All the Best Cookbooks to Gift in 2019
Our picks for the most beautiful and inspiring cookbooks of the year.
A cookbook can be a wonderful, personal gift, which is why we love to give and receive them. We've cooked our way through many new cookbooks this year, and have recipes bookmarked in many more. If you're looking for a cookbook to gift this year, these are the titles that we loved the most.
Bobby Flay's latest collection of recipes was inspired by the memory of his mother's dishes, like lamb chops with mint jelly from a jar and pork chops with applesauce and a pinch of cinnamon, as well as her lust for life. In her spirit, Bobby shares vibrant yet familiar recipes, like Grilled Pork Chops with Pepper and Balsamic and Spanish-Style Shrimp and Grits, alongside an arsenal of breakfast, brunch and dessert go-tos that are perfect for hosting close family and friends. Bobby's stories of sunny summer afternoons at his Hamptons home indulging in Grilled Grouper with Balsam Farms Tomatoes and Avocado will have you pining for pool-side days to come. Other recipes stem from his love of travel, where Korean BBQ Chicken and Cuban Beef Sandwiches are a catalyst for good company and lively conversation on his New York City patio. Bobby's simple pantry and equipment lists, make for a delicious and doable approach to entertaining.
McKenna Uhde, Culinary Editorial Fellow
Life is evolving on the Drummond ranch -- Ree's four kids are growing up and Ladd's beloved mother has passed away -- and Ree's food is changing with it. With just two high school boys at home, she's making meals fit for busy teenage schedules (Instant Pot Meatloaf, Parmesan Fish Sticks, Lasagna Soup), exploring new kitchen favorites, like from-scratch Teriyaki Sauce, and "clashing continents" for recipes like Greek Guacamole. Vegetarian and lower-carb fare like Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti Squash Bowls and Grilled Halloumi also make an appearance. But this wouldn't be a Ree cookbook without hearty favorites like Bunless Chili Cheeseburgers and Scampi Lasagna Roll-Ups. Recipes are tagged make-ahead, family-friendly, great for guests and indulgent, and each answers an initial "what," "when" and "why" to help you best entertain or prep for the busy week ahead. Her Caprese Bloody Mary (yes, there's a drinks chapter) answers the question "why?" with "because it's a showstopper in a glass!" How can you argue with that?
Twenty-five essays anchor this memoir-style cookbook, in which Rachael reflects on her milestone birthday and pays homage to the people and events that have shaped her life. Childhood years spent with her Italian grandfather, who packed school lunches with smelly sardines (the lunch-time humiliation of it all!) are vividly recalled in an essay titled "Sardines Don't Make You Friends." A recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Anchovies, Broccoli Rabe, Preserved Lemon and Garlicky Breadcrumbs proves her grandfather had the right idea all along. Her sumptuous Ravioli with Chicken Livers and Black Truffles and a refreshing Classic Negroni — pulled right from a recent anniversary menu — are an ode to her and John's Tuscan wedding. You'll have just as much fun reading the warm, intimate stories as recreating the 125 beautiful, delicious recipes that serve as her inspiration.
This book is exactly what you would expect: elegant holiday creations complemented by every-day indulgences, like jammy Streusels and creamy Caramel Whoopie Pies. The cover's luscious Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie will grab you, and the breadth of offerings inside will make this a year-round resource. Indulge in modern classics like sweet and salty Potato Chip Cookies and nutty, sesame Tahini Cookies. Get creative in the Some Assembly Required chapter with sandwiched Tiramisu Cookies and snow-covered (aka powdered sugar-dusted) Raspberry Jam Ice Diamonds arranged in a snowflake. There is a cookie for every occasion — Honey-Spiced Gingerbread Townhouses, Easter Egg Puzzle Cookies and traditional Hamantaschen — or opt for the Everyday Celebration Cookie topped with rainbow sprinkles, and arrive at any party with a plate of guaranteed crowd-pleasers.
