Are cookbooks a thing of the past?

cookbooksIt’s another Throwback Thursday! This post was originally published in 2008. Back then we believed that cookbooks were becoming a thing of the past but there are still many, many for sale. Most are available in a Kindle version which will reduce the clutter in the kitchen.

Read through the post below and let us know in the comments if you have stopped using and buying cookbooks.

My wife enjoys cooking and baking. She has a shelf dedicated to her cookbooks, but she hardly ever uses them. More often than not she accesses recipes via the internet. The amount of information that is at your fingertips is astounding and the ease of accessing that information gets easier and easier.

One cookbook that my wife swears by is the Joy of Cooking. It is an encyclopedic volume of just about anything you can think of cooking or baking. She swears by its usefulness and relies on it quite a bit. Other than that, her cookbooks are seldom used. So are cookbooks obsolete? Why clutter up a whole shelf in your kitchen for a bunch of books that you never use? Here are the recipe sites my wife frequents instead of using a cookbook:

One site that I just happened upon is The site lets you enter the ingredients you have in your kitchen and then gives you ideas on what you may be able to prepare. Maybe it’s time to let some of your cookbooks go?

80 Comments for “Are cookbooks a thing of the past?”

  1. posted by Tara on

    Absolutely! I love to cook, so people keep buying me cookbooks. I’ll read through them, scan a recipe or two to store in my “electronic cookbook” and then donate the book to Goodwill.

    I taught myself to cook watching Food Network and particularly from their website and the ones you listed. If I ever want a new recipe or to learn a technique that’s where I go first!

  2. posted by Tim on

    I have a number of cookbooks, but I rarely use them. I primarily get recipes from friends and web sites like the ones you listed above.

    I use a Mac OS application called Connoisseur to keep track of all my recipes. It has some great tools, including recipe scaling, a shopping list, and the ability to import recipes from a text file or from highlighted text on a web page.

    If you’re a Mac user who loves to cook, you should definnitely check it out!

  3. posted by Adam College on

    I disagree! I love to have the actual cookbook instead of a collection of recipes online. When I’m hungry, but don’t have a clue as to what I want to eat, thumbing around in a cookbook is easier and faster than searching online. In a cookbook I can write tips to myself later in the margin.

    Granted, there are a plethora of tools and recipes online, and they are excellent complement to their print brethren. But I feel that the advantages of bound paper outweigh the disadvantages of finding a place to store them.

  4. posted by nat on also lets you enter ingredients you have on hand and suggests meals for you to make. near the top of the page, hover over the “more searches” button and you’ll see “ingredient search” in the drop-down menu:

  5. posted by Deb on

    I disagree…I adore reading cookbooks! I don’t view them as utilitarian but as literature on their own. We have a large collection of cookbooks, many of them French and Italian, and they are an invaluable resource. I wouldn’t trade the space they occupy for anything in the world.

    That said, I used to have a huge pile of recipes clipped from magazines, copied from others, or printed off the Internet. I finally pared these down to recipes we’d actually made and liked and those that we really want to try. I put them all in a binder, each recipe in its own plastic sheath (so I can wipe the splatters off), with “experiments” in a pocket up front. On the cover of the binder, I have a photo of my husband cooking. It’s both personal and practical.

  6. posted by Kris on

    My husband has his favorite cookbook and I have mine. That’s all we keep.

  7. posted by PJ Doland on

    It’s a cookbook!

  8. posted by Karen on

    I’ve gotten rid of a lot of my cookbooks. I had a huge collection, and a couple of years ago, I went through and entered all of the recipes I used into Mastercook. It took a long time, but it was worth it.

    However, as much as I love cooking web sites, their quality can be spotty. I’ve been especially disappointed when I want to branch out and try different cuisines – a lot of the web sites just don’t do very well for those recipes. They’re much better for basic “home cookin’ recipes” that don’t require new techniques or unfamiliar ingredients. It helps to have the background and more detailed information of a cookbook, if I want to venture out and try cooking a new cuisine that I’m not familiar with – I’ve been trying out Indian and Cuban and Carribean food lately.

