10 Essential Cookbooks for College Students

Make your parents proud by learning how to fend for yourself.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
July 14, 2021

College is all about trying new things, making new friends and exercising your independence. And one of the smartest ways to do all of the above is by learning how to cook for yourself. (Seriously.) You can test recipes on your roommate, share dishes with people on your floor and have a solid backup plan just in case you get sick of the dining hall.

And the best part is that you don't need a lot of time, money or gear to cook while you're in college. Here are 10 cookbooks that cover the basics and will see you from dorm life to your first apartment.


You may not have signed up for "Cooking 101," but you'll still get a crash course with Spoon University's How to Feed Yourself. We love this book because it's unpretentious and filled with practical tips that Mom never mentioned, like where to find pizza dough in the grocery store and how to make do without cookie cutters. Plus, the recipes are bomb and out-of-the-box. Think breakfast tacos and chicken and pesto pasta.

Buy It

If you never learned how to crack an egg or boil noodles, prepare to get schooled by food writer and mom of three Katie Sullivan Morford. In her latest book, Prep: The Essential College Cookbook, Katie shares all the wisdom she'd impart unto her own college-bound kids, like the meanings of basic cooking terms, the proper way to hold a knife and which ingredients to keep stocked in the fridge. And, of course, she offers easy-to-follow recipes for everything from omelets to loaded nachos.

Buy It

There are two sure-fire ways to make friends in college: let everyone know that Chrissy Teigen is your idol, and make something to share from her cookbook Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat. With a 4.7-star rating and nearly 10,000 reviews on Amazon, this cookbook is a hit for its authenticity, simple and accessible ingredients, and comfort food recipes that will keep you from feeling homesick.

Buy It

A plant-based diet is more than doable, even on a tight budget and with limited tools; all you need is a copy of The College Vegan Cookbook. We love this one because almost all of the recipes take less than 30 minutes to prep and cook, use only budget-friendly ingredients, contain plenty of healthy proteins and include directions for various cooking methods, so you don't even need a full kitchen.

Buy It

When author Candace Braun Davison says "easy," she really means it. Her college cookbook is designed with busy schedules and meager budgets in mind, and she even offers tips on how to save big on small appliances and the best places to buy your nonperishable items.

Buy It

In case you haven't heard, you can definitely make breakfast, lunch and dinner with just a microwave. For proof, just look to Denise Smart's Meal in a Mug. Inside you'll find 80 recipes that range from peanut butter and jam oatmeal (yum!) to sweet-and-sour chicken. And every single recipe can be made with just a microwave and a ceramic cup.

Buy It

For the guy who's ready to go beyond the frozen foods section, we suggest A Man, A Can, A Plan by David Joachim. This cookbook's easy-to-follow format and simple ingredients (with pictures, no less) make it a big hit among men young and old who are just learning how to fend for themselves. Better still? It's available as a board book, which means that it's basically indestructible.

Buy It

For those days when you just don't feel like doing dishes or walking all the way to the dining hall, you need a copy of One-Pot Vegetarian. Inside, author Sabrina Fauda-Rôle shares 80 flavorful, nutritious and comforting dishes that require only one pot and a stovetop. (Read: Zero effort.) She also shares charts for pasta varieties, protein-packed grains, spices and more, so you'll know exactly what to grab at the grocery store.

Buy It

What food should you eat while cramming for a test? What about after an intramural game (or a night spent partying)? You'll find the answers to these questions and more in The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook, which is basically like a manual for navigating your college years and surviving adulthood. Prepare to learn practical skills like how to pick produce and save money in the process, how to hold a knife and dice onions, etc.

Buy It

Frugal college students and/or budding vegetarians should definitely snag a copy of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown. This ultra-practical cookbook contains a variety of recipes for breakfasts, snacks and small bites, dinners and more, and offers tips on how to make your last buck stretch as far as possible.

Buy It

Dorm Room Kitchen Essentials 00:48

Always be ready to eat with these 16 essentials for dorm living.

Next Up

16 Dorm Room Organizers You Need for College

Back-to-school season is almost here! Get ahead of the game and see which organizers are essential for students living on campus.

Where to Score Discounted Dorm Decor + Compact Appliances Right Now

Snag a new rug, twin XL bedding or even a mini fridge for less.

The Best Backpacks for College Students

Sprint to your 8 a.m. class in style with our stylish backpack picks for every college student.

Dorm Room Essentials: Your Complete Guide to a Designer College Space on a Budget

Heading off to college? Pack these dorm room essentials with our easy-to-follow checklist for bedding, decor, storage, kitchen and more.

The Best Dorm Bedding Sets for College

Don't sleep on these dreamy deals and outfit your dorm bed to perfection.

The Best Futons for Every Budget and Style

Make any room guest ready with a versatile futon that transforms from seating to a bed in mere seconds.

The Best Places to Buy Dorm Furniture Online

Create the dorm room of your dreams with these stellar retailers.

The Best Desks for Every Style and Budget

Find the right tabletop for every need, from homework stations to ergonomic computer desks.

10 Apartment-Sized Sofas for Every Style Under $1,500

Got a small space and a small budget? You don't have to break the bank to buy your dream couch.

Spruce Up Your Dorm Room Walls With These Affordable Decor Ideas

Add a little personality and inspiration to your dorm room (or home office!) walls with prints, peel-and-stick wallpaper, tapestries and more.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.