American Cookery
by Amelia Simmons, 1796

American Cookery (Dover)

The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of “American Cookery,” 1796 by Amelia Simmons.

Unabridged republication of American Cookery, as reprinted by Oxford University Press, New York. Introductory essay by Mary Tolford Wilson. Glossary of Colonial cooking terms. 80pp. 1984 Dover Publications edition 5.375 x 8.5 inches. Paperbound. ISBN-10: 0-486-24710-4. ISBN-13: 978-0-486-24710-6.

Order Online from

Notes from the Publisher

This facsimile of the first American-written cookbook published in the United States is not only a first in cookbook literature, but an historic document. It reveals the rich variety of food colonial Americans enjoyed, their tastes, cooking and eating habits, even their colorful language.

Author Amelia Simmons worked as a domestic in colonial America and gathered her cookery expertise from first-hand experience. Her book points out the best ways of judging the quality of meats poultry, fish, vegetables, etc., and presents the best methods of preparing and cooking them. In choosing fish, poultry and other meats, the author wisely advises, “their smell denotes their goodness.” Her sound suggestions for choosing the freshest and tenderest onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, beans, and other vegetables are as timely today as they were nearly two hundred years ago.

Here are the first uniquely American recipes using corn meal — Indian pudding, “Johny cake” and Indian slapjacks — as well as the first recipes for pumpkin pudding, winter squash pudding and for brewing spruce beer. The words “cookie” and “slaw” made their first published appearance in this book. You'll also find the first recommended use of pearlash (the forerunner of baking powder) to lighten dough, as well as recommendations for seasoning stuffing, and roasting beef, mutton, veal and lamb … even how to dress a turtle.

Along with authentic recipes for colonial favorites, a Glossary includes definitions of antiquated cooking terms: pannikin, wallop, frumenty, emptins and more. And Mary Tolford Wilson's informative Introductory Essay provides the culinary historical background needed to appreciate this important book fully.

Anyone who uses and collects cookbooks will want to have The First American Cookbook. Cultural historians, Americana buffs and gourmets will find this rare edition filled with interesting recipes and rich in early American flavor.

(The above commentary is provided by Dover Publications, Inc.)