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I say this every year, but the 2021 cookbook crop was truly exceptional. From new weeknight vegetarian favorites to swoon-worthy cookies, I found so much joy and inspiration in the things that were published in the past 12 months. And I wasn’t the only one. The rest of the Simply Recipes Editors devoured the many, many cookbooks that came out this year and have all sorts of thoughts and opinions. So, if you’re looking to add a little something-something to your bookshelf in 2022, or need a last-minute holiday gift, you can’t go wrong with one of these 12 editor favorites.
To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart
When I asked the Simply Recipes Editors to share their favorite cookbooks for 2021, this was by far the most popular answer. “I've been cooking from this book ever since we first started considering it for our Summer Cookbook Club,” explains Editor in Chief Emma Christensen. “The recipes balance healthy and comfort, and are easy to throw together after a long day at work.” Like all of Hetty’s recipes, this cookbook is chock-full of creative, vegetarian dishes you’ll want to make over and over again.
Read More: Flourless Soy Sauce Brownies from “To Asia, With Love”
The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat
Want to eat less meat but don’t know where or how to start? Jenny Rosenstrach of “Dinner a Love Story” has you covered with her new cookbook. “I love Jenny's reasonable, family-focused approach to eating less meat: just start with the weekdays!” Explains Senior Editor Cambria Bold. “For families new to eating vegetarian, it's an encouraging, less-stress approach—and it certainly helps that her recipes are all very doable and delicious.”
Colombiana: A Rediscovery of Recipes and Rituals from the Soul of Colombia
A mix of classic and modern recipes, “Colombiana” is a deeply rich and beautiful cookbook that deserves a spot on your bookshelf. “To find a cookbook solely dedicated to Colombian cuisine made me smile from ear to ear,” says Editor Milagros Cruz. “You'll want to make every single recipe in this book—trust me!” Don’t know where to start? Milagros suggests the arepas.
The Pocket Pawpaw Cookbook
Our very own Senior Editor Sara Bir wrote a cookbook all about pawpaws this year, and we couldn’t help but give it a shout-out. What are pawpaws? You can learn all about them by listening to her and Dan Pashman go on a pawpaw hunt in an episode of the Sporkful podcast.
Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora
Bryant Terry takes a thoughtful, community-focused approach to all of his work, and his latest cookbook really highlights that. It’s the first book in his new imprint with Ten Speed Press, 4 Color Books, which focuses on the BIPOC chefs, writers, and innovators who are creating a healthier and just world. “Black Food” is a compilation of more than 100 Black creators—and the recipes and stories are an essential (and delicious) read.
Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories
The queen of the kitchen and much-beloved food celebrity is back with yet another cookbook—and you don’t want to miss out. “Sitting down with a Nigella Lawson cookbook is unlike sitting down with any other cookbook; her writing about cooking and food is so insightful, evocative, and overflowing with enthusiasm for the good eating life,” says Cambria. “She reminds me what it can feel like to truly enjoy cooking and eating; and man, do I need that reminder sometimes when the daily grind gets me down."
The Arabesque Table: Contemporary Recipes from the Arab World
This is truly one of the most gorgeous cookbooks I’ve ever come across. I want to eat every single thing, and Myo Quinn, an Editor for Simply Recipes, agrees. “Come for the Date and Cardamom Coffee Tiramisu, stay for the incredible stories. Reem Kassis can turn words into magic!” Says Myo.
Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top
I’ve been waiting for this cookbook to come out ever since the pub date was announced. Vallery Lomas is brimming with baking wisdom and creative recipes (have you seen her tips on chocolate chip cookies?), and there’s something for every kind of baker in her debut book. I’m also very smitten with the narrative surrounding each recipe—the stories she weaves in about her life make everything that much sweeter.
Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus
We featured “Ripe Figs” as the August pick for our Summer Cookbook Club, and it lived up to all our expectations. “Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book is like a love letter to the people that feed us and to the stories told over dinners shared and celebrated both near and far,” explains Senior Editor Summer Miller. “If you want a book that goes beyond recipes and gets to the heart of why we eat—this is it.”
Read More: Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)
The Kitchen Without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs
Our Commerce Editor Siobhan Wallace is the co-author of this inspiring cookbook that came out this year. The book features 70 recipes from immigrants and refugees from the Eat Offbeat catering company. You can look forward to things like Iraqi Biryani, Sri Lankan curry dhal, and Nepali pizza. “The chefs in this book give you hope for the future,” Siobhan explains. “And the recipes they've brought with them are very yummy too!”
Food52 Big Little Recipes: Good Food with Minimal Ingredients and Maximal Flavor
“Did you know that the secret to sanity-saving quick and easy weeknight meals is a tiny, smart ingredient list? I know now thanks to this gorgeous cookbook,” says Myo. Go ahead, slay weeknight dinner with this new release.
Cookies: The New Classics
How many more cookie recipes do you really need? It turns out, the answer is exactly 100. And all of them can be found in Jesse Szewczyk’s “Cookies.” From Salt-and-Vinegar Potato Chip Cookies to Manchego Linzer Cookies with Quince Jam, there’s a whole new world of baking to explore. Pro tip: stock up on butter now before you buy the book—there’s no time to waste.