All the Best Cookbooks to Gift in 2021

Here are our picks for the most beautiful and inspiring cookbooks of the year.

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October 21, 2021
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A new cookbook can be a wonderful, personal gift, which is why we love to give and receive them, especially during the holidays. We've cooked our way through many new cookbooks this year, and have recipes bookmarked in many more to try in 2022. If you're looking for a cookbook to gift this holiday season, these are just some of the titles Food Network staffers can't get enough of. Not only to do they cover a wide range of topics like comfort food upgrades and healthful eating, they’re also so full of new and delicious dishes that the whole family will be excited about.

We encourage you to purchase from small businesses, including independent bookstores in your area or those that exist online. We love to shop at Bookshop for online shopping, and Indie Bound can help you find independently-owned bookstores near you.

$22.49

It’s a common belief that food can be either good-for-you, easy or convenient, but it can’t be all three. Tia Mowry’s The Quick Fix Kitchen readily disproves that myth. Full of family-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious and down-to-earth, Tia’s book is a must-have for anyone who wants to reduce stress in the kitchen. Between beautiful photographs, Tia offers playful and practical advice, like the best ways to get kids involved in the kitchen and her method for organizing the pantry (hint: it’s all about categorizing your cookware based on how often you use it). She also includes her definition of balanced eating, breaks down the labels on meats and produce, and provides a meal plan that accounts for busy schedules, different budgets and room for fun. No matter what you’re looking for — lightened-up pastas, 30-minute dinners or even a chocolate chip cookie for one — this book is sure to please. My personal favorite? Tia’s do-it-all base for three variations of quick bread: zucchini, pumpkin and banana. I baked a batch of banana bread for my family, who said it was the best they’ve ever had!

Leah Scalzadonna, Associate Editor, Programming

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$14.16

While some people see the repetitive actions of cooking as mundane, Nigella Lawson embraces the soothing, rhythmic nature of such predictability, in her twelfth cookbook, Cook, Eat, Repeat. Written during the four months of quarantine she spent in isolation, this book is a delightful combination of recipes intertwined with narrative essays that exhibit Nigella’s wisdom on food and life. Among her many musings, you’ll find an essay dedicated entirely to anchovies, accompanied by recipes in which the bacon of the sea takes center stage. Especially enticing are the luscious dip she calls Anchovy Elixir and her Celery Root and Anchovy Gratin. With dishes like Short Rib Stew for Two and Oxtail Bourguignon, plus a complementary essay, she passionately defends the seemingly dull brown dishes that don’t always get the love on Instagram. At the end of the book, she includes make-ahead, store and freeze notes for each recipe. Living on my own for the very first time, I resonated with this book immensely. It’s a must have for those who need a reminder that cooking can be enjoyable and therapeutic.

Anikah Shaokat, Culinary Editorial Fellow

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$22.61

Brownies and cookies are great, but for some bakers nothing beats a fruity dessert. This year, apple pie and blueberry crumble fans will love receiving Martha Stewart's latest book Fruit Desserts. Though most fruity desserts come attached to a holiday (apple pie) or a season (berry cobblers), Martha's book is designed to allow fruit lovers to bake with produce all year long. Her Fruit 101 offers a list of fruits broken down by seasons to encourage in-season baking. Along with classic fruit pies, bakers will find recipes they may not have considered, like a Tropical Fruit Crepe Cake or Key Lime Creme Puffs. No matter what fruit your favorite baker is into, they're sure to find recipes to keep them baking all year long.

T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

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$19.48

Sometimes it feels necessary to hit the "reset" button. In her latest cookbook, Eat Better, Feel Better, Giada De Laurentiis offers her tried-and-true strategies and, of course, recipes for taking control of your diet, which includes a three-day regime she swears by. While a three-day elimination diet isn't for everyone, anyone who's looking to renew their pantry will benefit from Giada's Delectable Dozen and her own list of healthy and flavorful "superfoods." With these ingredients, you'll be able to make almost any of the 100 new recipes in this cookbook, including Hearty Chicken Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles, Penne with Spicy Calabrian Shrimp and Chicken Milanese. A combination of Italian classics and California-style plates, Eat Better, Feel Better is the perfect read for those resolving to "eat better" in the new year.

