Contemplating a creative challenge (plus 10 shelf-worthy cookbooks)

A few weeks ago, I shared 9 (mostly) little things I’ve been loving in the kitchen. One of those things is Ina Garten’s new cookbook, and I casually mentioned that I was thinking of cooking my way through the entire book—every single recipe.

I’ve never done this before, so I asked readers to share their thoughts in comments. I was so surprised by how many people said that they’ve completed cookbooks before (and loved it), knew someone who did, or have thought about it as a quarantine-friendly activity. I had no idea this was a fairly common thing that home chefs did!

I loved reading about your experiences, your favorite cookbooks, and your dream cookbook completion projects. Today, I’ve gathered up a bunch of cookbooks that YOU recommended, plus a few that I’m contemplating for my own creative challenge this winter.

If you’ve cooked your way through a cookbook before, we’d love to hear more details. How did you go about it? Which cookbook did you complete? Tell us all about it in the comments section!

10 cookbooks for creative inspiration

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Before I ever visited her blog, I heard Deb Perelman speak at my local library. She won me over with her warmth, humor, and kitchen know-how. But then I saw her cookbook and was blown away—gorgeous (and funny) writing, beautiful photos, and the recipes! The recipes are unpretentious and yield delicious dinners, brunches, and sweet treats. She’s yet to let me down, and I’ve cooked my way through a significant portion of the cookbook. A friend of mine has cooked every recipe in this book and loved the process. More info →
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My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

Ruth Reichl is one of my favorite food writers. Not only does she make me want to cook what she’s cooking, but she also makes me want to visit the places she’s talking about. My Kitchen Year focuses on her time in Manhattan and the Hudson Valley, and it’s the perfect book for this moment. When Reichl was facing scary changes and uncertainty, she turned to her kitchen for comfort. These are the recipes that represent her “kitchen year.” They’re organized by season, which I appreciate. Mostly, I adore the stories, her voice, and the comfort of reading about good food. But you've inspired me to start cooking some of her recipes! More info →
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Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Here's the cookbook that inspired this post! I’m currently cooking my way through Ina Garten’s newest cookbook because I couldn't wait for it to appear underneath the tree. I’m a big fan of Ina's recipes; her cookbooks get a lot of use in our house. I can’t believe that she had a book on comfort food ready and waiting, just in time for a pandemic-induced return to home cooking. So far, we've loved the giant crinkled chocolate chip cookies and chicken pot pie soup. My local booksellers said that cookbooks are flying off the shelves earlier than ever this year, so grab your copy soon! More info →
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The Minimalist Kitchen: 100 Wholesome Recipes, Essential Tools, and Efficient Techniques

The Minimalist Kitchen: 100 Wholesome Recipes, Essential Tools, and Efficient Techniques

This cookbook speaks to my minimalist heart. The goal is to create a framework for a streamlined kitchen so that you can create and cook easily throughout the week. As someone who enjoys spending more time in the kitchen on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons, I like the breakdown of "weekday" versus "weekend" recipes. One reader said that she's been cooking her way through for two years, slowly picking new recipes to try and returning to her favorites often. She offered a great tip for aspiring cookbook completists: pick a cookbook that you already know and love to complete; it gives you a head start, and you already know you'll like at least a few of the recipes. More info →
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Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

I'm not here to convince anyone to replace their weekly takeout meal (sometimes you just need a break!), but if you do want to cook your favorite Chinese food at home, this cookbook is a great source of delicious recipes. One reader gave it a glowing review: "I cooked my way through Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. I even bought an actual wok and the tools needed to make it authentic. I loved every minute of it and my family enjoyed most of the recipes. It was such a fun learning experience! I hope I find another cookbook I am that motivated to work my way through." More info →
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Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family

Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family

Inspired by her mother's creative recipes that combined the traditional Indian recipes of her childhood with American favorites (like spaghetti), Priya Krishna shares fun, everyday recipes that can only be described as "Indian-ish." I'm interested in picking this one up for the stories. I love reading my cookbooks like novels, and Krishna shares funny and endearing family memories in between recipes. This one sounds fun to read and to cook from, making it a great candidate for a cookbook completion project. More info →
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Milk Street: Cookish: Throw It Together

