posted in Cookbook Reviews

10 Most-Used, All-Time Favorite Cookbooks ($100 Amazon Giveaway)

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my cookbooks lately… since I had to pack them all into moving boxes and then unpack them all when we moved into our new house!  I pulled aside 10 of my most-used, all-time FAVORITE COOKBOOKS EVER.

Favorite Cookbooks of All Time

Best 30 Minute Recipe The Best 30-Minute Recipe by Cooks Illustrated. First of all, I think the people at Cooks Illustrated are brilliant. They do SO much testing and fiddling with a recipe before they are positive that it is perfect enough to share with the world. So when you’re making one of their recipes, you can feel confident that it’s going to turn out (and it’s likely to turn out pretty darn good, too). This book is a go-to for me when I need a quicker dinner idea, and I love that the variety runs from soups to salads to stews/chilis, stir fries, skillet suppers/pasta, stovetop dishes and oven-baked meals. The recipes are easy to read and follow, and everything I’ve tried has been delicious. My favorite recipes in the book are the Skillet Baked Ziti, Fast Oven- Barbecued Chicken and Stir Fried Beef & Broccoli with Orange- Sesame Sauce.

Great Food Fast
Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Kitchens.  I bought this book when it was first released- back in 2007, and I continue to cook from it pretty regularly.  It comes from the folks at Martha Stewart’s EveryDay Food (the now-defunct) checkout magazine.  The book is organized seasonally (which I love), and the focus is on fast, easy, delicious meals.  I’ve made many of them for my family, so I’d characterize it as family-friendly too.  Martha tends to use fresh ingredients, so you won’t see a lot of recipes with canned/processed foods.  There are a few dessert recipes in the book, but generally the focus is on quick and easy dinners and simple side dishes too.  My favorite recipes in the book are the Greek Salad with Seasoned Flatbread, Grilled Tuscan Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon, and the Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple

California Sol Food I must admit that California Sol Food is a little bit near-and-dear to my heart.  Back in my days of being a newlywed, I was an active member of the Junior League of San Diego.  I sat on the “Cookbook Committee” one year, and we worked tirelessly to gather recipes, test them, and put together a cookbook.  So that’s what this is: a Junior League Cookbook.  If you have any Junior League cookbooks from anywhere else, then you know how wonderful they are.  This one has a Southern California vibe.  I have a zillion favorite recipes from the book, but my top repeat faves are: Creme Brulee French Toast, Fish Tacos, Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and the Chocolate- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.  Everything is good.

RecipeGirl Cookbook Cover 225The Recipe Girl Cookbook by um… me.  Of course I have to include my own book because I really do cook from it weekly! It’s full of food that my family loves to eat, so I’m guessing it’s good for other families too. Chapters span all meals of the day- from Breakfast to Lunch (soups/salads/sandwiches), Happy Hour (nonalcoholic drinks, cocktails and appetizers), Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Salads, and Dessert. The final chapter shares 20 easy themed entertaining menus. Those who are gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian will find options in the book too. My family’s all-time favorite recipes are the Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti, Avocado- Pine Nut Salad, Caramelized Onion Dip, Creamy Coconut Polenta and the Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding.

Cooking Light Cooking Through the Seasons Cooking Light- Cooking Through the Seasons:  Because I’m often watching my calories, I tend to collect quite a few “light” cookbooks. I’ve always been a fan of the recipes in Cooking Light magazine. This one is organized seasonally (again, an appealing way to follow a cookbook). These recipes are easy-to-follow, and there are many “how-to” tips and other notes about ingredients alongside the recipes. Nutritional information is included for every recipe and there are lots of photographs too. Favorites that I’ve tried: Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce, Thai Summer Slaw, Mango- Rice Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Cherry Cobbler. The recipes are a mix of classic, family-friendly style and some unique options too.

