Beginner cookbook recommendations

I need a cookbook for at 15-year-old girl. It was a giving tree tag, so I have no other information about her (dietary preferences, level of skill). I was thinking of some kind of general beginner cookbook that uses easily obtained ingredients, but isn't insultingly condescending. Any suggestions?

Carla Fisher


Wendy November 25, 2022
All fine choices!
You never know where this may lead her.
My friend’s sister picked up Mastering the Art of French Cooking at 15 years of age and started corresponding with Julia Child, that led to her becoming a chef and working with Julia herself.
Even if the cookbooks you thoughtfully chose for her inform her of her power to choose and prepare tasteful, healthy and wholesome foods for herself, you have given her a noble gift!
Happy Holidays!
Carla F. November 25, 2022
Thanks, everybody--great suggestions! Based on what was available at my local bookstore, I ended up with Salt, Fat, Heat, and Acid, Gastronomical Me, and Simply Genius. I think she'll be very happy.
Amanda H. November 25, 2022
Hope so -- and thanks for following up with us!
Nancy November 25, 2022
Generous gift & a range of different books! Hope she gets something valuable out of each…
Amanda H. November 25, 2022
Hi Carla, in addition to the other good suggestions here, I'd add our book, "Simply Genius" by Kristen Miglore, which was written as a basics book with lots of great cooking insights (with features like "all the things you don't really have to do, even if other cookbooks say you should") and lots of photos that show you how to tell when something like eggs are done, etc. It's very conversational and not at all condescending. It's like having a friend in the kitchen with you.
Amanda H. November 25, 2022
And here's a link, so you can check it out:
Nancy November 25, 2022
Agree with Wendy's suggestion and reason.
Here are a few more, with different reasons.
Salt Fat Acid Heat - Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. Fascinating take on the how and why of cooking, 2017. Also has recipes. (And just FYI, for popularity and usefulness, Joy of Cooking has about 8,000 reader endorsements and Salt, Fat about 21,000).
Gastronomical Me or Alphabet for Gourmets, from MFK Fisher. Early great books by a young American woman in her late 20s/early 30s, transplanted to 1930s France with a new young husband. Even if the recipient never becomes a cook, she will encounter other lives, ideas, experiences. And will learn some dishes to cook and make.
Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin, another youngish American woman. This time approx 1970s New York. Colwin was mainly a fiction writer, but also wrote great funny/serious books about cooking. Again, if your Christmas recipient never becomes a cook, she will still encounter other lives, voices, experiences. And it has good food insights, information, directions.
Nancy November 25, 2022
"endorsements" - that's on Amazon USA
Wendy November 25, 2022
Hi Carla,
My suggestion would be the recently revised “Joy of Cooking.” If she has any interest in cooking at her age, she should start with proper technique. It is a cookbook she can use and love her entire life!
Recommended by Food52