Gift Guide: 12 Days of Cookbooks

There’s something especially satisfying about settling down with a good cookbook this time of year. Temperatures are lower, you’re ready to spend more time inside, and bringing down the pace feels exactingly comfortable. In fact, fall cookbooks seem quick to reel us in—promising stained, splattered pages in no time. These new cookbooks vary in theme, inspiration, and content, but they all share an intent to bring us together with those we love, and those we love to feed.

Here’s to finding your space in the kitchen and around the table with those closest to you—and perhaps gifting something of the same to those you hold most dear. We dreamt up some best-for-recipients who might appreciate these most…

Food 52 Desserts

Food52 Desserts, Kristen Miglore

This volume is chalk full of Food52 favorites, along with some new ones you might have missed on their website. I found myself poring over these recipes and illustrations as if I were spending time with a book of art. Thoughtfully organized and beautifully photographed, Food52 does another great job here sticking to their sharp, clear style while also not overwhelming the reader—which can be easy to do when a volume is focused on the same course of food—and appeals to both the amateur or advanced baker. With recipes for Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies, Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse, and Meme’s Blackberry Batter Cobbler, this is a cookbook to return to time and again, no matter how caked it may become with flour and sugar.

Best for: Your little sister who has been on the hunt for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe since she was eight.

Now & Again, Julia Turshen

People love to gift Julia Turshen’s cookbooks to those who they know best; this speaks volumes beyond just the quality of food included in the book. This is Turshen’s third cookbook and, like her others, this book allows you to get a feel for who she is, what she values, and her commitment to bringing those in her village to the table together. Along with a conversational tone and plenty of personal stories, Turshen also includes the unexpected bonus in that she shares “It’s Me Again”-recipes—which show how to use leftovers in new ways. For example, she reveals how garlicky shrimp with tequila and lime can turn the next day into shrimp and kimchi pancakes. Turshen includes 125 recipes and 20 creative menu ideas which prove to be do-able and approachable in every way.

Best for: Your aunt who routinely brings her own Tupperware containers to family dinners, to package up whatever remains after everyone has left the table.

Cravings: Hungry For More, Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen sleeps with a sandwich next to her bed. Literally. If that’s not proof enough that this woman loves to eat and knows good food, then what is? Whether or not you bought Teigen’s first best-selling cookbook, you’ll definitely want to add this one to your collection. Containing recipes for quick, quality food (reminiscent of comfort food done a bit healthier), Teigen’s book shares new blends of flavors along with personal stories and great photographs. While making dishes like Parmesan Minestrone with Chili Mayo Toasts, or Jalapeno-Cheddar Corn Pudding, you’ll feel like Teigen is your new best friend cooking alongside you in the kitchen. Her sense of humor makes it fun. And I wasn’t kidding about that sandwich either; she usually wakes up to eat it around 1 AM.

Best for: Your sassy niece, who has more Instagram followers than anyone else you know, but who also knows how to whip up some tasty tailgating snacks.

Emily: The Cookbook, Matthew & Emily Hyland

This debut cookbook will, quite simply, knock your socks off. The husband and wife team, Matthew and Emily Hyland, behind New York City’s and Nashville’s favorite pizza places, have compiled what has been called “perhaps the first really full-throated American pizza cookbook.” With more than 100 recipes, it goes beyond pizza with dishes like Seared Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Black Sesame Seeds; Cavatelli with Fresh Ricotta, Lemon, and Poppy Seeds; and Buttermilk Cupcakes with Boozy Buttercream. White their restaurants are known mainly for the pizza, the Hylands have included an entire compilation of recipes for anyone who appreciates unique twists on American classics.

Best for: Anyone who loves pizza. So, basically: everyone.

Mississippi Vegan, Timothy Pakron

It might be surprising for some to think of pairing of southern and vegan cuisine, but Pakron nails the combination throughout this beautifully arranged cookbook. He shows here that both meat eaters and vegans can be satisfied with the right, thoughtful recipes. While this compilation of 125 recipes isn’t for the beginner cook, someone who likes to play with flavors and layer ingredients will cherish these results. Pakron, who photographed all of the images included, has created an ode to his Southern roots with a book that’s a feast for the eyes and stomach. With clear, easy-to-follow recipes, Pakron recreates parts of his youth with dishes like his Mama’s Rosemary White Bean Soup, Tomatoes and Okra and Blueberry Bbq Tempeh. As Pakron mentions in his introduction, “When a recipe becomes a tradition, it becomes a part of people’s lives. I couldn’t ask for something more touching than that.”

Best for: Your brother’s new girlfriend from the south who sprinkles “ya’ll” in her conversations so naturally you’ll catch yourself almost using it in conversations.

Ottolenghi Simple, Yotam Ottolenghi

Using his signature Mediterranean-inspired flavors—think, Iranian Herb Fritters and Slow Cooked Chicken with a Crisp Corn Crust—Ottolenghi compiles an invaluable set of recipes for both dedicated beginners and advanced cooks. With most recipes using fewer than ten ingredients and taking thirty minutes or less, Ottolenghi stresses that time and lengthy ingredient lists aren’t required to produce the best food. “Simple” is a key word here, as many of the recipes can be made in a single pot, with pantry staples, or even ahead of time. If you’ve ever wanted to try a new set of flavors, but have been too intimidated by the instructions or ingredients, this is an excellent cookbook to use as a starter for your change up.

Best for: Your 20-something nephew who surprisingly knows how to throw the best dinner parties with the fewest ingredients.

