Best General Cookbooks

Find our top nine picks for the best general cookbooks published in the United States since 1987.

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How to Cook Everything Cookbook

8. How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food
By Mark Bittman, Wiley, 2008. Hardcover. $35; 944 pages

Graze the food blogs and you’ll find that the 13-year-old How to Cook Everything is still almost universally loved as the best resource for a fledgling cook. The audacious, brilliant title is of course ridiculous: One book can’t cover all bases. But the recently revised version of this classic includes 2,000 recipes plus kitchen tips, shortcuts, basics, ingredients, and flavors. In other words, most everything.

When recipes include ethnic or other hard-to-find items, sidebars offer sources or subs. Bittman demystifies cassoulet and calls the dish “glorified beans.” His interpretation takes 40 minutes to prepare (as ­opposed to days). Indeed, this book foreshadows Bittman’s New York Times success as The Minimalist. (Bittman is also a Cooking Light columnist.)

Everyday technique is his forte, and his confident voice is present throughout.

GIVE THIS TO: Recent college graduates or anyone starting out on a cooking path. —SM

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