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The Best Cookbook - 2021

Last updated on January 29, 2021
Best Cookbook

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Our Picks For The Top Cookbooks

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best All-Purpose Pick

Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table

Joanna Gaines

Magnolia Table

Overall Take

Family Recipes and Personal StoriesThis cookbook features Gaines’ family favorites amidst stories and photos.

  Best Classic

Ina Garten Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ina Garten

Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Overall Take

Crowd PleasersLearn to take a modern twist on old-fashioned, heart-warming dishes.

  Best for Non-Meat Eaters

America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

America's Test Kitchen

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Overall Take

Meatless and Flavorful RecipesBoldly flavorful vegetarian recipes for mains, sides, appetizers and snacks.

  Best for Wellness

Gina Homolka Skinnytaste Meal Prep

Gina Homolka

Skinnytaste Meal Prep

Overall Take

Plan AheadThis cookbook is ideal for meal-preppers who want to save time and calories.

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Guide written by Anam Ahmed
Last updated on January 29, 2021

For many people, cooking at home is a relaxing activity. It helps calm your nerves after a stressful day and creates excitement for the delicious meal you’re about to eat. For others, cooking is a group activity you do with your loved ones, working closely together in the kitchen to make culinary magic. Whether you’re a novice home cook or a master of the trade, using a cookbook to help guide you is a great way to try out new flavors, techniques and styles of cooking.

When looking for a great cookbook, first consider the kinds of food you’d like to try. Are you interested in going out of your comfort zone and making a dish from a different country, or do you want to stay within the kinds of meals you are familiar with? Are you going on a new diet where you omit certain foods like gluten or meat from your meals, or are you looking to expand your palate and add in new ingredients you’re not familiar with?

Be sure to also consider your level of culinary expertise. If you’re a new cook, you may want to choose a cookbook geared towards beginners with simple recipes that don’t require complex techniques. On the other hand, if you’re looking to challenge yourself, then opt for a cookbook geared towards experts with multi-step recipes and unique modes of cooking.

The Best Cookbooks

1
  Best All-Purpose Pick

Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table

This cookbook brings 125 classic recipes inspired by the Gaines’ restaurant Magnolia Table. In addition, it also features personal stories and stunning photography. Recipes include chicken pot pie, white cheddar bisque, lemon pie and much more.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Joanna Gaines
Model
2
  Best Classic

Ina Garten Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

This book is filled with recipes to satisfy your deepest comfort-food cravings. You’ll learn quick weeknight meals in addition to special-event recipes. Recipes include cheesy chicken enchiladas, smashed hamburgers and Boston cream pie.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Ina Garten
Model
3
  Best for Non-Meat Eaters

America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

This cookbook brings more than 700 vegetarian recipes that are packed with flavor. It includes gluten-free and vegan options as well. Plus, over 500 photos are used to illustrate tricky techniques.

Features


Specifications

Brand
America's Test Kitchen
Model
4
  Best for Wellness

Gina Homolka Skinnytaste Meal Prep

Learn how to make healthy freezer meals and grab-and-go dishes with this cookbook. You also learn time-saving cooking strategies and flexible techniques so you can save more time in the kitchen while cooking good-for-you meals. This book is ideal for those with a busy lifestyle.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Gina Homolka
Model
5
  Best for Crispy Foods

Jenson William Air Fryer Cookbook

This cookbook demystifies the air fryer with over 600 easy recipes. Meals include quick snacks, side dishes, meaty mains, breakfasts and desserts. The book shows you how to maximize your time and get delicious results.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Jenson William
Model

Our Cookbook Buying Guide

For many people, cooking at home is a relaxing activity. It helps calm your nerves after a stressful day and creates excitement for the delicious meal you’re about to eat. For others, cooking is a group activity you do with your loved ones, working closely together in the kitchen to make culinary magic. Whether you’re a novice home cook or a master of the trade, using a cookbook to help guide you is a great way to try out new flavors, techniques and styles of cooking.

When looking for a great cookbook, first consider the kinds of food you’d like to try. Are you interested in going out of your comfort zone and making a dish from a different country, or do you want to stay within the kinds of meals you are familiar with? Are you going on a new diet where you omit certain foods like gluten or meat from your meals, or are you looking to expand your palate and add in new ingredients you’re not familiar with?

Be sure to also consider your level of culinary expertise. If you’re a new cook, you may want to choose a cookbook geared towards beginners with simple recipes that don’t require complex techniques. On the other hand, if you’re looking to challenge yourself, then opt for a cookbook geared towards experts with multi-step recipes and unique modes of cooking.

DWYM Fun Fact

Keep in mind that a recipe in a cookbook is a guide. Many people follow the recipe exactly the first time when making the meal, and then change up elements on subsequent tries. You can swap out ingredients depending on what you have available in your fridge or pantry, or give it your own signature twist by adding in a new spice. Instead of being constricting, recipes in cookbooks help you explore your own culinary tastes and skills.

The Cookbook Tips and Advice

  • Consider what kind of recipes you want to make. For example, are you interested in eating less meat and trying a plant-based diet? If so, grab a vegetarian cookbook. On the other hand, if you want more comfort food recipes, opt for one that gives you those options. If you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, then go with a cookbook that offers low-calorie but delicious meals.
  • An important factor in a cookbook is whether it can lay flat while open on the kitchen counter. If you open it up and the pages flip around on their own or the book closes on its own, you’ll end up frustrated while cooking. If the cookbook cannot lay flat, be sure to get a cookbook stand. This way, you can see the recipe while cooking without having to constantly open the book to the right page.
  • In addition to reading the recipes, many people decide what to cook with their eyes. Having stunning food photography in the cookbook shows you what the final meal will look like. Many cookbooks also include illustrations for step-by-step instructions, which are particularly helpful for new cooks.

About The Author

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Anam Ahmed 

Anam Ahmed is a professional copywriter and essayist based in Toronto. She has been writing on technology, travel, parenting, and business for over 10 years, and works with a number of high-profile organizations. As an avid home cook who loves making magic in the kitchen, she values finding the best products to make people's lives easier. Anam earned a master's degree from the University of Toronto and a bachelor's degree from Queen's University.