I have many treasured memories of being perched on the counter watching my mom chop vegetables or helping my dad mix the stir fry; spending time in the kitchen was something I was raised to not only be comfortable with but also truly love. Family dinners were treasured events growing up – even if the family dinner was around the scorers table in the basketball gym – eating a homemade dinner together was a definitive priority.
It should have come as no surprise that as I finally have a kitchen of my own – and a kitchen of my dreams to boot – I’ve become obsessed with cookbooks. Here I’m sharing my nine favorites – the tried and true ones that we’ve made many, many recipes from and to which I continue to return. Of course, they cover a range of cuisines so it can be difficult to compare apples to oranges in terms of topic but they are ranked, one being my favorite of the set and moving down from there.
- Flour + Water: A visit to the restaurant in San Fransisco that inspired this cookbook is on my bucket list and I’ve posted recipes inspired from this cookbook on the blog before. I try to limit myself to one recipe a week from this cookbook when planning our weekly menu and have not yet been disappointed. It covers all things pasta – from how to make the dough to the various shape creations; recipes range from a simple, quality bolognese to a complex rabbit cannelloni.
- Cravings: I’ve talked about how Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook is a favorite before and it remains in the top spots around our kitchen. I’ve cooked my way nearly though the entire cookbook and I truly enjoy Chrissy’s take on mixing healthy choices with the things you really want to eat. From the blue cheese steak bites to the brick chicken; homemade caesar salad to steak tacos the meals are relativity easy, taste awesome, and the photography is gorgeous which never hurts.
- Skinnytaste: Don’t let the title fool you! This is no diet cookbook. The recipes are flavorful, filling, and generally amazing. We particularly love the Jerk Chicken Tacos and French Onion Soup. She also just released a crockpot focused cookbook that I’ve only made two meals out of thus far but looks to be just as fabulous!
- Love + Lemons: Written by the author of the namesake cooking blog, this has been a favorite of mine throughout farmers market season as it is broken into chapters based on ingredient. If I pick up some beets at the farmers market I simply flip to the beets chapter for several ingredients on dishes to create using my market treasures. Some favorites include the various dressing pairings matrix and mushroom BLT’s.
- Flour Water Salt Yeast: Have you ever had homemade bread? If you have, you know there’s simply no comparison to the pure deliciousness that comes from making it fresh. Ranging from a Weekend Bread that can be made in a single day to truly three ingredient sourdough that takes nearly a week to reach completion, this caters to all levels and does a great job of throughly explaining each and every step. All cooking is inherently science, but bread making is incredibly so!
- Thug Kitchen: Fair warning – this cookbook has some naughty language but it’s also hilarious to read! The fact that the recipes are simply, healthy, and sensational is a true bonus. The main idea is to elevate dinner time without bogging you down in any pompous culinary speak. Ain’t nobody got time for that. (You can find other cookbooks in the series here and here.)
- Momofuku: This cookbook is everything you would expect from the legendary NYC Ramen bar. Prepare to learn how to make the best pork shoulder ramen of your life! As a bit of cheating on my 9-limit-list you should also check out the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook – the recipes from the sister bakery.
- Tacos: This is the bible on all things tacos – the classics are of course included but you will also find creative takes on the traditional tacos. If you want to make the taco from the ground up – tortilla included – or want to just assemble some of the best store-bought ingredients into a fab taco, this cookbook will be able to take care of you.
- It’s All Easy: Despite the title I wouldn’t call this a simple, 30-minute meal type cookbook it has been one that I reach for when I want an elevated yet simple meal. I think it’s best for awesome, make-ahead lunch ideas!
Bonus: So it’s not technically a cookbook but the Simple & Delicious magazine is one that my mom has been ordering for years and I frequently get her hand-me-downs. It’s fantastic, well tested, and has some truly quick meals.
I hope you find some new personal favorites in this list! Let me finish with a behind-the-scenes picture from the simple cookbook shoot for this post – you’ll see a cameo by my slippers and some little paws that follow – and copy – mamma at all times.