Who doesn’t want to know what the outstanding cookbooks of 2021 are? Judging by how often we’re asked that question, just about anyone who is interested in food and drink wants to know what's "the best cookbook this year."
If you’re visiting us here in the store, we respond to the best cookbook question with some questions of our own. Who is going to be using the book? Is that person experienced or an eager beginner? A recipe-follower or someone who borrows ideas for improvising? A weeknight cook, a weekend project cook, or an armchair chef who reads cookbooks like novels?
We love all those kinds of readers. Matching a cook to a book takes more than some bullet points, although see below. I, Matt, think Missy Robbins’ and Talia Biaocchi’s new Pasta is one of the most exciting books of 2021.
But I would never hand it to a novice and say, “here’s the best cookbook of the year, kiddo.” That’s not what a beginner needs.
At this time of year, there’s also a risk that anybody who’s paying attention to best cookbook lists will see the same titles again and again. That doesn’t really help a reader, and it doesn’t help authors either. Since we depend on authors for our livelihood, we want them to prosper.
So here are 3 different ways of trying to answer the best cookbook question. Books appear on their lists in order of publication.
Really Popular Books that Deserved to be Popular
- Jew-ish by Jake Cohen
- Greenfeast, Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater
- The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton
- Vegetable Simple by Eric Ripert
- Black Food by Bryant Terry
- Modernist Pizza by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya
- Baking with Dorie by Dorie Greenspan
- Korean Vegan by Joanne Lee Molinaro
- Septime by Bertrand Grébaut and Théophile Pourriat
Wonderful Books You May Not Have Heard About
- Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food by Hsiao-Ching Chou
- Tables of Contents by multiple authors
- Wild Sweetness by Thalia Ho
- The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo
- Monk by Yoshihiro Imai
- Sephardi by Hélène Jawhara Piñer
- Chasing Smoke by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich
- Amber & Rye by Zuza Zak
- Modern German Food from a Berlin Kitchen by Kit Schulte
- Cookies: the New Classics by Jesse Szewczyk
- Gabriel Kreuther: the Spirit of Alsace by Gabriel Kreuther and Michael Ruhlman
- Black, White & the Grey by Mashama Bailey & John O. Morisano
- World Travel by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever
- What’s Good by Peter Hoffman
- When Cooking was a Crime by Shere Ng
- Send Chinatown Love Letters by multiple authors
- Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
- Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras
- Taming Fruit by Bernd Brunner
- Taste Makers by Mayukh Sen