A Few Current Cookbook Favorites + Giveaway

December 21, 2010(updated on October 3, 2018)

cookbook stack one

Lately, it seems as if every day brings a new gift guide or best cookbooks of the year list from some corner of the internet. I briefly considered putting one or another of my own together, but I did a gift guide last year (and things haven’t changed much in the world of canning since then) and truly, I am not perfectly acquainted with all the new cookbooks that came out this year.

cookbook stack two

Instead, I thought I show you the stack of cookbooks that I’ve been flipping through and using the most lately. Some of these came out this year, but a handful of them are classic books that I’ve loved for years.

How to Feed Your Friends with Relish

How to Feed Your Friends with Relish came out several years ago. However, I only discovered it recently, so it’s happily new to me. It’s just the kind of cookbook I like best, lots of good food and plenty of narrative that allows you to read as if it were a novel. Plus, knowing that it was written by a British author means that when I read it, I can use an English accent in my head, which is a whole other kind of satisfying entertainment.

DIY Delicious

D.I.Y. Delicious by Vanessa Barrington is a book that falls firmly in my wheelhouse and so will certainly appeal to many, many readers of this site. Essentially, she set out to learn how to make a whole world of things we’ve taken to buying at the grocery store. She takes the homemade assignment far further than I do here and shows how to make lovely things like tortillas, worlds of vinaigrettes and sour dough starter.

The Way We Cook

The Way We Cook is a book I first discovered when it first came out in 2003 (in fact, Amazon tells me that I bought it almost exactly seven years ago today) and I love it as much today as I did when it first arrived. In the beginning, it was an aspirational cookbook for me, full of things like seared scallops and many-ingredient stews.

As I became a more confident cook, I grew into it and my copy is now wrinkled and stained. I’ve got good news for you all too. I recently spotted copies at Borders for $4.99, so if it sounds interesting to you, head to your local outpost and see if you can’t score a bargain copy.

Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook

Written by fellow food blogger Rachel Rappaport, The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook is a fantastic book for those of us who love our slow cookers. The thing I like most about this book is that it has helped me expand my understand of what a slow cooker can do (in the past, I’ve use mine primarily for fruit butters, chicken stock and cooking beans). There are a number of recipes I’ve marked that I hope to try soon. After all, what better time of year for a slow cooker than chilly winter?

Almost Meatless

In recent years, I’ve been working hard to buy better meat. For me, this means that it was locally raised and grass-fed. Of course, that choice comes with a heftier price tag and means that the end result is that we end up eating less meat.

Happily, Almost Meatless has been on my shelf since the spring of 2009, helping me make that good meat taste wonderful and stretch further than I ever thought possible. It’s a really great book that also happens to have been I written by two women I know and adore. However, I’d love it even if they were perfect strangers.


Written by salt expert Mark Bitterman, Salted, is a glorious book. Admittedly, I was a natural audience for it, as I’ve been obsessed with salt for years now (truly, I have more than eight varieties in my kitchen right now). But even if I was a complete salt novice, I would have been quickly converted by its lovely pictures and pure passion. If you get a book store gift card for the holidays this year and find single subject books fascinating, you should consider splurging on this one.

Love Soup

Not to be totally redundant, but I do truly love soup. Be it bean, chicken, beef or vegetable, I welcome it in my kitchen. I first heard about Love Soup when it came out last fall. I spent a year resisting buying it (when I buy a new cookbook, my husband raises an eyebrow and says, “really? Another one?”) before finally succumbing back in October. Since then, it has served as inspiration for many a warming bowl of soup. When my sister gets married someday, I want to give her a copy of this book paired with a sturdy soup pot.

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

You’ve probably heard about In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite already. It’s been something of a food blog darling since it came out this fall. I tend to be a little skeptical of books that get so much attention (I can’t help but root for the underdog), but in this case, the people were right. It’s wonderful. I particularly love the fact that there’s a chapter called ‘Things With Cheese.’ There is no way not to love this book.

The Yogurt Bible

I like yogurt. I like it plain, with granola or with a few spoonfuls of jam stirred in. I also like to cook with it (example: this quick bread recipe). I’m loving The Yogurt Bible because it has opened up a wider world of yogurt appreciation than I ever knew possible. Mmm, yogurt.

Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

I have a well-documented weakness for community cookbooks and have at least 25 in my apartment (a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to adopt a number from a collection that had belonged to the mother of a friend of a friend). However, The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook is really a whole different animal from those simple spiral-bound community collections. It’s an expertly curated assortment of classic southern recipes and I love it.


