Culinary geniuses are the artists of today and yesterday. Over the past half-decade, our love of food has helped to create one of the fastest growing genres in all of writing. No, most people don’t run to the bookstore for a cookbook, but perhaps we’ve all used a recipe or two from one of the greats. There’s no shortage of amazing recipes created by brilliant chefs and gurus from all over the world. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best culinary books just for you!
If you’re looking to spice up your cooking skills, turn yourself from a novice to a pro, or just want to finally impress your mother-in-law, what’s better than having the best culinary books to help you get there? You can learn from some of the greatest master chefs the world has ever known in a mix of new and old cookbooks from around the world.
What Did These Culinary Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the culinary genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Culinary Books you can read right now:
• Best Culinary Books
Table of Contents
Best Culinary Books
Here are the best culinary books by the experts:
1)Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
- Book Summary:This cookbook comes in two volumes and they both scream CLASSIC. This New York Times Best Seller was also beautifully featured in the film Julie & Julia in 2009 and the first volume was published in 1961. As a native from the USA who lived in France, Julia Child wanted their cookbook to reach American home cooks with the message that only the pronunciation should be complicated but not necessarily the recipes. Definitely one of the best culinary books ever created.
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2)The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
- Book Summary:Picture this – it’s a Sunday and you’re kind of in the mood to prepare something special yet the kids suggest a good ol’ pizza – don’t fret, turn to this cookbook and feed your fancy! Marcella Hazan is one of the greatest food writers who was inspired by their home food growing up. Seriously delicious Italian dishes such as soups, pastas, pizzas, risottos, and even sauces are waiting to be mastered – just be ready to get this book worked and sauced up though because you will definitely find yourself cooking most, if not all, of the recipes here.
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3)Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
- Book Summary:If you’re a fan of home cooking for a while now and also happen to be a hoarder of every available cookbook you can find in your favorite bookstore, I’m sure you’d be puzzled if Yotam Ottolenghi did not make it to the list. This cookbook is hands-down one of the best that you could ever own. Both born and raised in Israel, expect that only the best of Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s favorite Mediterranean cuisine are included here. Their famous cakes and breads are also featured which are perfect for your desserts and afternoon teas. As Ottolenghi’s personal cooking philosophy, he strives to always bring drama into your mouth which is a promise that you will surely get something exciting, colorful, and deliciously good out of this cookbook!
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4)Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuii
- Book Summary:This is a timeless cookbook hailed as a bible of Japanese cuisine. Among the most uniquely presented masterpiece, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art is divided into two sections: important tools and techniques and carefully selected recipes. If you want to raise and perfect your Japanese cooking, this is the best reference to turn to. Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t just for the established chefs out there – this cookbook is well-written, elaborate, and includes many recipes that range from the most basic every day dishes to the most challenging, banquet-worthy cooking.
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5)Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
- Book Summary:Admit it – sometimes, you browse through these lists of cookbooks to buy but you cannot really see yourself investing that much time in the kitchen because, well, Netflix happens. Since you probably already have kids running around the house or siblings who you feel like should be fed with real food whenever your parents are out, things should be done to fix the situation. Food52 is a website founded by two working parents who actually magically always find time to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts – every day of every week. How do they do it? You have to buy their book to know it! Just kidding, the title should give it away anyway: by strategizing and cooking ahead. This cookbook is a collection of more than a hundred recipes and also teaches you meal planning techniques that will transform you into a superwoman/superman in the kitchen! Unarguably one of the best culinary books in the market!
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6)Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford
- Book Summary:Don’t you just love it when your home smells like baked goods? Don’t you also just stop and admire how simple ingredients in your house can turn into a source of simple joy? If you haven’t found this love for baking yet (probably because the horror of seeing dirty dishes piling up seem to haunt you), this is one of the best culinary books that will surely shift how you see that mountain on your sink! It is not a usually straightforward recipe book but rather one that will inspire you as well by reading anecdotes and seeing photographs that explore the special baking traditions of people around the world.
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7)Completely Perfect: 120 Essential Recipes for Every Cook by Felicity Cloake
- Book Summary:This recently published (November 1, 2018) cookbook is perhaps the best culinary book compilation of how to cook the perfect versions of your favorite dishes. You will also find numerous cooking hacks virtually everyone who sets foot in a kitchen should know. Felicity Cloake is tagged as a taster-in-chief because of her experience in coming up with recipes to level up your classic favorites. She is a food and drink writer and author of six cookbooks.
