We sweat over them, rave about them and covet them as they sit on our bookshelves. But what really makes a great cookbook? We've picked our top 50 cookbooks of all time, from the classics by Constance Spry and The Silver Spoon to fresh offerings from the likes of Rachel Khoo and Nathan Outlaw. A veritable feast for the eyes and belly, these humble tomes have become staples in our kitchens.
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Nose to Tail Eating, Fergus Henderson
As signaled from the pig on the cover, Nose to Tail Eating places its emphasis firmly on meat. Chef Fergus Henderson, owner of the famed St John restaurant franchise, serves up recipes using all parts of an animal - from snout to trotter. And he's onto a winning formula: whenever René Redzepi (head chef of the critically acclaimed restaurant Noma) is in town, St John is is favourite foodie destination to visit.
The Silver Spoon Cookbook
The Silver Spoon has been the most influential and successful Italian cookbook of the last 50 years. Originally published in 1950 by Domus (Italy's famed design and architectural magazine) it became an instant classic, selling over one million copies in eight editions. Considered essential in every household, it continues to be one of Italy’s most popular wedding presents. With over 2,000 recipes to choose from, it gets even the most amateur cook into the Mediterranean spirit.
Moro: The Cookbook, Samuel and Samantha Clark
Samuel and Samantha Clark pioneered the reinvention of Spanish, North African and Mediterranean cuisine for a modern audience with their London restaurant, Moro. Following up on the success of the foodie hotspot, the pair published Moro: The Cookbook back in 2001, winning yet another legion of fans. In addition to the fantastic mix of recipes (We love the spring Vegetable pilav and Harissa and almond alioli) this book also doubles up as a handy guide for how to grow your own and is a must for anyone wanting to eat seasonal produce.
Hawksmoor at Home, Huw Gott and Will Beckett
Boasting the recipe for the 'Best Burger in Britain' is no small claim. Yet steak impresarios Huw Gott and Will Beckett have travelled the world to dish up just that in their tome, Hawksmoor at Home. From its spine-tinglingly good cocktail recipes and proper British puds to their well-honed formula for the perfect steak, this is one book your kitchen can't do without.
Complete How to Cook, Delia Smith
A comprehensive guide to basic techniques, recipes and kitchen etiquette, this book was billed as ‘Every woman’s best friend’ when it first came out 14 years ago (presumably men didn’t cook in 1997). The recipes get progressively more challenging throughout; from boiling eggs to classics such as smoked haddock with crème fraîche and chive butter sauce and peppercrusted beef fillet. Over a decade after its first publication, Delia’s tone is also genuinely good fun. It’s the next best thing to having your mum on standby during a dinner party SOS.
Macarons, Pierre Herme
Though making the perfect macaron may be a myth to the amateur cook, Pierre Herme's beautiful book is a good place to start. Feted as the 'Picasso of Pastry', Macaronsis an adventure into the mind of one of France's premier patisserie chefs. With recipes ranging from foie gras and chocolate to apple and salted caramel, this book is one for the adventurous dessert fiend.
At Elizabeth David's Table, Elizabeth David
Having travelled widely in Europe, the Middle East and India, Elizabeth David published her first cookbook Mediterranean over 60 years ago. Since then, she has provided the nation with some of the most scholarly and well-loved recipes. In At Elizabeth David's Table readers are treated to 12 chapters of recipes, from soups and starters through to elegant meat dishes (her Persian lamb with aubergines is a particular Stylist favourite).
Leon, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent
When Leon opened in London in 2004, it aimed to change the face of fast food. Delivering wholesome, healthy and high-quality food is also the idea that underpins their eponymous cookbook. With recipes varying from a turkey bolognese to a comforting Persian onion soup, the book is brimming with rich and lively recipes to add to your everyday repertoire.
