• This annual cookbook gift guide is a compilation of books that I’ve been enjoying over the past year, each of which I think would make a wonderful gift for the avid cook in your life. Or maybe even yourself! A quick note on the descriptions paired with each book: as I reached out to their respective authors, the ones I heard back from most often referred me to the book descriptions which are included on sites where they’re sold. I paired the descriptions down a bit to be more concise and to the point, but here and there I also add my own notes and opinions.  I hope you enjoy this year’s Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide, it’s filled with some of 2017’s best offerings! 

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | First Mess Cookbook

The First Mess Cookbook

Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons
by Laura Wright of The First Mess

Home cooks head to The First Mess for Laura Wright’s simple-to-prepare seasonal vegan recipes but stay for her beautiful photographs and enchanting storytelling. In her debut cookbook, Wright presents a visually stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes highlighting the beauty of the seasons. Her 125 produce-forward recipes showcase the best each season has to offer and, as a whole, demonstrate that plant-based wellness is both accessible and delicious.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Tartine All Day Cookbook

Tartine All Day

Modern Recipes for the Home Cook
by Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Bakery 

Tartine All Day is Tartine cofounder Elisabeth Prueitt’s gift to home cooks everywhere who crave an all-in-one repertoire of wholesome, straight-forward recipes for the way they want to eat morning, noon, and night. As the family cook in her own household, Prueitt understands the challenge of making daily home cooking healthy, delicious, and enticing for all—without wearing out the cook. Through concise instruction Prueitt translates professional expertise into home cooking that effortlessly adds variety and brings everyone to the table. With 200 recipes for everything from the best-ever salad dressings to genius gluten-free pancakes, fool-proof salmon and roasted chicken, and dreamy desserts, Tartine All Day is the hard-working cookbook that will guide and inspire home cooks in new and enduring ways.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Pretty Simple Cooking Cookbook

A Couple Cooks – Pretty Simple Cooking

by Alex and Sonja Overhiser of A Couple Cooks

A Couple Cooks–Pretty Simple Cooking is a terrific combination of spirited writing, nourishing recipes with a Mediterranean flair, and vibrant photography. Recipes include 100 functional and creative recipes for every aspect of a home-cooked lifestyle. The recipes are heavy on the vegetables and flavor, with an eye toward moving veggies to the center of the plate. All recipes are vegetarian, with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Intended for eaters of all kinds who want to eat more vegetables, Sonja and Alex dubbed the book a “vegetarian cookbook for non-vegetarians”–and it stuck.

*Lauren’s note: Sonja and Alex are undeniably some of the most genuine and kind people in the food blogging world. Honest and transparent in all that they do, it’s impossible not to feel connected to them  through their content and cookbook. Pretty Simple Cooking launches February 6th, but you can still give it as a gift because they’re offering a downloadable cover to give with your preorder! 

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Vegetarian Heartland Cookbook

Vegetarian Heartland

Recipes for Life’s Adventures
by Shelly Westerhausen of Vegetarian Ventures 

Showcasing the heartland dishes we all love made vegetarian, this cookbook provides a literal and visual feast of creative, generous cooking that’s born in the traditions of the Midwest but transcends geographic boundaries. Celebrated photographer and blogger Shelly Westerhausen presents 100 wholesome, meatless recipes for everything from drinks to desserts. Thoughtfully organized by the adventures that make a weekend special—picnics, brunch, camping and more—this gloriously photographed book will inspire folks to eat well, wherever their vegetarian ventures lead them. Celebrating a fresh perspective in food, here’s a new go-to that’s perfect for vegetarians and anyone looking for more delicious vegetable-forward meals.

*Lauren’s note: Just a few flips through this cookbook and I knew I had to have it. Not only is Shelly an incredible photographer, but she’s also brilliant at pairing flavors and creating new and interesting recipes. True midwestern recipes made lighter, healthy, and simply more interesting!

