The 14 Best Cookbooks of All Time, According to Chefs

We asked chefs from across the country to share their favorite cookbooks.

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The 15 Best Cookbooks of 2022

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New cookbooks are constantly released across a wide range of cooking styles and genres, from recipes geared toward novice cooks and vegan diets to deep dives into regional cuisines and holiday baking. Some cookbooks are written by beloved recipe developers, while others come from world-famous chefs. But even as we find new favorites every season, some cookbooks simply remain timeless. They’re the ones we remember as a revelation — a turning point in our kitchen journey or our understanding of ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques.

The best cookbooks are the books we come back to again and again. We asked over a dozen chefs from across the country to share their all-time favorite cookbooks, from classics like The French Laundry Cookbook to innovative titles that explore Venezuelan, Mexican, and Nordic cuisine. Read on for the 14 best cookbook picks that exalt vegetables, preserve traditional cuisines, and inspire new ideas in the kitchen.

The French Laundry Cookbook

The French Laundry Cookbook

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When it was published in 1999, Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook offered a look inside the famed chef’s Napa Valley restaurant that Ruth Reichl called “the most exciting place to eat in the United States.” The book’s 150 recipes — soft-poached quail eggs with applewood-smoked bacon, butter-poached Maine lobster with creamy lobster broth and mascarpone-enriched orzo, lemon sabayon-pine nut tart with honeyed mascarpone cream — reflect Keller’s meticulous techniques and, more broadly, his standard of culinary excellence. And they’re not for beginners. The book is best for seasoned chefs, those aspiring to learn, or anyone who will appreciate the 200 artful photos. 

For Joe Papach, chef and co-owner of the Harvey House in Madison, Wisconsin, The French Laundry Cookbook changed the trajectory of his career. “After reading it I knew I needed to work for Thomas Keller,” says the chef. “The inspiration, detail, technique, and beauty were like things I had not experienced before, and it profoundly inspired me.” 

Price at time of publish: $60

  • Full Title: The French Laundry Cookbook
  • Author: Thomas Keller
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 336

Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables

A New Way with Vegetables

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In his first cookbook, Joshua McFadden shares his vast knowledge of vegetables and, specifically, how to transform them into the main attraction. The Portland, Oregon-based chef and restaurant owner honed his skills in notable restaurants that include Blue Hill and Momofuku in New York, as well as the renowned Four Season Farm in Maine. With 225 visionary recipes that include a pickling section and a collection of compound butters that predated the current butter board obsession, the book has been praised by Dan Barber, Nigella Lawson, and David Chang, and, in a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly called it “A must-have cookbook that stands out from the crowd of vegetable-centric cookbooks.” 

Kat Petonito, the executive chef of the duck & the peach, La Collina, and The Wells in Washington D.C., calls it her go-to book when she hits a seasonal creativity roadblock. “I love how he splits the typical seasons up because not all seasonal vegetables are available as soon as their ‘season’ starts,” she says. “It's also just a visually beautiful book.”

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Full Title: Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
  • Author: Joshua McFadden
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 384

The Book of Sushi

The Book of Sushi

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Kaze Chan, Master Sushi Chef at The Omakase Room at Sushi-san in Chicago, says this book is one of the few that he turns to regularly. “I use this book as a way to reference fish seasonality, regional variations, and other practical information that allows me to build on the tradition to create a modern omakase experience,” Chan says.

Curious novices and expert sushi makers will appreciate Omae and Tachibana’s book, as well as those who just love sushi and want to learn more about the history and context of the cuisine. The clean and elegant guide delves into how to choose the best fish, regional recipe variations, and, of course, the indispensable instructions for creating impressive rolls and dishes at home. 

Price at time of publish: $20

  • Full Title: The Book of Sushi
  • Authors: Kinjiro Omae & Yuzuru Tachibana  
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 127

Cooking by Hand

Cooking by Hand

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“If I could fall asleep and wake up living in a cookbook, it would be this one,” says Ashley Christensen, chef/proprietor of AC Restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina. “This book is filled with classic workhorse Italian technique, nuanced by the evergreen offerings of California’s endless seasons, thoughtfully combined.”

The former chef at Chez Panisse and Oliveto, Paul Bertolli thoroughly conveys his love and appreciation for food, delving into the importance of ingredients throughout the roughly 120 recipes and several essays on topics like balsamic vinegar, pasta flours (and how each influences the type of pasta), and ways to use a tomato. Illustrated, step-by-step guides, like the section on curing prosciutto, are practical and thorough. Christensen calls the textbook-style lessons, often with numbered photo steps, “romantic and fully dependable.” The chef’s house potato gnocchi is based on this book. “Sometimes, there is no need to look further,” she says. “It doesn't get better.”

