25 Best-Selling Cookbooks of All Time Slideshow
Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens (1930) – approx. 40 million copies
Practically every home cook has a worn and food-stained copy of this ring-bound cookbook with the red-and-white plaid cover. In it's 15th edition, this cookbook became an instant best-seller when it came out more than 80 years ago because it was (and still is) a great primer. With helpful cooking tips, measurement conversion, and reliable recipes, its still the perfect cookbook for beginner cooks and cooks who want to brush up on their skills.
Betty Crocker's Cookbook (originally called Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book) by Betty Crocker (1950) – approx. 65 million copies
When the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book was published by the fictional Betty Crocker in 1950, its sales actually rivaled those of the Bible. Within two years of its publication, the cookbook was in its seventh printing and had sold more than 2 million copies. The success of the cookbook was due to the beautiful pictures, easy and inexpensive recipes like "Emergency Steak," and practical cooking tips. Now in its 11th edition, it is not an exaggeration to say that this book shaped the way generations of people cooked.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (originally called The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book) by Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896) – approx. 4 million copies
When Fannie Farmer self-published her Boston Cooking-School Cook Book in 1896, she changed the way cookbooks were written forever. Prior to her book, cookbook recipes called for "butter the size of an egg." With such imprecise measurements, successfully recreating a recipe was based on individual skill and luck. Farmer, the director of Miss Farmer's School of Cookery, was the first cookbook author to have level-measurements in her recipes and to distinguish between recipes and directions. Without her, we might still have cookbooks that call for a "teacup of sugar."
Dr. Atkins' Quick & Easy New Diet Cookbook by Dr. Robert Atkins and Veronica Atkins (1997) – approx. 1.5 million copies
A lot of us have tried to forget the time when bread was considered the enemy and people were encouraged to eat meat with a side of meat, but there was a time when it seemed like everyone was on a low-carb diet. In order to follow their low-carb diets, dieters bought a million and a half copies of Dr. Atkins' Quick & Easy New Diet Cookbook. A companion to the book Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, the cookbook had simple recipes for dishes like "Baked Eggs in Bacon Rings" that could usually be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith (1984) – approx. 1.5 million copies
By 1992, Jeff Smith, the host of the very popular public television cooking show The Frugal Gourmet had sold more cookbooks than any other author in the country. The most popular of his cookbooks was his 1984 best-seller, The Frugal Gourmet. Full of helpful information about the kinds of pots to buy, how to make stock, and how to deglaze your pan, The Frugal Gourmet cookbook was the perfect primer for beginning cooks and a great resource for more advanced cooks.
I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken (1960) – approx. 3 million copies
Peg Bracken wrote this cookbook as a sly rebuke to the elaborate and time-consuming recipes found in womens' magazines and the notion that all women enjoyed cooking. I Hate to Cook Book encouraged cooks to use canned mushroom soup and canned vegetables long before Sandra Lee championed semi-homemade meals. Her recipe for "Skid Road Stroganoff" called for cooks to, "Add the flour, salt, paprika, and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink." While this cookbook was never in any danger of being embraced by epicureans, it garnered a following among people for whom cooking was a chore and not an expression of their artistic gifts. Out of print for years, the book was re-released in 2010, 50 years after it was first published.
Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (1931) – approx. 18 million copies
Irma Rombauer self-published a collection of her recipes to support her family after her husband died. She could only afford an initial printing of 3,000 copies, but after a publisher convinced her to revise the cookbook, the 1936 expanded version became a runaway success. Millions of people have learned how to cook by following Rombauer's clearly written recipes. The fact that she was funny is another reason that this book is beloved by cooks of all generations. Her first instructions for cooks? "Stand facing the stove."
The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen (1982) – approx. 1.5 million copies
A follow-up to the Moosewood Cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest offered the same elegant vegetarian recipes that had made Moosewood Cookbook such a success. While Katzen was certainly not the first person to publish a vegetarian cookbook, she was one of the first authors that strived to cook foods that non-vegetarians would enjoy as well. With meatless recipes that appealed to everyone, it's not surprising that Katzen's cookbooks are the only vegetarian cookbooks on this list.
Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen (1977) – approx. 3 million copies
Mollie Katzen wrote this vegetarian cookbook while she was part of a collective that ran the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, long after most hippies had moved to the suburbs and nut loafs had faded in popularity. But nonetheless, the hand-lettered and illustrated cookbook was a phenomenal success and helped bring vegetarianism, tofu, and alfalfa sprouts from the fringes and into the mainstream. And even though the book was unapologetically crunchy, it had recipes for delicious dishes like cauliflower-cheese pie that the non-Birkenstock set could enjoy.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (1961) – approx. 1.5 million copies
Mastering the Art of French Cooking may have well ended up a footnote in culinary history if Julia Child hadnt made a celebrated appearance on television that landed her a cooking show, The French Chef. Before her cooking show, sales were modest because publisher Alfred Knopf had invested little promotional money in the book because he believed that the book wouldn't sell and famously declared, "Well, I'll eat my hat if that title sells." But by the end of 1964, 4,000 copies were selling each month, and by March 1969, 600,000 copies had sold. Fifty years later, this cookbook remains a favorite among cooks despite the fact that 13 pages are devoted to how to make a simple omelette and that recipes call for sauteing bacon in butter and thinning out sauces with cream.
The South Beach Diet Cookbook by Arthur Agatston (2004) – approx. 2 million copies
The South Beach Diet Cookbook is one of two low-carb diet cookbooks on this list. It is a companion to the blockbuster best-selling weight loss book The South Beach Diet. The cookbook has more than 200 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and even provides recipes for sugar-free condiments. It also labels whether recipes like "Sesame Baked Chicken" or "Reuben Wrap"(without bread of course) are appropriate for the first, second, or third phase of the diet.
The Settlement Cook Book by Lizzie Kander (1901) – approx. 2 million copies
The Settlement Cook Book, which was created to generate funds for the Jewish Settlement House in Milwaukee, was a rule book for recent immigrants on how to cook and dress like Americans so they could assimilate quickly. Recipes for Berliner pfannkuchen (filled doughnuts) and matzo pudding helped sales rise so quickly that by her death in 1940, Lizzie Kander had personally edited 23 editions of the cookbook. Although largely forgotten today, generations of cooks learned how to do basic things like bake potatoes and cakes by following the simple instructions and helpful hints in the cookbook.
The Silver Palate by Sheila Lukens and Julee Rosso (1982) – approx. 2.2 million copies
Back in the '80s, millions of people who threw dinner parties consulted this cookbook for elegant dishes because the recipes were accessible and easy to follow. Sheila Lukens and Julee Russo wrote recipes for dishes like caviar eclairs and broccoli souffle with the assumption that people hadn't picked up French cooking techniques on the streets. The pair wrote the cookbook two years after they opened their tremendously successful gourmet takeout shop, also named the Silver Palate. The Silver Palate cookbook is often credited with introducing things like capers and creme fraiche to a wider audience.
The New Basics Cookbook by Sheila Lukens and Julee Rosso (1989) – approx. 1.8 million copies
The authors of The Silver Palate scored another best-seller with The New Basics Cookbook because of its tips on how to cook, entertain, and buy ingredients for a well-stocked kitchen. Lukens and Russo also included a glossary of cooking terms and gave instructions on how to pick wine. Recipes are for easily assembled dishes like Smoked Salmon and Leek Frittata for busy cooks who still wanted to prepare nice meals.
Taste of Home Cookbook (2006) – approx. 2.2 million copies
With hundreds of time-saving tips and tricks, this cookbook from the top-selling cooking magazine, Taste of Home, instantly became a must have for millions of people. Taste of Home Cookbook has more than 1,000 recipes from readers and the magazine's test kitchen. The cookbook focuses on unassuming dishes like "Stuffed Pork Tenderloin" and "Apple-Berry Streusel Bars." A revised third edition was published in November 2010.
The American Woman’s Cook Book by Ruth Berolzheimer (1939) – approx. 8 million copies
This is the first of two books edited by Ruth Berolzheimer on this list. Although she is not as well known today as Irma Rombauer, she made a significant contribution to cookbook history as the director of the Culinary Arts Institute, which used to be one of the largest publishers of cookbooks. Although much of the 800-page cookbook is dedicated to outdated things like how to set a table, there are things in the book that make it an atypical Depression Era cookbook. It has recipes for chop suey and sweetbread-and-oyster pie, plus a glossary of foreign cooking terms.
