The Mediterranean diet has been lauded by experts as a healthy diet plan, particularly as it relates to “prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan, and healthy aging,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The diet is known for its focus on fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, whole grains, red wine, and minimal dairy—inspired by certain Mediterranean regions that had longer life expectancies and less chronic disease during the mid-20th century. With such promising research, many have turned to this diet to improve their health.
Whether you’re hoping to strictly adhere to this diet or want to casually begin incorporating some Mediterranean flavors into your cooking, we rounded up the best Mediterranean cookbooks to get you started.
The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook
Thorough collection of recipes
Meal planning suggestions
Recipe tags for quick and/or vegetarian meals
Contains 500 recipes
More recipe photos would be ideal
The word “complete” is in this title for a reason: The book boasts over 500 recipes inspired by the Mediterranean region, many of them quick enough to make as weeknight meals with accessible ingredients. The number of recipes in each chapter has been thoughtfully designed to follow the Mediterranean diet pyramid, emphasizing certain foods over others (for instance, more seafood than poultry and meat).
A helpful introduction section explains the Mediterranean diet, reviews essential pantry ingredients, and even offers meal and menu planning pairings. Nutritional information is provided for all recipes, and there are convenient recipe tags for those that take under 45 minutes and those that are vegetarian-friendly. Recipes including shakshuka, braised lamb shanks with bell peppers and harissa, and chilled yogurt and cucumber soup will expand your taste buds while keeping health in mind. And yes, there’s even a (fruit-centric) dessert chapter.
Price at time of publish: $36
Number of Recipes: 500 | Pages: 440 | Published: 2016 | Formats: Hardcover, paperback, e-reader
“There are 20+ countries in the Mediterranean region, so this diet has a wide variety of cuisines and flavors. Some popular dishes include shakshuka, hummus, Greek salad, and seafood paella.” — Anne Danahy, RD, Author of “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two: 100 Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Healthy Eating"
Best for Beginners
5-Ingredient Mediterranean Cookbook: 101 Easy & Flavorful Recipes for Every Day
Helpful pantry section
Recipes only require five ingredients
More recipe photos would be ideal
You don’t need dozens of ingredients to make a delicious meal, and this cookbook proves just that. With just five ingredients for each recipe, prep time is super quick—perfect for those who want to get food on the table fast. A useful introduction section reviews the basics of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, discusses storing and shopping tips, and contains a helpful pantry section to make sure you have what you need on hand. With recipes such as fig and mascarpone crostini and white pizza with prosciutto and arugula, there is something for everyone.
Price at time of publish: $17
Number of Recipes: 101 | Pages: 156 | Published: 2020 | Format: Paperback
Best for Instant Pot
Mediterranean Instant Pot: Easy, Inspired Meals for Eating Well
Authorized by Instant Pot
Nutritional information provided
Guide (with troubleshooting tips) for using Instant Pot
Recipes are thoughtfully organized
Recipes not tested with other pressure cooker brands
America’s Test Kitchen is at it again, this time combining the popular Mediterranean diet with the also popular Instant Pot to provide home cooks with convenient, delicious meals. For those in a time crunch, the majority of recipes can be made in under one hour, and each of the 95 recipes have full nutritional information provided. If you’re new to using an Instant Pot, the introduction section covers the basics, so you’ll be set up for success. Recipes including lamb meatballs with pickled onions, couscous and tahini, and spiced rice pilaf with pomegranate and sweet potatoes will keep you coming back to this book—and your Instant Pot—time and time again.
Price at time of publish: $28
Pages: 192 | Published: 2019 | Format: Hardcover, e-reader
“When looking for a cookbook, look at the author's background and credentials: Are they from the Mediterranean region? Are they a health professional who has researched the diet or used it with clients? Also, do they provide tools to help you get started, like grocery lists, meal plans, and product recommendations? Finally, flip through the recipes to make sure they match up with your level of cooking skills and taste preferences.” — Anne Danahy, RD, Author of “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two: 100 Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Healthy Eating”
Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook: 125+ Simple, Healthy Recipes for Living Well
Clean produce information
Contains 125+ recipes
Ingredients can be sourced locally
More recipe photos would be ideal
With such an emphasis on fruits and vegetables within the Mediterranean diet, it’s no surprise that this diet overlaps handily with a vegetarian diet. The introduction covers all the pantry essentials and shopping tips. The book also includes a list of the “clean 15” and “dirty dozen” to give a better understanding of buying produce and pesticide use. The 125 recipes range from panzanella salad and roasted cauliflower tagine to baklava—so tasty and satisfying that you won’t even miss the meat.
