When you’re having a busy day at work, the last thing one needs is to come home and spend a few more extra hours of work on making dinner. That’s why a weeknight cookbook is handy for recipes that are fast and delicious while also exciting.
A good weeknight cookbook has an equal mix of simple and sophisticated recipes. While there will be nights when a quick dish is all you’ll have time for, there will be times when you can spend more time in prepping and cooking so that you’ll get a satisfying dinner. Such versatility will ensure that the cookbook is used regularly instead of languishing on a shelf.
Some weeknight cookbooks are celebrity-driven, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some chefs and cooking personalities do give reliable recipes and useful tips so if they happen to have a cookbook, all the more a good thing.
Some cookbooks can be family-oriented, others good for a pair. The latter cookbooks are best for newlyweds or empty-nesters because the portions are just enough for a couple and they cut down on food waste.
In this list, I’ve selected a diverse selection of cookbooks that feature reliable and delicious recipes that will take the stress off weeknight cooking. Here are my top 10 picks for the best weeknight cookbooks on Amazon. For more ideas, why not look at classic cookbooks or cookbooks for beginners?
Best Weeknight Cookbooks
- Canal House: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On Hardcover
- Simple Weeknight Favorites Paperback
- Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
- Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy Recipes Paperback – Illustrated
- The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook: Simple Family-Friendly Recipes for Everyday Home Cooking Paperback
- One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two (One Pot Meals, Easy Dinner Recipes, Newlywed Cookbook, Couples Cookbook) Paperback
- Weeknight Cooking for Two: 100 Five-ingredient Super Simple Suppers Paperback
- Plated: Weeknight Dinners, Weekend Feasts, and Everything in Between: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
- Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day Hardcover
- Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
1. Canal House: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On Hardcover
This cookbook features 300 recipes developed by a pair of home cooks for other home cooks. It was designed to help newbies master cooking techniques or familiarize themselves with essential ingredients. There is a wide range of recipes, from salad dressings, sauces, braises, roasts, meatballs, and vegetables to snacks and desserts. Samples include the Poached Salmon with Lemon-Butter Sauce, Fettucine with Ragu Bolognese, Oven-Braised Chicken with Gnocchi, French Onion Soup, Canal House's Classic Vinaigrette and Classic Italian Meatballs.
Recipes are simple and straightforward. Most are accompanied by photos of the food. There’s a wealth of cooking knowledge gleaned from the pair’s lifetime culinary experience which is conveniently presented through step-by-step photos.
Those who’ve tried the recipes said that all the ones they’ve cooked turned out to be really delicious. Recommended for anyone looking for reliable recipes for weeknight home cooking.
2. Simple Weeknight Favorites Paperback
This cookbook features 200 quick recipes for weeknight meals developed by the chefs and editors at the America’s Test Kitchen. The recipes take less than 30 minutes, even for dishes that are traditionally slow cooked for hours.
Laid out in the user-friendly ATK format, the recipes feature a lot of shortcuts that don’t scrimp on the flavor of the dish which should satisfy anyone looking for tasty food that’s easy to cook. And because these recipes have already been kitchen-tested, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
Readers found the recipes reliable although the book focusess more on meat-based dishes. Those looking for gourmet recipes will be disappointed but novice home cooks will welcome the practicality of its featured dishes. Recommended for beginners and casual home cooks.
3. Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
This is a cookbook that focuses on dinner recipes developed by a pair of former editors at Saveur magazine. Reputation aside, the recipe selection is not typically gourmet; these are family and personal recipes that stick to using ingredients that are affordable and easily sourced from local stores.
There are 120 recipes here, which are organized by dish type (main dishes, sides, etc). The selection is varied: from classic recipes with options for substitutions and updated old favorites, to one-pot meals, and “international” cuisine. There are also quick recipes and others that reheat well or can be cooked in individual portions.
Readers found this book a solid recipe book with lots of good tips for newbie home cooks. One found its practical advice for meal planning quite useful. Recommended for the beginner to early intermediate home cook.
4. Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy Recipes Paperback – Illustrated
For fans of Ramsay’s no-nonsense approach to cooking, this book offers a selection of recipes that takes no longer than half an hour to prepare so that one can make an entire meal in only 30-45 minutes.
Recipes are straightforward and use a short list of ingredients, with recommendations for some casual substitutions. The selection covers a wide range of foods and ethnic tastes and also includes recipes for chicken stock, mayonnaise, and other ingredients.
Samples of the recipes include Quail with Kohlrabi & Butternut squash; Grilled Pineapple with Mint & Toasted Coconut; Lamb with Crushed Peas; Crayfish, Avocado & Mayo Toasties; Bacon, Pea & Goat Cheese Frittata; Leftover Roast Chicken Salad; Melon with Tequila & Lime; Pasta with Pancetta, Leek, & Mushrooms, and No Bake Berry Cheesecake.
Recommended for Ramsay fans and those looking for globally influenced weeknight dishes.
5. The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook: Simple Family-Friendly Recipes for Everyday Home Cooking Paperback
This is a cookbook that features budget-friendly recipes that use ingredients that can be easily be switched with the ones that you have in your home kitchen. Some of the featured dishes include Sweet Chipotle Chicken Bites, Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf, Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork, Creamy Balsamic Skillet Chicken, and Red Chile Beef Enchiladas.
