Cooking can be a huge source of comfort and joy through difficult times. And these days, when restaurants are closed, delivery workers are being pushed to their limits, and grocery stores are understocked, cooking at home with what you have is also a necessity.
If you’re stuck at home and looking to dive head-first into a good cookbook, you’ve got options. Here are 15 best-selling cookbooks worth reading front-to-back for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
1. This comprehensive baking guide for desserts and more
If you’ve got a load of baking essentials and free time on your hands, let “The Baking Bible” from best-selling author and pastry expert Rose Levy Beranbaum be your guide. With over 500 pages of recipes for the best cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, candies, pastries, breads, and more, you won’t run out of treats to bake—and you’ll learn a ton of technique along the way.
Get “The Baking Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum from ThermoWorks.
2. This trendy cookbook for hosting modern dinner parties—when you can
If you aren’t already a fan of Alison Roman, you’re about to be—the beloved New York Times columnist has found a massive millennial following for her deceptively simple approach to home cooking. Her latest cookbook, “Nothing Fancy,” is all about “unfussy” food for hosting friends and family, with recipes for smoky dips, fresh salads, and rustic desserts galore. Come out of quarantine ready to impress—or just make the dishes for yourself and share them on Instagram.
Get “Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over” by Alison Roman from Free People.
3. This wildly popular book on the elements of cooking
Celebrity chef Samin Nosrat's “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” the book that launched her hit Netflix show, is a colorful and eye-opening guide to mastering the elements of cooking. "Just reading ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ will make you a better cook, adept at seasoning, balancing, and understanding what it really is you’re doing and why," writes Bon Appétit.
Get “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat from Books A Million.
4. An experimental guidebook for food nerds
Food writer J. Kenji López-Alt has been diving deep into the science behind cooking with his column “The Food Lab” over at Serious Eats for years, and his first book expands that work to encyclopedic proportions. Containing over 300 recipes across 1,000 pages, "The Food Lab" is "The Joy of Cooking" for the modern cook, and it has something to teach even the most experienced chefs.
Still not convinced? It’s a New York Times bestseller, winner of the James Beard Award for general cooking, and was named Book of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Let the experiments guide you through new food discoveries.
Get "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science" by J. Kenji López-Alt at Books A Million.
5. A comforting treat from your favorite celebrity chef
No one does it quite like the Barefoot Contessa. From her hilarious Instagram posts to her frequent cooking tips, Ina Garten’s been doing her part to keep us smiling (and eating well) through these difficult times. But did you know she has a new cookbook out?
Released in March, “Modern Comfort Food” expands on Garten’s already substantial catalogue of recipes with “soul-satisfying” new takes on old favorites, like Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Black and White Cookies.
Get “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten from Books A Million.
6. This must-have bread and pizza guide
Yes, everyone you know is baking bread. If you’re able to get your hands on some flour and yeast, why not join them? This must-have bread-and-pizza guide from acclaimed Portland chef Ken Forkish can teach you just about everything you need to know to get baking.
Get “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by Ken Forkish from Books A Million.
7. A book of balanced recipes for the Whole30 diet
For those experiencing dietary issues and trying to change the way they eat, the Whole30 diet is a popular route toward balance. “The Whole30,” a #1 New York Times best-seller from author Melissa Hartwig Urban, is all you need to get started with the diet, providing a stand-alone, step-by-step plan that aims to “break unhealthy habits, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system.”
Get “The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” by Melissa Hartwig Urban from Books A Million.
8. The one cookbook you’ll need to master the basics
Whether you’re a cookbook collector or a complete newbie, there's a good chance you don't already have the 20th anniversary edition of “How to Cook Everything” from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. Released late last year, this edition expands on Bittman's excellent recipes and deep explainers on all things cooking. This is a tome with something to teach novices and experienced chefs alike.
Get “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman from Books A Million.
9. A book of recipes as funny as they are good
If you follow Chrissy Teigen on any social media, you’re probably aware of her reputation for being funny, beautiful, and refreshingly honest. But did you also know she’s an excellent cook? Chrissy published her first cookbook, "Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat," in 2016 and it quickly became a best-seller, garnering positive reviews for its delicious, real-food recipes and hilarious writing.
In 2018, she released her second book "Cravings 2: Hungry For More," but we still recommend the original for its stand-out recipes and higher average rating.
Get “Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat” by Chrissy Teigen from Books A Million.
10. An Instant Pot cookbook for quick and easy recipes
If you’re tired of cooking the same three Instant Pot recipes you know by heart, let this best-selling cookbook change up your routine. With 800 recipes for beginner and advanced cooks alike, Simon Rush’s “The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook” will help you make the most of the food you have while you master your multicooker.
Get “The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook” by Simon Rush from Books A Million.
11. A piece of cookbook history, reimagined
My mom has a copy, her mom had a copy, and her mom’s mom probably had one, too—Irma Rombauer’s 1931 conversational cookbook “The Joy of Cooking” set a standard for what home cooking could be, a standard that’s lived on for decades.
If you’re interested in diving into cookbook history but still want fresh, modern recipes, check out the eighth edition of “The Joy of Cooking” published just last year. With 600 new recipes, this edition is intriguing and illuminating as it is joyful.
Get “The Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition” by Irma S. Rombauer from Books A Million.
12. A pop culture cooking companion to a hit YouTube show
Based on his wildly popular YouTube channel of the same name, “Binging With Babish” is Andrew Rea’s love letter to the food of our favorite movies and TV shows. The book guides you through 100 recipes based on meals from pop culture, like the babka from the classic “Seinfeld” episode and the beef bourguignon from “Julie and Julia.”
If you’re looking for a project and want a companion to food YouTube, Babish is your man.
Get “Binging With Babish” by Andrew Rea from Books A Million.
13. This guide to the only ingredient you stocked up on
Did you go out and buy a ton of beans, only to have no idea how to cook with them? James Beard Award-winning food writer Joe Yonan is here to help. “Cool Beans” is a beautiful, fresh guide to cooking with beans, chickpeas, lentils, pulses, and more.
The book contains 125 modern recipes for “globally inspired vegetarian dishes” including mains, snacks, soups, and desserts. Cooking with beans has never been so exciting.
Get “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan from Books A Million.
14. The essential text of French cuisine
There may be no better way to spend the quarantine than doing your own version of “Julie and Julia.” Blogging might not be what you used to, but you can still recreate the experience of the film by making every single recipe in Julia Child’s essential “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It’s the text of French cuisine, so if you’re feeling adventurous, now’s the time to give it a try.
Get “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1” by Julia Child from Books A Million.
15. ...or this modern approach to French cooking
If you’re intrigued by French cuisine but not quite ready to turn into Julia Child, this excellent new cookbook from New York Times star food writer Melissa Clark can be your guide. “Dinner in French” is packed with delicious recipes, taking a wonderfully modern approach to French cooking that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or technique in search of simplicity.
Get “Dinner in French” by Melissa Clark on Amazon.