Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs” as Want to Read:
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  15,443 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Winner of the 2009 James Beard Book Award for Best Book: Reference and Scholarship

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to
Published by Little Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Flavor Bible, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
KJ Not really. There are some dishes listed but no recipes or comparisons.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,443 ratings  ·  272 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
Aug 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand why so many people like this book. I found it to be both confusing and unnecessary. Anyone with a nose and a set of tastebuds can figure out that asparagus tastes nice with butter or that maple syrup goes with French toast or that LETTUCE works well with BACON, BREAD, and TOMATOES (this is blatantly obvious to anyone who has ever eaten a SALAD). And any person who has encountered horseradish can tell you that its flavor is quite strong (or, as the Flavor Bible calls it, "very ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Let me start off by giving you the bad:
You are going to want this book for your collection so don't bother with borrowing it from the library.
The library wants their copies back-I know! The nerve!
This is not really a book for beginner's. It doesn't tell you step by step what to do with food.

The Good:
It does tell you flavors and tastes that pair with other tastes and I likey that.
If you have a bunch of asparagus about to go bad in the fridge just pick up this book and it will tell you flavours t
In these days of high food and gas prices, I do not part with my dollars easily. Every time I pull out my wallet, it is only after much thought and some time spent foraging for cheaper alternatives, or else a realization that the coveted item is just that -a want instead of a need.

Books are high on that list on 'wants'. It took me many years to come to this conclusion, but after re-discovering the joys of my public library, I have now firmly placed owned books on my luxury list.

Here's a confess
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nouveau cuisine fans, cooks without inspiration or internet connections
Shelves: food
A curious culinary compendium for cooks keen to cop comely combinations of comestibles, the book is basically a big alphabetized list of ingredients, with everything from achiote seeds (p. 37) to zucchini blossoms (p. 374). A typical entry (p. 199) looks like this:
Taste: sour
Weight: light-medium
Volume: moderate-loud

nigella seeds
Oh, and featured chef Brad Farmerie (Public, NYC) is quoted enthusiastically as favoring their use. Readers are
Matthew Gatheringwater
This is not a cookbook, and that's a good thing.

There are no recipes, only lists and descriptions of compatible flavors, along with reflections from a handful of well-known and trendy chefs. Apparently geared to the professional cook (unless sous-vide has become a home cooking technique), it can still offer inspiration to the adventurous home cook. It has, in any case, inspired me to put fresh thyme and honey on my grapefruit.

The lists are not consistent. What is listed as a classic pairing und
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the most helpful tools in my kitchen. It lists food alphabetically and each entry has a number of flavor suggestions. For instance: FRENCH TOAST. Maple syrup. Bananas. Sausage. Some flavor combinations are so out-there that I'd never have thought of trying them, while others are obvious. There are also little sidebars full of advice, descriptions of chef's dishes, and more. I love this book and I recommend it to any cook who likes to create recipes from scratch!
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After checking this book out multiple times at the library I finally own it. A must have for anyone that wants to take their cooking to the next level. No recipes, very little on technique, just page after page after page of flavor listing charts and brief ideas from chefs that like to use the ingredient.

If you are a home cook who is tired of "line cooking" recipes from cook books, or started changing/tweeking recipes to reflect your style but want to do more this will be a priceless book for y
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a recipe book, so don't buy or read it looking for that. Instead, this is a book for upping your game as a home chef. If you want to make up your own creations (or riff off of recipes or improve old favorites) this book will teach you how to do that without having your food turning out like butt.

I saw this book in the bookstore the year that it came out. I remember being glued to it for about an hour in the store. Between the beautiful pictures and the genius design, I was obsessed.
Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
This is an incredible reference, especially for cooks who enjoy 'winging-it' instead of always following closely to recipes. This gives great guidance for flavor combinations that work, and allows for 'safe' creativity in the kitchen. I turn to this book almost weekly, and far more than any cookbook I've ever owned. Highly recommended.
Katelyn Jenkins
Essential. Not a cookbook, a way of tasting, cooking, and appreciating the good whole food really is.
LOVE IT. On my go-to gifting list!! :) Already used from breakfast, dinner, to desserts. It awakes creativity, like a color wheel to artists.

