What is a good book on the chemistry of cooking? I am looking for a book that discusses fermentation chemical reactions and reactions that occur when food is heated.

  • 2
    related (but not a duplicate, as it's more than just books) : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/9657/67
    – Joe
    Mar 14, 2021 at 2:20
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    This seems to be opinion based.
    – GdD
    Mar 14, 2021 at 12:47
  • GdD: yeah, it's a "list" question. But it has an answer now.
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 15, 2021 at 2:02

3 Answers 3


Many books! Here's a few:

  • Culinary Reactions is probably the book that most directly addresses your question, since it's specifically cooking and chemistry.
  • The Food Lab has quite a bit of chemistry in it.
  • Science and Cooking is both chemistry and physics.
  • Modernist Cuisine, while about all the new cooking techniques, sure has a bunch of applied chemistry which is explained in the booth.
  • Your first recommendation is very good! It even discusses nixtamalization!
    – Geremia
    Mar 14, 2021 at 23:06

The standard and most commonly referenced home-cook-approachable book on the science of cooking is On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee.

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    This is the definitive book. Every other food science book I have references this one. Mar 14, 2021 at 17:22
  • Darn, I knew I was forgetting one!
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 15, 2021 at 2:01

I’m a fan of Shirley O. Corriher’s books for depth in what’s actually going on when cooking. She was a biochemist, and was a semi-regular on Good Eats. Her first two books explain some of the chemistry of what’s happening, the variables at play, and then presents a few recipes that show how you can change things up:

She also has a new book that I haven’t read yet:

There’s also Cook’s Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking, but it’s out of print, so you might instead one to look into the other ones that have already been mentioned (like The Food Lab)

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