Mastering the field and the kitchen, Eddie Jackson combines his two loves — food and football — in this playful and practical guide to "homegating." Chapters are appropriately titled — super bowls, one-hander, game changer — introducing high-spirited recipes for satisfying a crowd. His "all-stars" range from Pancake Chicken Poppers with Maple Whiskey Dipping Sauce and bite-sized, bacon-wrapped Bourbon Dates, to Pineapple-Gochujang Short Ribs on the grill and even the Perfect Brisket. Most dishes build on his helpful chapter one "pre-game," a 24-page collection of pre-prepped rubs, sauces and marinades, such as his "good on anything" 24/7 Rub, Carolina-style Honey Gold Barbecue Sauce and pineapple- and rum-infused Jammin' Rum Marinade that let you cut back on time in the kitchen on your own game day.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking is Toni Tipton-Martin’s holiday gift to all of us who read its predecessor, The Jemima Code, and yearned to cook our way through the 150 cookbooks and 200 years of extraordinary food it explored. Those cookbooks, authored by African Americans, laid the foundation for this one, in which Toni tested and modernized recipes from “the well-trained enslaved and skilled working class, entrepreneurs, and the black privileged class” who make up African-American and hence our US culinary history. The food is, as Toni says, “joyous” and the ingredients “unfussy” – a reflection of its original recipes and chefs, and of Toni’s desire that you feel comfortable cooking it in your home. We have our Jubilee dinner parties planned already: Savannah Pickled Shrimp followed by Gumbo Z’herbes and Pound Cake with Brandy Butter, or Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings served over Rice and Peas with Coconut, and a glass of Ginger Punch. Almost every dish includes the original text of the recipe that is its origin story or inspiration. Read them both for the history and for a good lesson on how economical instructions can be if you assume folks know how to cook!
Miriam Garron, Chef, Food Network
There's a delightful story to every recipe in Priya Krishna's instant-classic cookbook. Written with her mother — and packed with favorite recipes from family members — the book mashes together Indian flavors with American ingredients for recipes that feel equally brilliant and forehead-slappingly obvious. Why hasn't everyone made the salt-and-peppered frothy limeade that Krishna calls Indian Gatorade (tequila optional), or chaat masala-almond butter toast, or crispy-Cheddar-topped tomato-onion pizza rice? Krishna's book is fun and pragmatic, embracing the happy middle where ease, flavor and fun unite for a potluck.
Erin Hartigan, Senior Managing Editor, Food Network
Alison Roman might be best known for her viral recipes (The Cookies, The Stew) but her follow-up to Dining In proves that her point-of-view on party foods is where she's really made an impact on how we eat. Alison knows that we don't entertain — we "have people over," which is something else entirely. It means the dishes you serve can be colorful, vibrant and special, but pleasingly unfussy. And this attitude is not a shortcut or an excuse; it's the preferred mode, the method to the madness. Recipes like Overnight Foccacia, Tonight and A Big Pot of Brothy Beans have a purposeful casualness that doesn’t shirk culinary power. Alison is the cool girl of entertaining and with this book, you too can pop down a tray of spicy, smashed vegetables, creamy labne or chicken with caramelized lemons and know that you’ve made everyone happy.
Lauren Piro, Director, Editorial
Before the internet, there was Joy of Cooking. And I have a feeling it will be around long after we're on to the next tech revolution. For what it lacks in flash — no photos, no big-name chefs — the book makes up for in information that is time-tested and reliable (emphasis on that last part). And there's more than 1,000 pages of it! Want to know how to freeze soup? Make sausage? Pluck a pheasant? Shape a Danish? It's all in there, relayed in the common-sense language that brings courage to someone making sauerkraut for the first time or choosing between American and French buttercream. As for the recipes, Irma Rombauer's great-grandson John Becker and his wife Megan Scott have got you covered. They've added 600 new entries — from Vegan Eggnog to Miso-Glazed Eggplant — to the 4,000 they deemed keepers from previous editions. Unplugging has never been so easy.
Lygeia Grace, Director, Culinary Editorial
For the fan who can’t get enough of the Crawleys and their dutiful staff, this cookbook illuminates the series through a lens you might have noticed upon first watch — the food. Each recipe comes with a bit of background on the dishes’ historical significance and place on estates in the 1920s, and color commentary about the technique or ingredients. Learn to create dishes that would have been served "upstairs" (like the Victorian Lobster Cutlets the servants unexpectedly enjoyed after Edith was "jilted at the altar!") and "downstairs" (like the cheap and versatile Toad-in the-Hole). You might expect a TV-themed cookbook to feel gimmicky and slight, but this book is quite the opposite.
