15 Best Cookbooks To Gift For The 2023 Holiday Season

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If you're on the hunt for the perfect holiday gift for the food enthusiasts on your shopping list, why not consider a fabulous cookbook that can elevate their home cooking experience to new heights? With an overwhelming array of cookbooks published in 2023, not to mention the timeless classics that continue to captivate, it can be quite a challenge to sift through and identify which cookbooks truly stand out as exceptional gifts.

Bearing this in mind, we've meticulously curated a list of potential gift recipients you may be shopping for and paired them with what we believe are some of the finest cookbooks in their respective categories. For each recommended cookbook, we've either had the personal pleasure of exploring the book firsthand or conducted thorough research through reviews, press releases, and expert recommendations. From the coffee-obsessed barista to the avid historian and even the friend who never fails to regale you with the most enthralling fish tales, we're confident that our selections represent some of the most thoughtful and inspired gifts you can present this holiday season.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by Countryman Press and Simon & Schuster.

For the minimalist: Crave by Karen Akunowicz

When you crack open a cookbook, there's a handful of things you probably look for captivating imagery, innovative recipes, and top-notch instructions. "Crave" by Karen Akunowicz checks all these boxes, but it also does a phenomenal job of balancing these elements while keeping things refreshingly simple. The required ingredients won't have you scouring the grocery aisles for hours, and the instructions are exceptionally clear and easy to follow.

The cookbook's design is quite streamlined, avoiding any unnecessary complexity from imagery. The photos that are included are stunning, and the book isn't overcrowded with pictures. That's precisely why we adore this cookbook as a gift for the minimalist in your life. They'll relish the bold flavors and appreciate the lack of distractions.

Furthermore, culinary instructions are thoughtfully divided into categories that cater to our common cravings. Yearning for something carby and cheesy? You'll find a plethora of options here. Battling a persistent sweet tooth that just won't let up? Indulge in the perfect treat found within these pages.

For the newlyweds: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Navigating the realm of gift-giving for a newlywed couple during the holidays can indeed be a tad daunting. After their wedding and shower, they've likely been lavishly inundated with all sorts of gifts. What could you possibly offer that stands out yet remains meaningful? We believe an aesthetically beautiful and substantial cookbook is the choice, especially when it's a classic like Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Opting for such an iconic tome renders your gift not just thoughtful but timeless.

This book is an indispensable guide for any couple eager to explore the delights of French cuisine within the cozy confines of their own kitchen. It deftly guides you through the essentials of quality cooking tools and aids in selecting the finest ingredients from local American grocery stores. Moreover, Julia Child's kitchen tips are delivered in an engaging style and precise instruction, making the art of French cooking accessible and transforming even the most daunting recipes into achievable culinary adventures.

For the barista: How To Make The Best Coffee At Home by James Hoffmann

If your barista friend is anything like us, they've given ample thought to crafting incredible coffee right in the comfort of their own home. There's always a place for our beloved coffee haunts, but there's something uniquely satisfying about making that perfect cup with your own know-how. For those who find themselves in a perpetual quest to elevate their coffee game, this cookbook is the perfect tool to help do just that. It's not only a gift to them but also to all who visit their home, as they'll undoubtedly be eager to showcase newly refined barista skills.

We're particularly fond of "How to Make the Best Coffee at Home" because it feels like the ideal gift. It's both informative and beautiful. It's perfect for placing near a home coffee bar to add a touch of elegance and style. Your giftee will definitely want to keep this book in reach for all the information it provides. It comes from the mind of James Hoffmann, a coffee expert who has amassed a following of well over one and a half million who count on his sage advice and thoughts on coffee. Not to mention, he is a co-founder of Square Mile Coffee, a company that blazed the trail of third-wave roasting.

For the sweet tooth: Snacking Bakes by Yossy Arefi

We all have that friend or family member whose cravings for sugar know no bounds, someone who could relish a sugary delight at any hour of the day. While packaged treats often suffice for these cravings, we know we can help them elevate their indulgence. This is precisely where cookbooks like "Snacking Bakes" by Yossy Arefi make their grand entrance. This compendium assembles an array of recipes that are not only delectable but also quick to whip up, typically in under an hour, employing straightforward techniques without any overly complicated or fancy ingredients.

This is what sets "Snacking Bakes" apart and makes it an exceptional choice. By gifting this cookbook, you're offering delicious recipes that help your friends swiftly satisfy their sweet cravings with minimal effort. It enables them to prepare their treat and seamlessly continue with their day.

Inside the pages of this cookbook, you'll uncover a treasure trove of both classic and innovative treats. From timeless brownies, blondies, and chocolate chip cookies to new favorites destined for adoration, like the brown sugar peach cake and banana brownie cookies.

