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Top 25 Cooking, Food & Wine

What makes a great Cookbook? Wonderful recipes, of course, but we found we gravitated toward books that were more than that. Get to know the passion that drives some of the greatest figures in the culinary arts.

The Joy of Cooking

A kitchen is not a kitchen without this – a classic written and edited by the same family for over 75 years. Famed for its familiar and unfamiliar recipes (squirrel anyone?), everything in here approaches the definitive. Note: the New England Clambake recipe is an insane amount of work, but can be considered the center-piece of the ultimate beach gathering.
The Joy of Cooking Book Cover

The Way to Cook

Julia Child's masterpiece is Mastering the Art of French Cooking and that is one of the most important books in the genre, and while her artistry is as fresh today as it was in 1961, we, the amateur cooks have changed. This, her second masterpiece, translates much of her talent into terms we, a society with less time and fewer stay-at-home family members, can use.
The Way to Cook Book Cover

The Essential Cocktail

Who better to write the definitive cocktail book than the head barman of Manhattan's famed Rainbow Room. This book comes with tons of color photos and great historical anecdotes to keep the conversation flowing.
The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks Book Cover

James Beard's American Cookery

The classic, no-nonsense recipes would be enough to put this book on the top shelf of any serious collection of cook books. What we love about this volume is that you also get to experience the prose of one of the all-time great food writers at his best.
James Beard

Diet for a Small Planet

Incredible to think that this book was first published in 1971. Still controversial after all these years, this book still asks a lot of the reader, still has a message that has yet to be heard.
Diet for a Small Planet Book Cover

Windows on the World Complete

Inspired by the world's most famous evening class, Kevin Zraly's classic introduction to wine shares many of the traits that other volumes atop this list have. It is opinionated and erudite, yet very user-friendly. Our favorite book on wine.
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course Book Cover

New York Times Cookbook

We might get criticism for not placing this book higher. With 1,500 traditional recipes from Craig Claiborne, the man whose food writing and restaurant reviews put the New York Times on the "foodie" map.
The New York Times Cook Book Book Cover

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

This is not a book of recipes but we couldn't resist a title by this master of stories, travels Anthony Bourdain. Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the business of food.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Book Cover

Everyday Italian

From her hit Food Network show, Giada De Laurentis has one of the most approachable books on Italian cuisine. Fast, simple, delicious and accessible.
Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes Book Cover

Sugar Blues

Written by William Dufty—the husband of Gloria Swanson—this health myth-buster was way ahead of the health revolution that gathered steam decades after this was published.
Sugar Blues Book Cover

The Gourmet Slow Cooker

What could be easier—toss ingredients in a slow cooker, go to work and come home to a fabulous meal, ready to eat. Only it usually turns out an overcooked, brown/grey mess. Lynn Alley tames this tool and presents it not so much as a devise of convenience, but more as a tool render incredibly tender dishes.
The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World Book Cover

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

One of the first celebrity chefs, Paul Prudhomme did more than almost anyone else to make the staples of Cajun cuisine renowned worldwide. Some of the fundamentals of Cajun cooking fly in the face of other styles, but there is no one better than this late, great chef to guide both novice and season cooks alike.
Chef Paul Prudhomme

Garlic and Sapphires

This is not a straight cookbook, more a mix of memories, recipes and personal revelations from the funny, poignant, and candid storyteller Ruth Reichl.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise Book Cover

Barefoot Contessa Family Style

These are not earth-shattering or unique recipes, but Ina Garten's simple everyday favorites score high on our lists for dishes you’d want to revisit again and again.
Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family Book Cover

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing

Some of our colleagues at ThriftBooks refused to let us publish this list without this book, and with good reason. From the founder and president of the American Homebrewer's Association, this volume is often referred to as "the Brewer's Bible"
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Book Cover

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques

Steven Raichlen covers tons of different techniques, grouped by meal (yes, even desserts!), but what sets this “how to” apart is the skill with which he cross-references recipes. He teaches you a few basic rubs, marinades, drizzles and sauces, which lets you cover a lot of choices quickly.
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques Book Cover

Rachael Ray's Open House Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes for Easy Entertaining

30 minutes recipes? We're sold! These recipes are as delicious as they are quick.
Rachael Ray

Christmas Joy

Commonly called a keepsake, and including recipes and illustrations themed for the Holiday, Susan Branch's "Christmas Joy" separates itself from the pack. Few, if any, capture the season more successfully.
Christmas Joy : A Keepsake Book from the Heart of the Home Book Cover

How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart

Another milestone that takes you out of the recipe-by-recipe rut. Take the stress out of everyday cooking with simple techniques and items already in your pantry and fridge.
How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart Book Cover

Fix-It and Forget-It

There are many versions of these cookbooks, which are sure to apply to any and all cooking scenarios. Whatever your culinary need, Phyllis Good has you covered!
Vineyard Seasons Book Cover

Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook

No list would be complete without Martha Stewart, and this is she and her team in full flood. Exquisitely prepared and photographed food with real help to allow you to create the same at home.
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker Book Cover

The Complete Book of Herbs

True to the title this work is complete and stunningly illustrated. Yes it's packed with information on planting and growing, but it also offers an exhaustive identification guide, ideas for gifts and even recipes.
The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs Book Cover

Cooking from Quilt Country

This is Heartland cooking at its finest! – Amish and Mennonite masterpieces made famous by the PBS series of the same name.
Cooking from Quilt Country : Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens Book Cover

The New Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition

The question came up at ThriftBooks; "What vegetarian cookbook is most responsible for getting meat-eaters to stop slagging off vegetarian options?" Possibly this one. Laurel's Chile con elote recipe has turned many to a healthier way of eating.
The New Laurel

William Yeoward on Entertaining

Tableware and table-settings, but there is SO much more in this indispensable book. Weddings, buffets, lunches on board boats, even a Car Boot (sorry, trunk) lunch!
William Yeoward on Entertaining Book Cover
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