Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

World's best cookbooks


Recommended Posts

Sacre bleu!

No one has mentioned Jacques Pepin's "Complete Techniques."

For shame. :sad:

by far the single most valued cookbook on my shelves. i've practically tought myself with it. (la technique to be precise)


edit: any and all bougialli books

Edited by CheGuevara (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

uhm- so 6 mos later found this thread.

Desert Island Cookbook: Lulu's Provencal Table.

Soups are magnifique and request only water!!! not broth which I am not opposed to making but wow! her soups rule! That's pure cookin'!

Amanda Hesser's superb books- recipes pass without fail. Don't need to test pre-party. Unusual for a cookbook. Plus- she delights with narrative.

Steingarten of course- wit, excellent research and truly valuable recipes- [THE gratin...]

John Thorne's books- all of them. He and Matt have contributed immensely to my cooking repetoire. Love them!

Finally- but absolutely and certainly not least: Laurie Colwin's books. It is true- I am a sentimental soul with a fab mate and darling 3 year old so everytime I consult her Home Cooking books- well, it is hard for me not to think of her kids and mate still here without their mum's [and wife's] presence (and wonderful cooking...). Reading her in Gourmet years ago did much to spark my interest in home cookin'! And nurturing others through some relaxing time spent in the kitchen! Her Damp Gingerbread is truly divine. I personally don't care for sweets so much but whenever I make this for family and friends- it IS a hit.

There are many other wonderful books, cooks and writers but these are the five I consult most. For consistency and excellence- they really work for me. Funny too- I do a lot of Latino cuisine but none stand out as these do.

I must add though- Raichlen and Wells are pretty darn tops too. Just not as consistent as those above.

Finally- as quiet1 posted above- Nigel, Nigella and ALton are great fun to read and give one helpful insight. Fergus Henderson.... Oh yeah. We are writing about books we actually cook from.

Sorry! [Where is the cookbook book club?]


Edited by miiki (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

The way I learnt to cook was from my mums copy of “Good Housekeeping” a great 2 inch thick black book that started with boiling an egg (and took 6 B&W pictures to show this) to making a wedding cake. Now sadly unavailable, as whenever a difficult or new step was shown it was done in B&W pictures i.e. what do egg whites look like loosely whipped or when in peaks – obvious when you know but as a kid cooking from a book this was perfection. The nearest thing you can get now is Delia Smiths “How to cook” series including pictures of what simmering and boiling water look like BUT the whole lot is not in one book.

The old “Good Housekeeping” book got me where I can cook to today by teaching me what to do and not to be afraid to improvise and try new things.

However if I had to pick cook books they would be:-

Essential: - as they have all the info you need if you have no other book (in the UK)

Delia Smiths complete cookery course

Good Housekeeping,

Making it easy:-

How to eat – Nigella Lawson

Doing it right:-

Anything by Simon Hopkinson,

From nose to tail – Fergus Henderson

A good read:-

Family food – Heston Blumenthal

The Prawn Cocktail Years – Simon Hopkinson

Elisabeth David

Why or how it works!

McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture - Henery McGee

But the Crackling Is Superb: An Anthology on Food and Drink by Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society (Hardcover)

Family food – Heston Blumenthal


Any of the El Bulli books

The French Laundry

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
Hey Everyone! I'm kinda new to all this, so excuse any violation of mores.

Searching google for anything on Mr. Steingarten on the web led me to

this forum. It appears te me that most of you are food professionals or

nearly that, while i'm just a 21-yr old student who likes to cook.

I own both Jeffries books, and i've started putting together a list of

all the books he sort of recommends in his writing. Thus came an idea

for this forum, wouldn't it be fun to concoct a list of say 50

cookbooks from the world over? I everybody, and hopefully mr

Steingarten along with them, would contribute his or hers favourote

books, this could be very interesting.

Due to my limited library on the subject (most cookbooks i've read are

mom's) i shall begin by contributing my current favourite.

I shall put it in last place, because i'm sure a lot of you will have

thing to say on the subject.


50. La cucina essentiale - Stefano Cavallini

I hope a lot of suggestions will follow!

Yours Truly,


I'm not sure what your level of cooking is, but if you are in the medium-beginner's stage, The Cook's Book is a wonderful resource. It has tons of information and very informative pictures to go along with all the recipes. I'm not sure if someone has mentioned it already, so sorry if I'm duplicating!

