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"Discover the Top 25 Cookbooks Recommended by Professional Chefs"

In the world of culinary arts, cookbooks are treasured resources that bring the essence of global kitchens into our homes. From the art of Chinese vegan cooking to the heartwarming dishes perfect for cold weather, this year has seen an array of cookbooks that have not only captured the imaginations of home cooks but also garnered accolades from prestigious institutions. We've consulted with chefs and culinary experts to compile a definitive list of the 35 best cookbooks of all time, ensuring that each selection is a testament to culinary excellence and a beacon for those seeking inspiration in the kitchen.

Key Takeaways

  • Chefs and culinary experts have helped curate this list, ensuring that each cookbook is a standout in its own right.

  • The Vegan Chinese Kitchen, with its exquisite photography and award-winning recipes, has been recognized by both The New York Times and the James Beard Foundation.

  • Via Carota stands out for its seasonal cooking approach and has been a clear favorite among new titles this fall.

  • Cookbooks with staying power, those that continue to sell over the years, make some of the best gifts for home cooks.

  • This year's selection of cookbooks reflects a trend towards homey, accessible recipes that can be made without excessive fuss or rare ingredients.

1. The Vegan Chinese Kitchen

Dive into the rich tapestry of Chinese cuisine with The Vegan Chinese Kitchen. This cookbook is a treasure trove of vegan delights, offering a modern take on a thousand-year-old tradition. The recipes are not only unique and delicious but also come with clear, step-by-step instructions, ensuring that even the most intricate dishes are within reach of the home cook.

The book goes beyond recipes, providing a cultural immersion that helps readers appreciate the depth of Chinese culinary heritage. It's a guide that encourages exploration, with each dish serving as a window into the broader narrative of Chinese food culture.

2. Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking

Via Carota stands out as a gem among this year's culinary publications, capturing the essence of its Greenwich Village namesake with an array of seasonal, produce-driven recipes. The book's charm lies in its simplicity and the harmonious blend of flavors that have made the restaurant a beloved spot for those who appreciate understated elegance in their meals.

The cookbook is a visual feast, with photographs that invite readers to dive into the world of Via Carota's kitchen. Each page offers a promise of culinary delight, from the rustic Stracci pasta to the zesty Braised Lamb Shoulder. It's a collection that beckons both the novice and the experienced cook to explore the flavors of each season.

For a taste of what awaits, consider these highlights from the book:

  • Stracci with Pesto di Fave

  • Garlic Scapes with Lima Beans

  • Lasagna Cacio e Pepe

  • Smashed Figs with Sesame and Honey

As we anticipate the release of the first recipe, Bacelli e Pecorino, in spring, it's clear that Via Carota has set a new standard for cookbooks that celebrate the rhythm of the seasons.

3. Masa

'Masa': Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple is not just a cookbook; it's a comprehensive guide to the art of masa. Authored by Jorge Gaviria with stunning photographs by Graydon Herriott, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in the rich traditions and modern applications of masa.

The book is divided into informative sections, starting with an in-depth exploration of nixtamalization, the process central to creating authentic masa. It then transitions into practical advice on equipment maintenance and masa grinding techniques, essential knowledge for both professional chefs and home cooks.

The latter part of the book delves into the various shapes and uses of masa, highlighting the importance of 'puff' in tortilla making—a sign of mastery akin to the perfect crumb in bread baking. With Gaviria's guidance, readers will learn to appreciate the subtleties and complexities of this staple ingredient.

4. Budmo!

Budmo! is a Ukrainian term that encapsulates a spirit of resilience and celebration, a fitting title for a cookbook that delves into the rich tapestry of Ukrainian cuisine. The result is one of the most exciting cookbooks published in the last few years. The recipes are not only tremendously appetizing but also accessible, allowing anyone to bring a taste of Ukraine into their home.

For those interested in exploring Ukrainian flavors, here's a glimpse of what to expect:

  • Famous Odessa Forshmak

  • A variety of borschts for different seasons

  • Hearty soups with unique twists, like buckwheat dumplings

Whether you're a seasoned chef or a curious food enthusiast, Budmo! is a celebration of Ukrainian culture through food that's sure to inspire.

