Hi friends! I’m forever working on my cookbook library and honestly, wow it is stacks on stacks on STACKS. Each fall I eagerly await a new crop of the very best cookbooks and this might be one of my favorite years yet! This is not an exhaustive list as some highly anticipated books are still on the way but… here are my absolute favorites so far! Below each book description is my take on what I love about the book and who I think the book is great for. My two cents – for what it’s worth.
Please consider this a list of the bests cookbooks to give as a gift… even (especially) if you’re at the top of the gifting list.
Food 52 Simply Genius by Kristen Miglore@Food52
There’s no better way to learn how to make great food than to stand at the elbow of a skilled cook, ask questions, and watch their every move. In Simply Genius, Food52 founding editor and Genius Recipes columnist Kristen Miglore gives you access to genius cooks like Samin Nosrat (Buttermilk-Marinated Roast Chicken), Dr. Jessica B. Harris (Mayonnaise d’Avocat), Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini & Za’atar), Gonzalo Guzmán (Frijoles Negros de la Olla), Leah Chase (Rice Pancakes with Ham & Tomato-Basil Sauce), Heidi Swanson (Farro & Olive Salad), Jacques Pépin (Fresh Tomato Sauce), and more, as they share their brilliant cooking tips through a collection of essential recipes.
Miglore packs the book with helpful visuals (like brilliant doneness charts for everything from chicken to eggs to cake), illustrated step-by-step diagrams to show you smarter ways to prep (handling hot chiles, neatly separating eggs, tricking herbs into staying fresh), and myth-busting truths that make cooking so much more welcoming (no, you don’t have to soak your beans before you cook them; no, you don’t have to soften butter to make chocolate chip cookies).
Primers on common woes and how to fix them tell you how to rescue your dinner when things go wrong, and how to make sure everything’s smoother next time. And once you get a recipe down, Miglore shares “3 More Ways” to use that new technique to make even more rewarding meals. More than 150 recipes and variations teach you building blocks, fit easily into your life, and prove that all of us can become genius cooks when we have the right teachers.
What I love about this book: Earlier this year I had a chat with Kristen Miglore (truly one of my favorite developers) for the Genius Recipes podcast (episode out later this year) and was just delighted by her food-brain. She’s filled with very unfussy kitchen tricks and a curiosity that makes for an incredible cook. Her compilation of chefs and cooks for the latest Food52 offering is stellar, spanning different voices and cultures all in the effort to bring great dishes to our tables. I love the step-by-step technique photos. Even the experienced home cook will tuck away a mountain of tricks from this book. Simply Genius is full of useful surprises.
Who this book is great for: Whomever cooks dinner in the household. This book is packed with kitchen tricks to make your time cooking more efficient and more enjoyable. I feel like this book creates the sorts of genius (truly) kitchen habits that will passed down through the generation, having your kids slow roast a chicken and crisp the skin separately because that’s how mom and dad used to do it.
Food 52 Simply Genius on Amazon and Food 52 Simply Genius on Bookshop.org
Savory Baking: Recipes for Breakfast, Dinner and Everything in Between by Erin Jeanne McDowell @emcdowell
Savory Baking is the next best thing to a private baking and pastry class from star food stylist and baking expert Erin Jeanne McDowell, given in her signature fun and reassuring style. Not only are each of her recipes intensely crave-able, they also offer inventive inspirations and variations for endless, out-of-the-box customizations and more flexibility.
Take her Buttermilk Biscuits, for instance, which comes together in a single bowl. You can cut them in different shapes—Erin prefers squares so there’s no scrap dough left. And she suggests adding cheese (or fresh herbs or bacon) for bolder flavor. Or substituting the buttermilk with sour cream or crème fraiche for a je ne sais quoi tang. Or adding her green chile gravy when serving. Or make a monkey bread made of biscuit dough! Or…
And for those who can’t shake the sugar, there are “sweet tooth breaks” throughout. With Erin’s can-do encouragement, expert tips, and “Prep School” features to get you equipped with basic techniques throughout, this sweeping and beautifully photographed guide to savory baking will exponentially expand your savory baking repertoire with a ton of delicious fun.
