It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve stepped foot in the kitchen, cooking—and cooking well—can feel like an unconquerable task. Complex recipes always seem to look better on Pinterest than they do in real life, and even simple dishes can be hard to master. (I can’t be the only one who’s burned butter, right?)
But that’s no reason to give up. Instead of pushing the idea of cooking an edible meal to the back of your mind, why not take some time to learn the basics? Here, we’ve put together a selection of cookbooks for beginners—novices who, try as they might, just haven’t gotten the whole cooking thing down yet.
On this list, you’ll find a book for all kinds of cooks: budget-conscious cooks who want their deals to cost $5 or less, stress-prone cooks who don’t want to juggle more than five ingredients at a time and many, many more. Study up, and maybe you’ll find the confidence (and knowledge) you need to become a straight-up chef (well, eventually).
1. Five Ingredient Cookbook
Trust me when I say you’re not the only one feeling put off by long lists of complicated steps and ingredients. The Five Ingredient Cookbook remedies this problem by doing exactly what the name suggests—maxing out each recipe at five ingredients. And after making a couple of these recipes, you’ll notice simplicity and great taste aren’t mutually exclusive. Within this “no-nonsense” cookbook, you’ll find 60 delicious recipes, including fan favorites like chicken and waffle sliders, slow cooker spinach queso dip, brown sugar bacon and Southwestern scrambled eggs. (We’re drooling already.)
Five Ingredient Cookbook, available on Amazon
2. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
It sounds unbelievable, but Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day will teach you that the key to great food in the kitchen is skill—not a high grocery bill. You might think that such a tight budget will result in nothing more than a plate of beans, but in reality, you’ll be enjoying delights such as spicy pulled pork, vegetable jambalaya and bean ragu.
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, available on Amazon
3. The “I Don’t Know How To Cook” Book
For anyone who has ever said out loud, “I don’t know how to cook!” comes this despair-answering cookbook. Stuffed with hundreds of delicious recipes designed for those who feel out of the know, this crash course in cooking will have you creating shepherd’s pie, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and stuffed green bell peppers.
The “I Don’t Know How To Cook” Book, available on Amazon
4. The Can’t Cook Book
Brought to you by a former #1 New York Times bestselling author, The Can’t Cook Book is here to tell you that if you’re smart enough to send emails, drive a car and work your TV, you can cook, too. Whether you find cooking intimidating, time-consuming or all kinds of overwhelming, the calm, confidence-building tone of this cookbook will have you creating kitchen concoctions in minutes. And you’ll quickly fall in love with delicious recipes like roast chicken, flourless fudge cake and lemon salmon.
The Can’t Cook Book, available on Amazon
5. Hot Mess Kitchen
Hot Mess Kitchen: Recipes for Your Delicious Disastrous Life is a book that’s not afraid to tell it how it is. With dish names like “Fuck It, Let’s Just Get Stoned Nachos” and “All My Friends Are Married Mud Pie,” this book speaks not only to your stomach, but also to your soul. It also lays blame for your cooking inability well away from you, identifying victims (like take-out addicts) merely as a bi-product of society. Feel no shame; this book is here to help. Get ready for real food for real people in their real lives.
Hot Mess Kitchen, available on Amazon
6. How to Cook Everything: The Basics
Offering easy step-by-step lessons on fundamental cooking techniques and recipes, How to Cook Everything: The Basics is like having a chef alongside you as you learn. With clear instructions accompanied by more than 1,000 photographs, it’s hard to misstep as you learn to dice vegetables, roast meat and boil eggs. Using this cooking manual, you’ll quickly learn to create a range of delicious dishes. The 185 recipes include a wide range of ingredients, like meat, fish and poultry—to keep everyone satisfied, of course.
How to Cook Everything: The Basics, available on Amazon
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