Milk Street: Cookish: Throw It Together

I was introduced to Kimball’s writing when he was at the helm of Cook’s Illustrated, and I’ve always liked his tone and style. Now editor in chief at Milk Street, he’s probably single handedly responsible for changing the contents of my spice drawer. It’s filled with new additions like sumac powder, coriander seeds, and za'atar. Their goal at Milk Street is to make cooking a part of life-long learning, which I can totally get behind. I’m also smitten with this cookbook title because I feel like I’m constantly making new words by adding (ish) at the end, see: bookish. Cooking through it would be a full hands-on learning experience. More info →
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This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking

This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking

Like many cooking enthusiasts, we watched the Netflix series A Chef’s Life, “a show about people, place, tradition and family told through the lens of food.” I’ve since checked out some of Howard’s cookbooks from the library. Her newest, filled with simple recipes sounds like a fun project. She’s insistent that she will CHANGE THE WAY YOU COOK, and that's what made me pick it up. I had been impatiently waiting on my library request, finally caved and bought it at my local indie last weekend, and proceeded to make three of her "flavor heroes" before the weekend was over. Of course, the emphasis on "simple" is appealing when you're ready to tackle every single recipe. Bonus: more than half the dishes are vegetarian, gluten-free, or both. More info →
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Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals

Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals

This cookbook comes with a built-in challenge: cook every meal for 90 days. If that sounds daunting, don't worry, leftovers are part of the equation. The premise is that with home-cooking, you'll feel better, save money, and pick up more skills in the kitchen. The book comes with over 100 recipes and four weeks of meal plans to kick-start your challenge and make deciding what's for dinner a breeze. This comment sold me: "I love the variety of recipes and the fact that almost all of them prepare a family meal rather than just a main dish or side dish. I really dislike having to figure out, now what goes with this dish?" More info →
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Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

This is a GENIUS idea. I need to ask you for cookbook recommendations and kitchen tips more often! From Meg: "I’ve been baking through the Sister Pie cookbook! Because most of them are dessert pies, I’ve loved baking a new pie for a special occasion or small dinner party gathering. In the book’s margin, I’ve been writing the occasion, who was in attendance, date, and any notes about the night or recipe. For example, I recently made the INCREDIBLE Apple and Sage Pie and included: Dinner party at X’s house with Y, Z, Q. We ended the night carving pumpkins! 5 Star Review all around. I’m excited to have a record of memories of the dinner parties and friends sharing pie when I’m done." More info →
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Have you been cooking from a favorite cookbook recently? Share your favorites, plus recipe recommendations in the comments section.

P.S. These are my go-to cookbooks. Can’t get enough food writing? Here are 20 fantastic and flavorful food fiction reads and 20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs.

10 shelf-worthy cookbooks


Leave A Comment
  1. Ana S says:

    You’re missing a book on sourdough. :-). I’ve been baking sourdough for several years now. One of my favorites is Artisan Sourdough Made Easy by Emilie Raffa. Her recipes make it totally doable!

  2. Grace says:

    I love Cook with Me by Alex Guarnachelli and Eat What You Want by Gaby Dalkin! I’ve almost made it through the entirety of Gaby’s since it came out in April – the stuffed peppers are a must make!

  3. Leigh says:

    I love all things Pioneer Woman. Three years ago I cooked my way through her first cookbook in an entire year. My kids loved helping me pick the next recipe. Her cinnamon rolls are to die for. Honestly, I loved everything I cooked from her cookbook. It was great learning new things like making pastry from scratch. Writing this makes me want to try another challenge next year.

  4. Nicole says:

    I have See You on Sunday by Sam Sifton from the library and am going to end up purchasing it because there are so many quality recipes. I am hoping to start a Sunday dinner routine as my kids are now older and I’m trying to anchor a new family habit that we’ll hopefully extend to friends as we’re empty nesting (and un-quarantining). I’m planning to put out a few choices and they vote on the meal as a way to try and draw them in. 🙂

    • Allyn says:

      I’ve been eying that one! Moving it to the top of my list along with some of these (I own Sister Pie and it’s fantastic).
      I’ve cooked through most of Small Victories by Julia Turshen and the recipe variations she includes and it’s a great one, especially for people who might not be as comfortable in the kitchen yet. We cook a lot of crazy things in our home and it’s nice to reach for some delicious simplicity at times.

