5 Favorite Cookbooks

My five favorite cookbooks sit in a place of honor in my kitchen and have recipes that are loved by me, my husband, and me, or by the whole family! I review each one below, but also include links to online recipe collections and suggestions on how to create your own cookbook.

All the apps and websites with features to help with the planning, shopping, and preparing can’t compare to a loved, stained, passed down cookbook.

Past Favorite Cookbooks and Fond Memories

The Woman's Home Cookbook from 1909. Cookbooks and recipes were cherished by women in the early 1900's.
The Woman’s Home Cook Book from 1909

Cookbooks and recipes were such a valuable part of my upbringing. My mom used her Joy of Cooking Cookbook until it was falling apart! I wish we still had that dog-eared, butter and flour-stained book. It lovingly represented Owens family dinners always served at the kitchen table. The table set with salt and pepper and bread and butter (which was margarine in those days) along with plates and silverware. She would make sure my hard-working dad had a meat and potatoes meal with a green salad and cooked vegetables every night. In the summer we’d have her homemade lemonade (see Recipes on QH for ‘My Sweet Mama’s Lemonade’). We loved her pot roast, fried chicken, and meatloaf, but those holiday meals were over the moon!

The Joy of Cooking and Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book were bridal shower gifts to me. I lovingly referred to my copies of those cookbooks the first several years of our marriage.

Not a cookbook, but a fabulous collection of recipes are my mom’s and my recipe boxes. Now that she’s not around to cook those family meals, the hand-written directions keep her and her cooking close. My favorites from that collection are her Homemade Noodles (see Recipes on QH) and Swedish Pancakes, plus many cookie and dessert recipes.

A collection of vintage recipes are also my favorites.

After doing a little research, I discovered the most popular cookbooks for each decade from 1900 to 2000. The list is from Taste of Home. The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book by Isabel Gordon Curtis (1909) was the most popular. Check out the link if you’re curious about the rest of the list.

There are several categories of cookbooks. You can search for vintage, celebrity, basic/beginner cooking, diet/health management cookbooks and those with quick meals for the super busy. There are cookbooks for methods of cooking.

I have the ‘Taste of Home Cast Iron Cookbook‘ which is a magazine cookbook (see Favorite #4 below for another cast iron book), but there are those for air fryers, instant pots, slow-cookers, and deep-fryers, and more! There are also vegan, vegetarian, and ethnic cookbooks and those for specific meals or foods (desserts, dinners, or bread-making for example). I particularly like those created for small meal prep, ‘30 Minute Cooking for Two‘ There is a whole blog post on Quiet Hollow called “How to Easily Cook for One or Two” that dives deeper into this topic.

I spent an extended visit to the library and considerable time on Amazon looking for cookbooks, and there are close to the number of stars in the sky!

Here are my five current favorite cookbooks. These are the ones I use most often in my kitchen. I’ve included a couple of recipes from each cookbook to give you an idea of what’s inside.

Magnolia Table

When you make Joanna’s recipes from this book, you can imagine yourself eating at the restaurant of the same name. We’ve eaten there a couple of times and since we’re only 40 miles away, I’m sure we’ll be eating there again! As you can imagine the food was amazing as was the restaurant itself.

A couple of favorites from this cookbook are JoJo’s Biscuits on p.18 (so flaky and delicious) and her Cinnamon Squares on p. 65 (Yum!) There are many step-by-step photos with Joanna doing the cooking in this cookbook, along with color photos of the finished products. I’m slowly and happily working my way through this book!

Joanna referred to her BRAND NEW cookbook called, “Magnolia Table, Volume 2: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering” on her TV cooking special on the Food Network. The cookbook is available April 7th (in my cart as a pre-order!), so I’ll update this post after I get it and try some recipes. Those Joanna did on TV looked yummy. She also talked about her Magnolia TV cooking show coming up soon. 🙂

Half-Baked Harvest Super Simple

I haven’t purchased this book but the Half-Baked Harvest cookbooks come highly recommended and this one is a best-seller on Amazon. It’s currently in my cart. I spent some mouth-watering time checking out the insides of the book. The pictures are gorgeous and I counted at least five recipes I can’t wait to try. The Cheesy Poblano and Bacon Quesadilla don’t even need a photo! The name does it for me but the ingredient list is rich and the directions are clear and simple. No fancy foo-foo recipes in this book. I wouldn’t make them if there were.

This is the rest of the title – Half-Baked Harvest Super Simple: More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated, October 29, 2019. It’s listed for $26.99 and almost 300 pages.

The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

’30-Minute’ is my newest favorite cookbook. I’m reading ‘Brain Food‘ right now (listed on the Books I Love page) and it references the Mediterranean diet. Think pasta, whole grains, fresh fruit, roasted veggies, seafood, and maybe some crusty bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Oh, and a lovely glass of red wine! If you’re leaning toward the very healthy Mediterranean diet, I highly recommend this cookbook.

