10 Best Bento Cookbooks You Absolutely Need to Read

As featured in FoodNetwork, GoodHouskeeping, PBS, and Cosmopolitan- Bakeaholicmama is the leading cookbook authority.
Updated on:

bento cookbook

Spread the love

Hi, I am Chef Zara. I have reviewed all of the best Bento Cookbooks.  I love exploring new foods and recipes and cooking with friends and family. Come join me on this journey of taste and discovery.

Bento! About this cute and portable food🥢

Japanese food is gaining popularity for being high in flavor and versatility. If you’re looking to start preparing creative bento boxes, a bento cookbook can help you prepare colorful dishes for lunchtime at work or school.

Bento boxes are a part of Japan’s unique food culture. Moreover, bento making is an excellent way of expressing your love and care to your beloveds utilizing decorative food. These packed meals vary from the bento boxes found at convenience stores to the luxurious boxes served in upscale restaurants. In fact, bento boxes are all-in-one Japanese lunch boxes comprising balanced meals including starch, protein, and assorted vegetables/fruit side dishes.

If you’re looking to cook quick yet yummy breakfasts and lunches, you can make bento boxes with easy-to-find ingredients: rice, vegetables, and meat or fish.

Here are the 10 best Bento Cookbooks for you


1. The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go

Why We Love It ❤️

The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go by Makiko Itoh is a best-selling cookbook filled with hundreds of delicious and healthy lunchbox-style recipes. As you flip through its pages, you’ll discover 25 fun bento menus and over 150 mouth-watering recipes, including vegetarian and low-carb options.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“Want to make great Bentos, with authentic Japanese food and a focus on vegetables? This is your book! I use it every week, have made about half the stuff in it, and me and my 9-year-old love everything I’ve made.” ―J.B.

Review 📖

You’ll also love that The Just Bento Cookbook includes Japanese and Not-so-Japanese sections, this way you can enjoy tailoring Western food to the bento concept or imitating authentic Japanese dishes. Dishes featured in the Japanese section inlcude classic bento menus like Salted Salmon bento and the Chicken Karaage bento. Dishes in the Not-so-Japanese section includes the Summer Vegetable Gratin Bento and Everyone Loves a Pie bento.

Furthermore, The Just Bento Cookbook includes detailed sections on bento-making equipment, basic cooking techniques, bento staples, planning charts, and a glossary. Itoh’s The Just Bento Cookbook is perfect for amateurs and experts and boasts a wealth of tips for cooking scrumptious and healthy foods.

You’ll find that many home cooks are getting their hands on The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go to make fantastic everyday lunches for their kids too.

About the Author ✍️

Makiko Itoh, born and raised in Tokyo, moved across different countries throughout her childhood. In 2003, Itoh started her popular blog called “Just Hungry,” where she shared delicious Japanese dishes, and in 2007, she created a companion blog, “Just Bento.” Including practical guidelines on incorporating daily bentos into anyone’s lifestyle, Just Bento is the perfect book for the bento beginner but also provides new recipe ideas for Just Bento aficionados.


2. The Manga Cookbook: Japanese Bento Boxes, Main Dishes, and More!

Why We Love It ❤️

Turn cooking into the perfect opportunity to bond with your kids by purchasing the Manga Cookbook by the Manga University Culinary Institute. The Japanese cookbook follows the manga-art style and includes illustrated steps to inspire children and parents to prepare simple Japanese cuisine and everyday lunches.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“Many recipes are additional information- I am fascinated with the dishes and their ingredients. Moreover, I got to know of several Japanese culinary terms as well as elements of Japanese culture.”—Richard Auffrey, The Passionate Foodie.

Review 📖

The Manga Cookbook helps parents recreate authentic and healthy Japanese food, including onigiri,  yakitori, oshinko, udon, and okonomiyaki. Cooking enthusiasts love the Manga Cookbook because of its yummy recipes and detailed sections on how to safely and creatively assemble bento lunches, and tips on using chopsticks.