Hebrew for "everything is cool," Sababa is a captivating love song to Israeli food. Centered on Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, Adeena Sussman's newest book takes us on a bright and sunny walk through the freshest ingredients found at her local shuk. The book includes the cornerstones of Israeli cooking such as hummus, baba ganoush and pita, and also teaches readers how to use ingredients less familiar to some American shoppers — like sour lime powder on simple baked chicken wings, sumac on roasted potatoes and even harissa in a bloody Mary. Many trendy cookbooks today contain a shakshuka recipe. Adeena offers two equally delicious versions of the Israeli breakfast staple of eggs poached in a slowly simmered spiced tomato sauce. The first she jazzes up with zucchini, dill and feta, which adds just the right amount of brightness. The shuk's importance in her life shines through in the second — a green shakshuka featuring spinach, kale and chard cooked like creamed spinach —perfection!
Emily Weinberger, Contributing Recipe Developer, Food Network Kitchen
Amy Chaplin is a whiz at tackling the vast world of healthy eating and breaking it down into comprehensive chapters. She nixes overwhelming scientific jargon and homes in on what's attainable for the everyday, starting with what she calls Base Recipes — Cauliflower Soup, Buckwheat Millet Bread, Marinated Tempeh — that can be endlessly adapted with toppings and sauces. So you can kick off your Monday morning with sweet Millet-Coconut Porridge with Pear and Cardamom and by Thursday you're diving into a bowl of Savory Millet-Sesame Porridge with Miso (don't forget the scallions and crumbled nori). Along the way, she urges readers to use the ingredients that grow around you as "both your muse and your guide."
Whether you reach for a deep-dish Detroit slice or prefer the simplicity of Grandma-style, Peter Reinhart has you covered. A longtime teacher and award-winning baker, he doesn't believe you need a lot of fancy tools like pizza peels or pizza stones to turn out perfectly crisp, chewy pies from your home oven. They key is in the dough — and he walks you through three of them to use as your base for a joyful array of multinational flavors — think Philly-Style Roast Pork with Broccoli Rabe and Vietnamese Bahn Mi. He dives into the depths of Roman and Sicilian-style pizzas, as well as focaccia and schiacciata, and offers essential tips on what to do about underdone crusts and how to find your "baking shelf sweet spot."
Madhur Jaffrey may insist that the Instant Pot is not a "Magic Pot," but the meals she creates with the ubiquitous appliance — part slow cooker, part pressure cooker — will have you thinking otherwise. Her beautiful Buttery Dal with homemade garam masala takes a mere 45 minutes. She blooms asafetida, cumin and chilies using the saute function of the pot before tossing in diced beets that cook to tenderness in just 20 minutes in her easy Beets in a Delhi-Style Tomato Sauce. More than 45 years after introducing American cooks to the nuances of regional Indian cooking, Madhur is teaching a new generation of omnivores about the joys of homemade Goan Shrimp Curry and Kerala Lamb Stew.
You can't help but be comforted by the familiar images in Anna Hezel's Lasagna: A Baked Pasta Cookbook: You'll find classic red sauce, curly lasagna noodles and what the editor of Taste calls, a "Garfield-approved blistered layer of gooey mozzarella crowning the top." I spent three weeks compulsively cooking through the book for different occasions. I hosted a brunch for 10, serving the eggy Carbonara Lasagna and boozy Sweet Crespelle with Lemon & Tart Cherry Sauce (a luscious casserole of layered crepes). I gathered girlfriends for bowls of Slow-Cooker Spinach Ricotta Lasagna, laughing late into the night and going back for seconds of Nutellasagna. And my in-laws were impressed with our family dinner of Classic Meat Sauce & Ricotta Lasagna served with a side of Italian Restaurant Iceberg Lettuce Salad and Tiramisu for the 21st Century for dessert. After all that cooking, we recovered the next day with Leftover Lasagna Parm Sandwiches using Anna's Very Good Garlic Bread that I served with tall glasses of wine (recipe not included). This cookbook is now a mainstay in my kitchen. It should be in yours too.
