Wedding season is fast-approaching, and although the $150-a-setting Kate Spade china from your BFF’s registry is beautiful, it will lose its charm if she’s exclusively using it to serve takeout Chinese. There’s no time like getting married for a lady (and her gentleman!) to learn how to cook a real meal, so here are the 10 best cookbooks for beginning a life of wedded bliss:
- Great Pies & Tarts: With a Primer for the Beginner by Carole Walter
Best for: The bride whose fiance has a sweet tooth
This iconic guide is perfect for bakers of every skill level. All 150 of the book’s pies and tarts are based on four basic recipes, and all the instructions are in a simple step-by-step format. With Carole’s help, your newlywed friend will soon be able to wow her man with decadent desserts like crumb pie with warm blueberry sauce, java eggnog pie, apple tarts and more.
- A Real Southern Cook: In Her Savannah Kitchen by Dora Charles
Best for: The bride who’s marrying a Yankee
He may like his tea unsweet (yuck), but after just a few meals inspired by revered Savannah cook Dora Charles, he’ll be well on his way to being a true Southern Gentleman. Charles’ cookbook is full of Southern-style recipes passed from generation to generation, some of which have never been written down until now. It’s also great for the cook who likes unexpected secret ingredients like mayonnaise in biscuits and sugar-glazed bacon in deviled eggs.
- The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods by Erin Gleeson
Best for: The bride who hasn’t eaten meat since college
Author Erin Gleeson left New York City in favor of a cabin in the forest, which inspired this colorful and informative cookbook. Most of Gleeson’s 100 simple recipes only call for three or four ingredients. Bonus: the book is full of gorgeous photographs and Gleeson’s own watercolor illustrations, so even if your friend jumps back on the proverbial meat wagon, this book will stand the test of time as a rustic coffee table decoration.
- Great Cakes by Carole Walter
Best for: The bride who’s already planning her future kids’ birthday parties
This volume from Carole Walter is a must-have for every kitchen. It has more than 250 recipes, lots of which can be baked in less than an hour and don’t require frosting or filling. Your friend can create a cake for a different themed party every year with help from Walter: her recipes include old-fashioned pound cake, streusel lemon torte, chocolate marble cheesecake, Italian purple plum cake, and more.
- Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two by Christina Lane
Best for: The groom who doesn’t do leftovers
Who wants to spend time (read: do math) paring down four-person serving sizes or clutter up fridge space with Tupperware full of extra food? Enter Lane’s full-color cookbook with recipes for everything from holiday feasts to supper at home — all perfectly portioned for a pair of lovebirds. Dishes include bruleed toasty oats, pimento grilled cheese with fried pickles, rummy oatmeal cookies, and even perfect filet mignons with twice-baked potatoes. No Tupperware necessary!
- Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart
Best for: The couple who loves throwing gameday parties
With Martha’s help and these 200 recipes, your friends can be the host and hostess with the mostest this football season. Recipes include everything from spiced nuts to salsas to cheeseballs and beyond. It also includes 30 cocktails to drown party guests’ sorrows if their team loses.
- Two in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Newlyweds by Jordan Mackay
Best for: The couple who have never cooked together, but want to start.
More than just recipes, this elegant book contains practical info like how to set up a home bar and how to sharpen knives. It contains 150 recipes for every occasion, all in the friendly tone of the fun-loving young couple who wrote it.
- Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes! by Phyllis Good
Best for: The couple who always picks up fast food on the way home from work
Sure a crock pot is a great wedding gift, but an even better gift is teaching the happy couple how to create delicious dinners with it. This cult classic cookbook is full of simple-to-put-together recipes that can cook all day long, meaning your friends will walk in the door to a yummy, ready-to-eat meal. Plus, if they know supper is already cooking at home, they’ll be less likely to hit the Chick-fil-A drive-thru on the way in (OK, maybe for just one milkshake).
- How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman
Best for: The bride who can’t even boil water but still wants to impress her mother-in-law
This award-winning cookbook is like boot camp for newly initiated domestic goddesses (and gods). Bittman’s 2,000 (!) recipes use simple ingredients, basic equipment and easy-to-learn techniques to help kitchen newbies relax and enjoy themselves while creating delicious meals.
- Dessert Express: 100 Sweet Treats You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less by Lauren Chattman
Best for: The perpetually late couple
You love inviting this duo to your parties, but you hate when they show up late (and empty-handed). Chattman’s popular book teachers cooks how to utilize other equipment besides the oven (think skillet and waffle iron) to make a delicious dessert in a flash. Recipes include molten chocolate cherry cake, homemade mallomars, bourbon brown sugar fudge and more, all from scratch.