What I love about this book: It’s certainly not that anyone is asking me who my favorite baker is but it’s Erin. I’ve learned so much about baking through Erin’s books The Fearless Baker and The Book on Pie. Not only is she a genuinely wonderful person, her recipes are as informative as they are delightful. There’s a recipe in Savory Bakes for an Italian Sub with a loaf baked in a bundt pan. This is the definition of delight. I’ll also be making Erin’s Cheese Biscuits and Pizza Babka. What I love about this book is the pep talks that come with every recipe, the detailed instruction, and the variation options on nearly every page. This is a robust baking bible. I’ve gone and bookmarked every page.
Who this book is great for: EVERY BAKER MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. It is caps lock ESSENTIAL.
Savory Baking: Recipes for Breakfast, Dinner and Everything in Between on Amazon and Savory Baking: Recipes for Breakfast, Dinner and Everything in Between on Bookshop.org
Flour Power: The Practice and Pursuit of Baking Sourdough Bread by Tara Jensen @bakerhands
Yes, you can make crusty, tender, bakery-quality sourdough bread—even if you’ve never baked before! Especially when you have a teacher like Tara Jensen (who taught both dessert guru Claire Saffitz and Southern-cooking evangelist Sean Brock) by your side. Tara’s friendly approach to technique and inspired flavors in more than eighty recipes for sourdough, rye, and whole grain bread will enrich both beginners and advanced bakers as they learn about the craft.
With Tara’s guidance and supportive voice, she shares important lessons that cover all the technical bases—from learning about flour to exploring wild yeast fermentation and developing your (doughy) intuition. From there, Tara dives deep into the worlds of sourdough, rye, and desem, showing the true diversity of bread through recipes like Miche, Chocolate Beer Bread, and Mountain Rye. There’s even an extra credit chapter on making extra-flavorful Overnight Waffles, Cheesy Cheddar Crackers, and Sourdough Chocolate-Chip Cookies. With Tara by your side, artisanal bread at home is totally achievable . . . and fun!
What I love about this book: I’ve been lucky enough to take a bread baking class with Tara and the vast knowledge and genuine excitement towards flour and fermentation is all within this book. I love that Tara details the science of fermenting flour and the idea of developing your baker’s intuition. The step-by-step photographs are thorough and informative making the sometimes daunting idea of bread baking feel super attainable. Tara is a well-versed and incredibly generous and now I need a slice of bread.
Who this book is great for both the experienced and newly curious bread baker. This book is a fantastic resource and a playground of flour. I think this book would make for a fantastic gift along with a bag specialty flour like spelt or rye and a proofing basket.
Flour Power: The Practice and Pursuit of Baking Sourdough Bread on Amazon and Flour Power: The Practice and Pursuit of Baking Sourdough Bread on Bookshop.org
Home Is Where The Eggs Are by Molly Yeh @MollyYeh
Home Is Where the Eggs Are is a beautiful, intimate book full of food that’s best enjoyed in the comfort of sweatpants and third-day hair, by a beloved Food Network host and new mom living on a sugar beet farm in East Grand Forks, MN. Molly Yeh’s cooking is built to fit into life with her baby, Bernie, and the naptimes, diaper changes, and wiggle time that come with having a young child, making them a breeze to fit into any sort of schedule, no matter how busy. They’re low-maintenance dishes that are satisfying to make for weeknight meals to celebrate empty to-do lists after long workdays, cozy Sunday soups to simmer during the first (or seventh!) snowfall of the year, and desserts that will keep happily under the cake dome for long enough that you will never feel pressure to share.
The flavors in this book draw inspiration from a distinctive blend of Molly’s experiences—her Chinese and Jewish heritage, her time living in New York, her husband’s Scandinavian heritage, and their farm in the upper Midwest. She uses seasonal ingredients that are common in her region while singlehandedly supporting the za’atar and sumac import industry in her small town. These influences come together into fuss-free crave-able meals that dirty as few dishes as possible and offer loads of prep-ahead, freezing, and substitution tips.
In Home Is Where the Eggs Are, the feeling of home starts in the kitchen; just melt some butter, fry an egg, and build a little memory around it.
What I love about this book: I love Molly’s pension towards halva, tahini, and sprinkles. This book is filled with easy, cravable comfort food – the sort I see proudly bringing to a potluck with friends. I mean… the amount of hotdishes alone makes me feel like I need to throw a Molly Yeh inspired pot luck of my own. I love that this book is so personal. Each dish has the warmth of Molly’s home kitchen which is a particular vulnerability we reap the benefits of. I have the Baharat Chili with Cornbread On Top and Yogurt Mac and Cheese bookmarked though you best believe I’m starting with the Preserved Lemon Loaf Cake. Molly has taught me the wonders of yogurt in baked goods. See: Yogurt Pita with Baked Chicken Shwarma.