Baking Made Easy, Lorraine Pascale
Following on from the success of her BBC show, Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy is a friendly, accessible and stress-free way to get baking. The mum and former model gives readers an insight into her love for all aspects of baking in the book, including her hand selected collection of sweet and savoury recipes - try the Garlic and Sherry Mussels out for size. Our tummy's grumbling already...
The Flavour Thesaurus, Niki Segnit
If you ever wondered what to do with all those odd ingredients in the fridge, look no further than Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus. Explaining why certain flavours work well when paired together, the book suggests offbeat alternatives to classic flavour combinations (blueberries and mushrooms anyone?). Packaged in a beautiful grey cloth-bound cover, the book isn't going to just improve your cooking - it will look pretty on your bookshelf too.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child and Simone Beck
With the release of Julie and Julia back in 2009, acclaimed American chef Julia Childs won a whole new generation of fans. Not that she needed to. Her tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking, co-authored with Simone Beck and Louisette Berthole, has long been creditted with bringing Cordon Bleu quality cooking to the American kitchen. With more than 500 recipes ranging from the classic cassoulet to the simple pleasures of a plate of spring peas, Child's book is a comprehensive insight into the backbone of French cooking.
The Ginger Pig Meat Book, Tim Wilson and Fran Warde
The Ginger Pig are not only London's premier butchers - they have also put together one of the most authoritative manuals on British meat. Championing recipes that use the best breeds and cuts of meat, recipes cover major game and poultry, ranging from venison, rabbit, goose, guinea fowl, duck, quail and turkey.With their famed sausage roll quickly becoming part of foodie folklore, your pies and pasties will never be the same again.
The Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume
Hailed as one of the greatest cookery books of all time, Constance Spry's recipe collection is a kitchen classic. Written in the 1950s, each chapter provides a practical summary of processes - from pastry making to the perfect white sauce. Whether you are an amateur or experienced cook, her book provides the perfect starting point for those knockout dishes.
India, Pupesh Pant
India is the first comprehensive guide to Indian cooking, with over 1,000 recipes covering every aspect of India's rich and colourful culinary heritage. Written by an Indian culinary academic and cookbook author who lives and works in Delhi, and the recipes are a true reflection of how traditional dishes are really cooked all over India, including recipes for lesser-known dishes such as bataer masalydaar (marinated quails cooked with almonds, chillies and green cardamom), or sambharachi kodi (Goan prawn curry with coconut and tamarind).
Pasta, Theo Randall
We all have it in our cupboards but in Pasta Theo Randall creates something spectacular with the humble Italian staple. Imbued with the flavours of the Italian countryside, Randall showcases the inexpensive ingredient in the simplest dishes - whether in a plate of tagliatelle with butter and Parmesan or a ravioli stuffed with sweet potato and fennel. Using a mix of fresh and dried pasta and the freshest ingredients according to the season, there is a dish in here to please everyone.
Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi
As one of Britain's most exciting food writers, Yotam Ottolenghi's second cookery book Plenty is a veritable feast. Filled with plush photography of his signature dishes, including warm glass noodles with Edamame beans or a green Gazpacho, the book fuses flavours from the East and Mediterranean. Each page feels like a celebration of Ottolenghi's past and present success and you'd be hard-pushed not to feel inspired after putting it down.
The Little Paris Kitchen, Rachel Khoo
She may be the star of a BBC cookery series, but once upon a time Rachel Khoo was an ordinary woman determined to get to grips with French cooking. To learn more Rachel moved to Paris, not speaking a word of French, and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, the world-famous cookery school. Five years later and she has become one of the food world's brightest stars. In The Little Paris Kitchen Khoo provides readers with 120 recipes that celebrate the best of French cooking, from the classic Croque Madame muffin and Boeuf bourguignon, to a deliciously fragrant Provencal lavender and lemon roast chicken.
