11 Clever Ways to Store Your Many, Many Cookbooks

Because "stacks on the floor" isn't sustainable.

May 10, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Here’s a cautionary tale: Until very recently, I used to keep my (ahem, not small) cookbook collection lined up between two baskets of produce. One fateful day, the weight of all those books pushed the basket off the shelf, sending onions rolling everywhere. I recovered my cookbooks, but the onions were goners.

Like any small apartment dweller in a bind, I turned to the only place I knew for new cookbook storage ideas: Pinterest. And, wow. People have thought of every way to stash their recipe collections. If you’re anything like me—save your onions while you still can!—you might want to borrow one of these 11 unique ideas, too:

1. Rustic Countertop Box

For smaller subsets of cookbooks (like, just the cookie ones), you can keep them organized and available with the help of a stylish open-faced box or basket. This cute (and ideally, distressed!) vessel is the perfect size to line up a row of books, with sides that are short enough to show the titles—even a clementine box or similar upcycled item would work. Or, consider the same arrangement with a wire basket instead, if your home has more of an industrial aesthetic.

2. Shelves Under Your Kitchen Island

Make sure to bookmark this idea if you’re planning a kitchen renovation sometime in the future—it’s the perfect way to keep cookbooks accessible, but also out of the way. This kitchen island has two open shelves at its end where you can line up your favorite volumes—there’s room for smaller kitchen appliances, too. If the stone on your counter has enough overhang, you could even just install deep floating shelves below it.

3. Special Cookbook-Sized Cubbies

If you have modular cabinets in your kitchen, you may have a few inches of “dead space” where the units don’t perfectly fit the wall. When this happens, most people just use a filler panel to cover the empty strip between the cabinets and the wall. But why do that when you could install cookbook cubbies in the spaces instead? This is truly a brilliant way to maximize storage in your kitchen.

4. Simple Picture Frame Ledges

A lot of cookbooks have beautiful cover art, which makes them lovely display pieces for your kitchen. Picture shelves are the perfect size to hold cookbooks flush (like these cute ones!). This arrangement of two rows of books is amazing, but you could customize your own display to fit your kitchen, whether it’s one long shelf or several small, staggered ones.

5. Hidden Drawer

If you have more cookbooks than you know what to do with, you might need to use this sneaky storage hack. This kitchen bench has a hidden drawer on the end—tiny house–style—making it a clever spot to stash those cookbooks you don’t use every day, but still want to have close by.

6. Bright, Sculptural Bookends

This is a fairly conventional storage method, but it’s still incredibly sweet. You can keep your cookbooks standing straight with the help of fun bookends that make a statement. This works especially well if you have open shelving in your kitchen, and the bright colors add a pop of interest to an otherwise neutral display.

7. Color-Coordinated

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate this impeccably organized pantry? Those glass jars are stunning! However, the crowning glory of this room has to be the rainbow of cookbooks on the upper shelf. Color-coordinating your collection is a great way to make it visually appealing without spending any extra money.

8. Built-In, Counter-Height Bookcases

If you have an empty wall in your kitchen, consider, installing a counter-height bookcase and topping it with the same stone for a seamless look. This particular design even features little cubbies where you can stash awkward-shaped dishes that don’t fit in the cupboards.

9. Above Your Aprons

If you’re short on space, this vertical solution might be the one for you. Here, a simple high shelf is used to create a small cookbook display—though we’d probably want to use bookends to ensure nothing comes tumbling down. You can even put a few hooks underneath it for hanging your prettiest aprons.

10. Fridge-Top Caddy

This sweet arrangement is actually sitting right on top of the fridge. Use a caddy to house cookbooks atop this often-underused space, and you can brighten up your kitchen by including a vase of flowers or other bright decoration up there, too. Just make sure you have a step stool on hand for when you need to get them down.

11. Book Racks

Think: plate rack, but for books. Help make the most of every inch of your kitchen with recessed racks in the short, exposed ends of the counters. Add a bar across each cubby to ensure your cookbooks don’t take a spill.

How do you store your cookbooks? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cheryl McPherson
    Cheryl McPherson
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  • Anne Taylor Davis
    Anne Taylor Davis
  • kari
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


