7 Must Have Spanish Cookbooks

The best Spanish cookbooks!
The must-have Spanish cookbooks for food lovers!

I’ve always loved to read. Before I even learned, I would memorize the books my mother would read me, and complete the sentences as she turned the pages. As a child I’d take out about 15 library books a week, and devour them all. These days I don’t read as often as I’d like, and fiction takes a back seat to books on food history, business and personal development. But I still enjoy every page.

This year I made sure to purchase plenty of reading material. I wanted to stock my shelves with the best Spanish cookbooks, and the most interesting and colorful books on food culture and food history. I’m still working my way through, but I’ve discovered many gems that I can’t imagine being without.

Here are seven Spanish cookbooks that you absolutely must own if you are a Spanish food lover and home cook.

1. The Food of Spain

by Claudia Roden

This is an absolute must for any home cook interested in Spanish cooking, and a fantastic Spanish cookbook! Claudia Roden’s recipes are simple and easy to follow, and everything I’ve made from this book to date has been a hit. I’ve used her recipes to make the most amazing chicken in almond sauce I’ve ever had, the most delicious tuna empanadas, gorgeous saffron meatballs and much more.

See The Food of Spain here.

2. 1,000 Spanish Recipes

by Penelope Casas

Penelope Casas was one of the most influential people in bringing Spanish cuisine to the US. Married to a Spaniard, she wrote various cookbooks throughout her life, including one in 1985 that focused on tapas– perhaps the first introduction Americans had to these small Spanish plates. This was her last book, and it is truly epic.

See 1,000 Spanish Recipes here.

3. La Cocina de Mamá

by Penelope Casas

Honestly, I would recommend all of Penelope Casas’ books, but apart from 1,000 Spanish Recipes I think this one (which it seems is currently only available used) is another must. I love the concept– recipes passed down by generations of women. Reading it makes me feel like I’m cooking with my mother-in-law in Cadiz. It’s a beautiful book to have and read again and again.

See La Cocina de Mamá here.

4. Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture

by Matt Goulding

An awesome narrative by the founder of Roads & Kingdoms (not quite a recipe book, but it will definitely inspire you to cook!). This is THE book to read before coming to Spain, as it’s also filled with great tips on how the locals eat and drink.

See Grape, Olive, Pig here.

5. Casa Moro

by Sam and Sam Clark

The history and cuisine of Andalusia is something that absolutely fascinates me. Many don’t realize the impact the Moors had on modern day Spanish cooking– think rice, almonds, sugarcane, oil…  This colorful cookbook written by chefs and owners of Moro restaurant in London is a perfect addition to any Spanish cookbook library.

See Casa Moro here.

6. Rick Stein’s Spain

by Rick Stein

I have to admit that I didn’t know of UK celebrity chef Rick Stein until we were planning our Seville food tours. One of our tour partners, an ice-cream shop, proudly displayed his book– they were featured inside! It seems that mega famous Stein made his way through lesser known parts of Spain, seeking lesser known dishes. He did a great job curating– now I just have to get cooking!

See Rick Stein’s Spain here.

7. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

by Mark Kurlansky

I first discovered Mark Kurlansky in Basque Country when I picked up his book The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation. I enjoyed his writing and since then have gobbled up his other books, the most famous of which (and a James Beard winner!) is this one. Cod is not exactly a cookbook, and is not strictly about Spain. But it does tell the history of one of Spain’s most important products, salt cod. The history is riveting and the recipes sound delicious (even the ones from long ago!). I consider it a must read for all food lovers, but especially those of us with a special interest in Spanish cuisine.

See Cod here.

These are only a handful of the new Spanish cookbooks and food related books I bought this year. Anything fantastic you think I’ve missed? Perhaps I’ll do another round up soon!

What are your favorite Spanish cookbooks?

Please note that this post contains affiliate links to these books on Amazon. If you purchase any of these books using these links I will receive a small commission. 

Comments

  1. I too collect Spanish cookbooks. I agree wIth most of yours, there is one that I think stands out. It is The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bemzen . It has classics but also new classics such as cherry beet gazpacho, from Dani Garcia which is to die for. There is also a great section on paella.

  2. You are forgetting The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen!! I think that her recipes have more flavor (than Claudia Roden’s, and there is more of a variety) – especially in the empanada section. Though Roden has a really good rice section. However, in Penelope Casas’ 1000 Spanish Recipes and/or Paella book, she has the most variety. I had been wanting Claudia Roden’s for awhile, seeing how she has been nominated for a James Beard cookbook award (and won for her Middle Eastern one, right?). I was really disappointed with it though – a few reviews on Amazon said the same thing! At the end of the day, many of the recipes between the several cookbooks I have have very small differences. Casas and Von Bremzen are a tiny bit more aggressive with their seasoning and thus have more flavor. Von Bremzen’s tuna empanada is second to none. It also has a really great tapas section. I would recommend The New Spanish Table and anything by Penelope Casas if you’re looking to only buy one Spanish cookbook.

    1. Hi Nancy, Thank you so much for this comment! I own The New Spanish Table, but haven’t cooked from it yet. That said, I absolutely love Roden’s recipes (though admit to adjusting everything I make just a bit). Some of her recipes I’ve adapted on this site with a couple of additions/substitutions. Penelope Casas’ work is of course wonderful, though many of the recipes are not easy to find on Spanish menus, something readers should have in mind. But with over 1000 there’s a bit of everything! Thanks again for your opinion!

  3. I like an oldie: “Encliclopedia Salvat de la cocina”,
    “1080 recetas (Simone Ortega), “The New Spanish Table”(Anya con Brenzon).
    For cod (bacalao) I like a Portuguese book by a friend: “As minhas receitas Bacalhau 500 receitas.

  4. I lost many cookbooks due to a fire (about 400), one being a cookbook of Spanish foods & recipes written by an American woman who had married into an upper class Spanish family . I’m trying to replace it, as there were some very good recipes, including the best gazpacho I’ve ever had. I’m hoping you might have some suggestions what it might be.

    Thanks for any help,

    Ellen Harvey

    1. Hi Ellen, could it have been Penelope Casas? I would definitely check out her books. I’m sorry to hear about the fire and hope you are working on rebuilding the collection!

  5. Dear Lauren,

    My cookbook shelf is rather full with all kinds of cuisines: Lebanese, Turkish, Persian, Italian, soup and pasta cookbooks :-).
    If you are to choose just one Spanish cookbook, which one will it be: Penelope Casas or Simone Ortega?

    Thank you very much in advance for your answer.
    Victoria

    1. Oh wow– very difficult. What I love about Claudia Roden’s book is that while she is not Spanish, she tells the food history in a beautiful way. I would have to choose this one for most people’s bookshelves. Though between Penelope and Simone- perhaps Simone for a A-Z classic Spanish recipes. Hard decision though! Your cookbook collection sounds great.

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