  9. posted by Dustin Boston on

    Yeah we swear by the Joy of Cooking as well. Those recipe sites are great and all (I use them occasionally) but I highly doubt any of them can compare in quality to Joy. Seriously. That book is amazing. So yes, use those sites, but keep that cookbook handy. 🙂

  10. posted by Yazmin on

    I have to admit, I like having the book right in front of me with the pretty pictures so that I know what I’m making and how it should look.

    However, that program for the mac posted by Tim (Thanks Tim!) might work for me, since they export to an iPod. The hassle is pulling all the recipes I want to try from all the various sources into one program.

    Do I really want to do all that work? *sigh*

  11. posted by Mayara on

    No. We periodically purge the cookbook collection, as we’ve ended up with hand-me-downs with few, if any, recipes of interest to us, but a number of our cookbooks are more than just collections of recipes. And flipping through a cookbook is different from searching online. We find some recipes to try that way, but when we like one and would like to repeat it, it goes into the homemade cookbook.

  12. posted by Stephanie on

    Another site like that is like the last one you mentioned is

  13. posted by Joke on

    i’ve been a user of epicurious since the very early 90s, but I just adore my shelf of cookbooks. I get rid of the ones that I don’t use. but I have about a dozen or two that I use regularly – as in several times a week. Good cookbooks are wonderful – i read them for inspiration.

  14. posted by StarXLR8 from Midwest Neurotica on

    I need to echo other commenters on the inspirational nature of cookbooks. I can just thumb through and get quick solutions to the ‘whats for dinner’ problem.

    But, I also don’t want to discount the internet as a goldmine of recipe information. Many of my favorite new gems are from fellow bloggers.

    I try to keep everything organized in one place – keeping my own index of favorites at and noting whether they are from a website or a cookbook. Hand-me-down recipes on paper are scanned and archived on my PC as well as uploaded to the site.

  15. posted by Pat on

    Oh – Joy of Cooking – I swear by it! I often go back to it even when I’m cooking something NOT from the book, to check the tips in the front of each section. “About fruit pies” and such. I have TWO Joys – when I want to cut corners I go to the new one edited by the grandson of the original author. When I want to do it right, I check in with my 1975 version (bazillionth printing), which is now in pieces – literally.

    I have a few other work-a-day cookbooks that I cross-check for basic recipes – it’s amazing how much variation you’ll find. Then I synthesize what seems like the easiest path based on cooking times and ingredients on hand.

    Then there are the cookbooks that can be considered culinary porn. I suppose I could part with some of them… but I won’t. All those wonderful stories and beautiful food – I love to curl up with a good cookbook!

  16. posted by Lori on

    No way. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and The Joy of Cooking will always have a place on my shelf with two dozen other standbys and reference books.

    Those of you who keep your recipes on the computer: Do you print them out to use in the kitchen? Or do you have a computer in the kitchen? Considering the state of the brownie page in my HTCE, I wouldn’t put my laptop anywhere near the kitchen…

  17. posted by zan on

    Let’s not forget that cookbooks contain more than just recipes. I keep one shelf of cookbooks from Julia Child to Nigella Lawson and back again, not just for the recipes, but for the amazing food writing contained within. Alice Waters and Nigella Lawson both write great essays in their books on keeping a well-stocked pantry, and Julia’s descriptions of the dishes in MTAOFC are part of cooking lore. We can’t neglect the “book” part of “cookbooks” or we’re writing off a great part of food culture. Keep the classics.

  18. posted by Trent Hamm (The Simple Dollar) on

    Most cookbooks are just collections of recipes, and thus aren’t very useful in the age of the internet. The ones that are still very good are the ones that combine recipes with technique education, something that doesn’t really exist online yet. For people who just collect recipes and aren’t interested in learning fine techniques, the ‘net is just fine.

  19. posted by camellia on

    I think it can be useful to have a small collection of beloved cookbooks. I only have about 5 myself, and I use them regularly.

    I also have a database of recipes on my computer (using free software: Yum!, which I find very useful. I print out recipes that I use frequently and file them in a small portfolio that I keep with my cookbooks. I have also found that it is pretty easy to make something from a recipe on your laptop – just put your laptop in a nearby room for reference when needed.

