17 Great Cookbooks for Beginners Cooking at Home

Learning to cook as a beginner can feel like a daunting task. From finding the ingredients and learning all the critical techniques, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in your home kitchen.

Woman reading from a recipe cookbook

Luckily, there are so many cookbooks today that are designed just for beginner chefs.

These cookbooks offer easy-to-follow recipes, guides to basic techniques, and all the insider tips and tricks you might need to become a successful home cook.

In the list below, I’ll be ranking some of the best cookbooks for beginners.

Whether you want to learn more about classic kitchen tools, vegan and vegetarian cooking, or quintessential baking techniques, one of these beginner cookbooks might be the perfect choice for you.

Make sure you have all the kitchen essentials as well as any necessary cookware and get started with these beginner level cookbooks!

How to Cook Everything

Written by Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything is the perfect cookbook for any home cook interested in learning simple recipes and key beginner cooking techniques.

The book offers 2,000 recipes using straightforward instructions and simple, fresh ingredients.

With chapters on sauces and herbs to fish, poultry, and dessert, this award-winning book has everything any new home cook needs to create delicious, crowd-pleasing meals and snacks.

Bittman also covers 11 essential cooking techniques, including knife skills and ovenware, as well as ideas and tips for every step of the cooking process.

No matter how much cooking experience you have, this user-friendly cookbook should be a staple in any home kitchen.

Joy of Cooking

Since it was first published in 1936, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer has been an essential cookbook for generations of beginner home cooks.

With a perfect balance of tried-and-true traditional recipes and new favorites, Joy of Cooking has something to suit every new chef or baker’s taste.

In the newest edition, you can find thousands of simple recipes, from old classics such as Southern Cornbread to more modern options, including gluten-free pizza dough and seeded olive oil granola.

The authors also outline several new techniques and tricks that every new home cook should know, along with a chapter designed to help streamline the cooking process and save time and money while buying ingredients.

Ottolenghi Simple

For home cooks that don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, Ottolenghi Simple is the ideal cookbook.

In this New York Times bestseller, renowned chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi outlines 130 recipes, many of which can be made with ten or fewer ingredients in 30 minutes or less.

Along with how simple all the recipes are, I love the incredible, Middle-Eastern-inspired flavors in all of Ottolenghi’s dishes.

From tasty brunch options such as braised eggs with leek and za’atar to sweet no-churn raspberry ice cream for dessert, this cookbook has simple and easy suggestions for every meal of the day.

Beginner’s Baking Bible

If you’re interested in baking but don’t know where to start, in my opinion, the Beginner’s Baking Bible is the best way to learn all the recipes, techniques, and tips you need.

Author Heather Perine makes baking simple and accessible by highlighting crucial techniques, such as mixing, folding, and kneading, and uses easy-to-follow guides to teach every step of the process.

There are also over 130 recipes throughout the book, from savory biscuits to sweet cakes, cookies, and other desserts.

And with crucial insider tips paired with every recipe, the Beginner’s Baking Bible helps you gain confidence and baking knowledge in no time.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Written by James Beard award winner Samin Nosrat, the New York Times bestseller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is one of my favorite cookbooks to keep in my kitchen.

This classic cookbook takes a unique approach to cooking, detailing how to master the four main elements of cooking to create delicious food with any ingredients.

After explaining how to use salt, fat, acid, and heat to enhance the flavor and texture of food, Nosrat provides 100 quintessential recipes and variations to practice the use of these elements to create balanced dishes.

Whether you’re baking pastry dough or roasted vegetables, this intriguing and easy-to-follow use of kitchen science is guaranteed to help any beginner home cook.

The Instant Pot Bible

Instant pots have revolutionized the way we cook, offering endless options for fast, low-effort, and delicious meals.

The Instant Pot Bible is a comprehensive guide to this cooking tool, with hundreds of tips for creating simple and tasty meals, snacks, and desserts with any instant pot model.

In this cookbook, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough provide details for over 350 instant pot recipes, including soups, bread, pasta dishes, and more.

And I love that these recipes suit every dietary need, with plenty of gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and keto-friendly recipes.

If you have an instant pot, this cookbook offers everything you need to make the most out of this kitchen tool and create a huge range of simple and flavorful instant pot meals.

The Best Simple Recipes

If you find that you often have minimal time and ingredients for making dinner, The Best Simple Recipes ensures that you can still enjoy delicious, flavorful meals, even with limited resources.

America’s Test Kitchen put together a collection of 200 easy-to-prepare recipes that can be completed in 30 minutes or less.

By combining steps, minimizing pans, and highlighting other economical kitchen tips, this cookbook can help any busy beginner chef build a repertoire of simple and delicious meals.

With this easy-to-follow cookbook, even home cooks with limited time and energy can create filling and nutritious dinners such as salmon and asparagus, vegetarian chili, and chicken tikka masala.

The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, written by Deborah Madison, presents a definitive beginners’ guide to vegan and vegetarian cooking.

Since the original Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was published in 1997, Madison has expanded her recipes and added modern, innovative ideas in this new edition.

In The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, you can find over 1,600 simple recipes, including classic and new dishes, along with detailed introductions and information about popular vegetarian and vegan ingredients.

Whether you’re looking for new vegetarian dinner ideas or just want to learn more about incorporating vegetables in your meals, this book is a fantastic purchase.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry

If you’re looking for even more creative vegan cooking ideas, I recommend checking out The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner.

