The best cookbooks to gift or buy for yourself in 2021

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26 cookbooks for every type of home cook update 4x3

To me, there's no better gift to give or receive than a great cookbook. A cookbook with beautiful photos, thoughtful narratives, and foolproof recipes can feed the imagination, transport your giftee to another city or country, and inspire them to get creative in the kitchen. There are cookbooks out there to suit every type of cook, whether novice or expert, and feed all interests from TV show cookbooks to comprehensive tomes on the science of cooking. 

Every year, hundreds of new cookbooks make their way onto bookstore shelves. Here are our favorite cookbooks, new and old, to gift this year.

Here are 32 of the best cookbook gifts for every type of cook

For the artist
Black Food by Bryant Terry, cookbook gifts 2021

"Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora" edited by Bryant Terry, available at Amazon, $28

From the chef and author of "Vegetable Kingdom" comes an anthology of Black culinary traditions from around the world. Bryant Terry combines essays and recipes with vivid illustrations and photography to show how food is woven into the history of the African Diaspora, resulting in a cookbook so visually striking it could easily double as a coffee table book. Essays like "The Spiritual Ecology of Black Food" are the perfect appetizers for new and traditional recipes like Crispy Cassava Skillet Cakes and Pickled Persimmon Spears.

For the gluten-free baker
Cannelle et Vanille by Ara Goyoaga

"Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple: A New Way to Bake Gluten-Free" by Aran Goyoaga, available at Amazon, $31.50

There are many ways to bake a cake, and Aran Goyoaga teaches you the gluten-free way in her new cookbook. Goyoaga has done the work of figuring out substitutions and alternatives so you can make gluten-free buttery shortbread and even brioche with ease. Everyone can enjoy the texture, flavor, and variety of baked goods thanks to this handy collection of 100 recipes.

For the locavore
New Native Kitchen by Bitsoie and Fraioli

"New Native Kitchen" by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli, available at Amazon, $36

Before other cultures and their cuisines came to North America, indigenous people were cooking meals with accessible ingredients. In the "New Native Kitchen," to be released in November of 2021, Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli explore American Indian recipes from coast to coast, like Chocolate Bison Chili and Prickly Pear Sweet Pork Chops. Bitsoie was the executive chef of Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and is a member of the Navajo nation, and Chef James O. Fraioli is a James Beard Award winner.

For the the vegan
The Korean Vegan by Joanne Lee Molinaro

"The Korean Vegan Cookbook" by Joanne Lee Molinaro, available on Amazon, $29.99

Becoming vegan was a big change for Joanne Lee Molinaro, having grown up with meat-based Korean food. However, it didn't stop her from collecting recipes and recreating the dishes that were so connected to her family history. For Molinaro, the stories of her family's immigration from North Korea to the United States are just as important as the recipes. Molinaro recreates childhood memories, like Jjajangmyeon, Korean-Chinese black bean noodles, and writes new recipes, like the Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake, in honor of the foods that saved her mother's life. 

For the no-fuss foodie
Cooking at Home by David Chang and Priya Krishna

"Cooking at Home: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave)" by David Chang and Priya Krishna, available at Amazon, $24

You won't find frozen vegetables in Momfuko, but that doesn't mean David Chang has anything against them. In this new book, available on October 26, Chang and co-author, Priya Krishna, explain how they use fine dining principles to make fast, easy, and unpretentious meals at home. For the home cook, it seems like the professional chef can take any ingredients and produce a full, delicious meal. In "Cooking at Home," Chang and Krishna teach you how to do just that. 

For the traveler interested in culture and cuisine
Cook Real Hawai'i

"Cook Real Hawai'i" by Sheldon Simeon, available at Amazon, $31.50

A finalist in two different seasons of "Top Chef," Sheldon Simeon co-authored a cookbook with Garrett Snyder, transporting readers to the tropical islands of Hawaii. The book dives into stories of Simeon's family, as well as the state's history and cultural traditions. With 100 recipes throughout the book, this personalized guide to Hawaiian cooking has something for beginners and advanced cooks.

