Can you read? Then you can probably cook—provided, of course, that you’re following the right recipes. We’ve rounded up eleven of the most reliable cookbooks from chefs we love and trust. Bon appétit!
COOK’S ILLUSTRATED: THE SCIENCE OF GOOD COOKING, BY THE EDITORS OF AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN AND GUY CROSBY, PH.D
Cooking is as much—if not more—a science, as it is an art. This, of course, is something the folks at America’s Test Kitchen do well, having spent their days tweaking recipes in every way possible to get to unearth the science behind the foods we eat. Their book not only explains the science, but also gives readers ways to experiment with and enhance the foods we eat every day, from chocolate chip cookies and omelets, to roast chicken and hamburgers.
AD HOC AT HOME, BY THOMAS KELLER
The chef behind American dining stalwarts French Laundry and Per Se brings haute cuisine to your table with family style recipes. Throughout you’ll find gorgeous, drool-worthy images, as well as helpful hints about skills like trussing a chicken, resting meat and using fats.
HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING FAST: A BETTER WAY TO COOK GREAT FOOD, BY MARK BITTMAN
Wouldn’t cooking for yourself be more appealing if it took less time? A follow-up to How to Cook Everything (which is also worth adding to your cookbook arsenal), Mark Bittman’s latest tome acknowledges this, providing tips for more efficient food prep through 2,000 quick and easy-to-execute recipes.
TWELVE RECIPES, BY CAL PETERNELL
San Francisco chef Cal Peternell was inspired to write this book after realizing he’d never taught his college-bound son to cook. The result? A collection of beginner-friendly recipes that use core dishes—like something as simple as toast—as a base, and then teaches the reader skills that build on those staples to make something more advanced.
THINGS COOKS LOVE, BY SUR LA TABLE AND MARIE SIMMONS
What good are fancy kitchen gadgets if you don’t know how to use them? This Sur La Table cookbook breaks down the kitchen tool by tool, offering recipes and advice for each one. It’s also got several sections to help you master all kinds of international cuisine.
GORDON RAMSAY’S HOME COOKING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE FABULOUS FOOD, BY GORDON RAMSAY
You may know him as that guy who screams at aspiring chefs on your television, but Gordon Ramsay is also a Michelin star-winning chef with a knack for teaching. His book makes complex recipes accessible to the home cook, and offers time- and money-saving preparation tips throughout.
MEXICAN EVERYDAY, BY RICK BAYLESS
Get out of your quesadilla and soft taco rut with 90 tasty, easy-to-prepare Mexican recipes from the award-winning Rick Bayless. His dishes can often be prepared in under 30 minutes and use fresh ingredients, making them relatively healthy, as well as delicious.
THINK LIKE A CHEF, BY TOM COLICCHIO
In addition to mentoring chefs on TV, Tom Colicchio has helmed several successful restaurants and picked up his share of James Beard Foundation Medals. So, we’re all for getting inside his head. Think Like a Chef lets readers in on the creative process in the kitchen, but also breaks down cooking, spending time going over techniques like roasting and sautéing, as well as explaining how to incorporate them into his recipes.
MOLTO ITALIANO: 327 SIMPLE ITALIAN RECIPES TO COOK AT HOME, BY MARIO BATALI
Looking to take homemade Italian meals beyond jarred sauces and packaged noodles? This Crocs-clad Iron Chef gives readers a bunch of ways (327, to be exact) to prepare and enjoy the classic cuisine.
THE BAR BOOK: ELEMENTALS OF COCKTAIL TECHNIQUE, BY JEFFREY MORGENTHALER
Sure, a man can’t survive on cocktails alone, but if he could, this is the only book he’d need. Jeffrey Morganthaler, bar manager at Portland’s acclaimed Clyde Common, breaks down essential bartending techniques (think: garnishing, juicing and shaking) and employs stunning photos to teach readers how to make intricate cocktails at home.
WILLIAMS-SONOMA ESSENTIALS OF BAKING
Once you advance beyond just-add-water cake mixes and sleeves of cookie dough, you’ll realize that baking can be really hard. But, this book simplifies the process, guiding the reader from techniques, like hulling and coring fruits and whipping cream, to detailed recipes for breads, pastries, pies and more.