Bored of cooking the same old thing? This selection of the best family cookbooks will help inspire you in the kitchen, with loads of ideas for delicious family friendly meals.
We all search on Pinterest and Google for recipes these days, but there’s still something immensely pleasurable about flicking through a cookbook to get inspiration for what’s for dinner.
I have a bit of an addiction to buying best selling cookbooks. My kitchen shelf is brimming with some of the best home cookbooks, and I will happily spend half an hour browsing through them with a cup of coffee.
So here I share with you some of the best family recipe books out there. May they bring you as much pleasure as they do me!
Want to get your kids cooking too? Check out our pick of the Best Cookbooks for Kids!
Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients
British TV chef Jamie Oliver brings us his easy cookbook with recipes using only 5 main ingredients.
Jamie’s trademark enthusiasm oozes through each recipe and his love for food is contagious. A peppy English accent jumps from the pages as you learn about stripped-back cooking – his quick take on a fish pie is a revelation!
All the bases are covered; salads, pastas, eggs, chicken, fish, meat, desserts, with a range of tastes from British comfort food to Asiatic flavors.
Just 5 ingredients may sound somewhat ambitious at first, but as you work your way through the fun recipes following Jamie’s clever use of ingredients, shortcuts and inspiring mix of flavors and textures, it actually doesn’t feel like anything is missing at all.
The recipes gain an extra simplicity with accompanying photos of the 5 ingredients and the tempting finished dish.
Perhaps the final verdict is best expressed in the words of Jamie Oliver himself, “minimum effort, maximum flavor”.
Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook
I’m a little obsessed with all the books from British Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipes are divine!
Here he presents us with 130 accessible recipes in his 7th cookbook: “Simple”. Whether cooking with or for your family, Ottolenghi’s colorful and engaging recipes will get your creative juices flowing.
His original introduction inspires from the get-go with an acrostic poem (s-i-m-p-l-e) as a guide to simplicity. Color coded letter bubbles -including ‘S’ for “short on time”, ‘L’ for “lazy” and ‘E’ for “easier than you think” – are assigned to each recipe page for a quick insight.
Bright photography brings the chef’s vibrant cooking style to life as he guides you through soups, stews, salads and roasted dishes – of course using classic Ottolenghi staples, such as tahini and za’atar.
This cookbook is great for families who enjoy modern comfort food with a twist; think veg, meat and desserts reinvented with spices, textures, color and contrast.
The ‘hot, charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt’ dish is particularly compelling; herbed tomatoes bursting with flavor against a cool backdrop of yoghurt.
Final thought? Approachable, useful and captivating.
Simple Bites Kitchen
Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, mom and author of award winning blog ‘Simple Bites’, regales us with her family attentive cookbook ‘Simple Bites Kitchen’.
The 100 wholesome recipes are centered on fresh, nourishing ingredients and getting the whole family involved in meal preparation.
Aimée’s introduction shows her conscientious and practical approach to the family kitchen, initiating us into a world of healthy family habits, a break down of 8 cooking steps especially for kids and the art of fridge management by season.
The cookbook is segmented into 6, easy to digest, chapters including ‘wholesome lunches and snacks’ and ‘home-grown vegetarian’. Kids will love working together with their parents to make treats like the ‘Overnight Spiced Stollen Swirl Buns’!
Aimée’s organization of recipes with listed ingredients and numbered instructions makes them easy to follow, along with extra tips and color photos.
Simple Bites Kitchen is a wholesome recipe book on the surface, with a deeper philosophy based on family collaboration.
River Cottage Family Cookbook
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall adds a family edition to the popular River Cottage cookbook series, this time co-written with Fizz Carr.
Building on the River Cottage ethos of simple, home-cooked food based on local and seasonal produce, the Family Cookbook is integral and complete.
The (almost) 500 pages are filled with kid-friendly recipes and projects (how to start a kitchen garden!) that go above and beyond, teaching us valuable lessons about our connection with both cooking and eating.
The recipe presentation is comforting and clear, walking you through how to make basics from scratch (cheese, butter, yoghurt, bread) without feeling overwhelmed. Making your own sausages suddenly seems so simple!
Fearnley-Whittingstall does a good job inviting us to discover (or re-discover) the joy of cooking together as a family, and the fun to be had in harvesting home-grown vegetables before transforming them into a tasty meal.
How to Cook Everything
New York Times columnist (and trademark minimalist) Mark Bittman turns his writing talents to food with ‘How to Cook Everything’… and with 2000 recipes, it’s literally everything!
Bittman’s view of cooking as an easy, everyday act is backed up through his recipes for all occasions, using fresh ingredients, straightforward techniques and basic kitchen equipment.