    If you are computer/database-savvy, you could do what my mom did and create your own database for your recipes. She now has a couple of cookbooks she uses frequently, and a 3-ring binder with all of her miscellaneous recipes in it (put in plastic sleeves for protection). It takes up a lot less room and is easy to update with new recipes.

  20. posted by Josephine on

    I’ve never had many cookbooks and years ago when Latin American recipes where hard to come by, I collected as many of those as I came across. Now I have about 10 cookbooks, the most important being: 3 books on Latin American cooking, The Joy of Cooking, and How to Cook Everything. I rarely bother with collecting recipes as that creates too much clutter for me and I recently disposed many of those that I clipped if I had something similar in either of my favorites books. (Of course, I held onto those that I’ve tried over and over again and that have never failed me.) They are now organized in a very slim binder.

  21. posted by Josephine on

    P. S. For me, having recipes on a computer is not helpful. (Neither is having a TV in the kitchen.)

  22. posted by Derrick Schneider on

    There are some cookbooks I would (and will, shortly) happily discard. Others are far too valuable as resources, and I find that I don’t trust online recipes. The enthusiastic star reviews from users are from people I don’t know, whereas the cookbooks I like are the ones I’ve tested and vetted (Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Slow Mediterranean Cookbook, Mediterranean Street Food, Honey From A Weed, the Chez Panisse books). And as a food writer myself, the headnotes and accompanying text are often valuable research material.

    Also, I lean toward cookbooks that provide a lot of technique, not just a brain dump of recipes. The online sites rarely offer that kind of lesson.

  23. posted by Tim on

    I have used several different recipe web sites and none are as comprehensive as They are one of if not THE oldest recipe site on the internet.

  24. posted by Eloise on

    There are utilitarian cookbooks, like the excellent Joy of Cooking, and there are reading cookbooks. If I’m looking for a new recipe for dinner that night, I’ll probably turn to Joy or the Web. But if I want reading material, inspiration, techniques, remembrances of travel, and so on, I’m heading for the bookcase, where at least three of the shelves are all about food.

  25. posted by Hayden Tompkins on

    Even though I am someone from the ‘internet generation’ who typically uses the internet for every reference item, (why look at an encyclolopedia when I have wikipedia? why keep 10 phone books when I have and EVEN I SWEAR BY “The Joy of Cooking”.

    It’s a perfect book everyone, including webizens, should own.

  26. posted by Hayden Tompkins on


    I am also a webizen who, sadly, relies too much on spell checker!

  27. posted by Christine on

    I disagree, too. I like thumbing through my cookbooks, too. And pretty much all of them get used at one time or another. I live by my “Fix It and Forget About It” cookbook.

  28. posted by Ethel on

    I like to keep one cookbook that has very basic cooking instructions, as well as recipes – things like, how long to bake beets and such. These dishes that are too simple to be recipes are harder to locate online, so a good cookbook can save time there.

    I am now working on setting up one physical compilation of the best electronic recipes, since getting people off the computer so I can look up a recipe is often a time sink – and then, since we don’t have space in our kitchen to set down a computer safely while cooking, I end up printing the recipes off and creating clutter and trash. I prefer to print the recipe once, write down my changes, and work until I like the version I have. Then I type it up in a final version, print, and put it in a small book.

    Maybe when I’m rich I’ll install a computer directly into my kitchen, LOL. Currently, that’s not practical.

  29. posted by Erin on

    Some cookbooks are practically art. You wouldn’t toss out your Picasso just because you know like your Warhol better, right?

    While I do use a lot of online sites to pick up recipes I still love and cherish all of my cookbooks. You’d have to seriously force me to get rid of them. Believe me there are plenty more places and things to unclutter in the house besides my cookbook shelf.

    On a side note though — delicious is a wonderful way to to organize recipes that you do find online. I love being able to tag and categorize to my heart’s content:

  30. posted by Michelle on

    It’s so rare to find a cookbook that you use 100%, so I usually try to check cookbooks out from the library. If a recipe catches my eye I add it to my database (PDACookbook Plus, which synchs to my handheld) and tag it “To Try.”

    When I get around to trying it I’ll either cook from the book or (if the book’s been returned) print the recipe on plain paper. If it’s a keeper I’ll put a printout in a sheet protector and into my recipe binder.

