The 12 Best Cookbooks of 2022, According to a Dietitian

Get inspired for mealtime with the dietitian-approved "Eat Complete"

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The 12 Best Healthy Cookbooks, According to a Dietitian

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Whether you are new to cooking or are an experienced home chef, cookbooks are an excellent way to spice things up in your kitchen. They keep new chefs focused, broaden taste preferences, provide kitchen hacks, and break down different cooking techniques. The best cookbooks use readily available, high-quality ingredients and align with your food preferences, level of cooking, and lifestyle.

Reviewed & Approved

"Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health" by Dr. Drew Ramsey is our top pick because it offers nutritious, easy-to-make recipes. If you're looking for a plant-based cookbook, we recommend "Healing Through Nutrition: The Essential Guide to 50 Plant-Based Nutritional Sources" by Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN.

When picking the right cookbook for you, Rachel Josey RD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian suggests “taking a look at the introduction—this is an often-forgotten part of cookbooks that can provide great insight into the author’s philosophy on cooking”. To help you find the right cookbook, we researched a variety of options, considering, availability, price, range and type of recipes, equipment needed, dietary focus, nutritional content, and the author's credibility.

Here are the best cookbooks, according to a dietitian.

Best Overall: Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health

Eat Complete - The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 100 recipes that range in flavor profile and are gluten free

  • Emphasis on brain health

Cons
  • Not the most vegan friendly cookbook

What do buyers say? 85% of 200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health is our pick for the best overall cookbook because it guides readers through tasty, comforting recipes and teaches readers how to transform nutrient-dense ingredients into delicious meals.

Written by Dr. Drew Ramsey, a pioneer in Nutritional Psychiatry and father of two, this physician and home chef walks readers through the 21 nutrients that are most important for brain health and wellbeing and puts them into 100 delicious recipes that are also gluten-free. Reviewers note that the recipes are made with common, everyday ingredients and are easy to cook. Many also agree that his instructions are so clear and easy to follow that they can use them to make their own recipes with foods not featured in the book.

Number of Recipes: 100 | Experience Level: Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Mediterranean

Best Plant-Based: Healing Through Nutrition: The Essential Guide to 50 Plant-Based Nutritional Sources

Healing Through Nutrition

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Written by a Registered Dietitian

  • Emphasis healing properties of food

  • Offers expert tips

Cons
  • Organized by ingredient - difficult to navigate for everyday cooking

Healing through Nutrition: The Essential Guide to 50 Plant-Based Nutritional Sources is written by Eliza Savage, Registered Dietitian, mom and senior health commerce editor for Verywell. This unique cookbook is both a phenomenal resource guide to the power of plants as well as an accessible cookbook with 94 nourishing, plant based recipes. This book walks readers through a short history of nutritional healing and provides the rundown on adding medicinal foods to their diet for optimal wellbeing.

Number of Recipes: 94 | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Mediterranean/Plant Based

Best for the Whole Family: Quicker Than Quick: 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less

Quicker Than Quick

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Recipes require minimal time

  • Includes Instant Pot, sheet pan and stove top meals

  • Accessible recipes for the whole family

Cons
  • Not written by a Registered Dietitian or Medical Doctor

Healthy eating does not need to be reserved just for the adults. In Quicker Than Quick, Pamela Salzman shares cooking class-tested, family-approved, easy, healthful recipes that will have you and the family covered through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No one wants to be a short-order cook when making meals for everyone in the family, so we love that this cookbook has customizable recipes that can be made vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, Paleo, and nut-free to suit a variety of dietary needs. Salzman also includes suggestions for how to repurpose almost every recipe in the book and general ideas for using up leftovers.

Number of Recipes: 140 | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Healthified comfort food

Best Vegetarian: Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body: A Cookbook

Love Real Food

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Suggestions for how to make recipes vegan or gluten free

  • Includes helpful tips for grocery shopping

Cons
  • Dinner entrees are closer to “sides”

Kathryne Taylor is the owner of Cookie + Kate, one of America’s most popular vegetarian food blogs. In addition to her surplus of satisfying, veggie packed recipes, Kathryne provides readers with tools like how to read a nutrition label, cooking tips, flavor enhancers, and menu ideas. With so many glowing reviews, this book is loved by vegetarians and omnivores alike.

Number of Recipes: 100+ | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Vegetarian

Best Allergy-Friendly: The Elimination Diet Cookbook: 110 Easy, Allergen-Free Recipes to Identify Food Sensitivities

The Elimination Diet

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Recipe index organized by allergen

  • 14-day meal plan included

  • Written by a Registered Dietitian

Cons
  • Meant for those with allergies and intolerances - not suitable for all

Preparing food for yourself or your family when allergies are in the mix can be a daunting task. Fortunately, making healthy, safe food that does not sacrifice taste is made easy with The Elimination Diet Cookbook. Written by Amanda Foote, a Registered Dietitian, these quick, easy recipes are free from the top eight allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish) plus sesame. Although this book is geared more towards those with food sensitivities, we love that this book is authored by a Regisetered Dietitian, is inherently free of the top allergens and offers readers the ability to find safe recipes using an index organized by allergen.