    • Heidi F says:

      Yes! I was going to recommend “See You on Sunday” by Sam Sifton too! He’s a NYTimes food editor and is so down to earth with how he presents food and simple gatherings with the focus being in community and fellowship— not fancy and elaborate. Everything I made from there was a homerun! I too want to but it after borrowing it from the library! Definitely recommend!

    • Ronda says:

      Yes See You on Sunday is so good. As an adult who now lives away from her parents this was one of my favorite things that my parents did when we lived close (that they started in when I was in high school though) was Thursday night dinners. We could always invite friends over on Thursday nights we just had to be home for dinner. It continued for many years until my parents retired and relocated to another state. It is something that has continued in my own home (pre Covid) and I will start up again post covid is just having people over for a good meal.

  5. Kay says:

    Kitchen Diaries Volume 1 and also The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater are in my top ten of all books in the world. The recipes are great but the writing is beautiful, they are worth reading for the prose alone.

  6. Amapola says:

    I cook for myself, so although I enjoy adapting recipes, these are my favorite cookbooks:
    “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones
    “Cooking for One” by America’s Test Kitchen
    “The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen
    With these books I have learned to adapt, reimagine and still come with pretty good dishes for myself. I keep the bigger cookbooks for inspiration and whenever a social occasion arises. But, for everyday cooking and even bread making (see Jones) these are the cookbooks I keep turning too.

  7. Laura says:

    I’ve done this challenge before and it is a wonderful way to try some new things. After having a baby, I cooked through Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine. I needed a grounding point because, even though I’d been cooking for years, I felt overwhelmed by responsibility. Just picking from one cookbook made dinner easy and approachable again (the recipes are so good, only 1 miss for me). There aren’t too many recipes, so one could complete this relatively quickly.

  8. Milissa says:

    Any of the cookbooks from Nigella Lawson. The recipes are spot-on and the writing is like poetry. I read these like novels. I am planning to cook my way through at least one of her books in 2021. Probably “At My Table”.

  9. Kristin says:

    I’ve recently been working my way through Bronte Aurell’s ScandiKitchen cookbooks. It’s been fun to feel like I’m connecting with my family’s Scandinavian heritage, and as we head into winter, I need all the cozy hygge vibes I can get.

  10. Dana Schaefer says:

    As 3/4 of my family is gluten free, I never thought cooking my way through a mainstream cookbook would be doable. Then I bought a copy of Unbelievably Gluten Free by Anne Byrne. There are 128 recipes and we have completed 22 of them so far! I aim for including 2-3 per week in our menu plan. The book offers a place for notes on some of the recipes. However I have implemented my own star system and ask each family member for their rating when we finish a recipe. Then I add gold foil star stickers to the recipe page! That’s fun for me! It has been a fun little project and we have enjoyed some new dishes along the way.

    • Neelee says:

      My hometown bakery caters to diverse diets and you might like her cookbook, Perfectly Golden, for your family’s desserts! Clear instructions on how to adapt to different needs and a wide range of dessert goods. Our family is a big fan although we don’t have any dietary restrictions.

  11. Maureen says:

    I’ve been baking pies for years. Can I share a tip on rolling out the crust? Most people are overwhelmed by this part of pie making. I wet my counter down with a clean dish cloth. On that I add a sheet of wax paper. The water seals the paper to the countertop so when you roll the dough it doesn’t move around. I add a little flour on top of the dough as I roll it out. This keeps the rolling pin from sticking to the dough.I simply lift the wax paper off the counter and flip it over into the pie pan. Done!

  12. Bushra Gill says:

    You had me at “creative challenge.” I’m an artist who needs to give herself “assignments” to work through, like the mini one I am in the midst of on Instagram, @bushradraws. When I get stuck, I bake! I haven’t made it all the way through a cookbook yet, but I have been working my way through the Baking Book by Cook’s Illustrated. The internet makes looking for recipes a little too easy, but is another one I am working through, esp since my family’s many dietary oddities are accommodated there.

  13. Shay says:

    I love The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, The Cookie Collection, and Half Baked Harvest right now. I’d say everyone in my family is loving them too!

