Cookbook Gift Guide: 15 Must-Have Cookbooks for the Cook in Your Life

I truly believe that cookbooks are one of the best gifts to give during the holidays (are you surprised?). Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned home cook or a beginner, there’s a book for everyone.

I’ve comprised a list of 15 must-have cookbooks for my 2016 inaugural cookbook gift guide. This guide includes new and trending books as well as tried-and-true classics, so you’re guaranteed to find something of everyone here!

If you have some favorites you recommend as well, let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you (plus, I’m a cookbook hoarder).

Happy holidays!

For something popular:


Molly on the Range from Molly Yeh

A gorgeous (and hilarious) cookbook from the creator of the blog My Name is Yeh. Molly shares recipes that are representative of her Chinese and Jewish backgrounds, as well as her experiences living in New York, traveling to Israel and Europe, and her current life of living on a farm in the Midwest. Some recipes are familiar, some are not, and many are a combination. One thing they all have in common: a story and some humor


Alternative Baker
from Alanna Taylor-Tobin

Are you gluten free or shopping for someone who is? Or, maybe you know someone who likes to experiment in the kitchen. This stunning book is full of gluten free baked goods that celebrate alternative flours and wholesome ingredients. Even if you aren’t gluten free, this is book is worth a look.

Soframiz from Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick of the popular Sofra Bakery and Café

This cookbook includes recipes from the increasingly popular bakery and café in Cambridge, MA. Ana and Maura aim to demystify Middle Eastern food by sharing simple and accessible recipes that spotlight flavors of the region. This book is a guaranteed trip to the Middle East for your taste buds.

For the produce-focused or vegetarian:

The Love & Lemons Cookbook from Jeanine Donofrio & Jack Mathews

This vegetarian-focused cookbook celebrates in-season produce and offers a handful of vegan and gluten free recipes. It features stunning, colorful photos of each recipe and is sure to inspire the likes of anyone. Stop by their website routinely for new and unique vegetarian recipes.


The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon
from Sara and Hugh Forte

A cookbook from the popular Sprouted Kitchen blog, this book offers healthful, single dish recipes for everyday life that focus on vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and big flavors. This book presents unique and inviting photos of every recipe that not only explain each dish, but could be stand-alone pieces of art.

Plenty from Chef Yotam Ottolenghi

A delicious conglomeration of recipes that puts vegetables at the forefront of every menu. Comprised of 120 vegetarian recipes, this book draws from the famous chef’s Mediterranean background as well as his experiences running London restaurants. Some favorites include Stuffed Portobello with Melting Taleggio and his Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon. If you like the writing and recipes from this book, look for his other titles: Ottolenghi, Plenty More, and Jerusalem.

The Forest Feast from Erin Gleeson

This cookbook, that reads more like a picture book, offers simple, seasonal, vegetarian recipes that allows ingredients to speak for themselves. With minimal cooking and simple-to-do instructions, these recipes come together quickly. Including stunning photographs and watercolor illustrations, this book is a beauty to flip through. Erin recently released another book, The Forest Feast Gatherings, which is another great book for entertaining.

For the baker:

Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen

Find recipes for everything from cookies and bars to sweet rolls, cakes, quiches, puddings and so much more. With detailed instructions, illustrations, and reasons ‘why’; everything is sure to turn out. Plus, many of the recipes have optional variations, so there’s always something new to try!

Huckleberry from Zoe Nathan of the popular Huckleberry Bakery and Café

This incredibly popular book will have you flagging every page. Featuring gorgeous photographs alongside recipes for unique and wholesome baked goods, this book is guaranteed to inspire. Plus, Zoe’s unique voice is undeniably strong throughout this book, making it feel like you’re cooking alongside a friend.

Bouchon Bakery from Chef Thomas Keller

Chef Keller’s name is reason enough to grab this book. But its unconventionally large size, stunning photographs, and approachable style to ­— well — usually unapproachable recipes, makes this book a winner. If you’re buying for someone who loves to create desserts and confections, this is the book to pick up.

For the entertainer:


Modern Potluck
from Kristin Donnelly

From Kristin Donnelly, a Food & Wine editor, turned freelance recipe developer and tester, this book contains 100 make-ahead recipes (plus storage tips!) that redefine what potluck food is. With bold flavors, vibrant produce, and contemporary flavors, this book is designed to celebrate the way we eat today. Including recipes for all kind of diets, this book makes entertaining easy and fun.

Barefoot Contessa How Easy is that? or Back to Basics from Ina Garten

Both books start off with cocktails, and what better way to start off a party? Ina’s knack for throwing parties and making them seem effortless flows throughout these books, instilling a confidence in her readers. In these timeless books, Ina shares her tips and secrets to impressing family and friends without all of the stress.

The classics:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Julia Child

A cookbook collection would not be complete without a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This book is a complete guide to French cooking with equipment and ingredient information in addition to recipes for just about any French dish you’ll ever need. You won’t be able to get through a recipe without hearing Julia’s voice in the background. This one is a must.

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen

Looking for a foolproof recipe for just about anything? You’ll find it here, among 2,000 recipes that will never go out of style and will always be trustworthy. Pair this book with a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated or Cook’s Country and you’ll be more popular than Santa!

Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary from Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer, and Ethan Becker

Named one of the 150 most important and influential books of the twentieth century by The New York Public Library, there’s no denying this book is an essential. Complete with reference material on cooking techniques, ingredients, setting a table, and more. This all-in-one cookbook should be in every cook’s repertoire.

Zestful KitchenFollow me on instagram @zestfulkitchen to stay up to date on new recipes and to see what’s happening in my kitchen! Plus, tag your photos #zestfulkitchen

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