Leaving home for university is daunting for many reasons, but having to learn to cook for yourself needn’t be one of them.
These cookbooks make great companions at that time in our lives when we really start to get to grips with cooking. From making speedy, affordable suppers to whipping up group meals for new friends, these are full of nutritious, imaginative and achievable recipes, and are as good for young foodies as they are for the most inexperienced of beginners.
For more cookbook reviews and other foodie buys, visit our reviews section – we’ve got plenty more book recommendations including best baking books, best books for beginners and best vegetarian cookbooks. You’ll find gift guides, spirit reviews and over 400 buyer’s guides offering unbiased, expert advice on which products are worth investing in. Looking for the perfect student gift? Create an easily customisable My BBC Good Food cookbook filled with your pick of essential uni recipes. It’s sure to be a lifesaver for first-time cooks or budding chefs.
Best student cookbooks to buy
Roasting Pan Suppers by Rosie Sykes
Rosie Sykes, a chef and food writer, has written a book to answer every home cook’s prayers. Not only is it packed full of enticing recipes we can’t wait to make, they’re all made in just one roasting tin or pot, meaning less hassle and minimal washing-up – perfect for small student kitchens. The book contains one-pan meat, fish and veg-based dishes, as well as sides and desserts, helpfully categorised at the beginning by recipe length (under 30 minutes, an hour, over an hour etc), and grouped into menus, so you can plan feasts for friends.
Must-try recipe: Satay chicken wings & rice noodle salad
Chinese Takeaway in 5 by Kwoklyn Wan
After growing up working in the kitchen of his family’s Cantonese restaurant, Kwoklyn Wan became a chef and author. His latest cookbook contains 80 recipes for takeaway favourites, which can be recreated at home using just five ingredients. Master classic starters including pancake rolls, crispy wontons and prawn toasts, as well as popular mains such as Singapore king prawn fried rice and chicken chow mein.
Must-try recipe: Chinese-style buffalo wings
Broke Vegan by Saskia Sidey
Food stylist and recipe developer Saskia Sidey’s cookbook breathes fresh new life into budget-friendly vegan cooking for environmentally conscious students. It contains more than 100 plant-based recipes that won’t break the bank, including breakfast and brunch ideas, speedy meals, batch-cooking recipes, crowd-pleasers and sweet treats. Expect clever ways with supermarket staples and plenty of veg, plus tips and tricks to make food go further, perfect for maximising a student loan budget.
Must-try recipe: Peanut butter millionaire’s shortbread
The Quick Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer
Want quick, easy recipes that are ready in no time and don’t use every pan and utensil you own? This is the book for you! All the recipes are cooked in a roasting tin (you might need an extra bowl or pan for some of the prep), keeping washing up to a minimum, and they’re ready in just 40 minutes max from start to finish. There are healthy worknight dinners using storecupboard ingredients, family favourites including baked gnocchi and summer sausage traybake, make-ahead lunches, date-night dinners, lazy weekend feasts and indulgent desserts. A clever book solving your weeknight cooking dilemmas.
Must-try recipe: Baked feta with figs, pine nuts & basil
Vegan One Pound Meals by Miguel Barclay
The latest in the One Pound Meals book series, every recipe costs £1 or less per head, and this time it’s all about easy plant-based meals using supermarket ingredients. From creamy cauliflower tagliatelle to sticky peanut butter tofu and polenta kebabs, these clever vegan recipes are ideal for everyday budget family cooking.
Must-try recipe: Artichoke paella
Take One Tin by Lola Milne
Tinned ingredients are the ultimate in convenience, with long shelf lives and affordable price tags. They don’t take up room in the fridge, either, and are happy to hang out in kitchen cupboards until their services are called upon. It’s no wonder they’re popular with students. This book, by cookery writer Lola Milne, will show you how to transform these humble storecupboard ingredients into imaginative breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. Among its 80 recipes is everything from classic tomato soup to coconut and lime upside-down cake.
Must-try recipe: Vietnamese crab cakes
Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith
With clear, easy-to-follow instructions and recipes for comforting classics that we often miss from home – think fish pie, roast potatoes and bread & butter pudding – this book is as relevant and well-loved now as when it was first published more than 30 years ago. Covering all the basics for new home cooks, it’s a reference guide to return to again and again, long after those student years are over.
Must-try recipe: Traditional roast chicken with stuffing
East by Meera Sodha
Packed full of colourful vegetarian and vegan dishes inspired by regions throughout Asia, this eye-opening book will inject some meat-free fun into any student kitchen. From impressive-looking aubergine katsu curry, to fast and frugal spring onion and ginger noodles, the spectrum of dishes is huge, and makes cutting down on meat – and therefore shopping budgets – exciting.
Must-try recipe: Black dhal
How to Dice an Onion by Anne Sheasby
Less of a recipe collection and more of a kitchen handbook, this is a great cookery companion for beginners, but even those already au fait with kitchen techniques will learn a thing or two. From lessons on how to prepare veg and make stock to advice on storing ingredients and organising kitchen cupboards, there’s a wealth of knowledge in this book to get that student kitchen set up.
Mob Kitchen by Ben Lebus
The first book from online recipe platform Mob Kitchen is all about easy, budget-friendly recipes that really deliver when it comes to flavour, making it a great pick for food-loving students. All the recipes included feed four people for under a tenner, meaning there’s plenty to share with housemates or keep for lunch the next day.
Must try recipe: Squidgy carbonara crumpets
Original Flava by Craig and Shaun McAnuff
Comforting Caribbean food is the name of the game here, with young authors Craig and Shaun making sure the recipes stay true to their values of ease, accessibility and tastiness. The likes of honey roasted jerk-spiced salmon and banana fritter cheesecake will gently nudge young cooks out of their comfort zones to experience new flavours. This is food to make friends over.
Must-try recipe: Plantain bean burgers
Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood
Baking is a sure-fire way to turn new housemates into best friends, and this book ensures everyone can enjoy a slice, with its focus on natural ingredients. Harry has created thoughtful, indulgent new incarnations of beloved bakes – think Victoria sponge and chocolate brownies – and come up with some novel treats, too. The common thread comes in her ingenious uses of vegetables, which result in natural, irresistible bakes that are full of the good stuff.
Must-try recipe: Banana and toffee sticky cake
Solo by Signe Johansen
Motivation can be lacking when it comes to pulling together a whole meal just for one – it’s easy to see why beans on toast is a staple in many student houses. This book, though, injects some serious satisfaction into cooking for yourself, with straightforward and delicious dishes designed to be enjoyed solo. There are also recipes here for batch cooking – a great practice for students to get into.
Must-try recipe: Lemon courgette and ricotta fritters