cook Thanksgiving dinner? This book will show you. Would you like a light weekday casserole or a pasta casserole that you can make in half an hour, of course there is one too. This is extremely useful, and a beautiful hardcover binding costs about $ 20.

Do you have anything to say about one of the applicants? Want to substantiate your personal favorite even if it wasn’t on the list? Remember, the Top 5 is based on your most popular nominations from the Call for Applicants thread earlier this week . Don’t just complain about the top 5, let us know which option you prefer and justify it in the discussions below.


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