The 25 Best Cookbooks Everyone Should Own
From classic French cuisine to Southeast Asian homecooking, and healthy real food and clean eating diets to beginner basics, this collection of the 25 Best Cookbooks showcases the most delicious and helpful cookbooks that everyone should own. Whether you want to learn how to make healthy food taste great, teach yourself kitchen fundamentals, or learn how to cook a new global cuisine, these are the best cookbooks to help you reach all your foodie goals!
After being a food journalist for nearly a decade, and writing both the Atlanta Chef’s Table cookbook and my self-published Superfood Green Smoothies e-book, you could say I have a few opinions about food.
While on the whole I lean towards a real food, anti-inflammatory diet most days, you know that here on R+R we’re big fans of the 80-20 rule and striking the balance between good and good for you. And my restaurant background means flavor always comes first!
Obviously, we have hundreds of recipes on this blog that prove healthy food can taste great, but don’t forget about all of the amazing cookbooks on actual bookshelves that do the same.
In this digital age of food blogs and Pinterest and #instafood, it’s easy to head straight to the interwebs when you need a recipe, but sometimes nothing beats an old school book.
To wit, we’ve rounded up the best cookbooks (in my humble opinion), split into three categories: Healthy, Classic and Ethnic (for lack of a better word).
While the cookbooks on the ‘Healthy’ category list lean towards clean eating and certain diets like paleo, vegan and the anti-inflammatory diet, some of the cookbooks in the ‘Classic’ and ‘Ethnic’ categories definitely have roots in more indulgent culinary traditions, like classic French cuisine or Vietnamese home cooking.
As a balanced foodie, I believe all of these inspiring cookbooks have a place on the shelf. Many of these picks will teach you foundational techniques and concepts you can apply to improve your kitchen know-how and cooking skills, while others will introduce you to a whole new world of flavors and ingredients.
Part of the fun of cooking is making a recipe your own, so you can always take a classic dish, add a few savvy swaps to up the health ante a bit and – walah! – you’ve got yourself a unique, healthy and delicious creation.
What will be the next essential cookbook on your shelf?
The Best Healthy Cookbooks
If you’re here on Root + Revel, then you’re likely a fellow health nut. Here are some of the best cookbooks for health conscious folks who want to eat good-for-you foods, without sacrificing flavor!
1) Superfood Series
The Superfood Series of cookbooks by Julie Morris will teach you how to up the nutrient density of everything you make, and I mean everything! She has an entire collection of books based on eating whole, plant-based foods for optimal health including Superfood Kitchen, Superfood Soups, Superfood Snacks, Superfood Smoothies and Superfood Juices.
2) The Whole30 Cookbook
For the uninitiated, Whole30 is a food program similar to an elimination diet (it’s also very similar to the Paleo diet). I completed a SUPER SUCCESSFUL Whole30 program in January 2016, and became obsessed with learning from Melissa Hartwig immediately upon reading her book It Starts With Food, easily one of the most eye-opening and life-changing books I’ve read. Now with The Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond, you’ll find satisfying meals to keep you feeling vibrant and nourished.
3) Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy
Michelle Babb is a registered dietitian and author of two of my favorite books on the anti-inflammatory diet, Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy: 75 Recipes and Nutrition Plan and her newest book, Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain. I love the way Michelle’s unique, holistic perspective using nutritional therapies, and yet an anti-diet approach, empowers us to heal ourselves naturally. She’s a woman after my own heart.
4) The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt of Autoimmunewellness.com, is a comprehensive guide to living healthfully with autoimmune disease. As someone who manages Leaky Gut and PCOS, this book broadened my horizons, highlighting steps I can take both in and outside the kitchen to support my health and recovery and live my most vibrant life.
5) Practical Paleo
Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and Whole-Foods Lifestyle is a beast in the best way–it’s the most comprehensive healthy eating guide and cookbook I’ve ever read…EVER. And yet, I devoured it in one sitting. It was that good! Diane promotes listening to your body and doing what’s right for your specific, individual needs. Practical Paleo is jam-packed with over 120 easy recipes, all with special notes about common food allergens including nightshades and FODMAPs. Meal plans are also included that are designed to support all kinds of different health conditions.
6) The Love and Lemons Cookbook
If you’re a farmer’s market frequenter, The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking by Jeanine Donofrio is for you! Organized by ingredient, you’ll learn how to use what you have on hand to create veggie-forward recipes that are anything but boring.
7) The New Nourishing
The New Nourishing: Delicious Plant-Based Comfort Food to Feed Body and Soul by Leah Vanderveldt is beyond beautiful! Leah really knows her stuff–certified in Culinary Nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, Leah puts joy into plant-based cooking with over 100 easy and inventive recipes that redefine the boundaries for nourishing food. Think big hearty bowls packed full of goodness and rich in flavor–don’t miss the buffalo cauliflower & chickpea bowl and the vegetable paella!
8) Everyday Detox
If you’re interested in a healthy guide to detoxing naturally, all year round without dieting, juice fasting, or calorie counting – this cookbook is for you. Everyday Detox: 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and Lose Weight Naturally by blogger and nutritionist Megan Gilmore from Detoxinista.com delivers crowd-pleasing recipes that also stave off feelings of deprivation, making this a must-have in any healthy eater’s cookbook arsenal.
9) The Healing Kitchen
The Healing Kitchen: 175+ Quick & Easy Paleo Recipes to Help You Thrive by Sarah Ballantyne and Alaena Haber features over 175 mouthwatering recipes that make eating healthful foods easy enough to fit even into the busiest of lives. Every meal is budget-conscious, requires minimal time commitment, uses no special equipment, and needs no hard-to-find ingredients. Can I get an Amen?!
