Great Cookbooks You’ll Use Again and Again

There are some not so great cookbooks you receive over time that spend most of their life on your bookshelf. They have some nice ideas, and you take it out every once in a while to try a new dish. However, once you complete the recipe, you wonder why you ever bothered taking it off the shelf to begin with.

My great cookbooks are rarely on my bookshelf. They are constantly wandering around my dining room table, kitchen counter, and on top of the microwave. I went looking for one to help me write this post and realized it wasn’t even in my house! My husband had lent it to a newlywed couple to help them with dinner ideas. I have found that great cookbooks can be sources of inspiration and should stay within reach.

When my husband and I were first married, I wanted to make him something special. I grabbed a random cookbook off the shelf and attempted to make homemade croissants. I had never baked anything from scratch, and croissants are one of the HARDEST recipes to master.

Over time, I have realized that not all cookbooks are made equal. Some are meant for seasoned chefs, others for newlyweds with no cooking skills. Some great cookbooks have a slew of amazing recipes, and other cookbooks aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

Rachael and I have been talking a lot about fitness recently. While it’s important to set smart fitness goals and maintain an active lifestyle, being healthy is much more than conquering your first time at the gym. I have found that one of the best ways I keep myself healthy is by cooking meals at home.

It’s hard to know where to find a great cookbook if you’re not an experienced chef. While I may not be an expert, I do want to share with you a few of my favorite cookbooks for learning new techniques and kicking your cooking skills up a notch or two.

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Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try 500 Casseroles.

500 Casseroles
by Rebecca Baugniet

My husband bought this on a whim early in our marriage, and it has become one of my favorite cookbooks. There is a ton of diversity in the types of recipes presented, ranging from everyday ingredients like beef and chicken to fancier dishes like lamb and rabbit. While I haven’t tried every recipe, the recipes I have made have all turned out excellent. It’s not often I find cookbooks where I enjoy almost every recipe I make. We also have the 500 Soups Edition, and we have not been disappointed. Any book in the 500 Series is a great addition to your kitchen.

Favorite Recipe: Shrimp & Wild Rice Casserole


Slow Cooker Revolution
by America’s Test Kitchen

With most recipes, I simply follow the instructions and trust that the dish will turn out. With America’s Test Kitchen, the authors explain why the recipe works, allowing me to apply the principles to other dishes. Beyond teaching technique, this is a great Sunday dinner cookbook. Most of the recipes take a bit of prep, but the slow simmer that goes on all day makes for a fantastic aroma that will linger in your home and bring everyone to the table.

Favorite Recipe: Garden Vegetable Sauce with Chickpea (best served over rice with pineapple on top!)

Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try Slow Cooker Revolution

Related: The Importance of Setting Smart Fitness Goals

Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible
by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

This cookbook doesn’t contain a single recipe! I promise you, you’ll want this on the shelf with every other cookbook you have. The Flavor Bible creates profiles on every main ingredient you can think of and lists other foods and spices that pair well with that ingredient. It then takes it a step further and suggests flavor identities: a group of three or more ingredients that will make your dish perfect. Here’s a good flavor identity I would never have thought of: scallops, fennel, orange, and rosemary. This book is a lifesaver when you find you’re missing an ingredient and need a replacement without compromising the quality of the dish.

Healthy Family Cookbook
by America’s Test Kitchen

Time for an admission: this is not a favorite of mine. All of the other books I have recommended so far have beautiful images featuring the dishes in the cookbook. This book is more in line with your traditional cookbook: three-ring binder, small pictures, lots of text. Boring! However, my husband LOVES this book. Like the Slow Cooker Revolution, it is full of tips and tricks for improving your cooking technique.

Favorite Recipe: Italian Meringue
(Creates a silkier texture for his Strawberry Lemon Meringue pie).

Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Related: Four Tips for Your First Time at the Gym

Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try Cooking Through the Seasons.

Cooking Light Through the Seasons
by Oxmoor House

If you want a cookbook that is full of beautiful photography, this is the book for you. Unlike other books, this cookbook is organized by season. The authors walk you through which foods are in season, what you will want in your pantry, and recipes ranging from drinks and appetizers to main dishes and desserts. There are also great steps, tips, and tricks along the way that create a holistic approach to cooking. 

Favorite Recipe: Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple-Pepper Relish


Joy of Cooking
by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, & Ethan Becker

No list would be complete without a staple like Joy of Cooking. The forward is from Julia Child, which is proof enough it belongs on your bookshelf. While it is not a “go-to” book when I’m looking for a recipe, it is incredibly dependable for those moments where I can’t find a recipe in any of my other cookbooks. I received this as a wedding present years ago, and there are more recipes to try than I have days in the year. 

Favorite Recipe: Buttermilk Pancakes


Want a cookbook you'll use again and again? Try Joy of Cooking

What are your favorite cookbooks that you return to again and again?

Want to kick your cooking skills up a notch or two? Great cookbooks can be sources of inspiration and should stay within reach. Try these great cookbooks that we know you'll use again and again!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Diana May 2, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Love this post! I’m a cookbook fiend too. I get a big stack of four or five from the library and take pictures of recipes that look interesting. America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks are my absolute favorite ones!!

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