Our Favorite Cookbooks of 2019

We've gathered all our cookbook crushes together in one place for you. Happy cooking!
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The Vintage Baker

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I love to bake, and I adore tiny things. So you can imagine my excitement when I received a review copy of The Vintage Baker, by Jessie Sheehan. It’s full of great recipes and has a mini recipe booklet bound inside the larger book. Sheehan was inspired by recipe booklets published in the late-19th to mid-20th centuries by brands like Hershey’s and Frigidaire, so she used those old-school recipes as a jumping-off point for her modern makeovers. Standard seven-layer bars become Black-Bottom Banana Dream Bars with a chocolate cookie crust and lots of fresh banana pieces. Sheehan also takes standard salted caramels up a notch by adding pepper for a sweet-salty-spicy candy. Both recipes got two thumbs up from my taste testers (and my valentines), my husband and four-year-old son, giving me two more reasons to love this book. —Nina Elder, executive food editor

Flavors of California 

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Most people associate Tommy Bahama with laid-back resort wear, but my favorite thing about the brand is its restaurant in New York City—home of the best mai tai I’ve ever had on the mainland. Because of that, I couldn’t wait to try out Flavors of California: Cooking With Tommy Bahama, the third Tommy Bahama cookbook, by Rick Rodgers. This book captures the brand’s Live the Island Life motto with its relaxed, approachable diverse Cali cuisine. The Pozole Rojo got me over my fear of making the classic Mexican soup, and the Chicken with Dried Apricots, Green Olives, and Toasted Almonds (a nod to the Central Valley’s Armenian dishes) will become a weeknight staple for me. When I want to be transported to the beach, there’s the Lump Crab and Avocado salad, which I’d happily pair with the Rum Runner, the classic tiki drink. Sarong and paper umbrella optional, but encouraged. —Tara Cox, executive managing editor

My Mexico City Kitchen

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I love Mexican food, so I was really excited to cook from My Mexico City Kitchen in my Connecticut kitchen. This modern Mexican cookbook from chef Gabriela Cámara (of Mexico City’s Contramar and San Francisco’s Cala) is filled with fresh, vibrant food with lots of soul. I started simple with the horchata, a classic Mexican rice drink. Just soak rice and cinnamon sticks overnight, then blend until smooth and sweeten to taste. Try it with a shot of espresso for breakfast, over ice in the afternoon—or with rum at cocktail hour. Equally easy is the creamy salad dressing made from one of my favorite ingredients: pepitas. Cámara simply tosses the dressing with superfresh greens, but I couldn’t resist adding thinly sliced radishes for crunchy color. Cámara is also passionate about seafood. Go the raw route and make one of her ceviches, or grill up her Instagram-famous Pescado a la Talla, a butterflied whole red snapper coated with a yin and yang of red and green sauces. The striking two-tone beauty tastes as good as it looks. —Janet McCracken, food director

Salt & Straw

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Everybody on staff at Rachael Ray Every Day knows I love ice cream, and Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon, makes some of my favorite fancy-pants pints. This stuff is so delicious that it’s almost worth booking a flight just to get a freshly churned scoop. But now that co-owner Tyler Malek has written a cookbook (also called Salt & Straw), you can save yourself a trip. The charming book includes tons of incredible recipes, plus the company’s only-in-Portland origin story. Back in 2011, Tyler and his cousin, Kim Malek, started with four ice cream machines from Goodwill. They eventually graduated to a custom pushcart and now have 19 scoop shops up and down the West Coast. At home, start with crowd-pleasing flavors like Chocolate Gooey Brownie or Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. Then if you’re feeling adventurous, try Arbequina Olive Oil—or go really crazy with Salted Turkey Caramel. Somehow Tyler Malek manages to make even the wackiest flavors taste wonderful. —Janet McCracken, food director

Son of a Southern Chef

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As a Southerner, I love my family’s classic dishes, but I’m always on the lookout for fun variations—and that’s what I found in Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul, by Lazarus Lynch. The Chopped champion, chef, singer-songwriter, and social media star infuses his recipes with lots of personality. His book satisfied all my Sunday-dinner cravings but with a different kind of flair. Want to do something to collard greens besides boil them with smoked meat? Make his BBQ Collard Green Salad with Crispy Bacon. How about a new take on yams? Lynch tops his with brûléed goat cheese—genius. His Maple Bourbon Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Dr Pepper Up My Sesame Ribs made for appropriately sticky fingers and kept all elbows on my dinner table. The book is also a joy to read (and may have also inspired a Beyoncé dance party in my kitchen). —Renae E. Wilson, test kitchen associate

The Nimble Cook

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Even as a trained cook, I often find myself looking at an ingredient thinking, What can I do with this? A recipe provides one answer, but The Nimble Cook, by chef, recipe developer, and cooking teacher Ronna Welsh, holds ingredients up to a kaleidoscope. In Welsh’s hands, a leek isn’t just chopped for soup. The tops are blanched for a pesto, a side dish, or a flavored cream cheese, and the stalks get braised for pastas, meatballs, salads, and dumplings. Each ingredient-based section of the book (leaves, aromatics, heads and bulbs, fish and shellfish, etc.) gives readers basic recipes, like an onion jam, plus things to do with those building blocks, like the Fast French Onion Soup. Welsh focuses on using everything up, helping you make the most of your grocery haul. Her treatment of ingredients helped changed the way I cook and saved me money. So be nimble, be quick, and get a copy! —Renae E. Wilson, test kitchen associate 