In this modern and innovative beginner cookbook, readers can learn all about how to create a healthier, vegan version of essential pantry staples, from mayo to dairy to dressings and sauces.

It also covers more vegan specialty items, such as pizza dough, vegan breakfast sausage, and so much more.

Schinner also covers basic cooking techniques that can be used across these recipes, including how to roast tomatoes or make handcrafted pasta.

Cook Like a Pro

Home cooks that want to cook with the skills and confidence of a professional chef will love Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten.

A part of Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook series, this bestselling cookbook offers tips, tricks, and recipes that can be used by beginners and experienced chefs alike.

I found this cookbook to be extremely user-friendly, with simple, straightforward guides to creating impressive meals, sides, desserts, and cocktails.

It also teaches the reader essential tips and techniques for using a knife, peeling garlic, cutting cauliflower, and so much more.

The advice and insider tricks throughout this cookbook are guaranteed to help you gain confidence as you cook and master any new recipe.

Baking Illustrated

Created by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, Baking Illustrated uses fun narratives and step-by-step illustrations to help guide home bakers through new and traditional recipes.

The book features 350 tried-and-true mouthwatering recipes, complete with proven kitchen tricks to get the best results possible.

From sweet treats such as cobblers, cakes, and brownies to more savory croissants and biscuits, every home baker can find something to enjoy in this cookbook.

And with different kitchen tips and baking techniques scattered throughout the book, Baking Illustrated provides everything you need to succeed in your home kitchen.

One Pot

With minimal cleanup and effort, one pot meals are an exceptional option for any busy home cook.

One Pot, written by the editors of Martha Stewart Living, outlines some of the most simple and delicious hassle-free recipes that can be cooked in a single pot or pan.

The New York Times bestselling cookbook contains more than 120 savory and sweet dishes that can be made by any home chef with limited time, materials, or effort.

The meals are filling, nutritious, and full of flavor, so you don’t have to sacrifice sustenance or taste when you’re running low on time.

Every chapter highlights recipes that can be made with a different kitchen vessel, including dutch ovens, skillets, roasting pans, slow cookers, pressure cookers, and stock pots.

You can even find some simple, easy-to-make dessert recipes for skillet chocolate chips, peach crumble, and more.

The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook

When the long recipes with complicated ingredients start to feel daunting, The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook by Toby Amidor is a great way for beginners to get started and gain confidence in their home kitchen.

This book is full of 100 simple recipes that can be made with only three main ingredients, along with a couple of pantry staples like classic spices.

The dishes are nutritious, simple, and easy to make, so chefs of all experience levels can follow along and create delicious meals.

While my personal favorite is the three-ingredient peanut butter and banana pancakes, you can also find recipes for a lox scramble, eggplant parmesan, maple soy salmon, and so much more.

You can also look for “Toby’s Tips” throughout the book for advice on kitchen equipment, meal planning, and meal prep.

The Silver Spoon

For a comprehensive beginners’ guide to Italian cooking, be sure to check out The Silver Spoon. Created by The Silver Spoon Kitchen, this guide to authentic Italian home cooking features over 2,000 recipes, crucial cooking techniques, and user-friendly illustrations.

The extensive list of recipes includes many favorites that have been passed down through generations of Italian family kitchens.

The 11 different chapters cover every type of food, from sauces and marinades to pizza to dessert.

This edition of The Silver Spoon also includes information on composing an Italian meal and different regional food traditions throughout Italy.

To learn even more about traditional Italian food, this book even allows you to flip through world-renowned celebrity chef’s Italian menus.

Gluten-Free for Good

Becoming a confident and skilled home cook can already be a major challenge for beginners, and it’s even more difficult if you’re learning to cook around major dietary restrictions.

Gluten-Free for Good aims to avoid these challenges by offering healthy and delicious gluten-free recipes.

In this cookbook, food editor and blogger Samantha Seneviratne highlights 100 simple, easy-to-digest gluten-free recipes for meals, snacks, and desserts.

You can enjoy pizza, crackers, risotto, and cake made gluten-free from scratch, without any processed ingredients.

Whether you have a gluten allergy or are just looking to incorporate more gluten-free meals into your diet, you can enjoy plenty of healthy and delicious options with Gluten-Free for Good.

Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple

As the name suggests, Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple highlights classic recipes that require little time, energy, and clean-up.

While the 250 recipes in Pépin’s book may taste impressive and extravagant, they’re simple to make and achievable for chefs of any experience level.

Recipes such as braised short ribs or suprêmes of chicken can all be made in under an hour, with easy-to-follow recipes and colorful photographs for inspiration.

There is also an abundance of helpful tips, tricks, and techniques throughout the book to help the reader improve their home cooking and become more confident in their skills.

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

Based on flavors and dishes from countries all around the Mediterranean, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook is the perfect guide for cooking authentic, nutritious meals inspired by the Mediterranean Diet pyramid.

While the 500 recipes in this cookbook are inspired by flavors from Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt, all the ingredients are easily accessible at any standard grocery store.

There are also detailed information pages for every ingredient, along with specific nutritional information for every dish.

Throughout the book, you can find traditional Mediterranean favorites such as Moroccan chicken pie, beet tzatziki, za’atar rubbed chicken, and orange polenta cake.

The recipes are healthy, vibrant, and fully tested by America’s Test Kitchen, so you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with the results.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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