Best Cookbook Gift Ideas For Beginners 2018

Keep this crowd-sourced list on hand for holidays, weddings & more

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That adage about teaching someone to fish so they can eat for a lifetime is fine and all, but it should really be something more like teaching someone to cook fish. And that's where cookbooks come in.

In between glorious dinner photos and book discussion last week, someone posted a question to our Facebook cookbook club (which you can join for free!): What are your go-to, all-time cookbooks? She was putting together a starter kit of cookbooks as a wedding gift (which is a great incentive to tie the knot) and wanted input from the group's 10,000 members.

More than 100 comments later, she either had a wealth of choices or an extremely heavy gift. Whether it's a newlywed starter kit or a subtle suggestion to someone you love that they learn how to operate an oven, this crowd-sourced list will have you covered.

Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell

This book by Peternell, who spent 22 years as head chef at the iconic Bay Area restaurant Chez Panisse, is perfect for anyone who's new to the kitchen. One member also says it's "a good review for anyone that's not a beginner."

Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker

Without a doubt, this irreplaceable kitchen encyclopedia racked up the most votes. One person said he owns hundreds of cookbooks and still refers to this one time and again; someone else called it the Bible. It's no wonder Julia Child called this "the one book of all cookbooks in English" that she deemed necessary.

Revolutionary Recipes, by America's Test Kitchen

. . . or anything by the trustworthy ATK/Cook's Illustrated team, for that matter. One smart reader's gift idea: Pair a digital Cook's Illustrated subscription with a hard copy of one of their books.

The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook by Good Housekeeping

"For a new cook, it describes the how-to of cooking in detail with illustrations. My mom gave me one when I was in my early 20s and I have loved it. Have given it to many a bride and groom." At the very least, with its 5,000 photographs, this classic doubles as a mouth-watering picture book.

The Way to Cook, by Julia Child

This list wouldn't be complete without a Julia Child cookbook. In addition to the book, one person suggested pairing it with the movie Julie & Julia.

Houston Junior League Cookbook, by the Junior League of Houston

Throw it back to 1968 for this Texas "necessity" of more than 1,500 recipes. "I'm Canadian, but love this cookbook," its nominee said.

BraveTart, by Stella Parks

Add this one in "for all things dessert." Stella Parks—a delightful hybrid of Betty Crocker, the Keebler Elf, Mr. Wizard and Fannie Farmer—peels the plastic off the packaged desserts you grew up with and transforms them into modern delights.

The Breath of a Wok, by Grace Young

"I give a wok, a cleaver and a copy of The Breath of a Wok," one well-rounded-thinking member said. Someone else suggested Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, another one by the IACP award-winning Young.

I'm Just Here for the Food, by Alton Brown

With Alton Brown's highly educational (and equally lovable) first cookbook, they'll not only learn how to make recipes that work, but they'll also learn why the recipes work.

Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat's James Beard Award-winning cookbook (which is now a mesmerizing new Netflix show) is all about the elements that are central to everything we eat. With Nosrat's tips in hand, anyone can learn how to master every recipe and tweak it to their personal tastes.

Ruhlman's Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman

"My mom was a terrible cook. This book made her pretty good." This member's candid confession says it all of this James Beard Award-winning cookbook that squeezes everything there is to know about cooking into 20 essential lessons.

'Pon Top Edisto, by Trinity Episcopal Church

Southerners might recognize this Carolina cookbook, which one reader says she's worn out for regional favorites like southern-style seafood, okra soup, Tennessee cobbler and tomato pie. 

Family Cookbook of Favorite Meals

We loved this wild card idea too much to keep off the list. Offer yourself up as dinner party guest to complete the package.