The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver
This was Jamie’s first book, the one he wrote before he became a social crusader. It was an instant bestseller and the recipes haven’t dated one bit. Every recipe is spot on, there’s an incredibly useful basics list for your larder, a chapter on how to grow fresh herbs plus each section starts with really useful tips. The best part though, is Jamie's philosophy – his laid-back approach encourages you to experiment rather than stick to recipes and he makes potentially boring food – like salads and veggies – totally exciting. Globe artichoke and celery heart salad with parmesan, lemon and olive oil, anyone?
British Baking, Peyton and Byrne
From fluffy vanilla cupcakes to a traditional treacle tart, Peyton and Byrne's British Baking is a nostalgic throwback to the baked goodies of your childhood. Indulge in their Raspberry ripple cheesecake and jammy dodgers as you flick through the pages of this pretty pastel book. Be warned though - with over 120 recipes to choose from, toothache might be a side effect...
This weighty gastronomic anthology, compiled by 62 experts in French cuisine, details everything you’ll ever need to know about classic French cooking – the basis for all great food. Heston Blumenthal called it “the definitive culinary reference bible” and Sir Terence Conran believes it should be “on every kitchen shelf”. It was first published in 1938 and contains chefs’ biographies, glossaries of terms, step-by-step pictures for certain recipes and maps of wine regions. Ideal for accomplished chefs who want to perfect classic techniques or anyone with a thirst for foodie knowledge.
How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson
In the world of cooking, there is no greater phenomenon or treasure than Nigella Lawson. From her early journalism to her present-day cookbooks, there's no denying that Lawson's unbridled pleasure in cooking is infectious. Picking our favourite cookery book from her back catalogue was a hard one but ultimately we decided on How to be a Domestic Goddess. Why? The strap-line alone says it all: "How to be a Domestic Goddess is not about being a goddess, but about feeling like one."
The Family Meal, Ferran Adrià
Ferran Adrià is better known for his innovative and ground breaking gastronomic creations, but this highly anticipated new book reveals, for the first time, his secrets for creating delicious, seasonal, and simple home cooked meals. The Family Meal’s mouth-watering recipes are inspired by the dishes eaten by the staff of Ferran’s restaurant, the legendary elBulli, four-time recipient of the World’s Best Restaurant Award. Featuring 31 meals (each made up of 3 recipes) and providing the quantities of ingredients needed for servings of 2, 6, 20 and 75 people, this book is a great way to pick up new ideas whether you are cooking at home or in a restaurant.
Coast to Coast, Rick Stein
Rick Stein's passion for fresh, well-sourced food has taken him from continent to continent, across magnificent shorelines and to the very best produce the coast has to offer. From fresh grilled cod with shellfish in garlic butter at the tip of St Ives, to cured red duck breasts with melon, soy and pickled ginger in Sydney Harbour, this collection of over 130 recipes evokes all the pleasure and flavour associated with the coast.
The Modern Pantry, Anna Hansen
One of Stylist's own foodie heroines, The Modern Pantry is Anna Hansen's first foray into the world of food writing. Her dishes combine the best of seasonal western ingredients with the freshness and spice of Asian and Pacific Rim cooking introducing the reader to his or her very own 'modern pantry', a global larder of ingredients to use at home. Recipes include snacks and sharing plates like crab rarebit and grilled halloumi and lemon roast fennel bruschetta, and salads such as wild rice with charred sweetcorn, avocado, feta and pecan. Hungry yet?
British Food, Mark Hix
Mark Hix provides over 130 British regional recipes – some totally true to tradition, others cleverly and sympathetically adapted for today’s home cook. He celebrates traditional techniques like salting, sousing and smoking used more today for their flavour enhancing qualities than for preserving, while presenting wholly British dishes. Founder and patron of the HIX chain, Mark's talent and passion for food can be felt throughout the collection.
