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20 best cookbooks for family feasts and entertaining guests

Whether you're entertaining a crowd or are just looking for some everyday family meal inspiration, we've selected the very best cookbooks, as loved by foodies.

By Roanna Day | Last updated May 17, 2023

Selection of best cookbooks

Discovering the best cookbook is a thing of joy. It can inspire you to cook again after a lengthy break, introduce you to new, delicious flavours and help you impress your in-laws the next time they stay. From curry bibles and books to help you make the most out of your slow cooker to lengthy editions covering the heights of fine dining, there’s a huge range of cookbooks to choose from. So, how do you find the right cooking companion for you? A book you’ll turn to again and again and accidentally splatter with various cooking sauces as you go?

We’ve turned to our trusted network of Mumsnet users to gather recommendations from real parents. Just like you, many of our users are short on time but passionate about good food and taking pleasure in eating as a family, so you know you can rely on these highly-rated books. Every kitchen guide we produce - from the best air fryer for economical cooking, to the top food processor for easy meal prep - features carefully curated suggestions from the Mumsnet forums because we know just how valuable an unbiased, independent recommendation is.

As well as our favourite critics, our Mumsnet community, we’ve also scoured the bestseller lists, scrutinised Instagram accounts and read endless customer reviews to make sure our edit of cookbooks features only the best out there. The only question left is, what’s on the menu for tonight?

Best cookbooks at a glance

  • Best overall: From the Oven to the Table by Diana Henry, £21

  • Best for budget meals: Five Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, £15

  • Best for vegetarians: A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones, £17

  • Best for Indian food: Dishhoom by Shamil Thakrar, £21

  • Best for effortless cooking: Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson, £23

  • Best healthy cookbook: Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver, £15

  • Best for one-pot cooking: One Pot Feeds All by Darina Allen, £15

  • Best Ottolenghi cookbook: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi, £15

  • Best to revive your love of cooking: Cooking: Simply and Well by Jeremy Lee, £16

  • Best for beginners: Delia's Complete How to Cook by Delia Smith, £34

1. Best overall cookbook: From the Oven to the Table by Diana Henry

From the oven to the table cookbook

Price on writing: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Diana Henry's From the Oven to the Table and also her A Bird in the Hand. Both brilliant, easy books that I cook from loads.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett)

“I am a total cookbook addict. My favourites right now… From the Oven to the Table by Diana Henry (or any of her wonderful books).” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Haywire)

Our verdict

When thread after thread on the Mumsnet forums rings out with recommendations for the same chef, you know it’s time to pay attention. Diana Henry has got our seal of approval thanks to her effortless but truly delicious recipes.

Her books, from How to Eat a Peach to From the Oven to the Table are filled with the sort of recipes you want to cook straight away. And that’s not just one or two pages you might try - her books are crammed with tantalising recipes. Our personal favourite is the chicken and cauliflower with n’duja in From the Oven to the Table, but we’ve yet to cook one of her recipes and not love it.

2. Best cookbook for budget meals: Five Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

5 Ingredient cookbook

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Jamie Oliver is good for basic, healthy cooking - he has a veg cookbook, or his 5 Ingredients and Everyday Superfoods are good for healthy recipes. The older books are usually available fairly cheaply.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user  Hobbes8)

Our verdict

Where would we be without Jamie’s punchy flavours, easy-to-grasp techniques and focus on family-friendly recipes? Whether you sprinkle your herbs with quite as much wild abandon as the naked chef is up to you, but make sure you give his Five Ingredients book a try.

If you’re cooking on a budget then this collection of varied and delicious recipes allows you to create a range of different dishes without having to own every vinegar, paste and spice under the sun. And if you’re cooking for a smaller number, many of the dishes can easily be saved as leftovers - just pop them into your best Tupperware or bento box ready for the next day.

3. Best for inspiring vegetarian meals: A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones

Anna Jones cookbook

Price on writing: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Her sweet potato dhal is the best dhal recipe there is! And the tomato coconut cassoulet is good too - both from the first book.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user whatareyoueatingNOW)

Our verdict

Anna Jones is somewhat of a culinary icon. She began her career with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage but has since carved out her own acclaim with her inspired vegetarian recipes.