The Food You Crave

The Food You Crave:  Ellie Krieger is one of those food writer/recipe developers whom I trust whole-heartedly.  As a registered dietician, she knows how to make good, heathy food.  That’s the kind of food I’m looking to make most nights for dinner.  In this book, Krieger takes the food you crave and serves it up in a much healthier way.    Her recipes are for all meals of the day- even dessert.  Nutritional information is included.  Favorite recipes I’ve tried from this book:  Grilled Zucchini Roll Ups with Herbs and Cheese, Herbed Goat Cheese Dip, Tuscan Vegetable Soup, Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Cumin Dressing and Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream.  Everything I’ve tried, I’ve loved!

WW Take Out Tonight

Weight Watchers- Take Out Tonight:  This one is kind of an odd choice to include, but it’s one of the most dog-eared cookbooks on my cookbook shelf.  I’ve been on the Weight Watcher’s diet program a few times (but not in a very long time).  I don’t consider their recipes to be “diet” recipes, by any means.  Their cookbooks are full of more healthy recipes- just like any other light cookbook.  I love this cookbook because it covers all of your typical “take-out” style dishes- Deli, Chinese, Greek, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Thai and Indian.  The recipes shared are all healthier versions of classic international dishes.  I’ve tried so many in this book, but my favorites are: Chicken Saltimbocca, Skinny Chimichangas, Szechuan Chicken with Peanuts and Coconut Curry Pork Satay.

King arthur flour's cookie companion

 The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: This cookbook is my cookie bible.  I tend to prefer Gold Medal Flour, but I love the recipes that this company shares in this book.  It’s gigantic, it’s full of every cookie idea you can imagine, and it’s one that you’ll pick up again and again.  The only drawback:  very few photos of the cookies.  That being said, it’s a neat surprise to see how the cookies turn out since you don’t have a good visual of them in the book.  There are MANY, but my absolute favorites I’ve tried from the book are:  The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie, Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies, Scandinavian Blondies, Cinnamon- Caramel Swirl Shortbread and Magic-in-the-Middles.  There are so many more I’d like to try though!


piece of cake

Piece of Cake by Camilla Saulsbury:  I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I grew up eating cake that was made from a boxed mix.  I didn’t know any differently, and I’m pretty sure that boxed cake mix was kind of all-the-rage back in the 70’s.  Spice cake was my favorite.  This book shows you how to make homemade cake very easily and in ONE BOWL.  I use it for practically of of the cakes that I make these days (and they’re infinitely better than those cakes sold in a box).  Chapters include singer layer and loaf cakes, sheet cakes, bundt cakes, layer cakes and pound cakes + frostings/icings/glazes.  My favorites from this book:  Red Velvet, Banana Bundt with Peanut Butter Icing, Moist Yellow Cake and Decadent Chocolate Cake.


Hersheys Classic Recipes Hersheys Classic Recipes:  This may seem like another odd choice to include in my all-time favorites list, but there are some seriously good, classic recipes in this book that I use over and over again.  There are some pretty fancy chocolates and chocolate chips to purchase out there in the markets these days.  Sometimes I buy fancy but most days I buy Hersheys.  This book was published back in 2000, but I still reach for it and bake from it.  Chapters include Cookie Jar Favorites, Irresistible Brownies, Collectible Cakes, Decadent Desserts and Tantalizing Treats.  Most of the recipes have some sort of chocolate in them (Hersheys Kisses, Chips or Cocoa), but they also use their other varieties of chips too.  My all-time favorite recipes from this book are: Cocoa Crinkle Cookies, PB Chips Brownie Cups, Brownie Pie, Hersheys Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and Classic Boston Cream Pie.

It’s really so hard to choose favorites, since I have ZILLIONS of cookbooks and more tend to arrive in my mailbox each and every day!!  But those shared are definitely the ones that get the most use, and those are the ones I recommend time and time again to those who are looking to buy a cookbook they’ll USE.


Now for the giveaway!  I’ve teamed up with PromoSimple (the company that creates the widgets for giveaways). If you hop over to the PromoSimple blog, you’ll find a blog post sharing How to Personalize Your Blog Giveaways. Use the widget below to enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card (which you can use for cookbooks… or anything else!) Giveaway ends on July 10th. Read the “official rules” on the widget for other details. GOOD LUCK!

