• Ane from Boomerang

The Essential Guide to the Best Cookbooks

The best cookbooks stand the test of time. Every year brings along a new food trend, and with it, new popular recipes appear and disappear. But the best recipes last beyond a few months in the spotlight. They’re tried and tested in thousands of kitchens and enjoyed by many. The best cookbooks we include in this article have worked hard to earn their spot in your kitchen. We’ll be exploring the best cookbooks for every type of cooking experience, interest and specialty. Some of these cookbooks will teach you the basics, while others will help challenge and expand your taste and skill. Whether you’re a confident chef looking for a new adventure, a mature adult looking for great recipes that suit your limitations, or a total cooking beginner ready to learn the basics of cooking, try these cookbooks and explore a new world of possibilities from your very own kitchen.


The 3 best cookbooks for beginners

If you’re ready to learn the basics of cooking, you’ll want to have these recipes in your arsenal as you get started. It’s worth investing in these cookbooks to build a solid foundation for your cooking abilities, even if you already have some experience in the kitchen. The best cookbooks for beginners show you the ropes with clear, easily followed instructions and delicious results.


1. The Joy of Cooking

This cookbook is a classic kitchen staple, and the newest version released in 2019 included much-improved updates to this rich encyclopedia of essential recipes. Easily learn popular, timeless recipes like perfect scones or the secret behind a perfect bowl of soup. The Joy of Cooking also has a bit of fun with culturally celebrated recipes like German Lebkuchen and variations on traditional Sichuanese cuisine. This best-selling cookbook contains a complete lexicon of recipes that will keep you busy for years to come, with clear instructions and more challenging recipes to work up to as you gain confidence.


Purchase The Joy of Cooking >>


2. Essentials of Cooking

The Essentials of Cooking is a great cookbook to study if you’re looking to learn the core skills in the toolbelt of any great chef. James Peterson uses practical applications and detailed photographs to show you exactly how you can perfect essential cooking skills. This cookbook provides a complete masterclass of its own and is a good substitute for an in-person cooking class. Gain the essential knowledge you need to cook confidently. Wondering if different oils affect the taste of a dish? Curious about how the taste of a vegetable is altered when roasted or cooked? Explore and experiment to expand your skills so that you won’t be perplexed if you’re asked to flambé, sauté, or broil in future recipes.


Purchase Essentials of Cooking >>


3. Salt Acid Fat Heat

This cookbook is a must-have for cooks of any skill level. If you find yourself overwhelmed by choices in the kitchen, this visually useful cooking guide gives clear guidance in seasoning, balancing flavour, and essential techniques. Salt Acid Fat Heat is beautifully illustrated with creatively inspiring imagery that can be useful for those of us who are visual learners. This cookbook maintains a place of honour on kitchen bookshelves because it goes beyond the traditional script of most popular cookbooks––helping you develop the instincts that allow you to create your own recipes, flavours, and interpretations with confidence.


Purchase Salt Acid Fat Heat >>


The 5 best specialty cookbooks

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may find that there’s a certain genre of cooking or specialty meal you keep coming back to. Whether you’re a dedicated stir fry cook, an avid baker, a vegan, or someone who’s committed to mastering the healthiest recipes, these cookbooks delve deeper into branches of specialty cooking that will inspire a new adventure. There’s nothing as fun as going down a cooking wormhole; it’s a healthy obsession that can bring delight to you and everyone you cook for.


1. The best cookbook for mastering French cuisine

Any home chef with aspirations of cooking mastery should consider Julia Child’s famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This cookbook is favourably referenced by all the best-of book lists, known as the definitive guide to French cooking. If you’re a Julia Child fan, you may also want to cozy up and watch a few episodes of The French Chef, Julia Child’s famous cooking show. This is on our list as essential for learning the nuances of French cuisine, but it also opens the door to some traditional recipes. Perfect scones, anyone? Fall in love with French cooking with this iconic cookbook. If you have aspirations of wowing future dinner guests with an elaborate spread featuring an immaculate boeuf bourguignon, this cookbook is for you.


Purchase Mastering of Art of French Cooking >>


2. The best Asian-American cookbook

Bold flavours, classic Asian food traditions and fresh ingredients make this a must-have cookbook for any contemporary chef. Momofuku: A Cookbook is a New York Times bestseller written by critically-acclaimed chef David Chang, The New York Times food writer Peter Meehan, and Chris Ying, a well-known editor of former food magazine Lucky Peach. From ginger scallion noodles and heavenly ramen to the world-famous pork buns popular at Chang’s restaurants, this cookbook takes you on a journey through taste that you won’t want to come back from. We’re guessing you’ll want to try every recipe as soon as you try one. David Chang’s colourful descriptions about the dishes and his journey as a chef offer insightful perspectives into the world of contemporary Asian-American cuisine.


