Are you sick of cooking frozen pizzas or pasta for your guests?
Do you struggle when it comes to frying an egg?
Are your vegetable soups prepared in a mug?
Don't worry! Anyone can learn how to cook. However, before you start tackling tasty dishes and become the next celebrity chef (why not?), you’re going to have to decide how you’re going to learn to cook.
Your introduction to the world of cooking can come in many forms depending on the learning methods you choose to use. Some people will need to take regular tutorials while others might benefit from attending cooking classes with others, which are becoming more popular thanks to cooking shows. Some people prefer to learn on their own. However you decide to learn to cook, you should consider investing in at least a few books.
Whether you want to learn some basic cooking techniques, pick out the ingredients you'll need, learn how to cook an egg correctly, or get into baking, before you fire up the oven, here are a few good books for anyone who needs help when it comes to cooking.
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This cookbook is often considered the bible of cooking. There are over 1,000 pages with nearly as many images to help you with the recipes.
In addition to the images, the recipes are very detailed and will explain exactly what you need to do, including prep, and what you’ll need to do it, from what size your pan needs to be to how you should peel garlic in order to keep the flavour in.
From ribs, chips, and macaroni gratin, to recipes for cakes, this book will teach you the cooking techniques in such a way that you’ll be able to cook with confidence. You’ll also find interesting recipes where spice, herbs, and other ingredients are blended in effective ways.
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The tips are particularly useful for a beginner, especially if you're a little scared of your cooker. You’ll learn about different ways of cooking different ingredients and explanations of the origins of each dish.
Not sure what the recipe means?
Everything is explained: you just have to try a recipe for something and you'll start making progress.
Whether you want to cook meat, veggies, or desserts, you'll regularly refer back to this book.
- A useful and complete book that everyone should have on their shelf.
- A lot of useful tips that you’ll help you learn to cook.
- Explanation of cooking utensils
- You could argue that some of the recipes are too traditional
- Some dishes are too complicated for beginners
5 Ingredients - Quick & Easy Food
This is a useful book for anyone just starting out with cooking and since it’s a book, it won’t matter too much that it’s written by Jamie Oliver (some people really don’t like the guy). Most importantly, everything in it is simple!
As you could have guessed, every recipe contains just 5 ingredients. However, you don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to prepare or cook these ingredients. The focus is that anyone should be able to make these dishes.
In addition to all the dishes being easy to make, they’re also very healthy dishes with a focus on nutrition, perfect if you’re on a diet or just trying to eat well. The recipes are also organised into useful sections based on the main ingredient. Whether you're cooking chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, eggs, vegetables, salad, pasta, rice and noodles, or sweet things, you'll easily find some inspiration.
If you lead a busy life, this book will also be great for you since most of the recipes can be cooked in a very short amount of time.
This is one of the most popular books on Amazon and is one of the cheaper options, too. Gourmet food doesn't need to be complicated, after all!
- Simple and easy recipes for novice chefs
- Well-presented recipes that anyone can follow
- Easy-to-find ingredients. You won't have trouble filling your fridge and pantry.
- Healthier than many other cookbooks
- Not as thorough as some of the other books we’ve recommended.
- If you’re used to imperial measures, you won’t find them in this book.
Cooking Basics for Dummies
This book is clearly for anyone who regularly says “I can’t cook” or “I’m rubbish at cooking” and wants to remedy this. This book has plenty of pictures to teach beginners the basics and help them start cooking.
There are over 150 different recipes and you can pick up the book for less than £20. The book is spiral-bound so that you can lay it flat on a bench while you’re cooking. You’ll also find useful information on choosing the right equipment for your kitchen and techniques you’ll need to use.
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The book also includes a glossary so that cooking terms like seasoning, grilling, and roasting won’t seem alien to you.
Do you know the difference between boil and broil?
- A good visual guide
- Simple and easy to follow
- Your dishes will probably look like the pictures
- If you have any dietary requirements or want to cook vegetarian or vegan food, you won’t find tonnes of recipes in this book. However, there are vegan and vegetarian versions.
How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food
This book written by Mark Bittman is considered by many to be an essential purchase for any aspiring chef. There are other books in the series, too.
In addition to learning how to cook each recipe in the book, the specific techniques required are also explained so you won’t need to worry if you need a bit more confidence in the kitchen. As you can imagine, since there are 2,000 recipes, there’s a good range of delicious homemade dishes for you to cook.
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- The techniques used in each dish are explained
- Tonnes of recipes to make hearty meals and light snacks.
- Everything is presented in imperial measures. It might be worthwhile keeping a conversion chart on hand (there is one in the front of the book) if you prefer metric measurements.
- Since the book is American, certain terms are different (appetizers instead of starters, flavor instead of flavour.)
Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition
This book, which has been around for generations, has been updated with 500 new recipes, taking the total to over 4,500 recipes. It also now includes metric conversion and an index to help you.
This book is often thought of as the desert-island book for many chefs and the one book they can’t do without on account of just how useful it can be. If you’ve decided to learn how to cook, this is probably a book that should be on your bookshelf.
All the instructions are very clear so there shouldn’t be any culinary terms that you don’t understand. It’s very informative and will take you through the techniques you’ll need to know so that you can get the most out of your cooking. There probably aren’t many cookbooks that get referred to as “masterpieces”, but this one is.
It’s great for beginners who are serious about becoming amazing chefs.
- A high-quality book that has stood the test of time.
- Explanations of techniques you may not be familiar with.
- A large variety of recipes that have been updated over the years to reflect changing tastes.
- Given the age of the book, some of the recipes you may never consider cooking.
A narrower range of cuisine than some of the other books. You need to keep in mind that this book on cooking is a little older than most.
- Americans 75 years ago weren't preparing international dishes and neither did they have access to the variety of meats and vegetables you can find in almost any grocery store nowadays.
After you’ve made your way through a few of these works, you won't worry the next time you need to cook for other people. Whether making something simple for your family or catering for a whole party, these are some of the books you can’t afford not to have in your kitchen. Fortunately for you, none of them cost a lot, either.
|Cookbook||Pros||Cons||Price (from Amazon.co.uk)|
|Larousse’s Gastronomique||Thorough, complete with useful tips, explanations of cooking utensils.||Traditional, some complicated dishes||£49.99|
|5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food||Simple, well-presented, organised by main ingredient, healthy.||Not as thorough as other books, no imperial measures.||£11.99|
|Cooking Basics for Dummies||Good visuals, simple, your dishes will look like the pictures.||Few recipes for vegetarians and vegans.||£10.32|
|How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food||Techniques clearly explained, plenty of recipes.||Imperial measures, American terms.||£19.15|
|Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition||High quality, explanations of cooking techniques, a lot of recipes.||Older recipes, narrower range of recipes, less international variety.||£16.20|
These are the kinds of books that will even convince people that think they hate cooking that it can be a really enjoyable and rewarding activity. If books are a little too old-fashioned for you, don’t forget the internet is home to plenty of useful websites and video tutorials to help you learn how to cook.
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Watch videos to learn techniques.
Consult the best websites for cooking tutorials.