Vegetarian, Alice Hart
Forget boring stuffed peppers, Alice Hart's Vegetarian is the go-to-guide for those looking to add a little oomph to their meat-free diet. Featuring recipe contributions from top chefs Stéphane Reynaud, Skye Gyngell, Rowley Leigh, Francesco Mazzei and Tom Pemberton, it provides a quick and easy guide to the basics of vegetarian cooking. As the youngest ever editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated, Hart is one of food writing's most exciting new voices.
The River Cafe Cookbook, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Acclaimed for their innovative re-interpretation of Italian farmhouse cooking at the River Cafe restaurant, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers have produced an outstanding selection of recipes with an emphasis on uncomplicated food which is vibrant with flavour. Beautifully illustrated, The River Cafe Cookbook is an exciting guide to this approachable a form of Italian cooking and a celebration of the great restaurant.
The Art of French Baking, Ginette Mathiot
From éclairs to soufflés and macaroons to madeleines, when it comes to desserts, no-one does it better than the French. Beautiful, elegant and delicious, French desserts are easy to create at home as only a few basic recipes are needed to make some of the world's most renowned cakes and tarts. The Art of French Baking is the definitive collection of authentic French pastry and dessert recipes. From Tarte Tatin and Hazelnut Petit Fours to Cherry Tartlets and Choux Buns, it contains more than 350 simple recipes that anyone can follow at home. The perfect gift for those with a weakness for sweet things.
Real Food, Nigel Slater
Nigel Slater’s sixth book, which accompanied his cult late Nineties TV show of the same name, is our favourite dinner party recipe book. His real style of cooking – using ingredients we’ve heard of, fail-safe recipes and familiar techniques – makes Slater stand out from the rest. Plus, the way he writes about food can’t help but get you excited about cooking. Go straight to page 223 to make the leek and taleggio risotto, then tackle the more complex recipes like chicken with vermouth, tarragon and cream. The croissants with caramelised apples and ice cream is one of most satisfying desserts we’ve ever made.
Nathan Outlaw's Modern British Seafood
In Modern British Seafood Nathan Outlaw shares the secrets of his unique approach and provides a tempting collection of original recipes. Beginning with a guide to sourcing and buying, followed by a step-by-step guide to preparing all types of fish and shellfish, he then explains cooking techniques, showing how to pan-fry, grill, bake, steam, barbecue and deep-fry fish to perfection, avoiding the pitfalls of overcooking. The winner of two Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant in Cornwall, this fresh book is destined to be a classic.
The French Laundry, Thomas Keller
A three-star Michelin restaurant nestled in the California Napa Valley, The French Laundry is America’s finest gastronomic destination and its cookbook is the chefs’ essential. For us it’s a coffee table collection of impossibly beautiful recipes (see the lobster consommé) and location shots that will have you flying to San Francisco. It’s the canapés section that really sets this book apart, introduced with an insightful essay by Keller on the science behind the smallest of restaurant courses.
Bocca, Jacob Kennedy
As Bocca explains, Italian cuisine is rich and varied according to the region from which it originates. Thankfully Jacob Kennedy, a self-avowed culinary magpie, travelled the length and breadth of the country over the course of a year, gathering up his favourite recipes - many of them obscure, some bizarre, all utterly delicious. Like the menu at Bocca di Lupo, Jacob's award-winning London restaurant, this book is a thrilling, exotic journey through the true flavours of Italy: the hearty risotti of the north, the exquisite shellfish of the Veneto, the earthy sausages of Bologna. Viva la Italia!
Baking Bible, Mary Berry
This definitive collection from the undisputed queen of cakes brings together all of Mary Berry's most mouth-watering baking recipes in a beautifully packaged edition. Filled with 250 foolproof recipes, from the classic Victoria Sponge, Very Best Chocolate Cake and Hazelnut Meringue Cake to tempting muffins, scones and bread and butter pudding, the collection will guide you smoothly to baking success.
