A Very Accurate Ranking of All the "Real Housewives" Cookbooks - Food TV

From The Kitchn - September 23, 2017

You could create an entire book club based around Real Housewives publications and never run out. Tinsley Mortimer has a novel. Bethenny Frankel has a children's book about her dog. The Dubrows have an anti-aging book where they refer to themselves as "Dr. and Mrs. Guinea Pig." There's almost a dozen tell-all-but-not-quite-all memoirs. And in the midst of all this Bravo-fueled literature, there's a steady stream of recipes and food advice from your favorite brawling reality TV stars.

In the battle of the Real Housewives cookbooks, which one could actually teach you a thing or two in the kitchen?

I ranked (almost) all of the Real Housewives cookbooks based on which ones you could use as a real cookbook. I start with the best books and end with the ... unfortunate ones. Note: There are a few lifestyle books in the mix, but they are ranked solely on the food and recipe sections.

1. Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant, and Affordable Entertaining by Lisa Vanderpump

Vanderpump's book feels like a well-hosted partythe kind of event that straddles the line between flawless and cozy. This is a real cookbook with no Housewives gossip, no dated cultural references, and no insistence on the joys of low-calorie eating. She dishes out hearty British recipes like shepherd's pie and cauliflower gratin, alongside genuinely useful advice on how to throw nearly every size and style of party. If you are going to start cooking out of this book, make sure to buy some truffle oil, and do not be alarmed by the various passages "written" by her dog, Giggy.

Best story to tell at a dinner party: That one time Sir Sidney Poitier ate dinner at Villa Blanca, right next to the cast of The Hills.

2. Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet by Kathy Wakile

Kathy Wakile is the master of elfin desserts. Her book is one petite, two-bite-sized sweet after another: babycakes, crumblekins, tiny pies. Broken down into seasons, this is the work of a low-key prothe kind who shows up to Thanksgiving with a dessert spread fit for a miniature queen. That said, this book is for fairly experienced bakers, since her recipes are a bit complex and her love of tiny desserts requires lots of specialized equipment. Side note: I wish there was a reveal that Kathy keeps her sweets so small so she can feel like a giant.

Best bonus content: The throwback Jersey '80s photos are too good.

3.The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life by Bethenny Frankel

If you are a nervous or very new cook, Bethenny's advice on stocking your kitchen and recommendations on variations for each recipe are straightforward and helpful. And her Boo Boo Banana Bread recipe is super moist, decadent, and shockingly healthy. The fact that her then-fianc, now-terrifying-ex-husband is mentioned in nearly every recipe is unfortunate. This is, sadly, a common theme in the Housewives book world: Phaedra shows lots of love to long-gone Apollo in her book, and The Countess sings the praises of her first husband.

Best cameo appearance: The final chapter includes five recipes from Bobby Flay.

4. The Teresa Giudice Trio

There is not a huge difference between these books. They are solid, Italian cookbooks laced with way more Housewives smack-talk than other books (this was actually a storyline on RHONJ). She gives Juicy Joe space to say a whole lot of nothing, and offers up cute recipe breakdowns from each of her kids.

Pick your flavor of Teresa's food advice. Looking for something light? Try Fabulicious! Fast & Fit: Teresa's Low-Fat, Super-Easy Italian Recipes. Not afraid of a full-calorie Italian meal? Fabulicious! Teresa's Italian Family Cookbook is for you. Looking for light Italian food and a few digs at Bethenny Frankel? Check out Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy ItLive La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

No matter what, you will get some decent advice and a handful of interesting recipes, with a hearty dash ofdated drama.

Best chain restaurant nemesis: Olive Garden gets more shade in these books than Melissa Gorga and Caroline Manzo combined.

5. Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting by Bethenny Frankel

The diet advice is hit or miss, but some of the recipes are incredible. If you are going to make one thing, make the butternut squash macaroni and cheese (and if you are going to make two, bake a pan of the Joyful Heart chocolate muffins). There's a lot of time spent on Bethenny's career as a chef for celebrities. In 2017, it's bizarre to think of a time when Bethenny was cooking for the stars instead of being one.

Best piece of trivia: Bethenny was Kathy Hilton's assistant and used to babysit Paris Hilton.

6. Let Me Tell You Something by Caroline Manzo

Caroline's book is not a cookbook, but you get a deep-dive into her family recipes that will make you want to be the next plus-one for a Manzo Sunday dinner. In between the antipasto and the Sunday sauce, she doles out advice on embracing your imperfect family and the joys of realistic holiday rituals. I do not watch RHONJ and now I do not want to, because I was accidentally charmed by her. Is she charming on the show? Tell me in the comments.

7. I Can Make You Hot! The SuperModel Diet by Kelly Bensimon

8. Skinnygirl Cocktails by Bethenny Frankel

9. Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment by Phaedra Parks

10. Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage by Melissa Gorga

11. Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair by LuAnn de Lesseps

Honorary Mentions for Books That Do not Exist

1. Sonja's Toaster Oven Cookbook

2. Carole and Adam's Sexy Salads (aka The Reluctant Vegan)


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