The Best Cookbooks to Gift for Every Type of Home Cook
Cookbooks are one of my favorite gifts to give family and friends each year because they pull double-duty in the gift-ability department: They’re useful and often gorgeous, owing to a modern tendency to be filled with high-quality photos or illustrations.
Even when they’re not illustrated, reading a cookbook has the ability to conjure up visions of delicious meals to be had, cocktails to be drank, and the people you’re going to share them with. Plus, unlike a traditional book, skipping around pages on a choose-your-own-adventure and splattering the pages with droplets of marinara are all perfectly acceptable ways to treat your reading experience.
Both new and old, these are my picks for The Best Cookbooks to Gift for Every Type of Home Cook, organized by ‘type of cook’ and ‘who’ in the friend-group each person is.
Convenience Eaters & New Cooks
For the friend who doesn’t own a single cookbook
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an American household that doesn’t house a well-loved edition of this all-purpose compendium. Seriously. Go to your mom’s house, grandma’s house, the neighbor’s house and you’ll likely find a battered, sauce-splattered copy of The Joy of Cooking. They’ll probably all be different editions also because this culinary classic has been updated and revised 9 times since it’s first printing in 1931. The latest edition, updated in 2019, includes 600 new recipes and revisions to more than 4,000 previous favorites.
For the friend who’s wearing out their Postmates account but can cook an egg reasonably well
The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton
From the publisher: You don’t need a recipe. Really, you don’t.
Sam Sifton, founding editor of New York Times Cooking, makes improvisational cooking easier than you think. In this handy book of ideas, Sifton delivers more than one hundred no-recipe recipes—each gloriously photographed—to make with the ingredients you have on hand or could pick up on a quick trip to the store. You’ll see how to make these meals as big or as small as you like, substituting ingredients as you go.
Fried Egg Quesadillas. Pizza without a Crust. Weeknight Fried Rice. Pasta with Garbanzos. Roasted Shrimp Tacos. Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Croutons. Oven S’Mores. Welcome home to freestyle, relaxed cooking that is absolutely yours.
For the friend whose favorite meal is a bottle of wine with a side of French fries
Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World by Vanessa Price
From the publisher: Essential wine pairings for everything from popcorn to veggie burgers to General Tso’s Chicken, based on the wildly popular Grub Street column. Sancerre and Cheetos go together like milk and cookies. The science behind this unholy alliance is as elemental as acid, fat, salt, and minerals. Wine pro Vanessa Price explains how to create your own pairings while proving you don’t necessarily need fancy foods to unlock the joys of wine. Building upon the outsize success of her weekly column in Grub Street, Price offers delightfully bold wine and food pairings alongside hilarious tales from her own unlikely journey as a Kentucky girl making it in the Big Apple and in the wine business. Using language everyone can understand, she reveals why each dynamic duo is a match made in heaven, serving up memorable takeaways that will help you navigate any wine list or local bottle shop. Charmingly illustrated and bubbling with personality, Big Macs & Burgundy will open your mind to the entirely fun and entirely accessible wine pairings out there waiting to be discovered—and make you do a few spit-takes along the way.
Entertainers & Party Makers
The friend that always hosts dinner parties
Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman
From the publisher: An unexpected weeknight meal with a neighbor or a weekend dinner party with fifteen of your closest friends—either way and everywhere in between, having people over is supposed to be fun, not stressful. This abundant collection of all-new recipes—heavy on the easy-to-execute vegetables and versatile grains, paying lots of close attention to crunchy, salty snacks, and with love for all the meats—is for gatherings big and small, any day of the week.
For the friend who hosts Friendsgiving every year
Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery by Matty Matheson
From the publisher: Matty returns with 135 of his absolute favorite recipes to cook at home for his family and friends, so you can cook them for the people you love. Home Style Cookery is his definitive guide to mastering your kitchen, covering everything from pantry staples (breads, stocks, and pickles) to party favorites (dips, fried foods, and grilled meats), to weeknight go-tos (stews, pastas, salads), and special occasion show-stoppers (roasts, smoked meats, and desserts).
In Home Style Cookery, Matty shares his bold style of cooking. Along with beautiful photographs of Matty’s dishes and his farm, this book is filled with signature recipes that are equal parts approachable and tasty. Matty’s first book shared his culinary story, Home Style Cookery will help you build yours.