    Aside from taking up less space and being full of only recipes I would use, the binder lets me note any tweaks/substitutions, suggestions for the next time I make it, and how the meal was received. Now when I flip through the pages I have a pleasant handwritten record of dinner parties and weeknight meals, plus my family’s changing tastes and my evolving techniques.

  31. posted by Cyrano on

    Cookbooks are like any other book – as many have said already, sometimes the pictures and/or foodwriting is invaluable.

    That said, I never use them when it’s time to actually cook. I actually like the foodnetwork’s recipe card system, and that it can print to different scales (though I only use full page printouts). I print it out, and abuse it like mad. It’s on the counter when I refer to it, and gets stuff all over it. Then I’ll magnet it to my ventilation hood while adding ingredients or to refer to for cooking times. When I’m done, I just throw it away.

    I actually use it as a tool, too. The printout will often serve as a makeshift funnel for dry ingredients, as a place to crack eggs, and sometimes I use it just to wipe off my fingers.

    For me a printed out, disposable recipe card is a multitasker.

  32. posted by iaia! on

    Recipes on the ‘net are frequently badly edited, and have omissions and leave out essential details, I find.
    Except for some sites, which some of you have recommended. So many other sites are poor in quality. Be cautious of the internet recipes!

  33. posted by Nat on

    I still think the basic cookbook is a necessity. I use “Fannie Farmer” and “New Basics.” They’re great references for technique. For instance the sections on herbs are very helpful when trying to figure out substitutions or figuring out which cooking method is best for that cut of meat you bought b/c it was on special. Also, the recipes in “Fannie Farmer” are stripped down enough to the minimum of what works that I eventually learn to create my own variations.
    Books seem to work better for me when it comes to generating ideas. I have a couple of books dedicated to ingredients that I always have in the kitchen such as “Everything Tastes Better with Bacon” or “Recipes 1-2-3” which features 3 ingredient recipes.
    However, I do use the internet for looking up recipes that are specific. I’m not going to buy a whole Italian cookbook to figure out how to make Arancini, a Venetian style rice balls appetizer.

  34. posted by adora on

    I have recently cleared up all the cookbooks by photocopying all the ones that I do cook and put them in a 3-ring binder. On average, I only only 2-3 recipes from each book.
    I also need printed out recipes not only because I often need to modify recipes according to local ingredients availabilities. It is much faster to be done by handwriting.

  35. posted by jesser on

    I *love* my cookbooks. I buy new ones all the time. And I love to go back and rifle through my collection. But I must admit … it takes a real effort to do this sometimes, but to me it’s worth it. You can’t get all these amazing recipes online and I love the photos as well.

  36. posted by Patia on

    I was thinking about this just the other day as I decluttered my cookbooks and other books. I used to collect reference books, but now I almost always turn to
    Google first. I am only keeping books I use or love.

    I took three boxes of books to our local used bookstore and earned $81 in store credit and $13 in cash!

    Off to check out Connoisseur and Thanks!

  37. posted by Melissa on

    The PBS show “America’s Test Kitchen” puts out a book of recipes and tips every season. They also have other volumes such as their favorite 30-minute meals or favorite family meals. These books are so chock-full of information on cooking and prep techniques, kitchen equipment reviews, etc. they are fantastic! They also test classic (and unique) recipes for you so when you follow the recipe you can be sure it will turn out great. Right now I have the entire collection out from the library, but I am seriously considering adding many to my meager cookbook collection. They are like the Consumer Reports of recipes and cookware. Highly recommended and worth every inch of shelf space!!

  38. posted by K on

    I think they both have their place.

    I like the net to search for a recipe to use up a particular item of food. But wonder about some sites that let users upload their own recipes how many are typed accurately. And sometimes the volume of recipes is too overwhelming on the net to even choose one. The pictures in cookbooks are usually more enticing.

    One thing I learned this past fall is to be sure to have recipes in hard copy to fall back on when the power goes out or you have computer connection problems.