I love salads nearly as much as I love soups. In fact, just this evening, we had a chopped salad of crunchy veg, grilled chicken and garbanzo beans, bound together with a pesto-mayonnaise dressing. It was a new salad for me and came to be because I’ve had my copy of Mixt Salads out on the dining room table for the last week, radiating fresh ideas. This is wonderfully helpful since I often find myself treading the same well-traveled path between butter lettuce, arguula and baby spinach. It’s nice to eat something new.

Gifts Cooks Love

As you may have figured out, I’m a sucker for edible gifts. Gifts Cooks Love takes my simple canning and baking and reminds me that it can be elevated it into something special. I realize it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good for this holiday season, but this is the kind of volume that will become a classic that you’ll turn to year after year.

Yikes, writing this post has been something of a marathon. I hope you made it this far! If you did, you’re in luck. I have copies of two of the books on this list to give away. Leave a comment sharing your favorite cookbook to give as a gift by Thursday, December 23 at 11:59 p.m. to enter for a chance to win a copy of either The Yogurt Bible or Gifts Cook Love.

289 responses to “A Few Current Cookbook Favorites + Giveaway”

  1. I love to gift The Joy of Cooking. It’s a classic, and it has never failed me. It’s become my signature wedding gift, paired with a piece of kitchen equipment or vessel.

  2. I buy and give away Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” at least three times a year. Wrapped in an apron, it is my standard wedding shower gift.

  3. I’m on my third copy of Joy of Cooking. When the 1997 edition came out my husband (who works in a used bookstore) asked me if I wanted one, since he had several at the store. He’ll never let me forget that I said, dismissively, “That’s a cookbook for fancy-pants people.” He wisely brought one home for me anyway and I was hooked. All these years later I have Joy and just a handful of other cookbooks that I keep. He brings others home for me to look at and while I enjoy paging through them, I always send them back.

    I do love having “The Little House Cookbook.” My single attempt at one of the recipes (homemade apple cider vinegar) was a disaster, but it’s such a wonderful real-life connection to those wonderful stories.

  4. If it is a newish cook, How to Cook Everything. If it is a person that already knows the basics, I usually try to give them a specific book and then a tool to use with it. Like a baking book and a silipat, etc.

  5. Gosh I am thoroughly addicted to cookbooks! It’s so hard to choose one as a gift. Currently though, my plan is to give my friend a copy of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I am just totally in love with this book!

  6. My favorite baking book is by a local Portland, OR author. “Rustic Fruit Desserts” is by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. Everything in this book looks and tastes amazing! I love to give this book away to friends who love baking.

  7. I like to give a barefoot contessa cookbook because I find them fool proof and so delicious. She has yet to let me down!

  8. my newest favourite cookbook is “flour” by joanne chang. it is such an enjoyable read and i really learned a lot from it!

  9. I rarely give cookbooks (except to me πŸ˜‰ unless I know it’s something someone wants. For a wedding gift, I’ve been know to put together a notebook of favorite recipes and kitchen tips.

  10. Good to the Grain because I’m trying to help my friends see that cooking with more than white flour opens up tons of possibilities!

  11. My two favorite cookbooks are “The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift and “Simply in Season” by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. I use them over and over and give them as gifts. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. The cookbook I’ve given most often as a gift is “How To Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman. It’s also what my husband and I tend to turn to first when looking for a basic or starter recipe for something.

  13. You know, I’ve never given a cookbook as a gift, with one (very silly) exception–to my youngest brother upon graduating high school and moving far away from mom’s cooking or dorm food: 101 Things to Do With Ramen Noodles. He loved it! πŸ™‚

  14. My favorite cookbook to give as a gift is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. The title says it all, it’s good for everyone.

  15. When I read I always come away feeling like I know the author and we are great friends. Well, your admission of reading with a British accent in your mind has elevated our relationship to family.

    All best, Brandy

  16. Oops – accidentally submitted that early. I have lots of different favorites, but especially love Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Baking Illustrated!

  17. I love to give away The Flavor Bible, it has almost every ingredient and gives you flavors that complement well.

  18. I love cookbooks …I read them like novels … But this one about Gifts Cooks Love is right up my alley …I love giving food at Christmas time

  19. The last books I gave away were from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. I have several friends who are huge fans of hers, and she has a great lasagna recipe. yummm.

  20. From the Earth to the Table – While it tends to focus on ingredients you can find locally in the Bay Area – there are great recipes for foodies across the US.

  21. I love to give “The Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen, her original cookbook filled with beautiful hand done illustrations and many tasty vegetarian recipes.

