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Mexican Cookbooks

I'm having a hard time deciding between Rick Bayliss "Authentic Mexican" and Diana Kennedy "The Art of Mexican Cooking"...they have both received excellent reviews. I don't mind labor intensive recipes but would like a book with a good mix of authentic and some simple dishes to do. Thanks for the input!

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  1. I've had Kennedy's "The Cuisines of Mexico" for years and have had good results with both simple and more complex recipes, but I don't have anything by Bayliss so I can't compare them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      Here is a sampling of some Bayless recipes for you to look at:


      1. re: danhole

        From a quick scan of that site I'd say Kennedy is more traditional (I hesitate to say "authentic") Mexican and Bayless a bit more modern and adventurous. But that may just be his restaurants, not his cookbook.

    2. I like and own both. Both are good for complex/harder and also some quick/simple recipes. Splurge and get both.

      1. I'm personally unfamiliar with Kennedy's book, but I use Rick Bayliss's "Mexican Kitchen" all the time. Not only have I learned Mexican cooking techniques from it (we just took a cooking class in San Miguel de Allende where everything they taught I had learned from Bayliss's book), but he does a good job of offering lots of variations that suit lots of conditions and the availability of various ingredients. I'm a fan.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          I used to watch his PBS show "Mexico, One Plate at a Time" (is that right?) which I always found informative and fascinating.

          1. re: chicgail

            I second the recommendation for Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. One feature I love is some very simple recipes and techniques for Americanized Mexican food (The "From my American Kitchen" blurbs) in addition to the more traditional recipes, which means I'm more likely to pick up this book on a weeknight and for everyday cooking. I think this book is very user friendly, and the recipes are terrific.


            1. re: Amuse Bouches

              If you want a Bayless cookbook with simple/easy technique and recipes, check out his "Salsas That Cook". It's a skinny little book but really well done. The front section has 10 or 12 basic salsa recipes that are scaled for different yields. With each one he then provides substitutions and other suggestions for varying them a bit. The second part of the book is 50 recipes, all (except the desserts) of which use at least one of the basic salsas from the front section of the book as an ingredient.

              This is actually my favorite Rick Bayless cookbook because it is an elegantly simple and approachable cookbook and introduction to Mexican cooking. I usually recommend it to Mexican cooking novices for that reason.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                You're right. It's excellent. I make up big batches of the various salsas in the summer when good tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers are available and freeze them in 1 C. to 2C. portions.

          2. It depends on what you want - Diana Kennedy's recipes are a reflection of her years in Mexico, and tend to be more traditional. But, I love Rick Bayless's approach to using traditional methods using available ingredients and how he details "traditional" vs. "contemporary" methods in his companion book to his show Mexico One Plate at a Time (book has the same name IIRC). This way, you can see what the traditional method is, but then actually cook the contemporary method when you lack time. Also, I recommend Mexican Everyday, which is a quick and simple recipe guide, but has some really phenomenal dishes in it.

            1. It's a hard choice :-). I have all of Diana Kennedy's book except one and all of Rick's books except one. "The Art of Mexican Cooking" is probably my most used and most tatter cookbook. While I own "Authentic Mexican", I have cooked more frequently out of Rick's "Mexican Kitchen" cookbook. The recipes in both books are pretty solid, meaning that the ingredients, measurements and cooking instructions are pretty accurate. Both will also give you very detailed methods and instructions.

              Diana is a traditionalist, Rick takes a somewhat more global view in that he understands that nothing is frame frozen in time and dishes and recipes continually evolve. I cook A LOT of Mexican food and travel a lot in Mexico. My personal preference is for Diana Kennedy, but really, you can't go wrong with either one.

              1. i would go Kennedy. i have almost all of her books and use them often. the recipes are great , but her books are more than just recipes. they depict a way of life that is fast changing in many parts of mexico.