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8)The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack
- Book Summary:If you’re a vegetarian who do not like spending a lot of time in the kitchen yet longs for flavorful food to eat, this cookbook should be your go-to cookbook! Aside from over 150 quick and flexible vegetarian recipes (mostly vegan and gluten-free too), Izy Hossack gives you few treats such as cakes and cookies because she wants you to indulge yourself for finally deciding to cook for yourself. Interestingly, this book has a so-called “Makeovers with Leftovers” section where you can browse what you can do with your excess ingredients.
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9)Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell
- Book Summary:No idea how to cook, like, at all? This book is the winner of the 2015 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award. That award is a mouthful to say but you should know that this book came to life because the author, an excellent chef, realized that his son never knew the basics of cooking until he was leaving for college. You will see that this book highlights the core dishes such as toasts, eggs, beans, vinaigrette, pastas, rice, vegetables, soups, meats, and cakes. Starting by making the simplest ways to cook the dishes, the variations available will surely help you gain your much-needed confidence in the kitchen.
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10)Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
- Book Summary:Let’s be real, this list would not be complete without Chrissy Teigen. If you are like us who follow her every tweet and story, you would understand how much we love this book. For years, Chrissy Teigen has shown you how her home cooking can bring happiness to her family – and in all fairness, the dishes really seem delicious too! In this cookbook, she will show you how she makes some gems such as tom yum noodles, John’s favorite fried chicken (it’s legendary!), and her mom’s version of Thai classics. Watch out for some witty lines and one-of-a-kind recipe descriptions that will make you giggle while you cook up those brussels sprouts.
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Best Culinary Movies
If you enjoyed the best culinary books, why stop there? After reading the best culinary books, take a look at our list of the best culinary movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
1)Eat Drink Man Woman
Movie Summary:A delicious comedy about food, fatherhood and family ties. Widower Tao Chu, Taiwan’s most famous chef, struggles with accepting his three daughters’ newfound appetite for boys, an interest that begins to break the family apart with hilarious and often touching results.
Only Ang Lee could create such a dish as this one. Lee is a master at stories that show characters growing and changing while one is always the same and yet surprisingly the only one who didn’t need to change but has the largest change in his life. Lee is a great chef introducing what is the main entree into the meal and enticing you with appetizers and drinks, taking you through the early courses and then giving you the delicate surprise that makes it all worthwhile and finishing with a delicious dessert.
The acting in the movie was spot on. Some will say that one character seemed too stereotypical and yet that character needed to be bold so that when seasoned and mellowed you could fully appreciate the work put into the dish.
Probably the most enduring Ang Lee film. As fresh today as when originally released. Have watched it so many times that one would think the film would become rote to the viewer, however, it surprises with different little twists and turns that were missed the first 11 or 12 times I have watched it.
Starring: Vanessa Williams , Vivica Fox , Nia Long and Michael Beach
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Movie Summary:Matriarch Mama Joe has held her family together for 40 years around a Sunday dinner of soul food.
My boyfriend & I were browsing posts on FB & came across a scene from Soulfood that had us on the floor. After which our priority was to see this movie. The movie is terrific, with a great storyline & some good acting by all the actors in this movie. I highly recommend seeing this movie of you haven’t already.
Movie Summary:A mistaken lunchbox delivery connects Ila, a neglected housewife, to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Through their exchanged notes, Saajan & Ila develop an unexpected relationship.
Beautiful movie about a lonely, neglected housewife who accidentally has her husband’s lunch delivered to the wrong office, where an equally lonely clerk falls in love with her through her cooking. The resulting correspondence by mail results in a love affair. It is charming movie with much chemistry between two people who never meet, until. . . You will find yourself rooting for these two romantics. I watched it three times in a row.
Movie Summary:Jon Favreau leads a hilarious all-star cast in this inspiring comedy about a gifted chef who teams up with his ex-wife, best friend and son to launch a food truck business.
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I was looking for a wind-down movie at the end of the evening that didn’t have a lot of action and one that I didn’t have to decipher and landed on this. It’s a story about a Chef and a food truck, but the deeper layer involves being true to who you are and what makes you happy, as well as a story about relationships (particularly parent-child). The acting is excellent and Jon Favreau is phenomenal, all the way down to his impressive knife skills (I later researched and learned that he went to France to train for those). I also really enjoyed Oliver Platt’s brief appearances as the food blogger. It bumped it up to 5 stars for me when I learned that Chef Roy Choi, an early founder of the food truck movement, was involved in this.