  14. Jessica says:

    I pulled out my Pioneer Woman’s Holiday cookbook after your previous post… I had bought it with the intention of cooking through it 2 years ago and hadn’t tried a single recipe! Because we are loving everything I have made in the Thanksgiving section, I tried to get another of her books from the library and have to wait for them to be sent to my library. I am too excited though, and ordered Ina Garten’s Modern Comfort Food last night (thank you Amazon, the wait list is 17 people deep at the library!) at your suggestion!

  15. Emily Avers says:

    I bought my mom (a long-time pie baker) Sister Pie for Christmas last year. She probably bakes a pie a month and every time she tells me all about it. She’s gotten to where she talks about the pies like they’re family traditions, even though I haven’t eaten one yet. I don’t have personal experience with the cookbook, but I highly recommend based on how much it’s become a part of my mom’s cooking life!

  16. B says:

    The Pioneer Woman’s first cookbook is amazing. I also love Pat Conroy’s cookbook which includes many stories along with the recipes.

  17. Marcia says:

    I have all but one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks (Cook Like a Pro). I have often thought it would be fun to try every recipe, but I decided that I probably would never do that because of the abundance of seafood recipes in her cookbooks, and it is highly unlikely I’ll be cooking with live lobster and mussels living in Wisconsin. A couple of years ago a friend and I made one of her soups each week throughout the winter, and that was a good. But, I would like to create some sort of challenge for myself using her cookbooks. I’ll have to be thinking about what that challenge might be. You’ve inspired me to be creative.

  18. tabitha says:

    There are two cookbooks I have cooked my was (mostly) through – Pati’s Mexican Table by Pati Jinnich and Jacque Pepin’s More Fast Food My Way. Both cookbooks have been used so much it was time for a new copy so I got the ebook versions.

    Pati’s book is very approachable and though there are some specialized ingredients that are hard to find in my rural area, the recipes don’t require special equipment. You can make them in an ordinary kitchen. We have liked almost every recipe (weren’t too fond of the chorizo stuffing for turkey) and some have become my go-to recipes – I make alphabet soup at least once a month.

    Jacque’s cookbook is focused on big flavor in fast to cook recipes. In general, you won’t need special equipment and the ingredients are easy to find or substitute. And my family eats it! The butternut squash velvet is my go-to quick lunch. I didn’t even know I liked butternut squash.

    I am currently working my way through Martie Duncan’s Alabama Cravings and Milkstreet’s magazine.

    • Tamara L Gandt says:

      I love to watch Jacque Pepin’s daily videos of a quick dish. I watch them on facebook mainly because I like the sound of his voice but also because he seems like just a lovely man to be around.

    • April S says:

      Once Upon A Chef, the Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes by Jennifer Segal

      The food is beautiful and everything I’ve made has been delicious I also follow her online for more kitchen inspiration. @onceuponachef on Instagram

  19. Charmaine says:

    My favourite cookbook is inspired by books – ‘Food to die for’ by Patricia Cornwall based on the recipes mentioned in her Scarpetta books. Also enjoying working through ‘The Roasting Tin: Around the World’.

  20. Carolyn says:

    The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule By Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion is my current favorite. Every recipe has been a winner, and they are easy enough for busy weeknights.

  21. Leigh says:

    Accidentally discovered Once Upon A Chef online and bought her cookbook when it came out because her recipes are family-friendly and well written but look and taste like a chef’s so make dinner parties easier. Her first book became a best seller on Amazon so a second book is almost ready.

  22. Meredith K Hankins says:

    My all time favorite book about food is “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and we went through a phase of cheese making, bread making, etc. along with some major gardening. During the first part of the pandemic, I needed less options for choice and some simplicity. My brain was fatigued but I needed comfort food and didn’t want to go to the store often. We started using Everyplate (the little sister of Hello Fresh) back in June and have used it faithfully ever since. It’s significantly cheaper than competitors and you actually have to cook (like chop and dice, etc.). My cooking skills have vastly improved and now we rarely have take out. Someday, I’ll reopen my favorite cookbooks (Delia Smith, Pioneer Woman, etc.) but for now I’m good to cook food from a box.

    • Tamara L Gandt says:

      I so agree Meredith, first I love anything Kingsolver and second I hesitated at first about reading it but as I got into it I couldn’t put it down. One of my favorite reads.

  23. Bev Baird says:

    I started cooking through Reichl’s My Kitchen Year this fall and altho I am not doing every recipe, I have done a few. I so enjoy her writings as well – so read along. I loved her Butternut Squash Soup especially.