In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes by Rosie Daley (1994) – approx. 8 million copies
In the Kitchen with Rosie is a small cookbook that contains the low-fat and low-calorie foods that helped Oprah Winfrey lose an estimated 70 pounds in the early 1990s. The out-sized success of private chef Rosie Daley's cookbook is a testament to the power of Oprah Winfrey. In other words, if Oprah likes something, they will come. It outsold the second best-selling book of the year, John Grisham's The Chamber, by more than two million copies.
Crockery Cookery by Mable Hoffman (1975) – approx. 6 million copies
Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery is responsible for rescuing thousands, if not millions, of unwanted slow cookers from basements and attics across the country. A publisher suggested that Hoffman write a cookbook for slow cookers after his son and daughter-in-law received the newly invented electric slow cooker as a gift and didn't know how to use it. Thanks to simple dishes like "Round Steak with Rich Gravy," Crockery Cookery became an instant hit with people who wanted an easy, warm meal at the end of the day.
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good (2000) – approx. 5 million copies
When Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook was published, no one expected that cookbook authors without television shows or world-renowned restaurants would outsell Lord of the Rings movie tie-ins by about two to one. Within just two years of its publication, the cookbook had sold 2.5 million copies thanks to a collection of fast and simple recipes for soups and stews gathered from women the authors knew.
Better Homes and Gardens Eat & Stay Slim by Better Homes and Gardens (1968) – approx. 3.9 million copies
Just in case you thought our obsession with dieting was a recent phenomenon, here's a diet cookbook from 40 years ago that clearly shows that our current preoccupation with weight loss is nothing new. Even though the cover of the original cookbook had a piece of beef that could feed a family of four next to a gravy boat, the cookbook promised to help readers lose and maintain their ideal weight with "tasty recipes and menus to make you trim." The cookbook also had a system that helped readers count calories and had men's and women's exercises in the back.
The American Heart Association Cookbook by The American Heart Association (1973) – approx. 3 million copies
The American Heart Association Cookbook focused on low-fat, low-cholesterol food since there was a growing body of knowledge that diets high in fat and cholesterol caused heart disease. While recipes like "Pineapple Sweet Potatoes" didn't revolutionize the way we think about food, the cookbook helped popularize the idea of heart-healthy eating. The eighth edition of the cookbook was recently published under the title, The New American Heart Association Cookbook.
The New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne (1961) – approx. 3 million copies
There are a few cookbooks that are essential for amateur gourmets. The New York Times Cook Book, edited by the peerless food editor and critic Craig Claiborne, is one of them. In an era that considered Brie unusual, the cookbook introduced the public to exotic Indian dishes and Chinese food that wasn't chow mein. And just like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New York Times Cook Book pushed readers to stretch their culinary muscles so they could become better cooks and eaters.
Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens (1955) – approx. 2.6 million
In 1955 Better Homes and Gardens published their New Junior Cookbook "for the hostess and host of tomorrow." With tabbed chapters and more than 300 illustrations and pictures, this cookbook was aimed at young kids who were just learning how to cook. Thanks to its more than 100 recipes for easily prepared things like French toast, the cookbook quickly became a favorite of parents who were trying to teach their kids how to make more than just a mess in the kitchen.
Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook by Ruth Berolzheimer (1948) – approx. 2 million copies
p>The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook is like two or three cookbooks in one. At nearly one thousand pages and with 10,000 recipes, it provides recipes for everything from basic broccoli to more complicated dishes like asparagus souffle. A product of its time, the cookbook also offers complete menus for each month and advice on how to set a proper table.
Weight Watchers Cookbook by Jean Nidetch (1966) – approx. 1.5 million copies
When the Weight Watchers Cookbook was published in 1966, it became an instant best-seller. Written by one of the founders of Weight Watchers, the recipes in the cookbook were based on the original Weight Watchers program, which emphasized lean meats (especially fish), low-fat dairy, and vegetables.