Including meals featured in your favorite manga, such as onigiri (rice balls), yakitori (skewered chicken), and udon (Japanese noodles), it’s not just a cookbook, but a complete guide on Japanese culture surrounding food.

About the Authors ✍️

Yoko Ishihara earned her degree from Japan’s famous Kagawa Nutrition University and is now a certified nutritionist and chef.

Chihiro Hattori is a renowned manga artist famous for her fantastic. She has been featured in nine volumes of Kana de Manga and helps beginner cooks make Japanese foods with her cute designs and helpful tips.


3. Bento for Beginners: 60 Recipes for Easy Bento Box Lunches

Why We Love It ❤️

Discover the world of bento cooking by picking Chika Ravitc’s Bento for Beginners. This cookbook is perfect for cooking enthusiasts who love creating creative and healthy dishes.

Its easy-to-follow directions, matching pictures, and all the ingredients you need to create a bento-ready kitchen make cooking simple. Every single recipe in this fantastic cookbook promises a flavorful and appealing result.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“I am always searching for healthier meal options that are affordable as well. Bento for Beginners is one such book that helps me achieve this goal.” ―Barbara W.

Review 📖

Furthermore, Bento for Beginners saves you the trouble of running to the grocery store every few days with its list of ingredients you need to keep on hand and tips for planning for the week successfully. Grab Ravitch’s incredible cookbook to create yummy dishes like Japanese-style fried chicken, sweet and savory pan-fried potato,  crunchy celery, apple salad, and rice croquettes with oven-roasted chicken thighs from scratch.

For many fans of the book, it’s a doorway to start making their own budget-friendly meals with help from a few recipes.

About the Author ✍️

Chika Ravitch is a Japanese author born in Osaka, Japan. With a degree in analytical chemistry and a love for helping people, Chika began working for a Japanese cosmetics company, VECUA. Today, the author resides in the U.S., where she plans to introduce natural Japanese cosmetics and share the secrets to creating authentic, delicious Japanese cuisines.


4. Ultimate Bento: Healthy, Delicious, and Affordable: 85 Mix-and-Match Bento Box Recipes

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“Lots of very clear instructions on how to prepare the delicious food and cook beautiful bento boxes. After receiving mine, I am planning to buy them as gifts for my foodie friends.” ―Kojiro

Review 📖

Want an easy and creative way of entering into the world of bento boxes and healthy eating? No worries, the Ultimate Bento cookbook by Marc Matsumoto is your solution.

The in-depth cookbook includes rules for making bento meals, instructions on how to safely pack a bento, and tips for organizing weekly planners. It has over 85 recipes with practical techniques, step-by-step instructions, and bento staples you’ll need.

Matsumoto’s cookbook helps Western readers add a touch of Japanese spices and flavor to their lunches with inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients. Considering how preparing bento boxes is seen as a form of love in Japan, trying out some of these recipes is a great way to let your foodie friends know that you’re thinking about them.

About the Author ✍️

Marc Matsumoto was born in Japan and raised in the U.S. and Australia. Today, the author resides in Japan and combines East and West culinary cultures with his flavorsome recipes. Maki Ogwa is a mom of two who helps cooking enthusiasts learn the craft of bento making through her many bento cookbooks and T.V. series “Bento Expo.”


5. Bento Blast!: More Than 150 Cute and Clever Bento Box Meals for Your Kids

Why We Love It ❤️

Many buyers enjoy the this cookbook because it visually teaches readers how to go through each step and prepare something amazing.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

It is an excellent book with lots of pictures showing the steps and final product. Lots of good ideas can’t wait to try some of them. ―F.P.

Review 📖

Are you looking for an excellent way to encourage your children to eat healthier? Switch out soggy sandwiches for appealing and mouth-watering dishes by picking Li Ming Lee’s Bento Blast! This cookbook is full of creative, colorful, and healthy dishes and adorable lunches even the pickiest of eaters will love.

Bento Blast!  makes cooking, preparing art, and eating fun for children and parents. With up to 150 different recipes, this Japanese cookbook helps you entice your children with creative cartoon characters like teddy-bear-shaped pizzas, hot dog buns, panda bamboo, porky pastas, and scrambled egg chicks, and so much more!