Happy Reading!


“Cooking is an art, but you eat it too.”

Marcella Hazan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David.

One of my favorite cookbooks of all time. Great recipes, amazing stories, and wonderful food. No photographs, no set layout to recipes - reads more like a novel than a cookbook. Never cooked anything bad from this at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I love French Bistro cooking and my two top pics would be 1) the Balthazar cookbook - simple to fairly complex recipes but I have never had a bad dish (also interesting read) and 2) Patricia Wells Bistro Cooking - I love reading about the French bistros she visited, their cartes de jour and some of the wine pairings she recommends.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems that no one has mentioned Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook, a remarkable book for its breadth and clarity. I'll also second the recommendation for David Thompson's Thai Food, which is remarkable on many levels, not the least the quality of the recipes.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I started cooking (sort of), when I was still in high school, back in the 50's, and got more serious in college, learning from the still cherished Gourmet Cookbooks -- the two American ones, plus the French, Italian, and German ones. More recently, Julia Child, Alice Waters, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten have illuminate the path.

Nearly 50 years later, while buying a copy of an Alice Water's cookbook (which I already had, but had forgotten/mislaid), I came across the gorgeous Thomas Keller, "Under Pressure" cookbook, and was blown away by the photography and intrigued by this new sous vide technique.

It's been a wild ride ever since, with four rice cookers of varying sizes; a bunch of Sous Vide Magic controllers; over a dozen thermometers, a few of which are actually accurate (as calibrated with a reference thermometer traceable to NIST standards); a 62 page PowerPoint tutorial I've written and presented for a class; and now my desk is groaning with cookbooks.

TK, Alinea, Joan Roca, Hervé This , and most recently, the new On Food and Cooking, A Day at elBulli, and the absolutely gorgeous Big Fat Duck. Needless to say I haven't read them all cover to cover, yet, but I'm working on it.

Some of these could conceivably be downloaded and read off the Internet if they were available in that format, but the best of these, certainly including Under Pressure, elBulli, and the Big Fat Duck, are treasures of the art of cooking, photography, and bookmaking that may not be possible or at least affordable in the years to come, and are not to be missed, over and above their challenging and impeccable content.

I might have to buy the original Escoffier, just to have something of equal stature to the monumental tomes that I have acquired in just the last four months.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I must add to the list above under: A good read, Why or how it works!, Challenging The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.

Also under Challenging If you do not speak Spanish or one of the languages that the El Bulli books were translated into (In English they did not translate 1983-1993 and 2005 despite the web site saying they would).

Ok the books are food porn and I would not mind that much if they were not translated but that would miss out on the notes on creativity, ingredients etc. But to not not translate the CD containing the recipes was unforgivable! I did buy them to complete a collection - but was not happy about having to do so when my order for the English books was in place for a year or more with my usual book supplier.

Also only the full El Bulli cook books, The tome "A day in the life ...." - is a load of pretty pictures with maybe a few hours of reading, with a trivial amount of recipes, want to know about the restaurant (In pictures) that you can't get into, fine. If you want to use it for ideas don't bother. If I had purchased this full price I would have not been happy - I got it free at a talk.

Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Big Fat Duck book is amaaaazing.

A couple of my everyday favourites are The French Kitchen and The French Market by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat) and Fran Warde. With most cookboks I buy there's a small number of recipes which tempt me to buy the book in the first place. With these two, it's most of the book.

Another really good one with lots of basic techniques (I can do El Bulli-style spheres but until I got this one I'd never scrambled eggs - work that out!) is The Cook's Bible from Cordon Bleu. Beware - Cordon Bleu's Complete Cooking Techniques looks like exactly the same book but costs more.

Share and enjoy ...

- Leslie

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Only relates to one particular area but...

Francisco Migoya - Frozen Desserts

...as a book to make use of and refer to regularly, I've enjoyed this one even more than the Alinea book.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently I have too much time on my hands, as I went back through the thread and listed all the books mentioned. I did NOT have enough time on my hands to correct capitalization, but did try to eliminate duplicates and fix spelling where it was obvious. I removed "the" from titles, but not 'a' or 'an'. Just didn't seem right.

I have it in a table format, which smushes title and author together when I cut and paste. Sorry about that. If you know a fix, do tell. Where there is a specialty that is not obvious from the title and was mentioned by the poster, it follows the author.