The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden
Claudia Roden has spent five years researching and writing about the food of Spain, resulting in this definitive, passionate and evocative cookbook which takes in the different regions and looks at the history, the people and the culture at the heart of this country, and at that which binds it all together - the delicious food and recipes passed down through generations. From simple, rustic tapas and delicately flavoured soups, to elaborate celebratory dishes served on silver platters and cakes and desserts each with a story to tell, this is the book about Spain to learn from and to cook from.
The River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
When pondering how to braise the perfect chop, you need an expert. The River Cottage Meat Book has the chef’s stamp of approval. Mark Hix, owner and chef of the Hix Oyster & Chop House told Stylist that it was “the most comprehensive meat book around which tells you everything you need to know” such as how to work out the cooking time for any cut of meat. The book includes 150 home-tested recipes ranging from shepherd’s pie and the perfect crackling to delicious medium-rare steaks.
Vegetables from an Italian Garden: Season-by-Season Recipes
Another beautiful cookery book from Phaidon, Vegetables from an Italian Garden provides a comprehensive, seasonal cooking guide to preparing vegetable dishes the Italian way. With over 350 authentic recipes, the book draws from the material in The Silver Spoon Cookbook, helping you get the most value from your veggies. Organized by season, each recipe is accompanied by glossy photographs and how-to-grow tips - super handy for those with green fingers.
30 Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver
A second entry for Jamie on our top 50 cookbooks. This groundbreaking book was the fastest selling cookbook of all time, thanks to it's critical acclaim. But why? In the collection, Oliver helps you utilize every minute in the kitchen, writing recipes showing that with a bit of preparation, the right equipment and good organization, hearty, quick meals are less than half an hour away. Pukka indeed.
Canteen: Great British Food, Patrick Clayton-Malone, Cass Titcombe and Dominic Lake
Canteen took the London restaurant scene by storm in 2005. Here was a restaurant serving proper British food - devilled kidneys on toast, potted duck, pork pies, and treacle tart - with passion and pride. Their no-nonsense, modern-meets-classic menu has brought good British cooking to the high street once more, and prompted the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Terence Conran and gastropubs around the country to follow suit. Unapologetically nostalgic, their first, much-anticipated cookbook is a splendidly comforting collection of 120 British dishes, including steak and kidney pie, Arbroath smokies, blackcurrant jelly with ice cream and shortbread, and rhubarb and almond trifle.
Curry Easy, Madhur Jaffrey
In this delicious collection of new recipes, Madhur Jaffrey shows us that Indian food need not be complicated or involve hours in the kitchen. Take a few well chosen spices and readily available ingredients, and in a few easy steps you can make a delicious prawn curry from Goa; succulent chicken baked in an almond and onion sauce; hearty Sri Lankan beef with coconut milk. Whether you are cooking curry for the first time or have plenty of culinary experience and are looking for quick and easy ideas, Madhur brings you all the tastes of India with the minimum of work.
Food from Plenty, Diana Henry
Acclaimed food writer Diana Henry is a modern day Elizabeth David, writing her own recipes based on her travels while staying committed to seasonal home cooking. Food From Plenty is a collection of her favourite recipes. Stylist loves the emphasis on thrifty cooking. Don’t know what to do with your leftover roast chicken? Henry shows you how to whip it into chicken and ham pie. It strikes a perfect balance between classic British dishes and imaginatively exotic recipes. Make sure you try the roast pork loin – it takes a while but it’s worth it. An essential recipe book.
The Complete Robuchon, Joel Robuchon
Famed for his Atelier restaurants on both sides of the English Channel, The Complete Joel Robuchon is full of the Gallic chefs most imaginative recipes. From the perfect omelette to vegetable soup, leg of lamb to marinated mussels, each recipe bears the stamp of haute French cuisine, spun with Robuchon's own secret tips and techniques.
