Cooking at Home with Free Online Books

According to a recent survey,  Americans are cooking more at home, and plan on continuing their newfound skills after the Covid 19 crisis is over.  This is good news for public health, since studies show that home cooking is healthier and less caloric than eating out.  

The Denver Public Library has some great options whether you're just starting out, or are a veteran gourmet cook.  You can choose from over 550 eBooks, all available with your DPL card.  

If you have some time on your hands, and want to learn to cook a delicious meal for future dinner parties, try Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has something for cooks at every level and over 500 recipes.  Although this is a cookbook with no pictures, the instructions in this classic are easy to follow and produce elegant results.   

Another option for mastering the basics is the charming food writer and chef Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat:  Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.  Novice and experienced cooks alike can hone their skills using four elements - salt to enhance flavor, fat which delivers flavor, acid which balances flavor, and heat which determines the texture of food.  Approachably written and beautifully illustrated.   

If you need something simpler, there are cookbooks for speedy and manageable meals, such as Quick and Easy:  Better Homes & Gardens 365 30-Minute Meals, Rachael Ray 365:  No Repeats - A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners, and from America's Test Kitchen The Best Simple Recipes.  

Do you have an aspiring chef?  Kids aged 6-12 can learn cooking basics with Cooking Class:  57 Fun Recipes Kids will Love to Make (and Eat)!  Lots of pictures, and seven sections that cover the basics, including main courses, snacks and dessert.  There's even information on setting the table, folding napkins, and cleaning up.   And The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs has recipes that were thoroughly tested by more than 5,000 kids to get them just right.  Learn to bake pretzels, breads, pizzas, cookies, cupcakes, and even empanadas.  It has step-by-step photos of tips and techniques to instill confidence in young cooks.

If you want to cook like a celebrity, try CravingsHungry for More by model turned TV personality Chrissy Teigen.  She  shares her favorite recipes, including Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing, Pan-Seared Fish with Herby Browned Butter, and husband John Legend’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter. 

Or, try the late poet Maya Angelou's second cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long, which focuses on food that's full of flavor and meant to be eaten in moderation, and was inspired by her own dramatic weight loss.  Recipes include All Day and Night Cornbread and Swedish Hash.  

If you'd like to explore food from different cultures, there's Aarti Paarti:  An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul.  Food Network star Aarti Sequeira weaves Indian and Middle Eastern recipes with American ones, featuring dishes such as Cornflake & Kaya French Toast, Indian Street Corn and Bombay Sloppy Joes.  The opening essays in each chapter alone are worth reading.    

For comfort food Vietnamese-style, try The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen and learn to make the broth and noodle soup more than fifty ways, including vegetarian and gluten free options.  Winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the "Single Subject" category, it contains beautiful and evocative photographs to inspire you.  

The library also has a great selection of cooking magazines for cardholders through RB Digitial, including Gourmet de Mexico (Spanish language), Cook's Illustrated, Bon Appetit, Food Network Magazine, and Vegan Life.  

Need help with eBooks?  Check out Overdrive Help, or contact the library.

In response to the current health emergency, we are currently not providing in-person services. But we're here for you—please contact us through our online chat service Ask Us! or by email.

Written by Lisa on May 14, 2020


Shelby Forsyth on May 24, 2020


I had no idea Maya Angelou wrote cookbooks! Interesting stuff.