Here's the list to date, alphabetically by title:

Title Author subject

Anything by: Amanda Hesser

Bryanna Clark Grogan vegan

Chris Schlesinger

Damon Lee Fowler Southern


James Beard

Jamie Oliver

Joel Robuchon

John Thorne

Laurie Colwin

Lidia Bastianich

Maida Heatter

Martinez Vera Cruz

Michael Fields

Mollie Katzen

Nigel Slater

Patricia Quintana Mexican

Paula Wolfert

Pierre Franey

Simon Hopkinson

Trilling Oaxaca

60 Minute Chef Pierre Franey

60-Minute Gourmet Pierre Franey

A Book of Middle Eastern Food Claudia Roden

A Bowl of Red Frank Tolbert chili

A Commonsense Guide to Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables Elizabeth Schnieder

a fresh look at saucing foods deidre davis

A New Way to Cook Sally Schneider

A Real American Breakfast Jamison & Jamison

a return to cooking with eric ripert

A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen Jack Bishop

Advanced Professional Pastry Chef Bo Frieburg

Amuse-Bouche Tramonto

An Ocean of Flavor: the Japanese Way with Fish and Seafood Elizabeth Andoh

Any New York Times Cookbook

Appetite Nigel Slater

At Home with Japanese Cooking Elizabeth Andoh


Barbeque Bible Steven Raichlen

Barefoot Contessa

Best American Recipes edited Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens

Best Recipe Cooks Illustrated

Big Fat Duck

Big Flavor Jim Foebel

Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie Bill Neal Southern baking

Bistro Cooking Patrica Wells

Bistro Cuisine Patricia Wells

Bittersweet Alice Medrich

Book of Jewish Food Claudia Roden

Book of Middle Eastern Cooking Claudia Roden

book on Catalan cooking Colman Andrews

Bread Bakers Apprentice Peter Reinhart

Bread Bible

But the Crackling Is Superb: An Anthology on Food and Drink by Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society

Cake Bible Rose Levy Beranbaum

Campanile cookbook Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton. Italian

Catalan Cuisine: Europe's Last Great Culinary Secret Colman Andrews

Charlie Trotter Cooks At Home

Chesapeake Bay Cooking John Shields

Chez Nous (Passion for Provence reissued name) Lydie Marshall

Chez Panisse Cooking

Chez Panisse Vegetables

China Moon Cookbook

Chinese Gastronomy Hsiang-Ju Lin, Tsuifeng Lin

Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts Alice Medrich

Christmas Delia Smith

CIA's Book of Soups

Classic Cuisine of Italian Jews Edda Servi Machlin

Classic Home Desserts Sax

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking Sahni

Classic Pasta Giuliano Hazan

Complete Asian Cookbook Charmaine Solomon

Complete French Cooking Course

Complete Illustrated Cookery Course Delia Smith

Complete Meat Cookbook Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly

Complete Technique Jacques Pepin

Cookies and Brownies Alice Medrich's

Cookies Unlimited Nick Malgieri

Cooking at the Merchant House Shaun Hill

Cooking from New England Jasper White

Cooking Light

Cooking of South-West France Paula Wolfert

Cooking with Claudine

cooking with Daniel Boulud

Cooking with David Burke of the Park Avenue Cafe David Burke

Cooking with the Seasons Jean-Louis Pallidin

Cook's Bible Cordon Bleu

Cook's Companion Stephanie Alexander

Cook's Illustrated annuals

Cookwise Shirley Corriher

Cotton Country Collection Junior Charity League of Monroe 1972 Southern

Country Weekends Lee Bailey

Craft of Cooking Tom Colicchio

Creole Feast Burton and Lombard

Cucina Simpatica Killeen and Germon

Cuisine Economique Jacques Pepin

Culinary Artistry Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page,

Cuisine Du Terroir Celine Vence

Dakshin, a book of Southeastern vegetarian cuisine.

Dear Francesca Mary Contini

Desert Island Cookbook: Lulu's Provencal Table

Dessert Bible Christopher Kimball

Doubleday Cookbook

Early French cookery: Sources, history, original recipes and modern adaptations Eleanor Scully medieval food

El Bulli

Elegant Taste of Thailand: Cha Am Cuisine Pinyo Srisawat

Elements of Taste Gray Kunz

Escoffier Cook Book.