  24. Renee M Fontenot says:

    The movie Julie and Julia is the dual story of Julia Child and Julie who makes every recipe in The Art of French Cooking. I love Amy Adams. This was a great movie.

  25. Lucille says:

    I was reading Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year when my first grand baby Rosalie was about to be born. What I remember about that time four years ago were the snowy days, candles, tulips in vases, and that cookbook.

    Reichl’s writing is evocative. Hers storytelling is exquisite. You can picture yourself in every scene while she makes the transition through the loss of her job as editor of Gourmet magazine. She makes the simplest moments of throwing together a sandwich of leftovers seem romantic. It ranks as one of my favorite reads of all time. I subscribed to her Twitter account just to see how she could pack so much into 140 characters.

  26. Elaine says:

    Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” is my go-to; recipes are pared down to their essentials so that everything is simple and straighforward yet delicious. When we evacuated New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, we were living in Ft. Worth so my daughter could finish her Tulane semester at TCU and graduate on schedule that December 2005. When my husband finally got to go back to our house for five minutes (escorted by the National Guard) after a month away, he called to say “what should I get”? I replied “the Mark Bittman cookbook”.

  27. Meg says:

    Deb from Smitten Kitchen is my one and only true love when it comes to cookbooks! I’ve made my way through both of her cookbooks, many of them are in my family’s favorite weekly rotations. We’ve also made a shocking number of recipes featured on her blog. Her recipes are reliable, easy to convert for food allergies and make people think I actually know what I’m doing in the kitchen.

    • Shanna says:

      I love Smitten Kitchen Everyday and many of Deb’s recipes are in our weekly family rotation- I was just contemplating cooking my way through SKE to completion!

  28. Lauren says:

    Where to begin….I have SO many cookbooks and I also love to sit down and read them. I have a shelf in my kitchen for those I refer to often and a bookcase in my Family Room that’s dedicated to cookbooks. And I almost always have a stash from the library in my home library next to my chair.
    Anything by Mollie Katzen, the Moosewood books were her early ones and she has several geared to kids and even preschoolers that are simple and perfect.
    Mel Joulwan’s cookbooks are great too. Although I am vegan 90% of the time and vegetarian the other 10% her cookbooks have really great and interesting ways to prepare vegetables and salads. Plus the other 5 members of my family are definitely NOT vegetarian so the meat dishes are brilliant for them.
    300 Sensational soups is excellent although I would always defer to Cook’s Illustrated heavy volume on soups and stews; they really are the final word.
    Dinner a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstreich is so good and sweet to read as a reminder of the days with young kids in the house.
    Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry is excellent. Whole menus for some things but just really great solid recipes.
    Dad’s Own Cookbook. Ironically I gave this to my husband way back in 1994? when we were new parents and I am the one who cooks from it!
    The Family Dinner and The Family Cooks both by Laurie David are also great cookbooks and great to read.
    Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque is another favorite.
    The River Cottage cookbooks teach an awful lot and the recipes are surprisingly simple while still feeling gourmet.
    On my wishlist is Kenji Lopez Food Lab. Encyclopedic and incredibly educational.
    I could go on but I’ll stop 🙂

  29. Tamara L Gandt says:

    This past year I read, When French Women Cook, A Gastronomic Memoir by Madeleine Kamman. She passed in 2018 however in her day she was a world renowned culinary instructor. Her book is tour of the culinary regions of France: Poitou, Auvergne, Normandy, Savoie, Touraine, Alsace, Brittany and Provence. Each represent a particular way of cooking that she learned from a family member, restaurant owner, family friend. I loved how she arranged her memoir as it started when she was young and her first experiences cooking with her mother and grandmother through World War II. They often moved to different places throughout France during this time. The second part of each section were the recipes from that region.

  30. Megan says:

    I’ve never tried cooking my way through a cookbook, though I need to check out Sister Pie as I lived in the Detroit area for several years and love the restaurants in that area (haven’t been to Sister Pie personally but my friend loves it!). I did a different type of creative project early in the pandemic though, the 100 Day Project. Officially it takes place from April 7th-July 15th (or at least this year it did) but I started and finished a little early. I painted mini watercolors, but something like cooking a recipe a day would fit right into this project!

