Our annual cookbook gift guide is back! 2023 was a GREAT year for cookbooks and our list of the best cookbooks of 2023 include new books from trusted voices (like Nancy Silverton) along with debut books from new writers (Dan Pelosi). There is truly something for every kind of cook on this list!
How We Choose the Books
If I had to choose one main mission for every article and recipe on our site it would be trustworthiness. We pride ourselves on sharing recipes that are tested time and time again. And that means we only share cookbooks from trusted and respected authors. Developing recipes and writing really good recipes is important to us, and that is a large factor when choosing which books to include in this list.
Best Cookbooks of 2023
The Cookie That Changed My Life
The Cookie That Changed My Life and 100 Other Classic Cakes, Cookies, Muffins and Pies That Will Change Yours by Nancy Silverton with Carolynn Carreño Nancy Silverton, known for her creative approach and precise culinary skills, transforms ordinary recipes into extraordinary delights. In her latest cookbook, she elevates classic American baked goods like banana bread, scones, and cinnamon rolls to unparalleled perfection. For instance, her peanut butter cookie not only exemplifies the ideal texture and appearance but also features a unique twist—a center filled with a spoonful of peanut butter and a mound of roasted, salted Spanish peanuts. This innovative treat inspired the creation of her remarkable cookbook.
Pulp: A Practical GuideTo Cooking with Fruit by Abra Berens On a sunny spring Saturday in New York, I was walking through the Union Square Farmers’ Market and came across a stand selling piles of Abra Berens new book, Pulp. I walked a few feet past then wheeled around and beelined for the books. A few flips through I was sold and was purchasing Berens new book right from her own two hands. Berens radiates a warm glow and that warmth can be found in her writing and recipes. One scan through Pulp, which is her follow-up to Ruffage and Grist, and I was ready to buy every piece of fruit at the market. While Pulp revolves around fruit, its allure extends beyond the sweet realm. Berens showcases the versatility of fruit in savory dishes, such as seared strawberries paired with black pepper and red wine for a lamb chop pan sauce. The book also introduces creative desserts like a sundae featuring puréed strawberries and crushed meringues. Notably, the book offers a substantial section of base recipes—like a flexible muffin batter and a pumpernickel bread recipe perfect for crafting apricot-Brie grilled cheeses. Berens encourages readers to view her recipes as templates, urging them to tailor the dishes to their location and the season, emphasizing the importance of showcasing the best available ingredients.
Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others by Amy ThielenAmy Thielen's steak-night menu, featuring wood-fired rib eyes with fava butter, grilled pickled half-hots, salt potatoes, boiled zucchini with herb oil, and a smoky tomato terrine, is a culinary delight. While each component stands out individually, it's the harmonious combination of these elements that sparks dreams of wine-filled evenings with dim lights and casually laid tablecloths. Thielen skillfully achieves her intention: presenting compilations of dishes that serve as studies in flavor, texture, temperature, and color contrasts. Drawing from years of mastering the art of hosting in rural Minnesota, where dining out isn't always an option, she infuses her writing and menus with a romantic yet practical approach.
Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook by Sohla El-WayllyIf you want to cook like a culinary student, but don’t have the time, desire or funds to go to culinary school, Sohla El-Waylly’s debut cookbook, Start Here is what you need (in addition to Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat). Drawing on her considerable expertise, El-Waylly, who’s a Bon Appétit Alum and host of Ancient Recipes with Sohla on the History Channel, is a knowledgeable and effective teacher. Start Here is a comprehensive guide focusing on essential foundations crucial for both professional and amateur cooks. It goes beyond a mere read, evolving into a resource to consult whenever questions arise, or when you aim to master a specific skill. The book systematically teaches indispensable techniques, covering both savory and sweet applications. Each section guides you through a fundamental skill, followed by recipes categorized by level of difficulty. The tone of the book is straightforward, approachable, and generously instructive.
Ever-Green Vietnamese: Super-Fresh Recipes, Starring Plants From Land and Sea by Andrea NguyenAndrea Nguyen's passion for incorporating more plant-based meals, rich in flexible and vibrant flavors, resonates powerfully in her new book. This sentiment is particularly evident when viewed through the lens of Vietnamese cuisine. Nguyen skillfully utilizes various sauces, pickles, and crumbles to enhance flavor, texture, and brightness, creating what she refers to as "Viet-ish notes." Take, for example, her chile-garlic sauce, maturing over a week to develop a complex, bright chile flavor with a delightful sweet heat—perfect for elevating dishes like breakfast burritos, eggs, and spring rolls.
Pasta Every Day: Make It, Shape It, Sauce It, Eat It by Meryl Feinstein Meryl Feinstein, renowned among her 200K+ Instagram followers for her tantalizing pasta creations, has mesmerized us for years. As a seasoned chef from Misi and Lilia, her Pasta Social Club online presence showcases captivating videos and photos featuring meticulously crafted handmade doughs infused with fresh herbs, delicately pinched edges, and vibrant orange yolks spilling over ricotta. In her accessible debut cookbook, "Pasta Every Day," Feinstein continues to visually guide readers through the pasta-making journey with photo-rich tutorials, including kneading gnocchi, hand-forming pici, using a pasta machine, and rolling strozzapreti. Comprehensive guides cover essentials like flour types, tools, fillings, textures, and techniques, emphasizing the separation of pasta recipes from sauces.
