Joy of Cooking – 75th Anniversary Edition

If I were only allowed only one cookbook, Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, would be the one. First published by Irma Rombauer in 1931, Joy of Cooking is probably the most referenced cookbook in America, and a home cooking standard and essential for anyone learning how to cook. Most home cooks my mom’s age (70s) have several editions. Until now, I’ve just had one – the 1975 version, though I’ve worn through several copies.

About ten years ago Joy of Cooking was revised to great fanfare. For the first time the publishers invited many chefs to contribute to the cookbook which until then had only been Irma and her daughter Marion’s work. The problem with this 1996 edition was that with all those contributors it lost the comfortable, practical “voice” of the Joy of Cooking that we had all grown to love. Not only that, but this edition removed many favorite recipes, including the entire section on canning.

The lastest (ninth) edition of Joy of Cooking has just been released, in celebration of the 75 year anniversary of the first edition. The project was led by Ethan Becker, son of Marion and grandson of Irma. In this edition, Joy of Cooking returns (thankfully) to its roots as our home grown, home cooking bible. Back are the sections on canning, preserves, and homemade ice cream. New are 30 minute meals, grilling, and even hearth cooking (completely impractical in my house, but I love the idea of it). An extensive ingredient reference, sections on knife skills, growing herbs, and freezing foods, make this new version once again and invaluable reference for the home cook.

More book recommendations
I’ve listed some of my favorite books in the Simply Recipes Amazon store. See favorite cookbook classics, food-related memoirs, books on world cuisine, and books on the science and history of food.

16 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I saw this yesterday at Sam’s club. It’s good to know they have gone back to some of the original content.

  2. Homesick Texan

    I received the 1975 edition as a college graduation gift (in the early 90s) and it’s been my constant companion ever since. My copy is now lovingly splashed with sauces and dusted with flour, which makes it even more dear–it’s been well used. I passed on the last update, but I think I’ll indulge in the 75th–especially since I’d love advice on growing herbs.

  3. Mad William Flint

    While in many (most) ways Joy is the definitive reference book, me and a couple friends have been quite dismayed by the quiet editing and simplification that’s been happening in successive editions of the book. (Between us we have half a dozen editions.)

    It seems as though when a technique or ingredient begins to fade from popularity that they replace that with something easier or more readily available, which seems to me to be contrary to the very notion of the book.

    Plus, far too often the results suffer.

    The new additions are nice.

    But the subtractions are far too costly.

  4. Sharon

    I was going to buy this book last week on amazon for a LOT more, so I’m glad I waited! Bought the book today…can’t wait until I can thumb through it. :D

  5. Kristi

    My mother owned either the 1975 edition or the 1963 (?) edition, but rarely used it, so I grew up without an appreciation for it. Interestingly, however, the late ’90s edition was the first real cookbook that I myself owned. I know it is much maligned by those who prefer the prior editions, but it has become my beloved bible of cooking! Surely I must be a product of my generation! :) That said, I’d love to compare editions and see which I end up favoring.

  6. Julee

    I had one of the very first editions. It too was well loved and worn. I especially loved the recipe for whale!

  7. Mitchell Webster

    Thank goodness, we have almost had every edition, my grandmother had the original edition held together with rubber bands, Mom had that one eventually plus the newer one after that, the one I got her in the seventies and the one she bought in the ’90’s (that one was a huge disappointment to us all) the least used edition of them all, it is still like new. We live in gardening and canning country, we will certainly have the new edition for sure.

  8. Kalyn

    I have the 1975 edition, which was one of my earliest cookbook purchases. I also have the revised version, which I use all the time for the “know your ingredients” section. I supposed I must get this one too, just to see what they’ve added!

  9. CJ McD

    I have the 1975 and 1996 editions and like them both. I can’t wait to get the newest edition. Hmmmm….maybe that would be a good suggestion for a Christmas present. I think I’ll have to toss a few hints to the family. :)

  10. Laura

    My mother gave me the Joy of Cooking when I got married – 33 years ago. I gave each of my daughters a copy when they left home. Thank goodness for the Internet – I’ve been able to buy older copies to give to them and to other family members as they married or moved out on their own. My friends joke I’ve been trying to corner the market on used copies of the Joy of Cooking – at one time I had 5 copies!!!

  11. Robin

    Personally, I never really got into the Joy of Cooking cookbook. The recipes never seemed to work with what I had in my pantry and spice shelf.

    I always had better luck with the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (red and white checkered).

    Every recipe in that book was a easy and a hit (people think I could cook after eating one the B&H recipes).
    A much better gift for one going off to college than this one.

  12. Missi

    I had a Joy of Cooking book years ago and lost it somewhere along the line. I had a favorite appetizer recipe from the book for Coconut Lamb Balls, which I also lost. Would anyone share this recipe with me if they have it?

  13. gg

    There are a few recipes, like scones, that have come out fine, however more recipes are completely inaccurate, and could ruin the outcome and waste all the food you have purchased.

    I made sour quick sour cream coffeecake today, and the directions say to bake about 20 minutes. My oven temp is correct, and I cooked mine for 40 minutes.

    I also made creme brulee. The custard was phenomenal, but the brulee didn’t work. It says in my joy of cooking to heat the oven to 250 degrees to caramelize the brulee within 5 minutes. What were they smoking? I had that thing in the oven for over 40 minutes waiting for the sugar to caramelize.

    Too many blatant errors in this book that have ruined my entertaining plans.

    I use it for reference, but don’t use many recipes anymore, because I don’t trust them.

  14. Chris

    I still use my grandmother’s well-worn edition from before 1960, though the binding is starting to give out. Along with a million great recipes I love the quotes like “Tea: the cup that cheers without intoxicating.” and “They say the deposed king of Spain ‘dunked’ his doughnuts. Perhaps that afforded him some comfort.”

  15. Missie DuBose

    Thank you for going on line.

    My mother used this cook book and gave me two…one when I left home at 18 and one 30 years later as the first was…used.

    She’s been gone for 15 years. We moved and I haven’t found that box yet. But now I need it more than ever.

    Thank you for keeping our Christmas…and my memories.

  16. Vicki (piggledy)

    My mother had an early edition of Joy when I was growing up, and I was impressed by it, although for daily cooking, Better Homes and Gardens was what she used. When I learned that my dear grandmother (an excellent cook, whom we lost at age 93) had only one cookbook, Fannie Farmer, for her entire life, I got a copy. I was shocked to discover some of the recipes in Joy seemed to be copied directly from Fannie, verbatim. I was a bit disillusioned, except that I suppose, in western cooking, for a number of years, there probably weren’t as many different recipes for biscuits or chocolate cake as we can find today. I’m a rather extreme opposite to Nana, with several hundred cookbooks (I often reference several for one recipe) – I am, however, nowhere the cook Nana was. Those little hands could sure shape a tender piecrust! Joy is not among my books, but I still have Fannie, and Bittman’s first “How to Cook Everything” is most used.

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