The Time Life Good Cook Series

A couple of years ago my friend Elizabeth Abbott turned me on to Time Life’s cook book series from the late 70s, The Good Cook series. Elizabeth’s mother Maria is a fabulous cook. As I was constantly bugging both of them for cooking tips, Elizabeth remarked, “what you need is the Time Life Good Cook series!.” This series was produced by Time Life books around 1978-1980. There is a separate book for poultry, beef & veal, lamb, pork, vegetables, fish, eggs & cheese, wine, breads, pasta, soups, salads, shellfish, sauces, cakes among many others. I have five of the books and pick them up whenever I see one at a used book sale. They’ve been out of print for ages, and many of the recipes are clearly artery cloggers (no holding back on the fat here!) but they have detailed instructions that are hard to find in more recent cookbooks. Here’s an illustration from the Poultry book:


View closeup of book page of hanging fowl.

Have you ever seen anything like that in cookbook sold these days?

The books are out of print but can be found on ebay or at thrift stores usually for just a few dollars each, a bargain considering the instructional content.

Showing 4 of 63 Comments

  • Emile Auld

    Hi Elise,

    I totally agree with you about how great The Time Life Good Cook book series is.

    Like you, I’ve picked up these books in second hand bookshops, usually in the Oxfam Charity Shops, which sell stuff that people have donated.

    The series editor is Richard Olney, so that speaks volumes about the quality of the books.

    I picked up the Pork one by accident, and was impressed by the way that it described cooking techniques, instead of just giving you recipes.

    I just picked up another 8 books in the series.

    If I find any more, I’ll get them.

    For anybody interested in cooking, I think they give you a depth of knowledge about food, that is definitely worth having.

    Sure, in some of the recipes, you may need to tone down the saturated fat, but the underlying techiniques are the same, whether you cook with a lot of fat or not.

    I’d recommend these books to anybody who’s seriously interested in cooking.

  • Bob

    Does anyone know a list of all the titles in the series?

  • Denise Williams

    I bought the Good Cook series back in 1979 when they were first offered from Time-Life. These books and my Mom, made me the great cook I am today!!. Does anyone know how many books are in the complete series? What all the titles are? Thanks for the info.

  • Peter Large

    I have collected 24 in the series, some in UK and some in USA. There are two books I have, Snacks & Canapes (UK) and Snacks and Sandwiches (USA). They are different but they both have some parts the same. In addition I have Beef & Veal, Biscuits, Breads, Cakes & Pastries, Confectionary, Desserts, Eggs & Cheese, Fish & Shellfish, Fruits, Game, Grains,Pasta & Pulses, Hot Hor D’Ouvres, Lamb, Offal, Outdoor Cooking, Patisserie, Pork, Poultry, Salads, Sauces, Soups, Vegetables. I would like to know if there are any more printed in addition to those above. As an Englisman living in the heart of France I find them invaluable for the many different ingredients available here and in the UK.

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