Myo Quinn, Contributing Recipe Developer, Food Network Kitchen
Whether you are an armchair explorer or an adventurous cook ready for a turn at the wok, Fuchsia Dunlop will expertly guide you through the culinary landscape of Sichuan and entice you into the kitchen in this updated version of her book Land of Plenty. The vibrant photographs spotlight the food and provide visual cues for the cook, like showing green garlic cut into long, thin "horse ear" slices and "reddened oil" for Twice-Cooked Pork. Most of the recipes deliver ma la (a numbing, hot sensation) through the use of dried chiles and Sichuan peppers. Mapo Tofu is my standard order at a Chinese restaurant (it's a linchpin dish that reflects a chef's ability to coax flavors and heat from chiles into plain tofu). Fuchsia's version calls for ground chiles in addition to chile bean paste, giving the dish a richness and vibrant red hue that I'd previously never been able to achieve at home. When the original version of this cookbook was published 18 years ago, acquiring specialty ingredients was daunting. Thankfully, they can now be easily procured at local Asian markets or online.
Sure, we all want to build a gum paste Taj Mahal to post on Instagram. But we also want (to eat) a homemade chocolate chip cookie, birthday cake, or, oh, Boozy Cherry and Pistachio Ice Cream Terrine. Gemma Stafford's Bigger Bolder Baking recipes, collected over her years as a pastry chef, blogger and YouTube host, cover the elemental and special, because one day you want Creamy Rice Pudding, and another, Meringue Roulade with Bananas and Salted Caramel Sauce. The recipes are concise and accessible, and call for ingredients you should have in-house or find at any supermarket. For American audiences, it's nice to have classics from Gemma's Irish childhood like My English Bakewell Tart and Winter Apple Eve's Pudding, in addition to American standards like All-the-Sprinkles Birthday Cake or No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake. Stafford understands the appeal of homemade even if you're the only one home, offering recipes for single-serving Key Lime Pie, Jelly Doughnut In a Mug and In Case of Emergency 1-Minute Brownie. Recipes are organized along unexpected but helpful categories including: Rolling Pin, Baking Pan and No Oven Needed, so you create whatever works in your kitchen or on your schedule. Finally, for those looking to become truly confident bakers, Stafford provides metric weights for her ingredients in addition to American volume measurements. So get a scale and mix, chill, roll and bake with confidence, then savor (and post) with pride.
Whether or not its recipes win awards, the subhead to Alana Newhouse's "The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List," wins the prize for the year’s Most Unnecessary Subhead. What list of Jewish anything isn't open to Talmudic argument? So by all means, debate away about the chosen recipes (please!), maybe even cook some of them, but buy the book for the humor, history and insight from the comedians, journalists, chefs and doctors (well, at least doctor Ruth Westheimer), Jewish and not so, who limn the diaspora — Jewish and personal — through food. You'll find the expected (for American Jews): chopped liver (from Korean-American chef Edward Lee), brisket, Chinese food at Christmas, and the surprising — Bazooka bubblegum (no recipe included) and Tofutti. Unlike much American-Jewish history of the last century, the recipe selection acknowledges the entire diaspora, with Sephardic foods almost as numerous as Ashkenazi. We loved the Iraqi-Kurdish Kubbeh soup and dog-eared the page for Yemenite Breads. One final note: Eric Ripert's contribution is an argument that culinary genius bears an inverse relationship to humor: his recipe for gefilte fish (with salmon and carp) looks as refined and delicious as you'd expect, but the introductory note? Meh.
Umami is that fifth sense (after salty, sour, bitter, sweet) we experience when dipping sushi in soy sauce and sprinkling Parmesan on pasta — or as Raquel Pelzel explains, "Umami is what happens when proteins break down and amino acids and ribonucleotides are left to get crazy in your mouth." Some people turn to foods like bacon and anchovies to give you that pow! or zing! Raquel believes you can get those same umami elements from vegetables — like using sun-dried tomatoes for a vegan pepperoni spread or incorporating smoked seasonings for fresh-off-the-barbecue flair — and save the planet in the process. Her umami bomb rating system (1 bomb = 1 umami ingredient) lets you calibrate your flavors. The Roasted Tomato Tart with Pesto and Goat's Milk Cheese has two bombs, while the Mushroom and Eggplant Stir-Fry with Tofu and Hoisin Sauce has four (her signature umami-loaded Bomb Sauce has a whopping seven). This formula ensures even beginner cooks can make vegetables exploding with flavor.