Price at time of publish: $17
Number of Recipes: 125+ | Pages: 202 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Paperback, e-reader
Best for the Coffee Table
Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food
Three-ingredient recipes for snacks
Most recipes have accompanying photos
Written by a registered dietitian
Has fewer than 80 recipes
Author Sheela Prakash, RD has written what feels like a Mediterranean cookbook, textbook, coffee table book, and diary all in one. Readers say the introduction and notes on every recipe make them feel like they really get to know Prakash and her love for Mediterranean food. She writes with a personal tone, sharing bits of her time living in Italy and her approach to cooking. It's very casual and relaxed.
The book features more than 75 recipes with photos that users describe as “gorgeous” and “mouth watering.” There is a good variety of recipes that not only range in level of difficulty (a.k.a beginner-friendly) but also in terms of ingredients. The Mediterranean diet includes a lot of seafood and other lean animal proteins, but the book offers many vegetarian-friendly recipes, too.
Price at time of publish: $27
Number of Recipes: 75+ | Pages: 208 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Hardcover, e-reader
“This is a perfect choice for someone who wants to learn to cook healthy, creative Mediterranean diet recipes,” says Anne Danahy, RD, author of “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two: 100 Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Healthy Eating.” “The author is a registered dietitian as well as a recipe developer, so the recipes are creative and delicious as well as healthy. I love the author's emphasis on stocking your pantry with quality ingredients and why each one is integral to the Mediterranean diet.”
Best for Two
The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two: 100 Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Healthy Eating
Author is a registered dietitian
Introduction references scientific studies
Could use more recipe photos
Many cookbook recipes are meant for four, six, and even eight servings, but for households of just two, that much food can be unnecessary and lead to far too many nights of leftovers—that’s why we appreciate books such as this, geared specifically toward small households. An introduction section reviews the basic principles and science of the Mediterranean diet, breaking down good vs. bad fats and explaining the Mediterranean diet pyramid. There are 100 recipes, ranging from desserts including lemon panna cotta with blackberries to mains such as easy shrimp paella and sides including orzo-stuffed tomatoes.
Price at time of publish: $18
Number of Recipes: 100 | Pages: 212 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Paperback, spiral-bound, e-reader
Best for Weeknights
The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health
Authors are registered dietitians
Recipes tagged for allergens
Great for beginners
Dishes require just 30 minutes
Could use more recipe photos
Adopting a new diet can be a tricky learning process, but it’s a lot easier to stick to if it’s simple and less time-consuming—that's where this book comes into play, as the 101 recipes are designed to take less than 30 minutes to prepare. The introduction section outlines the Mediterranean diet, explaining the health benefits, food pyramid, and overall principles. Recipes including Mediterranean lentil sloppy joes, tahini chicken rice bowls, and honey-cherry walnut brownies will have dinner and dessert on the table in no time, but with flavor as if you’d been cooking for hours.
Price at time of publish: $18
Number of Recipes: 101 | Pages: 196 | Published: 2018 | Formats: Paperback, spiral-bound, e-reader
The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: The Optimal Keto-Friendly Diet that Burns Fat, Promotes Longevity, and Prevents Chronic Disease
Scientific explanations and diagrams
Very specific target audience
Following one diet is challenging enough, but following two simultaneously makes it that much harder. Because the Mediterranean diet promotes carbohydrates like grains, it isn’t appealing to everyone, but with this hybrid diet, you get many of the Mediterranean diet benefits minus the carbs. The thorough introduction section explains this hybrid option and dives into the health science, complete with diagrams. These 100 recipes include tasty dishes such as superfood shakshuka, almond pistachio biscotti, and chilled avocado pesto soup.
Price at time of publish: $27
Number of Recipes: 100 | Pages: 208 | Published: 2021 | Formats: Paperback, spiral-bound, e-reader
The Sicily Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from a Mediterranean Island
Based on local Sicilian culture
Infused with cultural knowledge
Features local chefs
Some ingredients might be hard to find
The Mediterranean refers to more than 20 countries, and Italy is one of them, including the island of Sicily. This cookbook includes instructions on how to make classic Sicilian dishes, such as pasta alla Norma, Sicilian baked sausage, and Sicilian orange bread. It also includes lighter recipes that call for more plant-based ingredients, such as black lentils and artichokes.
The author isn’t afraid to share the spotlight and share more than just her beautiful recipes, as reviewers say. The book features profiles of local chefs and food developers as well as full-page photography of Sicilian architecture and breathtaking landscapes. Readers really feel like they’re taking a tour of the Mediterranean island, including all the sights and bites that attract travelers.
