Discover the 9 Best Cookbooks of All Time

Food is an essential part of human life, and cookbooks are the window through which we explore different cultures and cuisines. From ancient manuscripts to modern classics, this article aims to highlight the best cookbooks of all time.

Discover the 9 Best Cookbooks of All Time

The Origins of Cookbooks

Cookbooks have been around for centuries, documenting recipes and kitchen tales throughout history. These cookbooks were often handwritten, and the earliest-known culinary manuscript is the Roman Apicius, dating back to the 4th or 5th century AD.

The Roman Apicius is a collection of recipes and cooking instructions that were popular during the Roman Empire. The manuscript is named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who is said to have compiled the recipes. The recipes in the Apicius manuscript cover a wide range of dishes, from simple soups and stews to elaborate feasts.

Early Culinary Manuscripts

Some of the most notable early culinary manuscripts include the Kitab al-Tabikh, an Arabic cookbook from the 13th century, and the Forme of Cury, a collection of English recipes from the 14th century. These manuscripts offer a fascinating glimpse into the culinary practices of the past.

The Kitab al-Tabikh, also known as The Book of Dishes, was written by a chef named Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi. The cookbook contains over 600 recipes, including many that are still popular in the Middle East today. The recipes in the Kitab al-Tabikh are written in Arabic and provide a window into the sophisticated culinary culture of medieval Islamic society.

The Forme of Cury, on the other hand, is a collection of recipes that were popular in England during the 14th century. The manuscript was written by the master cooks of King Richard II and contains over 200 recipes, including one for a dish called “Blank Mang,” which is a sweet almond milk pudding.

The First Printed Cookbooks

The first printed cookbook is De honesta voluptate et valetudine by Bartolomeo Sacchi, also known as Platina, published in 1474. This Renaissance-era cookbook was written in Latin and covers a wide range of topics beyond just food, including hygiene, exercise, and sleep.

De honesta voluptate et valetudine, which translates to “On Right Pleasure and Good Health,” was a groundbreaking work that helped to establish the cookbook as a legitimate literary genre. The book contains over 200 recipes, many of which were influenced by the cuisine of ancient Rome.

The Evolution of Cookbooks Through Time

Cookbooks have come a long way over the years, evolving with changing tastes and technologies. While some classics have stood the test of time, new cookbooks are constantly coming out, offering fresh perspectives and innovative techniques.

Modern cookbooks often feature full-color photographs, step-by-step instructions, and even video tutorials. Many cookbooks also focus on specific dietary needs, such as gluten-free or vegan cooking, and offer advice on how to adapt traditional recipes to fit these needs.

Despite the changes in format and content, cookbooks remain an important part of culinary culture. They offer a way to preserve traditional recipes and techniques, while also inspiring new generations of chefs and home cooks to experiment and innovate in the kitchen.

Classic Cookbooks That Shaped Modern Cooking

While there are countless cookbooks to choose from, some have had a particularly large impact on modern cooking and are beloved by professional chefs and home cooks alike. These cookbooks not only provide recipes but also offer insight into the culture and history behind the dishes.

“The Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer

Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated

This classic cookbook, first published in 1931, has been updated countless times and is still a staple in many kitchens today. Its straightforward approach and comprehensive coverage of recipes make it a great resource for both beginners and seasoned cooks. The Joy of Cooking not only provides recipes but also includes information on cooking techniques, ingredients, and kitchen equipment. It also offers tips on meal planning, entertaining, and even home canning. The book has been passed down through generations of families and has become a beloved household name.

“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1: A Cookbook

Julia Child’s iconic cookbook, first published in 1961, brought French cuisine to the American public and inspired a generation of chefs. Its detailed instructions and emphasis on technique make it an essential book for anyone interested in mastering classic French dishes. The book includes over 500 recipes and covers everything from sauces and soups to meats and desserts. What sets this cookbook apart is its focus on teaching the reader the proper techniques for French cooking, making it a valuable resource for any aspiring chef.

You can find this book here.

“The Silver Spoon” by Phaidon Press

The Silver Spoon

The Silver Spoon is often referred to as the “bible of Italian cooking” and is a must-have for anyone interested in Italian cuisine. Originally published in 1950, this cookbook contains over 2,000 recipes and has been updated several times over the years. In addition to recipes, The Silver Spoon also includes information on regional Italian cooking, ingredients, and techniques. The book is organized by course, making it easy to plan a full Italian meal. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cook, The Silver Spoon offers something for everyone.

In conclusion, these classic cookbooks have stood the test of time and continue to be a valuable resource for home cooks and professional chefs alike. They not only provide recipes but also offer insight into the culture and history behind the dishes, making them an essential addition to any cookbook collection.

