The 24 best cook books we all need in our kitchens

From all-time classics to a brand new list of the best cook books, these are the recipe books to add to your collection whether you're a seasoned chef or a food enthusiast looking for ideas and inspiration...

A composite image of eight of the best cook books for 2022
(Image credit: Future)

The best cook books will cover more than just the basics. As well as sharing recipes they should inspire, delight and boost our creativity in the kitchen.

Despite people spending less time at home now than during the early grip of the pandemic, cook book sales have continued to increase, as people's love of cooking and baking endures. According to the NPD, last year sales of baking cookbooks were 42% higher than the year before, with recipe books becoming kitchen essentials—life manuals, mood lifters, and the best cookery teachers.

This year, in line with the top kitchen trends of 2022, the best cook books all share a common message in emphasising the importance of cooking with the environment in mind.

Many of the cook books in our list incorporate plant-based cooking, with deliciously tempting vegan and vegetarian dishes that encourage you to cook and eat sustainably. But you'll still find an array of options for both non-meat eaters and meat-eaters alike below.

Our pick of the best cook books for 2022

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1. Finch Bakery: Sweet homemade treats and showstopper celebration cakes by Lauren and Rachel Finch 

There are no healthy alternatives in this book - the fantastical show-stopping cakes and cookies are pure indulgence. From two sisters who started a bakery in their parents’ kitchen, who now have people queuing down the street outside their store, comes such confectionary wonders as Creme Egg Cake, Lemon and Blueberry Blondies and their famous layered Cupcake Jars. 

Buy it because... It’s the perfect gift for classic cake and cookie lovers. With a useful section on the basics of decorating and piping, the book is divided into five sections, from speedy ‘no bakes’ to spectacular celebration cakes.

Our favourite recipe: Peanut Butter Cookie Pie

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2. For The Love Of The Land by Jenny Jefferies 

Be inspired by the wonderful farming families for whom working the land and raising livestock is a true labour of love. With wonderful stories from farmers who work with nature, produce sustainable and seasonal food, and want to supply locally - all are passionate about what they do. And with recipes including Blackbrook beef bolognese, winter vegetable gratin and lavender shortbread, it’s a celebratory book putting British farming back on the map, and on your table!

Buy it because... Jenny means it when she says, "This job is where I can really live out my passion, and animal welfare is at the top of the list. Organic farming, or what I call ‘farming how it used to be’ is the only way forward."

Our favourite recipe:  Pheasant and Asparagus Bake

Like all the recipes in the book, this one has come from the farmers who supply the key ingredients - this time a family-run Cambridgeshire game shoot. The pheasant meat gives a rich and satisfying depth to the dish.

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3. Taste by Stanley Tucci 

A divine celebration of food, Italy and life - this joyous memoir from the popular actor is a real treat. Through stories of Tucci’s life, conversations with loved ones, and his relationship with food, we learn more about this charming man. And as for the recipes - as anyone who has tried traditional Italian dishes (opens in new tab) will know, the simplicity and beauty of a Pasta con Aglio e Olio is a thing of beauty; the recipe of which is included alongside the more flamboyant Ragu Tucci! With his trademark wry humour and warmth, this will keep you entertained through those long winter nights. 

Buy it because... Tucci has enormous respect for his mother’s skill as a cook, and says she never, ever, made a bad meal in her life. Indeed, he comments, "When we were young, whenever my sisters or I complained about a certain meal my mother had lovingly made, she would suggest rather tersely that we go see what the neighbours were cooking. And that, as they say, put an end to that."

Our favourite recipe:  Ragu Tucci

A delicious way to use up any leftover meats, or you can add meatballs to the rich, fragrant tomato-based sauce in the last half hour of cooking. You can make it up to two days before it’s needed, so it’s perfect party fare.

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4. One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones 

Any food lover will thank you for this but if you’re buying for someone who wants to eat thoughtfully and imaginatively, this is a must. Stylishly presented, it’s packed with delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes that are easy to make – sweet potato, ginger and coconut stew, broad bean & green herb shakshuka and pistachio and tahini fridge tiffin. 

