2020 Home Cook’s Holiday Gift Guide: Giftworthy Cookbooks

If there was ever a year to gift a cookbook to the home cook in your life, this is the year! Here are 10 wonderful options, from celebrated new releases to classic favorites.

Photography Credit: Cam Dechert

If there’s one bright spot in this very bleak year, it’s that we cooked at home more than ever before.

We did it out of necessity, with restaurants closed and budgets tightened. We did it because we needed a new hobby (sourdough) or to feel comforted (banana bread). We did it because we wanted to travel, but couldn’t. We did it because we needed to keep ourselves and our families safe.

And yes, sometimes it was absolute drudgery, but other times it was an escape, a learning experience, a small win in a year when wins were hard to come by.

All that said: If there was ever a year to give a cookbook to the home cook in your life, this is the year!

Here are 10 wonderful options, from celebrated new releases to classic favorites.

Around the World

Ottolenghi Flavor

Yotam Ottolenghi's newest book, Flavor, is the third installment in his vegetable-focused cookbook series, which includes the forerunners Plenty and Plenty MoreIt delves into the three key elements for making vegetable dishes taste good—process, pairing, and produce—with exciting and bold recipes that will thrill any vegetable lover, and even convert those who aren't!

Ottolenghi Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrange, $14.99 from Amazon

In Bibi's Kitchen

In Bibi's Kitchen is a tribute to the cultural legacy and history of the cuisines from eight East African countries: Madagascar, Tanzania, Comoros, South Africa, Mozambique, Eritrea, Kenya, and Somalia. The 75 mostly-vegetarian recipes were gathered from grandmothers (bibis) from those countries, and the cookbook is rich with their personal stories and tips.

In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen, $21.99 from Amazon

My Korea: Traditional Flavors, Modern Recipes

One of my favorites from this past year, My Korea from acclaimed chef Hooni Kim is a deep dive into Korean food and an invaluable resource for home cooks eager to learn about the "Korean culinary trinity," i.e. doenjang, ganjang, and gochujang, which provide the basis for many of the 90 recipes that follow. A must-have for Korean food lovers!

My Korea: Traditional Flavors, Modern Recipes by Hooni Kim, $27 from Amazon

East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing, by Meera Sodha

"Modern, vibrant, fuss-free food made from easy-to-find ingredients." So begins the description of Meera Sodha's newest cookbook, East, and we're already completely on board.

Sodha's collection of vegetarian and vegan dishes feature techniques and ingredients drawn from East and Southeast Asia—curries, noodle bowls, rice dishes, salads, and sweets, all bursting with color and flavor. One of Emma's top cookbooks for the year!

East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing by Meera Sodha, $28.99 from Amazon

Baking

Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine

For the person who'd like nothing more than to eat a decadent dessert at a cafe in Vienna, this is the baking book for them! Covering a range of classic European desserts (with a bit of a California twist), from torte to blini, strudel, rugelach, Kipferl, and kuchen, Polzine makes these exquisite desserts accessible to home bakers.

Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake by Michelle Polzine, $22.88 from Amazon

Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings by Yossi Arefi

Another one of my favorite new cookbooks of the year, Yossi Arefi's latest cookbook is just what you need when you want something a little sweet, but don't want to go to a lot of trouble. Every cake is a one-bowl affair made with accessible ingredients, so you can whip it up quickly—which is exactly what you want when you're craving a sweet slice with your afternoon tea, or a midweek pick-me-up.

Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings by Yossi Arefi, $16.99 from Amazon

Pie for Everyone: Recipes and Stories from Petee's Pie, New York's Best Pie Shop, by Petra Paredez

And now we come to pies! Petra Paradez shares the baking techniques and flavor combinations that underpin the huge success of her two NYC pie shops, Petee's Pie Company and Petee's Cafe. Like the title implies, pie-making is for everyone, and the clear step-by-step instructions prove that. You'll find recipes for every type of pie lover: savory, fruit, cream, custard—they're all there.

Pie For Everyone: Recipes and Stories from Petee's Pie, New York's Best Pie Shop, $26 from Amazon

Classic Favorites

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Classics never go out of style, and for good reason: they're hard to top! Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking deserves a spot in every home cook's cookbook collection. It's lauded as "the most important, consulted, and enjoyed Italian cookbook of all time," and it's an absolute go-to for anyone wanting to delve deeper into Italian cooking. Easy to read, helpful, insightful, and of course, full of delicious recipes!

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, $24 from Amazon

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

For anyone dreaming of baking an artisan loaf of bread at home—the golden, crispy-crust kind that looks like it came from a bakery—those dreams are achievable thanks to Ken Forkish's inimitable bread-baking guide. Whatever your skill level, you'll find formulas, instructions, and techniques to get you into a bread-baking routine. (And make exceptional pizza, too!)

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish, $20 from Amazon

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

If you're tired of the same old thing thing for dinner but still want a relatively quick and delicious meal, this is the cookbook to have on hand.

Every recipe is a dinner recipe (hence the name!), and the cookbook is organized by the main ingredient of that dinner—chicken, meat, fish and seafood, eggs, pasta and noodles, etc. The recipes are full of flavor and low on fuss. It's family cooking that's slightly elevated, but still straightforward and achievable on a weeknight.

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark, $23 from Amazon

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Cambria Bold

Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade's worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy's green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.

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8 Comments

No Image2020 Home Cook’s Holiday Gift Guide: Giftworthy Cookbooks

  1. Judy

    You forgot all the gluten free people out there!

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Heide

    Wonderful suggestions…care to look at a children’s vegetable cookbook?

  3. Norainie Bargbolz

    The Cook’s Companion (by Stephanie Alexander) is a book that should be in everyone’s kitchen. I usually give a copy to newlyweds.

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Chelle Moros

    what no Vegan??

    Show Replies (1)