As the number of foodies continues to grow, thanks to more and more people discovering the joy of cooking at home, cookbooks have become the “it” gift for everyone on your list. We at Zestful Kitchen have you covered with 19 cookbooks for all the people in your life.
Many of them are new on the scene and a couple are oldies but goodies. The titles range from delicious dinners for Tuesday Nights to perfecting your dessert game while Baking with Dorie.
Oh and don’t forget the wise advice from the authority on pizza, Pizza Czar! I also made sure to throw in two wine books for those friends who would rather bring the wine pairing than get messy in the kitchen.
Let me know, in the comments below, what cookbooks you’ve been loving on lately!
Since interning with America’s Test Kitchen, I am a bit biased when I say, anything Christopher Kimball touches turns to gold. Milk Street Tuesday Nights delivers in a big big way. This is the perfect book for a gift exchange or a hostess gift, because it appeals to so many cooks. The recipes are great for a random Tuesday night or for a special occasion. All approachable and all delicious. I loved the Roast Chicken with Grapes, and the Paprika Pork Tenderloin was outstanding with their Braised Rosemary Fennel. I can’t wait to try the Gochujang-Glazed Potatoes and the Maple Whiskey Pudding Cakes.
Pizza Czar is the perfect gift for the friend who bought a pizza oven during quarantine. You know, that cool wood-fired oven that sits on the picnic table. Yeah that one. Written by the International Pizza Consultant himself, Anthony Falco teaches you how to up your at-home pizza game. Along with mouth watering recipes, Falco includes stories of his pizza travels and the pizza biz in general. I loved the kitschy photos and quirky illustrations that make this book the fun and unique read (and eat) that it is.
Falco’s butter crust pizza went viral when he first unveiled the recipe, and I can’t wait to try it. Also on my “To-be-eaten” list; Pepperoni with Pickled Chiles and his “Controversial Pizza” the Pineapple Pizza. Did I hear pineapple sauce?
Into the pizza theme? The United States of Pizza is such fun to gift. Everybody wants to look up their home state or see if they’ve stumbled upon one of the 50 pizza joints highlighted. I may or may not have been known to plan our road trips using this book. It’s perfect for anybody who loves culinary travel or hosting casual pizza nights for friends and family.
Molly Baz probably needs little introduction at this point. Known for her appearance on Bon Appetite’s YouTube channel and her contributions to the print magazine, her debut cookbook knocks it out of the park. It’s just full of food you want to eat. Plain and simple.
The book starts with some great educational bits that are helpful, without being long and tedious. Baz also includes QR codes throughout the book that link to videos. These videos teach lots of techniques that are easier to see than to read about. Genius! The layout and graphic design adds to the fun, quirkiness and overall appeal. We love the Charred Cabbage with Salty Peanuts & Nuoc Cham in our house. I can’t wait to try the Roasted Salmon with Marinated Olives and Potato Chips or Big Shells with Escarole, ‘Chovies, & Mozzarella for a special date night in. And one must not forget the genius that is the Ants on a Log Cel Salad! I mean the flavors have gone together forever, right?
Coined by The New York Times as a “culinary guru” in 2004, Dorie Greenspan is back with a book that will make the bakers on your list mouths water and sweet tooth ache. Her classic style and straightforward writing make the most beautiful baked goods attainable. I’m so excited to have just stumbled upon this book. This year’s cookie exchange recipe and my Christmas morning sweets are all in one place. My neighbors are going to beg for the Coffee-Anise Stars recipe at the annual cookie party and my family can’t wait to wake up to the Miso- Maple Loaf on Christmas morning. Oh, and how could I forget, if you haven’t started making homemade English Muffins, do yourself a favor, flip immediately to page 24 and make them before you wrap this up for your best baking buddy. Just make sure to dust off the flour first.
A love letter to the Bayou, this book shares stories from the region and Cajun recipes to inspire any cook looking to delve deep into a rich cultural history. Seafood is a huge component of this cookbook but by no means the majority. I have been known to order crab cakes from every restaurant where they are on offer. You could say I have a crab cake library in my head and the Louisiana Lump Crab Cakes could beat any of them in a taste-off. We do a crawfish boil every year at the lake cabin and this cookbook is full of ideas to up our game next year. I’ll be trying the Crawfish Hand Pies and Crawfish Bisque.
This book is perfect for the grill guru on your list. Working toward more sustainable and healthyish meal plans can include going meatless a couple times a week. With these recipes you won’t miss the meat. Raichlen shows how to turn any veggie into a delicious dish by using live fire. Charring up some veggies over live fire can be a whole new challenge for the grilling girl or guy in your life. Personally, I love grilled vegetables and how their flavors concentrate while on the grates. I can’t wait to try the Armenian Charred Eggplant Dip and the unique Rotisserie Brussels Sprouts with Turmeric Oil and Curry Leaves.
Perfect for the Great British Baking Show fanatic. Nadiya Hussain is a former champion on the beloved baking show and now has her own, super fun Netflix cooking show. Clean, crisp colors and photos make reading this baking book a pure joy. Besides, I was craving every recipe by the end. I can’t wait to present the unexpected, Carrot Tart for one of our Thanksgiving desserts, and I may just have to make the Baked Ratatouille for dinner tonight.
For the person you are most likely to call up to meet for Dim Sum on a Saturday. This book is full of the most wonderful vegetarian, Pan-Asian recipes inspired by McKinnon’s Chinese mother’s home cooking. The book is visually stunning with beautiful photographs, fun and inviting graphic design, and easy to use recipe layouts. Dumplings are a favorite around ZK and we can’t wait to delve into that chapter. We love that McKinnon wrote each recipe with the home cook in mind. The ingredient lists are made up of supermarket staples but when you taste the results you aren’t missing a thing.