Essentials of Classical Italian Cuisine Marcella Hazan

Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook Ruth Van Waerebeek-Gonzalez

Family food Heston Blumenthal

Fannie Farmer Baking Book Marion Cunningham

Fannie farmer Boston cooking school cookbook

Feasts for All Seasons Roy Andre De Groot

Fields of Greens

Fish and Shellfish Peterson

Flatbreads and Flavours Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid

Flavors of France Alain Ducasse

Food From My Heart Zarela Martinez Mexican

Food of Southern Italy Carlo Middione

Foods and Wines of Spain Penelope Casas

Forever Summer Nigella

Four Seasons Cookery Book Margaret Costa

French Country Cooking Elizabeth David

French Kitchen Joanne Harris

French Laundry Thomas Keller

French Market Joanne Harris

French Provincial Cooking Elizabeth David

French Regional Cooking Anne Willian

Fresh & Fast Marie Simmons

Frog Commissary Cookbook Steven Poses

Frozen Desserts Francisco Migoya

Gear for Your Kitchen Alton Brown

Gift of Southern Cooking Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis

Gloria's Gourmet Low-Fat Muffins

Good Cook series Time Life

Good Housekeeping's Cookery Book

Goose Fat and Garlic Jeanne Strang

Gotham Bar & Grill Cookbook Alfred Portale

Grand Livre de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse

Green on Greens Burt Green

Greens Deborah Madison

Grit Cookbook Southern vegetarian

Harry’s Bar Cookbook

Heart of Sicily Anna Tasca Lanza

High Flavor, Low Fat Steven Raichlen

Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking John Martin Taylor

Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking Throughout the Ages

Hot Sour Salty Sweet

How to be a Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson (for baking)

