The Best French Cookbooks

Find our top 6 picks for the best French cookbooks of the past 25 years.

Essential Pepin French Cookbook
Photo: Randy Mayor

Essential Pépin

Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food By Jacques Pépin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. Hardcover. $40; 685 pages

Jacques Pépin is a luminary: He has six decades as a cook and thousands of recipes to his credit. And this book reads very much like his summing up.

Pépin combed through his massive archives and chose 700 favorites. Some required only dusting off, but many have been updated. The results are delicious, classic, never-boring French dishes. From soup (Split Pea Soup with Cracklings: yum!) to frozen desserts like Blood Orange Sorbet—perfectly sweet-tart and vibrant—Essential Pépin has it all. He covers seasonings, stocks, drinks, relishes, and pickles, such as Pickled Hen-of-the-Woods (mushrooms).

The book is treasure enough, but it comes with a DVD of Pépin—he of sparkling eyes and soothing accent—telling a cook pretty much everything she needs to know. This book (and DVD) aren't simply the essentials: They are, per the title, essential Pépin.

GIVE THIS TO: All present and future Pépin fans. —Deb Wise

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