10) The Oh She Glows Cookbook
The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out by Angela Liddon – the inventive blogger behind the widely popular vegan site OhSheGlows.com – is a must-have regrdless of if you are a vegan, “vegan-curious,” or you simply want to eat delicious food that just happens to also be healthy and plant-based. It also includes many allergy-friendly recipes, with more than 90 gluten-free recipes and many recipes free of soy, nuts, sugar, and grains. So it will hit the mark regardless of your dietary needs and preferences.
11) The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook
The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook: 120+ Everyday Recipes for the Healthy Home Cook by Laura Lea Goldberg is complete with over 120 healthy, approachable, comforting, make-ahead recipes. One of the things I admire most about Laura Lea is her balanced approach to food (and life!)–she doesn’t shun gluten, dairy, grains, soy, sugar, or whatever is trendy to eliminate right now. It’s healthy food you actually want to eat, using flavor-packed spices and innovative cooking techniques to create the tastiest meals.
12) Kitchen Matters
The title of Pamela Salzman’s cookbook Kitchen Matters: More than 100 Recipes and Tips to Transform the Way You Cook and Eat–Wholesome, Nourishing, Unforgettable really sums up what this book is all about. Focusing on anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods, her recipes plus tips on meal planning and prep will make you feel like an expert on natural, whole food cooking.
13) IT’S ALL GOOD
If it was possible to have a cookbook guilty pleasure, this one by Gwyneth Paltrow would be mine. I kinda hate to admit how much I like her recipes. In IT’S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, you’ll discover go-to clean eating recipes that will leave you feeling balanced and energized.
The Best Classic Cookbooks
These cookbooks are timeless masterpieces that anyone – from renowned chefs to at-home cooks and total food newbies – need to have in their kitchen arsenal.
14) French Bibles
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volumes) by Julia Child and Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan will forever be two of the most cherished cookbooks for chefs and foodies alike. Classic French cuisine will never go out of style, and these two women pioneered accessibility of French cooking in every American home.
15) The Best of America’s Test Kitchen
America’s Test Kitchen debuted almost 20 years as a TV show, and now is a huge multimedia brand featuring every type of cuisine imaginable. So much science and testing goes into every recipe – it’s actually quite amazing and results in reliable recipes that you’ll want to come back to again and again! They publish a ‘Best of’ Cookbook every year, and have dozens of other cookbooks ranging from The Complete Slow Cooker to The Perfect Cookie to The How Can it Be Gluten Free Cookbook, and one of my favorites is The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, with over 500 healthy recipes.
16) Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
I first learned how to cook from watching Ina Garten’s cooking show religiously. She’s just so dang classy! Though everything she does is great, the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients has mouthwatering, reliable recipes that create basic-yet-gourmet results.
17) Anything by Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman is one of the most well-known and respected food writers in the country, and he has a book on just about every topic. Spoiler: they all live up to the hype. How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food with 1000 Photos is a must-have for anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of cooking. One of my other favorites is The VB6 Cookbook: More Than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night is an incredible asset for anyone looking to transition to more of a plant-based diet.
18) The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
You know a cookbook is one of the best when it has 5 stars after 1700+ reviews! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt is a must-have for all cooking enthusiasts who appreciate the “how” behind cooking. You’ll learn the science behind beloved American dishes and how to achieve better results using new methods in place of conventional techniques.
19) Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat is a deep dive into the four pillars of successful cooking that will demystify the kitchen for any cook. I love how this book has beautifully illustrated, charming infographs and lighthearted yet comprehensive walkthroughs of 100 essential recipes, from how to make the perfect Caesar dressing to how to create tender braised meats.
The Best Ethnic Cookbooks
No matter your degree of familiarity with ethnic cuisines – whether you grew up cooking with your Chinese grandmother and want to refine your skill, or you’re a complete beginner who knows nothing about foreign fare – these books have got your back.
20) Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge
Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery by Grace Young, with Authentic Recipes and Stories is the bible to Chinese food and cooking with a wok. No matter your skill level, this cookbook will teach you fundamentals of the Chinese pantry with easy to follow recipes and beautiful photos. Get yourself a massive wok and you’ll have dinner for life!
21) Anything by Yotam Ottolenghi
I’ve long been obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-British chef who wrote two of the most gorgeous and delicious cookbooks I’ve ever seen – Jerusalem: A Cookbook and Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. If you want to learn how to celebrate vegetables and create flavor combinations that deliver a party in your mouth, Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are for you.
22) Thai Food
Chef David Thompson created a bible on Thai cuisine in this masterpiece, Thai Food. This cookbooks captures all aspects of dynamic Thai cooking recipes, from the most well-known and beloved meals like curries and pad thai to lesser known dishes that are just as tasty (if not more) and super authentic. If you want a book that has almost everything Thai, then this is the one!
23) Vietnamese Home Cooking
Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan, award-winning Chef from the legendary Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco, will get you up to speed on the fundamental techniques and flavors on Vietnamese cooking in no time. Ranging from the most simple recipes to detailed explanations on more advanced techniques like how to make your own rice paper, this is a great cookbook you’ll frequent often if you love Southeast Asian food.
24) Hot Sour Salty Sweet
Clearly, I do love Asian food. If you do to, and you love to travel, get your hands on a copy of Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia by Jeffrey Alford and . With compelling stories, beautiful photos and delicious recipes, this cookbook teaches you how to have a flexible approach to Asian cooking using a balanced profile of hot, sour, salty, and sweet.
25) 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die
101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: Discover a New World of Flavors in Authentic Recipes by Jet Tila is definitely one of the best cookbooks out there for Asia cuisine. He has a gift for balancing authentic flavors with approachable recipes for the everyday cook.
What’s your favorite cookbook? Share in the comments below!
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Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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