Starring: Minnie Driver , Ian Holm , Marc Anthony , et al.
Directed by: Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott
Movie Summary:In a restaurant the tables sit empty despite the talents of Primo the chef and the ambitious efforts of his brother Secondo. A celebrity night at their restaurant promises not only to turn their business around but to change their lives.
One of our all time favorite movies! First of all, it’s an all-star dream cast- Isabella Rossellini, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm, Minnie Driver, Allison Janney, Liev Shreiber, and even Marc Anthony! The acting is on point with every beat. The music, the food, the bantering between Primo and Secondo, the whole 1950’s feel of the little east coast town are all delicious. It has you on the edge of your seat in a wonderfully subdued way that pays off even when the big payoff isn’t what you think. Awesome movie for family night with teens.
Best Culinary Books in Audio
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best culinary books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out some of the best culinary audio books!
1)Cooked by Michael Pollan
Book Summary:In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.
Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.
The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life. This is one of the best culinary books you must have in audio!
2)Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver, and Steven L. Hopp
Book Summary:Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life; vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.
I have been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver for years. I am amazed that this book slipped under the radar for me 10 years ago. I am so glad I just newly discovered it just a month ago. I have a great grandfather whose family were multigenerational farmers on the outskirts of Rome for many years. They were one of many small farms who did and still do feed Rome with low intensity “hand made” food production. I am an urban architect in San Diego and am now trying to incorporate small scale urban farming to some of our new projects so the next generation can understand where there food comes from. These are net zero, affordable housing and projects from a fossil fuel standpoint. This book is a perfect resource for my projects.
Kingsolver invites us to her family’s garden and table as they spend a year eating pretty much only what they or people they know in their area grow. I first read this years ago thanks to a book club suggestion, and I keep recommending it and buying more copies for friends who are interested in knowing more about sustainable living. The format works — Kingsolver writes the main narrative, with her husband writing sidebars for facts and figures of the big picture of American agribusiness and her daughter writes recipe sidebars — that are good, too! Chew on this book for a while, and you’ll find yourself making different and more informed choices about your own food — and, as Stephen assures us in one of his sidebars — even one local meal a week for every American family would decrease fossil fuel use and increase local farmer — and your own family’s — health.
3)Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Book Summary:This classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother’s womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef, using cooking to express herself and sharing recipes with readers along the way.
My book club read this book Mexico as we “read our way around the world.” We were not disappointed! This was my first introduction to magical realism, and I was in love from the first page. Don’t expect the characters or story to be extremely developed. This is one of those books that you might find yourself speeding through and then wildly contemplating once it’s over. While the story isn’t pointedly about Mexican history or culture, we learned about those aspects in perfect little doses through the writing style and story line. My group was interested and entertained. I enjoyed the book so much that I bought myself a copy after I read the library’s copy.
Suspend reason and logic while reading this book. Float in this other world where spirits speak and food takes on feelings. It is a love story with cultural and historical overtones. This is not a read you understand. It is a read that you feel with your senses.
4)Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Book Summary:Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
Gabrielle Hamilton’s love of food permeates the entire book. From the beginning of her memoir as an 11 year old, she shows an appreciation of organic food before she knew what organic meant. I can feel her moods change as time goes on; her values remain the same. Her views on women, business, marriage and motherhood are fascinating. If you love food and good writing, this is the book for you.
I loved this book. Extremely well-written. It gives you a view into the life not only into the life busy of a well-known chef but also a woman, mother, sister, daughter, and wife with all the issues, conflicts, and life-changing decisions made and consequences that ensued. This is a woman I love to get to know and who’s food I would so enjoy eating.
5)Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
Book Summary:Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that’s “irresistible….A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef” (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture. Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves’ livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. The film is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia.
Having read this book before (though a long time ago) I was looking forward to the brash character that is Julie. As someone filled with gritty, determined purpose you can’t help cheering for her through this endeavor that makes her the New York female version of “Everyman.” It’s funny and satisfying to read, I highly recommend it. Again.
Since this is my favorite movie I thought I’d read the book and I gotta say I absolutely love it!
What do you think about our list of best culinary books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best culinary books you can find other genres here.