  39. posted by ysabet on

    I have a cookbook collection, much of which gets used often. Most books get used monthly, at worst. Most recipes on the internet are kind of useless – using imperial measurements or ingredients I simply can’t lay my hands on, as I live in Australia. Also, my cookbooks tend to be of the type that contain technique and such things in addition to recipes. Even for those that don’t – no way am I bringing a laptop into the kitchen! I’d rather drop a book or spill something on it, as they are relatively hardy and easy to replace. Bench space is also at a bit of a premium – I can prop a book up vertically so it takes up very little space – something I can’t do with a laptop at all.

    I won’t be giving up my cookbook shelf any time soon.

  40. posted by Rachel on

    I agree that a heap of cookbooks are useless and cluttersome, BUT I still resist my hubby’s attempts at “digitizing” my recipes and cookbooks. NO WAY I’m bringing a laptop into the kitchen seeing as how when I cook the ingredients fly everywhere! Plus there’s just something fun about looking through the books for the “perfect” recipe and then trying to recreate the picture- ha! It must be something like when my husband wants hot chocolate, he has to have a certain mug, and another for coffee. He tells me that it “tastes different” in the “wrong” mug. I’m sure the recipes wouldn’t taste as good if I just used a computer.

  41. posted by Stuart on

    I am the hubby who trys to digitize my wife’s recipes. She does most of the cooking, so she can do what she wants. She is also a great cook! Whatever gets the job done.

  42. posted by Dawn on

    I use to save recipes from my Cooking Light magazine and other favorite recipes so I can access them from anywhere. I also love the ability to quickly compile shopping lists based on recipes and email them to my husband so he can do the shopping!

  43. posted by Sidney on has changed my life and many of my friends. Wonderful, searchable database! Also allows you to insert your on-hand ingredients, or search by health need, equipment, season, mood, etc.

    Check it out.

  44. posted by Sara on

    I have several cookbooks that I use reasonably frequently. What I use the most if my homemade “cookbook” which is a binder of recipes I collected from magazines (either I typed them up and printed them out or, more recently, just tore them out and put them in clear sleeves) and friends/relatives (again, I typed them up and printed them out.

  45. posted by The Chatty Housewife on

    Yes, I think they are a thing of the past. I like looking at them at others homes though, and photocopying a few recipes to try later. I much prefer and I love their ingredient search feature. For example, when I make meringue cookies, I have yolks left over, so I can search for recipes that call for yolks.

    I have about 16 cookbooks and I am starting to go through them, bake the recipes that sound interesting to me, copy them and then donate the cookbook itself.

  46. posted by chris on

    In my family (we are in the UK) we have certain cook books and cooking shows we refer to as “Food Porn” much for the aspirational way in which they are shot.

    Nigella is one of the cooks that does this well.

    Her cook books like many of Jamie Olivers are a thing of beauty and stand up as works of art in their own rights.

  47. posted by Fritz on

    Sometimes you need a thing in the middle: A lot of receipts are stored in personal cookbooks. You write your receipt on an piece of paper and keep it in a pile in a kitchen corner.

    On (small german site, baking only) you can type in your own receipts, use receipts from their database and generate an personal Cookbook as PDF-file (with index). You can take it with you on USB-media or simply print your own cookbook.

    Maybe thats a solution for you.

  48. posted by Heather on

    While I use the web often for new recipes, my husband and I cook at least 2 new recipes a week, so we use both the web and our cookbook collection (fairly extensive) frequently. I recently decided that receiving the magazine Cooking Light is a waste, as the recipes never start before page 100 in every issue (= 100 pages of fluff/advertising before I see a single recipe). To me, it initiates less clutter to purchase the annual Cooking Light cookbook at the end of the year, since we use a lot of their recipes.

  49. posted by unabashedly analog on

    When friends come over to hang out with you, do you all sit around and stare at your laptop? My friends like to come to my house, and we sit around the kitchen table and talk. Invariably, their eyes will find a cookbook from my collection- in plain sight- and they will reach for it… several hours later, often after whipping up something delicious from “the chosen book,” the friendship has once again grown, and we have had a splendid time.

  50. posted by unabashedly analog on

    Oh, yeah, my laptop’s in my kitchen anyway- as the jukebox.

  51. posted by Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances on

    I rarely cook… but I still have a few cookbooks that I love and haven’t gotten rid of. Mostly, I just use them for ideas when I can’t figure out what I want to get at the grocery store.