Big Book of Korean Cooking

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I was adopted from South Korea as a baby, so I never learned how to cook my culture’s cuisine—until I discovered Maangchi. The YouTube superstar’s videos taught me how to master crispy pajeon, savory pancakes with scallions and seafood; kimchi jjigae, a hearty and spicy bubbling stew; and hotteok, a fried dough stuffed with sugar and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Now you can get all of this master’s essential recipes in one place: her latest cookbook, Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking. What makes it special isn’t just its incredible variety of well-known and under-the-radar Korean dishes, but also how Maangchi teaches you. She knows most people won’t debone their own mackerel, so she gives specific instructions to tell the fishmonger. Cooking rice on the stove can be tricky, so she provides step-by-step photos. How many whole chives do you add to those pancakes? As many as “you can grasp between your thumb and index finger.” It feels as if she’s right beside you in the kitchen sharing her secrets. Whether you start simple with a bowl of bibimbap or jump right into fermenting a big batch of fiery-red kimchi, you’ll be in the hands of a quirky, down-to-earth master who is passionate about Korean cuisine. For the ultimate multimedia experience, watch her cook a recipe on YouTube while following along with the book. —Alyse Whitney, senior food editor

Breakfast 

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When I go out for global cuisine, it’s usually a lunch or dinner affair, so when I travel, I get buzzed about breakfast. Now I don’t even have to change out of my pajamas (the best way to cook breakfast, no?). Here is a world’s-worth of AM meals, complete with fascinating blurbs and photos of traditional spreads from Ireland to Israel. I’d never thought to make cornflakes (they’re nuttier and heartier than from the box), or Malaysian peanut pancakes (the ones I’ve craved since visiting Kuala-Lumpur). This is the breakfast book of champions: a perfect gift for the morning person in your life. Aliza Gans, associate food editor

The Recipe

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World-renowned New Zealand chef, Emett, recreates 317 modern-classic recipes from the past 50 years from the world’s finest, contemporary global chefs, in this must-have new cookbook. Covering all kinds of cuisines and dishes, from David Chang’s Momofuku Ramen, to Daniel Boulud’s Veal Shoulder Goulash; this gem of a book has been written in a way that makes the recipes super accessible for the home cook (while still feeling like you’re cooking something fancy), with helpful author notes and tips throughout. It also has a useful pastry section, conversion charts, and glossary section at the back, that makes it more than ‘just’ a cook book. This should be on every foodie’s wish list this year (hint-hint to anyone who knows me!) —Tara Holland, assistant food editor

Indian-ish

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I’m a fan of anything that makes my life easier, and Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish does that—not just for weeknight cooking but for the beloved Indian food recipes that sometimes intimidate me. I know I’m not alone here. As Krishna says in her book, “If Indian food were actually hard to make, would billions of working Indian parents be whipping it up on the regular for their weeknight dinners?” Good point. The book is an ode to Krishna's quirky family, complete with just-as-quirky Roy Lichenstein-esque cartoons by Maria Qamar. Through it, Indian cooking becomes accessible to anyone with a plain old grocery store—no need to track down specialty food stores or plan ahead for online deliveries. The Spinach and Feta Cooked Like Saag Paneer opened the gateway for me to make one of my favorite dishes without going on a hunt for the hard-to-find specialty cheese. The creamy, spinachy homemade saag tasted better than any takeout I’ve ever had, and it was super easy. I might even like the addition of tangy feta better than the traditional cheese. Roasted Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower) also made me rethink eating out. And although this New York Italian can't agree with Krishna's statement that the hybrid Indian-Spanish Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar tastes like “pizza in rice form,” (I’m a pizza purist!), it was so deliciously comforting that I made a batch to have for a week and polished it off in about two days. Oops. With Indian-ish, now I will be whipping up weeknight Indian meals on the regular! —Tara Cox, executive managing editor

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Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters 

What happens when you mix one-part boozy history with one-part classic cocktail recipes? This sleek, informative volume for drinkers and thinkers. —Nina Elder, executive food editor

Joy of Cooking: A New Generation of Joy

The 2019 edition of the 88-year-old recipe bible has 600 new dishes. (Fermenting, no-waste cooking, plant-based recipes: They’re all here.) I geeked out on the glossaries, which include stuff like the melting and smoke points of 46 fats and oils. —Aliza Gans, associate food editor

Let's Make Ramen

This graphic novel-style cookbook dives into Japanese traditions, sharing essential techniques for broth, toppings, and slurping etiquette—everything you’ll need to make a life-changing bowl at home. —Alyse Whitney, senior food editor

Sababa

After moving to Tel Aviv to be with the love of her life, Sussman fell in love again—with the shuk (market), which inspired this cookbook. Her story and recipes, like the game-changing stuffed grape leaves, will make you swoon, too. —Janet Taylor McCracken, food director

Pastry Love

I carved out a permanent spot for this book of classic treats with fun twists (think Bacon Drop Biscuits and Raspberry Swirl Meringues). I got that warm feeling from baking—and eating—these goodies because the recipes are written with such love. —Renae E. Wilson, test kitchen associate

Rachael Ray 50

OK, I may be biased, but if you’re reading this, odds are you are, too. So go buy Rach’s excellent new book, full of the stuff she cooks when she has more than 30 minutes, like the Best Sandwich My Husband Ever Ate (smoked brisket, tons of fixings). I tried it, and all I can say is: Same, John. Same. —Lauren Iannotti, editor in chief

Vegetables Unleashed

Andrés, twice named one of Time ’s 100 Most Influential People, proved my mind, not veggies, needed unleashing. I ate with the seasons and cooked ordinary produce in anything-but-ordinary ways. From squiggly spaghetti squash jam to Greek green beans, this book was a couple’s retreat for veggies and me. —Aliza Gans, associate food editor

From the Oven to the Table

“If you’re a throw-it-in-the-oven kind of cook…this book is for you,” says Henry. Her dead-easy, gorgeous dishes really sing. That Cod with Chorizo, Tomatoes, Olives & Sherry? Wow. —Janet Taylor McCracken, food director