About the Author ✍️

Li Ming Lee is a mom of two boys who first started making colorful cartoon character bento when her firstborn entered primary school. Today, the stay-at-home mom lives in Singapore, has over 250,000 followers on Insta, and helps people recreate adorable bento boxes.


6. Disney Bento: Fun Recipes for Bento Boxes!

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“I can’t wait to start making these bento box meals for my little girl! This book contains many cute ideas for bento box Disney-inspired meals…if you or your little ones are a Disney fan, you need to get this book.”— Liliana Calderon

Review 📖

Replace vanilla bento boxes with creative cartoon characters to entice your children to eat healthier. Dinsey Bento by Masami Miyazaki helps parents and Disney lovers create colorful and nutritious dishes and adorable lunches.

The detailed cookbook includes over fifty exciting recipes featuring everyone’s favorite Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elsa, Aurora, and even Olaf! Create artistic bento boxes to make your bento boxes magical and lunchtime fun!

For plenty of Disney fans, this is the ultimate cookbook to bring some magic to the kitchen.

About the Author ✍️

Masami Miyazaki is a professional teacher and an avid blogger with a love for cooking. She got the idea to create adorable character bento’s when her son, a picky eater, wouldn’t finish his lunch. Today, her award-winning book appears in well-renowned magazines.


7. Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“The book consists of beautiful pictures and detailed recipes. I have made several recipes, and all have been beyond expectations.” ―Ida S Moser

Review 📖

If you’re looking to control your portions, save costs, and recreate colorful dishes with healthy dishes cooked under 30 minutes, look no further than Bento Power. This fantastic cookbook, by Sara Kiyo Popowa, helps readers create nutritious and creative dishes.

Sara’s enthusiastic and inspirational approach to lunch boxes helps Western readers add a touch of authentic Japanese cooking to their favorite dishes. The cookbook focuses on having complex carbs, fruits and vegetables, protein, and the colors used in Japanese cuisine to create nutritious lunch boxes.

In addition, readers can discover tips to stock their cupboards, easy-to-follow instructions, and essential ingredients.

About the Author ✍️

Sara Kiyo Popowa loves photography and cooking. She is half-Bulgarian and half-Japanese, and through social media, workshops, and events, Sara helps thousands of people recreate nutritious and colorful dishes.


8. Yum-Yum Bento All Year Round: Box Lunches for Every Season

Why We Love It ❤️

The best part of Yum-Yum Bento is that it’s perfect for newbies. That’s because it guides you through each step so you can always check to make sure you’re doing it right to get yummy lunches.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“I always doubted my ability to cook a cute bento lunch because it looks so complicated, but Crystal and Maki make it easy by breaking everything down step-by-step.—Kiersten Frase, founding editor of Oh My Veggies

Review 📖

Explore the art of bento-making with Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa’s Yum-Yum Bento. Every recipe in this Japanese cookbook promises a healthy approach to nutrition and flavor. Not only this, these bento recipes are super adorable!

Flip through cute and yummy recipes like Cuties and Critters, Fairy-Tale Friends, Dainty Daffodils, Rainbow Sushi, Cheerful Crab, and more to make lunch and dinner time more exciting! The cookbook includes a helpful glossary, a list of necessary bento tools, and easy directions to recreate your bento lunches.

About the Authors ✍️

Crystal Watanabe is a full-time freelance fiction editor. She runs her editorial service business “Pikko’s House” and started making bento boxes to encourage herself to eat healthier portions.

Maki Ogawa was born in Japan and is a mother of two boys. She is known for inspiring people to recreate healthy and colorful dishes through her Bento TV Host role, the Yum-Yum bento cookbook.


9. Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“I bought this book because I loved Baby Foodie for my infant and wanted to see if this would be just as good for my school-ager. It did not disappoint.” ―Hayley

Review 📖

Venture into the world of bento with the help of Little Bento by Michele Olivier’s fun, delicious, and healthy recipes. The cookbook includes 100 exciting and fun bento recipe ideas and 32 eye-catching images to help you make colorful lunchboxes.

