From Julia Child to Nigella: Here are the best cookbooks of all time.

Finding motivation to cook can be difficult. You’re tired after work. You’re not organised enough. But the most common complaint? You just don’t know what to cook.

One of the best ways to kick yourself out of a cooking-motivation-slump is a new cookbook. The ideas are inspiring, there’s always potential to find a new ‘signature’ dish and, in most cases, the pictures are so beautiful you’ll be salivating before you’ve even started.

Here are some of the best cookbooks of all time, for any occasion.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle

It's a New York Times bestseller, has more than 500 recipes, and includes dishes for every level of cook.

Put together by chefs Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle, this cleverly crafted cookbook separates the classic French staples into different themes, making the cookbook easy to follow and the cuisine easy(ier) to master.

Gallery: Fancy school lunches for all the kids. Post continues... 

Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, Various

Featuring more than 2,000 essential recipes, the team at Cook's Illustrated hand tests each recipe relentlessly until it's perfect. Each recipe combines simplicity with a touch of expertise - bringing the amateur cook to a more elite level.

There are hand-drawn illustrations on how to prepare the perfect omelet, carve meat, shell lobsters, and frost cakes - to name just a few. Put simply, this is a practical guide to show-stopping cooking.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi

Yoram Ottolenghi has four restaurants in London - each a patisserie, deli, restaurant, and bakery rolled into one. The chef, who was raised in Jerusalem, is known for recipes rooted in the Mediterranean - but with a touch of Italian or Californian or North African flare thrown in.


This cookbook features excellent fish and meat recipes, as well as Ottolenghi’s famous baked goods. Every recipe is as inventive as it is flavourful.

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià, Ferran Adrià

Ferran Adria is one of the world's greatest chefs, he's the brains behind the legendary Spanish restaurant El Bulli, which was awarded World's Best Restaurant five times.

The Family Meal is a collection of recipes from when Adria and his staff would do 'family meal' before dinner service each night. It's brilliance, combined with comfort.

Nigella Express, Nigella Lawson

She is, after all, the home-cooking goddess. This cookbook will school you in not only fast food ideas but also clever kitchen shortcuts, methods for saving time, entertaining ideas, as well as ways to preserve food and keeping the kitchen stocked.

With more than 130 recipes for simple meals that are rich in Nigella flavour, this cookbook is valuable and versatile. It can spice up your weeknight meals and then guide you through preparing a Saturday night dinner party.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, Rene Redzepi

For something a little more contemporary, this Rene Redzepi collection is at the cutting edge of gourmet cuisine. Redzepi's Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named best in the world by San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards in 2010. He's known as a creative chef and to have re-defined Nordic cuisine.


The cookbook includes more than 90 recipes and 200 photographs, as well as excerpts from Redzepi's diary from the period leading up to Noma's opening and information on suppliers. It's unusual, challenging and extremely good fun.

Listen: Paul West's tips for injecting the 'River Cottage' experience, with herbs, into your suburban life. Post continues...

Delia's How to Cook: Book One, Delia Smith

Delia is all about bringing it back to basics. She's worried we've forgotten how to put a simple meal together without a packaged pre-mix, and this cookbook is all about starting from scratch. You will learn how to use a good chef's staples - rice, flour, potatoes, pasta, and eggs - to create wholesome, homely dishes.

Master the art of sponge cake; make your own pastry, and perfect your souffle skills with this classic cookbook.

Fresh and Light, Donna Hay

Anything from Donna Hay is going to be good, but this cookbook takes it one step further: it makes things healthy. One of the best summer cookbooks out there, the recipes are original, delicious and - as the name suggests - extremely fresh and light.

Each recipe packs a punch using power foods - not too many carbs - to provide balance and a source of energy. There are easy recipes for mid-week meals, light breakfasts, and lunchbox snacks. Perfect for healthy, easy, tasty everyday cooking.

For more articles about food and cooking, click here.

For more articles about books, click here.