Cheryl M. July 24, 2020
Thank you for this article. I will be changing apartments in a few months and will be needing ideas on storing my cookbooks.
Hannah July 24, 2020
I see some people have over 1,000 cookbooks! Start a little library in your backyard shed.
Elaine July 24, 2020
#5 is probably the worst way to store any hardcover book. Covers are typically larger In dimension than the inside pages and the weight of those pages begins to pull them away from the binding. If you want loose covers or broken backs, go for it. Meanwhile, my bookcase is just outside my too tiny kitchen. The day when I rescue my other cookbooks from storage is culling day!
Anne T. July 24, 2020
On my kitchen windowsill. Four or five books that change with the seasons.
kari September 25, 2019
We recently completed a mini makeover of our kitchen. The kitchen is open to our sunroom and the extension of the countertop behind the sink was a mere three inches resulting in a water spray on the floor in front. We designed a built-in bookcase in front that is 8 inches higher than the facing sink. We topped it with the same quartz as the kitchen counters, solving two problems: water spray and storage of my cookbooks.
Anne D. August 5, 2019
All cute ideas, but I have 1300 cookbooks plus...fortunately I have high ceilings that allow high shelves. Right now they are spread over 5 rooms in my house. I read a ton of non-cookbooks, but usually only check them out of the library cause they can't compete with space for the cookbooks!
Arthur J. September 25, 2019
You’re not alone.
pat September 25, 2019
I'm with ya, Anne! Most used in a kitchen cabinet, others in the basement on a shelf. Can never have too many cookbooks!!
bellw67 May 19, 2019
My cookbooks sit on a plant stand hubs made for me, that is, after I kicked the cats off when they took it over as a perch. It’s one of those ladder stand types. Only downside is I have to store some on top of each other making them harder to get at. This was after we moved and I had to downsize my collection. I still miss the cookbooks that had to go. I did copy and save a lot of favourite recipes from them though.
pat September 25, 2019
Donated some to the library. When I brought them in the librarians behind the desks thought they'd died and gone to heaven!
AdeleK May 15, 2019
When I moved into this latest house, there were smallish walk-in closets in the halls. I converted one nearsest the family room and opposite of the kitchen into a book closet.
I installed the entire thing with shelves and removed the hanging bars. Works like a charm except still not enough room to store everything. All of the walk in closets throughout the house have 12 ft ceilings, so my closet off of the master has shelves installed above the racks to house more. The only problem is needing a step ladder to access them.
noons May 12, 2019
lovely looking options but none of them accomodates nearly enough cookbooks
Magee May 12, 2019

Here are mine!
Whiteantlers May 11, 2019
Pretty pictures but nothing of any real practical value for renters with vast cookbook collections.
Karen D. May 11, 2019
I have over 600 cookbooks; none of these options work. for me. Lol
susan G. May 10, 2019
We moved into a house with a pass-through between kitchen and living room. We closed it up on the living room side, and made the kitchen side into a bookcase. It holds a lot of the paperbacks and other small format books -- wonderful to have easy access to them.
Then we had a carpenter build floor to ceiling bookcases in 2 rooms on the 2nd floor (not all cookbooks).
Then, small bookcases in dining room and a small office near the kitchen and near the computer... And then, the floor, with a teapot as a bookend. With over 500 cookbooks, amost all loved, only a few had to hide in shelves in the garage.
We're at the age when we should be cutting back, but the urge to read and cook from more books is still strong.
June D. May 10, 2019
That's all fine and dandy, but how does one store more than 3000 cookbooks. I've been collecting for more than sixty years.
Smaug May 10, 2019
This stuff does seem to be aimed at people who have six or seven books to worry about. Modern life baffles me, maybe people don't have books anymore. In the olden days by the time you reached a thousand or so you'd buy a table saw and say goodbye to your walls.
Becky W. May 10, 2019
I took a spare room and had shelving installed floor to ceiling all the way around. Have my books by categories. A favorite room- a rocker and loveseat in the middle-perfect for a cup of tea and sit with one of my beloved books!
susan G. May 10, 2019
Yes, how do you?
anniette July 24, 2020
Same here. I had a small bedroom lined with shelves and it’s the cookbook room. They are a hobby and a pleasure, bordering on a compulsion. I do keep several shelves of constantly used ones in the kitchen and an adjacent pantry, and always a stack by my bed. We must be the EYB contingent.
Becky W. July 25, 2020
We are kindred sisters!
I love to read cookbooks- always learn something.
M May 10, 2019
Bummed that most of these store very, very few books -- NOT many, many books. That said, as someone who has a kitchen with a lot of covered, wasted space around cabinets, 3 is brilliant.
Dee May 10, 2019
My out-of-control collection (approximately 400, give or take change) takes up about 55 shelf feet lining my finished attic walls...
Smaug May 10, 2019
For actual practicality. standard L-shaped sheet metal book ends are far more useful in a limited space than those that depend on their own weight. Storing cookbooks in a kitchen has it's attractions, but it's really not the best environment for books.
Noreen F. May 10, 2019
This. Also, give me six months and I'd accumulate enough new cookbooks that they wouldn't need bookends because the shelf would be full!
Rosa May 10, 2019
I actually use boxes of Kosher Salt as bookends...then when I need to remove a bookend due to my ever expanding cookbook collection, I just put the box in the pantry to use for cooking 😂