                1. thank you all for your input, i have two books by bayliss which I love but was looking to add to the collection with a text if you will...I think I will splurge and buy both, it sounds like I can't go wrong :)))

                  1. Don't have any Diana Kennedy, that's way back before I got interested in Mexican cooking. But I have three Rick Bayless, all fascinating reading. My favorite, Mexican Everyday, is superterrific. He's got absolutely precise recipes that turn out perfectly every time; he's got riffs, traditional and contemporary, on basic themes; he uses crock pots when practical, which is great. I've even managed to turn out tortillas from scratch thanks to him.
                    I especially like some of his contemporary recipes: Roasted Poblano-Potato Salad with Flaked Tuna and Creamy Corn Soup with Chicken (or Ham) and Poblano Chile, for two. His Guajillo-Spiced Pork and Potatoes is my go-to company dish. And his slow-cooker Home-Cooked Beans (which can then become Fried Beans, and adding pork, turn into a one-dish meal) is a staple for me.
                    Reserve a copy at your local library and give him a try before you buy.

                    1. I've been using Authentic Mexican for years and it's great. I've made the recipes in Mexico for Mexican family of mine, and they've all gone over extremely well. It is authentic. The others I can't vouch for....

                      1. I like the book "Food from my Heart" by Zarela Martinez. It is good basic Mexican food along with stories of her childhood food memories. Recipes are easy. It reminds me of food my mother cooked, which was the best.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: eyeluv2cook

                          I have Zarela's Oaxacan cookbook which is very good but definitely a little complicated and very regional--not to mention hard to get ingredients. Did you know she's Aaron Sanchez's mom?

                          1. re: eyeluv2cook

                            I have this one also and while I don't go to it that often, when I do it doesn't let me down.

                          2. Bayless. I have all of his cookbooks (except the one he co-wrote with his daughter) and several (possibly all) of Kennedy's and use Bayless' s all the time, and rarely use Kennedy's. Bayless' Authentic Mexican is traditional. It is his later books that are more contemporary. I highly recommend all of them.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PAO

                              I'm the opposite, I have 2 Bayless cookbooks and rarely use them. I've had Kennedy's for years and, therefore, probably use them more because I'm familiar with them. I like her style better, and her discussions of Mexican cooking and ingredients in general. She's a real gem, but I'm glad you're getting both!

                            2. Hi, have had a really hard time finding a review on this book, www.thebuenprovechobook.com does anyone know anything about this? Thanks.

                              1. Recently purchased "1,000 Mexican Recipes" (the author's name escapes me at the moment), and I like it a great deal. It is definitely traditional rather than avant garde.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  I have this too and really like it a lot. The sopa de lima (lime soup) recipe is my absolute favorite.

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Written by Marge Poore (or maybe it's just Poor).

                                    Surpringly good book with an unfortunate title

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        Dining Diva and Perilagu Khan, you've both helped me with recipes and I'm pleased to know I've got the same book you have. It's what I'm using here in Birmingham to try to bring back a little of San Diego.

                                  2. Although I don't care for the restaruant per se, this is a very good book with great recipes.


                                    1. Just to muddy the water a bit. We have had for years three books by a wonderful Mexican cook name Elena Zelayeta. She owned a restaurant in San Francisco for years. I am sure she is long gone. One of the books, "Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes" is dated 1944. The books are long out of print, but Amazon has an incredible number of used copies. The recipes are simple and straightforward and muchos sabrosos.

                                      1. Kennedy is very traditional, she learned Mexican cooking from excellent sources, they being Mexicans when she was living there- people who worked for her, people she met through them, and she was such a voracious student of Mexican cuisine that you can go crazy trying to follow some of her recipes, given that she would start with having somebody slaughter a goat for her. I love reading her books like they were biographies, we've totally worn out "The Cuisines of Mexico" once DH saw what jewels they were and started making the beans and chilorio and all the other great things she lists. I'm amazed at DH's dedication to Mexican cuisine, coming as he did from a family of Missouri Synod Lutherans with a bunch of professional home economists and a totally organized church cookbook (Campbell's soup figures very prominently)- that's what dear MIL got her degree in, and was betty Crocker and Crockpots and stouffer's lasagna all the way in the early years. She's gotten more sophisticated over the years, too. She;s so great, but our food styles clashed horribly in the early years.

                                        But I digress. If you read bayless's intro to his first book, it's a real mind-blower. I bought the book early on, in the 1980s, and was blown away then. And he's gotten so much better since, I can barely recognize the same guy. He's a scientist and an expert and a lover of Mexico, and there are too few of those these days, given the current border rash.

                                        Short story long- their approaches are different, but you can't go bad with either of them