In this bento cookbook, you’ll find detailed instructions, tips to plan ahead, information about must-have bento staples, and essential ingredients for all the bento recipes.

About the Author ✍️

Michele Olivier lives in Denver, U.S., with her husband and two daughters. She is the founder of the baby food blog “Baby FoodE,” where she shares healthy, easy-to-cook, and delicious recipes.


10. Ten-Minute Bento

Ten-Minute Bento
$14.95
Buy Now
09/27/2022 01:36 am GMT

Why We Love It ❤️

While bentos usually look like they take time to make, plenty of fans appreciate how this cookbook has recipes that are quick and easy to make.

What the Readers Are Saying 👂

“I have really been enjoying this book. It has a lot of bento ideas for people on time and budget. It has lots of helpful photos that help you pick what to make, and step-by-step that shows you how to make it.” ―Elizabeth

Review 📖

Ten-Minute Bento by Megumi Fujii is perfect for parents who want to create vibrant and yummy lunches in less time. Ideal for amateurs, the cookbook details how to prepare, plan, and present your meals.

The best part about choosing Ten-Minute Bento is that you get a variety of delicious recipes, ranging from simple salads and radish and buckwheat noodles to complex mushroom hamburg steak and yuzu chicken. Its easy-to-follow directions mentioned portions, and colorful images make it easy to create appealing, nutritious, and yummy meals everyday lunches to go for you and your loved ones.

About the Author ✍️

Megumi Fujii earned her degree from the prestigious Kagawa Nutrition University and has since appeared as a food coordinator in Japanese programs. She showcases her love for healthy foods and culinary expertise through her 40+ cookbooks and T.V. shows.


Final Thoughts on Bento Cookbooks

Cooking is an excellent tool for experiencing different cultures that can fit into anyone’s lifestyle, and the 10 cookbooks discussed above offer a fun and easy way to taste authentic Japanese cuisine.

Reading the step-by-step guide in the cookbooks, you can learn popular bento dishes, including juicy sushi, tender stewed beef, delicious nimono, yummy grilled fish, etc. You’ll also get to know about complex dishes like the chikuwa bird recipe, smoked salmon pinwheels with watermelon salad, the Mediterranean-inspired bento box, Tonkatsu bento, and more!

Have fun creating cartoon characters, healthy portions, and vibrant boxes without overspending and spending too much time. Make sure you never go wrong by reading the cookbook’s glossary, bento-making equipment, list of ingredients, basic cooking techniques, and bento staples. You can also check the weekly charts and planners to organize boxes for the week. The best part? These recipes include easy-to-find and affordable ingredients and cook in less than 30 minutes! But if you’re someone who wants to create a piece of art, like many bento enthusiasts, you can buy bento books that teach you how to make cute cartoon characters.

You can rest assured you’ll find unique and enticing recipes that make your taste buds dance and encourage your child to eat healthier (check out our guide on the Best Dim Sum Cookbooks). So, what are you waiting for? Grab these fantastic bento books to make lunch and dinner time more exciting, whether you’re a bento beginner or an expert! Happy Cooking!


Spread the love

Recommended Asian Cookbook Reviews

Thanks for spending your time with us. I hope that you found this post informative and enjoyable. If you would like to see more cookbook reviews, please sign up for the Bakeaholicmama Newsletter.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Chef Zara is the founder and chief editor for Bakeaholic. He loves bringing smiles to people with the delicious visuals, smells, and tastes of food. Chef Zara's passion for baking started at a very young age, and he has never looked back since. He enjoys experimenting with different flavors and combinations, and takes great pride in creating unique recipes that will tantalize your taste buds. When he’s not whipping up something delectable in the kitchen, Chef Zara can be found exploring new culinary delights around the world.

Leave a Comment

Free Freezer Meals Cookbook- Prepare 10 Healthy Meals in just 30 minutes

X