For the friend who owns cocktail sticks
From the publisher: The United States of Cocktails is a celebration of the cocktail history of every state in America. After traveling around this great nation and sampling many of the drinks on offer, cocktail authority Brian Bartels serves up a book that is equal parts recipe collection, travelogue, historical miscellany, bartender’s manual, and guide to bar culture today—with bar and drink recommendations that are sure to come in handy whether or not you are crossing state lines. Delving into the colorful stories behind the creation of drinks we love, this book includes more than 100 recipes alongside spirited analysis of each state’s unique contributions to cocktail culture. Filled with colorful illustrations, The United States of Cocktails is an opinionated and distinctively designed love letter to the spirits, bars, and people who have created and consumed the iconic drinks that inspire us and satisfy our thirst.
For the friend who would gladly eat a block of cheese for dinner
Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed by Erika Kubick
From the publisher: For many people, the world of artisan cheese is an intriguing but intimidating place. There are so many strange smells, unusual textures, exotic names, and rules for serving. Where should a neophyte begin?
From evangelist cheesemonger Erika Kubick, this comprehensive book guides readers to become confident connoisseurs and worshippers of Cheesus. A preacher of the curd word, Kubick provides the Ten Commandments of Cheese, which breaks down this complex world into simplified bites. A welcoming sanctuary devoted to making cheese a daily part of life and gatherings, this book explores the many different styles of cheese by type, profiling commonly found and affordable wedges as well as the more rare and refined of rinds. Kubick offers divine recipes that cover everything from everyday crowd pleasers (think mac and cheese and baked brie) to festive feasts fit for holidays and gatherings. This cheese devotee outlines the perfect cheese plate formula and offers inventive yet easy-to-execute beverage pairings, including wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks. These heavenly spreads and recipes wring maximum indulgence out of minimal effort and expense. Filled with seductive photography and audacious prose, Cheese Sex Death is a delightfully approachable guide to artisan cheese that will make just about anyone worship at the altar of Cheesus.
Kitchen Nerds & Technical Junkies
For the friend who nerds out on technique
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt
From the publisher: In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new―but simple―techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.
For the friend that’s always experimenting with flavor
From the publisher: Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements of an extraordinary meal. Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from America’s most imaginative chefs, The Flavor Bible is an essential reference for every kitchen.
For the friend who named their SCOBY
The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber
From the publisher: At Noma—four times named the world’s best restaurant—every dish includes some form of fermentation, whether it’s a bright hit of vinegar, a deeply savory miso, an electrifying drop of garum, or the sweet intensity of black garlic. Fermentation is one of the foundations behind Noma’s extraordinary flavor profiles.
Now René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, and David Zilber, the chef who runs the restaurant’s acclaimed fermentation lab, share never-before-revealed techniques to creating Noma’s extensive pantry of ferments. And they do so with a book conceived specifically to share their knowledge and techniques with home cooks. With more than 500 step-by-step photographs and illustrations, and with every recipe approachably written and meticulously tested, The Noma Guide to Fermentation takes readers far beyond the typical kimchi and sauerkraut to include koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, lacto-ferments, vinegars, garums, and black fruits and vegetables. And—perhaps even more important—it shows how to use these game-changing pantry ingredients in more than 100 original recipes.
For the friend who binges food documentaries on the weekends
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
From the publisher: Echoing Samin’s own journey from culinary novice to award-winning chef, Salt, Fat Acid, Heat immediately bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Refer to the canon of 100 essential recipes—and dozens of variations—to put the lessons into practice and make bright, balanced vinaigrettes, perfectly caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats, and light, flaky pastry doughs.
Travelers & Wanderlusters
For the friend who likes to cook their way through a cuisine
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set) by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
From the publisher: Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. The techniques learned in this beautiful book, with more than one hundred instructive illustrations, can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely usable. In compiling the secrets of famous Cordon Bleu chefs, the authors produced a magnificent volume that continues to have a place of honor in American kitchens.