Years after opening several successful ramen restaurants in Tokyo and New York, Ivan Orkin still considers himself a gaijin, meaning foreigner in Japanese. In The Gaijin Cookbook, he embraces his fate as a "lifelong outsider," taking inspiration from his family's American and Japanese heritage and the recipes he serves at home. Written with former Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying, the book overflows with Ivan's larger-than-life personality, letting his New York roots peek through. Recipes for Okinawa-Style Soba with Pork Belly and Katsuobushi (Suki Soba) are in the company of Bagels with Japanese-ish Fixings (he makes a green seaweed cream cheese), and ballpark mustard-slathered Tofu Coney Island. Many recipes are dedicated to involving the whole family: Try the nourishing Salmon and Miso Hot Pot or Family-Style Chirashi. And unlike the three-day cooking projects in his previous book, the dishes here are meant to be easily recreated at home.
Tieghan Gerard's new book is a generous collection of comfort food classics adapted to busy families with limited time and resources. Think Beef Bourguignon trimmed down from a four-hour project to a one-hour Instant Pot weeknight dinner. Helpful icons indicating 30 minutes or less, 10 ingredients or less, one pan and pantry essentials mark recipes like Chicken Tinga Tacos, Curried Thai Spring Roll Lettuce Wraps and Jalapeno Garlic-Butter Shrimp. The flavors are big and bold, and the full-page photos of each recipe are an invitation to cook.
Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer, Food Network Kitchen
It could be the boldly colored photos, it could be the saucily named drinks — hello, Gringo Honeymoon — but this book brings the conga line long before you've even broken out the shaker. Natalie Jacob spent years mixing swizzles at Manhattan bars and conjuring classic-cocktail style for her lifestyle blog before penning this definitive guide to the midcentury cocktail world's greatest hits. And her expertise shows through in every recipe and photo — all vibrantly colorful in period-appropriate barware, natch. She offers the be-all-end-all versions of favorites like mai tais, scorpion bowls and pina coladas — in a hollowed-out pineapple, no less — as well as her own creations, drawing on contemporary flavors. Recipes for homemade orgeat, coconut cream and assorted syrups mean that you can take it to an 11 with your tiki geeking.
Dedicating 10 hours to a towering timpano from Big Night and sourcing squab and wild boar for a Game of Thrones feast are just some of the lengths Andrew Rea goes to for his hit YouTube cooking series, Binging with Babish. The videos see Andrew's passion for television and food, and his detailed and obsessive nature, bring to life recipes most fans only dream of tasting. Literal recreations of famous TV dishes are adjacent to the Babish versions — more approachable and often more delicious adaptations. A section titled "verdict" offers Andrew's opinion of an overall dish — Lemon Cakes from Game of thrones are "simple, elegant teatime pleasures," while Dothraki Blood Pie is "pretty gross." Other fan favorites include Spongebob's Krabby Patty (followed by the Babish Umami version), Michael Scott's 18-Topping Soft Pretzel from The Office and Friends' famous Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, The Moistmaker. There are also plenty of simple, delicious recipes that lie deep within the crazy (you'll have to dig, but you'll have fun) and make clear Andrew's creativity and culinary know-how. The tamales (inspired by Coco) and apple pie (inspired by many different series) will satisfy foodies and TV buffs alike.
In her latest book, beloved author and Instagrammer Sarah Copeland reminded me that I do, indeed, wish every day was Saturday and I should cook that way for my family too. From dolled up tahini toast, which she dubs peanut butter toast's "chic older sister," to a classic grilled skirt steak with chimichurri, Copeland opened my mind to the possibility of nourishing and exciting weeknight dinners again. Her smart tips, beautiful photography and appealing recipes make it feel easy. Sarah's simple tomato sauce relies on the richness of meatballs spiked with bacon and soppressata to add flavor (it can be made ahead of time to boot). Similarly, her chocolate chip cookies have nothing fussy about them, but are incredibly chewy and rich thanks to almond flour and flaky salt. I couldn't help myself from going back for seconds — and thirds!