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Full Title: Cooking by Hand: A Cookbook
  • Author: Paul Bertolli
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 288

Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia, Completely Revised and Updated

Larousse Gastronomique The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia

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At age 11, Gabriel Kreuther saved his money to buy Larousse Gastronomique. The acclaimed French chef’s first cookbook is a 1200-plus page tome that was first published in 1938. The exhaustive food histories, descriptions of techniques and equipment, and recipes broken down into step-by-step photos made the book, which Kreuther read each night to soak up its lessons, foundational in his career. 

“It’s so comprehensive … the book itself probably weighs over 15 pounds!” says the chef. “My favorite parts, however, are the bios of the most important people from the world of cooking, their stories, and their impact — everyone from Taillevent to Marie Antoine Carême. The depth and knowledge are unsurpassed.”

The book’s breadth of information and expertise is indeed superlative, as is its user-friendly structure, organized in alphabetical order with nearly 4,000 recipes indexed at the end of the book. While it was first published over eight decades ago, an updated version now includes more modern techniques (sous-vide, for example), fresh photos, and new biographies of food world luminaries. 

Price at time of publish: $115

  • Full Title: Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia
  • Author: Librairie Larousse
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 1216

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

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Named for The Fat Duck, his modern British restaurant in Bray, Berkshire — which, in 2005, was awarded three Michelin stars — Heston Blumenthal’s groundbreaking cookbook is more than 500 pages of dramatic, glossy photography and recipes. Organized into three sections — History, Recipes, and Science — Blumenthal delves into his background and food philosophy, a robust selection of recipes that spans roughly 300 pages, and comprehensive, fairly approachable cooking science. (Including ice cream science!)

Paddy Coker, the executive grill chef at Hawksmoor NYC, grew up watching influential British chefs and Blumenthal was the first that made him think chefs can make magic in the kitchen. “He makes food exciting,” says Coker. “He's self-taught, has an incredible mind and you can tell he has a sincere passion for the history of food.”

Price at time of publish: $196

  • Full Title: The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
  • Author: Heston Blumenthal
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 532

Mi Cocina

Mi Cocina

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Luis Herrera, the executive chef/partner at Ensenada in New York City, names the Venezuelan cookbook Mi Cocina, written by Venezuelan engineer-turned-chef, writer, and publisher Armando Scannone. Originally published in the 80s, Scannone’s books, including Mi Cocina, sought to honor and preserve Venezuelan cuisine. 

“It was the first time that a book compiled so many traditional Venezuelan cuisine recipes, especially from the central area and Caracas,” says Herrera. “It is a must in every Venezuelan household, and it has become even more special with the massive exodus my country has suffered for the past 20 years as this book gave us the chance to preserve a little bit of our culture no matter where we are."

While the book doesn’t include color photos, the traditional flavors and recipes, from basic to more elaborate, are beautifully conveyed. 

Price at time of publish: $150

  • Full Title: Mi Cocina 
  • Author: Armando Scannone
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 595

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

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Of all the cookbooks that have shaped Eric Leveillee, René Redzepi’s Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine has had the most profound impact on the executive chef at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. “It was given to me by my now wife, and through its pages, I learned about the type of power a dish could have, the feelings a dish could evoke, and the communities it could build,” he says. 

Redzepi’s 368-page opus includes more than 200 color photos and 90 recipes for boundary-pushing dishes like sous-vide reindeer shoulder and carrot cake-coated lingonberry sorbet. And while they exalt the hyper-local ingredients the chef is known for championing, curious and creative home cooks can use it as a guide to creating unique dishes based on the inspiration they’ll find throughout the book.

Price at time of publish: $70

  • Full Title: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
  • Author: René Redzepi
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 368

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

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“Both of these cookbooks, by London chef Yotam Ottolenghi, focus on vibrant vegetable recipes which I found very useful when developing our new concept [in Los Angeles], Mother Tongue,” says chef and restaurateur Michael Mina. “They completely rethink how vegetables can be turned into amazing dishes with incredible flavor and that aligns nicely with the thinking around our restaurant.” 

Ottolenghi’s books, just like his London-based restaurants, celebrate vegetarian cuisine — in Plenty, it’s throughout 120-some recipes, and 150 in Plenty More, each one with its own vibrant photo. Besides the bright, fresh recipes that draw on ingredients (spices, herbs) and combinations (eggplant and mango) that impart unexpected flavors to dishes, Ottolenghi shares creative and thoughtful techniques.