5. Kolkata

Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, is celebrated for its rich culinary heritage. Author Rinku Dutt captures the essence of this vibrant city in her cookbook, which is a tribute to the flavors and traditions of Bengal. The book is a journey through the streets of Kolkata, from the seafood delights near the Hooghly River to the heartwarming Red-Lentil Dal that has become a staple in many homes.

Dutt's transition from banking to the culinary world is marked by the founding of the Bengali food truck Raastawala in London, bringing a taste of Kolkata to an international audience. The cookbook is a must-have for anyone looking to explore the depths of Indian cooking and the unique flavors of Bengal.

6. The Woks of Life

The Woks of Life is a culinary gem that has garnered a loyal following for its authentic and approachable Chinese and Chinese American recipes. From beginner to advanced, anyone preparing Chinese cuisine at home will learn new recipes and techniques, with results that are sure to impress. The Leung family's passion for sharing their culinary heritage shines through every page.

Here are a few standout recipes from the book:

  • Turnip Cake

  • Yangzhou Fried Rice

  • Silken Tofu with Soy Sauce

Each recipe is a doorway to exploring the rich tapestry of flavors that Chinese cooking has to offer. Whether you're a seasoned chef or just starting out, The Woks of Life is an essential addition to your cookbook collection.

7. Heartwarming in Cold Weather

'Heartwarming in Cold Weather' is a culinary embrace that transcends the mere act of cooking. It's a book that brings the warmth of distant kitchens into our homes, making us long for the comforting stews and rustic main courses reminiscent of family traditions and cherished memories.

  • Recipe Highlight: Ab Ghooshte Fasl (Iranian Bean Soup)

  • For the Baker: A section dedicated to those who find solace in the sweet aroma of baked goods.

  • Culinary Nostalgia: The flavors that transport you back to the Egypt of your childhood or the French Riviera.

Whether you're simmering a pot of Iranian Bean Soup on a chilly evening or indulging in the tender Medley of Spring Vegetables, this book promises to keep you company through the last of winter's cold and the early whispers of spring.

8. Cooks Without Borders

Cooks Without Borders offers a culinary journey that transcends geographical limitations, embracing a philosophy of inclusivity and culinary diversity. The platform, founded by Leslie Brenner, is a treasure trove of recipes that have been meticulously tested and adapted to ensure the best possible home cooking experience.

For those eager to dive into this world of borderless cuisine, the Cooks Without Borders CookShop and Cookbook Shop provide a curated selection of titles that reflect the spirit of accessible, homey cooking. Sign up for free recipes delivered to your inbox and join a community of cooks who cherish the joy of cooking without limits.

9. The Year's Best Cookbooks Make the Season's Greatest Gifts

As the holiday season approaches, the search for the perfect gift can be daunting. The year's best cookbooks emerge as a beacon for gift-givers, offering a treasure trove of culinary inspiration. Whether you're shopping for a seasoned chef or a budding home cook, these titles are sure to delight.

Here's a glimpse at some of the standout cookbooks that have made waves:

  • MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite - A journey through vibrant flavors.

  • A volume from Tara Wigley, offering practical cooking wisdom beyond recipes.

  • The Woks of Life - A family's culinary adventure that has captured the hearts of many.

Stay tuned for Part II of our roundup, where we will delve into more detailed reviews and share additional gems from this year's collection.

10. The Best Gifts for Every Type of Home Cook

Finding the perfect gift for the home cook in your life can be a delightful yet daunting task. Emma Wartzman, a seasoned kitchen and dining writer, has curated a list of 47 unique items that cater to every type of home cook. From practical single-use gadgets to luxurious upgrades, this guide has it all.

The selection includes both affordable indulgences and more significant investments, ensuring there's something for everyone. Whether it's a high-quality bottle of olive oil or a classic Le Creuset piece, these gifts are handpicked from past recommendations and personal experiences.

For those who love to experiment and expand their culinary skills, this list is a goldmine. It's a thoughtful way to show appreciation for the time and effort they put into their craft.

11. Cookbooks We Love

Our shelves are filled with culinary treasures that have stood the test of time, each offering a unique window into the world of cooking. Discovering a cookbook that resonates with your taste can transform your kitchen into a sanctuary of flavor.