  31. Amanda says:

    My 10-year-old son and I are making every recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook. If you have celiac disease or avoid gluten for any other reason, there are so many keepers in this book! It has cakes and cookies, but also great pasta, grain, and savory comfort food recipes. There’s a part two as well. I recommend it heartily.

  32. You really need a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan–she is awesome. I spent a couple of wonderful years cooking with a blog group called “Tuesday’s With Dorie”. We baked through her book “Baking, from My Home to Yours”. Each Tuesday we would make and blog about a pre chosen recipe. There were several hundred participants. We each took a turn being hostess. As hostess we chose the recipe for the week and blogged about our success or failure (I only had one failure). We all posted pictures of our finished product. With Dorries permission the hostess would include the recipe in her blog post. Dorrie even took a turn being hostess. I made many friends and learned a lot. It is my favorite baking cookbook. Dorrie Greenspan is one amazing gal. It was so much fun.

    • Denette says:

      It is so interesting that you mentioned Tuesdays with Dorie because I have come across quite a few of the blog posts from this group over the years. When I first saw the movie Julie and Julia it inspired me to bake through Julia’s (but really Dorie’s) book Baking with Julia, the companion cookbook to her show Baking With Julia. I did some research on one of the recipes and found the Tuesdays With Dorie blogging group as they were also baking through this book. Even though I have not officially baked through the whole book, those blog posts really came in handy when I was trying to figure out what a particular recipe’s finished product should look like if there wasn’t a photo. Perhaps I should start up my project again and try to finish the book! I feel inspired now…thank you!!

  33. Lydia says:

    Not a cookbook, but Nagi from The RecipeTin Eats has transformed our family’s meals! You can follow her food blog to get weekly recipe emails, or jump on the website when you need inspiration. I love that you can search for recipes by ingredients and my kids love watching her recipe videos. Some of our favourites: lentil curry, ripper beef nachos, tacos, beef stroganoff, stir fries and so many delicious soups! She just did a post yesterday about cookbooks worth gifting (to yourself!) 😉

  34. Heidi says:

    My family likes to say, “Smitten Kitchen for the win!” because I cook so much from Deb’s books and website. I find her second book, Smitten Kitchen Everyday, easier to use, most likely because the first one was written before she had toddlers. 🙂 Her recipes have gotten simpler and more reliable in the past few years, and we could eat out favorite meals of hers for almost a month without a repeat!

  35. Jessica says:

    I’m so happy to see Sister Pie made this last! I bake as a hobby and as a way to bring myself comfort and this cookbook is hands down the best I’ve used! Every pie is fabulous, and my family loves the cookie and scone recipes too. It is one I enjoy reading, not just skimming the recipes. This book taught me to make a mean pie that brings joy to everyone I bake for. Our favorites are the salted maple pie and the buckwheat chocolate chip cookies!

  36. Teresa says:

    I love the idea of cooking your way through an entire cookbook! It is now on the top of my list of things to do in 2021. My question is about documentation. Do you keep notes on each recipe (i.e. whether you liked it or not, would you make it again, easy, hard, etc)? If so, do you use a dedicated journal or another method?

    • Laura says:

      I leave notes in the cookbook and also date it when I make the recipe. It’s fun to see the last time you cooked something. My son loved seeing his name by the lemon pie from last Thanksgiving when we made it again last week.

  37. Claire says:

    For several years I’ve made the wonderful, fast, easy, not fussy, no-knead Peasant Bread from Whether you’re new or old at bread baking this is a great way to make bread. When pandemic started I began making bread more often and started working my way through her book Bread Toast Crumbs. So many great breads, soups and salads.
    For two years Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nostrat has been on my bedside table because it is such a good read. But now I feel inspired to start working my way through it.

  38. Meg says:

    I didn’t intentionally do this, but during quarantine I cooked my way through the Two Peas and Their Pod cookbook and it is MAGIC. I loved almost everything. I know I’m getting Ina’s for Christmas (since I bought it for myself and gave it to my husband to wrap) 😂 and I will totally cook along with you!

  39. Nichole says:

    My daughter and I have been slowly working our way through Bravetart by Stella Parks (another KY woman) over the past few years. She told me she wanted to get through it before she graduates high school. There are A LOT of recipes and variations in there, but we are having fun trying! The family favorites are the Lofthouse style cookies and the homemade Oreos.