Who this book is great for: Molly is literally 100% as likeable as her food, so I think this book is great for anyone. This book will appeal most to the playful home cook looking for comforting recipes their adventurous kids will enjoy.
Home Is Where The Eggs Are on Amazon and Home Is Where The Eggs Are on Bookshop.org
Preppy Kitchen: Recipes for Seasonal Dishes and Simple Pleasures by John Kanell @preppykitchen
Preppy Kitchen creator John Kanell delivers his fan-favorite recipes and baked goods so everyone can create them at home. Organized by season so you can shop at peak freshness and embrace new traditions, the dishes featured in Preppy Kitchen are inspired by well-loved staples updated with a touch of Kanell’s signature sophistication.
In addition to the delicious recipes that feature tips and tricks throughout to help save time in the kitchen, Kanell includes special projects, everything from making flower arrangements and winter wreaths to pickling vegetables. Through these mouthwatering recipes, inspirational crafts, and beautiful photography, Preppy Kitchen is sure to delight longtime fans and newcomers alike.
What I love about this book: Ok imagine your favorite Ina Garten cookbook (you know… all the simple but delicious recipes she makes for Jeffrey) but situate yourself a few states over in the rolling hills of Connecticut where a Virgo named John Kanell is makes spot-on, perfect food for his family. How do I know John is a Virgo? Well, because we’re friends and there was never a more Virgo Virgo in the kitchen and we’re all the better for it with his first cookbook. I love that recipes are divided into seasonal chapters with simple decor projects added to each season. I love that this book feels both personal and aspirational. I love that John and Brian have cute children and goats.
This book is reminiscent of one of my favorite cookbooks The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. Same elevated energy and steadfast recipes.
Who this book is great for some who has every one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. This book is beauty, aspiration, and delicious family food.
Preppy Kitchen: Recipes for Seasonal Dishes and Simple Pleasures on Amazon and Preppy Kitchen: Recipes for Seasonal Dishes and Simple Pleasureson Bookshop.org
Small Batch Bakes: Baking cakes, cookies, bars and buns for one to six people by Edd Kimber @theboywhobakes
Baking recipes typically serve large groups of people, perfect for a party, a celebration, a crowd. But what about when you just want one cookie and you don’t want to spend the money on making a big batch, or don’t have the people to share them with? Sometimes you just don’t want to be faced with leftovers you need to eat for the rest of the week.
Enter Small Batch Bakes, great for singles, small households, students or anyone who likes to bake a lot. The recipes serve one, two, four or six and are predominately sweet but also include savory varieties that would be perfect for a lunch or impromptu picnic. The skill level is naturally on the easier side, and equipment needed kept to a minimum, something that will be welcomed by many people baking just for themselves.
What I love about this book: Now you know I love a small-batch bake. I’ve been trying to convince you to make a single cinnamon roll for months now. Edd has taken the same concept and elevated it significantly with recipes like Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bars (bookmarked) and Strawberry Maritozzi that serve 6. I find Edd to be a dazzling and approachable baker. Dazzling really is the word because it describes Edd’s personality as well. I also love the unique flavor pairings in this cookbook with things like passionfruit butterscotch and lemon pistachio. This book is both classic and unexpected.
Who this book is great for every curious home baker. I think this book would be a perfect gift along with a canister of Everything Bagel Topping and a bookmark on The Everything Bagel Morning buns recipe on page 126.
Small Batch Bakes: Baking cakes, cookies, bars and buns for one to six people on Amazon and Small Batch Bakes: Baking cakes, cookies, bars and buns for one to six people on Bookshop.org
Healthy In A Hurry: Real life. Real food. Real fast. by Danielle Walker @daniellewalker
Beloved author Danielle Walker proves that healthy cooking is both doable and oh-so-satisfying. In Healthy in a Hurry, Danielle presents more than 150 paleo recipes inspired by her sunny California lifestyle and diverse cuisines from around the world.