Price at time of publish: $35 (each)

  • Full Titles: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi; Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi 
  • Author: Yotam Ottolenghi
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 288 (Plenty); 352 (Plenty More)

Le Grand Véfour

Le Grand Véfour

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Le Grand Véfour cookbook highlights one of the oldest gourmet restaurants in Paris, which dates back to 1784. Chef Guy Martin earned the restaurant three Michelin stars, and shares more than 50 of the famed restaurant’s signature dishes, including Barbary duckling breast with fig confit, red kuri squash gnocchi, and beet-blackcurrant jus. 

Chef Andrew Black of Oklahoma City’s The Gilded Acorn, Black Walnut, and Grey Sweater calls the book, which also digs into the restaurant’s history and shares stories highlighting its cultural relevance, one of his favorite cookbooks. “I ate at this restaurant often during my working at the Ritz in Paris, and have specific memories of the garden there and how beautiful and inspiring it was,” says Black. “I find myself grabbing this book often, and every time I pick it up I always come away with new ideas and inspiration.”

Price at time of publish: $19

  • Full Title: Le Grand Véfour 
  • Author: Guy Martin
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 256

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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For Michelle Weaver of The Charleston Grill, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking made an early impression on her culinary career. As a kid, she watched Child’s show on PBS, and a friend gifted her the cookbook years later. With more than 500 recipes, straightforward instructions coupled with clear illustrations, the book is a comprehensive guide for learning and understanding classic French recipes. 

“When I started reading the book, I felt like I was learning a different language,” says Weaver. But the young aspiring chef persevered. “Julia was my bridge from home cooking to professional cooking. Mastering the art of French Cooking will always have a special place in my heart.”

Price at time of publish: $35

  • Full Title: Mastering the Art of French Cooking
  • Author: Julia Child
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 716

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

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Food & Wine Best New Chef Jeremy Fox worked at award-winning restaurants in Napa and Los Gatos before opening his game-changing Santa Monica spot Rustic Canyon in 2006. In On Vegetables, Fox spotlights vegetables just as he’s done at his restaurants. Mushroom conserva, ramp kimchi, and green tomato preserves are among the 160 recipes included. Fox makes “the best-tasting vegetables on the planet” according to David Chang, who wrote the book’s forward. 

“The flavor combinations of the different vegetables together are pretty amazing,” says George Madosky, chef de cuisine at Fork Restaurant in Philadelphia. “It’s very aligned with Fork and very vegetable-forward with a creative way to incorporate bright colors and flavors.”

Price at time of publish: $50

  • Full Title: On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen
  • Author: Jeremy Fox 
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 320

My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions

My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions

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“Gabriela Camara makes beautiful food and her restaurant, Contramar, is an institution,” says Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira, the Executive Chef-Partner of the New Orleans-based CureCo., including Cane & Table, Cure, and VALS. “I had such a memorable meal there a few years back and purchased the book from the gift shop,” he says. “The recipes are all spot-on and help recreate that experience whenever I need to.”

The highly-lauded cookbook by the chef — who runs award-winning restaurants in Mexico City and San Francisco and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people — includes 150 recipes that showcase vibrant and deeply flavorful Mexican cuisines. But beyond detailed recipes for everything from basic salsas to her signature whole red and green grilled snapper, Camara also shares her history and insights, making My Mexico City Kitchen feel rich and personal.

Price at time of publish: $35

  • Full Title: My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions
  • Author: Gabriela Camara 
  • Ebook Available: Yes
  • Pages: 368

The Taste of France

The Taste of France

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Michael Cimarusti, James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of Providence in Los Angeles, calls The Taste of France his all-time favorite cookbook. First printed in 1983, the book spotlights regional French cuisine (14 regions, to be exact, including Brittany, Provence, and Normandy) through 100 recipes, 375 photographs, and maps. With an emphasis on both ingredients and recipes as well as farms, markets, and culinary customs, The Taste of France is both a cookbook and a guidebook.

“The book covers all aspects of French gastronomy,” says Cimarusti. “Running the gamut from Haute Cuisine to the most rustic country-side cooking, this book paints a clear, vivid picture of the French people and their abiding connection to their cuisine and their culture.”

  • Full Title: The Taste of France
  • Author: Robert Freson 
  • Ebook Available: No
  • Pages: 288

Our Expertise

Regan Stephens is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor who has worked for nearly two decades in digital and print magazine production. She's worked on staff at People, Teen People, and Philadelphia magazines, and her writing has appeared in publications like Travel + Leisure, Fortune, and Conde Nast Traveler. She has contributed to Food & Wine for the last five years. For this article, Regan interviewed more than a dozen chefs to learn about their all-time favorite cookbooks.

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