On page 143, you’ll find ‘Baked Chicken Caprese’ with ingredients like balsamic vinegar, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. It’s a keeper!

Taste of Home Cast Iron Mini Binder: 100 No-Fuss Dishes Sure to Sizzle!

As a relative CIS newbie, I needed an essential cookbook to get me started with cooking this old, but new way for me. I’m trying to catch up to Kasey and Josh’s level of cooking with cast iron. Not sure I’ll ever make it!

I’ve tried the Pineapple Upside Down Cake and the Skillet Cornbread...of course! And, nothing cooks a steak better than cast iron. Just don’t cook it at a high temperature. This Taste of Home easy to read collection is now one of my favorite cookbooks!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives

Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) is my current favorite Food Network celebrity. I love her show, her style, her family, and her cookbooks and recipes. This one is the most colorful of all my favorite cookbooks. It’s full of information. There are chapters called “My 20 Favorite Pantry Items”, “My 12 Favorite Freezer Staples”, “My 15 Favorite Fridge Staples”, and “My 10 (Okay, 12) Favorite Cuts of Beef”. Add that to the typical chapters about breakfasts and lunches, but some fun ones including “Sheet Pan Suppers” and “Under 40” ideas. Almost every recipe has step-by-step photos. This cookbook is a masterpiece and it makes you WANT to cook!

A Quick List of My Favorite Online Cookbooks

Check out these hot spots for tons of great recipes, videos, and ideas for meal planning. Have fun!

1. foodnetwork.com

2. allrecipes.com

3. tasteofhome.com

4. tasty.co

Creating Your Own Favorite Cookbook

Next, if you’re more of a ‘create your own cookbook’ type person, there are several practical ways to keep track of your favorite recipes. Probably the oldest, most basic is the recipe box where you copy each set of directions onto a 3X5 card and organize within the box.

More popular today with the rise of the internet is the copy, print, and save to a notebook method. Organize your notebook in whatever fashion makes the most sense to you. This method adds colorful photos of the meals if you want.

The last method I’ll suggest is the one I use and love. It’s a website called Plan to Eat. It incorporates a web clipper to save your favorites with the ability to categorize as you save. Other helpful features are Menu Planning and the Shopping List. There’s a yearly subscription after a 30-day free trial.

My 5 Favorite Cookbooks

Let’s Wrap this Up!

Last of all, when we moved to Texas cookbooks and recipes jumped up as one of my top new interests. Maybe it’s the creativity, the joy of blessing others with your finished products, or the tastiness of that yummy recipe; I’m not sure which! Hopefully, sharing my five favorite cookbooks, memories, and ideas about putting your own collection has been helpful and even inspiring.

Of course, if you have a favorite cookbook or website with great recipes, please share below. We’d love to hear from you! Happy Cooking ♥️

I am the bread of life. John 6:35

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  1. Love, love most any cookbook. Recently had all the recipes of my Grandma Gerry’s copied and put in binders for my girls & cousins. Takes me back to her kitchen and even has instructions on how to prepare Lutefisk ( for Christmas), potato sausage—always homemade and lots of yummy cookies. Hard to pick one cookbook but Half Baked Harvest my current love.

    1. Cathy! I love the idea of copying all the recipe cards and making a binder for all the girls. Will have to do that with the Owens/Rowland Clan 🙂 I’m checking out Half-Baked Harvest and it looks wonderful and fun. Shoot, another one on my wishlist!!

  2. Family and food is on my mind. Family cookbooks… A New Book of Cookery was from my mother. Favorite recipes of Ladies of the Auxillary #2338 (Port Orchard, WA) gifted to my sister in law Nancy in 1984 from Grandma Pattinson contains recipes back to 1947. Bremerton Daily News Searchlight Cookbook, written in 1931 is another family treasure now in my keeping as is the Kerr Home Canning Book Cody just 10 cents in 1944. I also have recipes my mother shared with me from her home country Switzerland, in her beautiful slanted script are very much treasured ❤️.

    1. Audrey, what an amazing treasure you possess! Thanks for sharing all of this. Isn’t it just such a wonderful connection to our past?! Love it 🙂

  3. Kathy, I received the Betty Crocker cookbook as a gift when I was moving into my first apartment. I have loved and used that as my staple for many years. I mentioned to you earlier, that my favorite was not really a “book” but rather a magazine, Paula Deen. I love her cookbooks also. But after thinking about it, I realized that with the era of apps and such, my go to is now Pinterest. I pin so many recipes that I want to try that I will never run out of delectable food options no matter what cookbook they are in not what diet I am on. Haha! Great blog post!

    1. Barbara, yup, good ol’ Betty Crocker! So many of us cooked with her over the years. And, I just checked out a cookbook called Paula Deen Cuts the Fat and she looks great on the cover! I’m a mad pinner as well; I’ll look you up, bet you’ve got a great collection. I’m ‘Quiet Hollow | Life + Other Things’ 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful comment!

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