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Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  35,361 ratings  ·  1,899 reviews
A visionary new master class in cooking that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements, from the woman declared “America’s next great cooking teacher” by Alice Waters.

In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and wri
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Sarah Absolutely. There definitely is a good amount in the book that deals with animal products, but there's still a bunch of info on cooking veggies/grains…moreAbsolutely. There definitely is a good amount in the book that deals with animal products, but there's still a bunch of info on cooking veggies/grains etc. with precision. It's really half instruction manual, half recipes. Frankly it just has good, common-sense well tested advice backed up with science and pretty illustrations. Good for anyone who wants to cook anything better.(less)
Cecelia I agree. I had the same thought. Glad it wasn't just me!
Update: I found an interview at and realized - the TE…more
I agree. I had the same thought. Glad it wasn't just me!
Update: I found an interview at and realized - the TEXT is actually wrong (last line of paragraph 2 on this page). Illustration is wrong, BUT actually does match the (incorrect) text(less)

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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  35,361 ratings  ·  1,899 reviews

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Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, cooking
Full review at Leveled Up Reading

I love a good cookbook, but Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat goes beyond the normal boundaries of the genre. I would almost say that this book is like the kosher salt in your kitchen - it's going to enhance alllll the other recipes and cookbooks in your life. Personally, I have more confidence in my cooking than before reading this book, AND my food is more delicious. I couldn't' really ask for anything more!
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is flat-out genius and more than deserves all the praise it received. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is far from a normal cookbook: Nosrat uses approachable, funny prose and helpful drawings to explain the basics of cooking and baking by considering the elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat. In this way the book really teaches you how to cook everything, not just the recipes clustered at the book's conclusion. This is a cookbook you actually READ vs flipping through a litany of recipes before g ...more
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat does offer an interesting way to think about the preparation of food, but I didn't find it “indispensable” or one that I “can't imagine living without” as Michael Pollan writes in the foreword. Author Samin Nosrat tells us that “there are only four basic factors that determine how good your food will taste: salt, which enhances flavor; fat, which amplifies flavor and makes appealing textures possible; acid, which brightens and balances; and heat, which ultimately determines ...more
Ariel ✨
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you order takeout for every meal or have a personal chef, feel free to ignore this book. Everyone else on the planet, do yourselves a favor and read her first four chapters! I consider myself a decent cook for an untrained young adult with mediocre cookware, but Samin Nosrat blew my mind with her simple and honest tips and lessons. Apparently, I've been using the wrong salt this whole time, bottled lime juice is the devil, you don't melt the butter for baked goods!!!, and acid is way underuti ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I was frustrated by this book. But it was also fantastic.

Why it's good: It's just an excellent explanation for cooking and a great way to view the whole enterprise. I love cooking and am pretty decent at making the stuff I like, but there was a lot in here that you get intuitively as a cook that is nice to see explained and spelled out. Like the acid part. I already love salt and I have intuitively used acid (lemon and vinegar) in most of my foods, but it was great to understand why.

The frustr
I bought this after seeing her at an author talk. She's INCREDIBLY fun and lively and the book is wonderfully illustrated. She brings a lot of cooking experience, humor, and scientific knowledge to her explanation of how an understanding of the four basics of salt, fat, acid and heat can enable you to cook pretty much anything in the kitchen.
Perversely, what I found was that this book actually made me feel more intimidated about cooking, not less, despite her funny stories about real-life kitche
Kaytee Cobb
Never have I ever: sat on the couch andnread every single page of a cookbook from cover to cover. Nope, drink. Because now I have and my life and my kitchen will be forget changed. Freaking fantastic. 5 tasty (salty, fatty, acidic, perfectly heated) stars.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a great idea for a cookbook! I feel like this should be required reading for anyone even marginally interested in cooking. For one thing, it's fascinating, and very well written. But perhaps more importantly, Ms. Nosrat provides a non-intimidating guide to correcting the mistakes (over- or under-seasoning, not knowing which ingredients pair well together, not knowing how to cook a cut of meat, etc.) that scare folks out of the kitchen. Genius! The number one comment I hear when I talk about ...more
Juli Anna
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: LITERALLY EVERYONE
Shelves: favorites, cookbooks
I do not purchase cookbooks lightly, but I will be seeking out a copy of this one. I will also be enthusiastically recommending this book to everyone I know with a kitchen and tastebuds. This is the rare cookbook that transcends boundaries of cooking experience, background, and personal taste preferences. I would just as easily recommend this book to a picky eater who's just starting out cooking as to a voracious and kitchen-experienced foodie.