Volume Two is the sequel to the great cooking classic—with 257 additional recipes. Following the publication of the celebrated Volume One, Julia Child and Simone Beck continued to search out and sample new recipes among the classic dishes and regional specialties of France—cooking, conferring, tasting, revising, perfecting. Out of their discoveries they made, for Volume Two, a brilliant selection of precisely those recipes that not only add to the repertory but, above all, bring the reader to a new level of mastery of the art of French cooking.
For the friend who’s always up for a marathon dumpling-making session
From the publisher: Since its humble opening in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods has expanded from one stall in Flushing to 14 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. CEO Jason Wang divulges the untold story of how this empire came to be, alongside the never-before-published recipes that helped create this New York City icon. From heavenly ribbons of liang pi doused in a bright vinegar sauce to ﬂatbread ﬁlled with caramelized pork to cumin lamb over hand-pulled Biang Biang noodles, this cookbook helps home cooks make the dishes that fans of Xi’an Famous Foods line up for while also exploring the vibrant cuisine and culture of Xi’an. Transporting readers to the streets of Xi’an and the kitchens of New York’s Chinatown, Xi’an Famous Foods is the cookbook that fans of Xi’an Famous Foods have been waiting for.
For the friend who is obsessed with Hygge
The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson
From the publisher: Included in this beautiful book are more than 700 authentic recipes Magnus collected while traveling extensively throughout the Nordic countries – Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – enhanced by atmospheric photographs of its landscapes and people. His beautiful photographs feature in the book alongside images of the finished dishes by Erik Olsson, the photographer behind Fäviken. With Magnus as a guide, everyone can prepare classic Nordic dishes and also explore new ones. The Nordic Cookbook introduces readers to the familiar (gravlax, meatballs and lingonberry jam) and the lesser-known aspects of Nordic cuisine (rose-hip soup, pork roasted with prunes, and juniper beer).
For the friend who always has a bottle of vodka on hand
From the publisher: From bright pickles to pillowy dumplings, ingenious vodka infusions to traditional homestyle dishes, and varied zakuski to satisfying sweets, Kachka the cookbook covers the vivid world of Russian cuisine. More than 100 recipes show how easy it is to eat, drink, and open your heart in Soviet-inspired style, from the celebrated restaurant that is changing how America thinks about Russian food. The recipes in this book set a communal table with nostalgic Eastern European dishes like Caucasus-inspired meatballs, Porcini Barley Soup, and Cauliflower Schnitzel, and give new and exciting twists to current food trends like pickling, fermentation, and bone broths. Kachka’s recipes and narratives show how Russia’s storied tradition of smoked fish, cultured dairy, and a shot of vodka can be celebratory, elegant, and as easy as meat and potatoes. The food is clear and inviting, rooted in the past yet not at all afraid to play around and wear its punk rock heart on its sleeve.
For the friend whose ideal meal is a hot plate lunch with extra spam musubi
Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder
* My favorite cookbook of the year *
From the publisher: Even when he was winning accolades and adulation for his cooking, two-time Top Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon decided to drop what he thought he was supposed to cook as a chef. He dedicated himself instead to the local Hawai‘i food that feeds his ‘ohana—his family and neighbors. With uncomplicated, flavor-forward recipes, he shows us the many cultures that have come to create the cuisine of his beloved home: the native Hawaiian traditions, Japanese influences, Chinese cooking techniques, and dynamic Korean, Portuguese, and Filipino flavors that are closest to his heart.
Through stunning photography, poignant stories, and dishes like wok-fried poke, pork dumplings made with biscuit dough, crispy cauliflower katsu, and charred huli-huli chicken slicked with a sweet-savory butter glaze, Cook Real Hawai‘i will bring a true taste of the cookouts, homes, and iconic mom and pop shops of Hawai‘i into your kitchen.
For the friend who works out of French cafes for the wifi… and the pâtisserie
Maman: The Cookbook: All-Day Recipes to Warm Your Heart by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte
From the publisher: Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte opened maman to fill a void in their hearts. They wanted to create a warm, cozy place for people to come together and savor a freshly baked madeleine or slice of savory quiche with the comfort and familiarity of being in their own living room. This collection of 100 recipes spans bestselling dishes from their locations in New York City, Montreal, and Toronto—like Banana-Lavender Cornmeal Waffles with Vanilla Mascarpone, Cumin Chickpea Salad, and the Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies made famous by none other than Oprah.
