Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Our 6 favorite cookbooks for fall and winter 2021

Whether you’re cooking for you and your family, or seeking out books to gift to your kitchen-curious loved ones, these are this season’s books we’re obsessing over.

Our favorite six cookbooks to cook from this season.
Our favorite six cookbooks to cook from this season.Read moreCompilation

As the night continues to encroach on the light of day, we begin to look forward to cozy nights at home. We crank on the oven or stove, finding comfort (and ease) in casseroles, baked goods, and soups, while at the market, even the produce seems heartier: bushels of sweet potatoes, beets, mushrooms.

These darker days are also an invitation to curl up to this year’s batch of new cookbooks, whether to find nourishment in exciting global flavors or find joy in the form of cakes and cookies. Whether you’re cooking for you and your family, or seeking out books to gift to your kitchen-curious loved ones, these are this season’s books we’re obsessing over, already well-loved with stained fingerprints and rainbow-leafed with Post-Its.

Life is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top

Vallery Lomas, Clarkson Potter, $29,

From growing up in Louisiana to practicing law in Manhattan, Vallery Lomas found home in her kitchen. Over time, she nurtured her passion and love of baking and eventually won the first season of The Great American Baking Show. But in the wake of #MeToo, her season was canceled when one of the judges was accused of sexual misconduct. Her win, it seemed at the time, would be overshadowed and forgotten, but Lomas changed that narrative, eventually presenting an award at the James Beard Foundation Awards (“the highest awards in food”) and being featured in publications like Food & Wine and People. In her debut cookbook, Lomas shares her hard-won wisdom (in baking and life) during that time and beyond. In chapters that recall her budding Francophilia by way of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, to pages celebrating the cobblers and pies of her Southern upbringing, Lomas balances the technical baking for which she is known with charming stories filled with heart.

The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen

Joanne Lee Molinaro, Avery Books, $35,

Poetic and personal, Joanne Lee Molinaro’s Korean Vegan Cookbook is a wonderful exploration of popular Korean dishes and flavors, but through a plant-based lens. Molinaro has been blogging about food for a while now, but her lyrical stories about her immigrant upbringing and life — paired with gorgeous, mood-inflected visuals — gained her 2.7 million TikTok followers over the last year, her adapted vegan recipes a bridge to her heritage. A whole chapter on ban chans, the bevy of Korean side dishes that are the delightful workhorses of any meal, is stacked with varied, flavorful dishes like dooboo jeon (tofu cakes), braised Lion’s Mane, and simply roasted-and-glazed onions. Meanwhile, bulgogi, famously made with marinated beef, gets the vegan treatment thanks to chewy Soy Curls. Molinaro also offers clever variations on fusion, like her Korean-inspired takes on lasagna or her tteokbokki arrabiata, favoring delightfully chewy rice cakes over pasta.

» READ MORE: Refresh your spring meals with these new cookbooks

Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds and Legumes

Abra Berens, Chronicle Books, $35,

Abra Berens’ first book, 2019′s Ruffage, transformed the way I used vegetables. Covering endless riffs and variations on two dozen-plus vegetables, it was a master class in seasonality and kitchen improv, the pillars for becoming a more intuitive home cook. In Grist, the chef of Granor Farms in Three Oaks, Mich., delivers the same empowering know-how, but this time with an eye towards shelf-stable grains, beans, and other legumes.

If the pandemic showed us the value in long-haul, high-nutrient dry ingredients, then Grist shows us how to celebrate them in daily use. There are the basics (whether to soak or not) but Berens also dives deep into the histories and origins, tying ingredients to people and places. Where Grist shines most is her honest, straightforward writing that honors the stories of farmer and land but also the dangers of monoculture farming, the threat of climate change, and the plight of growers throughout the country. With 140 recipes, Berens provides endlessly riffable recipes that are not only packed with nutrients (hello, fiber and protein) but will prove to be a comfort during the cold days ahead.

Foodheim: A Culinary Adventure

Eric Wareheim with Emily Timberlake, Ten Speed Press, $35,

A comedian best known for Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! may not be the person you have in mind to publish one of the season’s best cookbooks, but you’d be surprised. Eric Wareheim’s brand of fun-loving food guy is splashed all over the pages of this irreverent, exuberant debut cookbook.

The man has range, of course — his globe-trotting food adventures are well-documented on social media (where he has made no bones about being a fixture at Pizzeria Beddia), and he’s a co-founder of the popular Las Jaras wine brand. Foodheim, then, is a culmination of his sensibilities. Chapters with names like Circle Foods, Grandma Foods, and Juicy Foods ping-pong between a variety of cuisines but also recreate or pay homage to food he’s eaten on his travels.

There are the few pages dedicated to mastering pizza dough and ways to troubleshoot dough gone awry. In a chapter on wine, Wareheim teaches one how to safely saber bottles but also demonstrates his wine fluency and taste in interesting natural winemakers. There’s even an interlude featuring tiny horses (sans recipes), just cuz. In short, this book reads like the most fun dinner party you’ve ever been to, with Wareheim as your gregarious, knowledgeable host.

» READ MORE: Our favorite cookbooks from 2020

Black Food

Bryant Terry, 4 Color Books, $40,

When does a cookbook transcend a collection of recipes? Well, if you’re Bryant Terry, it’s through a curated, spiritual feast. The veteran chef, author of five cookbooks and James Beard Award winner, Terry is also the founding editor-in-chief of publishing imprint 4 Color Books, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House dedicated to publishing “forward-thinking and groundbreaking BIPOC chefs, writers, artists, activists, and innovators.” Black Food is the imprint’s first outing.

Though Terry’s name is on the cover, many voices sing from its pages, with recipes like jerk chicken ramen and Dirty South hot tamales to nourish readers alongside essays like “Foodsteps in Motion” by Michael W. Twitty and “Jollofing with Toni Morrison” by Sarah Ladipo Manyika.

The book is an ambitious tour de force of Black food through the ages, and around the world, bolstered by a chorus of 100 Black artists, writers, and luminaries who have contributed essays, poetry, art, and 65 recipes to its 300-plus pages.

Treasures of the Mexican Table

Pati Jinich, Mariner Books, $35,

As host of the PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table, Pati Jinich has spent much of her career showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of Mexican cooking to American kitchens. In a similar vein, her new cookbook, Treasures of the Mexican Table, continues her work, spanning Mexico’s 31 states to uncover and educate readers and home cooks about Mexico’s hyper-local specialities. Jinich avoids claiming her own expertise on these cuisines and dishes, and instead gives credit to the local cooks, chefs, and individuals behind the recipes. Jinich takes readers on her travels to Sinaloa, Yucatan, Oaxaca, and Puebla, living up to the subtitle’s promise of “classic dishes, local secrets.”

Dishes like pollo ajocomino (roasted chicken lacquered with garlic, cumin, and chile), Lebanese-inflected tacos arabes, and rice with lentils and caramelized onions pop off the pages. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of the breadth and depth of Mexican food under the charming, winning tutelage of an expert like Jinich.