The 5 Best Cookbooks for Beginners

Cooking at home can help you save money and eat healthier, so finding the right cookbook to guide you in the kitchen can be invaluable. Whether you’re just learning to cook for yourself or are looking for the perfect gift for someone else, the cookbooks listed below will suit your needs.

What is a cookbook for beginners?

Cookbooks for beginners provide both easy standby recipes and the essential techniques you’ll need to be successful in the kitchen. Whether you are completely clueless in the kitchen, or only have the basics to get by, an uncomplicated beginner’s cookbook will get you started.

Top 5 cookbooks for beginners

Joy of Cooking

The best-selling Joy of Cooking has been one of the most commonly purchased and gifted cookbooks since its publication in 1931. It has taught tens of millions of people to cook. The revised 75th Anniversary edition of The New York Times best-seller includes a total of 4,500 recipes, including both the classic beloved recipes along with hundreds of new recipes to keep up with the modern cooking. It also covers techniques like knife skills, different cooking methods, setting a table, and finding ways to save time in the kitchen. The all-purpose cookbook also has extensive reference materials and helpful illustrations.

This is the only cookbook named one of the most influential books of the 20th century by The New York Public Library. The James Beard Foundation also included it on their 20 Essential Cookbooks List. Even Julia Child called it “a fundamental resource for any American cook.” It has over 49,100 five-star reviews on Goodreads and more than 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. It is recommended by Publishers Weekly, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, and The Muse.

Currently $20.55 on Amazon

How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, 10th Anniversary Edition is part cookbook and part reference guide. It provides basic recipes and techniques for just about everything, using easy-to-follow sentences and straightforward instructions and advice. It also offers helpful lists and charts, illustrations, expert advice, and variations to keep the 2,000+ simple recipes modern and exciting. In fact, nearly half the material is new in this revised edition, so you won’t get bored of the recipes.

Mark Bittman is one of the best-known food writers in the country. He also writes for The New York Times’ Opinion section and is regularly featured on Today Show cooking segments. The award-winning cookbook has over 23,400 five-star reviews on Goodreads and nearly 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon. It is recommended by The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Lifehacker, Serious Eats, and The Muse. Even celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and Bobby Flay recommend this long-standing favorite. Celebrities like Al Roker, Lisa Loeb, and Isaac Mizrahi are also notable fans.

Currently $20.30 on Amazon

Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, 16th Edition

The best-selling Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, 16th Edition is a classic cookbook that covers everything. The newly updated and expanded edition offers a redesigned cover, more than 1,200 recipes, 1,000 color photos, and tips to help you master basic techniques like canning and setting up a kitchen. All recipes were also reviewed and revised for the modern kitchen. There are also icons throughout the book to highlight fast, low-calorie, and best-loved recipes.

This has served as a trusted go-to cookbook since 1930. It is recommended by Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and The Kitchn. It has over 43,400 five-star reviews on Goodreads and nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $23.98 on Amazon

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust comes from the beloved Food Network star and #1 New York Times best-selling author, Ina Garten. The recipes are easy to follow and prepare, but are still sure to impress. The book also covers skills like planning a menu and making recipes in advance. There are 150 color photographs and helpful tips throughout the book to assist in the event that things go awry with the recipe.

This is recommended by The Washington Post and The Muse. It has over 2,400 five-star reviews on Goodreads and over 900 five-star reviews on Amazon. Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again is another favorite with beginners.

Currently $19.11 on Amazon

The Science of Good Cooking

The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen comes from the editors of Cook's Illustrated. The new volume covers 50 core principles and offers 400 simple recipes that apply those principles in order to better teach fundamental kitchen skills. The recipes have been tested, written, and edited by the experts at America’s Test Kitchen. The frequently recommended cookbook has nearly 1,100 five-star reviews on Goodreads and over 800 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $26.34 on Amazon

And those are our recommendations for the best cookbooks for beginners. As always, be sure to check Wise Bread's Buying Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!


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