They’re great reads while you’re home.

By Summer Cartwright
March 18, 2020
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Trying out a new recipe often feels as stressful as walking a tightrope that’s 10 stories off of the ground (not that I have any experience with rope-walking, but a gal can imagine). Following every detailed step the first time you make something is nearly impossible, and the threat of messing something up can weigh on you, especially when there’s a hungry family waiting in the other room. I’ve found that cookbooks that are actually enjoyable to read often yield the best results in my kitchen.

I read cookbooks I enjoy the same way I read books—all the way through for entertainment, and then referencing everything I highlighted the first go-around. Not only does this make the actual cooking process less stressful, it builds more of a connection between me and what I’m making. Every great recipe has a great story behind it, after all. 

RELATED: 10 Soothing Baking Recipes That'll Quell Your Stress—and Your Sweet-Tooth

Given these stressful times, there might be more time in your schedule to really delve into cookbooks you might not have otherwise considered. My cookbook recommendations are as good of reads as they are tutorials, thanks to authors that include newspaper columnists, television personalities, and classically trained chefs. 

With all that’s going on, a respite through cooking (and reading) sounds very nice right now, doesn’t it? Shop these entertaining cookbooks—all under $25—below:

Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman

No cook keeps it as real as Alison Roman, the New York Times columnist known just as much for her hilarious social media presence as she is for her delicious recipes. She knows game-changing cooking hacks—like using a bathtub as a cooler. And her sense of humor shines throughout each page of this book, so it feels like you’re chatting with a friend who’ll guide you through roasting chicken, rather than slaving away alone at the oven. 

To buy: $20 hardcover, $16 Kindle;

Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home by Ina Garten

My best friend Cullen obsesses over Ina Garten like I obsess over Brad Pitt, so when it comes to the television host’s cookbooks, I trust Cullen’s say. Her favorite of all of Ina’s books is Barefoot in Paris, because of the romance it exudes. With this book, you get tales from the time Ina and her husband lived in France, camping and eating off the land, along with the fabulous French recipes she learned while there. 

To buy: $19 hardcover and Kindle;

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nostrat

If you haven't mastered the basics of cooking yet, social distancing can drive you there. You might know Samin Nostrat as the quirky and genuine host of Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and now it’s time to know her through the book that inspired the show you more than likely binged. Reading her cookbook is like having somebody guide you through an extensive kitchen training, patting you on the back along every step of the way. 

To buy: $21 hardcover, $20 Kindle;

Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook by F.L. Fowler

Why, yes, this book is a parody created after 50 Shades of Gray and why, yes, it is as inappropriate (in a different, much more funny way). Each recipe comes with an excerpt in Anastasia Steele’s voice that’s just as chaotic as it is hilarious. Don’t let the kids get ahold of this one, but do send it around to your circle of friends. Worth mentioning: the “Dripping Thighs” recipe is incredible. 

To buy: $13 hardcover, $5 Kindle;

Cravings: Hungry for More: A Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen

Cooking can be so serious, but Chrissy Teigen flips that on its head. The model and television host (whose every tweet should be framed and hung on the living room mantle) keeps things just as lively offline in her second cookbook. It features recipes that’ll get you out of your comfort zone, like grilled toast and mashed peas (it’s good, I’ve had it) and hilarious anecdotes that’ll have you chuckling while sautéing—a safety hazard I never thought of until reading this book.

To buy: $19 hardcover, $16 Kindle;

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

From the man, who in his own words, had over the years  “morphed into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten," Appetites is an education on who Anthony Bourdain was. It’s insightful, honest, and to the point. 

To buy: $24 hardcover, $17 Kindle;