  22. This is a TOUGH question…I have a few…but probably I will have to settle on my favorite to give being Deborah Madison’s “Local Flavors” cookbook – it revolves around farmers market purchases and recipes you can make with common and not-so-common finds, with plenty of vegetarian fare as well as some recipes with meats. It satisfies me on so many levels and is a pleasure to read again and again, cook from, and gift to others. πŸ™‚

  23. I don’t really give a standard cookbook. I like the Alton Brown books and Sundays at Moosewood. If someone likes Indian food, I like the Madhur Jaffrey books. This Christmas I am giving my husband a copy of Real Cajun.

  24. Very very simple but I love my Huss Family cookbook that got put together with recipes from all my extended family. I find it incredibly useful when I just need to flip through to find a family favorite!

  25. I’d love to give some of my friends Peterson’s ‘Baking’ cookbook, if only for the wonderful pictures. πŸ™‚ It has its flaws, but I’ve enjoyed the book and made several delicious cakes using its recipes!

  26. Love Soup is wonderful. I really like the recipe for French Green Lentils with Roasted Carrots and mint.

    My favorite cookbook to give is Simply in Season. I have not yet found anyone who doesn’t love it’s practicality and organization. I know you are also familiar with this book.

  27. For someone who is just starting out cooking a classic book is always best, like the Joy of Cooking or Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But giving a cookbook like my personal fav The New Spanish Table by Anya Von Bremsen is also a great idea

  28. What wonderful books – so many I had not heard of. I think “Baked” would make a nice gift or Pam Anderson’s one dish meals. Thanks for such an enjoyable blog!

  29. I received the classic Better Homes & Gardens red checkered book from my mom when I moved out of the house over 20 years ago. The book is extremely worn out! My first born actually chewed on the book while I was cooking with him. As my kids are slowly moving out, I’ve given each of them one as well. It is a classic book for any new cook and was the one book that launched my ever-growing collection.

  30. I love Anna Thomas’s vegetarian cookbooks- maybe it’s the hippie vibe that evokes my childhood, and I’m really wanting a copy of the Southern Foodways book, maybe for the flip side of the same reason.

  31. I absolutely love my bible to canning: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving! Using proven recipes is so important in the canning world.

  32. I love giving Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson or How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. They’re both really good as far as offering more than recipes: learning kitchen basics, stocking a pantry, and information about the foods themselves. Heidi’s is a beautiful book and Mark’s is just a great kitchen workhorse. I love them!

  33. Mark Bittman’s, “How to Cook Everything”! A must for new cooks, & my son gives it high marks too! So many choices to pick from, I can’t wait to hit the bookstore after Christmas for me, if I don’t win one of the giveaways!;)

  34. Ooh, so many great things to add to my wishlist. πŸ™‚ And I love yogurt–I started making my own a couple of years ago but have gotten out of the habit. Also love the Sur la Table book; I have one that’s “Things Cooks Love” or something. Yay cookbooks! (Or cookery books, if you’re using the accent in your head.)

  35. My youngest son just got married and I gave my new daughter-in-law the great standby for new cooks – “Joy of Cooking” – the anniversary edition. It’s what I like to give any young couple to get through those first sometimes ugly days of being new at the stove. I would dearly, dearly love “Gifts Cooks Love”. I have taken to making a wish list at Amazon for hubs to pick and choose from rather than try to explain or describe what it is that I really want. Thank you for offering a nice give-away! I’m new here, but I put your blog into my Google reader and I’ll be BACK!

  36. For canners: Pickles, Chutneys and Relishes, from the Australian Women’s Weekly, a small book I discovered while living in London and was just starting to make chutney. Flavorful combinations, not the usual suspects. Chili coriander (a tomato chutney) is the best! (You can find it on my garden-focused blog, http://alliumstozinnias.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/when-the-glut-strikes/)
    A friend (see her blog at jamsandchutney.wordpress.com) also loves the book.

  37. My husband is the cook in our house, I’m the baker. I cook out of necessity to eat. Eggs for dinner? No problem! But, that said, if I do cook, I really like the America’s Test Kitchen cook books. I picked one up from Costco on a whim when I could not bear another night of boring chicken. Surprisingly, the recipes were fairly basic and they offer a lot of great insight on flavor combinations, substitutions and possible side dishes. I like books that do the thinking for me!

  38. My fav cookbook is America’s Test Kitchen Cooking Light. We have made numerous recipes from there and enjoy every one of them.

