When it comes time to meal plan do you ever find yourself scrolling through Pinterest trying to figure out which of the “Best Chicken Ever!” recipes to try out, only to have lackluster results with the one you pick? It’s because of situations like this that I want to introduce you to America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks.
Don’t get me wrong, you can find some great recipes through searching Pinterest. But you can also find a lot of duds. I used to try to find my recipes this way. I also used to buy random cookbooks based on which ones looked pretty, only to either never use them or get mediocre results when I did.
One birthday, though, my mother-in-law bought me an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook that I had been admiring at Costco. Once I tried one of the recipes in that book I was absolutely hooked.
I’ve come to realize it really pays to have tried and true sources rather than looking all over the place. America’s Test Kitchen is one of my most used tried and true sources.
Why America’s Test Kitchen?
What makes America’s Test Kitchen stand apart is their method for coming up with recipes. To start with, they take several of the popular methods for making a particular recipe and try them all out. They then look at which methods worked the best and which were duds. From there they work on their own methods to make it even better.
So all of the recipes they publish have been tested many times to ensure the best results. Not only that, but they also do what they can to streamline the recipes. If there’s a way to make it taste great in a shorter period of time they will go with that. But, for instance, if the recipe really does need a long simmer to bring out the flavors then they will tell you so.
I love the layout of their books as well. They always include a “Why It Works” section to explain to the reader the steps they took and what ultimately made it work so well. Just by reading that section you can learn a lot more about cooking in general.
I also love the flexibility that having good base recipes gives me. Like right now I am working on a recipe for einkorn banana muffins, but I didn’t have to start from scratch since I have a great recipe for conventional banana bread in one of my America’s Test Kitchen books.
As of right now, I own 12 of their cookbooks, and I’m sure by this time next year I’ll probably own a few more. You don’t need to own that many, though, to have plenty of amazing recipes; I just may be a little bit obsessed.
Here are my recommendations for the most beneficial of their cookbooks to add to your kitchen.
1. An All-Encompassing Cookbook
When I say all-encompassing what I mean is a cookbook that will have a wide range of recipes that can serve as your go-to book for just about anything. This could be one of their TV show cookbooks or a how-to cookbook that presents extra info on cooking basics.
The America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook in particular has so freaking many recipes, you can find just about anything you want. They also have another TV show called Cook’s Country that has more of an emphasis on homey, classic American style dishes.
Because “America’s Test Kitchen” has had more seasons than “Cook’s Country,” that book is much more packed with fewer pictures so that they can fit in all of the recipes. The “Cook’s Country” book, on the other hand, typically has a full two pages per recipe with lots of pictures.
If, however, you’re newer to cooking you might find it beneficial to start with one of their more instructional cookbooks. A few of those options are 100 Recipes, 100 Techniques, and What Good Cooks Know.
Or, alternatively, do you have certain dietary preferences or restrictions? Well, America’s Test Kitchen actually publishes cookbooks following all of the major diets. So whether you eat gluten-free, keto, vegan, etc. you’ll likely be able to find a book that works for you.
2. Appliance cookbook
Do you have a particular kitchen appliance you absolutely love or maybe just one you wish you used more? America’s Test Kitchen also publishes appliance specific cookbooks. A few examples would be Multicooker Perfection, Cook It In Your Dutch Oven, and Food Processor Perfection.
By getting a book that’s specific to your kitchen you’ll get recipes that are that much more tailored to you. In my case, I had had a slow cooker for forever, but I almost never used it. I just hadn’t found any recipes that turned out super well in it.
Rather than getting rid of it, I decided to buy an America’s Test Kitchen slow cooker cookbook so that I’d use it more often. Since getting the book I have made several slow cooker recipes that have become family favorites, leading to me using the appliance much more often.
3. Dessert or Cuisine Cookbook
What is your favorite type of food to make? Well, I suggest getting something that will include recipes specific to the things you love to eat. That could be a certain cuisine, such as Mexican, Italian, or Mediterranean, or a certain type of dessert, be it cookies, cake, pie, etc.
Now, many of their all-encompassing type cookbooks do include recipes for specific cuisine types and dessert sections. But if there’s a certain category that you especially love it will be worth getting a dedicated cookbook for it.
We are big pie people so since I loved the pie recipes from my America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, I decided to get their pie book. I now have so many different options to try. The pie recipes never get old, not to mention there are beautiful pictures for inspiration.
For steps on using your cookbooks to meal plan check out my post The Ultimate Guide to Super Simple Meal Planning or if you’re checking out this post because you’re looking for a gift idea then head over to my post The Ultimate Gift Guide for the Home Cook (At Any Price).
If you ever struggle to find good recipes to make for dinner (or you just want to elevate your cooking) then you should definitely consider adding America’s Test Kitchen into your life. By adding an all-encompassing book, an appliance book, and a cuisine or dessert book to your kitchen library you will have so many choices that the sky is the limit.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.