Update your Cookbook Collection with a $100 Amazon Gift Card

Disclosure: There are Amazon affiliate links within this post.

74 Responses to “10 Most-Used, All-Time Favorite Cookbooks ($100 Amazon Giveaway)”

  1. postedJun 28, 2013 4:35 PM

    I’m going to have to buy “The Food You Crave”. It sounds amazing!

  2. postedJun 28, 2013 5:14 PM

    Thanks for the giveaway and I love seeing what your fave cookbooks are – thanks Lori for sharing!

  3. postedJun 28, 2013 6:22 PM

    I know how a fun new cookbook list! Ya! Thanks Lori!

  4. postedJun 28, 2013 8:06 PM

    This is SUCH a fun post! Loved seeing your favorite cookbooks. We’re moving in April and I’m already thinking I will be whittling down my collection to just my favorites.

  5. postedJun 28, 2013 8:38 PM

    I love cookbook recommendations. I adore Ellie Krieger, ATK, and Martha as well. : )

  6. postedJun 28, 2013 9:48 PM

    I can always use more cookbooks, I never have enough! I swear by all of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks, but don’t have any of the others. I so need yours, too! They look just great.

  7. postedJun 29, 2013 5:23 AM

    Looks like we have similar tastes in cookbooks. I love WW Take Out Tonight and have almost worn out my copy. Also love Ellie Kreiger’s The Food You Crave and have all her other books too which are hits. Fast Great Food is also on my bookshelf and The KA Cookie Companion is on my wish list and thanks to you so is your book and The Cooking Light Seasons one. Keeping my fingers crossed for winning this fantastic contest. Since today’s my birthday and anniversary hoping that will give me extra luck. Thanks for the oppoturnity.

  8. postedJun 29, 2013 5:31 AM

    I just “LOVE” cookbooks-I have a great selection including 2 of Julia Childs originals-now she was truly the “QUEEN OF BUTTER”-love this giveaway snd love your site.

  9. postedJun 29, 2013 5:34 AM

    I need another cookbook like I need another hole in my head – but I can’t resist them! There are a few on this list I’ve been on the fence about obtaining but now that I’ve read your reviews I’m sure I’ll buy. Thanks!

  10. postedJun 29, 2013 5:56 AM
    Lesley Brisco

    Hi Lori, the title to your email was homemade fudgesickles, I have no idea what they are,living in South Africa, but was interested to see. Problem is there is no mention of them when I open the email. What are they & where are they ,p[lease?

  11. postedJun 29, 2013 6:01 AM

    Shoot Great contest,,, too bad I can’t enter…. But you did give me some great gift ideas for my MIL’s upcoming Birthday. She love to read cookbooks.
    Good luck to all that enter.

  12. postedJun 29, 2013 6:42 AM
    criska lopez

    I love all your recipes. You’re my first go to site when I’m making something special. Thanks for sharing your cook books.

  13. postedJun 29, 2013 7:07 AM

    I am a fan on FB

  14. postedJun 29, 2013 7:16 AM

    I must buy Piece of Cake! Great post!

  15. postedJun 29, 2013 7:19 AM
    Nancy Cirillo

    Recipe Girl is now my go too cookbook…but also the New Basic Cookbook!

  16. postedJun 29, 2013 7:21 AM
    Lisa Crawford

    I have alot of those cookbooks also!!! Love your book and the piece of cake book!!!

  17. postedJun 29, 2013 7:25 AM

    I am a pastry chef & like many people, have a cookbook obsession. I was very curious to see your top ten, and was thrilled that I actually do not own one of them. Can’t wait to start shopping! Thanks for sharing.

  18. postedJun 29, 2013 7:43 AM
    Sandy w

    Looks like a great selection if cookbooks. Some may have to come to my house soon

  19. postedJun 29, 2013 7:46 AM
    Nancy J.

    I love cookbooks!

  20. postedJun 29, 2013 7:57 AM

    Great round-up of cookbooks! I have half of them and need to add the others to my wish list!