  39. Gifts Cooks love would be FANTASTIC! I’m the same total sucker for making gifts from the kitchen and buying cook books about that! lol

  40. A hard to find but wonderful little book by an Oregon food writer, Jan Roberts-Dominguez called “The Mustard Book.” All about how to make mustard of course. Also anything by Deborah Madison.

  41. I don’t actually have a favorite cookbook, as I generally use the internet to find what I’m seeking. I really like the recipes from Giada, so maybe her show can substitute for a book? Happy holidays to you!

  42. I am forever ordering books and sometimes ooops and order one I already have. That duplicate is always gifted to a friend. It’s a blessing to give instead of a hassle to return. : )

  43. I don’t know if you can still buy it but, Cakes & Slices Cookbook, by the Australian Womens Weekly, there’s some really yummy stuff in it, even if it’s not really recent. I’ve started to collect all my favorite recipes from all over the place and put them together, so it’d be fun to give a copy of that too πŸ™‚

  44. The Mrs. Field’s Cookie cookbook…I’m getting copies for my daughters. You can’t beat the recipes because the woman knows her cookies!!!

  45. great selection of cookbooks in this post! i am so dying for salted lately but also have given all food gifts this season – would love to get my hands on gifts cooks love!
    happy holidays!!

  46. I give Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I love those books. I stay up late to re-read them. I still want to make everything in them which you can’t say for many cookbooks. Every time I give one someone is learning not only about food but great writing.

  47. I enjoy giving “The Healthy Baby Meal Planner” to new moms. I used this book to make all of my son’s baby food and it is cheaper and healthier than baby food in a jar from the grocery store.

  48. Great cookbook list! Ive been loving another blog darling, Kim Boyce’s good to the grain. its a great way to look at baking beyond traditional flours. I’ve made the kamut flour challah 2x and its lovely!

  49. I’ve given “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes” to a couple of people as gifts–usually folks I’ve brought my own bread to a couple of times who hear about the concept and are as enamored of it as I was! And…well, anything by Moosewood is a good bet! I read cookbooks like other people read novels or magazines, and I love a cookbook with lots of explanation and history and stuff involved…

  50. Deborah Madison’s big hardbound cookbook is the vegetable-based version of The Joy of Cooking. I recently recommended it to a friend who has been inventing creative ways to cook up strange veggies donated to the local homeless shelter – the local grocery stores donate their overstock. I would love to give this as a gift, but strangely most of my friends already own it.

  51. America’s Test Kitchen 10 year cookbook. While it’s not the most creative cookbook I know that all of the recipes will be delicious.

  52. I’m a cookbook hound, too. Right now back into loving Kitchen of Light New Scandinavian Cooking. It was a PBS series several years ago and kind of rocked my world. My favorite recipe from it is vanilla scented rutabaga. Who knew?

  53. I give the More-with-Less Cookbook. It is practical, has just about every recipe you need, tons of nutritional advice, includes many international meals and best of all, the pumpkin pie recipe on page 281 always turns out perfectly and only calls for 1/2 c of sugar. The companion books Simply in Season and Extending the Table are also good, but the classic is still the best.

  54. Cookbooks from my San Francisco neighborhood bakery Tartine – beautiful photos and delicious & decadent recipes! I also love Cover & Bake from American’s Test Kitchen – a wealth of stews to choose from.

  55. I’ve been using mark bittman’s “how to cook everything” quite a bit lately, but the cookbook I’ve given most as a gift is one that my mother and I compiled over the years as a word document and email to friends when they ask.

  56. I definitely second the vote for Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I’ve practically destroyed the binding packing it full of bookmarks and notes. It makes a great gift for budding vegetarians.

  57. BH&G is my main resource. I have several that I use from time to time, but the Soup Bible, BH&G and two bread recipe books (that I’m really not sure of their names off hand) are my main go-to ones. Both The Yogurt Bible or Gifts Cook Love sound like awesome giveaways. Thanks, Marisa! Good Luck, everyone!

  58. Ooh, I ask for a cookbook every year for Christmas, and this list has got me thinking maybe I chose too quickly! Thanks for all the reviews.

  59. Depends upon the recipient, but the Cooks Illustrated books manage to engage people in cooking in a new way – there’s something fascinating and empowering about their approach, particularly for people who’re just starting to learn to cook. For the foodies in my life, I like to be sure they have a copy of The Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld. It makes you want to grow herbs – which is easy to do here in mild Seattle – and use them in new ways.

  60. My favorite cookbook to give is definately The Pioneer Woman. I have given so many copies this past year, since it came out. Everyone always loves it.

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