15 Cookbooks That Make the Best Mother's Day Gifts

Bonus points if you cook her something from it first!

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May 03, 2021


Girl learning to prepare meal from mother

Photo by: Thana Prasongsin/Getty Images

Thana Prasongsin/Getty Images

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re stuck on what to gift mom, cookbooks are a great go-to option! (Bonus points if you extend her Mother’s Day celebration by making something from the book the next day!) This spring’s crop of cookbooks offers something for everyone; whether your mom is a cheese board aficionado, a Francophile, likes her cookbooks to double as travelogues or just wants dessert, we’ve got a title for her.


For the wellness mom who loves to eat, pick up a copy of Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis’ most personal cookbook yet. As a chef, restaurateur, tv host and entrepreneur (on top of being a mom), Giada shares how she’s redefined her approach to food, wellness and balance over the last ten years. While she shares her personal experience — at its core the book is designed to help you select food that makes you feel better and to create your own approach to supporting both a healthy mind and body. Of course, you’ll still find Giada’s signature Italian-California-cool culinary style reflected in the book’s 100 recipes, including dishes like Fusilli with Chicken and Broccoli Rabe and Penne with Spicy Calabrian Shrimp. The book is rounded out with stories and tips around some of Giada’s core wellness practices, including yoga, meditation and sleep.

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Author and Food Network star, Katie Lee Biegel, has written a cookbook chock-full of recipes that manage to feel both effortless for everyday cooking, yet they’re elegant enough to serve to guests. After years of jet-setting across the globe and hosting lavish dinner parties, Katie is all about settling in for a family dinner at home and keeping things simple these days. There are 100 recipes, pared down to essential ingredients and simple steps, that inspire a sense of ease to cooking at home whether you’re a seasoned chef or home cook. The delicious results mean more time to spend with family, enjoying some of Katie’s staple dishes like Sticky Soy-Ginger-Garlic Chicken Thighs and Lobster Cobb. There’s no better gift, after all, than the gift of time.

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If your mom prefers grazing to sit-down dinners or is the type to geek out over a charcuterie and cheese board, she’ll appreciate how this cookbook elevates snacking to an art form. It’s author Shelly Westerhausen Worcel’s follow-up to her best-selling book, Platters & Boards, and includes 60 approachable recipes and inspiration for 20 stunning spreads ranging from Dips for Dinner to a Boozy Bloody Mary Bar. The book also includes gorgeous photographs plus behind-the-scenes tips on choosing a theme, food styling and creating that "wow factor" with linens, flowers and music. To cap it off, Shelly arms readers with timelines, shopping lists and diagrams, so Mom can create her next Instagram-worthy spread sans stress.

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With her latest cookbook, author Julia Turshen proves that nutritious and delicious are not mutually exclusive concepts. Within its lovely pages, there are 110 recipes offering healthier takes on comfort food, cleverly categorized into sections such as 'weeknight go-tos, 'vegan one-pot meals' and 'easy baked goods.' We’re bookmarking Chicken with Sour Cream + Chive Dumplings and Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes, for starters. There are also Julia’s signature "Seven Lists," which reveal quick tips to help any cook feel more at home in the kitchen. True to her culinary ethos, Julia’s recipes and personal essays are as much about love, community, connection and nourishment of the body and soul as they are about getting dinner on the table. This is one of those cookbooks that mom will have a hard time deciding whether she wants to cook from it first or curl up with a cup of tea and pore over its pages instead.

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Nigella’s latest cookbook title encapsulates how she lives and loves her life. Her charming and insightful prose brings her recipes to life, and she brings her signature charm to the personal narratives strewn throughout as well. There are more than 100 recipes that promise to be both a joy to cook and a pleasure to eat: think Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce, Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts, and Beet, Rhubarb and Ginger Soup. Desserts are equally lush, including both British and American inspired meal endings (or midnight snacks — no judgements here). We’re practically swooning over the family-favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, which Nigella describes as "dark, damp and divinely chocolately."

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With 100 recipes, stories and more than 150 stunning photos, My Shanghai is equal parts cookbook and travelogue. Author Betty Liu organizes the recipes by each of the four seasons, and we’re especially excited about the Scallion Oil-Poached Chicken, which is a refreshing and fragrant dish that Betty promises, "does wonderfully after a day in the fridge, giving it time to absorb all the flavors." There’s also a whole chapter devoted to street food staples, including scallion pancakes and soup dumplings and another called Core Recipes, so you can master dishes like congee and fried rice. Betty’s stories, which read like a love letter to her hometown and family, make this one of those cookbooks that’s as delicious to read as it is to cook from.

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We love the breadth of flavors captured in this book’s 130 recipes, at once rooted in tradition and yet utterly contemporary. The recipes are approachable for home cooks, organized by primary ingredient and accompanied by vivid, jump-off-the-pages photography. Acclaimed author Reem Kassis weaves her fastidious research and personal narrative in too, making this book much more than a collection of modern Arabic recipes. It’s truly a celebration of the evolution of Arab cuisine that pays homage to its history, people and ingredients. There are dishes from the Golden Age of Islam, like Makmoora, a layered chicken, onion and pine nut pot pie, plus modern-day twists on classics such as Tahini Cheesecake and Caramelized Butternut Squash Fatteh with Za'atar. This book captures how much food defines a sense of a place and people’s identity, and the stories and recipes in its pages will nourish you from within.

