14 Cookbooks to Find Inspiration in Right Now
Cookbooks are wonderful for more than just recipes: They give inspiration, guidance, insight, and a welcome respite. We love to delve deep into our old favorites—the ones with worn spines, notes in the margins, and splatter stains on the stuck-together pages. But right now, we’re very grateful for some new favorites that are expanding our repertoires, introducing us to fresh voices and ideas, and of course, more gorgeous photography to pore over. These are the books we’re currently obsessed with that will soon join their well-loved counterparts on our cookbook shelves.
Books you know you can lean on for weeknight winners.
Pamela Salzman has a brilliant answer for any cooking quandary you could throw her way. Having her new book, Quicker Than Quick, is essentially like having her with you to problem-solve in your kitchen. Not only is it full of deliciously comforting, healthy recipes that come together in no more than thirty minutes, but those recipes are adaptable for real life. Each one has tips on how to make it even quicker (for those hectic nights) or tweak it to be vegan, dairy-free, or gluten-free (so there’s something for everyone).
This book is about realizing that diets don’t always work for everyone; it celebrates cooking, eating, and the joy of sharing food. Gaby Dalkin’s recipes have always had the same cool-girl ease she exudes herself, and Eat What You Want is no exception. It’s full of easy Sunday brunch staples, like Blueberry Streusel Skillet Breakfast Cake and Bloody Marys, and fun and themed dinner menus, like mezze-centric Moroccan, a backyard BBQ Smash Burger, and a Hot Dog Bar with all the fixings.
New in Wellness
Books that are making us think about how food can impact our health.
Mark Hyman has been a voice in nutrition and functional medicine for many years, and this book serves as an excellent companion to 2018’s What the Heck Should I Eat?. He primarily focuses on the “pegan” diet—a hybrid of vegan and paleo. He takes aspects of both diets—like the foundation of vegetables in veganism and the lack of grains in the paleo diet—and adds a focus on healthy fats and clean, sustainable proteins. There are over a hundred recipes, several of which are contributed by celebrities, chefs, and doctors—and even one from our girl GP.
Candice Kumai has written several cookbooks around healthy eating, but her latest book, Kintsugi Wellness, is by far the most personal and holistic. It’s an exploration of culture, heritage, mind-body wellness, and spirituality that you’re more likely to find in a memoir than in a cookbook. But don’t worry—there are still plenty of incredible recipes. Perhaps the most powerful way to share these traditional Japanese wellness practices is through food, and Kumai deftly mixes old-school with new, as in the Miso Kale Caesar Salad or Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is just as much a valuable cooking resource as is it a book to turn to for thoughtful guidance, reflection, and inspiration.
The Sprout Book, much like the sprout itself, is small but mighty. It’s an exploration of these powerful, nutrient-dense plants that are an often-overlooked garnish. In addition to breaking down the differences between sprout varietals, Doug Evans also devotes an entire chapter to teaching you how to grow your own sprouts at home. Once you’ve mastered your garden, the book closes with forty inventive recipes to make those sprouts shine.
We love Beauty Chef’s ingestible pre- and probiotic beauty products and founder Carla Oates’s last cookbook (we even did a cookbook club around it), so we were thrilled to hear she had released a follow-up. The Beauty Chef Gut Guide focuses on the skin-gut connection. Oates lays out a multiweek approach to supporting the gut that parallels the steps you’d take to tend to the health of your soil in a garden. There are meal plans and recipes for each phase, along with lots of tremendously helpful information that takes all the guesswork out of it.
The Alts: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free
Cooking with alternative ingredients can be intimidating: These food writers can help.
Seattle-based Aran Goyoaga began experimenting with gluten-free cooking and baking after struggling with autoimmune diseases. While the book has plenty of recipes that you’d be thrilled to eat, gluten-free or not, our favorites by far are the artisan breads. The Nordic Rye-Style Seed Bread, Sourdough Boule, Buckwheat Sweet Bread with Apricots and Walnuts, and Black Olive, Caraway, and Honey Bread are all gluten-free, bakery-quality loaves that you can create at home. Plus, there are recipes and tips for making your own GF sourdough starter and tricks for using GF flours (which can be unwieldy to work with at first). It wasn’t enough to develop recipes and write the book; Goyoaga also took most of the photos herself—they’re stunning and make it coffee-table worthy.
