It’s the time of year where the ovens are on, the smell of warm spices waft through the air, and many home kitchens will be buzzing with activity. Getting involved in the kitchen can be an intimidating prospect, though, especially if you don’t have too much experience cooking for yourself, let alone others. Well if you’ve ever thought about getting some more experience in the kitchen, I’ve collected a few cookbooks that are great resources to consult to get you started. The books range in difficulty, from books for those of us who are more familiar with a microwave than a pan on the stove, to books for those of use looking for the next fancy dish to post for your friends and followers, so wherever you land on the culinary spectrum you should find something for you on this list. Good luck, and happy cooking!
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs
For our readers who are absolutely brand new to cooking, who’ve lived off family meals, take out, and things from a microwave, this is the book to start with. It’s aimed at a slightly younger audience than the other books on this list, but for the aspiring chef who’s just starting out? You’d struggle to find a better introduction to cooking for yourself. With a wide variety of recipes, clear and basic instructions, and recipe delineations for difficulty and equipment required, this cookbook does its absolute best to set you up for success in the kitchen. So, if you’re brand new to cooking outside of a microwave and want to have a bit more say in what you’re eating? Start here.
Recommended Recipe: Spicy BLT Wrap, pg. 82. Simple ingredients, quick prep time, and delicious!
Super Easy Teen Cookbook
This is another cookbook for our less-experienced chefs, holding 75 recipes aimed at teens with step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of recipes. This book handles some areas that the previous book did not cover, namely a number of recipes for meatless meals, and the general writing level is a bit higher than the previous title. Still, while it lacks a clear delineation of difficulty on a recipe-by-recipe basis, this cookbook covers a breadth of recipes at a level that should help any aspiring chef begin their culinary career. Use this book after, or in tandem with, the previous cookbook to build a solid foundation of culinary skill until you feel comfortable enough to branch out a little bit, in which case the next book has you covered.
Recommended Recipe:The Perfect Omelet, pg. 19. Mastering a good omelet opens up a whole world of delicious breakfasts for you and anyone you want to impress!
Hack Your Cupboard
This cookbook is one of my favorites, because it aims to solve one of the most common barriers that teens can bump up against when they decide they want to start cooking: buying the ingredients. While not as expensive as eating out on a regular basis, it can be expensive buying specialty ingredients to try out recipes that, in the end, you might find you don’t even particularly like. That’s where this cookbook comes in! Centered around building straightforward recipes with things that you can acquire relatively cheaply and easily, this book also spends some time teaching you techniques that you can apply more widely once you’ve got some room to experiment. This cookbook serves as a nice intermediate step for our burgeoning step, with a little less handholding and a few more techniques to present, so give this book a shot when you’re looking for the next step!
Recommended Recipe: Drop Biscuits, pg. 95. While a bit more complex, these biscuits come together with only a few ingredients and will beat the heck out of Pilsbury any day of the week!
This cookbook is definitely for the more intermediate chefs among us, but even a book like this has some great tips and tricks that we can all use to improve our cooking. Focusing on recipes that are simple, easy, and plant-focused, this cookbook will help both chefs who are living with dietary restrictions and those who are just looking to eat a bit more vegetables without resorting to steamed mush or less than appealing salads. My biggest problem with eating vegetables has always been I never learned how to cook them properly, so a book like this will definitely help make incorporating more plants into my diet less of a chore, with a side benefit of giving me some valuable recipes for when I want to have my vegan friends over for dinner. If that sounds useful to you, or if you just want to check out some quick and easy tips to improve your cooking, check out this book.
Recommended Recipe: Salsa Gnocchi, pg. 83. A homemade salsa-inspired sauce, crispy gnocchi, and options to expand in ways that fit your tastes? It’s hard not to recommend this recipe for your first meat-free outing.
Binging with Babish
So, this last book recommendation is a bit of an outlier. This cookbook isn’t aimed at teens, isn’t aimed at beginners, and has some recipes with rather complex preparation. Think of this cookbook more as a gateway to further culinary experimentation. This book, and the associated youtube channel, feature recipes inspired by, or sometimes taken directly from, pop culture properties like movies, tv shows, video games, and books. With recipes from Spongebob, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones and the Godfather (some of these references run old, the author is in his 30s) there are a lot of quality recipes in here. Plus, the author’s youtube channel has videos of him cooking every recipe in this book, for all of the chefs who are more visual learners. So, for all of our more experienced teen chefs, this book has some things to show you to help you elevate your food game when you’re ready for the challenge.
Recommended Recipe: Chicken Parm Heros, pg.260. Fried chicken, melted mozzarella, tomato sauce, all on garlic bread? While far from healthy, this meal will ask a bit of skill from you to get everything together, but the final result is a delicious italian-american staple that will delight your friends and family alike. Or make some really great lunches for a while, it’s up to you.
Looking for more books to help get your culinary kicks? Check out our blog post featuring a book list chock full of books and cookbooks to satisfy your foodie fix here