Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

These are some of the best cookbooks of all time – one for every type of chef

There's a spot in your kitchen for one or more of these cookbooks

Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The world, with all its grandeur, is meant to be relished, one dish at a time. The best way to do so is by way of the cookbook — the empowering work of culinary literature that can turn us into chefs with a little reading, practice, and trial and error.

With so many genres of cuisine and styles of preparation, aspiring cooks can go in different directions right from the comfort of their kitchens. Whether you’re looking to improve your favorite mole sauce, prepare food in the classic French style, explore the keto diet, or get to know the science behind a favorite dish, we’ve got you covered.

Below are some of the best cookbooks of all time, from outstanding efforts published just recently to culinary classics that every foodie should have on the shelf.

The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best essential cookbooks

The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller

An instant classic, this book dropped in 1999 and revolves around Thomas Keller’s iconic restaurant of the same name. Here, Keller shares recipes from what is arguably America’s greatest restaurant, along with sharp wisdom on kitchen techniques and approaches. The recipes can be challenging, but that makes the resulting dishes all the more rewarding.

The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America

A collaboration cookbook with the Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef possesses a firm grasp on modern cooking. Just like an encyclopedia, it’s wide-reaching and breaks down even the most complex styles, such as sous vide. Most cooks and restaurant owners will offer this title on their shortlist of the most important or most influential cookbooks on the market.

Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm

Like the French Laundry, this cookbook offers a vivid glimpse behind the kitchen door of one of America’s most celebrated restaurants. It pulls recipes from the eponymous New York eatery and arranges things, quite helpfully, by season. The book will elevate your cooking, exposing you to new ideas and ingredient pairings as well as sharpening your plating and impressing anybody who dines with you.

The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer

This staple work from Irma Rombauer was initially published in 1931. It has gone on to become quintessential for professionals and casual domestic chefs alike. It’s nearing 20 million copies sold and while it’s easy to write it off as an oldie without much flair, it’s an essential book for every cook. What it lacks in terms of sexiness (it’s not the photo-driven coffee table cookbook you’ve become accustomed to); it makes up for in straightforward and tasty recipes anybody can make, even if you’re lacking time.

The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin

A historical treasure, this book compiles recipes from scores of Black cooks that went overlooked or ignored for two centuries. Not only does the dense book reveal the colossal impact the Black community has had on American cuisine, but it also pulls from remarkable sources, such as a servant’s journal. The book reveals the enormous creativity, style, and efficiency of the cooks despite their lack of access to the bounty much of the rest of the country took for granted.

Larousse Gastronomique by Librairie Larousse
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best French-inspired cookbooks

Larousse Gastronomique by Librairie Larousse

First published in 1938, this cookbook by Prosper Montagne offers snapshot after snapshot of the importance and highly influential nature of French cuisine. Julia Child famously said it would be her selection if she were allowed just one cookbook at home, which is quite some praise. The original is great but the 2009 revision, fit with contemporary techniques, is even better.

Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point

This cookbook debuted in 1969 and is the work of Fernand Point, considered by many to be the father of modern French cuisine. You can’t say this about all cookbooks, but this one is a great read, blending wisdom with philosophy. It’s pretty much mandatory reading for most culinary programs and includes more than 200 innovative recipes.

Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier

Another French masterpiece, the first edition of this book dropped in 1902. But the recipes and insights are as relevant now as ever, and the reader is sure to come away with a stronger set of kitchen principles. Classic French cuisine can be daunting stuff but this work breaks it down in an approachable fashion. Author Auguste Escoffier developed the recipes and context while working at acclaimed hotels and culinary destinations like the Savoy and the Ritz.

Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras

This book by acclaimed French chef Michel Bras dabbles in foraged fare and spotlights the author’s genuine fascination with good food. Boasting gorgeous photography, Essential Cuisine will have you eating something new and eye-catching and likely enjoying the process more than ever. The exquisite handling of vegetables alone will hook you. And the sense of wonder throughout reminds me of this great scene from Ratatouille.

Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best recent cookbooks

Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos

This great 2020 release is a foodie love affair with author Rosa Cienfuegos’ native Mexico. It pulls radiant dishes from the many corners of the country, including family recipes you wouldn’t otherwise know about. Mexican food is one of the more discussed genres out there, and for good reason, but it can be subjected to a lot of twisting or appropriation. This book is genuine and full of great finds.