For the new cook: Basics with Babish by Andrew Rea

If your shopping list includes a budding chef or someone yearning to refine their culinary skills, the "Basics with Babish" cookbook by Andrew Rea is a stellar gift choice. Throughout the cookbook, Rea's tone is thoughtful, generous, and laced with a touch of self-deprecation. The chapters are thoughtfully organized by major food groups such as pizza, eggs, seafood, beef, and desserts, to name just a few. Each recipe is prefaced with candid anecdotes of how Rea himself has stumbled while making the dish, coupled with a wealth of tips for troubleshooting should the home chef encounter similar mishaps.

We love this book for the new cook in your life because it approaches cooking from the perspective that mistakes are an absolutely vital part of cooking. These kitchen blunders are presented not as failures but as critical stepping stones to culinary proficiency. The foundational philosophy of "Basics with Babish" offers reassurance and encouragement to your novice cook, reinforcing the notion that perseverance is key and learning the principles is the easiest way to adjust and make better food from scratch.

For the breadmaker: The Perfect Loaf by Maurizio Leo

There's not much that makes a home smell better than freshly baked bread. Maurizio Leo's "The Perfect Loaf" has plenty of recipes to help ensure that delicious smell is more than just a scent. The breadmaker on your list will appreciate this cookbook for helping take their bread-making from good to, well, as the title suggests, perfection.

What we find particularly commendable about this book is its detailed exploration of the somewhat elusive and often perplexing world of sourdough bread. It's evident that Leo has invested a significant amount of time and dedication to demystify this intricate art. This book is full of answers to the myriad questions that bakers, whether novices or those looking to refine their craft, frequently encounter. It offers clarity where there is confusion and encouragement where there is frustration. Every page brings the reader closer to achieving that crowning glory of a perfectly baked loaf.

For the historian: Baking Yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis

It may come as a delightful surprise to discover that there's a cookbook perfectly suited for history enthusiasts that isn't a relic. B. Dylan Hollis' "Baking Yesteryear" is a remarkable anthology of recipes spanning the first 80 years of the 20th century, offering readers a unique opportunity to step back in time into retro cookbooks of the United States, United Kingdom, and Bermuda. This cookbook is meticulously organized by decade, allowing your historian friend to dive into the culinary delights of the Roaring Twenties or explore the trends of the Baby Boom era.

Take, for example, the interesting-named dessert Food for the Gods. This fun recipe includes eggs, walnuts, salt, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and dried fruits. By whipping those eggs into stiff white peaks, mixing in fruits and other ingredients, and then baking it, you end up with a dessert with a fun texture we don't see as often today. It's unique but sweetly familiar all at the same time, just like many other of the book's recipes.

For the angler: Fish Butchery by Josh Niland

When word gets out that a James Beard award-winning author is releasing a new cookbook, it invariably piques our interest. Josh Niland's "Fish Butchery" is no exception and is an extraordinary gem. This cookbook stands out due to its focused approach to fish preparation, emphasizing the use of as much fish as possible to minimize waste and champion sustainability, all while maintaining an unwavering commitment to true flavors.

What makes this one of the best cookbooks to gift is its organization into three primary sections — catch, cut, and craft. Each section provides a comprehensive guide from the moment the fish is caught to the final presentation on the plate. The book is a treasure trove of practical knowledge, and it's also a visual delight. With fun drawings and stunning photographs adorning its pages, "Fish Butchery" is as engaging to read as it is enlightening. The combination of compelling imagery and insightful content makes it an enjoyable journey through the art of fish preparation.

For fans of the Big Easy: Cooking for the Culture by Toya Boudy

Toya Boudy's "Cooking for the Culture" is a vibrant, flavorful journey through the New Orleans foodscape, beautifully captured in one book. Boudy, a native of New Orleans, brings unparalleled expertise and authenticity to her hometown's cuisine, making each recipe not just a dish but a story steeped in tradition, heritage, and personal history.

When it comes to gift shopping, we often look for something that ticks multiple boxes, and this cookbook does. Beyond satisfying the cravings of your gumbo and traditional jambalaya enthusiast friends, it's a treasure for anyone who appreciates a well-crafted cookbook brimming with stories. The quality of the writing elevates it from a mere collection of recipes to a rich narrative with culinary and cultural insights.

Fans of Boudy will particularly relish the experience, as "Cooking for the Culture" often transcends the boundaries of a traditional cookbook to feel like a memoir. It's a personal, heartfelt exploration of dishes that have shaped Boudy's life and the vibrant community from which they originate.

For the pasta lover: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

When a cookbook is celebrating a significant milestone, such as a 30th anniversary, it's a testament to its enduring appeal and the quality of its content. This is undeniably the case with Marcella Hazan's classic Italian cookbook, "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking," which has become an indispensable part of many cookbook collections. This one brings to the table everything you need to master the art of classic Italian cooking, and its 30-year legacy is a clear indicator of its value and authenticity.

Marcella Hazan had a special talent for translating the essence of Italian cooking into recipes that are accessible to cooks of all levels. Gifting this book means offering almost 500 recipes that promise to fill any home with the delightful aromas of Italy. From carbohydrate-packed delights to sumptuous sauces, each recipe is sure to satisfy your Italian food-loving friend. What makes this cookbook stand out even more is its aesthetic choice. Instead of glossy photographs, it features charming line drawings, lending it a timeless quality that transcends trends and fads.

For the vegan: Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: by Thug Kitchen

Thug Kitchen's original cookbook, which has since been rebranded as Bad Manners, remains an iconic and trailblazing publication in the world of plant-based cooking. This cookbook has something for everyone: vegans, vegetarians, and even those who typically prefer meat on their plates. The dishes are so flavorful and well-conceived that even staunch carnivores might find themselves unexpectedly smitten.

One standout recipe is the chickpea dumpling soup, which comes with fabulous instructions for making dumplings that are excellent. This particular dish has the power to become a staple in many kitchens, vegan or otherwise. With its variety of recipes, it's possible for newcomers to feel a bit overwhelmed at first, but the journey through its pages is undoubtedly rewarding.

What really sets Thug Kitchen apart, however, is its unique and unapologetic tone. The recipes are penned with a refreshing spunk and sprinkled with a fair share of unfiltered, colorful language. It's this bold approach to cooking and communicating about food that makes "Thug Kitchen" a memorable standout.

For the traveler: South of Somewhere by Dale Gray

Dale Gray's "South of Somewhere" is a captivating exploration of culinary diversity inspired by the various places she has called home. Her journey from South Africa to South Korea to the American South has culminated in a collection of recipes that are as unique as her travels. This book is a celebration of global flavors and the way they can come together to create something extraordinary.

What makes this cookbook particularly appealing to travelers and culinary adventurers is its ability to transport the reader to different corners of the world through taste while simultaneously blending these flavors together to create something new. Gray skillfully brings together the distinct flavors of each culture, not by separating them but by integrating them into a harmonious culinary experience. For example, she offers a recipe essential to the American South, pimento cheese, but adds in ingredients popular in South Africa, Peppadew peppers in lieu of pimento and Gouda cheese. This combination creates something brand-new and, to us, represents the urge we feel after traveling to integrate our travels into our everyday lives. 

For the perfectionist: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

We don't necessarily know everything about the perfectionists on your holiday shopping list, but if they're anything like the perfectionists on our list, then they are always looking for ways to do things better. Be it their job, relationships, hobby, or even cooking, they strive to improve. If that sounds right, then "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat may very well be the best you could provide.

The book is structured around the four titular elements — salt, fat, acid, and heat. Each section is a comprehensive exploration of how these components influence the taste, texture, and overall success of a dish. For the perfectionist, this approach to cooking is like a map that can plot an easily charitable course to culinary treasures. They will learn not just how to follow a recipe but how to understand and manipulate the fundamental principles of food science in cooking to achieve the best possible result.

For the entertainer: Brilliant Bites by Maegan Brown

When it comes to entertaining, we are completely smitten with the art of presenting appetizers. The recipes within "Brilliant Bites" are not only seasonally appropriate for your holiday gatherings but also feature perennial favorites that your entertainer will relish crafting throughout the year. Each recipe is thoughtfully crafted to be both snackable and shareable, encouraging communal dining and conversation. This allows even the most seasoned host to infuse their gatherings with something novel and tantalizing. From visually charming morsels to scrumptiously satisfying bites, it's nearly impossible to make a misstep with the delightful offerings in this incredibly fun cookbook. 

Whether it's a sophisticated soirée or a casual get-together, these recipes cater to every occasion. Your entertainer will love serving up Jack-o'-Lantern Mac 'n' Cheese Bites during that Halloween gathering or even Eggs Benedict Bites during their Mother's Day brunch. The book also includes a whole bunch of dips for them to enjoy alongside these appetizers.

For the college student: The Dorm Chef's Ultimate Cookbook by Alex Johnson

For many college students, enjoying decent food while living in the dorms and attending college can be nothing short of a challenge. If the college student in your life is suffering from poor food options, "The Dorm Chef's Ultimate Cookbook" might be the perfect cookbook this holiday season. Brimming with recipes that are not only budget-friendly but also quick and easy to prepare, it's perfectly tailored for the dormitory lifestyle.

After all, cooking in the confined space of a dorm room comes with its unique set of challenges, ones that a chef in a traditional kitchen might never encounter. Limited appliances, minimal storage, and tight spaces are just a few of the hurdles. This cookbook gift acknowledges these constraints and creatively turns them into opportunities. Moreover, the cookbook doesn't just offer recipes; it's a guide to resourceful cooking and smart grocery shopping and budgeting.