Nosrat has created a solid system for teaching peopl
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, nonfiction
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Alas, flavor is on the tongue of the eater. Even Chef Samin Nosrat is aware of this sad fact: “The sad truth is that most Americans accustomed to the taste of rancid olive oil, actually prefer it.” (p.65) Nevertheless, she persists!

This is no ordinary cookbook. It is about managing flavor. The key elements are salt, acid, fat and heat. Ultimately, Nosrat is urging us to recalibrate our relationship with food. One way to articulate our current relationship i
Sarah E
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember ever being so disappointed in a cookbook. The hype was HUGE!
First off, I should say that there is a massive gap between home cooking and cheffing, and I am a home cook with a home cook's preoccupations: put healthy food on the table, 3 X's a day, with variety, an eye to seasonality and what's on sale at the grocery store, using as few pots as possible, wasting as little as possible. I don't often have dinner parties. I'm not looking to WOW every meal, but I want every meal to b
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so interesting! I never read regular cook books because I just Google specific recipes when I need to. This book is a "how to cook book" or cooking theory. There are lots of things that seem obvious once I read them (like places that have meadows for grazing use lots of butter, but other places use other oils/fats. Duh, but I had never thought about it.) Or some things that I had read in recipes but didn't get the reasoning (like let ingredients come to room temperature before begin ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Only a few years ago, I ate mostly frozen pizza and restaurant take-out. I'd always had an interest in cooking, but the way it is usually taught did not appeal to me. You see, I hate recipes and following directions. Doing things one after another without understanding why it works or doesn't work sounded like a chore.

Then I discovered an online class called Foodist Kitchen. I went from only cooking frozen food to making my own meals from scratch, almost daily, often without a recipe. And my mea
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Kind of disappointing overall, but that's a relative opinion. I'm pretty sure the value of this rises in direct proportion to how little time the reader has spent cooking & learning about food prior to picking this up, and how much patience one has for the story part of recipe blogs. After a few pages the tone goes from breezy to grating fast. Yes, it has useful information even for experienced cooks, but it doesn't really feel "indispensable."

Also, omitting garlic and adding ginger instead to t
Otis Chandler
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The informational chapters with the basics on Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat are highly worth it to get a good base. I've made a bunch of the recipes this year too - have really enjoyed this cookbook. ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was kind of fascinating to listen too. This author had some great tips. I was in awe because I wasn't really expecting useful information, and it turned out, there was plenty of useful information to be found. I thought it would be more of a history of cooking and it wasn't.

The author talks about the benefits of salt, fat, acid & heat. But also when, how and what kind will produce the best results. The author was also very personable. I liked that she seemed like a mere mortal capable of l
Anita Pomerantz
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely learned some new tricks, but I thought the salt and fat and heat sections were stronger than the acid section, where I need the most help! I think the concept of balance still feels elusive and that is what I want to learn. But I definitely moved in the right direction and made a much improved roast chicken! The author has a great "voice", and I look forward to trying things she suggested. ...more
Kayleigh Wiebe
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that if you are an experienced chef, or just know your way around a kitchen, this might be a bit introductory for you. However, as a person sort-of new to the world of cooking, I found that I learned a lot from this book! Although, I wish I hadn’t just listened to the audiobook version, as I feel like it would be very helpful to have a physical copy to refer back to on a regular basis while cooking or menu planning.
Anna Dawson
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whether you’re a novice at cooking or a dab hand in the kitchen, this is essential reading. Nosrat’s abundant enthusiasm for the ritual of cooking is infectious, and her guidance is thorough and informative, without ever being overwhelming. The written passages are paired with beautiful illustrations, which breathe life into the ingredients and methods described.
Traci at The Stacks
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever owned. Totally liberating for the at home cook. Thoughtful and clear. Makes me excited to cook and try new things.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2018
I was not a fan of the wide-eyed "well golly!" tone of the author's writing/reading (listened to this book as an audiobook). I felt completely talked down to, and for the first two sections I gleaned very little that I did not already know. The acid section gave me some new pointers, and overall I enjoyed the science of the heat section, but generally I didn't get much out of this book.