French café culture and urban-rustic design come together to create a cookbook as delicious as it is visually inspiring. Whether you’d like to make one of Elisa’s naked cakes for a special occasion or a roasted chicken sandwich with basil aïoli for lunch, maman welcomes you with open arms.
For the friend who could happily eat pasta every night of the week
American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta by Even Funke and Erik Wolfinger
From the publisher: A comprehensive guide to making the best pasta in the world: In this debut cookbook from Evan Funke, he shares classic techniques from his Emilia Romagna training and provides accessible instructions for making his award winning sfoglia (sheet pasta) at home. With little more than flour, eggs, and a rolling pin, you too can be a sfoglino (a pasta maker) and create traditional Italian noodles that are perfectly paired with the right sauces.
Features recipes for home cooks to recreate 15 classic pasta shapes, spanning simple pappardelle to perfect tortelloni.
Bakers & Sweet Thing Makers
For the friend who stress-bakes after work every day
Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence by Claire Saffitz
From the publisher: Claire Saffitz is a baking hero for a new generation. In Dessert Person, fans will find Claire’s signature spin on sweet and savory recipes like Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, Crispy Mushroom Galette, and Malted Forever Brownies. She outlines the problems and solutions for each recipe—like what to do if your pie dough for Sour Cherry Pie cracks (patch it with dough or a quiche flour paste!)—as well as practical do’s and don’ts, skill level, prep and bake time, step-by-step photography, and foundational know-how. With her trademark warmth and superpower ability to explain anything baking related, Claire is ready to make everyone a dessert person.
For the friend who believes Pie > Cake
From the publisher: Petra (Petee) Paredez shares her personal repertoire of impeccable baking techniques that have made her pie shops, Petee’s Pie Company and Petee’s Café, New York darlings. At the heart of it all, the goal is simple–a tender, ﬂaky crust and perfectly balanced ﬁlling–and this cookbook leads the way with easy-to-follow, step-by-step guidance. A champion of locally sourced ingredients, Paredez features some of the best farms and producers in proﬁles throughout the book, inspiring us to seek out the very best ingredients for our pies wherever we may live. Filled with vibrant photography and recipes for just about every pie imaginable, from fruit and custard to cream and even savory, Pie for Everyone invites us to share in the magic and endless appeal of pie.
For the friend who believes Cake > Pie
Simple Cake: All You Need to Keep Your Friends and Family in Cake by Odette Williams
From the publisher: Everyone has a favorite style of cake, whether it’s citrusy and fresh or chocolatey and indulgent. All of these recipes and more are within your reach in Simple Cake, a love letter from Brooklyn apron and bakeware designer Odette Williams to her favorite treat. With easy recipes and inventive decorating ideas, Williams gives you recipes for 10 base cakes, 15 toppings, and endless decorating ideas to yield a treat—such as Milk & Honey Cake, Coconut Cake, Summer Berry Pavlova, and Chocolatey Chocolate Cake—for any occasion. Williams also addresses the fundamentals for getting cakes just right, with foolproof recipes that can be cranked out whenever the urge strikes. Gorgeous photography, along with Williams’s warm and heartfelt writing, elevate this book into something truly special.
For the friend who has seen every episode of GBBO 4 X already
Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Flora Shedden
From the publisher: Aran is a beautiful cookbook from an artisan bakery in the heart of Scotland with the same name. In it, Great British Bake Off star Flora Shedden shares her simple, modern recipes and a window onto a picturesque life below the highlands, with stunning location photography and stories about the people and the place that inspire her creations.
With a clean and fresh design, Aran is both whimsical and contemporary, and would be a perfect gift or self-buy for beginners, established bakers, armchair travelers or any lovers of baked goods!
Sweet and savory recipes take you from breakfast, through elevenses, through to your afternoon tea and after-dinner sweet treats, and include Poppy morning rolls, Twice baked almond croissants, Peach, chocolate and almond brioche, Poached quince porridge, Pork apple and sage sausage rolls and Banana, date and chocolate loaf cake.
The friend who keeps killing their sourdough starter
From the publisher: There are few things more satisfying than biting into a freshly made, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-supple-on-the-inside slice of perfectly baked bread. For Portland-based baker Ken Forkish, well-made bread is more than just a pleasure—it is a passion that has led him to create some of the best and most critically lauded breads and pizzas in the country.
In Flour Water Salt Yeast, Forkish translates his obsessively honed craft into scores of recipes for rustic boules and Neapolitan-style pizzas, all suited for the home baker. Forkish developed and tested all of the recipes in his home oven, and his impeccable formulas and clear instructions result in top-quality artisan breads and pizzas that stand up against those sold in the best bakeries anywhere.
For the gluten-free friend who misses good bread
Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple: A New Way to Bake Gluten-Free by Aran Goyoaga
From the publisher: Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple is all about easy-to-follow, gluten-free recipes for enticing breads, cakes, pies, tarts, biscuits, cookies, and includes a special holiday baking chapter.
Aran also shares her gluten-free all-purpose baking mix so you can whip up a batch to keep in your pantry. An added bonus is that each recipe offers dairy-free substitutions and some are naturally vegan as well. With inventive, well-tested, recipes and Aran’s clear guidance (plus 145 of her stunning photos), gluten-free baking is happily unfussy, producing irresistibly good results every time.
The friend that hates winter but loves frozen treats
Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook by Tyler Malek and JJ Goode
From the publisher: Based out of Portland, Oregon, Salt & Straw is the brainchild of two cousins, Tyler and Kim Malek, who had a vision but no recipes. They turned to their friends for advice—chefs, chocolatiers, brewers, and food experts of all kinds—and what came out is a super-simple base that takes five minutes to make, and an ice cream company that sees new flavors and inspiration everywhere they look. Using that base recipe, you can make dozens of Salt & Straw’s most beloved, unique (and a little controversial) flavors, including Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Roasted Strawberry and Toasted White Chocolate, and Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. But more importantly, this book reveals what they’ve learned, how to tap your own creativity, and how to invent flavors of your own, based on whatever you see around you. Because ice cream isn’t just a thing you eat, it’s a way to live.
For the friend whose idea of a perfect day is a visit to the orchard to pick fruit
From the publisher: Bake along with Kelsey Siemens, creator of The Farmer’s Daughter blog and fulltime apple farmer at her family’s orchard. In this inspiring collection, she shares the ins and outs of a year on the farm, along with new and heirloom recipes, plus gorgeous photography. Layered with crumbles, fillings, creams and curds, these impressive treats bring out the best in every fruit. Whether you want to take your pies to the next level with a braided lattice crust and creative flavor pairings, or just need clever ways to use your farmers’ market haul or garden harvest, you’ll find a bounty of delicious ideas and easy techniques.
Welcome spring with Great-Grandma Enid’s Rhubarb-Pistachio Coffee Cake and capture the sweet taste of summer in Blueberry–Earl Grey Cream Roll Cake. Celebrate autumn’s return with favorite flavors in Apple Crisp Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and warm up your winter with preserves and spices in a festive Gingerbread Loaf with Chai-Spiced Poached Pears. Straight from Kelsey’s cozy farmhouse kitchen, these recipes turn everyday produce into irresistible creations that will have you looking forward to every season.
For the friend who’s always up for a trip to the local farmers’ market
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holberg
If I could choose one book on this entire list that almost everyone will love to receive, it would be this book. The fella and I are huge fans of Portland favorite Ava Genes so I put Six Seasons on my wishlist the moment it hit shelves. The second I cracked it open, I couldn’t put it down. To be honest, I’ve never properly latched on to eating seasonally, aside from occasionally meal-planning dishes around the rainbow of produce at our local farmers market and getting excited when the tomatoes and herbs in my own garden start to grow. McFadden offers advice for not just eating seasonally, but enjoying the produce in all forms (raw butternut squash, anyone?) by preparing it in a way to maximize and enjoy its flavor at the peak of its season. Flipping through the pages makes me equally excited to do the procuring and cooking as I am to do the eating (well, close🍴😋). The recipes and advice in Six Seasons is approachable and reasonable. Getting delicious meals to the table shouldn’t take a visit to a specialty grocer or intricate technique. Let the quality of seasonal ingredients do the heavy lifting.