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Kale and Caramel

Kale & Caramel

Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table
by Lily Diamond of Kale and Caramel

Lily Diamond believes that herbs and flowers have the power to nourish inside and out. This sumptuously photographed and beautifully written memoir of a cookbook presents eighty recipes for delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes featuring herbs and flowers. Each chapter celebrates an aromatic herb or flower, including basil, cilantro, fennel, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, jasmine, rose, and orange blossom.

*Lauren’s note: Lily is the master of transforming fresh herbs and flowers into familiar, yet new, dishes. 

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Love Real Food Cookbook

Love Real Food

More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body
by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie and Kate

The path to a healthy body and happy belly is paved with real food―fresh, wholesome, sustainable food―and it doesn’t need to be so difficult. No one knows this more than Kathryne Taylor of America’s most popular vegetarian food blog, Cookie and Kate.

With Love Real Food, she offers over 100 approachable and outrageously delicious meatless recipes complete with substitutions to make meals special diet-friendly whenever possible. Her book is designed to show everyone―vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike―how to eat well and feel well.

*Lauren’s note: Love Real Food is a must-have cookbook in our family. This cookbook is full of feel-good food that’s not only delicious but totally attainable any day of the week.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Half Baked Harvest Cookbook

Half Baked Harvest Cookbook

Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains
by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

What Teighan loves most about this cookbook is that there is a little something for everyone. Everything from the super healthy to the super indulgent, to everyday easy dinners, and weekend pastas worth the time. Count on finding plenty of easy crockpot recipes along with recipes that take just thirty minutes start to finish! There are plenty of breakfast options, appetizers to please a crowd, pasta and pizza galore, and even some veggie heavy recipes. And yes, there’s an entire chapter on desserts. Some are a chocolate lovers dream, some are super fruity and a handful are even healthy…ish.

*Lauren’s note: Teighan is a camera and food-styling genius. Every photo she shares on her website and in this cookbook is mouthwatering and beautiful. Not only that, her recipes are creative and flavorful without being over the top or unapproachable.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | The Fearless Baker Cookbook

The Fearless Baker

Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro
by Erin Jeanne McDowell

When people see Erin McDowell frost a perfect layer cake, weave a lattice pie crust, or pull a rich loaf of brioche from the oven, they often act as though she’s performed culinary magic. “I’m not a baker,” they tell her. But in fact, expert baking is not at all unattainable, nor is it as inflexible as most people assume. The key to freedom is to understand the principles behind how ingredients interact and how classic methods work. Once these concepts are mastered, favorite recipes can be altered and personalized almost endlessly. With “Why It Works,” “Pro Tip,” and make-ahead sidebars with each recipe, this exciting, carefully curated collection will appeal to beginning and experienced bakers alike.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Cook Beautiful Cookbook

Cook Beautiful

by Athena Calderone of EyeSwoon

Athena Calderone believes that food simply tastes better when it’s visually alluring and made with love. As the voice and curator behind EyeSwoon, Athena cooks with top chefs, hosts incredible dinners, and designs stunning tablescapes, all while emphasizing the importance of balancing the visual elements with the flavors. In Cook Beautiful she shares how to achieve her impeccable yet approachable cooking style in every season. Every recipe is accompanied by a “Swoon Tip,” in which Calderone spills her secrets for making food look as good as it tastes. Cook Beautiful is where design meets food, where culinary tradition marries food styling, and where home chefs become experts.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Cook Beautiful Cookbook

Smitten Kitchen Every Day

Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites
by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen

There are 115 recipes, 101 of which are new. There are 14 that originated on the site but are so loved, Perelman thought the book would be bereft without them. Excluding desserts, breakfast baked goods, breads, and drinks, 46 recipes are vegetarian, and 16 are vegan. 51 recipes are gluten-free and 37 are dairy-free. In the back of the book, there’s a guide for special diets that lists all of the above along with any ingredients to look out for as they may be problematic. Five years in the making, Perelman’s second cookbook is a celebration of triumphant and unfussy home cooking for food that she hopes is the opposite of drudgery.