Uh-mazing. Thank you for the book Karen.
June 24, 2015:

I was given this book in a gift exchange. It is so much more than I ever imagined. It is incredible!

Feb 23, 2012:

This is a pretty awesome "cookbook". I say cookbook in quotes, because it's not really that. It's more like a how-to book on becoming a great chef (from level good). Detailed information on which herbs and spices and ingredients and all what you need for cooking go well together (or super excellent together or not at all!)

Based on both experience from some of Americ
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have longed for just this book for years! You wouldn't believe how excited I was when I saw it. If I could only keep one book it my kitchen, this would be the one.

This is not a cookbook. Not really. It's more like a flavor encyclopedia: Look up a spice, herb, vegetable, or even season or type of ethnic cuisine, and you will find a list of complimentary flavors, plus a few cooking techniques. Look up black beans, and it will suggest a lengthy list of pairings, with emphasis on the stronger opti
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
Recipes are nice for learning new skills and how to prepare new dishes, but mostly when I cook I just want to know how to mix and remix flavour combos, especially spices and seasonings. If I could download all of my father's knowledge and cooking experience into my brain, it would be no problem, but this book will have to suffice. It is hands down the most useful book in my kitchen on a day-to-day basis. The ability to look up key ingredients you are cooking with and find things that complement ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for all my friends who say they "cook from the hip" and don't use recipes. This is a book that explores flavor affinities. For example, If you had some pork sausages, you could make them taste like many different cuisines. They could be Spanish or German or Italian or Korean based on the accompanying flavor notes. I really enjoyed how you could look up an ingredient and be inspired by all the flavors suggested. Not a cook book more of a chef's book. Got to buy it for myself.
Phuoc Phan
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever feel overwhelm at all these different spices and herbs, and you don't have a clue what they are for. Do I use peparika with chicken or pork, should I use cinamon for this or that, then this book is for you. It's a good reference book that explain briefly about the spice and herb as well as give you general guidance on matching among them. Definitely a must for anyone serious about cooking (less)
52 minutes ago · delete
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
i mean, maybe useful if you have a rando ingredient in the fridge and don't know what to do with it - but not rocket science. i thought perhaps the chefs opining on different ingredients would be inspiring, but it's not. i thought there would be recipes - nope. just a bunch of suggested pairings organized poorly. is it a bad book - no, but it's certainly not james beard award worthy.
Christina Cassel

One of my favorite books when I am creating dishes and want to know the flavor pairings. Its easy to find the ingredients in the book making it quicker to trying the masterpiece out!
Mar 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No real table of contents, glossary nor index this cook book is not well organized or useful. What a disappointment. I thought I'd finally found a "bible" I could get behind.
3.5 if I could give half stars. 4 solid stars for content, but minus one for layout/functionality. I have the ebook, and I think maybe that is marginally easier to use than a printed version would be. Honestly, I think it would be best as an app since the ability to quickly search an ingredient would be much better.

This is not a cookbook. It's more like a huge chart or inspiration guide. It took me a while to figure out what they were trying to do -- which I guess is more obvious to readers of
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful guide for combining ingredients, flavors and textures.
Lisa Funderburg
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent almost four hours with this. That counts as reading a cookbook right? Can't wait to take my cooking to the next level.
Danielle Dulchinos
A powerful reference book for anyone who loves experimenting in the kitchen or wants to use up leftovers in creative and successful ways.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most useful books in my kitchen!

A book for the culinary tinkerer: Perfect for anyone who loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen without having to rely on recipes or cookbooks.

