5 Must-Have Cookbooks

  • Copy by: Kendra Aronson
  • Feature Image By: Kendra Aronson

As a first-time cookbook author and longtime cookbook collector, I’m always scouring titles from classics to new releases. The best way to get serious in the kitchen is turning to the tangible pages of a cookbook for tried-and-true recipes. Which volumes are guaranteed to amp up your kitchen game?

Add these five must-have titles to your shelves to turn your cooking skills up!

1. What To Bake & How To Bake It

If you’ve ever been puzzled with how fluffy, whipped, whisked, mixed, kneaded, browned, crumbled a recipe needs to be, buy this quintessential baking cookbook. It’s phenomenal for the beginner baker because each recipe includes a detailed step-by-step guide with photographs at every stage of the baking process. In fact, there are 500+ photos in this large format book! What To Bake & How To Bake It will always lead you to sweet success.

Related Reading: What to Cook and How to Cook It

2. Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings

This book is an editorial beauty that showcases New American-style cuisine, gorgeous lifestyle photography, and elegant typography. The chapters are organized according to morning, noon, afternoon, evening and are subdivided into several menus featuring 3-7 recipes per menu. Full of tips on easy, intimate entertaining, this cookbook will inspire you to start your own supper club.

Related Reading: The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings

3. The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

If you are a minimalist that only requires a single cookbook on the shelf, this is The One. Written by the revolutionary farm-to-table goddess Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, this title is your go-to textbook for simple cooking and baking. The first part of the book is about starting from scratch: basic lessons (e.g. stocking a pantry, meal planning) and foundational recipes (e.g. essential sauces, homemade dressings, and soup stocks). The second part of book includes staple recipes for everyday cooking—think roasted chicken, beet salad, pan-fried pork chops, sautéed mushrooms, baked salmon. Each recipe includes variations on ingredient swapping for easy modification based on taste preference or seasonal availability.

Related Reading: The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden

4. Vibrant Food

Need some inspiration for incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and color into your everyday meals? This title is exactly what you are looking for. Kimberley Hasselbrink’s recipes are bright, healthy, and balanced. The book is broken down by seasons and sub-categorized by produce: the soft colors of spring (spring greens, alliums, spring roots, rhubarb, flower), the bold colors of summer (berries, stone fruits, summer greens and herbs, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers), the rich colors of fall (grapes, figs, tree fruits, persimmons, sturdy fall springs, winter squash), and the deep colors of winter (winter roots, brassicas, Dungeness crab, citrus).

Related Reading: The Year in Food—Kimberley Hasselbrink’s food blog

5. Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

This blog-turned-cookbook has a little bit of everything: salads, sandwiches, tarts, pizzas, sweets, party snacks, and drinks. Deb Perelman delivers delicious recipes with loads of vegetarian options, as well as main dishes incorporating seafood, poultry, and meat. Similar to her blog, her cookbook writing is sprinkled with a little sass, relatable short stories, and tips for cooking success.

Related Reading: Smitten Kitchen—Deb Perelman’s food blog

What are your favorite cookbooks?