Science and Cooking by Michael Brenner
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Science and Cooking by Michael Brenner

For the culinary nerd, this book is a must. It’s based on a popular Harvard University course and dissects the chemistry and physics at play when cooking. If you stop to ask what’s the book’s specialty; it reveals all kinds of intriguing and unexpected facts about why certain things work and don’t work in the kitchen.

50 Ways to Cook a Carrot by Peter Hertzmann
Image used with permission by copyright holder

50 Ways to Cook a Carrot by Peter Hertzmann

You guessed it, this book is about 50 methods for preparing carrots. More importantly, it leaves you with the confidence and culinary ammo to do the same thing with any number of other ingredients. Penned by Peter Hertzmann, it’s a clever cookbook that will have you eyeing carrots and just about everything else edible differently.

The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma

Another great 2020 option (shocking, I guess we cooked at home a lot that year), this book by Nik Sharma does a lot with relatively little. The book pushes tremendous dishes made primarily from things you probably have already at home, whether it’s some fresh fruit or a dried spice you haven’t opened in years. It’s fairly science-y, with helpful diagrams and proven methods.

East by Meera Sodha
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best vegan and vegetarian cookbooks

East by Meera Sodha

Touting 120 recipes from all over Asia, this book proves that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor just because you’re operating without meat. The dishes are memorable, like caramelized onion and chili ramen and salted miso brownies. Whether you’re a full-blown vegetarian or just want to eat more garden-fresh ingredients, this cookbook is for you.

Vegetable Kingdom by Bryant Terry
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Vegetable Kingdom by Bryant Terry

We may be living in the golden era of plant-based cooking, and this book revels in that. Written by food justice activist Bryant Terry, it sets you up to enjoy healthier raw ingredients at home more often and in more inventive ways. It even comes with an accompanying playlist.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

This text catapulted Yotam Ottolenghi to culinary fame. Here, the British restaurateur offers tremendous vegetable dishes that steal the plate and never get nudged aside. It’ll leave you with a newfound love for things like eggplant and have you crafting dazzling dishes with relative ease.

Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden

This 2017 cookbook from Joshua McFadden breaks down the calendar into six growing seasons, three of them being in summer. As such, the book functions like a calendar for healthy and clever eating, equipping you to always find something that’s fresh and flavorful. Of the many vegan and vegetarian cookbooks out there, this one produces the most satisfying dishes, whether it’s the end of July or early January.

The One-Pot Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Liz Williams
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best keto cookbooks

The One-Pot Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Liz Williams

If you want to learn more about the keto diet, this book is for you. Written by Liz Williams, this book relieves the stress of cooking in a certain style by offering scores of easy recipes that can be assembled in well under an hour. For a diet regimen like keto that’s not always easy to follow, this book simplifies things while nourishing you with tasty recipes.

The Essential Keto Cookbook by Louise Hendon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Essential Keto Cookbook by Louise Hendon

A manual of sorts, this Louise Hendon cookbook outfits you with meal plans and batch cooking options for the week ahead. It touts 105 recipes, a helpful list of all things keto-approved, and will have you enjoying your low-carb, low-inflammatory food lifestyle.

North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland by Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best travel from home cookbooks

North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland by Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Jody Eddy

Iceland is home to some of the most out-there dishes on the planet, involving everything from puffin to crowberries. The nation helped jump-start the foraged food trend, and this book takes a close look at some of the best Scandinavian dishes in terms of both flavor and presentation.

Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota

This 2014 cookbook examines 100 tantalizing dishes from the Japanese capital. With an emphasis on street food, it’s a must for folks who appreciate things like bento, miso, sushi, and more. Author Maori Murota grew up in Tokyo and paints a vivid picture of the colossal city’s equally large culinary scene.

Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Joan Schwartz
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Joan Schwartz

The dynamic and eclectic Cuban culinary landscape is explored in depth here, with some 200 traditional recipes. Few cuisines on earth are as influenced by so many cultures and the resulting dishes are bursting with flavor and character. The whole spectrum is addressed, from drinks and bites to full Cuban entrees like roast pork creole.

The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos

Widely considered the go-to for a legitimate taste of Middle Eastern grub, this book by Tess Mallos is fun to thumb through and intuitive to use in the kitchen. You can eat as they do in Jordan, Cyprus, Armenia, and other often-overlooked countries, expanding your palate as well as your culinary prowess.