Number of Recipes: 110 | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Allergy focused

Best Healthy Baked Goods: Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts: A Baking Book

Sweet Laurel - Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts - A Baking Book

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Range of baked good recipes available

  • Recipes do not require a ton of equipment

Cons
  • Many of the ingredients are pricey

This cookbook comes from the founders of Sweet Laurel, Los Angeles’s trendy, grain-free bakery. This book (and the bakery) focuses on the best organic, whole ingredients for delicious grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free baked goods. Laurel and Claire walk readers through their essential ingredients like almond flour, maple syrup and cacao, among other wholesome ingredients as well as their essential kitchen tools. Whether you enjoy cakes, cookies, bars or breads, this book has it all with a focus on real, nourishing ingredients.

Number of Recipes: 50+ | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Paleo/Grain Free

Best for Kids: The Big Book of Organic Toddler Food: A Quick and Easy Cookbook to Feed the Whole Family

The Big Book of Organic Toddler Food

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Written by mom of two and Registered Dietitian

  • Allergy-friendly recipes

  • Useful kitchen guides and resources

Cons
  • May not be ideal for families with older children/adolescents

The Big Book of Organic Toddler Food: A Quick and Easy Cookbook to Feed the Whole Family does exactly that: it feeds toddlers and adults with nourishing, easy recipes written by Registered Dietitian, Stephanie Middleberg. In The Big Book of Organic Toddler Food, Stephanie uses her nutritional expertise as a Registered Dietitian and founder of Middleberg Nutrition, as well as her hard-earned wisdom as the mom of two, to bring readers the ultimate guide to feeding little ones with tasty organic foods. We love that this book features guides to food labels, methods to pantry prep, and a breakdown of seasonal eating. Ideal for families with young children, this book will help caregivers and parents assess readiness for toddler-specific foods, and learn about food allergen and safety guidance.

Number of Recipes: 125+ | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Organic

Best Junk Food Makeover: Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook

Thug Kitchen

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Approachable plant-based recipes

  • Ideal for those new to eating vegetables

Cons
  • Includes profanity which may not be appropriate for all readers

Thug Kitchen is a #1 New York Times bestseller and is ideal for readers who want to learn to eat healthier without the hype of the wellness world that can often make ingredients seem pretentious and inaccessible. With half a million Facebook fans and counting, Thug Kitchen wants to show everyone how to take charge of their plates and cook up some “real f*cking food”. Examples of familiar but healthified dishes include BBQ Bean Burritos with Grilled Peach Salsa, Oat Flour Griddle Cakes and and Silky Roasted Bell Pepper Lasagna. If you are looking for comfort food loaded with veggies, this book is for you.

Number of Recipes: 100+ | Experience Level: Beginner- Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Plant Based

Best Gluten-Free: Everyone's Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health

Everyone's Table

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Inspired by many different cuisines

  • Ideal for those with multiple dietary restrictions

Cons
  • Some of the ingredients highlighted in this book are pricier than conventional options

Gregory Gourdet is an award-winning chef of Haitian descent who has appeared on two seasons of the beloved show, Top Chef. Gourdet’s book was inspired after his own health journey of getting sober and taking stock of his life and his pantry. This book features globally inspired dishes that are free of gluten, as well as dairy, soy, legumes, and refined sugar. Focusing on ingredients with the highest nutrient-density, these recipes will not only nourish readers but they will delight and inspire home cooks.

Number of Recipes: 200 | Experience Level: Intermediate | Featured Style of Eating: Gluten free/ Paleo

Best for Quick Meals: The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook: Simple Recipes to Make Healthy Eating Delicious

The Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Inspired by many different cuisines

  • Ideal for those with multiple dietary restrictions

  • Written by a Registered Dietitian

Cons
  • Some of the ingredients are pricey

If you have little time and want to keep your meals as simple and healthy as possible, The Easy 5 Ingredient Healthy Cookbook is for you. The title is not an exaggeration, you will only need five primary ingredients to make each recipe, along with a short list of kitchen staples like olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh garlic. Written by Registered Dietitian and author, Toby Amidor, most recipes are designed to be ready in 30 minutes and/or require just one pot or pan―so you can really keep cooking simple.