You’ll find no boring bean burgers or lacklustre stews in Anna’s beautiful books, only original dishes filled with flavour and serious moreish appeal. Make sure you try her recipe for pan-roast lime feta and chilli greens burritos next time you've got company, it's the perfect feast with friends.

Meat-free Monday will soon be meat-free Monday to Friday thanks to these easy dinner ideas.

Read next: Speed up family food prep with the best pressure cooker according to Mumsnet users

4. Best Indian cookbook: Dishhoom by Shamil Thakrar

Dishoom cookbook

Price on writing: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I absolutely love Dishoom. Since I bought it I haven't had a takeaway as they just don't live up to what I can make myself now - it's taught me so much.” (Reviewed by Mumsnet user EnglishGirlApproximately)

Our verdict

If you’ve ever eaten at Dishoom, an Indian restaurant in London, then you’ll know why this recipe book gets the Mumsnet vote.

This is more than just a collection of curry recipes, it’s a beautifully illustrated storybook that brings the flavours of India to life. Your local curry house just won’t have the same appeal once you’ve tried a few of these recipes. Our top tip? Try the egg naan recipe for breakfast, it’s nothing short of life-changing.

Plus, for more DIY takeaway options, we’ve also rounded up the best deep fat fryers so you can save money on ordering in if you fancy treating yourself.

5. Best Persian cookbook: Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour

best cookbooks

Price on writing: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Sabrina Ghayour, I love all her books.” (Suggested by Mumsnet user baublebuns)

Our verdict

Sabrina Ghayour has introduced kitchens across the UK to Persian cuisine in a way no other chef has managed. Perhaps it’s her down-to-earth recipe writing, her passion for taking the complex and making it simple or the fact that she creates the most incredible flavour pairings that you can’t help but cook again and again.

Sabrina’s recipes are the sort that become part of the fabric of your family’s food culture. They seem to bring people together and, while simple, they make a celebration out of every meal.

6. Best one tin baking book: One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber

best cookbooks

Price on writing: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“Another vote for Edd Kimber. [His] one tray bakes book is amazing. Any choc cake recipe from him.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user ruthypfdraper)

Our verdict

Edd Kimber, of Great British Bake Off fame, has written many wonderful baking books but it’s his One Tin Bakes we’re turning to again and again.

Every single one of these delicious recipes can be cooked in a simple oven tray. That doesn’t mean it’s page after page of flapjacks and rocky road though, quite the opposite. There’s an easy brioche recipe, one for matcha buns and a chocolate caramel ganache that is the best we’ve ever tasted.

Don’t let the unassuming size of this book fool you, this is a modern classic we’ll be baking from for years to come.

Read next: Fill your home with the scent of homemade fresh bakes - our guide to the best bread maker has options for every budget

7. Best for crowd pleasing cakes: Jane’s Patisserie Deliciously Customisable Cakes by Jane Dunn

best cookbooks

Price on writing: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“This is a good one for both basic and fun cakes and bakes.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user APurpleSquirrel)

“I second Jane's Patisserie. It has very clear instructions and everything I've made has worked.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user  Whenasuitcasejustwontdo)

Our verdict

Those of you who find your recipes online will know that Jane’s Patisserie is the go-to destination for show-stopping cakes and indulgent flavour combinations.

Now, you can leaf through Jane’s incredibly tempting recipes for layer cakes, cheesecakes and more while turning down the corners on your next weekend bake. Make sure you add her Kinder Bueno cheesecake to your list, we still daydream about how delicious it was.

We love that these recipes seem made for joy and celebration, each one is generously sized, and full of delicious, fun twists.

8. Best Italian cookbook: The River Cafe Blue Book by Rose Gray

best cookbooks

Price on writing: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I have all the River Cafe books, I love them.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Crunchie)

Our verdict

The true beauty of Italian food often gets left behind along with the filled pasta in the chilled aisle at the supermarket. This is not the case for River Cafe and their authentic, simple and incredibly delicious recipes.

These recipes are a true reflection of Italian food culture at its best. Think simple steps and flavour combinations that celebrate the very best produce.