The flavor bible is organized so you can look up any ingredients, say, for example "asparagus" and find complimentary ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavor combinations. This is both great for cooking seasonally such as when you have a turnip from your farm box and you don't know what to do with it, o
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrifically comprehesive reference work! Organized by ingredient, each entry provides a long list of complementary foods and flavors, with the most traditional or typical pairings highlighted. So, say you've had a trip to the farmer's market and bought some veggie or herb you're not familiar with - you can consult the book to get ideas of complementary flavor profiles to help you figure out how to use it. Or, if you have a couple of items you are familiar with, but haven't ever had a dish with ...more
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:

1. Timing Is Everything
2. The Food Substitutions Bible
3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide to the grocery store which I haven't yet identified.


4. The Flavor Bible. A good Sunday afternoon involves a lot of sunshine and a long stretch of time on the sofa leafing through this book. In short, it collects lists of flavors that go well together.

Chef Michael Laiskonis says, "I like the combination of rosemary with pineapple." As it turn
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most unique "cookbook" I have ever read. While it doesn't include actual recipes it gives suggestions of foods and even flavours a particular food pairs well with. As a food blogger, this is my go-to book when I need inspiration! Some nights after a hard day of work my brain just doesn't want to work and so I pick an ingredient in my fridge, open this book up and soon enough I have ideas to prepare a wonderful meal. It's also perfect if you are using an ingredient you are unfamiliar ...more
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves to cook
Shelves: cookbooks
I love this book! I'm terrible at planning meals in advance and then making a shopping list based on that. This book is perfect for someone like me who likes to find or create recipes based on what you have on hand.

Since I joined a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, I now get a plethora of produce based on what is in season. I use this book to look up veggies I'm not used to cooking with, such as bok choy or swiss chard, and then based on what other foods go well with that ingredient, I
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I ADORE this book. no more being stumped by an ingredient, or looking for a whole recipe. If you use recipes as more of a jumping-off point, this will get you confidantly out in deeper waters.
It's as if someone cross referenced a bunch of recommendations and recipes to tell you what works with what. Or like a good cook giving you a hint when your'e stuck. I can take stock of the fridge, pick something, and scan it's entry for another ingredient i have and then stride into the kitchen to combine
Oct 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a 'reading' book, definitely a reference book that you can dip into to look at and to figure out things to do for flavor profiles and other such things that you might want to cook with. Long long list of items that can go together, with a many comments from chefs who either have something to say or who have recipes that contain some of the ingredients. Preliminary chapters are interesting. Well worth reviewing for cooking & recipe ideas. ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down the best cookbook I've ever owned. The flavor bible will not give you recipes. It will answer the question, "I have chicken, and thyme...but when else should I put in here?" I especially love that it tells you 'Holy Grail' pairings of flavors.

Special thanks to my sister Victoria for this LOVED christmas gift a few years ago.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
  • The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
  • The Professional Chef
  • The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making
  • The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
  • Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
  • Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
  • Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock
  • The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
  • Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi
  • Momofuku
  • Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
  • Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family
  • The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
  • How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
  • Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
  • Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
  • Jerusalem: A Cookbook
See similar books…
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have been called the brightest young author team on the culinary scene today's on NPR. Their previous books Becoming a Chef, Dining Out, and The New American Chef have all been finalists for or winners of James Beard and/or IACP Book Awards.

Their landmark book Culinary Artistry, the first- known reference on culinary composition and flavor compatibility, establishe

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
11 likes · 2 comments
“once we wanted to make a cookie with a really concentrated flavor. So, we threw cookies into the dehydrator, and turned them into powder. This created a new building block for flavor. [Instead of the flour you would normally use in your dough,] you weigh the powdered cookies out as your starch in your normal cookie recipe. But this starch is now a carrier of flavor for the end product—so the resulting cookie now tastes more like it “should” than it would have just using regular flour.” 0 likes
“The preparation, cooking, and eating of food is a sacrament. Treating it as such has the potential to elevate the quality of our daily lives like nothing else.” 0 likes
More quotes…