New to the kitchen, or know someone who is? We’ve gathered the best cookbooks for beginners to get you started and give you the confidence to keep cooking. There’s plenty of options for budding new chefs: learn the essentials from Jamie or Gordon, keep it simple with one-tray roasting tin recipes, or aim for speed with recipes ready in under 15 minutes. These would also make a great gift for students heading to university, ready to cook for themselves for the first time!
If you’re new to cooking, consider other kitchen equipment you might need. Our guide to must-have kitchen essentials covers all the basics, from peelers to saucepans. Think about what you want to cook the most. If you want to master a Sunday roast, a meat thermometer and roomy roasting tin will be handy. If you want to try some baking, a wire rack, baking trays and cake tins are essentials.
Once you’ve got the cooking bug, check out our other cookbook recommendations. Get meat-free inspiration with our best vegetarian cookbooks, make sweet treats from our best baking books, give our best student cookbooks to someone heading to uni or spend time in the kitchen over the school holidays with one of our best cookbooks for kids, perfect for rainy days.
Best cookbooks for beginners 2021
Leiths How to Cook
This cook school classic has been given a makeover. Now, along with all the trustworthy techniques, you also get stunning photographs and new recipes, making this a must-have manual for every aspiring cook. From butchery to beurre noisette, you can’t do better than to follow these clear instructions and step-by-step photographs.
Must try recipe: Lemon tart
7 Ways by Jamie Oliver
For his latest cookbook, Jamie Oliver found out what ingredients we put in our shopping baskets most regularly. Armed with 18 of the most popular everyday ingredients, including broccoli, peppers, chicken breasts, salmon fillets and eggs, Jamie shares new and exciting ways to prepare them. The focus is ‘maximum flavour, minimum effort’, so every recipe is simple to make, and uses no more than eight ingredients that aren’t difficult to find. Expect new twists on classic favourites, such as filo chicken kiev, broccoli & cheese pierogi, potato lasagne and spiced cauliflower rice pie.
Must-try recipe: Moreish aubergine salad
Speedy MOB by Ben Lebus
The latest book from Ben Lebus and the MOB Kitchen team is all about creating flavour-packed dishes in just 12 minutes (we’ve time-tested a fair few of them!). Split into chapters, including brunch, salads, pasta and gnocchi, rice and noodles, ‘flashy’ (for when you want to impress) and ‘sweet stuff ’, it features creative dishes like chorizo cauliflower fried rice, and lots of clever time-saving hacks.
Must try recipe: Cheat’s dan dan noodles
The Roasting Tin Around the World by Rukmini Iyer
Rukmini Iyer’s cookbooks all have a common theme: they’re made in just one roasting tin. Her latest book features 75 one-tin recipes inspired by her global travels. Examples of Rukmini’s hassle-free, flavour-packed dishes include pork pibil with pink pickled onions (inspired by her time in Central America) and a mash-up of s’mores and rocky road with peanuts, marshmallows and chocolate.
Must-try recipe Korean-style aubergines
Quick and Delicious by Gordon Ramsay
Superstar chef Gordon is back, and he’s using his years of busy restaurant service to help home cooks save time. Packed with 100 speedy recipes, this book takes weekday meals up a notch and makes hosting parties easier. Ingredients are accessible and dishes impressive, including roast hake with saffron mayonnaise and lamb with cannellini beans.
Must-try recipe Cauliflower soup with brown butter & cheesy toasts
Eat Well for Less Every Day by Jo Scarratt-Jones
This collection of recipes from the latest BBC One series, presented by Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin, will not only help you save time and money, it’ll also help you tackle any problems you face at family meal times. From fussy toddlers to teens suspicious of trying new things, this book has the answer, and you’ll all be eating the same meal and wasting less in no time. There are quick breakfasts, easy lunches, snacks, crowd- pleasing dinners and tempting puddings, all packed with fruit and veg to help you on your way to five-a-day.
Must-try recipe: Lamb shawarma with couscous & raita
Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian by Chetna Makan
We love Indian food but making a curry can sometimes be a lengthy affair with grinding spices, prepping ingredients and marinating, so we were very happy to see this new book from former The Great British Bake Off contestant Chetna Makan. All the recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less and really pack in the flavour – from a speedy salmon curry to a creamy and delicately spiced butter chicken, everyone will think you’ve been in the kitchen for hours! Make a midweek curry or choose a few recipes for the weekend and make a feast.
Must-try recipe: Coconut paneer tikka
Just One Pan by Jane Lovett
No one actually likes washing up (or they certainly don’t in my house) so recipes which cut down on clean-up are a big plus, add in the time-saving benefits of cooking in one pan and I’m sold! Food writer Jane provides more than 100 genius one-pan recipes in this diverse collection, with everything from traybakes, curries and stews to pastas and tarts.
Must-try recipe: Creamy leek, potato & parmesan chicken thigh tray bake