For the friend who cooks with the seasons
my shanghai best cookbook gifts

"My Shanghai" by Betty Liu, available on Amazon, $22

This debut cookbook from Betty Liu (who somehow found the time to author it amid her general surgery residency) is an homage to seasonal cooking and her family's roots in the Chinese regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. I picked up this cookbook up in my local bookstore and couldn't put it down (and ended up bringing it home with me). The chapters are organized by season and explain the influence the weather, holidays, and traditions have on the recipes prepared throughout the year. I love the stories Liu relates about the inspirations behind her recipes, like climbing a mountain to eat Double-Mushroom Noodle Soup at a temple, foraging spring bamboo shoots for Oil-Braised Spring Bamboo, and the bowls of breakfast noodles her father would make her before test days. I've already made the Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes four or five times, and I can't wait to dive into more of the recipes as the seasons progress. 

For the cook who wants to master their grill
cover image of Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ  Everyday is a Good Day by Rodney Scott, a best cookbook for grilling in 2021

"Rodney Scott's World of Barbecue" by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie, available on Amazon, $17.77

My best friend (and fellow cookbook collector) recently texted me raving about this cookbook and the genius of Rodney Scott's Loaded Pork Skin "Nachos," Pit-Smoked Turkey, and whole-hog approach to Carolina barbecue. Scott's positivity and passion shine throughout the book, and you'll learn lots about southern foodways and the history of Carolina barbecue along the way.  

For the cook planning their next trip
dishoom best cookbook

"Dishoom" by Shamil Thakrar, available on Amazon, $17.29

Whether it's London or Bombay that is your giftee's next destination, "Dishoom" is required reading before they jet off. The popular Dishoom restaurants in London are inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay and serve "tipples," snacks, and mains like Mango Kulfi, Pav Bhaji, and Roomali Roti. In "Dishoom," you'll learn to cook the restaurant's entire menu, and be taken on a tour of Bombay's cafes (complete with a map) along the way. 

For the coworker who has *opinions* on babka
jew-ish best cookbook

"Jew-ish" by Jake Cohen, available at Barnes and Noble, $27

At Insider Reviews we have lots of opinions, especially about food, and a recent debate centered around the merits of cinnamon versus chocolate fillings for babka. I like Jake Cohen's philosophy in "Jew-ish," which is that babka is delicious no matter what you fill it with. "Jew-ish" is a thoughtful collection of recipes centered around Cohen's Ashkenazi heritage, his own self-discovery in the kitchen, and the Persian-Iraqi traditions of his husband. Cohen celebrates the origins of Jewish dishes, while also putting his own twist on the classics. You'll see this in action in his recipes for Cacio e Pepe Rugelach, Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies, and yes, You Can Go Your Own Way: Babka Edition.

For the family member intimidated by their new Instant Pot
instant pot best cookbook

"The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook" by Jeffrey Eisner, available at Amazon, $10.78

Insider Reviews reporter, James Brains, is currently testing Instant Pots and other multicookers for an update to our guide to the best electric pressure cookers. He's been using recipes from this cookbook and reports that they're easy to follow, have plenty of photos, and are delicious to boot. The book features more than 750 photos detailing step-by-step how to make the 100+ recipes, and makes a great gift for anyone who is curious about Instant Pots but hasn't taken the plunge yet.

For the history buff
Jubilee cookbook

"Jubilee" by Toni Tipton-Martin, available on Amazon, $20

Toni Tipton-Martin's personal collection of African-American cookbooks spans more than 400 titles and her knowledge of American food history is on full display in "Jubilee." Through recipes and stories, she relates the history of Black folks who shaped American cuisine into what it is today, from those who cooked under the confines of brutal enslavement to the chefs who ran White House kitchens. "Jubilee" is a masterful work of American history, as told through food.

For the person who loves pie but fears making it
pie academy best cookbook gifts

"Pie Academy" by Ken Haedrich, available on Amazon, $17.99

A compendium of 255 pie recipes, "Pie Academy" is likely the last pie cookbook you'll ever need. It has nearly a dozen recipes for different types of pie crust, a troubleshooting section for when things don't go as expected, and chapters organized by seasonality and filling type. It's guaranteed to be a hit with the pie lover in your life, especially one who is interested in making pies but has always found them a bit daunting. 

For the home cook who also loves to read
black white grey best cookbook gifts

"Black, White, and The Grey" by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano, available on Amazon, $15.69

While not a cookbook, "Black, White, and The Grey," tells the story of one of the most celebrated restaurants in America: The Grey in Savannah, Georgia. Mashama Bailey, who is Black, and John O. Morisano, who is white, relate the story of how they turned a dilapidated formerly segregated Greyhound bus station into an award-winning restaurant. The dual memoir touches on race, community, and friendship, with some delicious food anecdotes along the way.