  21. postedJun 29, 2013 8:07 AM

    I love cookbooks and agree ~ Junior League cookbooks are the best! I love your cookbook and anything Barefoot Contessa!

    • June 29th, 2013 @ 8:23 AM

      Thanks, and I agree about Barefoot Contessa. I use her “Parties!” cookbook quite often too!

  22. postedJun 29, 2013 8:29 AM
    Betty Jo

    LOVE cookbooks, would love to have more.

  23. postedJun 29, 2013 8:30 AM

    I love cookbooks and generally read every new addition cover to cover. I always enjoy seeing other’s list of favorite books.

  24. postedJun 29, 2013 8:51 AM
    Andrea D.

    The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion sounds wonderful.

  25. postedJun 29, 2013 8:52 AM
    Bonnie Jean

    Oh my Lord, how I would love to get several of these cookbooks. The only one I have is the Hershey’s cookbook … I am a chocolate lover. I guess the books I would want most is your cookbook (which is why I read this blog), and the 30 minute book, the King Arthur Cookie book, and the Cake book. I could eat desserts all day long… and thank the Lord I have good metabolism and the discipline to just have a bite or two and not eat the whole cake or batch of cookies all at once !

  26. postedJun 29, 2013 9:08 AM

    Don’t have any of these in my collection. Thanks for the list of must haves!

  27. postedJun 29, 2013 9:49 AM
    SALLY Tews

    I would love your Cook Book.
    Also might have to get the Weight Watchers.

  28. postedJun 29, 2013 10:17 AM

    Thank you for sharing your Top 10 cookbooks, Lori! What a fun giveaway!

  29. postedJun 29, 2013 10:55 AM

    I would buy your cookbook first! I have Ellie’s book as well – wonderful recipes!

  30. postedJun 29, 2013 11:09 AM

    I LOVE cook books. My library contains mostly kid cookbooks (like Disney), Southern Living, Cooking Light and a few old ones like the Hershey’s that you have (has the BEST dark chocolate cake recipe ever). My mom has a few that are older than I am. One has a recipe for Brunswick stew that requires 10 lbs of squirrel meat!! Thanks for sharing your favs.

  31. postedJun 29, 2013 11:09 AM
    Glenda Giguere

    The cookbooks look great!

  32. postedJun 29, 2013 11:11 AM

    Would love to win this!

  33. postedJun 29, 2013 11:12 AM

    Might have to check some of these out!

  34. postedJun 29, 2013 11:20 AM
    SALLY Tews

    Thanks for the giveaway~never know if I have done this right.
    I will just keep my fingers crossed:-)

  35. postedJun 29, 2013 11:28 AM

    Love this list!

  36. postedJun 29, 2013 11:33 AM

    I have cookbooks all over my house – never enough! Love your “fav” list and want to try the CA “sol” book – right up my alley!

  37. postedJun 29, 2013 12:56 PM

    I wasn’t aware of KAF cookie book. I have several of their others and really love them. Off to find the cookie book!

  38. postedJun 29, 2013 1:27 PM
    Paula C.

    I have a passion for cookbooks and I’ve been looking at “the Food You Crave”. It’s interesting to see the type of cookbooks others like.

  39. postedJun 29, 2013 2:44 PM

    Just bought two of your cookbooks on Amazon. Kept one for myself and gave one to a dear friend for her birthday, yesterday. I’m on weight watchers and cook from any cookbook and just cut my portion according to points. It’s working for me!

    • June 29th, 2013 @ 9:32 PM

      Glad to hear, and thank you for buying my cookbook!

  40. postedJun 29, 2013 3:20 PM

    One of my favorite pass times is correcting cookbooks, you can never have too many!!

  41. postedJun 29, 2013 3:56 PM
    Sandy S.

    I love Cooks Illustrated cookbooks. I like to read about why their recipes work and how they tested them. I guess it ties to me being a book nerd too- LOL

  42. postedJun 29, 2013 4:23 PM

    Ellie Krieger is one of my favorites too!!