The simplicity-focused cookbook is a great resource for families, with many dishes that can be prepared in near to 30 minutes. Kids and adults alike will love the modern flavors of guacamole, grilled pizza and chocolate soufflé.
The inclusion of a glossary, measurement charts and menu suggestions ensure the 1000+-page cookbook is easy to navigate.
Bittman moves away from the extremes of food preparation – gourmet art vs. microwave meals – and finds a healthy medium.
With a rudimentary approach to cooking, he encourages our capabilities to prepare easy and fulfilling meals for family and friends.
The Smitten Kitchen
Deb Perelman released her highly anticipated first cookbook in 2012. The New Yorker is a mom, self-taught home cook and the brains behind award winning blog, Smitten Kitchen.
The home-cooking guru – who doesn’t believe in bad cooks, just bad recipes – shows us how cooking can (and should) be a pleasure, with consistently delicious results.
Deb’s witty writing style feels more like an exchange with a friend, putting you at ease from the start. She uses her own gorgeous photography that not only shows how delicious the recipes are, but also their approachability.
These are the kind of side dishes, mains and desserts that you want to serve to your family, and after a few times can be integrated as your own.
Besides, don’t ‘gooey cinnamon squares’ and ‘sesame-spiced turkey meatballs’ just sound so fun?
The Smitten Kitchen is perfect for those who love to cook and have kids, from a mom who knows.
The One Pot cookbook comes from the editors at Martha Stewart Living, delivering easy and clever recipes with minimal clean up.
In a world where time is at a premium (especially with kids), we welcome the one-pot meal with open arms.
The book shares 125 simple yet sophisticated recipes in the form of soups, stews, mains and desserts, with options for meat-inclusive, gluten-free and vegetarian diets.
The chapters are divided up according to the cookware used (dutch-oven, slow cooker, skillet etc.), with a 2-page spread profiling each cooking vessel before a range of recipes to put it to work.
There’s a good selection to fit different moods; from the comfort of Minestrone Soup, to trying something new like Baked Rice with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, or testing out international flavors with the Kimchi Stew.
A great resource for a tasty yet easy family meal, and there’s something satisfying about it all coming together in just one pot.
Joy the Baker Cookbook
Joy Wilson, the baking blogger turned author and Queen of all that is sweet, brings us her self-titled cookbook of 100 simple and comforting recipes.
These are comfort sweets, may we add, with pizzazz – birthday cake with peanut butter for the kids and banana bread spiked with bourbon for the adults.
The cookbook (in the words of Joy herself) is “a celebration of butter and sugar”, that’s just so easy to love. That being said, some savories also sneak in via flaxseed crackers and a tasty leek and asparagus quiche, amongst a handful of others.
The cookbook begins with some baking tips and how to measure, before blazing a decadent trail of easy to follow recipes.
With photos of each treat alongside Joy’s sweet and sassy writing style, the book itself is indeed, moreish (you’ll want to flick ahead to feast your eyes on pretty much everything).
Pick a recipe to bake with the family and keep spreading Joy’s philosophy: that deep down, everyone loves dessert.
Giada de Laurentiis brings her hit Food Network show ‘Everyday Italian’ to its long-awaited cookbook form, providing fresh, simple recipes that are quick, accessible and delicious.
The premise is to share essential recipes for Italian dinners, based on what you might realistically have left in the pantry and refrigerator. That means an Italian dinner is possible, tonight!
The book is categorized through types of food from stews and sautés to pastas. Within chapters you’ll find variations on preparations for pestos, cutlets and red sauce, alongside creative uses for prosciutto and leftover pasta.
Besides learning a trick or two about Italian cooking, Laurentiis will help you and your kids re-think how to incorporate leftover ingredients instead of throwing them out, a valuable family cooking skill.
Get ready for appetizers, sauceless pastas, roasts, stuffed vegetables and more.
The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook
Mary Younkin, from the popular cooking blog ‘Barefeet in the Kitchen’ presents The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook, schooling us in how to feed on-the go families during the working week.
The author transmits her love of food and cooking for others through recipes made from scratch, using fresh ingredients.
The cookbook is divided up into how much time (a.k.a. effort) meals take to prepare; 15-25 minutes, 30-45 minutes or just 5-10 minutes in the case of some oven and slow-cooker finished options.
Take the Sweet Chipotle Chicken Bites for example; ready in an amazing 15 minutes from start to finish!
Mary shares ideas for mains, sides and sweet treats that get dinner on the table, really fast. Plus there’s the adaptability factor; many recipes are gluten-free or offer gluten-free alternatives, while most mains carry notes for suggested side dishes and ways to customize the recipe.
The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook is a wonderful option to creatively feed hungry mouths on a busy schedule.
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