Apicius: De Re Coquinaria Cookbook
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best cookbook if you want to eat like Caesar

Apicius: De Re Coquinaria Cookbook

Truth be told, the cookbook Apicius: De Re Coquinaria Cookbook is more of a look at what cooking and dietary habits were like in ancient times than an actual cookbook, but it is the oldest cookbook that is still in print today. The book, which title translates to On the Subject of Cooking, was first compiled during the time of the Roman Empire, around the 5th century.

It contains a collection of ancient Roman recipes, such as roast suckling pig with honey and milk, stuffed sow udder, Apician grilled veal sauce, and many more. Because the recipes are translated from the original Latin and don’t have precise measurements or cooking times, you won’t be able to recreate most of these recipes in your kitchen, but it makes for a great conversation piece while you’re preparing dinner for your guests, perhaps while cooking up an Italian feast.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Secrets revealed: Chef shares his best tips for cooking a picanha steak
An expert's guide to cooking picanha steak.
Brazilian picanha on plate with sides.

The Picanha Feast at Berimbau Brazilian Kitchen. Berimbau Brazilian Kitchen

If you've had the pleasure of dining at a Brazilian steakhouse, one of the best beef cuts you'll taste is the amazing picanha steak. The most popular cut in Brazil, this steak is a perfect combination of juicy, lean beef encased in a natural fat cap that bastes the meat while it grills. Simply put, this steak is a must-have for many Brazilian social gatherings.

Read more
A pro chef gives us tips on how to make a great breakfast burger
Burger for breakfast? Yes, please.
Burger with egg on plate.

Virgina’s Brunch Burger with egg. Virginia’s / Le CollectiveM

A juicy hamburger full of umami beef and perfectly melted cheese is a dream lunch or dinner for any carnivore. But what about breakfast? When adding ingredients like a fried egg, crispy bacon, and avocado, who says the cheeseburger can’t be a perfect meal for the morning?

Read more
From Mediterranean to Paleo, these are the best diets for men to look and feel great
One of these diets will fit your needs
Healthy foods with fruits and vegetables

It seems like eating should be simple: You eat the foods you like in the quantities that satiate you, and that’s that. However, while that’s one way to approach things, most of us find that such a freestyle approach to our diet is too loose and can lead to overeating, nutrient imbalances, and feeling poorly. Plus, we all want to be healthy and maintain our ideal weight and body composition. For these reasons, there are many popular diets that aim to provide structure and rules or principles to guide everything about your eating, from what you should eat and what you should avoid to when you should eat and how much you eat.
Each of these diets has its own guaranteed benefits and specific goals, with a unifying theme supporting overall health and ideal body weight. From Paleo to Whole30, the Nordic Diet to the Ornish Diet, and vegan to Atkins, the menu of diets seems to be constantly growing. While it’s always nice to have choices when making decisions, the overwhelming number of popular diets these days can ultimately lead to paralysis by analysis. How can anyone be expected to sift through all the options and pick the best diet? Speaking with your physician or registered dietician can be a useful approach, or you can try various diets and see how you feel.
Everyone’s body is different, so what works best for you may not work as well for someone else. That said, the best diets for men typically have certain commonalities that make them effective, such as emphasizing healthy vegetables and nutritious fruits, limiting sugar, and focusing on whole, natural foods instead of processed and refined ingredients.
If you’re looking for a good place to start with a few vetted suggestions, keep reading to find out our top picks for the best diets for men.

Best overall: Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet wins our vote for the best diet overall because the evidence speaks for itself -- it’s probably the most researched and tested diet around, with findings demonstrating its superior ability to lower the risk of many chronic diseases, reduce body fat, and improve physical health and performance. The Mediterranean diet is modeled after the typical eating patterns of the Mediterranean region -- especially Greece -- around the 1960s, due to the fact that this population had notably low rates of lifestyle diseases like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
What makes the Mediterranean diet successful is that it relies on sound nutritional principles: Eat whole, natural foods in moderation, and avoid processed foods. The diet encourages the consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil, which provides anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy fats. Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be consumed in limited amounts, and red meat is discouraged. Foods to avoid include processed meats like hot dogs and sausages, refined oils, trans fats, processed foods, refined grains like white bread and pasta, sweetened beverages, and any foods with added sugars like ice cream and jelly.

Read more