  43. postedJun 29, 2013 6:05 PM
    Tracy Razzari

    I need to add that Best 30-minute recipe cookbook to my library. I can’t believe that I’ve never seen that one. I also believe the Cooks Illustrated people are geniuses. Thanks for the giveaway, it would be great.

  44. postedJun 29, 2013 6:13 PM
    Melissa B

    We have some of the same favorites! I’d like to add “The Food You Crave” to my collection.

  45. postedJun 29, 2013 7:53 PM
    Pat Roth

    The Joy of Cooking has it all according to my hubby. I am partial to anything by Ina Garten.we are a cooking family!

  46. postedJun 29, 2013 9:52 PM
    Aleisia Kuhn

    I can’t wait to buy some of these books and try some new recipes. They look great! Thank you for sharing : )

  47. postedJun 30, 2013 10:06 AM

    I love your collection! I love lists and I love your cookbook. Happy Summer!

  48. postedJun 30, 2013 11:46 AM

    I am a cookbook junkie….love to read them like novels! Thanks for the post.

  49. postedJun 30, 2013 11:49 AM

    I have the 30-minute recipe book because my time for cooking at home is quite limited. I love it!

  50. postedJun 30, 2013 11:52 AM

    These all sound like fabulous cookbooks!

  51. postedJun 30, 2013 1:11 PM
    Sandy Rosen

    So many good cookbooks!

  52. postedJun 30, 2013 1:45 PM
    carmen cortes

    All those books sound amazing, I would love to own them all.

  53. postedJun 30, 2013 2:06 PM

    Thanks for the fun post with some of your fave cookbooks, especially that Recipe Girl one…haha! You know what they say….reading cookbooks is the next best thing to eating!

  54. postedJun 30, 2013 9:45 PM

    What a fun giveaway – I love how personal it is!

  55. postedJul 1, 2013 2:40 AM
    Kent @ Food Classics

    What a good list of recipe books. I’m a fan of Cooking Light and use that book regularly. I’ve not seen the “Food You Crave” book before and may have to check it out along with your book as well 🙂 I’m always looking for new cookbooks for great easy to make recipes. Thanks for the list.

  56. postedJul 1, 2013 6:59 AM
    Renee D.

    Love new cookbooks – can’t cook w/o one..

  57. postedJul 1, 2013 7:05 AM

    great giveaway! we share some of the same favorites, but i’m definitely seeing a few new cookbooks that i’ll need to pick up 🙂

  58. postedJul 1, 2013 8:09 AM
    Linda C

    I already own Everyday Food and Recipe Girl and just ordered California Sol Food because of your recommendation.

  59. postedJul 1, 2013 9:07 AM

    Did I read that right – you helped put California Sol Food together? Because I love that book, and it’s possibly my most used book of all, covered in spills. It really is a reliable book.

  60. postedJul 1, 2013 4:58 PM

    I love picking up old cookbooks at thrift stores. I find some of the coolest retro books.

  61. postedJul 1, 2013 5:18 PM

    This is such a wonderful giveaway! I love cookbooks and these all look awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  62. postedJul 1, 2013 5:25 PM

    I follow on FB!

  63. postedJul 2, 2013 9:47 AM
    SALLY Tews

    I love going through cook books~the Take Out book would be one
    of my choices

  64. postedJul 2, 2013 11:19 AM
    Liz Blunt

    I’m a baker who loves to bake with chocolate!

  65. postedJul 3, 2013 2:35 PM

    I love some of these cookbooks,KING ARTHUR FLOUR is really awesome too! I was surprised to see it on your faves for some reason,lessons learned huh?

  66. postedJul 3, 2013 2:37 PM

    My entry never shows up? It stays the same???Can you help? It has always done this??

  67. postedJul 3, 2013 7:23 PM

    Always looking for a good cookbook!

  68. postedJul 7, 2013 5:56 AM

    I Love my old orange Betty Crocker cookbook~

  69. postedJul 7, 2013 10:46 PM

    Hey Lori,

    I’m a graphic designer and thought that I would compliment you and your photographer/designer on the branding and photography on your book cover. It looks awesome.

    keep up the good work and yummy recipes.


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