Here's a glimpse at some of the cookbooks that have captured our hearts:

  • A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms - A fungal foray into the kitchen.

  • A Baker’s Tour Cookbook by Nick Malgieri - A global baking adventure.

  • 150 Recipes Jenny Lo’s Teahouse London - A British-Chinese culinary crossover.

  • 1982 World’s Fair Cookbook - A historical collection of 600 Southern recipes.

While some of these gems are now out of print, the hunt for them can be as rewarding as the recipes they contain. The stories behind the dishes, the authors' personal anecdotes, and the cultural insights make these cookbooks more than just a collection of recipes—they are a source of inspiration and a testament to the love of cooking.

12. Gift Guide

Finding the perfect gift for the home cook in your life can be a delightful yet daunting task. Emma Wartzman, a seasoned kitchen and dining writer, has curated a list of 42 exceptional gifts that cater to every type of home cook. From practical gadgets to luxurious upgrades, this guide is a treasure trove of culinary delights.

Here's a glimpse into the categories of gifts you can expect:

  • Single-use gadgets that offer a touch of luxury

  • High-quality upgrades to common kitchen tools

  • Small indulgences like premium olive oil

  • Significant investments such as Le Creuset cookware

Each item has been carefully selected based on past recommendations and personal experiences, making your gift not just thoughtful but also expert-approved.

13. Cookbook Review

Diving into the pages of the world's best cookbooks offers a journey through flavors and traditions that can transform any kitchen into a global culinary stage. The insights from these reviews are not just about recipes, but about embracing a culture's essence through its food.

The Vegan Chinese Kitchen presents a modern take on a thousand-year-old tradition, while The Woks of Life brings a Chinese American family's cherished recipes to your home. Each review is a window into the heart of a cuisine, whether it's the vibrant vegetarian dishes of Hannah Che or the rich Mediterranean flavors explored by Claudia Roden.

For those seeking guidance, here's a list of recent reviews that have captured the attention of food enthusiasts:

  • 'The Vegan Chinese Kitchen' by Hannah Che

  • 'The Woks of Life' by the Leung family

  • 'Food of the Italian Islands' by Katie Parla

  • 'Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean'

Each title is a testament to the diversity and richness of global cuisines, offering a treasure trove of knowledge for anyone eager to expand their cooking repertoire.

14. Free Cooks Without Borders Recipes

Unlock the culinary treasures of Cooks Without Borders with free recipes delivered straight to your inbox. Curated by the seasoned palate of Leslie Brenner, these recipes are a gateway to a world of flavors. From the simplicity of a Baby Bok Choy with Shiitakes to the festive Lucky Peach's Lacquered Roast Chicken, there's a dish for every occasion.

Here's a taste of what you could be enjoying:

  • RECIPE: Baby Bok Choy with Shiitakes

  • RECIPE: The Woks of Life Turnip Cake

  • RECIPE: Lucky Peach's Lacquered Roast Chicken

  • RECIPE: Fuchsia Dunlop's Spicy Sichuanese Chicken Salad

Don't miss out on the latest cookbook reviews and musings from the world of gastronomy. Stay updated and inspired with a subscription to Cooks Without Borders stories.

15. Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide

The holiday season brings a special opportunity to share the joy of cooking with loved ones. Finding the perfect cookbook can be a delightful gift that keeps on giving, offering new flavors and experiences with every page turned. Our Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide is designed to help you select the most cherished culinary treasures for the food enthusiasts in your life.

As the year comes to a close, consider these cookbooks not just as holiday presents, but as year-round sources of inspiration in the kitchen. Keep an eye on our guide, as it will be updated with new finds and tested favorites, ensuring that the gift of cooking can be enjoyed no matter the season.

16. CookShop

The CookShop is a treasure trove for culinary enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of cookbooks that cater to various tastes and cooking styles. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, the selection here promises to inspire and guide you through your culinary journey.

The Milk Street Cook What You Have Cookbook is a standout choice, emphasizing the art of creating delightful meals with everyday pantry items. The 225 recipes unlock the surprising possibilities of ingredients you may already have at home, proving that gourmet cooking doesn't always require a trip to the grocery store.