For the friend who wants to master the essentials
my korea

"My Korea" by Hooni Kim, available on Amazon, $22.49

Michelin-starred chef Hooni Kim's debut cookbook is a crash course in the essentials of Korean cuisine. The book's tagline is "traditional flavors, modern recipes," and that is an accurate summation of what you can expect to find in this cookbook — from Dolsot Bibimbap to Budae Jjigae to Hanjan's Spicy Rice Cakes. When I first laid my hands on this cookbook, I wanted to make (and eat) every single recipe. If you're looking for some solid foundation recipes, "My Korea" delivers.

For the friend who knows all the words to "Lady Marmalade"
LaBelle Cuisine best cookbooks 2021

"LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About" by Patti LaBelle, available at Amazon, $19.89

Patti LaBelle is not only the Godmother of Soul and a musical icon, but she is also a New York Times bestselling author for her cookbooks. Her newest cookbook, "Labelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About," has recipes centered around LaBelle's family's Southern roots. With comfort-food favorites like potato salad and peach cobbler, she showcases a variety of her recipes that are full of personal touches. 

For the person with quarantine cooking fatigue
Indian ish

"Indian-ish" by Priya Krishna, available on Amazon, $18.29

In her debut cookbook, Priya Krishna (contributor to Bon Appetit, New York Times, and others) offers up beloved favorite recipes from her Indian-American family, including Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Malaysian Ramen, and what her dad calls Indian Gatorade (Shikanji). The recipes are largely vegetarian, creative, fun, comforting, and guaranteed to inspire anyone who feels stuck in a rut with their cooking in 2021. 

For the cook always on the go
Full Plate best cookbooks 2021

'The Full Plate" by Ayesha Curry, available on Amazon, $15

Ayesha Curry and her husband, basketball star Stephen Curry, have three children and busy schedules. She created her newest cookbook with her energetic household in mind, and it features 100 recipes that take under an hour to make. "The Full Plate" is perfect for anyone who wants to spend less time cooking while still ending up with delicious meals.  

For the person who can't get enough of Disney
The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook best cookbooks 2021

"The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook" by Ashley Craft, available on Amazon, $11.99

Technically unofficial, this cookbook will transport you directly into Disneyland. You can replicate a variety of food found in Disney theme parks. It features 100 recipes of iconic Disneyland treats and snacks, including the famous Dole whip, beignets, and more. 

For the person who spent 2020 mastering sourdough
new world sourdough

"New World Sourdough" by Bryan Ford, available on Amazon, $14.77

This was the year of the sourdough starter, and few people are as well-versed in fermented breads as Bryan Ford, blogger and baker. We're not just talking about your classic sourdough boule; Ford is well-known for demonstrating the breadth of what you can do with a sourdough starter: from Sourdough Pan de Coco to Sourdough Discard Battered Fried Chicken.

For the cousin who's just learning to cook
salt fat acid heat

"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat, available on Amazon, $16.67

In this beautifully illustrated cookbook, chef and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat outlines the foundations of cooking, from when to salt your chicken to how to make the perfect focaccia. All the information is presented in a fun, engaging way alongside original illustrations you'll want to frame and hang in your kitchen.

For your family member who loves "Emily in Paris"
la buvette

"La Buvette" by Camille Fourmont and Kate Leahy, available on Amazon, $14.25

"La Buvette" is part cookbook, part guide to French living. Interspersed with recipes from the cookbook's namesake cafe are beautiful pictures of Paris, tips about shopping in France's vintage markets, and instructions on how to dry flowers. The cookbook is a lovely escape into Parisian living, perfect for any Francophile dreaming of a visit to the City of Lights. 

For your friend who knows all the best restaurants
xian foods

"Xi'an Famous Foods" by Jason Wang, available on Amazon, $31.50

Xi'an Famous Foods started as a small family-owned market stall in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. Its hand-pulled cumin lamb noodles have become so loved that there are now 14 locations all around New York City. In this cookbook, the son of the family and CEO of the business Jason Wang divulges some of the recipes that made his family business famous, as well as other classic dishes from Xi'an in western China.

For the fan of the 'Great British Baking Show'
Baking Kim Joy

"Baking with Kim-Joy" by Kim-Joy, available on Amazon, $14.89

Contestants of the Great British Baking Show have come out with several cookbooks, including series nine runner-up Kim-Joy. She is best known for her adorable and creative bakes, like her giant chocolate planet filled with "space turtles," or her "Silke the vegetarian mermaid" pie. Kim-Joy brings the same color and fun to her bakes in her debut cookbook, which includes Pigfiteroles in Mud, Tazhong Cat Buns, and a version of her Space Turtle Cake. 