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For a taste of the islands minus the airfare, snag mom a copy of Maui chef Sheldon Simeon’s book. The striking photos, personal stories and recipes, such as Wok-Fried Poke, Charred Huli-Huli Chicken and Crispy Cauliflower Katsu, evoke the essence of Hawaii’s diverse cultural culinary inspirations. You’ll find touches of native Hawaiian traditions, Japanese influences, Chinese cooking techniques, and bold Korean, Portuguese and Filipino flavors, that latter of which are closest to Sheldon’s heart. All of the dishes in the book are meant to be shared, so Sheldon suggests serving them ohana (family) style and scaling them up if you’re feeding a crowd. We especially love the idea of making an entire feast out of pupus (appetizers) — we can see some of Sheldon’s standbys like Pan Sushi Dynamite quickly becoming an easy weeknight supper, especially when served alongside Shoyu Dip with Sesame Crunch (aka our new favorite veggie dip).

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As Chrissy Teigen rose to bona fide cookbook fame, Vilailuck "Pepper" Teigen became known to fans as "Chrissy’s mom." Since then, Pepper has earned her own fan following, along with the moniker "Everyone’s Favorite Thai Mom." With this book, she answers fans’ calls for her boldly flavored recipes like "crispy fried bananas, stir-fried spaghetti with chile jam and sun-dried tomatoes (a spicy upgrade to your spaghetti!), and bacon-pineapple-curry fried rice..." as Chrissy writes in the book’s foreword. There are traditional Thai recipes, too, including the coconut pancakes that Pepper cooked and sold to commuters each day before school in her hometown of Isaan. There are more than 85 fun-to-cook (and eat!) recipes, including Spicy Basil Melon Salad, Pad Thai Brussel Sprouts and Massaman Beef Curry, that’ll become staples for your family, too.

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Chef Deborah VanTrece’s cookbook debut is just the remedy for at-home-cooking burnout we needed. At her acclaimed Atlanta restaurant, Twisted Soul, Deborah redefines soul food by drawing inspiration from its rich culinary history, her native Kansas City, global influences gleaned through her travels as a flight attendant and her classical culinary training. With her book, Deborah delves deeper to share 100 recipes that are geared toward the home cook but still imbued with technique and her riffs on flavors and textures — hello, Cocoa-Crusted Rack of Lamb and Bacon-Praline Macaroni and Cheese. You’ll find chapters covering salads, sides and seafood, plus a clever chapter on how to use pantry staples to zip up dressings and sauces. It all adds up to an utterly fresh yet familiar approach to cooking dishes that comfort, nourish and excite.

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Whether your mom is vegetarian or hoping to cook and eat more plant-based dishes, she’ll appreciate celebrated cookbook author Heidi Swanson’s latest. Heidi writes that she wrote this book during a particularly busy season of her life, and she hopes that these recipes for wholesome, nutrient-packed homemade meals will become go-tos for your family, too. Heidi spends time helping readers stock their pantry with staples like nut and seed butters, noodles, beans, nutritional yeast, "hints of heat" and "crunchy stuff," which lay the foundation for pulling off these elegant yet effortless recipes. We love the sound of setting pasta adrift in Ravioli in Toasted Almond Broth and anticipate baking up a batch of the aptly named Big Raspberry-Rye Cookies ASAP. The book’s bright, clean photography make the pages ones you’ll savor as you cook.

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Equal parts armchair travelogue, cookbook and science primer, Cheese, Wine, and Bread explores the stories and science behind three of our favorite food groups. Author and YouTube star Katie Quinn apprenticed with experts, visiting grain fields, vineyards and dairies to study the art and science of fermentation that give these foods their complex flavors. In her approachable voice, she explains the process behind each craft, introduces us to the people behind the products and shares classic recipes to recreate at home. She also reveals tidbits from her personal journey as an expat discovering herself abroad, which will keep you turning the pages long after you’ve polished off a slice of White Wine and Olive Oil Cake.

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For the mom who has both a sweet tooth and baking goals, this book is a one-way ticket to having your cake and eating it too. The pocket-sized baking book is brimming with 30 tried-and-true dessert recipes to satisfy every sweet craving. Author, baker and recipe developer Charlotte Ree’s approachable recipes will have you turning out desserts that are transportive too, from honey madeleines that call to mind a summer in Provence to chocolate amaretti, perfect for nibbling alongside an espresso and dreaming of Rome. There are also nods to Charlotte’s native Australia, including a recipe for a show-stopping Layered Berry Pavlova. Charlotte also reveals her whimsical sense of humor, sprinkling in some of her favorite food puns throughout; as she says, "Life is what you bake it."

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With its unfussy yet elegant recipes and gorgeous photography, this stylish book will transport mom straight to a sidewalk table at a Parisian café. Author and food writer Rebekah Peppler smartly organizes the book according to how a meal in France is typically enjoyed, starting with "Before" (aperitifs and snacks), "During" (supper and sides) and "After" (sweet snacks and after-dinner drinks), rounded out with desserts and digestifs. (Any meal that is bookended with snacks is a winner in our book.) The recipes also take readers on a trip through France, with classics such as Ratatouille and Creme Brulée; regional dishes, such as Basque Chicken, Nicoise (for a Crowd) and Alsatian Cheesecake.

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Food Network host Kelly Senyei has earned a following for her achievable, delicious recipes, and her debut cookbook delivers on both accounts. Each of the 125 recipes incorporates a surprise ingredient to transform textures and finesse flavors, elevating everyday dishes to simply sublime. To wit, orange soda gives Sheet Pan Barbecue Meatballs a tangy glaze, while bittersweet chocolate amps up Sunday Short Rib Ragu with an earthy, savory depth. Best of all, the ingredients may be unexpected, but they can all be found at grocery stores. And because she’s a home cook at heart and a busy mom of three, Kelly has ensured that the recipes are family-friendly, too. But we don’t blame you if you make a batch of Vanilla Bean Drop Doughnuts (made with Greek yogurt) just for yourself.

Buy It

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