Cookbooks make the best gifts for the foodie in your life. For someone close to you, they are bit self-serving… I mean aren’t you thinking, “Hey, I got you this cookbook in hopes that you’ll make lots of yummy dishes for me” ?! But, as a person who looooves cooking and spending time in the kitchen, cookbooks are some of my favorite gifts to receive. So, don’t feel guilty.
These are my favorite cookbooks to gift in 2021 based on my experience through the years. I cook at home A LOT. Some are old staples, some are new finds, all are amazing.
When it comes to a staple cookbook for gifting, here are some of the books I find myself referencing often as I plan and prep at home:
Cookbooks to Gift – for the everyday cook
1. The Food Lab – Is this the most referenced book in my kitchen? Perhaps. The Food Lab is incredible for new cooks and experienced chefs. J. Kenzi Lopez goes deep on the science of cooking and will elevate your basic kitchen skills with simple swaps like salting your eggs BEFORE scrambling and using a thermometer for perfect meat. This book changed the way I cook and will forever be a staple on my kitchen shelf.
2. Practical Paleo – I considered putting this in the category with “special diets”, but upon reflection I still consider this a basic handbook. The recipes are suitable for those on a paleo diet or not. But, what I love about this book is not the recipes. Danielle SanFillipo spends the first half of the book explaining kitchen basics like knife skills, how to choose the right produce, and what oils to choose. If you’re curious about a paleo diet (dairy-free, grain-free, legume-free)- this is a great choice. If you’re just learning to experiment in the kitchen, I also recommend this cookbook.
3. Cook Once, Eat All Week – This is a cookbook by Cassie Joy Garcia of Fed & Fit. She’s a mom who understands what it’s like to have a busy lifestyle while still prioritizing family meals. If you’re new to meal prepping, this book is a godsend. She outlines main ingredients for the week, gives you a few “prep tasks” to complete but leaves some cooking for the night of. It’s the perfect blend of not-eating-leftovers but also not-spending-hours-in-the-kitchen. Bonus: She just came out with a slightly different version, Cook Once: Dinner Fix that helps with the main dinner meal!
Cookbooks to Gift – for the niche foodie
4. Food for the Soul – This cookbook is filled with amazing sweet treats and elevated dinner meals. My absolute favorite part of this book is the BEAUTY in the photography. Lucy Lord is a UK-based cook who puts a lot of thought and effort into creating wonderfully aesthetic food. It carries through on every. page. I like this cookbook to gift for daydreaming and salivate over her creations. While some recipes may seem complicated (Re: Roast Leg of Lamb), the instructions are actually very easy to follow and recreate.
5. Super Sourdough – I fell in love with James Morton when he was a contestant on The Great British Baking Show. (Side note: if you’re not watching that show, it is the most wholesome TV experience and I highly recommend). In his post-show career, James gives detailed directions on sourdough from starter to elaborate breads. I’ve learned a ton about my own sourdough from him (Like THIS sourdough pizza crust). I love this cookbook for anyone dabbling into sourdough. I reference it anytime I make a loaf!
Cookbooks to Gift – for the special diet
5. The Keto Diet – If you’re considering taking on a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet: this is your bible. Leanne Vogel spends the first half of the book educating about WHY keto, and troubleshooting how to do it right. I like her lessons, and her keto recipes stand up as well. Even when I’m not chasing ‘ketosis’, I’ll use her recipes for low-sugar treats, healthy family dinners, and unique side dishes. As a female writer, this is particularly geared towards women, and helpful for new adopters of the keto lifestyle.
6. The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook – Elimination diets can be especially challenging when it comes to meal planning. The AIP is among the most restrictive of diets. Having a staple cookbook to lean on is key to compliance with any major nutrition shift. This is that cookbook for the Autoimmune Protocol. In fact, Mickey has been involved in many research studies on the AIP, and is a well-respected figure in the AIP community. I found this book from the recommendation of a patient, and it has been an oft-referenced resource ever since. This class of cookbooks to gift is just right for someone with autoimmune disease who needs food as medicine.
Favorite Cookbooks – for the stories
7. The Gaza Kitchen – I gifted this book to myself for my birthday and it was a fascinating look into the lives of women in the Gaza Strip. As Americans, we often think of this area as war-ravaged and desolate; but there is so much vibrance! That carries through in their cooking and traditions. I enjoyed all the story-telling that went into this cookbook. I’ve even adopted some of their methods, like using a mortar & pestle regularly. This was a fun blend of culture and cooking, a perfect fit in cookbooks to gift for someone who connects well with their food.
8. Deep Nutrition – Anytime I’m thinking of organ meats, you’ve heard me reference Dr. Cait Shanahan. This book (certainly more informative than recipes) goes deeeeeeeep about concepts of nutrition and health. She has a very research-based approach to what oils to use with cooking, how what we eat affects later generations, and how our nutrition landscape has changed over the past century. This is an eye-opening read for anyone health-minded. Warning: once you know these things, you may find yourself extremely wary at the grocery store!
Bonus: Stocking Stuffers for the At-Home Cook
1. Instant Read Thermometer – This is a tool I didn’t know I needed until I read The Food Lab by J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt (aka my kitchen bible). A thermometer is essential for perfectly cooked meat. Do yourself a favor and learn to cook with a thermometer; which means preserving optimal moisture, flavor, and tenderness. Buy the book while you’re at it, it’ll change your life.
2. Handheld Frother – I use this little gadget waaaay more than I thought I would. It stays on my counter (which is why that stand is handy)! I use it to froth up any cream/fats that I put in my coffee with collagen, and I even use it to quick mix up supplement powders and electrolytes into water. BONUS: This is perfect for adding fat for a dressed up bone broth!
3. Cheat Sheets – These handy little silicone dividers sit right on a sheet pan and help make roasted meals a dream. You know how broccoli roasts much faster than sweet potatoes but they go so well together? I use this. I pull out the broccoli when it’s done, and leave my little sweet potato chunks plenty of extra time. It’s such a handy little addition in a busy kitchen.
Not Essential, But Awesome…
1. Instant Pot – I recommend an Instant Pot for anyone who batch cooks and/or meal preps for the week. I like to cook meat all at once (pressure cooked chicken is my favorite); it also works well for braised meats like short ribs and stew meat. I use my Instant Pot for Bone Broth and Soups, and occasionally as a slow cooker on busy weeknights.
2. Sous Vide – A sous vide cooker is a device that allows you to cook meat to a perfect temperature. Learning to cook your meat by temperature will really elevate your skills! However, this pretty much does the work for you. Bonus: you can set it and forget it, much like a slow cooker.
7. Dehydrator/Air Fryer – Having a multi-function cooker that can air fry, dehydrate, and more is perfect. This is a great kitchen countertop tool for when you don’t want to turn on the oven, but need quick-cooked dinner. Don’t sleep on air fried carrots.
7. The Always Pan– You know I’m obsessed, because I’m talking about it again. Read my full review here, The Always Pan will be a staple in my kitchen for a loooong time. If you’ve got a cook in your life, this is the gift they need.
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