Recipes are made from scratch and are categorized in the book according to cook time: 15-25-minute meals, 30-45-minute meals, and 5-10-minute prep. Most are gluten-free with suggestions for gluten-free substitutions for the ones that use gluten. There are also photos for every recipe.
Readers liked the adaptability of the recipes. Another liked that the recipes are specifically developed for weeknight dinners. Recommended for busy households and home cooks of any skill level.
6. One Pan, Two Plates: More Than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two (One Pot Meals, Easy Dinner Recipes, Newlywed Cookbook, Couples Cookbook) Paperback
Filled with recipes good for two people, this cookbook cuts down on the prep and cleaning afterwards by showcasing meals that can easily be done with one pan. For example, dishes like Balsamic Braised Chicken Thighs with Figs and Creamy Polenta or Thyme-Rubbed Salmon with Shallots and Caramelized Cauliflower “Risotto” can easily be cooked in one skillet in less than an hour.
The recipes are vegetable-heavy and use whole ingredients. They come with useful ideas on how to beef up the meal if you’re hungrier than usual and includes wine pairing suggestions. Each recipe is sorted into seasons so that the home cook will easily find the right recipe to use for what’s freshest at the moment. Many of them use similar ingredients (carrots, onion, celery, etc.) so that one can make 3-4 meals to use up all the fresh produce.
Those who’ve tried the recipes said that the flavors are creative and delicious. One found its size portions excellent and can even stretch to three plates for a tiny eater. Recommended for newlyweds, empty nesters, and single households.
7. Weeknight Cooking for Two: 100 Five-ingredient Super Simple Suppers Paperback
This is another entry-level cookbook for two that has recipes that use no more than 5 ingredients and are easily prepared in just 30 minutes. The selection ranges from breakfasts, salads, soups and sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, seafood, meat and poultry, to dessert dishes.
Recipes are simple, easy to follow, and use common ingredients. They also require only 5 pieces of common kitchen equipment – a skillet, stockpot, sheet pan, nonstick pan, and baking dish – in order to create a complete meal.
Readers liked the adaptability of the recipes since they can be tweaked easily according to one’s tastes or dietary requirements. Another liked that a lot of them are great bases and foundational meals. Recommended for the beginner home cook.
8. Plated: Weeknight Dinners, Weekend Feasts, and Everything in Between: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook has more than 125 recipes that are rooted in a core technique but easily adaptable depending on the seasonality of the produce or for any dietary need.
Recipes are straightforward with step-by-step instructions and include useful suggestions on how to stretch these recipes for use in other meals. They also use ingredients that are easy to source from local stores. The selection includes dishes like One-Pan Roasted Chicken, Slow-Simmered Turkey Chili, and Cheesy Baked Penne.
Readers liked that recipes scale nicely so one can use a whole pack of the key ingredient without wasting it. Another found the seasonal swap suggestions useful when planning meals using the book’s recipes. Recommended for home cooks interested in cooking seasonal and fresh produce.
9. Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day Hardcover
This book is a collection of heirloom recipes, family favorites and vegetarian versions of traditional comfort food. Along with the recipe selection are family stories from home cooks which highlight the fun and benefits of healthy vegetarian cooking.
The recipes are uncomplicated, short, and use ingredients that are easily found in stores. They’re accompanied by beautiful illustrations and images. They’re also categorized in a way that allows you to easily reference a particular recipe based on a texture, technique or cooking time.
One reader liked the variety of ethnic-influenced recipes. Another enjoyed the sauce recipes which elevate any raw or roasted vegetable. Recommended for casual cooks and anyone looking for vegetarian comfort food.
10. Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
Garten is famous for her signature recipes that are both elegant and comforting and this book features her best ones that one can rely on for weekday or night meals because they’re easy, reliable, and taste really good. Samples of the recipes include Tomato, Mozzarella, and Pesto Paninis and Old-Fashioned Potato Salad, her own version of loin of pork stuffed with sautéed fennel, Eli’s Asian Salmon, and Peach and Blueberry Crumble.
The book also includes tips on designing a kitchen, the basics to menu-planning and, even how to make a dinner party fun.
Recipes are organized by meal type, with an easy-to-navigate recipe list at the top of each section. Each is written with simple instructions and uses ingredients that are easy to source. Some recipes will feature substitution suggestions to provide a flavorful variety to an already delicious basic dish.
Recommended for Garten’s fans and home cooks with moderate to advanced culinary skills.
CANAL HOUSE: COOK SOMETHING – RECIPES TO RELY ON by Christopher Hirsheimer, Melissa Hamilton
The recipes in this book are some of the best ones that Canal House has developed for leading magazines and successful cookbooks. Sure, it may mean that these recipes are rich and a bit complex, but the authors make them easily accessible for home cooks. One won’t need a culinary degree in order to recreate these dishes.
They’re also not your everyday dishes. Those who’ve cooked their way through this book loved the creativity of the recipes and were pleased that they were really delicious. If you’re using this cookbook, it’ll make your weeknight meals an occasion to look forward to. Use this as a starter book for newbies and culinary inspiration for accomplished cooks.