The best cookbooks for the home chef in your life

Katherine Pohl

Most of your favorite cookbooks are also available as e-books if you'd prefer to use a tablet while cooking.

Holiday time is upon us! While you search the litany of potential gifts for even the most difficult person on your list, you'll indubitably come across a home chef. Every holiday gathering includes someone who brings a delectable treat (or two), and they're excited to share it. For these home chefs, a cookbook makes a great gift.

But, with so many cookbooks out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Below are some staples that all cooks should have, as they make great resources for kitchen questions and delicious meals for any occasion. Celebrate with the gift of good eats.

As a reference guide in any cook's kitchen:

Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, 16th Edition

Every home cook should have one cookbook to reference, whether roasting a beef tenderloin, baking a shortbread cookie, or canning their own jams. The best part of the BH&G book is it provides methods and a "Cooking Basics" chapter. Learn to cook an egg properly, how to make various doughs, and which tools and ingredients are best to stock your kitchen. Clear photos of everything prove educational and helpful, regardless of skill level. Then, learn how to cook it all with ease. Recipes run from appetizers to desserts, grilling, dressings, vegetables and fruits -- you name it. This latest edition boasts a new "Holiday" chapter, too.

For the seasoned chef:

Heart and Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin

Pepin has been a household name in the cooking world for the better part of 70 years, and has dedicated his life to food. As a classically trained French chef, needless to say, he knows flavor. This cookbook is particularly special since it contains his personal home recipes, ones he loves to cook with his family; some are even passed down from his mother. Broken down by subject, he includes tried and tested recipes for everything, from soup to nuts. His mother's chicken jardinière is a beautiful pan-seared chicken dinner, while his custard with shortbread is a delicate and traditional dessert. Pepin weaves stories of his life through these recipes, and it's clear why they stand the test of time.

For the chef who needs a solid dinner arsenal:

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond lives on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma, so she needs to be able to feed her whole family after long days of hard work on horseback and beyond. As the "accidental country girl" she purports herself to be, she's built an empire by keeping it simple and homey. Dinnertime tackles the "What's for dinner?" question, be it midweek or for a special occasion. She provides helpful meal preparation tips to make everything run smoothly. Stand-out recipes include roasted vegetable minestrone soup (replete with every vegetable you can imagine) served up with "The Bread," the two-ingredient, delicious starchy side her family gobbles up. There are also entire chapters dedicated to pasta for dinner, 16-minute meals, and make-ahead options. No matter what you have on hand, dinner is solved.

For the plant-based cook:

Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking by Dana Shultz

Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz and her husband compiled these recipes through trial and error, love of food, and a need to make them (mostly) gluten-free and vegan, from a health standpoint. The blog of the same name has legions of followers, and Dana releases new recipes weekly, meaning she's always coming up with new ideas and foods to share. Her claim to fame? All her recipes are 10 ingredients or less! Make no mistake: The flavors in her recipes are bold and hearty -- you won't miss the meat.  Snacks such as hummus and energy balls, all three meals of the day, desserts, and drinks are all touched on. Particular flavors of hers are curries and dishes with Asian flair. Even so, the ingredients are easy to find and every recipe has a picture. Meatless Mondays made easy.

For the celeb chef fan:

Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Supermodel Chrissy Teigen has become an Instagram sensation over the last few years, chronicling her glamorous life, sure, but also keeping it pretty real when it comes to ... well ... everything.  Cravings takes a look at comfort foods at their most decadent, from buttermilk biscuits with gravy to mac and cheese with garlic bread crumbs.  Teigen's mother is Thai, so the book includes spicy Thai dishes, too. These concoctions are her family and personal favorites, delivered. The tagline of the book is accurate when it claims, "recipes for all the food you want to eat."


Katherine Pohl is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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