Holiday Giving: Cookbooks for Everyone!

December 17, 2012(updated on October 3, 2018)

stack of books

Cookbooks are one of my favorite things on the planet. I have them in every room of our apartment. I cook from them, read them in bed, give them as gifts, and even use them occasionally as furniture (there’s a stack in our living room that doubles as an end table).

I was told recently by the folks at Eat Your Books (an awesome service that allows you to enter all your cookbooks and the blogs you follow in order to be able to organize and  search them) that nearly 3,000 cookbooks come out every year. I only see a small fraction of those, but I still manage to wade through a whole heck of a lot. These are some of the best that have crossed my path since about this time last year.


Poptails is a fun book for all cocktail lovers. Author Erin Nichols (she writes the blog Erin Cooks) has concocted 60 boozy popsicles for cooling down on hot days. Part of what makes this book genius is that she’s found a way to treat the alcohol so that you can get it to freeze well.


I wrote about Marmalade recently, but to recap, it’s a charming little book that features a number of recipes for marmalades (both sweet and savory). Everyone who’s interested in taking their preserves in a decidedly citrus-y direction should have this on their shelf.

Real Snacks

Yogurt covered raisins? Homemade saltines? Corn nuts without the package? You’ll find recipes for them all in Lara Ferroni’s new book, Real Snacks. Many of the recipes have gluten-free options and they all take a more wholesome approach than the classic snacks on which they’re modeled.

Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays

Speaking of gluten-free, there’s no better primer for gluten-free baking for this time of year than Jeanne Sauvage’s book Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays. My sister had to stop eating gluten earlier this year, so we’ll be baking a lot from this book in just a few days.

An Everlasting Meal

I was so inspired by Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal when I first read it last spring and I continue to return to it when I need a little help being creative with the bits and scraps that so often fill my fridge and pantry. It’s a great gift for people who do better with a trace of an idea than a strictly structured recipe.

Pure Vanilla

I am devoted to vanilla. I am in the habit of buying my vanilla beans by the pound and try to tuck those fragrant seeds into nearly everything I jam or bake. Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever celebrates all things vanilla and everytime I pick it up, I find something new in it that I want to make (today I’m anxious to try the Nutty Vanilla Spread on page 132).

Food in Jars

I realize it’s probably in bad taste to put one’s own cookbook in their gift guide. But I can’t help but think it might just make a really nice present for someone who’s been itching to start canning.


Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Phlipot’s Ripe gorgeous book that is great for lovers of fruits, vegetables, reliable recipes, and vivid photography. It’s lovely enough to leave on your coffee table, but should really be taken to the kitchen and used. Buy it for anyone who needs a culinary lift.

Whole Grains for a New Generation

Whole Grains for a New Generation by Liana Krisoff (she also wrote Canning for a New Generation) is my current cookbook obsession. I’ve made four dishes from it in the last week and have at least 20 more earmarked for the coming months. It makes whole grains incredibly accessible and has me using things like rye flour and wild rice, which are two ingredients that have rarely entered my kitchen before. And now I adore them both.

The Meat Lover Meatless Celebrations

I did a whole lot of raving about Kim O’Donnel’s new book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations over on Table Matters last month, but I can’t help but recommend it again here. It really is such a good book for those of us who want to cut back on meat without giving up anything in flavor.

The Kimchi Cookbook

The Kimchi Cookbook by Lauryn Chun and Olga Massov is such an awesome book for fans of Korean fermented pickles. It’s got a ton of useful information and the recipes are varied. I’ve long been intimidated by kimchi, but this book helped me get over my fears and dive in.

Dinner A Love Story

If you believe in home cooked dinners, eating with family, around a dining table, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach should be on your shelf. It’s filled with sturdy, appealing recipes and stories from the dinnertime trenches.

The Homemade Pantry

Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry continues to be one of my favorites for basics. Its heft and photography, coupled with Alana’s words and recipes, make for such a pleasing cookbook experience. I still get a kick out of the fact that the recipes are arranged by the aisle on which they’d be found in the grocery store.

The Food 52 Cookbook

I collect old community cookbooks and have often felt a pang that they might be going the way of console TVs and cassette tapes. However, the Food52 community and cookbooks give me hope. Much like those old books, they gather the best from friends and neighbors (no matter how far-flung) and bring them together. The recently released The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 does a beautiful job of this type of community collation.

