Review: Keys to Good Cooking



Remember my preview post about Harold McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes from a couple months ago? To sum it up, I was asked to be a part of a virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours – basically, I was sent some preview material and the book to read and review and post about it.

Well, the book is now available in stores and I got my copy to review from the publisher a few weeks ago and have had some time to read it. What a fun package to get in the mail! It’s definitely exciting opening a book straight from the publisher – it’s not often I see return addresses like that Winking smile

Without further adieu, welcome to today’s stop on the Virtual Book Tour!


Based on McGee’s introduction, this isn’t meant to be a cookbook – rather, it is meant to help readers with their comfort and methods in the kitchen. He writes that there’s an "abundance" of recipes online and elsewhere . . . and that it’s "all too easy to get lost along the way."

First impressions:

  • The book is much bigger than I anticipated! But it’s a good thing. It’s not so big that I wouldn’t want it on my kitchen counter, but it’s heavy enough (with its hard back) that it will stay open to my page, too.
  • While the book contains an incredible amount of information, the pages aren’t crammed with text. There is plenty of white space to keep your eyes happy and to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. In fact, the overall look of the book – cover, interior, index – is very crisp and clean.
  • The more I read, the more I wanted to read! If you think you know a good deal about cooking…think again. I learned so much reading through the sections in this book, and I think you will, too!

While I love flipping through cookbooks and magazines, books about cooking aren’t always the easiest things to just sit and read for a few hours.

But Harold’s book is different. It’s much more like a cooking encyclopedia, offering all the information you could want on just about any subject.

Want to know the best way to grill meat? He covers that.

Need to figure out how to not burn your chocolate? He’s got the information.

And the best part about this book? Everything is divided into sections and the information is easy to find. If you only want to look up something about cakes or popovers, you can do it quickly, which is definitely a good thing if you’re in the kitchen cooking when you need the information.

Plus, each chapter serves as sort of a reference section for that category of foods, letting you pick out what you want to know right then OR giving you the option to read that entire section for more information. Harold offers brief introductions about the foods or processes, along with examples to further explain things like what cheeses fit into certain categories.

Along with all the basic information, he also lists specific tips and precautions that anyone in the kitchen should be aware of, as well as possible serving suggestions.

He truly does cover just about anything you could think of, making this book a great addition to your kitchen library.

I definitely have a large number of cookbooks that I refer to often, but I think this book will be my go-to guide in the kitchen from now on. I feel like I finally have a book that really covers everything!

McGee takes all the information you WANT to know about foods and processes and food safety and serving ideas and compiles them into one clean and easy to read book. And that had to be a tough job – when you consider all the sources in print and online that we have available, I can’t imagine pulling all the information together into one place.

But I’m extremely happy that he took on the challenge and produced such a thorough book that isn’t intimidating to read. Harold approaches each subject as though he’s talking food with a friend – and that’s exactly how it should be.

I hope you enjoyed the review as much as I enjoyed reading the book!

If you’d like to learn more, go pick up the book at your local book store or online.

Also, feel free to check out what others have written about it, too – I’m not the only stop on this book tour, and it’s definitely worth reading the other reviews!


There was also a mention of his book in the November issue of Cooking Light on page 34!


  1. Thanks for the review. Sounds like one to add to my Holiday wish list.

  2. This book sounds great. I think it could teach me a lot. I’d love to pick it up!

  3. What a fun post!! Sounds like a good and info-packed book!

  4. The food sounds great! Thanks for the review!

  5. I’ve been meaning to check out that new book–looks awesome! Thanks for the review!

  6. I saw this book at the bookstore the other day and was intrigued! I may just have to go back!

  7. im sold just with the fact that its broken down and organized into individual sections! thats a huge bonus when it comes to learning and reading through a well-informed book! <3

  8. I love Harold McGee, so I have a feeling I NEED this book. It sounds pretty fabulous :) Thanks for the review!

  9. Pingback: Harold McGee, author of The Keys to Good Cooking, on tour August and October/November 2010 | TLC Book Tours

  10. “The more I read, the more I wanted to read!” That’s exactly how I feel – there is just so much in this book that is fascinating and helpful.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour – I’m so glad it was a good experience for you. :)

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