If you have food sensitivities to gluten or dairy but love baking, check out Bakerita. It will be like a warm hug: full of comforting, familiar favorites and completely free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar—with paleo and vegan options, too. Rachel Conners has been honing her skills as a baker and playing with alternative flours, milks, and sugars for many years (she started her food blog back in 2010). Baking with these ingredients can be tricky, but there’s a great section on stocking your pantry that explains a lot of the quirks of these new essentials. The recipes range from breakfast mainstays, like Apple Cinnamon Granola, to more adventurous confections and candies, like Homemade Gummy Bears. Not to mention the Brookie: a brownie-cookie hybrid we didn’t know we needed in our lives.
It’s no surprise that Amy Chaplin’s second cookbook is a delight. She’s got a refreshingly earthy sincerity to her. The recipes in this book are vegetarian and free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, but it’s very clear that Chaplin is an experienced chef who loves cooking, not someone who’s easily swayed by diet trends. She approaches these modifications not as restrictions but as opportunities for wholesome eating. Almost every chapter has a technique-driven, riffable base recipe along with several iterations that lean on seasonal ingredients. This teach-a-man-to-fish method is empowering and makes this book an important text to add to the canon, rather than a one-off recipe resource.
So many low-sugar cookbooks feel restrictive and joyless—but not this one. Coauthors Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel use their combined expertise (Lee is a healthy food advocate and seasoned cookbook author, while Patel is an MD and associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford) to present a totally doable way to reduce sugar—without calling for a moratorium on dessert. Some recipes do, in fact, call for some sugar, but it’s always significantly less than comparable conventional recipes, and it’s in balance with fiber and other nutrients the dish. In addition to a hundred easy, family-friendly recipes, there are helpful tips on how to read nutrition labels, guidance on adjusting sugar serving sizes for kids as they grow, and info that debunks some myths about sugar and sugar alternatives.
Feels and tastes good all around.
The best thing about Melissa Hemsley’s Eat Green is her all-embracing attitude in making a positive planet impact through our kitchens. It’s about making meaningful changes in everything we do around food at home. The recipes are mostly vegetarian, but Hemsley stresses the importance of looking beyond animal products and asks us to consider food waste and the role of single-use plastics in our homes as well. She developed many of these recipes with those oft thrown-away ingredients and most of them include a “waste-not” note to help you get the most out of your produce. If going full-on vegan is more your speed, she includes “flexi-swap” options for removing animal products throughout.
This book is a real family effort. Michael Pollan is a prolific writer most known for his work covering the sociocultural impacts of food. The recipes in Mostly Plants are inspired by Pollan’s 2009 book Food Rules. At its simplest, the message of that book was: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Almost a decade later, his three sisters and mother who share this food ethos have compiled over a hundred flexitarian recipes that their families love. They are extremely accessible and quick to throw together. As Pollan writes in the foreword he contributed to the cookbook, “it’s not dourly anti-meat, but ecstatically pro-plant.”
E-Books for Great Causes
Supporting the restaurants we love and miss so much right now.
For restaurant workers, the family meal is a time to sit down and eat together as a staff before service. This e-book is an ode to that special time together, with fifty exclusive recipes from prominent chefs and food writers, like Ina Garten, Ruth Reichl, Samin Nosrat, and Dan Barber. All proceeds will benefit the Restaurant Workers’ Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
New York City is of the world’s best eating destinations. The wide variety of dining experiences you can have within 302 square miles is unmatched: The types of cuisine run the gamut, and you can have incredible meals at all hours of the day—on white tablecloths or paper plates. When you purchase this e-book, you get forty-five pantry-friendly recipes contributed by some of the city’s most-loved establishments. And 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants fund, which provides financial aid to NYC restaurant workers.
We hope you enjoy the books recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.