T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

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$21.96

When life gives you lemons, make lemon curd: that’s the motto Vallery Lomas chooses to live by. After winning season three of The Great American Baking Show, the former lawyer decided to leave her job and pursue her passion of becoming a full-time baker. Vallery’s determination has led her to become one of the most sought-after names in the world of baking. In this inspiring cookbook, you’ll find Vallery’s competition-winning recipes, like her citrus-flavored Tiger Doughnuts and zesty Blackberry Lemon King Cake. She also pays tribute to the three most important women in her life — her mother Diane and her two grandmothers, Willie Mae and Leona —with cherished family recipes like Leona’s Cornmeal Pancakes and Willie Mae’s pineapple-filled Million Dollar Cake. Brimming with fond memories, gorgeous full-page photography and expert tips and tricks, Life Is What You Bake It is all about managing the unexpected twists thrown at you — while baking or otherwise.

Michelle Baricevic, Online Editorial Coordinator

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$15.99

"These recipes are not the trendiest or the most Instagram-ready, but they are truly my favorites, the simple ones I turn to over and over," writes Katie Lee Biegel in her latest book, It’s Not Complicated. She focuses on dishes that require few ingredients and only simple steps, like Harissa Butternut Squash Soup, Skillet Broiled Shrimp and even her take on In-N-Out’s Animal Style Burger. In a nod to her childhood, Katie Lee also touches on comfort food classics such as Chicken Noodle Soup, Turkey Meatloaf (or "Loveloaf" as she so endearingly calls it) and her Grandma’s Whoopie Pies. There’s also an assortment of vegetarian recipes such as Mushroom and Pea Cauliflower "Risotto," Eggplant "Meat"Ball and Mushroom Bolognese. You’ll find recipes for fun cocktails — my favorite is the Mango Mexican Mule. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just beginning to explore the kitchen, this book will help you rethink cooking from scratch and make it easier to sit down for an enjoyable, home-cooked meal with loved ones.

Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer

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$20.99

Anyone who has watched The Pioneer Woman or read Ree Drummond's blog knows she can pull off from-scratch, multi-step meals with ease. But even for Ree, cooking for the entire family day after day can feel like a bit of a chore. Her latest cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks — Super Easy, seeks to change that. Filled with over 120 full-page recipes, this book features some of her favorite cooking and ingredient shortcuts that’ll not only save fans time in the kitchen but also have them falling in love with cooking all over again. Standout dishes include Ree’s zesty Salmon Burgers, featuring canned salmon; a hearty Tamale Pie, which utilizes boxed cornbread mix; and a 10-minute Coconut Cream Pie — a dreamy combination of instant pudding mix, store-bought whipped topping and premade pie crust. Each recipe contains her signature step-by-step photography so fans can follow along as they cook. Photos and written updates about her family, including daughters Alex and Paige, her sons Bryce and Todd, her foster son Jamar, and her new son-in-law, Maurico provide an intimate glimpse into the life of the Drummond family. This charming cookbook makes the perfect gift for busy moms and dads, or anyone (myself included!) who has struggled with cooking burnout this past year.

Michelle Baricevic, Online Editorial Coordinator

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$17.98

For Jeff Mauro, there’s no better way to create memories than over a good meal with loved ones. In his latest book, Come on Over, the host of The Kitchen shows how to make the best food for a gathering, regardless of the size. Whether it’s game day, birthday or brunch, this book will help you create a menu for just about any occasion. Jeff’s Crispy Carnitas, Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese and Smoked Cauliflower "Butt" are sure to please a crowd. He also shares some beloved dishes from his Italian-American upbringing like his Aunt Phil’s Unstuffed Shells and Country-Style Radiatori with Vodka Sauce. And recipes for Homemade Real Giardiniera, Pot Roast Style Italian Beef and his tried and true Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza pay homage to his hometown Chicago. The recipes are accompanied by heartfelt and hilarious stories from his life, along with tips he's has gathered from years of hosting. This book is perfect for those who don’t need an excuse to throw a party.