"Cooking is a necessity. Everyone needs to eat," writes Samantha Seneviratne in her third book. "Baking is never a necessity. No one needs a chocolate cake to survive. Except sometimes a chocolate cake is exactly what you need to survive." Samantha organizes this heartfelt collection of recipes around memories and stories of loved ones in chapters with titles like Courage, Grace, Bliss and Wisdom. An account of her late brother, who once told her that the inside of a Peppermint Patty was made of snow from Santa's house, segues into a recipe for Peppermint Snow Patties (chocolate-covered biscuits). A riff on an open window and flying papers leads us to her parchment wrapped caramels. Samantha covers a lot of ground — cookies, cakes, breads, pies — making this a lovely gift for a baker looking to discover new things.
Five years ago, Vicky Bennison began filming real grandmas in Italy making pasta, documenting a craft in danger of being lost. Her mesmerizing YouTube channel has more than 400,000 subscribers. Now the book has arrived, and it's just as fantastic as the videos. But where the videos highlight the incredible deftness of the pasta shaping, the book showcases the intricate, little known regional cooking of the country. The dishes are simple and also surprising. Rosetta's twist on trofie (little corkscrew pastas) features a classic pesto Genovese supplemented with prescinseua, a cheese that resembles a cross between yogurt and ricotta. Franco and Alessandra's corzetti (stamped coin pasta) mingle with fragrant garlic, marjoram and pine nuts. Monica's cestini (ricotta and lemon filled pasta "baskets") are dressed with butter and cinnamon. Go ahead and channel your inner nonna while practicing to your heart's content. Even the misshapen pieces will still taste delicious!
Alexis Pisciotta, Purchasing and Events Manager, Food Network
Diana Henry, can we come for dinner? Now that it’s winter, for Pomegranate Molasses-Roasted Beets with Oranges, Walnuts, Dill and Labneh (from the winter vegetables chapter), in April for Roasted Radishes with Honey, Mint and Preserved Lemon and late-August for Chili-Roasted Tomatoes Feta Cheese, Yogurt, Dill, Mint and Pistachios (from spring and summer). Reader, don’t be put off by the all those commas in the recipe titles. Henry’s dishes fulfill the promise of the book’s title and sub: they require basic prep, bake or roast without much fuss, and then get a little jazzing up at table. She says in her introduction, “To cook this way--using very simple methods--you do need a well-stocked pantry.” So yes, she uses some not-so-standard-pantry ingredients to amp up the flavors and textures. Pay attention to her recommendations in “A Cupboard to Love,” to make the most of the book and don’t hesitate to make changes. Henry herself refers to her recipes as blueprints, and her headnotes offer alternative ingredients or methods that change but won’t diminish the dish.
Henry also offers chapters on Grains and Legumes, Simple Suppers, dessert, and, bless her (unless you are a chicken), an entire chapter on (or ode to) chicken thighs. (That said, this is a wonderful book for vegetarians.) A final note: The cookware in the stunning photos are not only beautiful but practical: Follow the advice and (very few) rules in Henry’s page and a half on Cooking Equipment to make the most of the stunning, smart, smart, smart recipes on offer here. And then invent your own and invite Diana to dinner.
The most delectable desserts are the ones that leave you wanting more, and Claudia Fleming’s collection of recipes in this reissue of her much-loved 2001 classic does just that. The book features 175 desserts that emphasize her philosophy that “fancy” doesn’t have to be fussy. Each section of the book focuses on key ingredients-- berries, stone fruits, citrus, vegetables-- and how to showcase them in the best way possible. Imagine Ginger-Port Poached Pears and a Fig-Cornmeal Tart. Most memorable is the concluding chapter highlighting the signature composed desserts that won her a James Beard Award at New York's Grammercy Tavern-- such as Waffles with Maple-Glazed Bananas and Maple Flan and Peach Tartes Tatin with Black Pepper Ice Cream. We're happy to see this tried-and-true book back in print.
Kayla Hoang, Culinary Editorial Fellow, Food Network Kitchen