My Favorite Cookbooks

I own a lot of cookbooks and it was not easy picking my favorite. So I picked eight favorite cookbooks! These are not the most popular cookbooks of all time. Rather, they are my favorites. I would love to know if any of these cookbooks are on your favorites list.

my favorite cookbooks

I am not going to admit how many cookbooks I have. Let’s just say that they are located in three different places and not just in my kitchen. I have used cookbooks my entire life. And today I am going to share some of my most prized possessions …  my favorite cookbooks.

There has been a lot of talk that cookbooks are a thing of the past. If you think about it, every recipe you might ever want can be found on Pinterest and the internet. It’s easy to just search and find “recipe with chicken”. I am guilty of that.

I honestly think (and hope) cookbooks are here to stay. There are so many great cookbooks available and we should all be thinking about pulling them out and putting them to use! Wouldn’t it be fun if we all did this and then cooked and shared the recipes one day? Now that sounds like fun.


My cookbooks have a history with me and I still love to use them. I would guess that I cook, on average, five nights a week. I love my kitchen and I think cooking is a great way to be creative.

When I decided I wanted to name my favorites, I had no idea this would be so hard. (Maybe that’s why there are eight!) I do have to admit this was a bit of a nostalgic experience. And it took way longer than I expected once I started opening up and reading all of them!


My Favorite Cookbooks

These cookbooks are listed in no particular order.

California Sizzles   

california sizzles cookbook

There is no doubt in my mind that cookbooks published by Junior League organizations are the best. The Junior League of Pasadena published California Sizzles in 1992 and it was immediately a hit. My copy is so stained and worn that it truly is the most “used” cookbook I have. The Cornucopia Salad, Oriental Sesame Salad and Grilled Chicken in Herbed Balsamic Marinade were my go-to recipes for years. As I thumbed through the cookbook today, and it automatically opened to the pages of these three recipes. 

San Francisco Ala Carte 

San Francisco Ala Carte Cookbook

San Francisco Ala Carte is another Junior League Cookbook. I think it was the first cookbook I ever owned. It’s hard to believe I carried this cookbook around my kitchen for years.  It was published in 1979 which means my cookbook is 41 years old. Enchiladas Verde and the Chinese Chicken Salad are classic and wonderful recipes.  

Entertaining, Martha Stewart 

The Martha Stewart Cookbook 

martha stewart entertaining

I have been a fan of Martha Stewart since I was 17 years old. Before she had a website or any online presence, I contributed (in my spare time) on  “The Unofficial Martha Stewart website”. It was a place where anyone could write in and ask a question about anything having to do with Martha Stewart. Most of the questions were about things featured in her magazine and since I pretty much knew everything by heart it was an easy task. I read every single one of her magazines at least ten times. 

I am a huge fan of all of Martha’s cookbooks. My favorite all-time book/cookbook is Entertaining. Entertaining was published in 1982 and Martha was so ahead of her time when she wrote this book. The ideas were unbelievable and I still use many of them today. I love the chapter titled “Christmas Presents and Decorations” and I have made her jellies and vinegars many times. I always thought I would make her gingerbread mansion. But that is still on my to-do list.

The Martha Stewart Cookbook is my “Joy of Cooking”. It’s my go-to book for any recipes or questions I may have about anything food-related.

Malibu Farm Cookbook 

malibu farm cookbook

Helene Henderson opened Malibu Farm Restaurant and it’s been incredibly successful. In her Malibu Farm Cookbook, published in 2014, “Helene invites you to honor the shoreline and mountains of Southern California with dishes like Ricotta and Pea Frittata, Butterfly Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish, Seared Fava Beans, and Grilled Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce. Helene captures the spirit of her own farm with recipes using the morning’s fresh eggs, the catch of the day, the luscious vegetables that grow all around, honey harvested steps from where it’s enjoyed, and olive oil straight from her grove.”

The “Saffron Israeli Couscous with Corn and Sugar Peas” recipe is amazing. Also, if you are ever in Los Angeles, this restaurant is a must-visit!

Magnolia Table  

Magnolia Table, Volume 2 

magnolia table

I love this description, “Joanna Gaines believes there’s no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes—from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts—presenting a modern selection of American classics and personal family favorites. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavor.”

Her second cookbook, Magnolia Table, Volume 2, is coming out next month and you can preorder it here.

Joanna is my inspiration and she is my hero. I really hope that I can meet her someday.I hope this happens so badly!

The French Laundry

the french laundry cookbook

The description of this cookbook says “The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. And this, his first cookbook, is every bit as satisfying as a French Laundry meal itself: a series of small, impeccable, highly refined, intensely focused courses.”

