Chef Samin Nosrat once said that fat is flavor. It amplifies the specific flavors of all the ingredients in a dish making it delicious and full of texture. It is so important that she says that learning how to harness its magic is one-fourth of what makes a great cook.
But for some people, using fat in a recipe is not necessarily a healthy option. Obese people or those with a cardiac condition need to lessen their intake of fat in order to lose weight and improve their overall cardiovascular health.
Among nutritionists, such a low-fat diet will usually mean recipes that have less than 30g fat. And if you’re a cardiac patient, it could even get lower to less than 10g.
For gourmands, that can sound depressing. Because who would want to eat low-fat food that lacks flavor? It’s a good thing that there are now lots of low-fat cookbooks that feature flavorful recipes despite using minimal fatty ingredients.
The best of them have recipes that go beyond using fake meat or even low-fat versions of pantry ingredients. These are the ones that rely on fresh, natural ingredients and a whole lot of spices to provide flavor. They also use light cooking techniques to bring out the texture of food. Many heavily feature plant-based ingredients and may even be vegetarian.
These recipes are examples of culinary creativity because how else can you make a dish delicious than by using innovative combinations of ingredients and cooking techniques.
The cookbooks on this list range from standard collections of low-fat American recipes to cookbooks that feature ethnic and international cuisines. These books will not only give you a variety of recipes to choose from for any meal but will also give you tips and advice on how to sustain your low-fat diet. They also provide nutritional info so that you can easily keep track of your daily calorie consumption. Some also follow specific dietary approaches, like the Mediterranean diet.
Here are my top 10 low fat cookbooks on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Low-Fat Cookbooks
- 1. The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day Paperback
- 2. Ainsley Harriott's Low Fat Meals in Minutes Paperback
- 3. Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between Paperback – Illustrated
- 4. Low Fat Baking: The Best-Ever Step-By-Step Collection Of Recipes For Tempting And Healthy Eating Paperback
- 5. 500 Fat Free Recipes: A Complete Guide to Reducing the Fat in Your Diet: A Cookbook Paperback
- 6. Good Housekeeping 400 Low-Fat Recipes & Tips (400 Recipe) Hardcover
- 7. High-Flavor Low-Fat Cooking Paperback
- 8. Secrets of Fat-Free Italian Cooking: Over 200 Low-Fat and Fat-Free, Traditional & Contemporary Recipes – Paperback
- 9. Low-Fat Afghani Cooking Paperback
- 10. Healthy Indian Cooking: Enjoy The Authentic Taste, Texture And Flavour Of Classic Indian Dishes, Without The Fat Paperback
- Top Pick
Best Low-Fat Cookbooks
- The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day – Paperback
- Ainsley Harriott's Low Fat Meals in Minutes – Paperback
- Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between Paperback – Illustrated
- Low Fat Baking: The Best-Ever Step-By-Step Collection Of Recipes For Tempting And Healthy Eating Paperback
- 500 Fat Free Recipes: A Complete Guide to Reducing the Fat in Your Diet: A Cookbook Paperback Good Housekeeping 400 Low-Fat Recipes & Tips (400 Recipe) Hardcover
- High-Flavor Low-Fat Cooking Paperback
- Secrets of Fat-Free Italian Cooking: Over 200 Low-Fat and Fat-Free, Traditional & Contemporary Recipes Paperback
- Award Winning Low-Fat Afghani Cooking Paperback
- Healthy Indian Cooking: Enjoy The Authentic Taste, Texture And Flavour Of Classic Indian Dishes, Without The Fat Paperback
1. The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day Paperback
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most effective low-fat diets and this cookbook features more than 500 kitchen-tested recipes for the home cook looking to diversify their meals. It’s outlined according to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, with each food group having its own chapters. Samples of the recipes include Spiced Baked Rice with Potatoes and Fennel, Tagliatelle with Artichokes and Parmesan, Orzo with Shrimp, Feta, and Lemon, Za'atar-Rubbed Chicken, Greek-Style Braised Pork with Leeks, and Orange Polenta Cake.