    You might also say that they’re decoration. I have a bookcase between the kitchen and living room that displays the cookbooks, a few containers of dry food stuff, a few bamboo steamers (purely decorative now that I have an electric one), and a jar of chopsticks. A smaller bookcase nearby also displays a tetsubin with matching tea cups, some smaller containers of dry food stuff, the salt and pepper shakers, and two bowls of fruit.

  52. posted by Liz on

    I love cookbooks! I borrowed a more upmarket one from our library and want to try so many things in it that I am going to have to get myself a copy. The internet is useful but anyone can post whatever recipe they like – whereas cook book recipes have been triple tested and tried in different circumstances to ensure they work every time.

    I don’t keep recipe books I don’t use but I menu plan with them in front of me so they get used… I would use two or three different ones in an average week and I have about six to eight all up, all of which get used… (except one that my DH wont part with but never uses)

  53. posted by N. & J. on

    We mostly use the internet for the same reason that some people use cookbooks. Recipes posted online have been tested and you can read multiple people’s reviews so you get an idea for modifications and how well a recipe will work. For the cooking inept like my fiance and I it’s perfect.

  54. posted by FatLady on

    I get most of my recipe ideas from online sources now. Once I realized that about myself I was able to divest myself of cookbooks I’ve dragged around for YEARS. Exceptions: the very basic “Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook” (the loose-leaf one) which I actually use and”Good Housekeeping Illustrated” which was a gift from my mother. I have a couple others but their days are numbered–too many recipes begin with “1 stick of butter!”

    Epicurious is my favorite cooking site. I love to read other cooks’ comments. All the substitutions & changes have made me less “precious” and more relaxed about my own cooking.

  55. posted by Meg from All About Appearances on

    There’s not much counter space in our kitchen, so I usually keep both the laptop and the cookbook out of the kitchen, though maybe nearby on a table (which I suppose may or may not be considered “in the kitchen” since we have a fairly open floor plan).

    In a few cases, I’ve printed out the recipe from the computer, but I usually just slap stuff together without following a detailed recipe. I get ideas for what ingredients to combine and then start putting stuff together until it tastes good.

  56. posted by Stacy on

    I read cookbooks like other people read novels, and I am very careful to only keep the ones that are actually any good. Unfortunately my husband like to browse the discount racks and constantly brings home the cheapo faux ethnic ones. Sigh. Joy of Cooking and New Best Recipe (Cook’s Illustrated) are the absolute defaults, though!!!!

  57. posted by radish on

    Huh, I have never once cracked open Joy of Cooking book – i’ve never found it to be useful or helpful. But I know I am in the minority. I do however swear by my Martha Stewart cook book as I find it to be very helpful with not just getting the basics down, but also getting a flavor I like. Martha’s layout is also impeccable. But in general, I agree, I rarely crack open a cookbook and even wonder about the usefulness of my magazines. the other websites that are terrific are William Sonoma (offer great recipes) and Martha Stewart’s site, where like on Epicurious, you can add recipes to your own ‘inbox’ but also allows you to tag your recipes for easier search and categorization, whereas Epicurious just alpha lists your recipes — a practice that after awhile can become as cluttered as having a bunch of cook books on your kitchen shelves.

  58. posted by Sue on

    I rely on the “Joy” also, and have several of Marcia Adams’ autographed Cooking in the Heartland books. When I find a winner recipe, I put recipe card with it in a photo album, and that sits out on the shelf.

  59. posted by Kalena on

    I would also recommend Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” which is easier to read and more modern than “Joy.” The Silver Palate cookbooks are also old standbys for finding great, tested, entertaining-type recipes.

    Anyone else like the Zucchini & Chocolate blog? (or is that Chocolate and Zucchini?)

  60. posted by JPMartin on

    By keeping recipes online in a blog, you have ready access (using the search) to any dish that you want to whizz up! Just ask my wife (!

  61. posted by Brittani on

    Very interesting site ! Good work ! Congratulations :),

  62. posted by Megabeth on

    I write a vegetarian cooking blog called Veggin’
    and use both the web and physical cookbooks for inspiration.

