IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

26 best cookbooks to give (and get)

From the foodie who dares to explore new tastes to health nuts, vegans and even those with no time to cook, there's a book in this list for virtually anyone.
Image: Cookbooks
"Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family" by Priya Krishna; "Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook" by José Andres and Matt Goulding; "Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen" by Yasmin Khan

Food plays a huge role in our lives. It brings people together, introduces new cuisines and cultures, and nourishes our bodies — and minds. So when you give someone on your list a cookbook, you’re offering them a gift that keeps on giving (and indirectly feeding). That's especially true when they have some of the best gadgets for home cooks to help them along.

And 2019 has been a great year for cookbooks. From Alison Roman's "Nothing Fancy" and Antoni Porowski's "Antoni in the Kitchen" to JL Fields's "Fast & Easy Vegan Cookbook" and Toni Tipton-Martin's "Jubilee," there are plenty of options for the discerning home cook to learn more recipes. Whether you’re shopping for a serious foodie, an avid home chef, a vegan, a health nut, or a passionate grillmaster, we have more than two dozen options in this updated annual cookbook guide to help you find a perfect fit.

Best cookbooks to gift

1. "Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family" by Priya Krishna

This illustrated cookbook ( aims to help anyone recreate their favorite Indian dishes at home. The recipes are approachable and flavorful, melding together American and Indian classics: Roti Pizza, Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney, and Malaysian Ramen are just a few of the creative recipes included. In between recipes, Krishna shares heartwarming stories about her Indian-American family. In 2014, Krishina penned "Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks: Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan."

2. "Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen" by Yasmin Khan

Explore the bright and colorful cuisine of Palestinian culture through the eyes of cultural writer Yasmin Khan, who wrote 2016's "The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen." Zaitoun covers stories from various Palestinian kitchens — from Akka and the Jordan Valley through Gaza City — accompanied by Khan’s own images. Recipes cover everything from mezze-centric dishes to chicken and lamb stews with regional standouts from eggplant to za'atar.

3. "You Suck at Cooking: The Absurdly Practical Guide to Sucking Slightly Less at Making Food: A Cookbook"

Amateur chefs with a sense of humor will appreciate this cheeky cookbook. Based on videos from popular YouTube show "You Suck at Cooking," this practical guide offers more than 60 beginner-friendly recipes from “Muffin-Type Things” and “Eddie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dip,” along with a hefty helping of the mystery chef’s signature sense of humor throughout.

4. "Half Baked Harvest Super Simple: More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods: A Cookbook" by Tieghan Gerard

Tieghan Gerard’s skills as a food photographer, recipe developer, and food stylist come together in perfect harmony in her second cookbook, which includes comfort-food classics such as lobster tacos, slow roasted Moroccan salmon, and fresh corn and zucchini summer lasagna. From her home in the Colorado Rockies, Gerard delivers 125 approachable dishes that can be made using just the beginner-friendly basics of cooking. In fact, many can be made in one pot, in a slow cooker, or even the night before.

5. "Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir" by Ruth Reichl

While this pick may be more of a memoir than a classic cookbook, it’s a must-read for any home chef or aspiring food writer. In it, Ruth Reichl, a Berkeley hippie turned editor-in-chief of Gourmet, tells intriguing tales from her days at the famed food publication during a time of major shifts in the way Americans eat and cook. The book includes several recipes so you can get a taste of Gourmet at home.

6. "JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes" by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

In this memoir-slash-cookbook, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the most famous chefs in the world, looks back on his career so far. From his food-focused childhood in Alsace, France, to building his Michelin-starred restaurant empire in New York City and other cities around the world. In a down-to-earth manner, Vongerichten recalls creating some of his most famous dishes. With hand-drawn sketches and intimate photographs of his life, it’s a great gift for any aspiring chef.

7. "Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes" by Joanne Chang

The owner and baker behind Flour, one of Boston’s most beloved bakeries, shares 125 desserts in her latest book, from simple recipes like Mocha Chip Cookies to more complex masterpieces such as Malted Chocolate Cake. While Chang’s first two books center on recipes that you’d typically see on bakery shelves, like pastries and cookies, many of the recipes in her latest cookbook include dishes more apt for a dinner party that should be served fresh.

8. "Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook" by José Andres and Matt Goulding

Spanish chef Jose Andrés really likes vegetables. Here, he shares recipes through a photo-heavy cookbook that may very well convince even the most committed carnivores. In it, Andres and Emmy- and James Beard Award-winning Matt Goulding provide plenty of tips, tricks and advice to go along with a variety of veggie-centric recipes, ranging from lentil stew to a towering beefsteak tomato burger.

9. "South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations" by Sean Brock

Southern or not, any home chef will appreciate this definitive guide to Southern cooking in their kitchen. Within the pages of South, Brock, an award-winning chef, bestselling author, and born-and-raised Southerner, includes recipes for key staples of Southern cuisine, including fried green tomatoes, grits, smoked baby back ribs, biscuits, and more. He also shares helpful and insightful tips for using essential Southern cooking tools and techniques, from a stone hearth to a cast-iron pan.

Best cookbooks to gift for the holidays

Our 2018 cookbook suggestions for holiday gifting are still good options and very much still in print. If you want more to consider, check out the list below.

10. "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day" by the editors of Extra Crispy

Perfect for anyone who loves eggs for dinner, this book, from the editors of, covers how to make all the breakfast and brunch essentials. Perfect everything from crispy French Toast and fluffy pancakes, to barista-style drinks and even commercial favorites, like Entenmann’s Cake Doughnuts and Taco Bell Crunchwraps.

