The best cookbooks for inspiration and instruction for everyday meals

Who am I?

I have spent my entire working life teaching others how to cook – in the kitchen, in the classroom, and through my cookbooks and countless magazine articles – and I can sum up all my cooking lessons into one word: Cook! The more you cook, the more confidence you gain – and the more joy and success you will experience. But where to start? My best advice is to find a few cookbooks that you trust - ideally ones that offer plenty of explanation. From these, select several dishes that sound appealing and commit to learning to make them by heart. With repetition, you will learn to cook without relying on the recipes, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more confident — and intuitive — cook.

I wrote...

All about Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice

By Molly Stevens,

Book cover of All about Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice

What is my book about?

Cookbook author and cooking teacher, Molly Stevens is on a mission to remind us that dinner can be uncomplicated, packed with flavor, and a whole lot of fun. “Cooking is not about perfection,” she writes, “it’s about making the time to care for ourselves and for others.” Like most of us, Stevens has no team of prep cooks, no vast pantry, and no one paid to clean up her home kitchen. What she does have are delicious, time-tested recipes made from easy-to-find ingredients, collected for the first time in All About Dinner.

A finalist for a coveted James Beard Foundation Cookbook award, this collection offers 150 recipes for vegetables, grains, meat, fish, and sweets that will invigorate your everyday menus and build your kitchen know-how. Building on the foolproof clarity of Stevens' previous cookbooks, each recipe is designed to impart solid kitchen skills while encouraging home cooks to expand their personal repertoires by mastering everyday favorites like simple pasta, hearty stew, and tempting savory and sweet snacks. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day

Why did I love this book?

"Good, simple food is meant to be shared and enjoyed. Cook often." These lines from the introduction of "Tasty" perfectly capture the spirit of this delightfully useful cookbook. Finamore obviously knows his way around the kitchen, and his recipes are both practical and joyful. Clearly written and full of friendly tips and advice, this is a cookbook that more than lives up to its promise of delicious results for everyday meals (from breakfasts to snacks) without taxing the cook. It's also a smart and entertaining read, and just the type of cookbook that will indeed inspire you to cook often.

By Roy Finamore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tasty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the past twenty years, Roy Finamore has shaped America's most popular cookbooks, publishing such influential authors as Martha Stewart, Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), and Lee Bailey and working alongside chefs and other food authorities to help them streamline their recipes. Now, in Tasty, he shows you how to make the most of your time and have fun in the kitchen.

Tasty proves that a meal doesn't need to be showoffy to be uncommonly good. When you serve food from this book, your family and friends will sit up and take notice, and you'll be relaxed and smiling when…

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

By Samin Nosrat, Wendy Macnaughton (illustrator),

Book cover of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Why did I love this book?

There may be 2 types of people in the kitchen: those who adhere to recipes and those who would rather improvise. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is for the latter group, while arming the former with the knowledge they need to become more intuitive. Following her own personal journey as a professional cook, Nosrat thoroughly outlines the basic elements that go into cooking any dish: salt, fat, acid, and heat. She then teaches us how to manipulate these elements to achieve success in our own kitchens. Part reference, part cookbook, this informative book combines clear science with the sensual pleasures of good food.

By Samin Nosrat, Wendy Macnaughton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major Netflix documentary
A Sunday Times Food Book of the Year and a New York Times bestseller
Winner of the Fortnum & Mason Best Debut Food Book 2018

While cooking at Chez Panisse at the start of her career, Samin Nosrat noticed that amid the chaos of the kitchen there were four key principles that her fellow chefs would always fall back on to make their food better: Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat.

By mastering these four variables, Samin found the confidence to trust her instincts in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients. And with…

Book cover of Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

Why did I love this book?

In the opening pages of this wonderful book, Slater writes: "Cooking should, surely, be a lighthearted, spirited affair, alive with invention, experimentation, appetite, and adventure." – and the pages that follow go a long way to make this possible. Jam-packed with over 600 recipes and ideas for simple, comforting everyday dishes, "Eat" is as much fun to cook from as it is to read. The recipes themselves are written in the style of extended tweets, and most are accompanied by ideas for creative variations, helpful notes, and charming narratives. There are few strict rules here, just tons of tempting recipes and even more inspiration to spark your own cooking adventures.

By Nigel Slater,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the star of BBC One's 'Nigel and Adam's Farm Kitchen' this beautiful and easy-to-use follow-up to 'The Kitchen Diaries II' contains over 600 recipe ideas and is your essential go-to for what to cook every day.

Returning to the territory of Nigel's bestselling 'Real Fast Food', 'Eat' is bursting with beautifully simple and quick-to-cook recipes, in a stylish and practical flexible format that's easy to read and use anywhere.

Enjoy sizzling chorizo with potatoes and shallots; a sharp and fresh green soup; a Vietnamese-inspired prawn baguette; a one-pan Sunday lunch.

Chosen by Amazon as the Best Food & Drink…

Book cover of Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors [A Cookbook]

Why did I love this book?

Brimming with smart, flavor-packed recipes and expert advice, Vietnamese Food Any Day opens up a world of flavor to cooks at every level and from every background. Drawing on decades of experience writing and teaching about her native cuisine, Nguyen demystifies Vietnamese cooking and shows us how use easy-to-find ingredients (no specialty markets required!) to successfully – and quickly – create sensational, authentic favorites. Whether you're an experienced cook or a novice, the lessons and tips in this book will have a delicious influence the rest of your cooking.

By Andrea Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vietnamese Food Any Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Delicious, fresh Vietnamese food is achievable any night of the week with this cookbook's 80 accessible, easy recipes.

IACP AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • The Washington Post • Eater • Food52 • Epicurious • Christian Science Monitor • Library Journal

Drawing on decades of experience, as well as the cooking hacks her mom adopted after fleeing from Vietnam to America, award-winning author Andrea Nguyen shows you how to use easy-to-find ingredients to create true Vietnamese flavors at home—fast. With Nguyen as your guide, there’s no need to take a trip…

Book cover of Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs

Why did I love this book?

The premise behind this jubilant and personal collection is that cooking is "simply a huge and often very fun puzzle of piecing together techniques with different ingredients." Throughout the 98 recipes (everything from breakfast to mains, from drinks to dessert), Turshen highlights essential techniques (labeled as "small victories") and then offers inventive ideas and inspirations for creating other dishes (called "spin-offs"). It's a cookbook designed for anyone looking to become a more relaxed, confident, and creative cook. Turshen's love for cooking and feeding others is infectious, and her down-to-earth approach makes it easy to be swept along. 

By Julia Turshen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Small Victories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I can't wait to cook my way through this amazing new book!" - Ina Garten (Host of Barefoot Contessa)

"Simple, achievable recipes..." - Chef April Bloomfield (Owner of The Spotted Pig)

This cookbook of more than 400 simple cooking recipes and variations from Julia Turshen, writer, go-to recipe developer, co-author for best-selling cookbooks such as Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Good, and Dana Cowin's Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, and author of her cookbooks Now & Again and Feed the Resistance. The process of truly great home cooking ideas is demystified via more than a hundred lessons called out as…

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