Recipes are easy to follow, with most of them taking more than 40 minutes of prep work. The ingredient lists are generally short and are easily found in any grocery store. There’s also nutritional info for every recipe.
Readers liked this book for the reliability of its recipes. One liked that each recipe documents the testing that the editors did and includes lots of tips for troubleshooting. Another liked that the recipes are a good mix of everyday meals and special weeknight recipes.
Recommended for all home cooks looking for healthy recipes.
2. Ainsley Harriott's Low Fat Meals in Minutes Paperback
Harriott is one of Britain’s favorite TV chefs and in this cookbook, he reworked some of his familiar recipes by taking out fatty ingredients and making them healthier. There are 80 recipes that range from Jalapeo Tiger-Prawn Ginger Skewers to Peri Peri Pork Medallions and Lemon.
Recipes are straightforward and easy with short prepping and cooking times. They cover standard dishes but also feature a wide range of international cuisines like Indian, Thai, Chinese, Caribbean, Mexican, and Italian. They’re accompanied by lots of food photos and include nutritional info and calorie counts.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them to be full of flavor. One noted that it had a nice selection of sauce recipes to go with the main recipes. Another found the recipes in its salads and accompaniments very useful.
Great for anyone looking for low-fat international recipes that are quick to do.
3. Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between Paperback – Illustrated
Another America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, this one features a selection of fool-proof vegan recipes of familiar favorites as well as new ones. There are more than 200 recipes here with samples like Tofu Frittata with Mushrooms, Sweet Potato Red Flannel Hash with Tempeh, Black Beans on Toast with Avocado and Tomato, Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup, and Pinto Bean Beet Burgers.
Recipes are accessible even for beginner home cooks. The ingredient lists use a variety of beans, grains, and vegetables instead of relying on fake meat substitutes. Recipes include a color photo of the dish, along with tasting notes.
Readers found the book user-friendly with one noting that this is one of the better laid-out vegan cookbooks in the market. Another liked that these recipes were developed to be vegan instead of relying on substitute ingredients.
Ideal for anyone looking for low-fat everyday vegan recipes that are based on American cuisine.
4. Low Fat Baking: The Best-Ever Step-By-Step Collection Of Recipes For Tempting And Healthy Eating Paperback
This cookbook features over 200 low-fat or no-fat baking recipes for any occasion. The selection includes favorites like soufflés, meringues, and cheesecakes, along with pastries like Lemon Chiffon Cake, Strawberry Roulade, Carrot Muffins, Drop Scones, French Bread, Onion Focaccia, Sweet Sesame Loaf, and Filo Fruit Baskets. It also includes lots of tips to cut down on fat, as well as advice on healthy eating.
Recipes are reliable and easy to follow, with accurate measurements. Each one comes with a color food photo and includes a nutritional note with both calorie and fat content. The ingredients are easy to obtain from local stores and markets.
Best for home bakers looking for low fat pastry and bread recipes.
5. 500 Fat Free Recipes: A Complete Guide to Reducing the Fat in Your Diet: A Cookbook Paperback
This is a comprehensive guide that features a selection of recipes that mostly have one gram of fat or less. There’s lots of variety here with recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. There's also a section on low-fat dressings, sauces, and relishes. Samples include Pear-Cinnamon Muffins, Baked French Toast, Spinach Fettucini with Shiitake Tomato Sauce, Red Pepper Mini-Pizzas, Black Bean Lasagna, and Cocoa Cake.
Recipes utilize fresh produce, lots of seasoning, and clever combinations of ingredients to produce delicious flavors and textures. The directions are easy to follow and each recipe comes with nutritional info, from the number of calories per serving to a breakdown of fat, cholesterol, protein, carbs, dietary fiber, and sodium.
Recommended for cardiac patients, dieters or anyone looking for a comprehensive selection of zero to low-fat recipes.
6. Good Housekeeping 400 Low-Fat Recipes & Tips (400 Recipe) Hardcover
This is a compilation of Good Housekeeping recipes that have 10% or fewer calories from saturated fat. The selection includes some of the readers’ favorites like Chicken Parmesan, Chutney-Glazed Shrimp with Lentils, Slow-Braised Beef Ragu, and Hot and Spicy Pork Noodles.
