Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course

by Delia Smith

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Original Publisher
BBC Books
Date of publication

Recommended by

Sadie Hirst

Food historian

This book is just an absolute classic, selling millions of copies worldwide. First published in 1982, 1989 and again in 1992. It is the big 1989 hardback featuring Delia with her red jumper on, that I use. These recipes remind me of my Mum, I remember the first time she made the Beef with Pickled Walnuts and the Smoked Salmon Quiche, a special treat for a family gathering. Cooking from this book is pure nostalgia and you just know that Delia won't let you down.

Genevieve Taylor

Food writer and stylist

The only other cookbook I left home with as an 18 year old with bags of enthusiasm but much to learn about cooking. I think its fair to say if you are learning to cook you don’t really need to look any further than this book, it has all the basics well covered. And the best thing about it is - because this is Delia, queen of the domestic kitchen - the recipes are absolutely failsafe. You follow them, they work, you learn to cook. Simple.

Holly Bell

Recipe writer, presenter and blogger

This was bought for me by a boyfriend for my 18th birthday. I have no idea what he's doing these days but my copy of Delia's Complete Cookery Course is still going strong. I often consult her when developing recipes to see what the 'correct' method is, before I meander off on my own merry way.

Olivia Potts

Food writer

I didn't really read Delia's books until after I'd taught myself to cook, but the belated discovery, which came when my Dad brought my Mum's old cookery books down to London, was like a portal to my Mum's cooking and to my childhood.

Rachel McCormack

Writer and broadcaster

The very first book I, and many cooks of my generation, cooked from. I learned all the basics of naming and roasting from Delia and while I no longer use it, it has had a lasting impact on my life.

Kavita Favelle

Blogger of Kavey Eats

The book that helped a generation (or two) of home cooks learn the classics, myself and my husband included. We rarely refer to it these days but it earned its place on the shelf many years ago.

Len Fisher

Former food scientist, writer and broadcaster

Delia doesn't say WHY, but her exposition of the HOW of cooking can hardly be bettered, and neither can her collection of basic recipes.

William Drew

Group Editor, The World's 50 Best Restaurants

Not the most fashionable choice, but Delia was queen of British cookbooks for decades. This is pretty timeless, albeit in a homely way.

Neil Buttery

Author, historian and chef

All the basics in one foolproof place. Even though some recipes seem dated, it's still very relevant and still teaching me

Shirley Spear

Chef and food enthusiast

My generation learned so much from Delia. Never to be under-estimated! We need her equivalent now.

Lotte Duncan

Food presenter, writer and eater

I won this book as a cookery prize at school...Delia has always been a bit of a heroine to me

Lucy McDonald

Writer and broadcaster

I love Delia. Her recipes have never let me down

James Winter

Executive Editor, Saturday Kitchen

It taught the nation to cook including me.

John Gregory-Smith


My first cookbook ever

Caroline Craig

Food writer

The Bible.

John Healey

Celebrity Maitre d'

Martine Carter

Director, Sauce Management

Sarah Randell

Food writer and marmalade producer

Nadia Arumugam

Food writer

Camellia Panjabi

Author and restaurateur

Sally Grainger

Food historian

Helen Graves

Food and travel writer

Caroline Bennett

Founder and Owner of Moshi Moshi

Debbie Major

Food writer and food stylist

Charles Campion

Critic and Author

Matt Webster

Director at Seasoned Pioneers

Clare Marriage

Chief Executive, Doves Farm Foods

Killian Fox

Founder and editor of The Gannet

Esther Walker


Marie Rayner

Food writer