Before Tasty videos and Insta-recipe posts became mainstream, cookbooks were the fail-safe go-to for learning new recipes. In the Internet age where young adults google everything and eschew physical things, I still think that having a few classic cookbooks is absolutely necessary when you are first learning how to cook. These cookbooks below range from timeless to trendy, but at the end of the day, each and every one of them will teach you to be confident and resourceful in the kitchen.
The Best Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen:
America’s Test Kitchen is a company based in Brookline, MA, and they pride themselves on meticulously testing every single recipe to produce the “best recipe.” Their comprehensive cookbook is perfect for people who are nervous about cooking by feel — the ingredient quantities, instructions and cooking times are incredibly precise to alleviate any anxiety when making a recipe. This cookbook will serve you well whether you are 18 or 38.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman:
If you love Deb Perelman’s gorgeous yet simple NYC-based food blog, you will love her even more when you open this cookbook. The full-page, glossy photographs of fresh spring salads and elegant grain dishes will give you tons of dinner party inspiration. You will impress everyone you know and have a delicious meal to boost.
Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Ina Garten:
Fact: Ina Garten can do no wrong, and this cookbook is just another example. Sure, we can all envy her luxurious Hamptons lifestyle and her extensive collection of chambray, but when it comes down to it, Ina’s recipes are sublime without fussy ingredients or complicated instructions. Any mother would be proud to see this on your bookshelf.
How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman:
Mark Bittman is the recipe guru for all the simple recipes that most cookbooks would not grant space. Think pesto pasta, simple pancakes and steamed vegetables. If the kitchen is a foreign domain for you, this cookbook lowers your barrier to entry. Treat it as your Bible, and with its help, you’ll become a more confident cook.
Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi:
Also known as the cookbook to use when you have no idea what to make for the token vegetarian in your friend group. London-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi doesn’t run a vegetarian restaurant, which works to his advantage in “Plenty.” The dishes are full-flavored and hearty, which means that a carnivore would be just as happy as a vegetarian when served braised escarole with gruyère or roasted eggplant with lentils and tahini. Every single recipe is satisfying and well balanced without relying on silly meat substitutes or fake ingredients.