For those looking to expand their cookbook collection without cluttering their counters, the Clear Solutions Deluxe Large Cookbook Holder is an excellent accessory. It's designed to support even the heftiest of cookbooks while maintaining a sleek profile and ensuring visibility of recipe details.

17. Cookbook Shop

The Cookbook Shop is a treasure trove for culinary enthusiasts, offering a wide range of titles that cater to every taste and skill level. From the rare finds to the latest releases, the shelves are lined with volumes that promise to inspire and challenge home cooks.

Discover deals on cookbooks that will expand your culinary repertoire and save you money. Here's a snapshot of some recent offers:

  • A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms: $13.00 $7.80

  • A Baker’s Tour Cookbook: $10.00 $6.00

  • 150 Recipes Jenny Lo’s Teahouse London: $17.00 $10.20

  • 1982 World’s Fair Cookbook 600 Southern Recipes: $8.00 $4.80

18. Leslie Brenner

Leslie Brenner, a prominent voice in the culinary literature scene, has been instrumental in guiding readers through the vast landscape of cookbooks. Her reviews, often found in the 'Cookbooks We Love' section, provide insightful commentary on a variety of culinary works. Brenner's expertise shines in her ability to dissect the nuances of seasonal cooking, as seen in her praise for Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking. This title, co-authored by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, was even named Cookbook of the Year, highlighting its significance in the culinary world.

In her annual gift guides, Brenner curates a selection of the most exciting cookbooks, offering readers a comprehensive look at the year's standout titles. Her approach to holiday gift-giving is unique, as she includes both new releases and timeless classics, ensuring that every type of home cook finds something special. Among the treasures she has reviewed, Claudia Roden's Mediterranean stands out as a revered volume, showcasing treasured recipes from a lifetime of travel.

19. Emma Wartzman

Emma Wartzman has become a notable figure in the culinary literature landscape, contributing to the rich tapestry of food culture with insightful reviews and features. Her work often highlights the intersection of food, family, and heritage, bringing a unique perspective to the table.

The Woks of Life, a family endeavor celebrated by Emma, encapsulates the essence of Chinese and Chinese American cooking. The Leung family's journey from a popular blog to a best-selling cookbook is a testament to their culinary prowess and the universal appeal of their recipes.

Emma's contributions extend beyond reviews, as she engages with the creators behind the recipes, offering a deeper understanding of the narratives woven into the fabric of their cookbooks. Her interviews and features are not just about the food, but the stories and traditions that give each dish its soul.

20. The Strategist

The Strategist, a beacon for savvy shoppers, has become a go-to source for those looking to make informed purchases. From the latest kitchen gadgets to the coziest home goods, their curated lists and reviews guide consumers through the noise of endless online options.

  • The Strategist 100: Our Most Stood-Behind Products

  • The Strategist Home Catalogue

  • The Strategist Baby Registry 100

  • Welcome to the Strategist Drugstore

Whether you're looking for the perfect gift or the next addition to your personal collection, The Strategist's well-researched recommendations are there to ensure you make the best choice.

21. Bon Appétit

Bon App\u00e9tit stands out as a culinary beacon, guiding both novice cooks and seasoned chefs through the delightful world of vegetarian cuisine. With a variety of recipes representing national cuisines from various countries, the book offers a journey through flavors and traditions.

The recipes range from simple, everyday dishes to more complex ones that require a bit more time and skill. This diversity ensures that there's something for everyone, whether you're looking for a quick weeknight dinner or a challenging weekend project.

For those eager to expand their culinary repertoire, this cookbook is a treasure trove of inspiration. It encourages experimentation and creativity, all while staying true to the joy of cooking with vegetables.

22. The New York Times

The New York Times has long been a bastion of culinary journalism, offering readers a rich tapestry of recipes and food stories. The Essential New York Times Cookbook stands as a testament to this legacy, encapsulating the paper's finest offerings in a single, comprehensive volume. With over a thousand pages, this James Beard Award-winning collection has been meticulously revised and updated, ensuring that each recipe remains a timeless classic.

Whether you're looking to recreate a historic dish or find inspiration for your next dinner party, this cookbook is an essential addition to any kitchen library.

23. The Washington Post

The Washington Post has long been a source of culinary inspiration, often featuring recipes that showcase the breadth of vegetarian cuisine. One such example is the title 'Cauliflower enchiladas', which not only demonstrates the versatility of vegetables but also the rich flavors that can be achieved without meat.