From the publisher: In Six Seasons, his first book, McFadden channels both farmer and chef, highlighting the evolving attributes of vegetables throughout their growing seasons—an arc from spring to early summer to midsummer to the bursting harvest of late summer, then ebbing into autumn and, finally, the earthy, mellow sweetness of winter. Each chapter begins with recipes featuring raw vegetables at the start of their season. As weeks progress, McFadden turns up the heat—grilling and steaming, then moving on to sautés, pan roasts, braises, and stews. His ingenuity is on display in 225 revelatory recipes that celebrate flavor at its peak.
For the friend who recently signed up for a CSA share
From the publisher: On Renée Kohlman’s very first date with her partner Dixon, he presented her with a bundle of asparagus. She knew immediately it was love and that her next cookbook would be all about vegetables.
In 23 chapters organized by vegetable, from that auspicious Asparagus to the reliable Zucchini, Vegetables: A Love Story includes 92 delicious and easy-to-follow vegetable-forward (but not exclusively vegetarian) recipes. Soups, salads, sides, tarts, casseroles, pastas, snacks, and more are accompanied by vivid photography that celebrates both raw ingredients and finished dishes.
The book is prefaced with a recommended ingredient list for pantry, fridge, and freezer; the author’s favourite kitchen tools; tips for successful cooking and vegetable storage. It also includes seven essays that tell the story of Ren and Dix’s relationship and the significance of vegetables to the life they’ve built together, all delivered with the signature blend of humour and heart that readers of Renée’s blog and newspaper columns have come to love. With a little cajoling she was even able to get Dixon to contribute some of his own insights to the pages. In Renée’s own words, “it’s a love story about food and a food story about love.”
For the friend who is trying to cook with more whole grains
Grains for Every Season: Rethinking Our Way with Grains by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg
From the publisher: Joshua McFadden’s first book, the James Beard Award–winning and perennially bestselling Six Seasons, transformed the way we cook with vegetables. Now he’s back with a new book that applies his maximalist approach to flavor and texture to cooking with grains. These knock-your-socks-off recipes include salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, grain bowls, breads—and even desserts. McFadden works as intuitively, as surprisingly, as deliciously with whole grains as he does with vegetables. Grains for Every Season will change the way we cook with barley, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat (bulgur, farro, freekeh, spelt, wheat berries, and whole wheat flour), and wild rice.
The book’s 200 recipes are organized into chapters by grain type, unlocking information on where each one comes from, how to prepare it, and why the author—the multi-award-winning chef/owner of Ava Gene’s in Portland—can’t live without it. McFadden uses grains both whole and milled into flour. The many gluten-free recipes are clearly designated.
McFadden reveals how each grain can be used in both savory and sweet recipes, from Meat Loaf with Barley and Mushrooms to Peanut Butter–Barley Cookies; from Buckwheat, Lime and Herb Salad to Buckwheat Cream Scones. He folds quinoa into tempura batter to give veggies extra pop and takes advantage of the nutty flavor of spelt flour for Cast-Iron Skillet Spelt Cinnamon Rolls. Four special foldout sections highlight seasonal variations on grain bowls, stir-fries, pizzas, pilafs, and more, to show how flexible and satisfying cooking with grains can be.
Weeknight & Family Cooks
For the friend trying to include more plant-based meals in their family’s diet
The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat by Jenny Rosenstrach
From the publisher:Jenny Rosenstrach, creator of the beloved blog Dinner: A Love Story and Cup of Jo columnist, knew that she wanted to eat better for health reasons and for the planet but didn’t want to miss the meat that she loves. But why does it have to be all or nothing? She figured that she could eat vegetarian during the week and save meaty splurges for the weekend. The Weekday Vegetarians shows readers how Jenny got her family on board with a weekday plant-based mentality and lays out a plan for home cooks to follow, one filled with brilliant and bold meat-free meals. Curious cooks will find more than 100 recipes (organized by meal type) for comforting, family-friendly foods like Pizza Salad with White Beans, Cauliflower Cutlets with Ranch Dressing, and Squash and Black Bean Tacos. Jenny also offers key flavor hits that will make any tray of roasted vegetables or bowl of garlicky beans irresistible—great things to make and throw on your next meal, such as spiced Crispy Chickpeas (who needs croutons?), Pizza Dough Croutons (you need croutons!), and a sweet chile sauce that makes everything look good and taste amazing. The Weekday Vegetarians is loaded with practical tips, techniques, and food for thought, and Jenny is your sage guide to getting more meat-free meals into your weekly rotation.