For the friend who likes to Instagram all their food
ottolenghi flavor

"Ottolenghi Flavor" by Yotam Ottolenghi, available on Amazon, $23.39

Yotam Ottolenghi is owner and chef of some of London's most beloved cafes and restaurants. His recipes are some of the most colorful and beautiful out there, and his latest cookbook is no exception. "Flavor" is filled with mostly vegetarian recipes that not only pack a punch visually but flavor-wise, too. Ottolenghi and his co-authors expound the building blocks of flavor in three sections: process, pairing, and produce. The result is more than 100 'gram-worthy recipes from Spicy Mushroom Lasagna to Iceberg Wedges with Smoky Eggplant Cream.

For the hummus lover
falastin

"Falastin" by Sami Tamimi, available on Amazon, $31.99

Longtime Ottolenghi collaborator (and co-author of "Jerusalem," another of our cookbook picks), Sam Tamimi, crafted his latest cookbook as an homage to Palestinian food. The book is rich in recipes, from multiple variations of shakshuka and hummus, to verdant salads, and colorful dips. Along the way, Tamimi tells the culinary history of Palestinian food — from the home cooks feeding their neighbors in refugee camps to the restaurateurs cooking for tourists in Bethlehem.

For the pint-sized cook in your life
ATC kids book

"The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" by America's Test Kitchen, available on Amazon, $11.87

I worked for America's Test Kitchen (ATK) for seven years and was privy to the care its team puts into each and every one of its cookbooks. ATK's series of cookbooks for kids is the epitome of that detail and care; every one of the recipes in this volume was tested by pro chefs and kid cooks. The recipes are specifically designed with kids in mind, outlining when to get an adult for help with handling hot ingredients or sharp tools. This is the book I wish was available to me when I was a child, and I've gifted it and the kid's baking book to every kid I know. I love getting reports from their parents about a new recipe they cooked or discovered.

For the person always posting pictures of their cheese board
platters and boards

"Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion" by Shelley Westerhausen, available on Amazon, $15.38

In her best-selling cookbook, author and food blogger Shelley Westerhausen shares 40 casual yet chic spreads (complete with meat and drink pairings) that anyone can make and enjoy. It's also a visual cornucopia that's just as satisfying to flip through as to use when hosting get-togethers when it's safe to do so. And if you're looking for a board of your own, we recommend any of these five options

For the self-described dessert person
dessert person

"Dessert Person" by Claire Saffitz, available on Amazon, $22.24

Claire Saffitz may be known for her wildly popular Gourmet Makes series on YouTube, but she's a pastry chef at heart and her affinity for baked goods is out in full force with her new cookbook "Dessert Person." In this cookbook, you can find creative recipes for Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, and Malted Forever Brownies. It's sure to please the dessert lover in your life.

For the person who had to cancel their vacation last year
pasta grannies

"Pasta Grannies" by Vicky Bennison, available on Amazon, $18.99

Each episode of the "Pasta Grannies" YouTube series is an escape to a different region of Italy, where local grannies (or nonne) teach the audience to prepare and cook a regional dish — from classics like Spaghetti alla Carbonara to a pasta shape from Sardinia only three women know how to make. This cookbook takes some of the most popular videos from the series and turns them into tangible recipes you can cook at home. Between watching the video and cooking from the book, you can transport yourself to a little corner of Italy without leaving your home.

For the person homesick for their grandma's cooking
In Bibi's Kitchen

"In Bibi's Kitchen" by Hawa Hassan, available on Amazon, $18.69

This cookbook centers around grandmothers (or bibis) from eight south and east African countries. Throughout the book, we get to know the women whose recipes are featured and learn about their personal history and the history of their country. Along the way, you'll find recipes for Eritrean Doro Wat, Tanzanian Date Bread, Kenyan Kachumbari, and more. It's the kind of cookbook that makes think about your grandmother.

For the person who lives by a cookie-a-day philosophy
100 cookies

"100 Cookies" by Sarah Keiffer, available on Amazon, $24.75

A good ol' chocolate chip cookie never goes out of style, but if you have a cookie lover in your life, consider gifting them this homage to baked goods. You'll find recipes for the classics (including four different variations of chocolate chip cookies) as well cookies you've probably never had before, like Banana-Espresso-Cacao Nib cookies.

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