Shabbat: Recipes and Rituals From My Table To Yours by Adeena SussmanAdeena Sussman extends an invitation through her second cookbook, "Shabbat," offering a glimpse into her preparations for the Jewish day of rest. Drawing inspiration from her childhood Sabbath meals and local culinary influences, Sussman presents a collection of sumptuous and imaginative recipes. Friday night dinners showcase dishes like fig and pomegranate brisket or sweet potatoes with miso tahini butter. Saturday lunch options range from jachnun to cauliflower hamin with shug-a-churri sauce. Se’uda shlishit, the third meal of the day, might feature a crispy eggplant and goat cheese tart or roasted kohlrabi, cherry tomato, and feta salad. Dessert possibilities are equally enticing, with offerings such as apricot tahini shortbread bars, pistachio frangipane and blood orange galette, or frozen mango and pomegranate pops.
Simply West African: Easy, Joyful Recipes for Every Kitchen by Pierre Thiam with Lisa Katayama "Simply West African" embodies the essence of "teranga," a Wolof term without a direct English translation, expressing a blend of joy, love, and community. This gorgeous cookbook simplifies West African cooking, offering accessibility and ease. The book includes a comprehensive guide to the region's sauces and features recipes for dishes such as coconut collard greens with butternut squash, herb-roasted halibut chermoula, and spatchcocked roasted piri-piri chicken.
More Is More: Get Loose in the Kitchen by Molly BazMolly Baz's second book seamlessly builds upon the success of her first, embracing her signature style of crafting vibrant dishes with bold flavors—whether they're charred, punchy, salty, or peppery. Even seemingly simple recipes exude a strong culinary perspective, like her olive oil-drenched boiled potatoes or the garlic bread featuring an entire roasted head, 12 grated cloves, and ample chives. Notably, Baz provides a helpful hand holding experience for beginner cooks, incorporating QR codes for accompanying videos and audio, along with bolded ingredients and preparation steps directly within the recipes (like we do with our recipes here on this site!). This thoughtful approach eliminates the need to constantly refer to the shopping list, which is conveniently organized by grocery-store departments.
Let’s Eat: 101 Recipes to Fill Your Heart & Home by Dan PelosiDan Pelosi has captivated me as a viewer for the past several years, sharing his meals in a way that inspires and makes you drool all at once. From crafting fried eggs to baking shells with his signature "Vodka Sawce," his enthusiasm for sharing food resonates throughout the pages of his debut cookbook. The recipes, mostly leaning towards Italian American influences, are notably approachable, such as a sheet-tray dinner featuring sausage, peppers, onions, and potatoes. Pelosi's practical approach shines through as he advocates for using one large batch of marinara across a whole chapter's worth of dishes. Throughout the cookbook, you'll find his strong opinions—meatballs should be the size of a baseball, be generous with sandwich condiments, and potlucks are a hard no. Yet, this isn't presented with snarkiness; instead, it's enthusiastic advice from someone whose greatest passion is cooking and eating, and he wants you to share in that joy.
Snacking Bakes: Simple Recipes for Cookies, Bars, Brownies, Cakes, and Moreby Yossy ArefiThis is a book for when a chocolate craving strikes at 3 p.m. (me, often) or for when you forgot you promised to bring dessert until the last minute. Yossy Arefi’s cookies, cakes, and bars are casual to make and to eat. The recipes are easy enough for the amatuer baker to follow successfully; Arefi promises that most can be made in under an hour and in only one bowl. Still, the sweets are appealing enough that a seasoned baker will crave them: thin and crispy maple espresso cookies for dunking in coffee, decadently fudgy triple-chocolate brownies, peanut butter and jam cake with raspberries for a nostalgic hit. Sometimes, we just don’t want to spend hours cooling homemade caramel in a tart shell. We just want—no, need—a simple, sweet bite.
Bake Smart: Sweets and Secrets from My Oven to Yours by Samantha SeneviratneSamantha Seneviratne's baked goods delve into the realm of complexity with laminated pastries, yeasted doughs, and meringues. However, the essence of her book, as the title suggests, is to "bake smarter, not harder." This premise is particularly appealing, emphasizing that understanding the fundamentals boosts confidence in the kitchen. Organized by main ingredients, each chapter begins with an explanation of their various forms and contributions (like cold butter creating steam in rough puff pastry). The ensuing recipes showcase these behaviors with additional insights. Seneviratne's writing, while highly informative, maintains a simple and inviting tone, emphasizing that you're not just learning; you're baking because, above all, baking is fun.
Looking for more? Check out our cookbook gift guides from past years—they are GOLD. Each book on these lists continue to stand the test of time and include great ideas for every kind of cook in your life.
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.