Would be a great gift for someone really new to food, who likes science and can forgive an author who clearly o
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Maybe it was hyped too much and my expectations were too high, but I didn't find this book life-changing. Interesting and helpful enough, but oddly, it didn't make me want to jump up and cook everything, which is what usually happens when I read such books. Also, for my own tastes, it was very meat-heavy. ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I learned some things from this book, like how to properly salt food. But it was also very repetitive and I wasn't overly inspired by the recipe selection. ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: woman-authored
Samin Nosrat's "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" is that rare cookbook that you should read cover to cover.

Four elements form the basis of all flavor and deliciousness in food. Salts enhance flavor, bringing out hidden tastes you otherwise might miss. Fat adds depth and texture to flavor. Acid balances flavor - it offers a sharpness to otherwise heavy foods. And heat is the conductor that brings it all together. Nosrat's method, which focuses on these four essentials, will help any reader become what I ha
Carlos Martinez
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
In a break from my regular diet of politics, history, economics, fiction and pop-sci, I decided to read a book about cooking. It's a fun book that will make you a better cook and help you to understand the basic science of food prep. It's helping me become a bit less reliant on recipes and to develop my instinct for what to cook and how to cook it. ...more
Bonnie Brandt
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this “cookbook”. It is not a book full of recipes. It is a book that teaches you how to cook. I like to cook and bake but always said I have more of an eye for a recipe than someone who can just throw things together and make them taste delicious.

This book changed that. I realized I have a lot more knowledge than I knew. I’ve read a lot of recipe books and a lot of cooking books that assure me I can cook without a recipe. This is the first one that made me believe I can and what’s more i
Callum McAllister
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yup, I read this cookbook from start to finish. And, yup: it's really really good. It has a lot about meat but is still great reference for the vegetarian, particularly in going through techniques and the various flavour charts throughout the book, which show which flavours you might want to pair together when cooking a particular meal from whichever part of the world. I learned quite a lot and am going to continue flipping back to reference parts of it for a long while. ...more
Isabelle Leo
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-winter
Wow!! So clear and so straightforward, so well structured! I really feel like I'm going to retain the facts she taught me, the underlying principles, and the values - experimentation, practice, trusting my senses. I can't wait to start cooking the recipes in the back. I know I will refer to and reread most of the explanatory sections again and again. 2019 is the year of Samin ...more
Maggi LeDuc
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Learned so much about cooking and recipe creation. This is the first cookbook I've read from start to finish and I don't regret it one bit. ...more
Becky Pliego
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book to learn new techniques, methods, and also understand "Why's" in the kitchen. Very helpful and fun.

I have already tried some of her recipes and they have been fantastic.
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Articles featuring this book

Chef, writer, and cookbook author Samin Nosrat's first book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking not only...
55 likes · 9 comments
“Season food with the proper amount of salt at the proper moment; choose the optimal medium of fat to convey the flavor of your ingredients; balance and animate those ingredients with acid; apply the right type and quantity of heat for the proper amount of time—do all this and you will turn out vibrant and beautiful food, with or without a recipe.” 6 likes
“Let all meats—except for the thinnest cuts—come to room temperature before you cook them. The larger the roast, the earlier you can pull it out of the fridge. A rib roast should sit out for several hours, while a chicken needs only a couple,” 3 likes
More quotes…