What’s the best cookbook holder?

For those of us who use our cookbooks day in and day out, protecting them from ruin while still being able to easily reference them is an ongoing challenge. While a splatter or two can add character to a beloved book, a major spill can be disastrous, so many cooks turn to cookbook holders and protectors instead of just plopping the books directly on the counter while cooking (although sometimes we throw caution to the wind and do just that). Over the years I have experimented with various styles of holders, each of which has its benefits and drawbacks. Just like Goldilocks, I kept sampling the various bowls of cookbook holder porridge, but unlike Goldilocks, I never found one that was juuuuust right. I have one that’s good enough, however, and it’s one that I encountered quite by accident.

The first one that I tried and abandoned was an all-acrylic style similar to this Norpro model. Its fatal flaw was that it wouldn’t accommodate heavy cookbooks and immediately flopped over when a cookbook of ample size was placed in it. Its biggest benefit was that splatters didn’t matter: it kept the pages clean even when the hand mixer sprayed brownie batter across the room. If you have a library of petite volumes this style could work, but not if you have a lot of heavyweights in your collection.

Cookbook holder with acrylic front and wooden base

Next I graduated to a more sophisticated version that kept the plastic cover but incorporated a wooden base to make it sturdier. This was a slight improvement over the all-plastic model but it also suffered from another issue that plagues plastic, cracking around the hinges. I also found that cookbooks didn’t stay open well with this setup, making the text that was near the center of the book difficult to read. This was especially true if the recipe was toward the beginning or end of the cookbook.

An open cookbook rests in a bamboo holder on a butcher block countertop. A red KitchenAid stand mixer is in the background.

Later I went with a bamboo model (no longer available) that dispensed with the plastic cover altogether. Its biggest drawback was that it didn’t fit thick books, but the adjustable angle and ability to fold it flat for storage means I keep it around for the books that fit in it. With no plastic cover it leaves the pages exposed, so I just slip a piece of plastic in front of the page and it works like a charm – and it’s easier to turn the pages this way rather than deal with a bulky plastic or glass cover.

Speaking of glass, that reminds me of another interim step that I took to protect my cookbooks. A friend gave me a plastic cookbook cover with weighted edges that you laid over a open cookbook to keep things from splashing on it. It was an admirable idea, but the weights on the edge were not heavy enough to keep the books open. I had the bright idea to have a piece of tempered glass made that would both keep the books open and protect them from splashes and spills. My husband tried to talk me out of it, cautioning me that it might be a little too heavy, but I forged on, channeling my inner Lucille Bluth by asking “how much could one piece of glass weigh?” (The answer: more than I wanted to schlep off and on a cookbook to turn the page.) Plus, even though it’s tempered glass and therefore very sturdy, I’m still afraid I will break it. Sigh.

But I digress. The best cookbook holder I’ve found yet is one I received in a box of bric-a-brac that a friend gave me when they were downsizing. I think it’s actually a plate holder, but I didn’t let that stop me from commandeering it for a better use. It’s a simple metal piece that happens to be the perfect size and angle for most of the books I use frequently, and it takes up relatively little counter space: a win-win. Just as with the bamboo holder, I can slip a piece of plastic in front of the page for protection. It holds the heaviest of books with ease.

A cookbook holder that folds out from under a cabinet.

Even though I have a great holder, there are some options that still look tempting. I am intrigued by this simple yet stunning wooden holder that begs to have its photo taken to your favorite local craftsperson to have them put their spin on it. Plus I love the idea of this cookbook holder that pulls down from under the cabinet. If I didn’t have undercabinet lighting everywhere I would definitely give that a second glance. What’s your favorite cookbook holder? Is there an elegant solution that I am overlooking?

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9 Comments

  • averythingcooks  on  July 29, 2022

    I have a bamboo adjustable angle stand with metal clips that rotate in place…..it is probably not the best design but it looks nice on my island. Interesting that I am less concerned with splatters/spills but get “fairly annoyed” at books that simply will not lay flat/stay open to the specific page I’m using and in some cases won’t even stay open at all when laying directly on the counter.

  • tmjellicoe  on  July 29, 2022

    I’ve tried a brik-a-brak one but it held the books too upright. Currently I lay them flat on the counter and I hold the recipe open with large butterfly clips.

  • sanfrannative  on  July 31, 2022

    I have a metal folding one and my husband gave it to me for Christmas one year. He always pulls out all the stops giving me gifts but (embarrassingly) he said I seemed the most excited about the stand!

  • rollyridge  on  July 31, 2022

    I have two that were made for me by a friend who was a woodworker. They work so well, and I get so many comments on them, that my wife copied the pattern (my friend passed away many years ago) and we gave them away as Christmas presents in 2020. They hold the book or magazine or simple printed sheet well off the countertop. The recipients are regularly asked where they can buy one.

    Alas, it appears I cannot post a photo with this message.

    • Jane  on  August 1, 2022

      rollyridge – if you send us the image we can add it to the post. I am intrigued to know what this looks like (as I’m sure are many other members).

  • dmco6863  on  August 1, 2022

    I use a desktop easel, it’s not perfect but my daughter left it behind when she moved out. It keeps the book off my bench and pages stay put with a repurposed hair clip.

  • ohikel210  on  August 5, 2022

    I have been using your first choice for years. For heavy books, I just put the book in upside down (i.e., with the top in the “stand”) and lie it on the counter. I find that the angle is actually better for reading all my books this way.

  • triciafitz2008  on  August 5, 2022

    I’ve had one for at least 15 years that has an adjustable wooden base and a plastic cover that hinges open and closed. Google Crate and Barrel cookbook stand. I like that I can make the book stand up straighter if I want and it’s easy to adjust to a book of any size. A very light book might not open all the way due to the lightness of the plastic, but I just press on it to flatten it out.

  • kezbabybabe  on  August 16, 2022

    I have an acrylic one and have experienced no issues with it holding larger/thicker books.

    I’m a messy cook so anything that helps keep my pages clean is a winner for me!

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