  40. Christina says:

    Wow! This was just what I didn’t know I needed! Though I usually love being in the kitchen, I’ve been bored of my cooking since June and feeling completely uninspired. I don’t even own any cookbooks, but I’m excited to take a look at some of these!

    Thanks for sharing, Anne!

  41. Nanci says:

    The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. It is puttery with lots of ingredients, not for everyone. The flavors are mouth wateringly delicious. It is an older one. I have made the majority of the recipes in the book over the years.
    It has complete menus for holidays. Flavor at its best!

  42. April S says:

    I had to come back to add when I remembered this. I bought Once Upon A Chef at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston the evening of Anne’s book signing.

    Annother favorite is One Pot Comfort by Meredith Laurence (Bluejean Chef) all the recipes use one cooking vessel & she gives he same recipe in multiple formats Stove/Oven, Instant Pot, Air Fryer and Crock Pot – a few recipes skip a format when that wouldn’t yield good results. I have different equipment at the cabin from at home but this book travels with me. I’m confident I can use it anywhere. I love the sheet pan dinners!

  43. Ciara Anderson says:

    I love the idea of including notes about the event! I often add notes about cook times and adjustments to my favorite books. Unfortunately as a military family, our kitchen (and oven and cook times) change every few years! Holding onto the memories surrounding the recipes would be a wonderful heirloom for our kids.

  44. Sarah Jeter says:

    I love this post! Such a fun idea. When the movie Julie & Julia came out, I was inspired to cook my way through the covers of my collection of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine.

  45. Molly Pisula says:

    As a chef and food blogger, I love so many of the cookbooks on Anne’s list and listed in the comments. For those of you who like to bake, I highly highly recommend Cathy Barrow’s Pie Squared and When Pies Fly. I helped her recipe test almost all of When Pies Fly, and her recipes are spot-on. Well-written, well-tested, and totally delicious, which sadly often cannot be said for some cookbooks out there. There are sweet and savory recipes in both books, and they’re so much fun. For anyone who is curious about preserving/canning, her Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry is a book I go back to time and time again.

  46. Kristin W says:

    Thank you for this post, the comments were a joy to read! In my current moment in life (working full time with little kids) my dinner routine has become super routine as I have a six week schedule of simple meals and just repeat! But reading this I’m inspired to break out a cookbook or or check some new ones out from my library! I plan to give my FIL a homemade “pie of the month” for his birthday this month and am excited. As a side note, my grandmothers met in college and remained friends and when one wrote a cookbook, she included recipes from her friends, including my other grandma and so now I have cookbooks containing favorites from BOTH sides of my family! I don’t think I’ll be cooking my way thru a cookbook anytime soon, but I am inspired to try some new recipes for my rotation.

  47. Several of these are on my TBT list! My current faves are the two Magnolia Table cookbooks by Joanna Gaines and the two Cravings cookbooks by Chrissy Teigan! Two very different feels, but the writing in both is fun and compelling! ❤️

  48. Kristina Baas says:

    The Homemade Pantry by Alaina Chernilla is nearing a completely broken binding in my kitchen, because of how often I use it and weight it flat on my counter top. I think I’ve made at least 75% of the recipes multiple times.

  49. Jeanne says:

    I love to read camping cookbooks. It’s highly likely the ingredient lists are short, recipes are simple, and I get to daydream about cooking around the campfire, even if it rarely happens. Three camping cookbooks I’ve loved reading, cooking through, and adventure-planning by are The New Camp Cookbook by Linda Ly, The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook by Robin Donovan, and Feast by Firelight by Emma Frisch. I also love A Year of Picnics by Ashley English. Much longer ingredient lists here, but such romantic outdoor eating ideas.

  50. Katie Chen says:

    Pre-COVID, I started a different kind of book club that I called Bite Club. A group of 18-25 of us would choose a cookbook. We would sign up for dishes we wanted to make and bring to my home. We’d gather, enjoy a fun meal, and then discuss the merits of the cookbook. Admission to Bite Club was a completed dish you did yourself- success or failure! This has been a great way to decide whether a cookbook deserved coveted space on my bookshelf, and the fastest way to taste a bunch of recipes from one book. We’ve discovered some favorite cookbooks and we’ve also started emailing the authors ahead of time to ask if they’d be willing to either 1) FaceTime with our group or 2) answer emailed questions from our group. A fun way for you to attack your cookbook collection – get others to help you cook from it! I’m sad we haven’t been able to meet since March – here in CA we had our shelter-in-place order started the week we were supposed to meet to cook from Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy! Can’t wait to gather again, hopefully sooner than later.

