Here at Reviewed, our staff has strong opinions on... well, pretty much everything. So when I asked them to dish on their favorite cookbooks, of course, I got some seriously poignant testimonials.
With a range of experience (and interest) in cooking and various culinary restrictions, preferences, and backgrounds, there was no overlap in our go-to cookbooks. Here's what our staff members reach for in the comfort of their own kitchens.
For nostalgia's sake
My parents were fresh off the boat when they first arrived in the United States. Growing up in China, they often saw images of dinner parties and "doing lunch" as part of American culture. Books like Favorite Recipes of 1988 helped my family integrate in a suburban neighborhood, making our house more approachable. I like it specifically because it's as much a history book as a cookbook. You can tell what was in the zeitgeist at the time of publication.
—Jonathan Chan, Staff Writer
For the creative type
This isn’t your traditional book of recipes. In fact, you’re not gonna find any recipes in here at all. Instead, The Flavor Bible is a compendium of just about every ingredient you can imagine with lists of complementary flavors and why these pairings tend to work.
I love The Flavor Bible because of how it encourages me to engage with my food rather than work my way passively through a basic recipe. It’s like kindling for culinary inspiration; while most cookbooks ask me politely to stay on the trail, The Flavor Bible invites me to stray off the beaten path and take risks. After all, isn’t that what cooking is all about?
—Michael Desjardin, Staff Writer
For the calorie-conscious cook
I swear by Gina Homolka's Skinnytaste. When I decided to try Weight Watchers a few years ago, I fell in love with her website because Gina lists nutritional info and the number of Weight Watchers points with all of her recipes. Not only are the recipes healthy, but they are easy to follow and extremely tasty.
Basically, you can't go wrong with Skinnytaste recipes, even if you don't care about eating healthy! The recipes also photograph really well—especially the Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup, which might just be the best thing I've ever made.
—Samantha Matt, Social Media and Content Strategy Manager
For the traditionalist
Let's face it, this is totally your grandmother's cookbook. But, listen up—your grandma was super smart to have the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book in her house, because it covers a lot of bases. So show your nana or nonna some respect!
Especially if you're into traditional American breakfast foods and desserts, this cook book is a classic for a reason. I highly recommend the version that comes in a 3-ring binder, since it's rugged and lets you add your own favorite recipes to the book.
—Brendan Nystedt, Managing Editor
For covering all your bases
Everyone needs a thick, thoroughly basic cookbook, and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is everything I—and you—could want. Hundreds of simple recipes are organized into sections that make them easy to parse.
Many recipes also detail ways to make different variations on the original dish, and there are a slew of helpful tables and lists tucked among its pages. I can't say I've even come close to trying all the recipes in this book, but the best one I've tried is sautéed mushrooms—simple, but unbelievably delicious. Which is the whole point.
—Kori Perten, Staff Writer
For the gluten averse
Going gluten free after a positive Celiac diagnosis is no small feat. Enter America's Test Kitchen's "How Can It Be Gluten Free" cookbook. Not only do they have the answer to any question you may have about gluten-free cooking, but they've done the science to make sure that your final dishes are as close to the real thing as possible. I can personally attest to the results, and they've all been fantastic. It'd be worth the price for their macaroni and cheese recipe alone, but there's also a meatloaf recipe in there that I will have in my life until my dying day.
—Mike Roorda, Video Producer
For the aesthetically inclined
Ree Drummond's Dinnertime is a shockingly legit, 400-page, half cookbook half coffee table book. There are photos of every step of every recipe, plus full-page photography from the family's sprawling Oklahoma ranch.
The book's just as fun to flip through as it is to actually use in the kitchen. And the recipes themselves are old-school, unpretentious, and sell the whole midwest motif. Try the easy Salisbury Steak (p. 216) with a side of her Lemony Green Beans (p. 292).
—Christopher Snow, Managing Editor
For a quirky read
In an age when we have access to millions of recipes on the internet, a good cookbook has to be more than a book full of good recipes. The Art of Living According to Joe Beef is just that.
In addition to more than 100 absolutely ridiculous recipes, the book includes detailed musings on French-Canadian cuisine, historical anecdotes about Montreal, and even step-by-step instructions for building your own smokehouse. It's the most bizarre cookbook I've ever read—and that's a good thing.
—Jeremy Stamas, Video Production Manager
For the flavor-seeker
Don't get this book if you're on a diet: Get this book if you want to impress and mildly injure your diners with a stupidly delicious meal. All of these recipes are cheesy, gooey, crispy-crunchy, garlicky, salty—"basically any dish you know and love, jacked up to a bordering-on-socially-unacceptable amount of flavor" (can confirm).
Want recipes for sh*t on toast? Got it. I recently made Chrissy's mac and cheese (which includes, like, 9 cups of cheese per pound of pasta), and it was quickly deemed the best thing I ever made.
—Jessica Teich, Staff Writer
For tried-and-true recipes
My mom wasn’t very culinary-minded when I was growing up. With 3 boys and a full-time job, she didn’t really have time to be. But when she wanted to go for something beyond microwaved frozen vegetables, or spaghetti and canned tomato sauce, her first place for ideas was Joy of Cooking. As I developed an interest in food, it was often my first place to look, too.
My 40-year-old copy is quaint by today's standards, but it’s encyclopedically thorough on the basics of Western cuisine, and never assumes a step is too basic to describe, right down to a separate recipe for how to boil an egg.
—Andrew Winson, Data Entry Manager
For down home cookin'
I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, but over the years I've developed a taste for down-home, old-fashioned Southern cooking. One of the best meals I ever ate in my life was at Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse in Savannah, GA, and the recipes in this cookbook are the same used by the folks who prepare the meals for guests. It's simple, delicious, and impossible to not enjoy—from fried chicken to sweet potato soufflé to banana pudding. The perfect comfort food cookbook.
—Matthew Zahnzinger, Logistics Manager & Staff Writer