The 3 Best Alton Brown Cookbooks — and the Best Recipes from Each One

published Nov 1, 2019
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I worked for Alton Brown for 10 years, helping to produce five cookbooks in my time on his team. My office shelf has been lined with his entire library (yes, even the hard-to-come-by first edition of I’m Just Here for the Food) and I’ve cooked nearly every single recipe from Good Eats as part of my job. This is all to say that I’m a Certified Alton Brown Cookbook Expert (were a certification like that to exist). In my professional opinion, these are the three cookbooks every true AB fan needs at home — plus the recipes to bookmark from each.

Credit: Amazon

1. I’m Just Here for the Food (2002)

Alton’s very first cookbook is such a pleasurable read and a reliable, well-tested first take to boot. The info-packed front section is funny, even a little earnest, but will make you feel like a more confident cook instantly. Knowledge is power in Alton’s kitchen, after all. Admittedly, the original version of this book is hard to find new, but you can occasionally find one at a yard sale or used online. I’m Just Here for the Food was updated in 2006 with more charts, magnets, and 10 additional recipes, so Version 2.0 is equally as good, if not better.

Buy: I’m Just Here for the Food, $30

The best recipe: Chicken in garlic and shallots is a favorite for teaching new cooks about breaking down a chicken and then both browning and braising chicken pieces. The saucy shallots and garlic cooked in the chicken’s fat is worth the book’s weight in gold.

Credit: Amazon

2. Good Eats: The Early Years (2009)

True Good Eats fans will appreciate the entire Good Eats book collection (here’s the three-volume set), but for classics — like Alton’s turkey, biscuits, and mashed potatoes — this is the only volume you should need or want. Plus there’s tons of juicy behind-the-scenes details from the first 60 episodes of Good Eats.

Buy: Good Eats: The Early Years, $14

The best recipe: MaMae’s biscuits recipe, which is credited to Alton’s late grandmother, is the basis for my own personal biscuit recipe that I bake at least once a week.

Credit: Amazon

3. Alton Brown: EveryDayCook (2016)

This is my favorite of the five books that I worked on with Alton. It’s a quirky little book (we shot all the photos on an iPhone!) and the recipes range from short and sweet to complex and a little convoluted (I can say that). Alton takes a sentimental, rather than scientific, approach to cooking in EveryDayCook, sharing recipes he cooks most often for himself and his teenage daughter (he was newly divorced during the testing and writing of these recipes). Still, the recipes are entertaining and will stretch regular home cooks to try familiar ingredients in a new way.

Buy: Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, $14

The best recipe: I can’t pick just one! The Breakfast Carbonara ranks really high, but so does the Chocolate Chess Pie, and the Roasted Thanksgiving salad.

Agree to disagree? Share your favorite Alton Brown cookbook in the comments below.