Price at time of publish: $30
Number of Recipes: 70+ | Pages: 240 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Hardcover, e-reader
Best for Meal Planning
The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners: Meal Plans, Expert Guidance, and 100 Recipes to Get You Started
More than 100 recipes
Includes meal plans
Written by a registered dietitian
Recipes are simple
Recipes include many common food allergens
If you’re looking for someone to hold your hand as you navigate the Mediterranean diet, this book is for you. It’s a cookbook, but it also contains a 14-day meal plan and food lists to make your next two weeks a breeze. Written by a registered dietitian, the book also includes expert guidance as author Elena Paravantes, RDN shares her top shopping and cooking tips.
“This is an excellent book for anyone who is curious about the Mediterranean diet, or whose doctor recommends it,” says Danahy. “The author provides helpful background information on the diet as well as easy-to-use tools, like grocery lists and meal planning tools to make it easy for anyone to get started with this eating pattern. Recipes are authentic, but not overly complicated.”
Price at time of publish: $20
Number of Recipes: 100 | Pages: 192 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Paperback, spiral-bound, e-reader
Nistisima: The secret to delicious Mediterranean vegan food
Filled with tips and insights
Instructions are in block paragraph format
Some don’t prefer religion aspect
Author Georgina Hayden looked primarily to Greece for her Mediterranean-themed vegan cookbook. Many of the 120 plant-based recipes within the book utilize common Greek ingredients, such as orzo, olives, walnuts, and garlic. Even the title “Nistisima” is Greek, meaning “fasting.” The book is filled with traditionally inspired meals for modern vegan living. A few highlights include pepper-braised cabbage wedges, lentil and pasta soup, and even desserts such as chocolate-orange pudding. Of course, Hayden also includes recipes and influences from other Mediterranean places, including parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Number of Recipes: 120 | Pages: 304 | Published: 2022 | Formats: Hardcover, e-reader
Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle
More than 100 paleo and gluten-free recipes
Includes shopping guides
Has substitutions and swap suggestions
Two 30-day meal plans
Little to no nutrition count information
The paleo diet focuses on foods and ingredients that were available to our ancestors in the Paleolithic Period, including meats, nuts, seafood, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Typically, the diet also avoids farming-related products, such as dairy or breads. “Mediterranean Paleo Cooking” covers over 150 paleo recipes, which are also naturally gluten-free. The entries in this book are surprisingly diverse, ranging from modified comfort foods (think pizza and brownies) to Mediterranean staples, such as falafel and moussaka.
Number of Recipes: 150+ | Pages: 432 | Published: 2014 | Formats: Paperback, e-book
Best Air Fryer
Mediterranean Air Fryer: 95 Healthy Recipes to Fry, Roast, Bake, and Grill
Neat, clean, easy-to-read layout
Includes prep and cook times
Great for beginners or seasoned air fryer cooks
Directions may not translate to every air fryer model
Air fryers have grown incredibly popular over the past few years, thanks to their versatility and convenience. Many cookbooks have cropped up as a result, including “Mediterranean Air Fryer: 95 Healthy Recipes to Fry, Roast, Bake, and Grill” by Katie Hale. It includes more than just breakfast, lunch, and dinner, also covering snacks, sides, and desserts. There are step-by-step air frying instructions, so even people new to air fryers can create lovely Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
Number of Recipes: 95 | Pages: 168 | Published: 2020 | Formats: Paperback, spiral-bound, e-reader
Best for Quick Meals
Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook
Most recipes take less than 30 minutes
Includes one photograph per recipe
Focuses more on Middle Eastern recipes than strictly Mediterranean
Life is busy and many people don’t have the extra time or energy to spend in the kitchen, but what if you still want a nice, home-cooked meal? Enter “Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook.” This book contains 130 recipes inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine–almost all of which are simple and take less than a half hour to make. Highlights include braised eggs with leeks and za’atar, lamb and feta meatballs, and Iranian herb fritters. The “simple” in “Ottolenghi: Simple” is actually a clever acronym–Short on time, 10 ingredients or less, Make ahead, Pantry, Lazy, and Easier than you think–which is broken down in the introduction of the book.
Number of Recipes: 130 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2018 | Formats: Hardcover, spiral-bound, e-reader
Our winner, "The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook," includes 500 recipes, meal planning suggestions, and much more. The "5-Ingredient Mediterranean Cookbook," however, is both budget-friendly and great for beginners.
