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The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science Hardcover – Illustrated, September 21, 2015

4.9 out of 5 stars 7,969 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews


"You need The Food Lab, as J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s magnum opus is 2015’s most indispensable cookbook."
The Chicago Tribune

"[The Food Lab] promises tried-and-tested accuracy, groundbreaking technique and inarguable results. All that, plus humor."
Washington Post

"The ultimate book for science nerds who cook."

"Loaded with fascinating information…López-Alt gives you enough science for the explanations to make sense, but everything is still firmly rooted in practical home cooking."
Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

"Five years in the making, [The Food Lab is] a culmination of the wunderkind’s unlikely ascent into a cultish figure―and the face of a new kind of home cooking."
San Francisco Chronicle

"An authoritative, instant-classic reference book that’s also an engaging read."
Seattle Times

"The Food Lab is a keeper."
Chris Kimball, Wall Street Journal

"The Food Lab is The Joy of Cooking for the modern cook, and it has something to teach even the most experienced chefs."
USA Today

"A beautiful behemoth. . . . The Food Lab’s vision of “better home cooking through science”―and, I would add, through the internet―is a convincing one."
New Republic

About the Author

J. Kenji López-Alt is a chef, parent, and New York Times best-selling author of The Food Lab and Every Night Is Pizza Night. He is a wildly popular New York Times food columnist; the chief culinary advisor for Serious Eats; and the host of Kenji’s Cooking Show, which has more than a million subscribers on YouTube. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (September 21, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 958 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0393081087
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0393081084
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 6.54 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 10.8 x 8 x 1.8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 7,969 ratings

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J. Kenji L&oacute;pez-Alt is the Chief Culinary Advisor of Serious Eats, Chef/Partner at Wursthall (a San Mateo beer hall), and the author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab. His first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science is a New York Times bestseller, winner of the James Beard Award for general cooking, and was named Book of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He lives in San Mateo with his wife Adriana and daughter Alicia. For more information visit

Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5
7,969 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2020
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Chef's Opinion
By Stephanie on July 18, 2020
I was so excited for this book to arrive because I geek out over food science and I've always been fascinated by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's Serious Eats articles. However, I've never been so disappointed by a book about food. Having been classically trained and a professional chef for over a decade, I understand that I'm not the target audience here. He's almost laughing in the face of traditional methods and he's proud of it. I'm all for efficiency and trying out new methods (that's why I bought the book) but every Food Lab technique I've tried has been a disastrous failure.

The worst yet is the caramelized onions. He claims that if you add a tiny amount of baking soda to sliced onions, you can cook them at a higher temperature and they "caramelize" in a fraction of the time as the traditional method. I loved the idea because I battle with our kitchen staff about rushing caramelized onions (the flavor isn't right if you rush them). I figured this would be a nice compromise if it works so we tried it. We caramelized onions the traditional way (1.5 hours at the lowest temperature possible) alongside this version. The photo attached is 5 minutes into the cooking process. We were fascinated by the difference in color between the two methods (traditional on the left, Food Lab's version on the right or bottom). When they were done, the difference in taste was night and day. The traditional onions were a beautiful, deep golden hue and had incredible depth of flavor. The Food Lab's were bland and were such an odd yellow-orange color that someone asked if we added turmeric to them. (I should have taken a photo of the end result but my overwhelming disappointment distracted me.)

We decided to make caramelized (French) onion dip with each batch. I mean, if the "turmeric" onions made a decent French onion dip then I can get behind this method. They're getting puréed anyway so the weird mushy texture won't be noticeable in the dip, right? Wrong. It was AWFUL, only suitable for the garbage. However, the batch with the properly caramelized onions was so good that my boss texted me on an off day and asked, "do we have any more of that French onion dip anywhere?"

This book is no good for actual cooking science. The "caramelized" onions is just the tip of the iceberg. Our staff was also able to tell the difference between a classic sauce made with real chicken stock and with Lopez-Alt's fake chicken stock (chicken broth with added gelatin), among two more failed experiments before this book got tossed. I didn't even feel right about donating it or selling it because I didn't want anyone led astray with bad information.

The one positive thing it achieved is that my staff now believes me when I say there is no substitution for proper technique. Nothing has gained me more street cred with an entire kitchen staff than trying Food Lab techniques and then showing the proper, time-tested processes in comparison. Really, there is no comparison.
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Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is absolutely amazing, and also a fantastic gift
By Anne on March 29, 2017
This is a cook book that everyone must buy. It is absolutely amazing, and also a fantastic gift!! I am a scientist myself, and so the descriptions and the science behind the cooking is SO cool! Great gift for scientist friends in particular!! I have attached a few photos of some of the things I have prepared from the cook book and Kenji's website. The meals I have prepared have turned out absolutely delicious, AND they look very much like his professional photos too!!! This is the first time where I've followed the recipe, and what I make looks like what the authors made! This book is absolutely amazing. It will educate you, it will make you a smarter and more confident chef, and it will absolutely entertain you! Kenji has some subtle jokes throughout and some extremely cute pictures of dogs. Awesome book and will be purchasing for family and friends as gifts!
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313 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2016
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Top reviews from other countries

Daniel K.
2.0 out of 5 stars Cringey, haphazard, disappointing mess
Reviewed in Canada on December 12, 2020
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39 people found this helpful
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3.0 out of 5 stars Like other reviewers have mentioned
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2017
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38 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular book. Ive bought four.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 29, 2020
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8 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 30, 2018
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7 people found this helpful
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Alexander Groth
5.0 out of 5 stars Das beste aller Kochbücher
Reviewed in Germany on August 13, 2019
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26 people found this helpful
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