Anikah Shaokat, Culinary Editorial Fellow

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$26.06

It's always a treat when chefs invite you into their homes, sharing personal recipes and stories — and that’s exactly what you get in Scott Conant latest cookbook, Peace, Love, and Pasta. While it contains plenty of his signature pasta dishes like Pasta Pomodoro and Fusilli with Chicken Livers and Neonata, it also features new recipes like French Toast with Gianduja Whipped Cream and Stuffed Lobster that are every bit as brilliant. The featured side dishes alone — like the Brussels Sprouts with Calabrian Chile Relish, Pickled Eggplants and Zucchini Blossoms Two Ways — make this cookbook worth buying. He devotes a full chapter to Turkish home cooking, sharing recipes inspired by his wife Mel and her family: Think Beef Borek, Manti, Menemen and more. And the section on cooking for kids showcases Conant family hits such as Chicken Finger Salad and Raviolini with Melted Baby Tomato Sauce that are sure to convert even the plain-pasta-and-butter picky eater.

Trish Clasen, Digital Programming Manager

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$16.98

There’s no searching for obscure and expensive ingredients to make any of the family-friendly recipes in Just a Taste food site creator Kelly Senyei’s new cookbook. In fact, every secret ingredient can readily be found at a grocery store. It’s Kelly’s intention that all 125 recipes have a special something (aka a secret ingredient) that gives it an edge and keeps people guessing. Secret ingredients can improve the color or consistency of a recipe, add a unique flavor, provide health benefits or even a time-saving shortcut. For example, Kelly’s Vanilla Bean Drop Doughnuts get all the tang and tenderness they need from Greek yogurt (no yeast necessary), hummus adds a creamy boost to Healthy White Chicken Chili and fan-favorite Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies are next level with a secret ingredient that may currently be in your fridge (you’ll have to buy the book to find out!). A busy mother of three, Kelly has recipes for every occasion from crowd-pleasing snacks to 30-minute entrees to holiday-worthy desserts. Each recipe was carefully researched, written and tested (and then retested). Find out why she adds ginger ale to her Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream (it’s brilliant) and just how good a smashed sweet potato makes her Three-Cheese Queso for a crowd.

Leah Brickley, Senior Editor, Culinary

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$22.86

With recipes culled from the 500 episodes of Beat Bobby Flay, this book gives Flay fans a unique glimpse into the makings of the hit Food Network show. From Coq Au Vin to Shrimp Pad Thai, Bobby provides over 100 "battle-tested" recipes that are as diverse as the show’s contestants. At the top of the recipes right next to the ingredients, you’ll see what episode they were featured on and the winner of that contest. He also shares bits of advice titled "Beat the Clock" and "In It to Win It" that teach fans how to be efficient and work smarter in the kitchen. I especially love his list of pantry favorites, which is a narrowed down version of the essentials he stocks the set kitchen with at the start of every season. It has everything from various chiles to whole spices and even Bobby’s must-have special equipment like a pressure cooker and spider strainer. Get this book for the home cook who wants to up their game in the kitchen.

Anikah Shaokat, Culinary Editorial Fellow

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$18.27

Turning the pages of Trisha's newest cookbook feels like a warm hug. As she was working on it during the pandemic, Trisha writes about how these were the recipes that spilled out of her when she was reflecting on what's most important in her life. As a result, this book is chock-full of quintessential family favorites and heartfelt stories of cooking with her parents and kids. It’s got comforting family meals like the coziest Cinnamon Rolls and Giant Meatballs that almost invite you to rest your head on them. You’ll also find casual entertaining ideas, like Baked Gouda with Dried Cherries and Walnuts, and "Company Chicken" (which gets its oomph from Italian dressing mix) — perfect for serving to your nearest and dearest.

Lauren Piro, Editorial Director

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$22.49

Through comforting recipes, accompanying stories and beautiful images, Rachel Ray chronicles how the pandemic changed her life in her latest book, This Must Be the Place. Between the death of her beloved dog, the devastating fire that burned down her upstate New York home, and of course, a deadly global virus, 2020 was a difficult year for Rachel. But despite all odds, she persevered. In her new studio (her home kitchen) using only an iPhone, she filmed over 125 recipes for her hit cooking show, all of which are featured in her new book. It has everything from humble dishes made with pantry staples, like One-Pot Chickpea Pasta and Greek Sheet Pan Chicken, to recipes like Porcini and Greens Risotto or Moroccan Chicken Tagine perfect for a celebratory meal, even in isolation. The best part about this book, however, is that it reads like a heartfelt novel written in Rachel’s engaging voice and it motivates readers to redefine the meaning of home as the world adjusts to its post-pandemic reality.

Anikah Shaokat, Culinary Editorial Fellow

Buy It

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