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

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  18,545 ratings  ·  1,430 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 4.51  · 
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 ·  18,545 ratings  ·  1,430 reviews

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Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking, netgalley
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 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
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 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
Juli Anna
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: LITERALLY EVERYONE
Shelves: cookbooks, favorites
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is splendid. I would describe myself as a decent home cook, though not foodie or cheffy, and I’ve been at it a long time yet Samin Nosrat has succeeded in completely changing the way I think about food. Notably, she changed the way I was seasoning food within the first few pages of the book and everything immediately tasted better. The importance of using acidic foods to balance flavours was also a revelation.

Experienced cooks could skip through the pages on how to chop onions and how to us
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Jan 16, 2019 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
My middle son wants this. I haven't seen it yet.
I see one reviewer says that she appreciates the tutorial, and that her main takeaway is "when in doubt, add more salt." Since that is *terrible* advice (Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us anyone? Hypertension? Edema?) for the majority of us, I will definitely preview this before gifting it to my son.

I see another that says it's all "Alice Waters this and AW that" and I agree with that reviewer that says we can read an AW book if we want
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, home
Warm, approachable, and clear. I am not an aspiring cook, as I am married to a very accomplished one and see no reason to tax myself with acquiring his level of skill, but Samin Nosrat makes me want to try my hand in the kitchen. She is a talented writer with a teacher’s gift for explanation and the humble/humorous instructive anecdote.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was always intrigued by this book but I didn’t know exactly what it was. Was it food writing? Fiction? Stories from a kitchen? Children’s book about four characters names Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat? Ok, I knew it wasn’t the last one for sure. This book is an indispensable book for anyone who wants to be a better cook. Samin breaks down these four elements, how and when to use them, and what they do for your dishes. It’s incredible how much I learned. The first half of the book is technique, the ...more
A bit of a disclaimer about my rating. It is purely for the first 45% or so of the book. Being a book on food the rest is filled with detailed recipes with very helpful detailing and a very science-ey, logical approach to cooking. Like simple things as when to salt things, salt tougher to cook beans an potatoes earlier and more generously. A lot of it is common cooking wisdom too but, here I speak for myself when I say that we overlook A LOT in our day to day cook. I found the recipes interestin ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was exactly what I needed on my culinary journey. I've been teaching myself to cook over the last six years through books, cooking classes, and experimentation, but I've encountered gaps in my knowledge that I didn't know how to fill. This book showed me the light! I now understand the fundamentals of WHY something I'm attempting to cook is working or not working, and I also have so many new ideas.
Gretchen Alice
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is really more of a textbook than a cookbook. Understanding the principles behind salt, fat, acid, and heat legit helped me level up as a cook. I think differently about cooking now and I'm very grateful to Samin Nosrat. Wendy MacNaughton's charming illustrations make this volume even more enjoyable to read. I can't wait to try out a few of these recipes and spend more time in the kitchen.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous! I saw Samin Nostrat on Netflix, loved her, loved all the wonderful information she offered to everyone who cooks. I just read and savored her book. I learned things I never even thought about. All exciting,useful and important information, for everyone who cooks! Wonderful book, I recommend
it to everyone who has a stove and a pot.
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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 foun...
51 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.” 5 likes
“Get used to the way the salt falls from your hands; experience the illicit thrill of using so much of something we’ve all been taught to fear.” 3 likes
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