Leiths Cookery Bible, Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave
This timeless classic comes from the celebrated Leiths School of Food and Wine. Covering soups, first courses, vegetable dishes, salads, main courses, stocks, sauces, dips, spreads, puddings, cakes, breads, biscuits, preserves, canapés, snacks and garnishes, the Leiths Cookery Bible is truly exhaustive. In it you will find a perfected recipe for almost any dish you are looking for - Steak Tartare, Beef Bourguignonne, Peking Duck, Gazpacho, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Chicken Kiev, Thai Red Curry, Cassoulet - and for any occasion, be it a quick supper or cocktail party, picnic, three course meal or afternoon tea.
Two Greedy Italians, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo
Over 30 years ago, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo left their native Italy to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. Both became successful cooks and restaurateurs in Britain, where they met and worked together, and bonded into the bargain. In this book, Carluccio and Contaldo give over 100 new recipes from their memories or childhood tastes, many of them simple, reflecting the changes in style and ingredients that have become apparent in the Italy of today. There are new insights into Italy then and now along with Carluccio and Contaldo’s humour, wisdom, adaptability, curiosity and, most significantly, their shared passion for food.
Bought, Borrowed & Stolen, Allegra McEvedy
It doesn't matter where you are in the world, to any chef worth their salt, knives and ingredients are the most important things. Bought, Borrowed & Stolen brings them together, as they should be, for the first time. This book is an authentic glimpse into food and cultures, and is filled with Allegra's favourite dishes eaten over 20 years of travelling, tasting and scribbling.
Weekend Baking, Sarah Randell
Delia, Nigella, Martha Stewart… when it comes to books about baking there are dozens of big names all vying to teach you how to make the perfect Victoria sponge. But for us, there’s only one worth having. Sarah Randell’s small and unimposing recipe book contains the usual cakes, cookies and muffins but is also punctuated with more unusual alternatives. We adore the rosewater, pistachio and grapefruit cake and white chocolate and apricot roulade. Delia “warmly recommends”. And if it’s good enough for Ms Smith…
Short and Sweet, Dan Lepard
Dan Lepard’s innovative and earthy approach has made him the baker that every top chef wants in their kitchen, and with this utterly dependable how-to-bake book you’ll be baking cakes, pastries, breads and cookies like never before. From his crème fraiche and blueberry cupcakes to the savoury leek and smoked haddock pies, Short and Sweet is a firm favourite in the Stylist office!
Exciting Food for Southern Types, Pellegrino Artusi
Pellegrino Artusi is the original icon of Italian cookery, whose legendary 1891 book Science in the Kitchen and The Art of Eating Well defined its national cuisine and is still a bestseller today. Exciting Food for Southern Types forms part of the Penguin Great Food collection and features everything from a proud defence of the humble meat loaf, to digressions on the unusual history of ice-cream and the side-effects of cabbage. A brilliant read.
Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book, Jane Grigson
A lifesaver for vegetarians, gardeners and those trying to convince children to eat their greens, Jane Grigson's Vegetable book is a reference bible for ways on how to cook and breathe new life into every kind of legume, from aubergines to okra.
The Freerange Cook, Annabel Langbein
The New Zealand chef has created the ideal book aimed at cooks not at chefs. Her simple yet delicious recipies are easy to make, don't require buying tons of ingredients you will never use again and are focused on sourcing and growing fresh produce. Her back-to-nature approach is reflected by the stunning New Zealand landscape which forms the background to the book. Langbein's philosophy is easy to grasp - eat the freshest ingredients when they are in season and don't complicate things too much!
The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Fuchsia Dunlop
Thought Chinese cuisine was all greasy takeaways and Chicken Chow Mein? Think again. Fuchsia Dunlop is an authority on Chinese cooking, and this book really does what it says on the tin - revolutionizing the way we think about the countries' food. Focusing on the southern Chinese province of Hunan and its hearty peasant cooking, recipes are interwoven with anecdotes and tales from China’s turbulent twentieth century. Recipes include numbing-and-hot chicken, Chairman Mao’s favourite red-braised pork, soothing tonic stews and some inventive stir fries.