I always thought dining at The French Laundry Restaurant would be an experience of a lifetime. And I am pleased to say that is was. 

If you are wondering if I have made a lot of recipes from the cookbook, the answer is no, But this is the cookbook that pushes me. I need to make it a priority to get out of my comfort zone and try more recipes from this cookbook. 

Chef Monique Chan, who has cooked a lot of fabulous desserts in my kitchen, worked at The French Laundry. That is amazing! My goal is to make the recipes that are first courses, fish and meat dishes featured in his cookbook.

Please feel free to make me accountable to this goal of mine. I would greatly appreciate it.

So what are your favorite cookbooks?

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my favorite cookbooks

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  1. I have 4 of your favorite cookbooks and also have many Junior League cookbooks, they are tried and true! I also love Ina Garten. I have 10 of her cookbooks, her recipes never disappoint! Thanks for sharing, you continue to inspire me!

  2. I always enjoy hearing about favorite cookbooks. I do love a book that’s as much fun to read as it is to cook from. Here are my top 10, which could change tomorrow!:
    Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
    The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo
    The Savory Way by Deborah Madison
    Ottolenghi, The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi
    Saving the Season by Kevin West
    Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard
    Shaya by Alon Shaya
    Simple by Diana Henry
    Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
    Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

  3. I too, have three of the above mentioned cookbooks. One of my favorite cookbooks is by Susan Branch. Some of the top recipes that everyone loves are, white sauce enchaladas, and stuffed chili casserole. Her Chicken salad is a favorite with my family, and a summer go to meal. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have several cook books that I enjoy using but there is one that I highly recommend not only for recipes but as an all purpose cookbook and that is Joy of cooking by Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker. I would say it is a bible for those who cook.

  5. There was a blog about 10 years ago where this woman cooked through the French Laundry cook book. I think it was called French Laundry at Home. Her name was Carol I think. It was a really entertaining romp through that book.

  6. Leslie, California Sizzles has been a favorite of mine for years. If you haven’t already, do try the Dijon Mustard Marinade and Tri-Tip Marinade. I also love every single book the Silver Palate girls wrote, both together and solo. I have all 11 of Ina Garten’s books and am waiting for #12 to be available later this year.

    I agree San Francisco A La Carte is a keeper, along with The California Heritage Cookbook from the Jr. League of Pasadena.

  7. I have at least 200 probably more cook books and then I have made my own from recipes I have cut out of magazines over the years. I have at least 27 of these large notebooks organize by subjects and kept alphabetically that I also use constantly. I love to try something new when having guest and start planning weeks ahead.. Reading a good cookbook is like reading a good novel to me. My collection started 52 years ago when my husbands grandmother made her daughter buy a series of books one per week from a grocery store. They were a to z with every country, every cooking term and any recipe you might have heard of at that time. I still use them. I also got The Joy of Cooking and others as shower presents at that time. There also used to be book clubs for cook books and I belonged to several of those. I have shelves of cookbooks in my library and also in my pantry. I know I am an addict, but what fun I have had collecting and reading them.

  8. Just wanted to add my mom gave me my first cookbook when I was 9. It was “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book.” I was so excited and begged my mom to let me stay home from school so I could spend the day looking through it (she said no!). I still have that tattered old cookbook.

  9. I love “reading” cookbooks and have lots of them-several of the ones you posted. But I needed a way to keep track of my mother’s and relatives recipes. I found an electronic cookbook database called “Cook’n” that helped me organize my 700 or so recipes. It even lets you publish your own cookbook.

  10. What a lovely post . I just love to sit with a coffee and flick through my favourite cookbooks , I to have way to many. I don’t think online will ever replace the joy of holding a cookbook. I have a few of your favourites but I think I need the Martha one. I also have a lot of Ina Gaten books. I love her tv show to.

  11. I love cookbooks and have been collecting them for about 40 years. I have a whole bookcase full of them! I love reading them. My kids used to say it was like eating at a restaurant–they had something new every day! I haven’t done much cooking over the last few years but posts like this, and the comments, inspire me to want to get back to it.

  12. I love reading cookbooks, and have so many that I had to go on hiatus from buying them for awhile. I love reading them from cover to cover. I have so many Southern Living annual cookbooks that I have read and reread.I also have many cookbooks that local churches and organizations have produced. I love the Joy of Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, and the Betty Crocker cookbooks. My favorite cookbook now is one that my daughter gave me for Christmas, SALT FAT ACID HEAT by Samin Nosrat. It gives so many reasons why and what ingredients are important in cooking.

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