Recipes are categorized by meal types and ingredients. Some will require fancy ingredients but most have ingredient lists that are easy to obtain in local stores. Each recipe also has the number of calories, fats, and saturated fats per serving all set-out. There’s a metric chart at the end of the book for convenient reference.
Recommended for all home cooks and regular readers of Good Housekeeping.
7. High-Flavor Low-Fat Cooking Paperback
This is a collection of gourmet-style but low-fat recipes for meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. There are 200 recipes here from various ethnic cuisines that have been modified to make them healthier. Samples include Japanese Steakhouse Chicken, Fettucine with Wild Mushroom Sauce, and Peking Chicken.
Recipes are accessible and come with lavish full-color photos. Each one of them comes with nutritional analysis, listing calories, protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium, and fat content for easy reference.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them easy to follow and very flavorful. One called this book an underrated gem by a chef who’s known more for his barbecue recipes.
Recommended for anyone looking for low-fat international recipes and fans of Raichlen.
8. Secrets of Fat-Free Italian Cooking: Over 200 Low-Fat and Fat-Free, Traditional & Contemporary Recipes – Paperback
Italian cuisine is basically healthy but one can always go one step further and make the dishes healthier with this cookbook’s selection of low-fat and fat-free recipes. Featured dishes range from simple to sophisticated, with some of them having three grams of fat or fewer per serving for rice and grain dishes. Samples include Golden French Toast, Fresh Corn Chowder, Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy, Hearty Oven Fries, Cranapple Acorn Squash, and Refreshing Fruit Pie.
Instructions are straightforward and easy to follow. Recipes make use of spices to create flavors instead of relying on fat, although there are some that use reduced-fat ingredients, like its Fettuccine Alfredo made with nonfat parmesan, evaporated skim milk, and butter-flavor sprinkles.
Readers found the recipes easily adaptable for a variety of dietary requirements. Nutritional info is also provided for every recipe. There’s a resource list for finding low-fat products at the end of the book that many found useful but, since this is an old edition, it will need updating.
Recommended for anyone looking for low-fat Italian recipes.
9. Low-Fat Afghani Cooking Paperback
The Afghan diet is traditionally high fat and high sugar but this cookbook features traditional dishes served by the award-winning Da Afghan restaurant that are low in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt. It also includes an overview of Afghan culinary history, as well as sections on its traditional cooking techniques and pantry staples.
Recipes are not overly complex and do not require a lot of specialty ingredients. Those who’ve tried them found the flavors authentic and similar to the ones prepared by the restaurant when it was still operating.
Recommended for cookbook collectors, fans of Da Afghan restaurant and the casual home cook looking to try out Afghani cuisine.
10. Healthy Indian Cooking: Enjoy The Authentic Taste, Texture And Flavour Of Classic Indian Dishes, Without The Fat Paperback
This cookbook has one of the best light Indian cooking recipes published so far. The selection includes the most familiar Indian favorites like Tandoori Chicken or Aloo Sag but also features recipes that innovatively combine traditional Indian ingredients.
All the recipes are user-friendly, and clearly written with no fancy techniques or obscure ingredients. Most of them have color photos of the featured dishes. Those who’ve tried them found them delicious and easy to do.
Recommended for anyone looking for practical, and easy, low-fat Indian recipes.
AINSLEY HARRIOTT'S LOW FAT MEALS IN MINUTES by Ainsley Harriott
Despite its British provenance, this cookbook beats out the rest of the American cookbooks on the list because it’s the most recent and therefore has a fresh selection of recipes. The selection is influenced by a variety of ethnic cuisines which should appeal to any casual cook looking to try some delicious, low-fat dishes.
It’s also a great entry-level book for anyone going on a low-fat diet. The recipes are user-friendly with nutritional details provided. Best of all, there are no low-fat or fat-free substitutes in the ingredient lists. It’s a great way for any home cook to learn how to create flavorful dishes using fresh produce and spices.