Ok, Food Network celebrity chefs may make you cringe a little but hear me out. Alex Guarnaschelli makes some dang good food or she wouldn’t be where she is today. She has worked in some of the best kitchens in the world and her mom was a cookbook editor. She knows a thing or two about recipe development. Reading The Home Cook will make you feel like you’re in Alex’s kitchen and she’s letting you in on all the inspirations behind her feel good food—the food she cooks for her own family. My family loves her Spicy Baked Chicken Wings with Honey Vinegar Glaze for any home football game. Her voice comes through in each recipe intro and it’s a joy to read. It’s perfect for any cook on your list.
by Linda Ly Camping is a pastime that has taken off over the last two years thanks to the pandemic, and I’m here for it. Living in the PNW for the last six months has got me excited about being outdoors and camping in some beautiful National Parks. Hello Mt. Rainier, I’m looking at you.
Whether your brother is an avid tent camper or your BFF bought a camper on a whim, this cookbook will inspire many great campfire feasts. With an entire chapter dedicated to the “how-to” of setting up a camp kitchen, anybody can find success cooking in the great outdoors. I bought this book for a friend of mine, Jen, who loves to take her camper to the North Shore of Minnesota. She said the Ratatouille Skewers were a hit with the whole fam. I also can’t wait to try the Blueberry Skillet Scones with Lemon Glaze over my next campfire.
It has probably become obvious by now that we are a bit veggie obsessed here at ZK. We make no apologies for that but when we picked up Ruffage, the game changed. This book is everything. I picked this up on a whim one day at the library and was immediately blown away. If you have a person who loves to cook seasonally or even grows their own vegetable garden, this book is perfect. Guide is a perfect way to describe it as it is organized by vegetable and easy to navigate. Open it to find inspiration for how to tackle those new-to-you vegetables in a CSA box or how to try a favorite veggie in a new way.
Berens didn’t just stop with this jewel of a veg book, she went ahead and wrote Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes published in October of this year. We are itching to get our hands on this one. It is at the top of my Christmas list this year! Hint, hint, mom.
I found this gem of a cookbook at a little bookstore in Gig Harbor, WA this past summer. The cover is gorgeous and drew me in right away. This book is perfect for anyone interested in experimenting with Middle Eastern flavors or wanting to add something new and exciting to their meal plans. I didn’t know Eden’s story at the time, but loved getting to know about her Israeli heritage through her food and her stories. Her food is full of bold flavors and interesting pairings. I made the Grilled Summer Squash with Coriander Bread Crumbs this summer for a backyard grill out and my friends couldn’t get enough. Don’t even get me started on the Epic Seedy Granola which now has a permanent spot on my pantry shelf.
I know, I know, we featured this one last year too. I’m sorry it has to make another appearance. It’s that good. Since our cookbook guide of 2020, we have had even more time to cook from Simply Julia and we just keep going back and dog-earring more recipes for our meal plans. This one is really perfect for anyone on your list that is looking to cook and eat healthyish in the coming year. Julia writes about the way she makes ingredient substitutions to add nutrition without losing any comforting flavor or texture. It is also perfect for parents with young kids. Many of the recipes are approachable for young kids without “dumbing down” the food for them. I mean we are raising foodies, right?
Around here we think of Julia as Simply one of the best. Some of her recipes in our current rotation include her Sticky Chicken and Doug’s Tex-Mex Turkey Meatballs but it’s impossible to pick a favorite.
Any bread bakers on your list, avid or novice? This is the must-have book for any bread baker in your life. It can’t be understated how amazing it feels to put in 5 minutes of work and have fresh baked bread for days. My sister swears by the baguettes made from the Master Dough recipe and my mom has mastered the Turban Shaped Challah with Raisins. Yes, they have both been gifted this book and still rave about it to this day.
Not only is Zoe Francois a bread making genius but this year she has taken on mastering the art of cake making in her newly published book, Zoe Bakes Cakes. These cakes are outstanding in both their beauty and their flavor. I can’t wait to whip up the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake for my husband’s birthday. I know it will be a winner.
As promised, two wine books that are top notch. Both of these are perfect for the friend who might not be interested in cooking but loves to contribute to the dinner party. I don’t want to be dramatic but these books have completely changed my life, in regards to wine. I have learned so much from Aldo Sohm, the world class Sommellier behind the wine list at Le Bernardin. Packed with info about wine making, wine regions, wine tasting, and my new favorite—wine pairing. The best way I can describe Wine Simple—it’s like reading a really big magazine about wine. It isn’t a textbook and that’s why I like it. There is a good amount of information without being overwhelming. It’s the perfect way to begin your wine journey.
While Wine Simple touches on wine pairing, if you want to learn the art of pairing and get a list of unique pairings, Big Macs and Burgundy by Vanessa Price is the book for you. Just don’t forget to order one for the wine lover on your list, too! Think of it as teaching the art of wine pairing with off-the-wall pairings and none of the stuffy attitude. This book has become a hobby among our friends. I choose a pairing and invite everyone over to try it with me. I don’t want to tell you how many of these pairing parties I’ve hosted recently, but we have never been disappointed. I love gifting this book in a basket with one of the pairings from the book. My personal favorite is a hostess gift includingBig Macs & Burgundy, Cheetos, and a crisp Sancerre. If that doesn’t speak to you, another party favorite includes Olorosso Sherry with Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate PB Cups. Try them with your wine club and let me know which one you love.
Libby is a food fanatic, wine lover and cookbook connoisseur! An incredible mom of one, she's also Lo's sister. Libby is the one who encouraged Lo to start a food and recipe website AND she's the brains behind the name Zestful Kitchen. We wouldn't be here today without her!