*Lauren’s note: Deb is the OG of food blogging. And her recipes are exactly what she says, unfussy and absolutely delicious.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Dinner Cookbook


Changing the Game
by Melissa Clark

Each recipe in New York Times columnist Melissa Clark’s Dinner is meant to be dinner—one fantastic dish that is so satisfying and flavor-forward it can stand alone—or be paired with a simple salad or fresh bread on the side. This is what Melissa Clark means by changing the game. Organized by main ingredient—chicken, meat, fish and seafood, eggs, pasta and noodles, tofu, vegetable dinners, grains, pizza, soups, and salads that mean it—Dinner covers an astonishing breadth of recipes. There is something for every mood, season, and the amount of time you have

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | The Perfect Cookie Cookbook

The Perfect Cookie

Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars
by America’s Test Kitchen

Discover foolproof recipes for cookie jar classics, irresistible rich and chewy brownies, fruit-and-crumble topped bars, fancy treats and no-bake cookies and candies. This book also includes full chapters on Christmas cookies and gluten-free cookies, too. There are tips and tricks throughout, and insight on everything from what makes a cookie crunchy versus chewy, to equipment and ingredients that set you up for success, and a troubleshooting guide that keeps you in control of every batch. The result? The perfect cookie, every time.

*Lauren’s note: You know how I feel about ATK. And this book is no exception, they’ve thought of everything. This is a must-have cookbook for everything cookie and bar.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Cooking for Jeffery Cookbook

Cooking for Jeffrey

A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
by Ina Garten

Ina’s most personal cookbook yet, Cooking for Jeffrey is filled with the recipes Jeffrey and their friends request most often as well as charming stories from Ina and Jeffrey’s many years together. For the first time, Ina has included a chapter devoted to bread and cheese, with recipes and tips for creating the perfect cheese course. From satisfying lunches to elegant dinners, here are the recipes Ina has tested over and over again, so you too can serve them with confidence to the people you love.

*Lauren’s note: Because it’s Ina.


Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Cherry Bombe Cookbook

Cherry Bombe

The Cookbook
by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu

Crazy for cookbooks? You’ll love this compilation of crave-worthy recipes from 100+ of the coolest, most creative women around.  From appetizers to entrées to lots of desserts, this book is the bombe.  

*Lauren’s note: Celebrate bad-ass chicks in the food world and take in the minimalist design and style of this one-of-a-kind cookbook.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Sweet Cookbook


Desserts from London’s Ottolenghi
by Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi is widely beloved in the food world for his beautiful, inspirational, and award-winning cookbooks, as well as his London delis and fine dining restaurant. And while he’s known for his savory and vegetarian dishes, he actually started out his cooking career as a pastry chef. Sweet is entirely filled with delicious baked goods, desserts, and confections starring Ottolenghi’s signature flavor profiles and ingredients including fig, rose petal, saffron, orange blossom, star anise, pistachio, almond, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Zestful Kitchen 2017 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Simple Fare Cookbook

Simple Fare: Fall and Winter

by Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers

This is about how we cook and eat everyday in our home and with our loved ones. The recipes are designed to excite and inspire, each offering 3 to 5 alternate ingredients that can be used in the same preparation. The food is approachable but decidedly nuanced, balancing unexpected flavor profiles with beautiful presentations. With 68 recipes and 97 variations, Simple Fare is an oversized, distinctively designed kitchen essential of more than 165 seasonal recipes.  

*Lauren’s note: Simple Fare is a collection of two cookbooks, the first focuses on spring and summer cooking while the second focuses the fall and winter seasons. From the creator of Sunday Suppers, these cookbooks can be purchased as duo or separately.


Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide | Zestful Kitchen

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. Such a great compilation of cookbooks! I have the First Mess and it’s fantastic, but now I think I have some new ones to add to my wish list! (No, you can never have too many!)