For the friend who is bored by their weekly rotation
It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Every Day by Katie Lee Biegel
In It’s Not Complicated, Katie Lee, author, influencer, and Food Network star, offers 100 of her favorite recipes that are easy, yet exciting—and always delicious. Written for the veteran chef and kitchen novice alike, Lee’s recipes have few ingredients and simple steps that are meant to ease up your life. Perfect for weeknights, but special enough for having people over, It’s Not Complicated shares the recipes people really want: classic, unfussy sure-things.
For the friend who wants to keep it simple during the week, but enjoys a cooking project on the weekend
That Sounds So Good: 100 Real-Life Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Carla Lalli Music
From the publisher: Great food is an achievable part of every day, no matter how busy you are; the key is to have go-to recipes for every situation and for whatever you have on hand. The recipes in That Sounds So Good are split between weekday and weekend cooking. When time is short, turn to quick stovetop suppers, one-pot meals, and dinner salads. And for the weekend, lean into lazy lunches, simmered stews, and hands-off roasts.
Carla’s dishes are as inviting and get-your-attention-good as ever. All the recipes—such as Fat Noodles with Pan-Roasted Mushrooms and Crushed Herb Sauce or Chicken Legs with Warm Spices—come with multiple ingredient swaps and suggestions, so you can make each one your own. That Sounds So Good shows Carla at her effortless best, and shows how you can be, too.
For the friend who wants to keep things as simple as possible
From the publisher: Getting a home-cooked meal on the table every day is an admirable goal, but it shouldn’t get in the way of your life! In Bare Minimum Dinners, Jenna Helwig—food director at Real Simple magazine—shares delicious, easy recipes so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your meal…or doing whatever else you want! Chapters include: Bare Minimum Time (30 minutes or less); Bare Minimum Ingredients (7 ingredients or less, including salt and olive oil); Bare Minimum Hands-On Time (slow-cooker and Instant Pot meals); Bare Minimum Clean-Up (one-pot/sheet pan/skillet meals); and Bare Minimum Sides (super-simple vegetables, salads, and grains so you can feel good about serving healthy, well-rounded dinners). Throughout, Jenna offers helpful tips—for example, how to keep salad greens fresh and at the ready, easy substitutions, and suggested supermarket brands—as well as easy ideas for dressing up or rounding out your meal.
For the friend who just got their first Instant Pot and has no idea what to make with it
From the publisher: Do you want to make an effortless progress in your kitchen regardless of the occasion? Do you want to save time cooking healthy meals on any budget? In this Instant pot cookbook you will find: Simple and quick solutions as to how to use your Instant Pot effectively Easy-to-cook and delicious-to-taste instant pot recipes Improved techniques on how to cook in the most efficient way using the Instant Pot. Thanks to this great cooking device, the Instant Pot, cooking quick and budget-friendly meals is easier than ever. No matter if you’re a solo eater, or if you cook for the whole family or friends – you’ll always find dozens of recipes to satisfy everyone. In this instant pot book you will find 800 recipes in these categories: Brunch & Side Dishes to die for Easy Pasta and Rice recipes Something for Fish & Seafood lovers Tons of tasty Pork, Beef, Lamb and Poultry recipes Beans & Grains recipes for quick meals Effortless Soups, Stews & Chilis Vegetables & Vegetarian Dishes Delicious Snacks & Appetizers Quick-to-prepare Desserts. Finally there’s your All-on-one Instant Pot cookbook, for any occasion for any guest for any budget!