Whether you want to upgrade your staple pasta dish (you have got to try the Blue Book’s recipe for quick sausage ragu) or you’re looking for a fresh way to cook fish, this book will educate and delight you in equal measure.

9. Best for effortless cooking: Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson cookbook

Price on writing: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“The cheesecake is to die for! Also quesadillas are a regular in our household. So delicious.” (Suggested by Mumsnet user DarrellRivers)

“I have Nigella Express and I use it all the time... The chocolate belle Helene pudding, crepe suzette, coq au Riesling, brunch bread pudding and toad in the hole are all regular makes for me.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Moreginneeded)

Our verdict

No one knows how to create such big flavours with so little effort as Nigella Lawson. The passionate cook has collected her simplest recipes together in Nigella Express and it’s become a modern classic for easy meals.

Though easy, each of these recipes truly delivers on yumminess. There’s even a few dinner party options there for the nights when you want to entertain but can’t face dirtying every pan in the kitchen.

This book also contains the best rocky road recipe we’ve ever come across, which is reason enough to buy it in our opinion.

Read next: We’ve researched the best George Foreman grill for family meals, as recommended by Mumsnet users

10. Best healthy cookbook: Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

Everyday Superfood

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I do a lot from it, and every single one has been fabulous. The sea bass with mash is a regular now, as is the laksa bake and the chicken cacciatore. The curried fish stew is just stunning, certainly doesn't taste super healthy but it is!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user hooliodancer)

Our verdict

Our commitment to eating healthier is so often sapped by lacklustre recipes or overly complex ingredients lists. However, that's not the case with Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food.

This weighty recipe book contains a huge range of family-friendly recipes, each packed with nourishing ingredients that are as delicious as they are virtuous.

The book opens with a granola dust recipe which sounds a little unusual but is actually a simple, versatile breakfast that can be made in minutes.

11. Best cookbook for one-pot cooking: One Pot Feeds All by Darina Allen

best cookbooks

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I do love Darina Allen. I'm from Ireland and she's held in high regard.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Edel2019)

Our verdict

Darina Allen, a celebrated Irish cook, has brought fresh inspiration to one pan cooking. Her recipes are easy to follow, technically faultless and big on flavour. We love her emphasis on fish (and how easy she makes it to cook).

If you’re looking for a cookbook that’ll have you covered from weekend breakfasts to date nights, then One Pot Feeds All is the one.

12. Best Ottolenghi cookbook: Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour cookbook

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I don't think I've cooked an Ottolenghi recipe that wasn't delicious.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Helenhywater)

“I love Ottolenghi and don't mind the work as the reward is so great!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Englishgirlapproximately)

Our verdict

Ottolenghi’s recipes deliver on flavour in a way few other cookbooks do. He is a culinary genius and for that we can forgive him for the complexity of some of his instructions.

If you’re after quick midweek suppers then this book isn’t the one (however, our guide to the best recipe boxes has plenty of options ideal for that), but if you’re craving fresh inspiration or want to try your hand at a new cuisine then there’s little better.

He is the modern authority on Middle Eastern flavour and his expert guidance will help you cook as you never have done before.

13. Best slow cooker cookbook: The Slow Cook Book by Heather Whinney

The Slow Cook cookbook

Price on writing: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I got this book a while ago and it’s bloody brilliant, have got lots of recipes bookmarked.” (Suggested by Mumsnet user Furries)

Our verdict

Whether you’ve got a standalone slow cooker, or a multi-cooker with a slow cook setting, this brilliant recipe book is a great choice. It has enough variety and new ideas to expand your repertoire while being inviting and simple enough to encourage you to give slow cooking another go.

There really is little more satisfying than reaching dinner time and knowing that the food is already happily bubbling away, ready to be enjoyed.

14. Best Asian cookbook: The Food Of Sichuan by Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook

Price on writing: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“I really like Fuchsia Dunlop's books. It's very proper Chinese food (Sichuan and Hunan to be precise), but some dishes are very quick.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user  lilham)

Our verdict

Fuchsia Dunlop has immersed herself in Chinese cooking and this, The Food Of Sichuan, is her tribute to her favourite region's cuisine.

Full of recipes that pack a punch and guide you into replicating authentic Sichuan dishes, this book is every foodie’s dream.