How to Cook and Eat in Chinese

How to Cook Everything Mark Bittman

How to Eat Nigella Lawson

How to Play with your Food Penn and Teller

How to Read a French Fry Russ Parson

Hungarian Cookbook Susan Derecskey

I'm Just here for the Food Alton Brown

In Madeline's Kitchen Madeline Kamen

Intercourses, an Aphrodisiac Cookbook

Italian American Cooking Lidia Bastianich

Italian Food Elizabeth David

Italian Regional Cooking Ada Boni

James Beard cookbooks

James Beards American Cookery

Japanese Cooking, a Simple Art Shizuo Tsuji

Jessie Marie DeBoth Cookbook for All Occasions

joslin diabetes gourmet cookbook

Joy of Cooking

Joy of Cooking

Just Desserts Gordon Ramsay

Kitchen Science Howard Hillman

Kitchen Sessions Charlie Trotter

La cucina essentiale - Stefano Cavallini

La Retertoire de la Cuisine Saulnier

La Varenne Pratique Anne Willan

Larousse Gastronomique

Le Cordon Blue textbook

Le Repertoire de la Cuisine Louis Saulnier

Lidia's Italian Table, Lidia Bastianich

Looney Spoons Has some really good low fat stuff

Lord Krishna's Cuisine Yamuna Devi

Louisiana Real and Rustic. Emeril Lagasse Cajun

ma gastronomie fernand point

Making of a Chef Madeleine Kamman

Marie Clare" cookbooks

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Julia Child

Mastering the Art of French Pastry Bruce Henry and Paul Bugal

Mediterranean Paula Wolfert

Mediterranean Cooking Elizabeth David

Mediterranean Feast Clifford Wright

Mediterranean Seafood Alan Davidson

Mediterranean Vegetables Clifford Wright

Mexico One Plate at a Time Rick Bayless

Minimalist Cooks at Home Mark Bittman



My Gastronomy Nico Ladenis

Naked Chef Jamie Oliver

New Joy of Cooking

New Making of a Cook Madeline Kammen

New Orleans Cookbook Richard & Rima Collin

New Professional Chef CIA

New Way to Cook

New York Times Cookbook Craig Claiborne

New York Times Cookbook

New York Times Menu Cookbook

Nico Nico Ladenis

Noodle, Terry Durack

North Atlantic Seafood Alan Davidson

Nose to Tail Eating Fergus Henderson

old fashioned cookbook jan mcbride carlton

On Food and Cooking Harold McGee

Oxford Companion to Food

Passionate Vegetarian Crescent Dragonwagon

Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life

Patisserie Roux Brothers

Perfect Cakes Nick Malgieri

Pies and Tarts Martha Stewart

Prawn Cocktail Years Simon Hopkinson

Professional Chef Culinary Institute of America

Professional Pastry Chef Bo Frieburg

Real Fast Food Nigel Slater

Real Food Nigel Slater

Real Stew Clifford Wright

Regional Italian and American Home Cooking Nika Hazelton

Return to Cooking Eric Ripert & Mark Ruhlman

Rhubarb and Black Pudding Paul Heatcote

River Cottage Cookbook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

River Roads Junior League Book Creole

Roast Chicken and Other Stories Simon Hopkinson

Roasting Barbara Kafka

Sacramental Magic in a Smalltown Cafe Brother Juniper

sauces james Peterson

Science of Cooking Peter Barham

seafood recipes from local waters Jacqueline Pell Tuttle

Seattle Kitchen. Tom Douglas

Secret Ingredients Michael Roberts

Sichuan Cooking Fuchsia Dunlop

Silver Palate Cookbook

Simple French Food Richard Olney

Simple Italian Food Mario Batali

Simple to Spectacular Jean-Georges Vongerichten & Mark Bittman

Simply French, Patricia Wells introduces the cuisine of Joel Robuchon Patricia Wells

Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Paula Wolfert

Sophie’s Kitchen and Sunshine Food Sophie Grigson

Sophie's Table Sophie Grigson

Soup, Beautiful Soup Felipe Rojas-Lombardi

Southern Sideboards Junior League Book Southern

Southwest Tastes Ellen Brown

Southwestern Vegetarian Stephan Pyles

Spice Cookbook

Splendid Cooking

Splendid Table Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Sunshine Food Sophie Grigson

Taste of Country Cooking Edna Lewis

Tetsuya Tetsuya Wakuda

Thai Food David Thompson

The Best of the Best of (state) American Regional – by state

Thrill of the Grill Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

through the seasons Joel Robuchon

Town and Country Cookbook James Villas

Trattoria Patricia Wells

Trattoria Cooking Biba Caggiono

Under Pressure Thomas Keller

Union Square Café

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone Deborah Madison

Vegetarian Cooking of the East Madhur Jaffrey

Village Baker Joe Ortiz

Village Baker's Wife Gayle and Joe Ortiz

Way to Cook Julia Child

When French Women Cook Madeleine Kamman

White Heat Marco Pierre White

Wild Food from Land & Sea Marco Pierre White

Wildwood: Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest Cory Schreiber

Working Girl Must Eat Hazel Young

World Vegetarian Madhur Jaffrey

Zuni Cafe Cookbook Judy Rodgers

edited to work on formatting

Edited by Marmish (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a totally unfashionable post, I will mention my complete collection of Farm Journal Cookbooks. Sadly out of print, look for them on E-Bay or Amazon.

The Canning and Freezing book goes far beyond the Ball Canning Book -- covering everything -- including meat -- with excellent instructions. Their Complete Pie Book is indeed complete -- including savoury and sweet.

Their kid's cookbook is a real winner, and beyond anything that Betty Crocker did.

I inherited a complete colletction of these books from my grandmother, and no matter how full the shelves get, they are still here.

It was from the wisdom of the women who contributed that I learned how to freeze a pie (make the filling, line the pan with foil, add the filling, stick it in the IH freezer (International Harvest), fill a pie pan with a crust, the frozen fruit filling in January, top, bake for about 10-15 minutes longer than normal). A taste of a fresh fruit pie in January!

These cookbooks are not cutting edge -- there are no foams, and I don't think any of the women who contributed would have a clue about sous vide, but they did know about cooking -- while washing diapers, feeding the men in the fields, and tending large gardens and hopefully standing over a hot pot of water in the middle of the night on a hot night, canning.

The women who contributed truly knew the value of saving energy.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't own a lot of cookbooks--maybe twenty-five, which doesn't seem like a lot to me, because I'm an academic, and I own lots of other books--but one that I always keep as a reference is James Beard's, Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was surprised when I read Marmish's "complete list" upthread because I didn't see Jeremiah Tower, Patrick O'Connell, Fredy Girardet, or Pierre Gagnaire.

Oh well.



Did I miss them, or you are surprised they weren't mentioned?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...