    I have recently donated most of my cookbooks and just kept the vegetarian-centric ones. (I do keep Joy of Cooking around, though. I can never remember how long I need to cook an egg to make it hard-boiled.)

    I also head to the library to check out cookbooks. That way, they are only around for a limited time, they don’t take up shelf space, and I save some money. I do pick up vintage cookbooks at the library book sales because many of the recipes can’t be found on the web. (And, I know the money is going back into the library.) Some of the vintage cookbooks are works of art and a glimpse into past cooking techniques and ideas.

    I also have a three-ring notebook where I store the recipes I pull out of magazines and other sources. I don’t have the bulk of magazines sitting around and I can still thumb through the notebook for inspiration.

  63. posted by Elizabeth on

    I’m a bit of a foodie and I love actually reading through real live books. I spend ten or more hours a day in front of a computer screen for my job and I think my eyes and brain would fry if I spent recreational time reading electronic documents, but the real reaoson is the tactile and visual pleasure to be had from a tangible book. It always puzzles me that shedding books is recommended for uncluttering. I wouldn’t try to cook following a computer screen in my kitchen and I think a book is an easier way to use recipes than a collection of printouts, which would get pretty tatty I expect. To me, reprinting receipes again for each use is environmentally unwise and a lot more hassle/clutter than opening a book. Cookbooks unclutter my kitchen – I get rid of the ones that are useless or don’t appeal to me.

  64. posted by Vanessa on

    I love to cook, but I’m fairly new to it. I still don’t have a lot of experience, so I like to browse for recipes to try. The internet is easier for searching for a specific recipe to try, but cookbooks are way better for browsing. I like recipe websites, but they won’t take the place of Joy of Cooking, or even my (very first cookbook) Betty Crocker’s Cooking Basics!

  65. posted by James on

    It’s great to hear the debate about how best to use cookbooks. I’ve created a website ( that contains the recipe names and ingredients from actual cookbooks – and allows you to personalise your search to the cookbooks in your kitchen. You can create a shopping list for the right ingredients at the right quantities depending on how many people you’re cooking for. The best thing is that you get to cook from the actual cookbook rather than a sheet of printed paper… It’s at beta testing stage (i.e. I only have a few cookbooks in there at the moment). If it’s not too cheeky to ask on this blog, I’d love to hear your feedback for the concept and the usability of the site. Many thanks in advance, James

  66. posted by susanmkc on ! This site is a compilation of MANY cookbooks, magazines, tv food shows, etc. It allows you to save recipes, search by ingredient, much more. Foodie blogs, and can notify you by facebook when new recipes are added. I still need to part with some of my cookbooks after some scanning, but this has kept me from buying more, and I’ve cancelled magazine subscriptions.

  67. posted by jh on

    I’ve found that other than Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” , I don’t really have much a use for cookbooks. I get a lot of info from the web. I have got other cookbooks, and I like Alton Brown’s stuff since he talks about what goes on, but otherwise, it’s not really that difficult for me.

    Also, when I make things, I tend to photocopy/scan/replicate the recipe on the computer. That way if it gets messy, it gets tossed.

  68. posted by Lisa on

    The most important thing about cookbooks is that the recipes are tested and re-tested, edited, and usually prepared by experienced chefs, as compared to most random recipes found on the internet. If you find recipes you like in a cookbook, most of the recipes are at the same skill level, maybe use ingredients that are easy to find in your area, and you and the writer have similar tastes as to what you like- spice and flavour levels, for example.
    I find many internet recipes too bland, unhealthy, and overly reliant on pre-packaged ingredients.
    The internet IS useful for times you want to make a particular item, and you can look at many recipes online for the basic common denominators in the recipes, and adjust to your own tastes and which ingredients you have available.
    There are some cookbooks I happily pass on to charity if the recipes are too hard, or I don’t like them, or am not inspired to make anything in them.

  69. posted by Kari on

    I was thinking about this the other day. I normally get recipes from blogs or videos on YouTube, but I still my cookbooks from time to time.

    I think that since I went vegan, I appreciate a good cookbook more. I can still find a ton of recipes online, but I like the idea of creating dishes that my favorite vegan bloggers or vloggers haven’t put out online yet.

    Of course, their cookbooks do have a lot that they have put out as well.