Magnolia Table

Magnolia Table, Joanna Gaines

Whether or not you’re an avid follower of Chip and Joanna Gaines—and all that their Magnolia world includes—this Southern-inspired book of classic, well-worn recipes with deep flavors and satisfying tastes packs a punch. This book is best for those that like to intersperse rich recipes with their weeknight favorites; altogether the recipes total 125, featuring everything from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to small plates, snacks, and desserts, with dishes like Chicken Pot Pie and Peach Caprese Salad. This #1 New York Times bestseller (published last spring) features both Gaines family hits and dishes from the couples’ Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table.

Best for: Your best friend who stocks up on extra cream, cream cheese, and butter for her marathon baking and cooking sessions.

Cooking from Scratch, PCC Community Markets

Those in the the Seattle area have enjoyed food from PCC Community Markets for sixty-five years. Now others outside of the Pacific Northwest can enjoy PCC’s recipes, like Baked Dutch Baby Pancakes, Tiger Mountain Turkey Chili, or Linguine with Asparagus and Peas, with a focus on organic, non-GMO, sustainably sourced food. This compilation features all types of recipes from desserts to main dishes to breakfast and salads, accompanied by beautiful, artful photographs. Also featured in the book are tips on cooking, storing and shopping for your meals—helping you make the most of your locally sourced food options.

Best for: FML’s (Farmer’s Market Lovers) of all ages, backgrounds and locales!

Season, Nik Sharma

The best cookbooks are really just strands of stories, woven together to help readers understand a new journey. That’s exactly what Nik Sharma does with this beautifully compiled book as he explains his “is the story of a gay immigrant, told through food.” Sharma is the curator of the award-winning food blog A Brown Table, and his food here is shared by way of new techniques and a variety of spices. His lists of of recipes will probably push a seasoned kitchen veteran in new ways, but the recipes aren’t overly fussy or difficult, nor do you need to go out and buy a whole pantry full of new ingredients. With dishes like Bombay Frittata, Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Yogurt Sauce and Spicy Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies, people looking to mix up their routines will enjoy this thoughtful book.

Best for: Your fearless dad who is secretly a whiz in the kitchen and doesn’t need to stick to the barbecue to impress guests.

Everyday Dorie, Dorie Greenspan

Everyday Dorie, Greenspan’s fifth cookbook, has already earned numerous labels of “best” and “top” for this year. Promising that each of these 125 recipes have a “little surprise worked into them,” making them “more delicious, more comforting, more satisfying,” Greenspan nonetheless keeps it simple: nothing unusual—supplies, skills, ingredients, and the like—is necessary for these dishes, and fans of Ina Garten or Deb Perelman will appreciate her style. With interesting inclusions like Ginger Beet Salad Bowls, Bourbon Roasted Pork Loin, and Apple Custard Crisp, this cookbook will be a hit for whomever is lucky enough to be on the receiving end.

Best for: Your mom who has a soft spot for classic recipes, but hasn’t branched away from her worn favorites since Instant Messenger was all the rage.

Milk Street: Tuesday Nights, Christopher Kimball

Christopher Kimball, a well known entity in the cooking world and who was named as one of Epicurious’ Greatest Home Cooks of All Time, has created a strong list of ideas for delicious weeknight meals. The book has an ingenious design, organized by the way one cooks: Some chapters focus on time–with recipes that are Fast (under an hour, start to finish), Faster (45 minutes or less), and Fastest (25 minutes or less). Other sections highlight easy methods or themes—including Supper Salads, Roast and Simmer, and Easy Additions. Included are 200 different ways to bring variety to your weeknight cooking with options for whatever mood the household might be in: Asian, Italian, European. Some readers noted that ingredients for these dishes may be a bit more exotic than some standard home cooks may routinely have stocked, so you may consider this as a gift for someone who enjoys a little sourcing. Delicious inclusions are dishes like Persian Barley-Vegetable Soup, White Balsamic Chicken with Tarragon, and Seared Strip Steak with Almond-Rosemary Salsa Verde.

Best for: Your best friend who loves to cook, but who is also shuttling her kids left and right on weeknights, trying to avoid stopping for fast food in between baseball practice and ballet lessons.

Northern Hospitality

Northern Hospitality with The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking, and Coming Together, Andrew and Briana Volk

There’s one thing that has been conspicuously missing from this cookbook list: cocktails! With an intriguing blend of “rad drinks, Scandinavian food that makes one think of growing up Finnish and throwing killer parties,” Andrew and Briana Volk, James Beard-nominated owner’s of Portland, Maine’s Hunt + Alpine Club have created a cookbook that’s a bit different from the others in this mix. The Volks are sharing a secret with their readers: a taste of Northern comfort that can only be found in a place like Maine. With cocktails like “In the Pines” (gin, Cynar, and stone pine liqueur) and the “Norseman” (a Scandinavian take on the old-fashioned, with aquavit) and recipes for dishes like Smoked Trout with Deviled Eggs and Swedish Meatballs with Spaetzle and Nutmeg Cream, this cookbook sets itself apart with its unique Nordic approach and a full-on embrace of winter/fall nights with accents of spring/summer. This isn’t just a great gift for Maine lovers, but anyone who likes to be the first to take on new cocktails and who can spot (and appreciate) a new trend before anyone else.

Best for: Your baby brother that swears buffalo plaid, his well-trimmed beard, and cocktail rocks will always be on point for any occasion.

Have you discovered any favorite new cookbooks this year? What would you add to this list? 

P.S. All of the 2018 Holiday Gift Guides!

Thank you to Molly Coyne for contributing to this wonderful round-up! Molly is helping me to relaunch the 5 Things Travel Series in the new year. Please reach out if you have a city guide to submit! 

Book Cover Photos from respective sales links. Two Lead photos from Ottolenghi Simple and Mississippi Vegan. Bottom photo from Cravings.

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