  51. Dana says:

    It’s funny because I picked out 3 cookbooks, I would like to cook my way through. Now, I know I will be skipping recipes like the BLT stuffed tomatoes– I hate tomatoes, but I will be cooking 90% of each cookbook.
    – The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto
    – Eat What You Love by Danielle Walker
    – Against all Grains Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker

  52. Cynthia says:

    SOLD! I’m not a great cook but am interested in The Minimalist Kitchen; so I just bought it based on this post and the great reviews I read on Amazon. Impulsive and so unlike me.

  53. Kenneth H Geisler says:

    The NY Times recently featured a recipe for Chicken Artichoke Casserole by Peg Bracken and it was so delicious that I tracked down “The Compleat I Hate To Cook Book”, published in 1960. At a cost of $5 (including shipping) for a hardcover from a used bookshop, I have a host of simple recipes that are a treat to make and eat, with a bit of time travel thrown in for good measure. And her comments about each recipe are a hoot!

    • Jennifer Geisler says:

      What happened here? This comment should read: Jennifer Geisler says: Somehow the computer gremlins substituted my husband’s name.

  54. Suzanne C says:

    If you bake, you need Rose Levy Beranbaum in your life. I also like Joy Wilson (known on the internet as Joy the Baker)- her breakfast/brunch cookbook Over Easy is a treasure.

  55. I love looking through my mom’s old Betty Crocker Cookbook. She jotted notes next to recipes and it’s spattered and stained. She died when I was 13, so her cookbook is a treasure and makes me feel like she’s in the kitchen with me. I write in my cookbooks now, too.

  56. Ashley says:

    I loved reading through this list and the comments. A few of these cookbooks have been on my list for a while but my current library just doesn’t carry them. We’ll be moving next month and I have high hopes that my new library system will be better.

    I’ve never cooked my way through a cookbook but have a few cookbooks that I use more than others. If I was going to cook through one, it would probably be David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, which I love and have enjoyed cooking from, or Manju Malhi’s Easy Indian Cookbook, that was a random bookstore pick that is surprisingly good. I couldn’t do anything that has lots of seafood – I don’t live near the water and my husband isn’t a fan. But I think that’s where you just have to know your audience and give yourself permission to skip some recipes or save them for when you have some seafood lovers over.

  57. Alex Daw says:

    I haven’t completed a cookbook before but thank you so much for these recommendations. I’ve managed to borrow Reichl and Perelman’s books from the library and just love them!

  58. Terry says:

    Several years ago, I baked a loaf of bread a week using The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This is a wonderful book to learn the hows and whys of bread baking and has amazing recipes. The first 100 pages are all about the science and I have read and re-read these pages several times. My favorite recipe might be the first one, the Anadama bread. The story that accompanies the recipe is so fun.
    My favorite cookie cookbook is an obscure little book with no pictures except on the front and back covers that I purchased twenty years ago . . . One Dough, Fifty Cookies: Baking Favorite And Festive Cookies In A Snap by Leslie Glover Pendleton. You can make 50 different delicious cookies from one master dough base. And each recipe bakes a lot of cookies so it is absolutely perfect for Christmas gift giving and exchanges, bake sales, and for having lots of cookies around any time. Some family favorites are the crispy rice shortbread, graham washboards, malted milk balls, tangy lemon wedges, chocolate chip, biscotti, and my particular favorite, the minted lemonade cookies. People have bemoaned the lack of photos, but I would rather have this book without the photos than be without this book.

  59. Elizabeth W says:

    I have three cookbooks that I use constantly. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (printed in 1999) by Ina Garten is so tattered and worn I worry about it falling apart. Cooking With My Sisters by Adriana Trigiani is more than a cookbook it is also a Memoir, and the recipes are handed down through the family. The third one I found in a Thrift Shop a couple of years ago and it is just the best, The Stanley Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci (the actor). It reads like a training manual, pairing food with wine and has beautiful illustrations.

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