Pure Beef

In recent years, many of us have made the switch from grocery store beef of unknown providence, to local, grass-fed beef, raised by farmers we know. However, with this kind of meat buying comes foreign cuts and untold cooking challenges. Lynne Curry’s new book, Pure Beef is sturdy, informative, and seriously useful if you’ve bought in on a cow and don’t know what the heck to do with the package labeled shoulder tender.

The Book of Kale

Kale is hot and you can count me among its many fans. In my search for more ways to incorporate this dark, leafy green into my diet, I stumbled across The Book of Kale by Sharon Hanna. It includes more than 80 ways to prepare kale. Never again can your family complain that they’re tired of kale, since you’ll be cooking it a new way every week!


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20 thoughts on "Holiday Giving: Cookbooks for Everyone!"

  • I don’t think it’s in poor taste to add your own book. It’s rapidly become my favorite cookbook (and I have quite a few as well) and I use it regularly! I’ll definitely have to pick up a few of the ones you mentioned (KALE! One of my favorite foods!).

  • I agree with Lynne. Don’t yet have your book but will get it next chance. If it’s anything like your online posting, it’s wonderful. Thanks so much for your kind and helpful presence.

  • I’ve already gifted your book to a bunch of apartment-dwelling friends to get them hooked on canning – not in bad taste at all! And I’m verrrry intrigued by that kale book….

  • I’m totally jonesing for the Liana Krisoff book! I just love her. Also, I’m happy to learn about this beef cookbook. I currently have a grassfed roast in my freezer that I am hemming and hawing about cooking correctly. Happy Holidays, Marisa!

  • I have already made two recipes from Gluten Free Baking for the Holidays and both turned out great!! In fact, I made the jam thumbprint cookies using the mixed citrus marmalade recipe from your book. The combo of sweet, bright, slightly bitter marmalade and rich butter cookie was delicious!

  • I am a (good)cookbook junkie, I would dive into everyone of these. My family has different food restrictions, so I am always looking for dishes that satisfy everyone. I love being shown new cookbooks and recipes!

  • I love to see what cookbooks other people are reading/recommending. I feel like I purchase tons of them, but I guess with 3000 published a year I am barely making a dent in that.

    I don’t think it is poor taste at all to mention your book. You’ve put a lot of work into and should be proud of it.

    Happy Monday to you!

  • I am SO buying myself the food in jars cookbook if Santa doesn’t bring it for Christmas – I also would like to have the homemade pantry cookbook. I think I might need to cull through my collection of little used cookbooks to make room for some new favorites though. . .
    btw, we don’t mind a little shameless promotion – good for you for touting your hard work – I can’t even imagine how much time and love you put into it!!

  • I totally recommend your cookbook to everyone – especially students in my own canning classes. As much as I love cookbooks, I have a hard time splurging on brand new ones for myself – and yet, I bought yours brand new and have loved it ever since. It absolutely is in my 10 best list!

  • I gifted “Food in Jars” along with 12 jars and a canning tools set to our Adopt-a-Family drive at work. The request on the tag was for a cookbook for a family interested in cooking. I thought that this would be a fun twist on the request since canning is so fun and beautiful. I’m going to pick up the Marmalade book for myself for an upcoming trip to Palm Springs. We will be staying in a house with ripe citrus trees outside and a fully stocked kitchen. I will buy jars out there and ship them home before I leave. I will also try out your lemon curd recipe. I can’t wait!

  • “I realize it’s probably in bad taste to put one’s own cookbook in their gift guide.”
    Pfui. If you don’t believe in your own work, who else will?

  • What great books! I have 2 on this list but all of them look wonderful. I’m clicking over to see this kale one more closely–love the stuff and could eat it every day!

  • All the cookbooks look great. I’d love to add more to my collection, but I think like you I need to start gifting them in order to make room for new ones 🙂

  • Dang right, your book should be on that list. It’s my not-so-secret weapon. Great ideas in that food in jars. Marmalade looks interesting. Real snacks. Mmm. Hm.

  • I got your book for Christmas! Yippee! I simply LOVE it! It’s so well done, and bigger than I expected (more pages). I also love the smell of a new book – something I’m afraid I’ve been addicted to since I was a young’un. Thank you so much for creating your book! Merry Christmas!

  • Your cookbook would of course be the best to win (if possible) as we had a terrible fire and I lost all of my cookbooks. I had quite a large collection and feel as though the loss of my books was the greatest loss. My canning jars, etc. can be replaced but I had such a strong connection with my books.
    If you are still in town (PDX) make sure you go to Pok Pok for some great food.

  • I am new to your blog and I love everything that I am seeing. These look like excellent books for just what I am looking to cook. Can’t wait to try some good recipes.