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Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes [Hardcover]

Harold McGee
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 28 Oct 2010 --  
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Book Description

28 Oct 2010

"A vital tool for anyone who loves food and cooking" Heston Blumenthal

There's no shortage of recipes available today and Keys to Good Cooking will help you make the most of them by telling you what works, and why.

Written by award-winning author Harold McGee, this book acts as a companion to your recipe books, providing answers to all your kitchen questions - How do I prevent my sauce from separating? At what point should I salt meat? What are the benefits of cooking 'en papillotte'? - and distils modern scientific understanding of cooking into quick and reliable guidance.

Easy-to-use and authoritative, Keys to Good Cooking is a guide to the techniques, ingredients and gadgets with which you turn recipes into delicious meals.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 553 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press (28 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202681
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 19.4 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,963,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Keys to Good Cooking, is a sort of prequel [to On Food and Cooking]: a primer in kitchen chemistry based on the principle that if you know why something happens, you might have more control over it... Even hopeless cooks will feel ahead of the curve, and are saved from condescension by McGee's calm, reassuring tone. (Guardian)

It's packed with information on subjects as diverse as how to choose the right flour, and how to cook quinces to perfection. One to make you go "ah-ha" (Delicious)

'All over America, serious cooks have often been heard to utter "TGFM", or its equivalent, 'Thank God for Harold McGee' (Vogue)

He has made the jump from mere author to timeless authority (Observer ) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Concise, accessible and authoritative guide to the best practices in home cooking from world-renowned foodwriter, Harold McGee. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing effort from outstanding author 25 Dec 2010
I found this book a disappointment, and after Dr McGee's previous seminal contributions, had expected much more. It consists of a series of 'hints' ranging from the quite useful to the banal "cold butter is too hard to spread" followed by the helpful suggestion that it should be warmed first. Similarly in a section on "Coffee and tea safety" (!)the reader is advised to "take first sips cautiously to make sure you don't take a mouthful of burning hot liquid".
I have huge respect for Dr McGee' previous books, which are truly outstanding, but this offering is not terribly useful, and was not particularly cheap. I felt as though I had had my pocket picked by a trusted and favourite uncle.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither fish nor fowl 24 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Harold McGee is famous for writing the legendary book "On Food and Cooking", one of the best books on the subject ever written. This volume is completely different. It is not a book to settle down and enjoy reading, but is a collection of handy hints to delve into as you work in the kitchen. The layout is deliberately sparse so that you may write your own comments on the page, and the tips are pithy to the point of brevity. You might expect this book to distil the arcane practical wisdom of one of the masters, but most of the tips are really prosaic and quite obvious to anyone that has spent some time cooking. Most people will be able to find something rewarding in it though - for me the best advice was how to cook the perfect fried egg, which works a treat.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed 2 Dec 2010
I pre ordered this as I loved my treasured "McGee on food and cooking" but I am afraid that this was no match. With the greatest respect, he teaches you how to suck eggs, not cook them.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't pay attention to bad reviews!! 22 Dec 2010
By tartula
Whats clear in all the bad reviews listed is the EXPECTATION of this book to be something it is not. Whats exciting about this book is that it IS different to Food and Cooking. It is more suited to the average cook at home. The vast information the first book provided, although great, is also somewhat overwhelming and intense to read. This new book is written in an easier style, giving more simple, helpful tips on how to get the best we can from our food without having to get all Heston Blumenthal on it. ENJOY it!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars a must read for any cook 25 Sep 2013
By noelia
Format:Kindle Edition
Professional or home cooks alike should read this book. A great starting point that answers lots of the questions people might have in the kitchen
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5.0 out of 5 stars Specialist, but hits the mark 26 Feb 2013
By I. Darren TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The jury remains out on this book. If one had not read other examples of this author's work there might not be such a dilemma.

In many ways this is a really good book that has pulled a lot of useful information, hints, tips, suggestions, wrinkles and the like into one place. It is after all billed as a concise and authoritative guide designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding universe of ingredients, recipes, food safety and appliances, arriving at the promised land of a satisfying dish. Yet if it was not written by Harold McGee then things would have been so much simpler. Why...?

McGee is a known, respected expert on the science of cooking and is held in the highest esteem by top-rate chefs and (without being disparaging) culinary madcaps such as Heston Blumenthal who try to push the envelope and migrate good food, innovative dishes and the science that sits behind them. So if you have thought that this is a distillation of much of McGee's knowledge you are in part wrong as you are getting his extensive take on "common sense" matters but not the more esoteric things that can make you go wow and huh? at the same time. Confused yet?

This book is, to be fair, written more for the average home cook, enthusiastic hobby chef and maybe newbie in the business. A comprehensive memory bank of things that you can possibly find elsewhere curated by a master. You are not getting the master's innermost secrets but neither are you getting the scrapings from his writing dustbin.
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