Library Builders & Seasoned Cooks
For the friend who thinks Ina Garten is Queen
Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten
From the publisher: In Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites—but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina’s Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron! There are few things more comforting than gathering for a meal with the ones you love, especially when dishes like Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas are at the center of the table. Old-fashioned crowd pleasers like Roasted Sausages, Peppers, and Onions are even more delicious and streamlined for quick cleanup. For dessert? You’ll find the best Boston Cream Pie, Banana Rum Trifle, and Black and White Cookies you’ll ever make. Home cooks can always count on Ina’s dependable, easy-to-follow instructions, with lots of side notes for cooking and entertaining—it’s like having Ina right there beside you, helping you all the way. From cocktails to dessert, from special weekend breakfasts to quick weeknight dinners, you’ll find yourself making these cozy and delicious recipes over and over again.
For the friend who wants to learn about the roots of American Country Cooking
From the publisher: In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. With menus for the four seasons, she shares the ways her family prepared and enjoyed food, savoring the delights of each special time of year: […] The scores of recipes for these marvelous dishes are set down in loving detail. We come to understand the values that formed the remarkable woman—her love of nature, the pleasure of living with the seasons, the sense of community, the satisfactory feeling that hard work was always rewarded by her mother’s good food. Having made us yearn for all the good meals she describes in her memories of a lost time in America, Edna Lewis shows us precisely how to recover, in our own country or city or suburban kitchens, the taste of the fresh, good, natural country cooking that was so happy a part of her girlhood in Freetown, Virginia.
For the friend who wants to support more female chefs
Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook by Kerry Diamond, Claudia Wu, and many others
From the publisher: It’s the first-ever cookbook from the team behind Cherry Bombe, the hit indie magazine about women and food, and the Radio Cherry Bombe podcast. Inside are 100+ recipes from some of the most interesting chefs, bakers, food stylists, pastry chefs, and creatives on the food scene today. The Cherry Bombe team asked these women and others for their most meaningful recipes. The result is a beautifully styled and photographed collection that you will turn to again and again in the kitchen.
For Cooks & Non-Cook Foodies Alike (Books about food that are not cookbooks)
The Best American Food Writing 2021 – Edited by Gabrielle Hamilton
From the publisher: The year’s top food writing, from writers who celebrate the many innovative, comforting, mouthwatering, and culturally rich culinary offerings of our country. Edited by Silvia Killingsworth and renowned chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton.
“A year that stopped our food world in its tracks,” writes Gabrielle Hamilton in her introduction, reflecting on 2020. The stories in this edition of Best American Food Writing create a stunning portrait of a year that shook the food industry, reminding us of how important restaurants, grocery stores, shelters, and those who work in them are in our lives. From the Sikhs who fed thousands during the pandemic, to the writer who was quarantined with her Michelin-starred chef boyfriend, to the restaurants that served $200-per-person tasting menus to the wealthy as the death toll soared, this superb collection captures the underexposed ills of the industry and the unending power of food to unite us, especially when we need it most.
Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci
From the publisher: Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.
Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.
Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.
From the publisher: Paris is a city like no other, beloved by travelers the world over for its incomparable architecture, atmosphere, arts, and, of course, food. The restaurants of Paris are rich with history, culture, and flavor. Whether you’re a frequent visitor to the City of Light with memories of your favorite meals or an armchair traveler dreaming of the cuisine you could discover there, A Table in Paris will take you on a delicious visual journey through the arrondissements that you’ll never forget. In his signature loose and evocative style, artist John Donohue has rendered an incredible sampling of the iconic institutions, hidden gems, and everything in between that make the Paris dining scene one of a kind.
Guided by recommendations from a breadth of locals, visitors, and experts, you’ll discover the places one must visit and the dishes one must sample in pursuit of the perfect Parisian meal. The book also offers space for your Paris dining bucket list, food memories or dreams from each arrondissement, and notes on the establishments featured. Restaurants hold a powerful place in our hearts, and A Table in Paris is a must-have for anyone with epicurean visions of Paris in theirs.
From the publisher: The third book in Noterie’s 99 Things guided journal series, 99 Things I Love to Eat is a food-lover’s adventure catalog. Inside, ﬁnd food-related prompts and lists to complete, ranging from experiences (restaurants on your must-try list) to food memories (recall your most memorable meals) to fun activities (jot down your favorite ﬂavor combinations). Interspersed are charming illustrated lists of foods that you’ll want to check off as you try them, such as pastries from around the world, the many cultural variations of dumplings, and every shape of pasta. Get inspired to cook, eat, travel, and celebrate all things delicious in life!