Number of Recipes: 150+ | Experience Level: Beginner | Featured Style of Eating: Available to many different styles of eating

Best for Beginners: The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health

The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Written by two Registered Dietitians

  • Affordable price

Cons
  • Not all recipes have photos

Popular for a variety of reasons, including its effect on depression, cardiac health, and weight loss among many others, a Mediterranean style of cooking is a great idea for beginners looking to eat healthy. The recipes in The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook  are uncomplicated and are perfect for anyone without a lot of time to spare―or without any kitchen experience. We love that the ingredients can be easily found in grocery stores, and many recipes are labeled as five-ingredient, one-pot, or 15-minute.

Number of Recipes: 101 | Experience Level: Beginner | Featured Style of Eating: Mediterranean diet

Best Cooking for One: Healthy Cooking for One Cookbook: 75 Delicious Recipes Made Simple

Healthy Cooking for One

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Grocery shopping guide for one

  • Affordable price

  • Written by a Registered Dietitian

Cons
  • Not a lot of photos accompanying recipes

Who has time to convert recipes designed for four to six people to a single serving? Enter Lauren O’Connor MS, RDN’s cookbook, Healthy Cooking For One. The recipes in this book will help you save money on takeout and learn how to shop on for nutritious ingredients that require minimal preparation. We love that this book has nutritional calculations and dietary labels that help you choose foods tailored to your health goals as well as a sample menu for meal planning.

Number of Recipes: 75 | Experience Level: Beginner | Featured Style of Eating: Leans plant based

We researched dozens of cookbooks and evaluated them for reviews, inclusion of health focused recipes, author profession/experience, level of kitchen experience needed, diversity of recipes, and recipe versatility. Each of the books chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Final Verdict

Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health written by Dr. Drew Ramsey (view at Amazon), is our overall top choice for a healthy cookbook. The recipes are tasty and there is a focus on brain health, who can argue with taking care of your brain while feeding yourself delicious recipes? If you are looking for a cookbook to accommodate food allergies, try The Elimination Diet Cookbook, written by Registered Dietitian, Amanda Foote, filled with quick, easy recipes that are free from the top eight allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish) plus sesame.

How We Selected

We reviewed several cookbooks available at top online retailers and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics, including our team of Registered Dietitians.

We considered availability, price, level of difficulty, range and type of recipes, equipment needed, added features and customer reviews. Additionally, we reviewed the dietary focus of the cookbook as well as the nutritional content of the recipes, and ingredient lists, favoring cookbooks filled with a variety of nutrient dense, whole foods. We also considered the credibility of the cookbook authors, highlighting trained professionals.

What to Look for in a Healthy Cookbook

Ingredients

Leave cookbooks with hard to find or unfamiliar ingredients on the shelf. Of course, one or two unique new ingredients can be fun and exciting but they can be a drain on your wallet and unless you plan to use them in repeated recipes, they might just sit in your pantry for years. Rachel Josey, recommends “looking for cookbooks that focus on real, whole food ingredients prepared in simple yet creative ways. Avoid anything that calls for a long list of different ingredients for every recipe, and bonus points if a specialty ingredient is reused in multiple recipes throughout the book”.

Alignment with Personal Preferences

If you are new to cooking or new to cooking healthier recipes, it is important to make sure you invest in a cookbook that aligns with your personal preferences. Dual board certified Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine physician, Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie notes, “being realistic about your three T’s: taste preferences, available time, and cooking talent are essential when selecting your healthy cookbook. Avoid cookbooks that are too extreme in excluding macronutrients and don’t include recipes that fit your three T’s.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many calories should I have a day?

    Individual caloric needs vary person to person and a cookie cutter approach never works when figuring out someone’s nutritional needs. Age, height, weight, activity level, family history, lifestyle, gender, and overall health status all affect caloric needs. If you are worried about not meeting or exceeding your personal needs, consider working with a Registered Dietitian.

  • How many recipes are there in a cookbook?

    Some cookbooks have over 100 recipes and others might have less. There is no general rule when it comes to the amount of recipes in a book. Cookbooks that focus on a specific cuisine may have less recipes than other more varied cookbooks.

  • What is healthy eating?

    There is no singular way to define healthy eating. In general, a healthy dietary pattern includes vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Healthy eating should also include the flexibility to enjoy less nutritious foods in moderation, think foods that feed your soul (baked goods, pasta, pizza etc.). Healthy eating is unique to the eater. You will know if you are eating healthy if your mood is stable, energy levels are high, digestion is on track and your body feels vital.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a registered dietitian, Sydney Greene puts the same care and thoroughness when researching these products as she would for herself or her clients. An avid home cook herself, she focuses her attention on assessing the feasibility of recipes and the variety of options available, as well as the nutritional content.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Opie R, et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (The ‘smiles’ trial)BMC Med. 2017;15(1):23, doi:10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

  2. Martínez-González MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela M. The Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular health. Circ Res. 2019;124(5):779-798. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348

  3. Estruch R, Ros E. The role of the Mediterranean diet on weight loss and obesity-related diseases. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2020;21(3):315-327. doi:10.1007/s11154-020-09579-0