Each recipe is shaped by Danielle’s capable hands to be free of gluten, grains, and dairy—and most have just ten ingredients or fewer. And if that weren’t good enough, every recipe is photographed and all are fast to make, giving busy people with dietary restrictions lots of ways to eat well on a tight schedule. With prep times and cook times, dietary guidelines, a pantry of sauces and spice mixes, and six weeks of meal planning charts, Healthy in a Hurry will help you become the calm, organized cook you’ve always aspired to be.
What I love about this book: Danielle’s food is just feels like it’s made with a lot of heart and delight and – not a lot of fuss. On my list of things to make immediately are the Kahlua Pork with Pineapple Fried Rice which feels perfect for these early fall days that are somehow still warm. I love that Danielle’s recipes are free of gluten, grain and dairy but don’t skimp on cozy comfort. It feels like Danielle knows how we cook because so many of these recipes can be made with pantry staples (as long as you have several cans of coconut milk in your pantry which you absolutely should).
Who this book is great for anyone who wants to expand their weeknight dinner routine. There are some (sure-to-be) family favorites in this book.
Healthy In A Hurry: Real life. Real food. Real fast. on Amazon and Healthy In A Hurry: Real life. Real food. Real fast. on Bookshop.org
What’s Gaby Cooking: Take It Easy: Recipes for Zero-Stress Deliciousness by Gaby Dalkin @whatsbagycooking
In her new book, Gaby Dalkin returns with her signature approach: Enjoy your life by eating the food you love. But this time around, she also emphasizes a no-fuss attitude. What’s Gaby Cooking: Take It Easy offers 100 new delicious and stress-free recipes, suited for any and all occasions.
Everything we cook right now—whether it’s for a potluck picnic with friends or a solo night in binge-watching reality TV—needs to be crazy simple, easily pulled together from those lasting pantry items, still shockingly delicious at room temperature, and not requiring that one random ingredient you drove 45 minutes to get and will never use again. We want food that tastes like it took hours to prepare but doesn’t actually require anything too exact. Give us the forgiving recipes: Out of shallots? Try an onion. The more fail-proof, the better. If this low-maintenance approach sounds like your kinda thing, Dalkin has got your back. With 100 easy ideas for dishes to serve wherever you go (or don’t go!), make-ahead dressings and sauces for lazy last-minute dinners, and of course—give the people what they want!—big, crunchy, fresh salads and rich, chocolatey, you’re-in-sweatpants-anyway desserts, Take It Easy is Dalkin’s first book bringing her tasty, crowd-pleasing concepts to quicker, simpler meals.
What I love about this book: I just love Gaby’s food. It’s unapologetically Californian with big salad and grilled meats but friends… so much pasta and Italian cheese. This is how I want to eat forever and always. I love that this book feels like something you’d reach for at 2pm when you decide to have an unfussy dinner party come 5pm. I also love that this book has pasta recipes I want to eat on the couch alone which watching Bachelor in Paradise. Balance, ya know?
Who this book is great for your friend who likes to throw dinner parties. This book inspired a communal (preferably outside in perfect-everyday California weather).
What’s Gaby Cooking: Take It Easy: Recipes for Zero-Stress Deliciousness on Amazon and What’s Gaby Cooking: Take It Easy: Recipes for Zero-Stress Deliciousness on Bookshop.org
AND! Honorable Mention to a book that’s not out yet that is sure to be added to the kitchen bookshelf immediately Smitten Kitchen’s Keepers by Deb Perelman. Consider this MUCH ANTICIPATED!
Thank you for this list.
I love the cookbook recommendation posts–they give me tons of inspiration when I’m feeling a bit ‘ho-hum’ about cooking in general!
Thanks for the recommendations!!! Very helpful and concise! Very excited to try some of these and add to weeknight rotations!
A small request: Amazon is responsible for a lot of bad things in the world (labor rights, climate impact, local economies) and Bookshop supports independent books stores. I appreciate the book recs–and all that you do!–but would really love to see links to Bookshop.org instead of Amazon.
Joy the Baker
Thank you for the feedback Jaime!
“Chinese and Jewish heritage, her time living in New York, her husband’s Scandinavian heritage, and their farm in the upper Midwest”
Wow, I love all the stuff going on there. Can’t wait to look into all of these!
Joy the Baker
I thought of you and your annual cookbook question!
Wonderful post, very helpful. Love the descriptions. Can’t wait to add a few of these to my collection and get cooking.