    And, finally, because I’m always online, I appreciate getting offline sometimes when I’m doing quality home life things, you know?

  70. posted by Geoff on

    I love the real books and use them often. I sometimes look for a recipe when I’m at the supermarket and am not sure what I’m going to cook, but then I hate using the recipe from my phone when cooking.

  71. posted by Kenneth in Virginia on

    They may be obsolete but then, apparently so is actually driving your car. I use cookbooks. My favorite is the Settlement Cookbook.

    I don’t like depending on electronic storage media and I don’t have a smart phone. I do find recipes on-line, however, from time to time and when I do, I print them and put them in a binder. I don’t care to use the little card system of filing but much prefer a full-size page in a binder. Maybe it’s cooking that’s becoming obsolete instead.

  72. posted by Shelagh on

    I still love my books but also frequently use New York Times Cooking app. It’s worth the small fee (and I don’t like paying fees) and most recipes I’ve tried have been great. Nice interface and I like the mix of their recipe library which is pretty extensive.

  73. posted by Gail Burlakoff on

    Not “either/or”–for me, it’s “both/and”! I like having certain books–the foundation, for me–and then browsing on the internet for specific dishes to see how others prepare them. I enjoy reading some of the cookbooks–not just the recipes, but the little anecdotes (as in Joy of Cooking and Peg Bracken’s The I Hate to Cook Book!). I do *not* really enjoy the blogs–I’m probably too old! No TV, & definitely no Food Network 🙂

  74. posted by angie on

    I have number of cookbooks, but I almost never cook from them. Except from the one old baking one belonged to my mother that I make a special cream for cream puffs. All my cookbooks are sentimental pieces that I am not willing to part with. They are the old cookbooks belonged to my grandparents and parents. Or from the locations I love. Or for my country of origin cuisine, that I know how to cook without any cookbook, but I still bought couple to preserve it. I love to look throught those cookbooks and reminiscent. I also collect receipies that I like and think can be useful from magazines in a special binder. But when it comes to actual cooking I cook from memory or from my mental compilation of the receipes I’ve read.

  75. posted by Buffet on

    Didn’t book burning end about the same time as the Salem witch trials.

  76. posted by Lisa on

    I love my old cookbooks, especially the various local church cookbooks….ain’t no woman gonna put a recipe in their church cookbook unless it is realllllly good!! ha!

  77. posted by Debbie H. on

    I LOVE my cookbooks and I have lots of them. I also subscribe to New York Times Cooking, but to me, different cookbooks have different purposes. In my kitchen are the much-used, spattered and broken-spined books —Joy of Cooking (1975), Fannie Farmer Cookbook (shower gifts in 1978), my Mom’s Better Homes and Gardens ((circa 1950’s), —my own cobbled-together Binders “keepers”. People give me cookbooks as gifts, I buy them on vacation, I buy them used on the Internet- I own about 200! They are more than recipes— they are how-to manuals, they are memories and I believe better recipes than lots of today’s “popular” chefs. I only own a few fictional books-I’d rather curl up with a good cookbook!

  78. posted by Kristin W on

    I check out cookbooks from the library to learn about a new style of cuisine (e.g. making sauerkraut, paleo dishes, etc.). This lets me test out a few dishes, and offers a whole lot of inspiration. Rarely, a cookbook is so useful, that I go ahead and purchase it.

  79. posted by Caroline on

    The best cookbooks I’ve used that are not reference type books are the ones organizations (churches, schools, etc) put out as fundraisers where the recipes are crowd sourced. Tried and true family recipes are usually a hit.

    My uncle is a professional chef. He told me years ago that cooking is an art and baking is a science. Unless it is baking, recipes do not need to be followed exactly.

  80. posted by C A on

    I used to have dozens of cookbooks (most from pre-internet. Yup, I’m old.)

    When I downsized to a smaller place, I looked through each one and cut out the recipes I liked or really wanted to try and put those pages in a expandable folder. (I only took a few pages from each cookbook.) Then I donated them.

    I only ended up keeping 3 full cookbooks — ones that had a lot of recipes I liked and / or were out of print (here’s looking at my 1950’s cookbook that has great cakes & pies).

    Now most of my recipes come from the internet 🙂

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