11. "Cook Like a Pro" by 
Ina Garten

Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, has written twelve cookbooks, has a tv show, and has built a massive food empire — without any classic training. In her latest cookbook, she shares her secrets to cooking like a pro, including her tips for custardy, slow-cooked Truffled Scrambled Eggs, as well as the juicy Fried Chicken Sandwiches.

12. "Red Truck Bakery Cookbook
" by Brian Noyes

This rural Virginia bakery counts Barack Obama and Mary Chapin Carpenter among its fans, and its charming new cookbook contains 85 southern baking recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, and more. Between the sweet-as-can-be recipes, the book is also filled with touching stories and photographs of beautiful landscapes.

13. "At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking" by Nigella Lawson

With more 100 mouthwatering food photographs, Lawson’s latest cookbook will help you create a fine dining experience right in your own kitchen. The recipes are simple, with unique ingredients and rich flavors, from fresh vegetable dishes such as Eastern Mediterranean Chopped Salad and Carrots and Fennel with Harissa to entrees such as Chicken Fricassee and Chili Mint Lamb Cutlets.

14. "Food for Thought" by Cristina Ferrare

With a foreword by Maria Shriver, this new cookbook provides the ultimate “brain food.” It’s filled with recipes that promote brain health, as well as overall well-being, such as Avocado Toast and Peanut Butter Amazeballs. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.

15. "Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering" by Joanna Gaines

Gaines believes there's no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through sharing a great meal together. Now, you can take a page from her (cook)book, and share one of her personal favorite recipes with your own family. Choose from 125 delicious recipes, like Chicken Pot Pie and Asparagus and Fontina Quiche.

16. "30-Minute Cooking for Two: Healthy Dishes Without All The Fuss" by Taylor Ellingson $14, Amazon

A perfect present for newlyweds, this book is filled with recipes that require no more than eight staple ingredients per recipe. Plus, they’re healthy, fresh, and use limited amounts of processed food. This book also provides shopping lists with pantry stables and essential cooking equipment.

17. "Cravings: Hungry for More" by Chrissy Teigen and Adeena Sussman

Chrissy Teigen proves that models can cook — really darn well. Her second book, a follow-up to the bestselling Cravings, features her relatable (and hilarious) voice, along with drool-worthy dishes jalapeno parmesan-crusted grilled cheese. She includes lighter options too, like a butternut squash and pomegranate salad with garlicky honey-Dijon dressing.

18. "Waste Not: How To Get The Most From Your Food" by The James Beard Foundation

Did you know that 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. — where one in six people go hungry — gets thrown away? This cookbook taps into chefs’ innate knowledge of preventing food waste to help you make the most of food that might otherwise get tossed. Curated by the James Beard Foundation, recipes in the book include Swiss chard stem gratin, tahini pomegranate snapper collars, and asparagus bottom aioli.

19. "Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook" by Yotam Ottolenghi

“Simple” isn’t usually a word associated with London chef Ottolenghi’s recipes. But his newest cookbook proves that his signature Middle Eastern–inspired meals can be prepared without as much effort as you think. In this book, all recipes fit at least one of these criteria: It can made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients, in a single pot, using pantry staples, or prepared ahead of time.

20. "Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One" by Anita Lo

Lo, a Michelin-starred chef and Iron Chef contestant, has written a cookbook that’s empowering and practical. Along with personal stories about life as a chef, she gives readers 101 simple yet sophisticated recipes that serve one, such as chicken pho, slow cooker shortrib with caramelized endive, duck bolognese, and even a single-serving New England clambake.

21. "All About Cake" by Christina Tosi

In her latest cookbook, Tosi, the mastermind behind Momofuku Milk Bar, covers all the sugary sweets you could possibly dream of. Her signature naked layer cakes are included, but there’s also more approachable recipes for bakers who aren’t quite there yet, including two-minute microwave mug cakes, buttery Bundts and pounds, and much more.

22. "Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking" by the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Bring home the taste of the Sweet Home Café, housed inside DC’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Showcasing dishes with African, Caribbean, and European influences, this beautiful book includes recipes such as Pea Tendril Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, Hoppin' John, Sénégalaise Peanut Soup, and more, along with stories that illustrate the pivotal role that African Americans have played in American cuisine.

23. "Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan" By Chloe Coscarelli

Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s New York City restaurant, By Chloe, revolutionized how people think about vegan food. She’s proven that plant-based recipes can be exciting, flavorful, and filling — and healthy at the same time. Even carnivores won’t miss the meat in recipes like Smoky Grits & Greens, Mango-Guacamole Crunch Burgers, and Sea Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

24. "Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita" by Giada De Laurentiis

In De Laurentiis’ latest, she goes back to her Italian roots, while adding her own unique Californian and American influences. Here, shares somewhere lighter, no-fuss versions of authentic Italian classics, such as Spaghetti with Chianti and Fava Beans, Asparagus with Grilled Melon Salad, and Avocado White Bean Dip.

25. "Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker and Fireplace" by Michael Symon

Give this to the grillmaster in your life. Symon’s recent release covers his favorite food — meat — with over 70 finger-licking recipes that draw inspiration from all over the country, including dry ribs from Memphis, wet ribs from Nashville, brisket from Texas, pork steak from St. Louis, and burnt ends from Kansas City, to name a few.

26. "The Instant Pot Bible" by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

This book will make a perfect gift for your friend who’s obsessed with her new Instant Pot. With more than 350 recipes, along with instructions and timing for every type of Instant Pot, this book is the most Instant Pot cookbook ever published. You’ll find recipes for everything from hearty breakfasts to healthy sides, from centerpiece stews and roasts to decadent desserts.

More Gift Guides from BETTER

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.