What to Look for in a Mediterranean Cookbook
Number of Recipes
Cookbooks vary in how many recipes they contain, as this is largely impacted by page count and how many photos or illustrations are included. You don’t always need to go for the book with the greatest number of recipes, of course, but you should consider how you plan to use the book and then think about the number of recipes.
If you plan to cook exclusively from this new book as a part of your new diet, purchasing a book with more recipes will give you more options and variety; this might be particularly helpful if you’re cooking for a larger family with lots of different meal preferences. On the other hand, if you plan to use the book only occasionally or for cooking for a particular family member or guest, you don’t necessarily need quite as many recipes and can opt for a smaller book. Quality is what matters, not quantity.
We’re adults—we don’t always need pictures in our books. But if you’re a visual learner, having photos in cookbooks can be a huge help, not only through various recipe steps, but also to get a better idea of what the final dish should look like for serving purposes. If you’re an experienced cook, you may not need all the photos, but it’s certainly more fun and motivating to flip through a book with visuals. Before you buy a book, flip through it and see if you’re okay with the text-to-image ratio. If your priority is to purchase a larger, utilitarian, workhorse cookbook with hundreds of recipes in it, it likely will have fewer photos due to space constraints.
Though a relatively minor detail, special tags at the top of recipes that call out allergens (for example, if a recipe is gluten-free), special diets (for example, if a recipe is vegan), or special conditions (for example, if it’s a one-pot or a 30-minutes-or-less recipe) can be a huge help. Whether you’re cooking for guests with special dietary needs or you get home late from work and only have 30 minutes to make dinner, these tags can help you narrow down your best recipe options more quickly in a given situation.
A clean layout is paramount to a great cookbook. After all, if it’s too difficult to read, you’re not likely to use it. Highlights of an easy to use cookbook can include numbered directions, substitutions for ingredients, information like serving sizes or cook time, pictures with each recipe, conversion tables, a well-organized table of contents, helpful tips.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a popular diet that’s proven to be particularly helpful when it comes to heart health. It's recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and World Health Organization, according to the Mayo Clinic, as a means to “promote health and prevent chronic disease.”
There is not a specific definition to this diet—it’s more of a general lifestyle and eating pattern based on Mediterranean region countries, including Greece and Italy, that were having significantly fewer deaths due to heart disease, as observed in the 1960s. Since then, studies have shown that this diet is correlated with reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease, according to Mayo Clinic. This diet emphasizes plants (lots of fruits and veggies); healthy fats (extra-virgin olive oil); whole grains (farro, anyone?); weekly portions of fish, poultry, beans, and eggs; moderate dairy; and limited red meat. Red wine is also OK in moderation.
How do I start eating Mediterranean food?
There are two wonderful ways to try Mediterranean foods. One is to find local Mediterranean restaurants in your area–the more authentic, the better. It’s a great way to try new flavors and cuisine without making a huge commitment. If you know you like the taste of Mediterranean foods, the next step is finding a good cookbook to make Mediterranean dishes at home. Remember, the Mediterranean is home to a range of different cuisines, including (but not necessarily limited to) France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Libia, Algeria, and Bosnia.
Here are some popular Mediterranean dishes to check out: lamb moussaka, fattoush salad, Moroccan tagine, seafood paella, and mushroom risotto.
What are the top 10 foods of a Mediterranean diet?
Given that the Mediterranean diet is named after the sea the region surrounds, it should come as no surprise that seafood is a main staple. That said, there are a number of other foods that are commonly found in Mediterranean diets, including:
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts (especially walnuts, almonds, and cashews)
- Lamb or goat
- Rice and other grains
- Pasta and breads
- Cheese and yogurt
- Spices and herbs (smoked paprika, sumac, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper flakes)
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and cookbook enthusiast, collecting dozens over the years and always turning to them for inspiration, whether it’s a time-consuming weekend baking project or just a quick Monday night dinner. Having worked in the cookbook publishing world in the past, she knows what it takes to create a quality book that delivers something new and exciting to readers—particularly in an increasingly online world.
Lacey Muinos is a food and wellness writer. She’s followed a plant-based diet for more than five years and loves Mediterranean staples, including hummus, pita bread, olive oil, and legumes.
Allison Wignall, who updated this article, is head-over-heels in love with the Mediterranean region. She’s traveled to Italy and Greece multiple times, and always enjoys the rich cultures and cuisines there. In her free time, she loves trying to recreate the recipes at home. Her favorites include beef moussaka and Italian gnocchi.
Harvard School of Public Health. Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet.