Favorite Cookbooks (Savory)

I’m kind of a cookbook fanatic. I love getting them from the library and reading them. I love trying new recipes. I love discovering new favorites. Some cookbooks I get from the library and end up loving them so much that I have to buy them. These are some of those favorites:

Americas Test Kitchen Family CookbookThe America’s Test Kitchen Family CookbookAmericas Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

For a basic, all-around cookbook, this one is tough to beat. All the recipes are extensively tested for home cooks. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. The recipes work, and they’re tasty. And just to make it even better, it’s ring-bound, so it lies flat and is easy to use in the kitchen. The kitchen gear recommendations are super helpful as well.

I haven’t seen it yet, but they’ve got a new book out as well that intrigues me – The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. I’m hoping to check it out from my library and see if it’s one I’d like to add to my collection. Since it is by America’s Test Kitchen, I feel very confident that it’ll be another great book.

150 Best Slow Cooker RecipesThe 150 Best Slow Cooker RecipesThe 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

Although I’ve never looked at this revised version that was published last year, I love the original (as well as her other cookbooks such as The Vegetarian Slow CookerThe Vegetarian Slow Cooker and The Complete Whole Grains CookbookThe Complete Whole Grains Cookboo).

These are not “open-can-dump-into-slow-cooker” recipes (thankfully.) Many, if not most, require some extra steps such as browning meat, or holding off on adding certain ingredients until the last hour or so of cooking. While that keeps things from being as easy as it would otherwise be, the results are so worth it. I can’t even begin to pick out a favorite recipe or two to highlight – there are too many. If you’ve been disappointed in slow cooker cooking before, give this one a try. You might change your mind.

Vegetarian Cooking for EveryoneVegetarian Cooking for EveryoneVegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

I’m not vegetarian, but I do cook that way several nights a week. It’s good for our diet, and good for our budget, and it’s delicious. Madison’s book is one of my two favorites, and it is extensive. I have barely scratched the surface of the recipes included, but every one I’ve tried have been delicious. One of these days I need to buy it for myself instead of checking it out from the library every few months, because it’s sort of ridiculous how often I’m toting it back & forth from the library.

Cook Without a Book Meatless MealsCook without a Book: Meatless Meals: Recipes and Techniques for Part-Time and Full-Time VegetariansCook Without a Book Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson

This is my other favorite vegetarian cookbook. It’s a lot smaller, with a lot fewer recipes, but it’s so great with teaching technique, so that you can move on from following a recipe and learn to “cook without a book.” I’ve made several variations on her vegetable pot pie, as well as her skillet stew, and they’ve all been delicious.

Desperation DinnersDesperation DinnersDesperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

This is not a show-off sort of cookbook. I’m almost embarrassed to say how much I love it, but I’ve got to be honest. This is the book that helped me learn how to get dinner on the table regularly, without relying on cans or boxes. While the twenty-minute claim on the cover is possible, you’ve got to be an experienced and efficient cook to get things done in that time frame; count on thirty minutes if you’re not blazing fast with a knife. I still use a lot of these recipes because they’re family favorites. Red Beans and Rice, Mini Meat Loaves, Bayou Stroganoff; they all have earned a spot in our regular rotation.

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  1. My bff swears by America’s Test Kitchen. All her recipes this Thanksgiving were from there. They are guaranteed to be amazing!

    • They’re one of the few cookbooks that I would confidently use to make a new recipe for a big family dinner or when we have company. I’m that sure that it’ll turn out and be delicious. Love them!!

  2. Oh great list. I especially want to check out the vegetarian ones. I’ve been looking for a good one. Thanks, Sheila!

    • I know Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is often listed as a best vegetarian cookbook, but I really prefer the Madison one. Bittman’s is fine, but I didn’t find myself all that motivated to try anything from it. I’d imagine both of them would be at your library for you to examine them & see if they suit you.

  3. I love, love, love America’s Test Kitchen (and Pam Anderson–who used to work for the associated Cook’s Illustrated!) I don’t know that Deborah Madison cookbook but I loooove her book Local Flavors.

    Great round-up, and clearly our tastes overlap so I need to look up the 2 titles I’m not familiar with!

    • I haven’t looked at Local Flavors, so I’m going to have to do that based on how much I love her other books!

      And I’d forgotten about Pam Anderson being the editor of Cook’s Illustrated. I love all of her cookbooks too, just had to restrain myself to only picking one. 🙂


  1. […] mentioned last week that I’m a cookbook fanatic. If there was any doubt, the fact that I had to have two days dedicated to favorite cookbooks should […]

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