How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food

by Nigella Lawson


One of the best cookery books every written? Nigella Lawson's best-selling first cookery book takes us through the pleasures and principles of good food, sharing not just recipes, but an understanding of food and a route to getting to know your own palate and instincts, From Basic Roast Chicken to Birthday Cake to Crumble, Nigella has it covered. An absolute delight to read.

from the publisher

Hailed by chefs, reviewers, cookery writers and millions of home cooks worldwide as one of the best cookery books ever written, How To Eat is more than just an imaginative collection of over 350 delicious, simple recipes. Combining Nigella's down-to-earth, practical cookery advice with a passion for food and a friendly, chatty style, you will need two copies of this glorious classic: one for the kitchen, one for the bedside table.

This is Nigel Slater's all-time favourite cookbook: "If I could only keep one cookbook, this would be it. How To Eat suits the way I cook. It is as if Nigella is sitting on a stool next to me in the kitchen as I'm cooking ... With every page you know she loves this stuff, and she wants you to love it too. It's a very, very special book for me. My own copy is falling apart."

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Original Publisher
Chatto & Windus
Date of publication

Recommended by

Sophie Tyrrell

Head chef, 69 Highbury Hill

My copy of this is completely food splattered so I must use it a lot! V useful categories such as weekend lunch and cooking in advance. Excellent 'basics' which I refer to all the time, in particular her amazing crumble topping mixture which cannot see be bettered (involves freezing uncooked mixture first) and her best ever Victoria Sponge using some cornflour for lightness, always gets complements. Other favourites include v easy Beef in Beer with fresh horseradish cream, Blakean Fish Pie and her Cococola braised Ham. Very good for family and friends cooking ideas.

Louise Gray

Environmental journalist

My sister in law is a great cook. She gave her own well-thumbed and beloved copy of this book to my little brother, hoping it would help him learn to cook. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I needed it more so I just nicked it off him (I will give it back, promise). I think I would have been frightened of any other cookery classic but because its Nigella, it somehow makes cooking seem sexy and glamorous. Great pancake recipes and I adapted a separate Nigella recipe for chicken satay to make sticky squirrel satay sticks. (I feel sure she would approve.)

Cat Black

Food writer

As a food writer Nigella writes as a food lover, with eloquence. I read How to Eat from cover to cover when I first got it. Forget the TV, I love the writer in her. And this, her first full length book, reads like the outpouring it is, her life up to that point, with all its passion and such a human quality. I also love How to be a Domestic Goddess, which is my most used home-baking book.

Brian Stewart

Podcast host

If you don’t already love food, you’d be hard pressed not to after reading How to Eat. Perhaps nothing captures Nigella’s powerful, humorous, and informative voice as this book, which you’ll want to read cover-to-cover. It’s packed with superb narrative, tons of kitchen tips, and recipes that are manageable and highly delicious. If start somewhere, start with the Clementine Cake.

Caroline Hennessy

Food writer

In my post-university, early twenties and trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do, How to Eat taught me about feeding people. I devoured Nigella's prose, dog-eared her book, cooked the recipes and figured out my way, one bite at a time, into a new life. I've loved her prose and recipes ever since. See also: How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Feast and Kitchen.

Kerstin Rodgers

Chef, author and blogger

Nigella’s intimate, warm and humorous voice shines through in her writing. I love the fact that she so clearly loves eating. None of your Scarlet O’hara ladies don’t eat in public, have an appetite like a bird fastidiousness here. I’ve cooked extensively from this book. She’s a writer as well as a cook. Food is just the tool she uses to comment on what’s going on.

Susan Low

Food writer

Before she became The Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson was a jobbing journalist with an incisive but refreshing take on food and eating. Her debut book bIazed a food-writing trail: literary but down-to-earth, inspiring and practical, with the pleasure principle firmly at its core. I read it cover to cover when it was came out and wouldn’t part with it now.

Holly Bell

Recipe writer, presenter and blogger

Doesn't Queen Nigella conjure up with the best book titles? This is a tome of a book that's just so incredibly useful. A chapter for feeding little ones, a chapter for losing weight, one for feeding just yourself, one with meals for two... I could go on. No pictures, just writing. Let your imagination do the rest... and with Nigella's writing that's easy.

Tom Norrington-Davies


Before she hit the tv screens and became much more famous for How to be a Domestic Goddess I remember being seduced by the humour in this book. There's lots of it. There is also the unusual way the recipes are grouped into meals, such as "no effort saturday lunch" or "camp, but only slightly, dinner for 6" . Inimitable.

Caroline Kenyon

Founder/Director of The Food Awards Company

I gave this early on in our marriage to my husband, largely because I wanted it! I just love her intelligent writing and the way she evokes flavours, style and atmosphere. Bearing in mind I was later to found an international food photography awards, the lack of photos, unusually, doesn't worry me at all.

Peter Ross

Culinary librarian

Weirdly I came to this book not knowing who Nigella Lawson was - I suppose it was before she appeared on TV - and found her book inspiring and, as seems to be a theme in books I enjoy, the writers voice shone through. A book I cook from often and better than anything else she has subsequently published.

Kate Young

Blogger and cookbook author

A cookbook I can happily read cover to cover. It’s endlessly practical but also full of joy, warmth and a clear love of food. How to be a Domestic Goddess was the first of Nigella’s I cooked from, but I found this at the perfect time: when I first moved out of home. It has been a companion ever since.