Purchase Momofuku: A Cookbook >>


3. The perfect cookbook for planning ahead

The Fix-It and Forget-It Slow Cooker Freezer Meals cookbook is hailed for its no-nonsense approach to cooking. If you feel inspired to cook but perhaps can’t always find the time, consider setting aside a night or two a month to prepare all of your meals. The best part? This cookbook offers recipes that are healthy and delicious, offering nutritional value in every recipe. The pre-planned meal structure makes it easy to heat up a full dinner without wasting any time. Try these recipes for a fail-safe guide to delicious breakfasts, hearty chilis, seafood dishes, and more.


Purchase Fix-It and Forget-It Slow Cooker Freezer Meals >>


4. The top cookbook for vegan home cooking

Vegan Planet is a classic for its lexicon of animal-free recipes, with tried and tested meals that are delicious and nutrient-rich. Whether you’re looking to create your own vegan cheese, bake a vegan dessert, enhance your vegan baking, or create the perfect vegetarian entree, this cookbook has you covered with over 425 recipes accessible to any cooking level.


Purchase Vegan Planet >>


5. The best Indian cookbook

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking has been reprinted more than ten times and has outlasted other trendy cookbooks with its unmistakable delicious, simple recipes. Madhur Jaffrey is a world-renowned authority on Indian cooking, and she shares her best secrets in these flavorful, achievable recipes. Indian cooking can intimidate even an accomplished chef with its rich spice blends, strong traditions, complicated recipes, and lengthy preparation times. In this cookbook, Jaffrey provides clear instructions that are easy to follow, with a preparation time of 30 minutes or less for most of these delicious recipes.


Purchase Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking >>


How to find the best cookbooks for people over age 50

If you’re an older adult, you might have trouble finding recipes that suit your needs. We now know that there are a wealth of resources out there for cooks of any skill level, but what about cookbooks for those of us who are elderly? The best cookbooks for older adults include recipes that are nutrient-rich, easy-to-make, and gentle on your digestive system. If you’re looking for a great cookbook, you’ll want recipes that are considerate of mobility challenges and work well if you’re cooking solo. Here are some other considerations:


Learn how to make exceptional soups and stews

The best cookbooks for people over 50 should include recipes that make food easy to chew, comfortable to digest, and possible to prepare even for those with mobility constraints. Soups and stews are the perfect meal to check all of those boxes. If you’re an older adult and never made a soup, start with the essentials and master the art of a good bone broth. Looking for more of a challenge? Try a delicious ramen recipe from this cookbook for a kick of flavour. Try a cookbook like The Soup Book by Dk to master seasonal soups and side dishes, and you’ll have 200 exciting recipes to carry you through the year.


Read more about nutritional soup recipes for senior health


Pass down family traditions with culturally traditional recipes

If you’re looking to get inspired, consider how your family traditions can be passed on to future generations through a recipe. The Taste of Country Cooking: The 30th Anniversary Edition of a Great Southern Classic Cookbook is an American classic and offers a great reminder that the best recipes stand the test of time. In this iconic cookbook, Edna Lewis celebrates traditional recipes from her childhood, including meals shared in a small Virginia farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. Her family’s legacy of overcoming adversity was passed on through the sharing of these delicious recipes. So if you’re reflecting on recipes from your own childhood, let The Taste of Country Cooking be the inspiration for you in nostalgic cooking.


If you have grandchildren, children, or younger people in your life, this may be the perfect time to pass down family recipes of your own. What legacy of cooking would you like to pass on to the next generation? Cooking can be a deep and meaningful way to pass on family traditions to the next generation. As you explore this collection of delicious American classics, consider the story that your own favourite meals may have to tell; and make sure you take the time to write those recipes down.


Get cooking with Boomerang’s online classes

Our online community at Boomerang is a great place to source inspiration for your next great recipe from the comfort of your home. Join our weekly discussion group, and explore culinary classes, get set up with the baking tools you need, bring questions to ask a professional chef, try new ideas, and make new friends. Sign up for Boomerang and check out some of our cooking and culinary workshops coming up:



Our community members love to share ideas, tips and valuable insights. Whether you’re looking to try something new or develop skills you already have, our community learns by doing. Join us today, and let’s get cooking!

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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