10 Essential Cookbooks for College Students

Help your student learn to fend for themselves with these brilliant (and budget-friendly) cookbooks.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these affiliate links.
July 14, 2022

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

And the best part is that they don't need a lot of time, money or gear to cook while they're in college. Here are 10 cookbooks that cover all of the basics and will help keep them fed for the next four years.

They might not have signed up for "Cooking 101," but they'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, like exactly where to find pizza dough in the grocery store and how to bake without any cookie cutters. Plus, the recipes are bomb and out-of-the-box. Think breakfast tacos and chicken and pesto pasta.

Buy It
$13.89

If they never learned how to crack an egg or boil noodles, then 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 to her own college kids, like the meanings of basic cooking terms, the proper way to hold a knife and which products to keep stocked in the fridge. And, of course, she offers easy-to-follow recipes for everything from omelets to loaded nachos.

Buy It
$11.99

Sure, they could learn how to cook for one, but what will help them make friends (or stretch meals across multiple days) like cooking for two? This approachable cookbook by Robin Donovan features wholesome, healthy ingredients plus budget-savvy shopping lists and tips on meal planning. Needless to say, it will make a fabulous addition to their library.

Buy It

If they recently decided to forgo all animal-derived products, then they need a copy of Broke Vegan: Speedy by Saskia Sidey. Inside, your college student will find over 100 recipes, like chickpea curry and freezer-friendly burritos. Best of all? Everything can be made in just 15 to 30 minutes and prepared in big batches.

Buy It

Smoothies are incredibly easy to make and will help your college student power through classes and extracurriculars. Need more proof? Just hand them a copy of Feel Good Smoothies by Sandra Wu and Rocio Egio. This colorful hardcover is packed with nutritious breakfast boosts, refreshing tropical blends (for those late-night study sessions) and soothing post-workout concoctions.

Buy It
$11.36

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 nonperishable items.

Buy It
$10.97

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
$16.09

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
$7.57

What food should they eat while cramming for a test? What about after an intramural game (or a night spent partying)? They'll find the answers to all of these questions and more in The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook, which is basically a manual for navigating the college years and surviving early adulthood. They'll 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
$26.99

Here's a sure-fire way to make friends in college: Whip up something by one of the most popular bakers on Instagram and TikTok. As long as your student has access to an oven, they can make and share these delectable treats by Eloise Head (AKA @Fitwaffle). Best of all? More than half of the recipes require only three ingredients!

Buy It

We're sorry, there seems to be an issue playing this video. Please refresh the page or try again in a moment. If you continue to have issues, please contact us here.

Dorm Room Kitchen Essentials
Loading Video...

Next Up

17 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.

The Best School Backpacks for Students of Every Age

Send your kids and teens back to school with backpacks that can handle everything they throw in it.

The 12 Best Desks for Kids

Create a dedicated place for your kids to do their school work. A functional and comfortable workspace (that's kid-sized) is key.

The 12 Best Desk Chairs for Kids

Help kids stay focused and sit up a little straighter while tackling schoolwork at home with the just-right desk chair.

The Best Lunchboxes for Kids and Teens

Get those peanut butter sandwiches and bananas ready! It's time to start packing lunches again. Grab one of these top-rated lunchboxes to kick off the new school year.

25 Back-to-School Organizing Essentials We Love

School will be back in session soon, and we're sharing 25 of our favorite products to help keep your home and life organized so your kids can focus on schoolwork.

The Best Places That Offer Student Discounts Online

Score amazing deals and even freebies just by being a student. See the best deals to get you ready for the school year and beyond.

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.

10 Fun Back-to-School Lunch Accessories for Kids

Set the tone for an awesome school year with these encouraging notes, special ice packs and more.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

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