If you’re new to Sichuan cuisine then you’re in for a treat: think perfectly spiced dishes full of fresh ingredients.

15. Best cookbook for comfort food: Pasta Grannies: Comfort Cooking by Vicky Bennison

Pasta Grannies cookbook

Price on writing: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

Our verdict

Author Vicky Bennison went straight to the experts to write this popular cookbook: the grannies, or ‘nonnas’ of Italy.

This cookbook is filled with delicious, comforting dishes each invented by an Italian Nonna. From hearty pasta dishes to risottos and stews, these are the sort of recipes you turn to with pleasure at the end of a busy day or delight in opening your lunch box to the next day.

16. Best cookbook to revive your love of cooking: Cooking: Simply and Well, for One or Many by Jeremy Lee

Jeremy Lee cookbook

Price on writing: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

Our verdict

Whether it’s the stress of weaning or maybe just the overwhelming juggle of work, life admin and more, it can be so easy to lose your passion for cooking. Cooking: Simple and Well by Jeremy Lee is the perfect cookbook to inspire you to take up cooking again.

This beautifully illustrated book is filled with simple, flavoursome recipes that will tempt you back into the kitchen.

17. Best cookbook for crowd pleasing dinners: A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine

A Table for Friends cookbook

Price on writing: £21 | Buy now from Amazon

Our verdict

 Using her Venetian upbringing as inspiration, Skye McAlpine has written an Italian cookbook you’ll want to cook your way through cover to cover.

This beautiful book focuses on easy ways to feed a crowd. With delicious pasta feasts, glorious roasts and incredible summer spreads, every recipe is simple to follow without compromising on wow factor.

18. Best preserving cookbook: The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton

Modern Preserver

Price on writing: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Our verdict

The Modern Preserver brings new life and fresh inspiration to the world of jams, chutneys and jellies.

Unique flavour combinations, a wide range of delicious produce and simple instructions will have you rustling up a pear and lavender jam or a bergamot marmalade in no time.

19. Best cookbook for beginners: Delia's Complete How to Cook by Delia Smith

How to Cook cookbook

Price on writing: £34 |  Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“The How to Cook book is good because it shows you the basics and then some more impressive recipes too e.g. everlasting lemon curd souffles = LOVELY.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user AnybodyHomeMcfly)

Our verdict

If you’re still sussing out your sous vide from your spatula then Delia Smith’s iconic How to Cook is the cookbook for you.

Delia writes with care and holds your hand through every step of her delicious, simple recipes. This book covers the basics, boosting your confidence, and then introduces you to some more complex recipes to test your new skills. It's the priciest book on our list, but it does have a whopping 704 pages to make your way through.

20. Best cookbook for family meals: The Five O’Clock Apron by Claire Thomson

5 O Clock Apron cookbook

Price on writing: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

What Mumsnet users say

“5 O'clock Apron by Claire Thompson is our favourite by far.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user couldthisbeit)

Our verdict

The Five O’Clock Apron, by Claire Thompson, is designed to add flavour without adding any complexity into your weeknight suppers.

The chef and mum of three has written recipe after recipe that delivers nourishing, healthy meals that everyone in the family will love.

Read next: Upgrade your work from home lunches with the best sandwich toaster, as recommended by Mumsnet users

How we chose the best cookbooks

Mumsnet recommendations

The Mumsnet forums are filled with honest reviews of a huge range of cookbooks and chefs. We’ve read through hundreds of our Mumsnetters' opinions and weighed up their experience of a wide range of cookbooks to make sure our recommendations can be trusted.

Authentic customer reviews

We also evaluated bestseller lists and read honest customer reviews across multiple retailer websites, taking note of cookbooks that are consistently highly rated. Weighing this research up with insights from Mumsnet users means our cookbook recommendations are reliable and have been tried and tested.

Expert insights

While compiling this edit of the best cookbooks for foodies we investigated which cookbooks other chefs rate and read expert book reviews, penned by experienced cooks. We also used our team’s years of combined experience cooking for a family and made sure every recommendation got the Mumsnet seal of approval.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in that time, we've seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

We strive to provide honest and independent advice you can trust, and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find amazing products that real parents love.

Read next: The best Instant Pot models according to Mumsnet users