Buy it because... Anna Jones addresses issues, such as how much protein we need and where to find it, waste and sustainable living (opens in new tab), sensibly and without preaching. You’ll love it and your kids will too. 

Our favourite recipe: Lemon,Tomato and Cardamom Dhal

A delicious supper standby at any time of year. This one is richly scented with spices and topped with cashews and coriander.

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5 The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer

One dish dinners are a very appealing concept, and here Rukmini Iyer draws on the traditions of south Indian cooking she learned from her mother. The recipes are all vegan and vegetarian, with a variety of timings from speedy suppers to more leisurely entertaining ideas.

Buy it because... It’s a great gift for couples (opens in new tab) setting up their first home, or young adults starting student life, because the recipes really are easy to assemble in a single layer, with stock on top, and the flavours (including lots of citrus) are punchy and delicious.

Our favourite recipe: Roasted Tomato, Red Pepper & Artichoke Panzanella with Tarragon and Lemon

A warm salad with rough chunks of sourdough that soak up all the flavours, including the fragrant artichoke oil.

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6. Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook, by Ixta Belfrage and Yotam Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi has become a household name in recent years, with his Instagrammable dishes making their way onto many of our tables. Sure, his recipes often require quite a few ingredients—but after trying them out we reckon you'll agree it's worth it. With his co-writer and recipe developer, Ixta Belfrage, this vegetarian book has won over even the most committed carnivores, with vegetarian recipes (opens in new tab) such as oyster mushroom tacos, tofu meatball korma, and swede gnocchi with miso butter. 

Buy it because... Many meat eaters think they'll miss out on flavour by going veggie, but nothing could be further from the truth. The flavours here are rich, colourful and frankly irresistible.

Our favourite recipe: Spicy Mushroom Lasagne

This recipe should help to convince you that this is one of the best cook books of the last decade. With four types of mushrooms and two types of cheese, there's a long ingredients list, but it's so worth it.

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7. Simply by Sabrina Ghayour

Sabrina is a British-Iranian cook who has now written five cookbooks—but for us this is her best yet. A major draw of this is how easy and clear the recipes are to follow. Most of them also have a ‘simply delicious with’ section, giving you ideas of other recipes in the book that together would make a lovely meal. Although not a veggie book, there are a huge amount of options for non-meat eaters and meat-eaters alike. 

Buy it because... We've loved her previous books, including Persiana, so we know we're in good hands. It's packed with Persian and Middle-Eastern flavours, with over 100 everyday recipes to choose from.

Our favourite recipe: Yogurt and Spice-roasted Salmon

Salmon bites coated in a deliciously zingy marinade and roasted – absurdly easy and completely delicious. A gorgeous addition to any summer spread, and great eaten cold the next day too.

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8. The Moro Cookbook by Samuel and Sam Clark

This book, by the husband-and-wife team behind London restaurants Moro and Morito was what paved the way for Ottolenghi-esque recipes. It may be 20 years old, but it’s one that many chefs couldn’t be without. The Spanish and North African recipes are accessible and clearly written, with beautiful accompanying stories too. The marinated chicken recipes are particularly delicious. 

Buy it because... The recipes will give you a true flavour of Andalucian cooking.

Our favourite recipe: Monkfish rice with saffron

This fabulous take on paella also works well with prawns or clams added to the mix. Serve with a salad to balance the rich flavours.

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9. A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine

If you've missed socialising with loved ones and are keen to get back to dinner parties, this book will become your bible. Known for her fancy table arrangements and feasts posted on social media Skye’s book is your guide to becoming the best host possible. As she puts it, this is food “you can plonk down in the center of the table for everyone to tuck into, towering platefuls of it.” Examples of recipes include a Sicilian cous cous salad and a creamy lemon spaghetti - we're drooling just thinking about it. 

Buy it because... Skye grew up in Venice and her recipes are brimming with Italian generosity and the joy of sharing food with people you love. And she gives realistic timings for every dish.