Barbara Sweeney

Food writer

When a book delivers a lemon curd tart recipe that your guests claim to be the best lemon tart they've ever eaten you know you've hit gold. I devoured How to Eat when it was first published and it restored my cooking mojo. It’s personable, real and clever. Remember, this is Nigella pre-television.

Sarah Chamberlain

Food writer

Anyone who both quotes Henry James while talking about cooking and makes the best rhubarb crumble has my heart. I cook from Nigella’s books of course, but I also love to curl up in an armchair and read them when I’m feeling down. Her warmth and enthusiasm are impossible to resist.

Hattie Ellis

Food writer

The cookbook that broke conventions by showing food to be part of life, and that you could write about how this happens rather than donning a straitjacket of recipe ‘rules’. There’s such a joy of eating in the book and such a strong sense of how eating is central to home.

David Prior


Nigella's first book is a reminder that she is so much more than her storied beauty. A brilliant writer and fierce intellect, the way in which she articulates the comforting power of food and its power to help us survive each day will be her enduring contribution.

Nicola Miller

Editor and writer

It is hard to choose between the Lawson books but this is her first and it is a useful introduction to the most distinctive voice in British food writing if you have yet to read her work. I return to this again and again and never tire of it.

Nik Sharma

Food writer

This is a wonderful and useful book for every cook to read, regardless of their skill set. Nigella gives you the tools to cook at home but she does this in her own masterful way where you walk away confident armed with tips and tricks.

Daisy Jones


I love all Nigella’s books, but this one is seminal. I love her writing — and the unapologetically text-focussed design of this book. How to Eat is confident and instructive, yet deliciously chatty. It speaks to me as a home cook.

Annabel Abbs

Novelist, cook and food blogger

My copy is in tatters, the cover gone and the spine disintegrating. When my children were small, I cooked Nigella’s recipes most days – her relaxed style stopped me fretting and everyone liked the food: unpretentious and tasty.

Bee Wilson

Food writer and historian

This contains multitudes. It is probably the book - cookbook or otherwise - I have read most often in the sixteen years since it appeared. For its warmth of tone, its kitchen wisdom and ever-delicious recipes, it has no rival.

Eleanor Ford

Food writer

This is the first cookbook I bought for myself and I sat down to read it like a novel, cover to cover. I was captivated then, as I am now, by Nigella Lawson’s turn of phrase. I love her unfussy approach to cooking and eating.

Nicola Twilley


This was the first cookbook I loved (I think I bought it while I was still at uni!). Everything I have made from it works and many have entered my regular rotation. I really like Lawson's writing style and her taste.

Debora Robertson

Food writer and editor

When this first appeared, it was so fresh, and fun and hand holding in the best possible way, full of inspired recipes for parties, or for quick suppers on a rainy Tuesday night. I loved it then and I still do.

Stephanie Jackson


Constantly referenced, beautifully written and worth it for the Spaghetti Carbonara recipe alone (and thank you, Nigella, for reminding me to re-read Nora Ephron). My copy is splattered and stained.

Kay Plunkett-Hogge

Food writer

Another book that I reach for day after day. The writing is wonderful — a book to show the power of prose in food writing. (There are no photos.) Accessible, warm, friendly, and a great read.

Andreas Viestad

Norwegian TV Chef

The first time I fell in love with Nigella, was reading her debut book. It is still a great, seductive read and everything I want from a woman. I mean cookbook.

Charlotte Bland

Food photographer

I use How to Eat more than any other cookbook. It was published when I was a student - what a life saver - and I’ve cooked from it regularly ever since.

William Drew

Group Editor, The World's 50 Best Restaurants

This was published around the time we first had children. Nigella is great on feeding families and weaning babies onto interesting food.

Lucy McDonald

Writer and broadcaster

So much more than a collection of recipes, it has a narrative and my copy is so well-worn it is falling apart.

Victoria Prever

Food Editor, Jewish Chronicle

Her first book and one I’ve grown up cooking from. I have most of her books but this is my oldest friend.

Beverly LeBlanc


As unappealing as it might sound, Nigella's ham cooked in Coca Cola is reason enough to buy this book.

Letitia Clark

Food writer

Informative, passionate and totally lovable. With brilliant recipes.

Fiona Beckett

Food and wine writer

The title says it all. Her first brilliant book and still her best

Rachel Roddy

Food writer and blogger

Another food writing touchstone, also many favourite recipes.

Trish Deseine

Food writer

Changed the way I dared write about food for the French.

Anna Del Conte

Food writer

Yotam Ottolenghi

Chef and author

Helen Graves

Food and travel writer

Robert McCullough

Publisher of Appetite

Jay Rayner

Food writer and broadcaster

Lance Forman

Owner of the Forman businesses

Ben Norum

Food and drink writer

Mina Holland

Author and Editor

Caz Hildebrand

Creative Partner at Here Design

Donald Sloan

Head of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management and Founder of Oxford Gastronomica

Laura James

Journalist and author

Lisa Marley

Founder of Cocoa Box

Neale Whitaker

Editor in Chief for Vogue Living Australia and judge on The Block

Tonia George

Food writer

Karen Barnes

Editor, Delicious magazine

Miss South

Freelance writer and blogger