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Best Overall: The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert at Amazon
"Exhaustive and detailed, this is the definitive book on Moroccan cuisine."
Best for History: Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert at Amazon
"Recipes for Morocco's national dish, couscous, as well as other delicacies."
Best for Food Culture: Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse at Amazon
"Accessible recipes are paired with details of Moroccan life, complete with colorful photos."
Best Variety: Morocco: A Culinary Journey by Jeff Koehler at Amazon
"Learn about the diverse cultural traditions and cuisines of each Moroccan region."
Best Modern: Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou at Amazon
"A Michelin Star chef shares stories and modern takes on traditional dishes."
"Both traditional and modern variations on tagine, the one-pot stew that's a cornerstone of this cuisine."
Best for Culinary Heritage: Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez by Madame Guinaudeau at Amazon
"A tasty introduction to the cultural heritage and cuisine of an ancient city."
Best for Street Food: Cafe Morocco by Anissa Helou at Amazon
"Simple recipes for Moroccan street food, complete with colorful illustrations."
If you're in the market for an introductory cookbook on Moroccan cuisine, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the array of titles that have been published on the topic. Or, if you already have a few books and want to grow your collection, it can be hard to decipher which books are worth acquiring.
Here, I list my top picks for popular cookbooks that will successfully bring the traditional flavors and recipes of Morocco into your kitchen, as well as lesser-known books that can serve as reference material for those who want to explore the cuisine in depth. Additionally, you'll find books that capture the modern spirit of an ever-evolving cuisine.
Here, the best Moroccan cookbooks so you can start cooking.
Best Overall: The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert
If there is just one book to own on the topic of Moroccan food, this is probably the one you'll want to invest in. A hefty volume both in size and number of pages, the book, written by one of the foremost experts on Mediterranean cooking, Paula Wolfert, explains the dishes, ingredients, and methods in authoritative detail. An excellent collection of reliable, traditional recipes helps give broad exposure to the cuisine.
The recipes in this book come from the author's forty years' worth of research of, and experience with, Moroccan cuisine. They range from spiced harira (lentil and chickpea soup) to Berber skillet bread to chicken with olives and preserved lemons to couscous with seven vegetables. Wolfert also includes essays on food preparation techniques and the background behind essential ingredients such as argan oil, cumin seed, and saffron. Plus, this book includes sumptuous, full-color photographs.
Best for History: Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert
The predecessor to The Food of Morocco (above), this is the title that helped launch Paula Wolfert's award-winning cookbook writing career and establish her reputation as an expert on Moroccan and Mediterranean cooking. Although the book is decades old, it remains relevant and is treasured by many who own it.
This book was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2008, and it's not hard to see why. It includes dozens of well-researched and carefully compiled recipes on not only the many varieties of couscous dishes, but also delicacies such as bisteeyas, which are pies made of thick, flaky layers of pastry and filled with a variety of foods. A bonus: each chapter has a tidbit on one aspect of Moroccan food culture, such a vivid description of the ubiquitous souk, or marketplace.
Best for Food Culture: Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse
The Casablanca-born author has written a number of cookbooks about her native cuisine. This is one which I'm particularly glad to have in my own collection. Although modest in size, it effectively delivers both Moroccan charm and authentic and straightforward recipes sure to yield pleasing results.
Plus, the more than 100 recipes are accompanied by the author's own history growing up in Morocco, as well as helpful time-saving cooking tips and lush color photos, both on location in Morocco and of gorgeous food stills.
Best Variety: Morocco: A Culinary Journey by Jeff Koehler
Beautiful writing, beautiful photos, and recipes that yield praiseworthy results. What's not to like about this book? The author takes you through a historical, cultural, and culinary journey through Morocco, from the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts to the Sahara. This makes this cookbook one to add to your own collection for both reading and cooking.
The more than 70 recipes in this collection feature the diverse flavor profiles and cooking styles of Moroccan cuisine, influenced by Spanish, Arab, and Berber cultures, and includes a wide range of dishes, from classic tagines to filled pastries to fragrant sweets to street eats. Plus, the author, also a photographer, captures the immediacy of Moroccan marketplaces and the serene stretch of date palms in the town of Zagora with his sumptuous color photographs.
Best Modern: Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou
The author is the owner and chef of an acclaimed Moroccan restaurant, Aziza. He shares fresh, modern adaptations of time-honored dishes while keeping the reader (and cook) connected to Moroccan culinary tradition. He does so in the form of 100-plus recipes that include all the classics we've come to expect from Moroccan cooking, such as tagines, couscous, basteeyas, and more, but adapted in unexpected, creative ways—and still maintaining the essence of the culinary tradition's flavors and textures. Plus, the recipes come in the form of very detailed, methodical directions, and are accompanied by stories of the author's childhood cooking with his grandparents, historical background on many of the dishes, specific techniques such as how to handle phyllo dough, and vibrant illustrations.
Best for Tagines: Tagines and Couscous: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-Pot Cooking
In this collection of authentic recipes, compiled by food writer and restaurant critic Ghillie Basan, you'll find flavorful variations on the tagine, a cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine. This hearty, fragrant one-pot casserole is traditionally cooked in a vessel of the same name. There are more traditional recipes, such as chicken tagine with preserved lemons and green olives, and lamb tagine with dates, almonds, and pistachios. But there are also more modern recipes, such as eggplant tagine with cilantro and mint, and monkfish tagine with tomatoes, potatoes, and black olives.
Plus, this book has ideas for how to complete your Moroccan-style meal, with recipes for various couscous dishes (which traditionally accompanies tagines), as well as other recipes for vegetable and salad sides.
Best for Culinary Heritage: Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez by Madame Guinaudeau
Translated from French to English, this small paperback is not glossy, but it makes a nice read and gives insight into some of the cooking traditions associated with Fez. One of the most authentic recipe books out there, this book covers everything from how to preserve lemons for tagines to how to make the ideal Moroccan bread. It includes traditional recipes for tagines, couscous, harira, basteeyas, and more—but note that many of them are for 10 to 20 people, so you'll have to adjust accordingly if you're cooking for fewer. The book also contains vivid descriptions of Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco, with the author taking us on a tour through the spice markets of the city, to a potter's workshop, and into a wealthy host's banquet, for example.
It's a nice supplement to my own collection and you may find it an interesting addition to yours as well.
Best for Street Food: Cafe Morocco by Anissa Helou
I like this little book's layout: it's simple and colorful. I also admire the selection of recipes included; they use authentic seasoning and have lovely presentations. Filled with 75 easy-to-prepare recipes, this book takes you into the medina, or the old part of a town or city in Morocco, and gives you a taste of the variety of street foods found there. These recipes encompass everything from sides such as grilled pepper and tomato salad, to mains such as lamb tagine with prunes, to desserts such as pastry crescents with almond paste. Colorful and informative photographs round out the book.
This will enhance your own cooking of Moroccan dishes and also serve you well when looking for inspiration or researching recipe comparisons.