Our favourite recipe: Chilled Almond Soup

Who knew such a thing existed? A perfect dish for a summer get-together.

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10. Root: Small vegetable plates, a little meat on the side by Rob Howell 

If you're keen to eat less meat but are struggling to cut it out altogether, then this option on our best cook books list offers a happy medium. Instead of having meat as the centrepiece, these recipes lead with seasonal plants, with a bit of well-chosen meat and fish for the odd special occasion. Vegetables are no longer just the accompaniment to a meal in Root—it's another one that will please both veggies and non-veggies in equal measure.

Buy it because... Chef Rob Howell shares some of the best recipes from his Bristol based restaurant Root, housed in a shipping container! And Josh Eggleton is a major fan.

Our favourite recipe: Roasted carrots with spiced pumpkin seeds, peaches and creme fraiche 

The carrots are roasted and pickled, the pumpkin seeds blitzed to make a crumb, and the sweetness of the fruit creates a salad that's a real centrepiece. 

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11. Red Sands: Reportage and Recipes Through Central Asia, from Hinterland to Heartland by Caroline Eden

This isn’t your usual cook book, but that's why we like it. Red Sands is a little more like a travel book—but it includes recipes author Caroline has picked up and adapted from people and places she visited while journeying through central Asia for six months. Reading this is true escapism and helps to connect delicious recipes to their origin, which is why it's one of our best cook books. The recipes range from hearty soups and breads to delicate pastries, meat dumplings, and Uyghur noodles—yum. 

Buy it because: Caroline Eden's descriptions of places, people and food are so engaging you'll feel you're there, and the pictures are beautiful too.

Our favourite recipe: Emil's Lamb Plov with chestnuts, apricots and watercress

The rice and meat are cooked separately in this delicately flavoured dish, based on a light plov served in Emil Akperov's restaurant in Aktau, Kazakhstan.

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12. The 7-Day Basket by Ian Haste

The idea of this book is so simple and yet so ingenious–Ian gives us a shopping list of goods which will come together to create meals for the next seven days, saving time, food, and money. This is what your week could look like: Pea, feta and mint frittata with a lemon-dressed salad; Griddled tuna steak, niçoise salad; Feta and chicken meatballs in lemon spaghetti; Thai coconut king prawn curry; Chorizo and mushroom toasts with sunny-side-up eggs; Tear-and-share chicken shashlik naan; and Peach and sage-stuffed pork fillet with garlic roasties. Yes, please!

Read it because: The lists of ingredients and store-cupboard essentials are so clear that you'll feel brilliantly well organised.

Our favourite recipe: Vegetarian Buccatini All'Amatriciana

A deliciously easy vegetarian version of the traditional pork dish, using mushrooms and paprika to give a smoky flavour to the sauce.

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13. Grand Dishes by Iska Lupton and Anastasia Miari

Everyone's grandma makes the best food, don’t they? Well, authors Iska and Anastasia were inspired by the delicious food many of us know from our grandparents' kitchens, sending them on a journey to find the best grandma cooks from around the globe. Helen from Tennessee teaches us how to make the BBQ sides, including slaw and potato salad. Lally from Germany has the best schnitzel recipe, and Betsy provides the Mexican Chicken Tostadas. A wonderfully nostalgic and touching read about the lives of these remarkable women, alongside some truly tasty dishes.

Read it because... This book gives grandmothers around the world the limelight they so richly deserve and makes a lovely gift idea for Mother's Day (opens in new tab). Stylish portraits take us into their homes and lives too.

Our favourite recipe: Abuela Mercedes's Spanish roasted red peppers stuffed with salt cod

Served with a fresh green side salad, this satisfying, comforting and delicious main course was created by Spanish grandmother Mercedes, who also happens to look like a model.

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14. Parwana: Recipes and stories from an Afghan kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi

The Ayubi family fled Afghanistan and opened a restaurant, Parwana, in Adelaide, Australia. This book has some of the restaurant's best recipes for kebabs, dahls, dumplings, flatbreads, and everything else in between. It is also peppered with stories from the country which has been occupied by Soviet troops and US-led international forces, and is now ruled by the Taliban. A true deep-dive into the country.

Buy it because... The food is a magnificent blend of all the cultures and traditions that have influenced the country over centuries.

Our favourite recipe: Shirpera: Afghan Milk Fudge

Filled with almonds and pistachios, this delicately flavoured sweet is made for special occasions.

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15. How To Eat, Nigella Lawson

No best cook books list would be complete without a Nigella Lawson recommendation, would it? There may be newer Nigella books (after all, this is her first), but we really think this one stands the test of time. No photography, just brilliant, delicious, classic, and practical recipes with sound cookery advice — it is one for all ages. In honor of its 20th anniversary, it’s been updated in the paperback version, and we can promise you’ll turn to it time and time again if you’re in a rut with what to cook.

Buy it because... No one does comfort food like Nigella, and the recipes are reassuringly practical and delicious. And her writing is very entertaining too.

Our favourite recipe: Proper English Trifle

Flavoured throughout with the tanginess of orange, this blackberry laden creation of sponge, cream and custard is what pudding was invented for.

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16. Baan: Recipes and stories from my Thai home by Kay Plunkett Hogge

There’s a lot more to Thai food than your local takeaway may suggest, and while those classics are in this book, Kay also has some lesser-known but very delicious things for you to try. Considerate towards novice chefs, the book provides ingredient substitutions and short-cuts and is a lot less daunting than some other Thai cook books. 

Buy it because: With over 120 recipes that have been gathered over 30 years, you’ll never need to order a takeaway again. 

Our favourite recipe: Classic Thai Gai Yang Chicken

You'll stun your barbecue guests with this take on a street-food favourite. But you'll need to plan ahead to get the genuine flavour - there's soaking in brine and a 6-hour marinating session involved!

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17. Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours by Diana Henry

This book is in its 10th edition, which how you know it's a good pick for a best cook books list. As the title handily suggests, the recipes are easy and stress-free but somehow manage to feel like you've got something fancy on the table. The key is in the easy ingredient list—there's no need for obscure spices and pastes here. We love the Korean chicken burgers, fish tielle (that’s an Italian pie to you and me), and the sausage and fennel pasta. 

Buy it because... Many of the recipes were devised almost 'hands free' when Diana was a new mum, so they really are simple to prepare and cook.

Our favourite recipe: Cucumber, radishes and cherries with rose petals

The prettiest and most appealing salad imaginable, this is rightly described by the author as like 'eating a garden'.

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18. Honey & Co: At Home: Middle Eastern Recipes from Our Kitchen by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

If you're a fan of Ottolenghi's food, then this book is the one to buy next. These tasty Middle Eastern dishes are broken down into handy categories: “For Us Two, For Friends, For the Weekend, For a Crowd and The Kitchen,”—helping you decide what to cook and when. You’ll find yourself turning to these chapters for each occasion when you want “hearty comfort food with a sophisticated edge,” as Nigella said about Itamar and Sarit’s cooking.

Buy it because... "Life is complex, but cooking is easy" say the authors, and their homely approach makes you believe it's true.

Our favourite recipe: Harira soup

Bursting with herbs and spices, this bean-rich soup is a hearty, filling standby, and the recipe can be adapted to suit whatever bits and bobs of vegetables you have in the fridge.

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19. The Kitchen Without Borders by The Eat Offbeat Chefs

Eat Offbeat is a New York-based catering company founded by a brother and sister duo that hires immigrant chefs from Sri Lanka, Senegal, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Venezuela. They work with the International Rescue Committee charity to find talented home cooks resettled in New York City. The book has recipes from 14 regions, so it really is a cook book that spans the world and all of the culinary delights it has to offer. 

Buy it because...It summarises the passion and power of food to change lives, through sharing the dishes that mean so much to different cultures. 

Our favourite recipe: Chef Diaa's Beef Kibbeh

These delicious meatballs are usually served as mezze, and combine meat with bulgur. Hand shaped, they're flavoured with seven spices and fried as croquettes.

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20. River Cafe 30 by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen, and Joseph Trivelli

This Thameside restaurant is a fantastic place for a celebration in the UK, and this book marks 30 years of good food at the southwest London establishment popular with celebs. Championing good quality Italian cooking, River Cafe 30 is a collection of ninety refined original recipes and 30 new ones. We love the iconic slow-cooked tomato sauce, pear and almond tart, crab and artichoke salad.

Buy it because... It's the essence of a brilliant brand, drawing together deliciously flavoursome recipes.

Our favourite recipe: Spinach and ricotta gnocchi

The perfect light lunch for vegetarians and anyone who enjoys these light, fluffy bites of deliciousness.

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21. Jikoni by Ravinder Bhogal 

Jikoni is the name of Ravidner’s much loved smart restaurant in Marylebone, London, and this book is a mixture of joyous and heartwarming recipes. There’s a take on a fish pie, curries, a lamb wellington with feta, pine nuts, sumac, and even cocktails. 

Buy it because... Ravinder, born in Kenya to Indian parents, came to the UK as a child and calls her cooking “proudly inauthentic”—we think it's wonderful, and it's no surprise her restaurant is such a hit.

Our favourite recipe: Pina Colada Pancakes

Who knew there was such a thing? This cocktail-inspired treat needs to be prepped a day ahead as it's served with home made ice cream. A glorious breakfast indulgence.

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22. Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte  

This book has a whopping 700 recipes, so there's an option for every diner, day, or time of the week. All of them are easy to make at home and are the closest you’re going to get on a Mexican home cooking encyclopedia. Margarita has dedicated 30 years to teaching and cooking her home cuisine—and it truly shows. 

Buy it because... For those who love browsing cook books, this one is a colorful journey, with over 200 gorgeous pictures. The salsa is also a dream.

Our favourite recipe: Pork Ribs in Guava and Smoked Chilli Sauce

A heavenly blend of flavours. Be prepared to take a bit more time on Margarita's recipes–it's well worth the effort to track down her more unusual ingredients too.

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23. Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie Ware and Lennie Ware

The Table Manners podcast is one of our favorites, and now musician Jessie Ware and her social worker mother Lennie have switched their talents from discussing food to writing about it! The recipe book is filled with recipes which Jessie and Lennie have served up to the stars that feature on their podcast.

Buy it because... The book is divided into seven handy categories: Effortless, A Bit More Effort, Summertime, Desserts and Baking, Chrismukkah, and Jewish-ish Food.

Our favourite recipe: Jessie's Granola

A crunchy, munchy blend that'll see you through the week, with a recipe improved by a listener to Jessie and Lennie's podcast!

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24. The Silver Spoon Classic by The Silver Spoon Kitchen

lI cucchiaio d’argento (the silver spoon) was first published in 1950, and when Emilia Terragni, publisher of Phaidon, was growing up in Como, Italy, it was the only cookbook in her family’s kitchen. This tome has continually been updated, and the most recent re-issue is the perfect guide for anyone who is fanatic about Italian cuisine and culture. It's based on the English saying, 'born with a silver spoon in the mouth', ie born with a rich heritage - in this case food!

Buy it because... It makes menu planning easy with helpful recipe symbols to indicate gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, five ingredients or fewer, 30 minutes or less, and one-pot recipes.

Our favourite recipe: Margherita Pizza

It's an all time classic and imagine the satisfaction of making your own pizza dough. You'll need to plan ahead though, as the dough needs three hours to rest. Spread with fresh toppings, delicately scented with fresh basil leaves. 

Rachel is a freelance contributor to woman&home, covering news as well as books, lifestyle and travel. Her byline has also appeared in The Independent, The Financial Times, ELLE Magazine, VICE, Glamour Magazine and others. She loves nothing more than talking with people to share their stories. When she is not writing you will definitely find her nose in a book or magazine, or perhaps training for the next half marathon, practicing yoga or eating in London's best restaurants.