In the realm of cookbooks, The Washington Post has contributed to the understanding that sometimes, the best path to understanding a culture or cuisine is through cooking. This sentiment is echoed by numerous authors who have penned cookbooks, including those that offer a deep dive into cool recipes that have stood the test of time.

24. James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation has long been synonymous with culinary excellence, celebrating the best in the food world through its prestigious awards and recognitions. The 2024 Restaurant and Chef Award Nominees reflect the diverse and dynamic nature of the current culinary scene. Among the nominees, the category of Best Chef: Southeast includes talents such as Jamie Davis from The Hackney in Washington, NC, and the duo Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang from Talat Market in Atlanta, GA.

The Foundation's impact on the industry is evident, with many chefs dreaming of the accolade that has previously been awarded to those labeled as 'the most important chef in America'. This honor has been a stepping stone for many, leading to titles such as Food & Wine Best New Chef and Rising Star Chef of the Year.

25. Vegetable-Focused Cooking and more

In the realm of vegetable-focused cooking, a new wave of cookbooks is making a mark. Titles like 'AGong's Table' by George Lee and 'Boheme Cooking' by Carrie Solomon are part of this spring's exciting lineup. These books are not just about recipes; they're a celebration of plant-based heritage and innovation.

For those seeking to expand their culinary repertoire, here's a snapshot of what's on offer:

  • 'Forage Feast' by Chrissy

  • Ever-Green Vietnamese recipes

  • Free Cooks Without Borders recipes

Each title brings a unique perspective to the table, with 'Ever-Green Vietnamese' by Andrea Nguyen standing out for its 125 vegetable-centric recipes. Nguyen's creation of a fishless "fish" sauce is a game-changer for vegans, unlocking a world of flavors previously off-limits.


As we wrap up our culinary journey through the pages of history's most influential cookbooks, it's clear that the value of a great cookbook transcends time. From the cherished backlist titles with decades of staying power to the innovative new releases that have captured our imaginations, each book on this list offers a unique window into the world of cooking. Whether you're seeking the comfort of homey recipes or the thrill of new culinary challenges, there's something for every type of cook among these 35 best cookbooks of all time. As chefs and food enthusiasts continue to treasure these volumes, they remind us that a well-crafted cookbook is more than just a collection of recipes—it's a gift that keeps on giving, nourishing our bodies and spirits with each dish we master. So, whether you're gifting to a loved one or expanding your own collection, these cookbooks are sure to inspire and delight for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes 'The Vegan Chinese Kitchen' stand out among cookbooks?

This cookbook is notable for its well-chosen recipes, exquisite photos taken by the author Hannah Che, and the compelling personal story it weaves. It has been recognized by The New York Times and The Washington Post as one of the best cookbooks of the year and received a James Beard Foundation nomination for Vegetable-Focused Cooking.

What is the significance of 'backlist' titles in cookbooks?

'Backlist' titles refer to older books that have proven their worth by continuing to sell well over the years. These books have staying power and are often considered some of the best cookbooks available, treasured for their timeless appeal and usefulness.

How are cookbooks selected for this list?

Cookbooks are chosen based on their ability to capture the imagination, the quality of the recipes, and the potential to make great gifts. Some are tested and reviewed, while others are selected for their enticement and promise, even if untested.

What is the trend in cookbook publishing according to 'Cooks Without Borders'?

The current trend leans towards cookbooks that offer homey, achievable recipes for home cooks, moving away from the 'cheffy' or restaurant-style books. Cooks Without Borders focuses on great recipes for real food that can be made at home without excessive complexity.

Who is Leslie Brenner and what is her involvement with cookbooks?

Leslie Brenner is a writer who has extensively covered cookbooks, offering reviews and gift guides. She contributes to Cooks Without Borders and has a keen interest in the culinary literature scene.

Who is Emma Wartzman and what is her expertise in cookbooks?

Emma Wartzman is a kitchen and dining writer at The Strategist with a background in food media, including a previous role as an editor at Bon Appétit. She brings nine years of experience to her reviews and recommendations on cookbooks and kitchen items.

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