Binge eating is a distressing symptom common to bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa binge/purge subtype (AN-BP) and binge-eating disorder (BED). Over the last 40 years, many attempts have been made to conceptualise this symptom in terms of its antecedents, function, triggers, consequences, and maintaining factors. Cognitive theories of binge eating have evolved as new evidence has emerged. This literature review summarises the main and most influential cognitive models of binge eating across different eating disorder presentations. Many theories have examined binge eating in the context of restriction or compensatory behaviours, as is often observed in cases of BN. Few theories have examined binge eating as it occurs in BED specifically. The long-term efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatment based on these models leaves much to be desired, and indicates that there may be maintaining factors of binge eating not addressed in the typical CBT treatment for eating disorders. More recent cognitive models of binge eating propose possible maintaining beliefs, but further study is required to validate these models. Suggestions for future research are presented.