Some of the Best Cookbooks Are Hard to Come By

August  4, 2016

My favorite children’s book is out of print. I love it for the story, of course, but I’ll admit it: That it’s out of print makes it a little extra-special to me. Not because it makes it worth more—I’m not a book collector—but because it gives it an underdog status, and I just love under-appreciated things. I’ll have to sell you just a little bit harder on its value, and you’ll have to work just a little bit harder to get your hands on a copy of it.

So, after Ali, our Books Editor, asked for resources for reading out-of-print cookbooks, I was curious what out-of-print cookbooks our community owns and loves. I asked for input over on the Hotline, and my “to-find” list of cookbooks grew exponentially as a result. Here’s what a few of you had to say:​

Photo by aargersi
  • Aargersi has a couple of unique ones, Country Commune Cooking and The Hare Krsna Cookbook—though they might hold more nostalgic value than culinary:

    “In the Commune one, an opening chapter is titled 'A Rap About Kitchen Tools'—heh—and it reads like, well what you would expect. Hare Krishna quote: ‘This transcendental cookbook is designed to help you transform one of the most important daily chores into a spiritual reservoir of bliss.’ How's THAT for a mission statement??”

  • Tim from Wpg likes Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, saying:

    ”Originally published in 1957 by Trident Press in Winnipeg Canada (a large number of Ukrainians immigrated to Western Canada, lured by cheap land and their love of farming). I believe the last printing was 1995, and people are crazy for this book. I have a copy in my cookbook collection, but I​ still find it occasionally in thrift stores, and booksellers will give me $80 for it without blinking. They have a waiting list of people looking for it. I've never really cooked from it, but I've read through it, and it's an interesting snapshot of old country cooking. If you want to learn about nose-to-tail cooking before it became trendy, this is a good primer.”​

  • One of Pierino’s suggestions is Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook Techniques of French Cooking, which he says was timed to arrive with the New York World's Fair, adding, “Same year as Julia Child's but a better book. Unlike most cookbooks today the recipes might be one or two paragraphs with the ingredients included. I inherited my mother's copy. She bought most of the good ones back then.”

Photo by Mark Weinberg

We want to hear about your favorite out-of-print cookbooks: Continue the conversation on the Hotline post or tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rocky Rill
    Rocky Rill
  • Joan Melnick
    Joan Melnick
  • Judy Sennesh
    Judy Sennesh
  • carswell
  • Elizabiete
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Rocky R. August 10, 2016
When in New York, be sure to visit Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, 28 East 2nd St.
When in New Orleans, be sure to visit Kitchen Witch Cookbooks, 1452 N. Broad St.
Support independent booksellers who are knowledgeable and passionate about cookbooks.
Joan M. August 9, 2016
Just found a nice pile of books at a Salvation Army store nearby--a late 1960's edition of Joy of Cooking, two copies of Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home, Pierre Franey/Bryan Miller's Seafood Cookbook and Martha Stewart's Menus for Entertaining--all for 99 cents each! And, as we are walking around the store, they announce that all cookbooks are 25% off! Jackpot!
Joan M. August 9, 2016
Forgot about Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure!
Judy S. August 9, 2016
Midnight Suppers and Snacks by George Bradshaw gave me an artichoke salad recipe I've been making for probably thirty years. The book is a little gem.
carswell August 4, 2016
I have several cookbooks from the Vegetarian Table series - but far and away the best one is North Africa. I've made so many recipes from it and some have been made so often that certain pages are covered in spatters and splotches. A few of the recipes I now know by heart and don't need to break out the book.

That book taught me the value of preserved lemons - and how to make my own.
Elizabiete August 4, 2016
Powell's will send you an email when they get a copy of almost any book they've ever sold (which is almost every book ever printed). Go to and make a wish list (and support an awesome independent, bookstore!). Every book goes through that place sooner or later.
pierino August 6, 2016
Allow me to second the Powell's suggestion. Think twice before you give all your money to Jeff Bezos. Powell's has been a brick and mortar institution for decades. Even if you are not visiting Portland it's a great place to search for books.