If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, nothing beats trying out an international cookbook. A good one will stimulate your curiosity with its diverse spices and ingredients-some of whom you’ve never heard of-and tempt you with its fresh and unique flavors.
International cookbooks are a great resource to have particularly if you can’t travel or don’t want to go dining out. They offer snippets of other cultures through the variety of recipes that they feature. Why limit yourself to a regional cookbook, like one from India or China, when you can taste your way through several cuisines with just one book?
Because these are ethnic cuisines, however, some of their ingredients may be hard to come by in American stores. But a good cookbook will have recipes that have been tweaked so that the recipes can easily be replicated in the kitchen. They offer ingredient substitutions that allow you to recreate the original dish’s authentic flavors or at least remain true to its culinary history.
Cookbook collectors are drawn to this type of cookbook because they offer unique recipe selections that are not often featured in mainstream regional cookbooks. These may be recipes from some parts of the world that have not been published anywhere yet, or they could be innovative recipes that have been developed by ethnic chefs.
The best ones are those that have great food writing and photos. It’s good to find a book that has reliable and flavorful recipes but when it’s accompanied by stories and essays that offer you a window into a new culture, then you’ve hit a jackpot. A great international cookbook should not only be enjoyable to work with but also pleasurable to read from, especially during the part when you’re waiting for the dish to cook.
Whether you’re looking for a part travelogue, part culinary memoir, or just a cooking challenge, these cookbooks will inspire and stimulate your creativity with their flavorful recipes, beautiful photos, and interesting writing. Here are my top ten international cookbooks on Amazon.
Best International Cookbooks
- Everyone's Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health Hardcover
- The Kitchen without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs Hardcover
- We Are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream Hardcover – Illustrated
- My Street Food Kitchen: Fast and easy flavours from around the world Paperback
- Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Best International Recipe Hardcover
- The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium International Cookbook Hardcover
- Tasting the World… One Country at a Time: 192 Countries, 192 Meals Paperback
- In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean [A Cookbook] Hardcover
- I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World Hardcover
1. Everyone's Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health Hardcover
This is a collection of globally influenced dishes that are free of dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, and soy. Developed by a French-trained chef, these 200 recipes are influenced by the cuisines of Asia and North & West Africa.
Full of flavor and spice, the recipes range from vegetable-centric dishes to meat-heavy ones, as well as umami-rich sauces and condiments. There’s a nice mix of simple and gourmet dishes. Recipes are accessible with color photos of the dishes.
Readers liked the authenticity of the recipes. For instance, the updated mole sauce recipe stays true to its traditional foundations. Another liked that the recipes strive to have a balance of all five flavors. One liked its interesting pairing of ingredients.
Recommended for foodies and anyone looking for flavorful and healthy international cuisine recipes.
2. The Kitchen without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs Hardcover
From the catering company Eat Offbeat, which is known for its culinary staff of immigrants and refugees, this cookbook features 70 recipes contributed by chefs from all over the world. The selection highlights the culinary traditions of Eritrea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and more with recipes like Iraqi Biryani, Chari Bari, Iranian Rice With Garbanzos, Sri Lankan Curry Dhal, and Manchurian Cauliflower.
Recipes are straightforward and generally use familiar ingredients with new combinations of herbs and spices. For the more exotic items, the book suggests substitutes as well as a recommendation list of online stores that carry them.
Most of the recipes are gluten-free, with lots of meat dishes, but there are also enough recipes to satisfy vegetarian diets. Those who’ve tried them out found them easy to follow with reliable results even for a beginner home cook.
Recommended for cookbook collectors and anyone looking for delicious offbeat global recipes.
3. We Are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream Hardcover – Illustrated
La Cocina is a non-profit from the Mission District in San Franciso that provides access to market opportunities to women of color and immigrant communities. This cookbook features the recipes and stories from more than 50 successful La Cocina entrepreneurs.
There are more than 100 recipes here that represent every corner of the globe, from the United States to Mexico, Japan to Vietnam, Brazil to Senegal, and more. Samples of the selection include dishes like Golveda Ko Achar (Tomato Cilantro Sauce), Mafé (Peanut Stew), and Kuy Teav Phnom Penh (Cambodian Noodle Soup).
Most of the recipes are not difficult to follow but since these are international dishes, some of the ingredients will have to be sourced in smaller ethnic markets or online. Each one comes with a beautiful photo of the dish for convenient reference.
Recommended for lovers of multicultural cookbooks and fans of the La Cocina kitchen.
4. My Street Food Kitchen: Fast and easy flavours from around the world Paperback
This cookbook features street food recipes from all over the world. There are 150 recipes here that include familiar favorites like tacos, burgers, curries, souvlaki, gozleme, noodles and dumplings, ceviche, and pizza.
The recipes are organized into chapters by country and include tips for shortening prep times which makes them ideal for quick meals. They’re easy to prepare and use fresh ingredients that are easily found in local stores. Most of them are sugar-free or can be easily modified as such.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them easy to follow with delicious results. They also liked the little twists that the author added to the recipes to make them doable in a home kitchen.
Recommended for lovers of international street food.
5. Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
The recipes in this cookbook are influenced by the cuisines of China, India, Korea, and Vietnam but have been blended with the author-chef’s cooking style in his Houston-based restaurant. But more than just the recipes, this cookbook teaches anyone how to use the pantries of different ethnic cuisines to bring new flavors to traditional cooking.
Recipes are organized around ingredients like soy, dry spices, and chiles. They are well written and easy to follow. There are color photos of the featured dishes all throughout. Samples of the selection include Braised Goat with Korean Rice Dumplings, Fried Vegetables with Caramelized Fish Sauce, Oxtail Bo Kho, and Eggplant with Spicy Bean Paste.
Readers found this a useful book for understanding how to use Asian spices. Those who tried the recipes were glad to find out that the results were identical to the dishes served in the author's restaurant.
Recommended for anyone looking for Asian-style recipes and fans of Georgia James restaurant in Houston.
6. The Best International Recipe Hardcover
This is a Cook’s Illustrated collection of more than 300 international recipes that have tested and tweaked for the modern kitchen. There are lots of helpful illustrations, side notes, and clear explanations of ethnic ingredients and what to look for. It also includes ingredient substitutions that won’t comprise the authentic flavor of your dish, as well as recommendations for specialty equipment.
Recipes are listed by country and are relatively easy to follow. Those who have tried them found them to be reliable and tasty. Samples of the featured dishes include Saag Paneer, Spicy Caramel Catfish, Indonesian Fried Rice, Elote, Camarones a la Plancha, Pad Thai, and Panna Cotta.
Recommended for anyone looking for a good starter cookbook on international cuisines.
7. The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium International Cookbook Hardcover
This is a collection of no-salt recipes that are influenced by international cuisine. The selection ranges from breakfast dishes, light meals, bread, side dishes, and desserts, to sauces and spice mixes. Samples include Niter Kebbeh Spiced Oil, French Vanilla Pudding, English Bangers, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Don's Authentically Hot Chorizo.
Recipes are accessible and include nutrition information. Most of them are identified by region of origin. The ingredient lists are generally easy to source although there will be a handful that can only be bought in specialty stores.
Those who tried the recipes found them to be very flavorful, even without salt. One particularly liked its low sodium soy sauce recipe. Another liked its version of no-mayo potato salad.
Recommended for anyone looking for healthy, low sodium versions of their favorite international recipes.
8. Tasting the World… One Country at a Time: 192 Countries, 192 Meals Paperback
This is a collection of 200 main course meals from all over the world. Most have been tweaked to use ingredients that can easily be found in local stores.
Samples of the recipes include Conch Chowder (Bahamas), Peking Duck (China), Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding (England), Sauerbraten with Semmenknödel (Germany), Khachapuri (Georgia), Mansaf (Jordan), Tajine (Morocco), and Piri-piri Chicken (Mozambique).
Recipes are well written with variations and ingredient substitutes. They also include nutritional information. Those who’ve tried them found them easy to follow and delicious.
Recommended for anyone looking for a one-dish introduction to the cuisines of different countries.
9. In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean [A Cookbook] Hardcover
Part cookbook, part travelogue, this cookbook gathers 75 recipes from African grandmothers from Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania. It also takes the reader to the kitchens of grandmothers for a glimpse of their lives while also revealing their personal connection to the featured dishes.
Recipes are accessible even for beginners to African cuisine. Vegan recipes are labeled accordingly and there are detailed ingredient listings and descriptions. There are also substitution notes for a few ingredients that may be hard to source. Most dishes use fish and a lot of coconut milk. Samples of the selection include Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper; Stewed Plantains with Beans and Beef, Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread), and Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew).
Many liked the book for highlighting recipes that aren’t featured in most regional African cookbooks. One liked how it focused on home-cooked dishes. Another was pleased with how the recipes were easy to follow.
Recommended for cookbook collectors and home cooks interested in healthy pescatarian cuisine.
10. I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World Hardcover
This cookbook features recipes that fuse Indian culinary traditions with international cuisine. The selection is family-friendly and easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Samples of the featured dishes include Thai Green Papaya Salad with Dried Shrimp, Catalonian Paella, Passion Fruit, Lime & Grapefruit Grouper Ceviche, Grilled Meyer Lemon Chili Corn, Pomegranate & Date Molasses Chicken, and Mango Cardamom Cake.
The book has a very colorful palette which should please visual readers. Lots of photos accompany recipes that have cross-cultural flavors. Those who tried the recipes found them accessible with ingredients that are easy to source locally.
Recommended for home cooks looking for international recipes for weeknight meals.
MY STREET FOOD KITCHEN: FAST AND EASY FLAVOURS FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Jennifer Joyce
When one is visiting a foreign country, trying out its street food is a great way to taste the flavor profiles of its cuisine. Similarly, this is a good starter cookbook for any home cook looking to try out new flavors in their kitchens.
Newbies will like this because the recipes are quick, easy, and use ingredients that can be obtained locally. Experienced cooks, meanwhile, will appreciate its multi-cultural vibe and the diverse flavors that each recipe brings.
Health foodies will naturally gravitate to many of its recipes that are sugar-free and can be easily modified for other diets. Lastly, casual cooks will find this useful enough for an occasional dip into the world of international cuisine.