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When you're looking for the best cookbooks to give as gifts, you're probably looking for something specific—for the baker in your life, or the vegetarian, or the techie home chef who's just bought the latest appliance. Here are all our favorite cookbooks of the year, including gorgeous (and complex) baking books, an encyclopedic Instant Pot guide, and books that will teach you to throw the best (and most effortless) dinner parties.
Living Bread by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chatman
"I like a cookbook that really knows itself, and this one knows that it's not necessarily for beginner breadmakers. It is, however, for bread lovers of all kinds. Leader (the owner of New York State's renowned bakery Bread Alone) profiles master bread bakers from around the world (many of them in France), and reprints their ambitious recipes. It's a bucket list of loaves to eat before you die, a rare window into the professional world of breadmaking, and, yes, even a cookbook, all wrapped into one."—David Tamarkin
Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman
Our very own Senior Editor Maggie Hoffman is also our resident cocktail guru. Her 2018 book was all about the single-spirit cocktail, while her 2019 offering focuses on batch cocktails that can be made ahead in large quantities and served out of a pitcher, punch bowl, or swing-top bottle. Never play bartender at your cocktail party again.
Pastry Love by Joanne Chang
"Chang's newest book sits somewhere between a personal recipe scrapbook and a collection of professional recipes from her Boston bakery Flour. That mashup of pro and personal doesn't always work, but in Chang's hands everything feels doable. Her voice is reassuring, her tone encouraging, and her recipes exacting. And they work. I'm not going to attempt the puff pastry in this book any time soon, but I'll be making her lemon-cornmeal cookies all winter long."—David Tamarkin
Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen
In her new cookbook, Andrea Nguyen shows you how to get Vietnamese flavors using ingredients easily available at national supermarket chains in the U.S. Adapting these flavors for American-supermarket-friendly ingredients is familiar to Nguyen, because it's exactly what her family had to do when they arrived as refugees in 1975. With this cookbook, favorite dishes such as banh mi, dumplings, lettuce cups, and pho are made approachable for the home kitchen.
The Instant Pot Bible by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Unlike a lot of the other Instant Pot books we flipped through, this book is organized by function on the machine. So, if you're not sure what you want to make but you have been dying to try the sous vide method, or you want something that will pressure cook in under 20 minutes, you can flip right to the chapter that will teach you that technique. Turn to the "All Things Pulled" section for barbacoa, pickled pulled pork, or pulled brisket. Additionally, the "All Things Curried" section has options for vegetarians and omnivores alike, with flavors influenced by Thailand, India, and South Africa.
My Mexico City Kitchen by Gabriela Cámara
Gabriela Cámara, who owns the famed restaurants Contramar (in Mexico City) and Cala (in San Francisco), offers 150 recipes for contemporary Mexican cooking in her new book. It's not a restaurant cookbook exactly, but the vibrant seafood- and vegetable-forward cuisine will be familiar for anyone who's dined in Cámara's restaurants—as will signatures like her tuna tostadas. There are tacos, chilaquiles, and tamales, of course, but there are also recipes for prawns with green rice, octopus salad, and squash blossom soup.
Dishoom by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir
Dishoom restaurants have been serving Bombay comfort food across London since 2010. Now, the Okra Fries, Jackfruit Biryani, and Chicken Ruby can all be found together in the owners' much anticipated cookbook. But Dishoom is more than just a cookbook—it's a tour of South Bombay through markets, restaurants, and cafes, all presented in a clever one day itinerary. Buy it, cook from it, and then use it as a travel guide.
I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra
This book was recommended to us by a friend who has no dietary restrictions to speak of. One flip through and it's easy to see why—chewy, lemon-drenched yuba noodles over rice and caramelized brussels sprouts tossed with maple and mustard round out the crunchy salads and myriad tempeh and tofu dishes. Each recipe is simple and riffable and each photo is full of abundance and color. Which means...if the vegan in your life needs to expand their recipe repertoire, this is the book to give them.
BUY IT: I Can Cook Vegan, $21 at Amazon
The Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones
Fresh off the heels of her beloved second cookbook, A Modern Way to Cook, comes British chef Anna Jones's latest, which offers 250 creative and beautifully photographed vegetarian recipes for each season. (Think Sri Lankan green bean and tomato curry for the end of spring or a black sesame noodle bowl with cashews and herbs in summer.) Scattered throughout the book are brightly colored, easy-to-find primers on cooking basic dishes—soups, fritters, sheet-pan dinners—that show readers how to customize the dish according to their preferences and larders.
Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
"This update of the 2006 Tartine cookbook features 68 new recipes, 55 updated ones, and a lot of einkorn flour and matcha. Technically, this revised version is unnecessary, because the old book works perfectly. But Tartine hasn’t gained influence by keeping quiet about the way they do things. Besides, this new book nods to a simple but somewhat unexplored reality: every home cook changes. Why shouldn't cookbooks change with them?"—David Tamarkin
Indian-ish by Priya Krishna
Inspired by her mom's cooking—which merged the Indian flavors of her childhood with her travels, cooking shows, and the American foods her kids requested—Priya Krishna offers accessible, everyday recipes for clever and creative Indian-American hybrids you've never seen before. There's roti pizza, Dahi toast that she calls a "more interesting, Indian-ish grilled cheese," and a salty-sweet limeade dubbed "Indian Gatorade." These are simple weeknight recipes that pack a huge flavor punch.
Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals by David Tamarkin
Our very own digital director, David Tamarkin, came out with a cookbook last winter based on #COOK90, a challenge to make 30 meals in 30 days. Why? Because cooking for yourself is healthier, less wasteful, more economical, and even therapeutic. This book is a completely comprehensive guide, with recipes and meal plans that will make cooking 90 meals in a month not just easy, but fun. It’s an immersive cooking journey, out of which you'll emerge a better, more confident home cook. And when you're done, you'll probably find yourself coming back to these adaptable recipes over and over again.
Japanese Home Cooking by Sonoko Sakai
This book is a treasure trove for anyone hoping to master a few everyday Japanese recipes, yes. But where Sakai really excels is in the digestible lessons on stocking a pantry and understanding the building blocks of Japanese home cooking; she guides you through the five basic seasonings and the practice of noodle making, for example. A teacher and cookbook author, Sakai has approached her work in food with a holistically, dedicating herself to the preservation of both Japanese culture and cuisine through cookbooks, classes, and recently, a grain restoration project with Anson Mills.
Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman
"Alison Roman’s new book is a celebration of casual but oh-so-stylish gatherings that really captures how we want to eat—and entertain—now. We’re straight-up obsessed with her Long-Roasted Eggplant, which is piled onto a platter of lemony labne and topped with crunchy croutons. She’s also the queen of great ideas that barely need recipes: bread slathered with butter and topped with roe and tender herbs, an assortment of grilled sausages topped with an assortment of condiments, a baked potato bar “with all the toppings in the land.” Invite us to that party, please."—Maggie Hoffman
Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music
You probably know Carla Lalli Music already, from her stellar recipes on both Epicurious and Bon Appétit. What you might not know is that when Music gets home from a day of recipe development in the test kitchen, she's trying to get dinner on the table for her family in the same time-strapped way as we are. Where Cooking Begins offers tips on grocery shopping and stocking a pantry that maximize time and promote ease while making the process as joyful as possible (yes to wandering the farmer's market, also yes to getting all the basics delivered). Music lists possible swaps with each recipe and focuses on key techniques like steaming and slow roasting to help you build the confidence to buy what looks luscious and cook it however you please.
Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated updated by John Becker and Megan Scott
At 1,156 pages and nearly five pounds, the newly updated version of Joy of Cooking could provide someone with recipes for all of 2020's meals, easily. And unlike modern cookbooks, which usually focus in on one type of dish or region's cuisine, this book harkens back the days of "general interest" cookbooks—it's as much a technique based cookbook as it is a skip around the world. Our reviewer called it a "desert island cookbook" and, after all, isn't that what a snowy January calls for?
Mastering Spice by Lior Lev Sercarz and Genevieve Ko
"Every time I flip through this book—and I've spent a lot of time doing that this fall, usually propped up in bed—I think that it's way, way better than it had to be. A book about spices by Sercarz, who owns the spice company La Boîte, could have been, well, focused on just the spices. But this book offers real life lessons in getting dinner on the table. Every master recipe comes with five ways to spin it or extend it into another meal. Those recipes all involve spices, sure, but the spices are secondary; the primary purpose of this book is to get all that spiced food actually cooked. "—David Tamarkin
Baking With Kim-Joy by Kim Joy
There's a time and a place for dumping six different food dyes into the layers of a candy-filled Orange & Amaretto Cake. Now is the time and Baking with Kim Joy is the place. The Great British Bake Off finalist brings us a book bursting with her signature joy, color, and quirk. A classic Japanese sweet bread, melonpan, gets shaped into space turtles with glittering sugar-paste stars on their shells, pastry gets folded into jam-filled envelopes, and donuts get iced into a series of barnyard animals. If you want to lure your kids into the baking process (or just need a dose of cute for yourself) this is the guide to turn to.
Sous Vide: Better Home Cooking by Hugh Acheson
While many sous vide recipes focus solely on proteins, Hugh Acheson dedicates 75 pages to perfectly tender vegetables in his latest book, Sous Vide: Better Home Cooking. He even suggests filling the water bath with multiple bags of vegetables, such as new potatoes, cauliflower, Swiss chard stems, or fennel, and gives the right temps to have them all cooked to perfection in one go. Of course, the chapters on meat, fish, and eggs shouldn't be missed either—expect to be sitting down to plates of buttery sole or duck confit by the New Year.
Piatti by Stacy Adimando
This is the ideal gift for grazers and snacks-for-dinner believers: a book dedicated to antipasto. Stacy Adimando, former Executive Editor of Saveur magazine, draws from her Italian roots and provides recipes—organized by season—for creating abundant plates and platters full of snacks for sharing.
Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski and Mindy Fox
In his first cookbook, Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye draws on his Polish and French Canadian heritage in addition to offering his own new and easy entertaining creations. Expect the Polish cure for a hangover (hint: it includes kielbasa, bacon, and a lot of tart, pickle-infused broth) followed by chocolate chunk cookies and Malyasian Chili Shrimp. While the recipes draw from a variety of cuisines, almost all are simple and approachable, and many follow paleo guidelines. One other reason to pick up this book? It was co-written by talented Epicurious contributor Mindy Fox.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious