16 Best Cookbooks For Entertaining

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When you're planning a gathering for family and friends, it's likely that food is at the heart of your process. However, one of the most challenging parts of preparing food for others is choosing the right recipes. The tasks of constructing menus and figuring out cooking timelines can be nothing short of daunting. That's precisely why cookbooks devoted to entertaining are such treasures. We absolutely love these kinds of cookbooks because they are designed to help you host the best gatherings possible within the comfort of your own home.

From cookbooks focusing on desserts to those dedicated to creating stunning snack boards and even those that provide full menus for all types of gatherings, having a couple of these cookbooks on your shelf can make the preparation for your upcoming event simpler and more enjoyable. It's akin to cooking with a buddy who has already done all the planning for you, easing your stress and boosting your confidence as a host.

Shabbat by Adeena Sussman

If you and your family gather around the table for Shabbat, or if you're just looking to try some exquisite, memorable meals, Adeena Sussman's newest cookbook "Shabbat" is one of the best choices. This beautifully rendered cookbook is packed full of offerings that are stunning and will have you eagerly anticipating Shabbat week after week.

Since Shabbat is typically a time when family and friends come together, every recipe in this cookbook is designed with this idea of togetherness in mind, making it a wonderful resource for hosting loved ones at any time of the year. Plus, if you're already a fan of "Sababa," also by Sussman, this cookbook will be a fabulous addition to your collection. It covers everything from your challah to dessert. And with a whole chapter devoted to kugel, it's hard not to fall in love with the comforting recipes in this book.

Entertaining by Martha Stewart

When it comes to the art of gathering and creating welcoming spaces for your family and friends, "Entertaining" by Martha Stewart is an enduring classic. This book is a testament to Stewart's lasting impact on the world of culinary hospitality. Uniquely structured, it features sections dedicated to recipes tailored for specific types of events, such as omelet gatherings, kitchen parties, and even weddings. Additionally, you will find thoughtfully curated menus for holiday celebrations and an array of delectable desserts perfect for any gathering.

Rich in photographs and details, the book also offers insights into Stewart's inspirations for cooking and bringing people together. "Entertaining" is not just an exceptional guide for aspiring hosts seeking to master the art of entertaining; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into Stewart's world and methodologies. This book is a valuable resource for anyone aiming to achieve excellence in hosting, even if you've been at it for some time.

Make It Ahead by Ina Garten

In "Make It Ahead," the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten offers a treasure trove of solutions for those who love entertaining but often struggle with preparing large meals for gatherings. When planning such events, we frequently ponder whether it's possible to make something ahead to save time on the day of the big occasion. However, the dilemma is that meals often don't taste the same if made too far in advance.

This is where "Make It Ahead" comes in, adeptly answering the question of what dishes are appropriate to prepare ahead of time. In fact, the cookbook goes a step further, featuring offerings that are enhanced by allowing flavors to meld and develop with a bit of time. It includes whole menus devoted to preparing your food in advance, which can be a real lifesaver. This cookbook is not just about saving time; it's about enriching your experience, allowing you to focus on the best part of entertaining: the people surrounding your table.

The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich

When you've stocked your bar in anticipation of your next gathering, the next step is mastering the art of cocktail-making to delight your guests. While you might already have a repertoire of go-to drinks, and experimenting can be a fabulous part of the hosting experience, having "The Ultimate Bar Book" by Mittie Hellmich on hand ensures that you're well-equipped to mix up your friends' favorite classic cocktails.

This James Beard Award-nominated mixing buddy boasts a delicious collection of over 1,000 cocktail recipes, catering to traditional cocktail lovers and those seeking more inventive concoctions. Although the book is text-heavy, it thoughtfully includes an illustration for each drink offering a glass recommendation so you can also perfect the presentation. Even in the absence of photos, "The Ultimate Bar Book" stands out as a visually appealing and informative resource packed with valuable insights if you're looking to elevate your mixology skills and impress your guests.

Tables & Spreads by Shelly Westerhausen

The reveal of a beautiful table full of food can sometimes eclipse even the most stunning decorations, and Shelly Westerhausen's "Tables & Spreads" is the quintessential guide for creating such memorable moments. The first part of this book provides comprehensive details on everything from selecting the perfect cheeses to embellishing your table with beautiful flowers, thereby transforming your dining space into an aesthetic masterpiece.

As you delve further into the book, part two offers plenty of recipes, each curated to suit various occasions you may be hosting. Whether it's a casual get-together or a more formal affair, this section ensures you have the perfect culinary pairings at your fingertips. Beyond its practical advice, this cookbook's pages are interspersed with absolutely stunning photographs coupled with beautiful illustrations that guide and inspire. This blend of visual artistry and informative content makes "Tables & Spreads" a useful book and a beautiful addition to your party collection.

For the Table by Anna Stockwell

When you begin thinking about your next party menu, you might initially imagine it filled with a variety of main courses, sides, and some fabulous desserts. "For the Table" by Anna Stockwell, however, encourages a different approach. Instead of a lineup of endless dishes and a complex menu, Stockwell presents meals composed of a couple of main dishes that beautifully complement each other, simplifying your menu planning. While the book does include appetizers and other items, the main goal is to streamline the planning process, not to overcomplicate it.

By focusing on a less complicated meal, "For the Table" aims to create a more enjoyable gathering for both your guests and yourself. It's not just about the food; the book also offers plenty of advice on drinks and activities that can enhance the time spent with guests around the table. This approach ensures that your party is memorable for its ease and enjoyment, making "For the Table" a valuable resource for anyone looking to host a relaxed yet fun event.

The Cook You Want to Be by Andy Baraghani

Cooking for a crowd demands a particular level of confidence, and if you're looking to build or enhance this confidence, "The Cook You Want to Be" from Andy Baraghani is an excellent resource. This cookbook is designed to meet you at your current skill level and guide you in honing your culinary instincts and abilities, particularly with the goal of hosting delightful dinner parties. Authored by a passionate food lover, the book is instructive and inspirational, kindling a love for cooking in those who delve into its pages.

The structure of "The Cook You Want to Be" is particularly user-friendly, with sections divided into broad categories such as "Fish, I Love You" and "Soup Obsessed." This organization allows you to easily navigate to the sections most relevant to your needs or interests. Whether you're looking to impress with a seafood feast or warm hearts with a comforting bowl of soup, this cookbook provides the guidance and inspiration needed to elevate your cooking and entertain with confidence and joy.

Everyday Entertaining by Elizabeth Van Lierde

The creator of the massively successful blog The College Housewife, Elizabeth Van Lierde, brings her infectious enthusiasm for cooking into "Everyday Entertaining," which shines as much for its recipes as for the author's obvious passion for food. The photos in the cookbook are beautifully styled and bright, radiating the kind of joy that makes entertaining at home feel as fabulous as going out to a fancy restaurant with friends and family.

The cookbook is packed with a variety of drinks, boards, and incredible recipes that are perfect for everything from a big party to an intimate date night at home. Adding to its charm, there's a whole section devoted to preparing sides to take to someone else's house, which is a delightful touch for those who love to contribute to shared meals. Plus, when it comes to holiday dining, this cookbook has you covered with recipes for a whole feast. This one is more than a collection of recipes; it's a celebration of home entertaining, offering inspiration and guidance for making any gathering, whether casual or elaborate, a memorable event.

Everyday Snack Tray by Frances Largeman-Roth

We recently had the opportunity to delve into a pre-release copy of "Everyday Snack Tray" by Frances Largeman-Roth, a cookbook that promises to make daily snacking a delightful experience. This book is particularly appealing for those who frequently have small groups hanging around the house, but it's also great for hosting larger gatherings during various holidays. It's not just a cookbook; it's a year-round guide to making every snacking occasion, whether casual or celebratory, absolutely perfect.

"Everyday Snack Tray" is thoughtfully broken down into fall, winter, spring, and summer, offering snack board ideas for each, tailored to seasonal occasions throughout the year. From festive holiday spreads to welcoming the first day of school with a special snack and even offering a fun break during the relentless winter season, this book covers a wide range of situations. The focus here is less on formal dinner parties and more on enhancing those in-between-meal snacking moments.

100 Morning Treats by Sarah Kieffer

When we think of hosting, it's often dinner parties or snack-filled gatherings that come to mind. However, "100 Morning Treats" by Sarah Kieffer offers a refreshing twist, focusing on breakfast pastries that are perfect for a.m. entertaining scenarios. This cookbook is a wonderful resource for occasions like Christmas morning or for events typically scheduled in the morning or early afternoon, such as baby or wedding showers.

The book is a baking enthusiast's dream, featuring a range of recipes from quick breads and muffins to sweet, delectable donuts. But it's not just about the sweet treats; Kieffer also includes savory options, expanding the possibilities for your breakfast spread. The idea of transforming these recipes into a snackable breakfast buffet is particularly appealing, offering a delicious way to entertain guests in the earlier hours. "100 Morning Treats" goes beyond the conventional focus on evening gatherings, proving that entertaining can be just as delightful and delicious in the morning — as long as there's coffee.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

"Tequila Mockingbird" by Tim Federle is a unique blend of entertainment and wit, making it an ideal pick for both the host and the literary pun enthusiast. This book is brimming with cleverly themed drink recipes that add a bookish flair to any gathering. While it's a fantastic choice for book clubs, its appeal extends far beyond that, offering cocktail options that can be tailored to match the theme of various seasonal celebrations.

In addition to its array of creative cocktails, "Tequila Mockingbird" includes a dedicated section on snacks, providing everything you need to host a literary-themed party. These recipes allow you to celebrate your favorite classic books in style, turning a simple gathering into an homage to beloved literature. Whether you're planning a casual get-together or a more thematic event, "Tequila Mockingbird" serves as both a practical guide for hosting and a conversation starter, sure to delight guests with its unique and playful approach to entertaining.

Appetites by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain's cookbook "Appetites" is a true reflection of his iconic, snarky, and sometimes biting wit. It encapsulates his extensive experience with meticulous menu planning and his deep love for food and travel, all converging into an impressive guide for the home entertainer. What makes this cookbook particularly appealing is its focus on simple recipes executed to perfection, like the classic eggs benedict, while also offering creative twists that elevate familiar favorites into exciting new culinary territories.

Having a cookbook by Anthony Bourdain by your side ensures that your dishes are not just meals but experiences that are sure to wow and impress your guests. Whether you're a long-time fan of Bourdain's work or new to his culinary philosophy, "Appetites" serves as both a remembrance of his legacy and a practical tool for anyone looking to bring a touch of adventure and expertise to their home cooking and entertaining life.

Celebrate with Babs by Barbara Costello

If your home has become the go-to spot for holidays with family and friends, "Celebrate with Babs" by Barbara Costello is poised to be your next favorite cookbook. While you may already have a collection of favorite dishes from years of hosting, this cookbook brings something new to the table with ready-to-go menus for various occasions, including summer barbecues, Mother's Day brunches, and even Christmas Day celebrations, among many others.

Each recipe in "Celebrate with Babs" comes with detailed instructions and a narrative providing context and personal touches. Costello also shares useful tips on making dishes ahead of time. A word to the wise if your family loves tradition: It might be wise to gradually introduce new dishes from the cookbook rather than all at once. Try incorporating one or two of Costello's recipes that catch your eye into your existing menu and see how they fare against your tried-and-true favorites. This approach allows you to blend the comfort of the familiar with the excitement of the new, keeping your holiday gatherings both fresh and delightful without giving anyone whiplash.

One Tin Bakes Easy by Edd Kimber

If you enjoy contributing desserts to gatherings or preparing sweet treats for a group, but find the challenges of presentation and transportation daunting, "One Tin Bakes Easy" by Edd Kimber could be the perfect solution. This cookbook is filled with a variety of beautiful and delicious baked goods, all designed to be made and served directly from a baking tin.

One of the standout features of "One Tin Bakes Easy" is its accommodation of different dietary needs. It offers many options for those who follow gluten-free or vegan diets, ensuring that everyone can enjoy these delightful treats. The recipes are versatile in terms of serving sizes too, giving you the option to bake in either an 8-inch square pan for a smaller yield or a 9 by 13-inch rectangular pan for larger gatherings. This flexibility, combined with the ease of transport and attractive presentation of tin bakes, makes "One Tin Bakes Easy" an invaluable resource for anyone who loves to share the joy of homemade desserts.

Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz

Claire Saffitz, in her cookbook "Dessert Person," operates under the belief that there are no inherent dessert or non-dessert people; rather, there are those who simply haven't found their sweet spot yet, and her cookbook might just be the catalyst to turn you into a dedicated dessert enthusiast. With "Dessert Person" in your culinary arsenal, your gatherings are likely to evolve into showcases of delectable desserts.

Choosing the right dessert for an event can sometimes be a challenge, but one of the most intriguing features of this cookbook is its recipe matrix. This matrix categorizes recipes based on their level of difficulty and the time required to make them, enabling you to select a dessert that aligns with your skill level and time constraints.

"Dessert Person" is thoughtfully divided into sections covering all types of desserts you could hope for, including pies and tarts, cakes, breads, and even some savory options. This diversity ensures that regardless of your preference or baking prowess, there's something in it for every aspiring baker.

Southern Fried Sass by Ginger Minj

"Southern Fried Sass," crafted by the beloved drag star Ginger Minj, is as delightful and entertaining as its author. This book is infused with anecdotes and advice from Minj focusing on building confidence and adding joy to life. It's a blend of personality and culinary guidance. The charm of the book lies not only in its culinary offerings but also in the personality it brings to the table.

We were particularly impressed by the simplicity and tastiness of the recipes. They are straightforward yet scrumptious, making them suitable for cooks of varying expertise. For those planning a complete Southern-style Thanksgiving menu, "Southern Fried Sass" has everything you need, including a standout cranberry sauce recipe that we tried and loved. The recipes in this cookbook are an invitation to infuse your gatherings with Minj's unique brand of sass and warmth, ensuring they become regular features in your hosting rotation.