Best Cookbooks for Specific Cuisines

While classic cookbooks are a great starting point for anyone interested in cooking, there are also countless cookbooks dedicated to specific cuisines that offer a deep dive into the flavors and ingredients of different cultures. These cookbooks not only provide recipes, but also offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the cuisine.

Top Italian Cookbooks

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: 30th Anniversary Edition: A Cookbook

Italian cuisine is beloved around the world, and there are many cookbooks that offer a taste of Italy. Classics like Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” and Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia’s Italy” are popular choices, while newer books like “Pasta Grannies” offer an intimate look at Italian home cooking. For those interested in the history of Italian cuisine, “The Food of Italy” by Waverley Root is a fascinating read that explores the regional differences and influences on Italian food.

Must-Have Asian Cookbooks

Japan: The Cookbook

Asian cuisine is incredibly diverse, and there are many cookbooks that cover the flavors and techniques of different Asian countries. “Japan: The Cookbook” by Nancy Singleton Hachisu offers a comprehensive look at Japanese cuisine, with over 400 recipes that range from classic dishes to modern interpretations. “The Food of Sichuan” by Fuchsia Dunlop is a must-have for anyone interested in the bold and spicy flavors of Sichuan cuisine. For those looking for a broader view of Asian cuisine, “The Complete Asian Cookbook” by Charmaine Solomon covers the cuisines of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Essential Mexican Cookbooks

Mexican Food Made Simple

Mexican cuisine is rich in flavor and history, and there are many excellent cookbooks available that showcase the best of the cuisine. “Mexican Food Made Simple” by Thomasina Miers offers easy-to-follow recipes for classic dishes like tacos and enchiladas, while also exploring the lesser-known regional cuisines of Mexico. “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico” by Diana Kennedy is a classic cookbook that provides an in-depth look at the history and culture of Mexican food. For those looking to explore the world of tacos, “Tacopedia” by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena offers a comprehensive guide to the beloved street food, with recipes and tips for making your own delicious tacos at home.

Cookbooks for Special Diets and Lifestyles

As diets and lifestyles continue to evolve, so do the cookbooks dedicated to them. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, or following a specific diet, there are many cookbooks available that cater to your needs.

Food is an essential part of our daily lives, and it is crucial to ensure that we are eating healthy and nutritious meals. However, with so many diets and lifestyles to choose from, it can be challenging to navigate the world of cooking. Fortunately, there are many cookbooks available that cater to specific diets and lifestyles, making it easier to whip up delicious and healthy meals.

The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Cookbooks

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (Thug Kitchen Cookbooks)

Vegan and vegetarian cookbooks are more popular than ever, and for a good reason. Plant-based diets have been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. If you’re looking for a cookbook that offers a humorous take on vegan cooking, “Thug Kitchen” is an excellent choice. This cookbook uses foul language and humor to make vegan cooking more approachable and fun. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a classic vegan cookbook that covers everything from comfort food to baking, “Veganomicon” is a must-have. This cookbook offers over 250 vegan recipes that are both delicious and easy to make.

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap

For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, eating gluten-free is a must. However, eating gluten-free doesn’t mean sacrificing taste or texture. There are many gluten-free cookbooks available that offer delicious and approachable recipes. “Gluten-Free on a Shoestring” is a cookbook that offers budget-friendly gluten-free recipes that are both delicious and easy to make. On the other hand, “The How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook” offers a more comprehensive guide to eating gluten-free. This cookbook includes over 190 recipes and provides tips and tricks for cooking without gluten.

Cookbooks for Paleo and Keto Diets

The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking

The paleo and keto diets are both popular choices for those looking to eat healthier and lose weight. The paleo diet focuses on eating whole, unprocessed foods, while the keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. If you’re looking for a cookbook that caters to the paleo diet, “The Paleo Kitchen” is an excellent choice. This cookbook offers over 100 paleo recipes that are both delicious and easy to make. On the other hand, if you’re following the keto diet, “The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet” is a must-have. This cookbook offers a wide range of recipes that cater to the keto diet, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.


From ancient manuscripts to modern cookbooks, there are countless resources available to help us explore the world of cooking and experiment with new flavors and techniques. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, the best cookbooks can help you create delicious meals and inspire your culinary creativity.


What are the highest-rated cookbooks of all time?

The Joy of Cooking, Plenty, The Art of Simple Food, and The Food Lab are all best-selling cookbooks.

Who are the best chefs in the world?

Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Marco Pierre White, and Anthony Bourdain are among some of the most reputable chefs across the globe.

What are the most common dishes to make worldwide?

Italian dishes such as pizza, bolognese, and carbonara are some of the most common dishes made worldwide. However, other popular dishes include ramen, stir fry, and curry.

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Eddison Monroe
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