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New Cookbooks 2021
Image: Time Out

The 32 best cookbooks of 2021

Want to add some new recipes to your roster? These are the best cookbooks of 2021 according to us

Morgan Olsen
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Morgan Olsen
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As cities around the world have sprung back to life, there’s been a lot to keep track of this year. And as much as we’ve frequented the heck out of our favourite restaurants again, during the pandemic home cooking became an essential part of our weekly routine. Whether you’re just mastering sourdough or you’re a TikTok-famous feta influencer, we could all use some new material. And these incredible cookbooks released during 2021 have offered just that: heaps of fantastically fresh recipes that span the globe and boost your skills.

Trying to break out of a cooking rut? Pick up Sam Sifton’s ‘No-Recipe Recipes’, which ditches formality in favour of fun. Craving something lighter? You’ll find plenty of inspiration in Julia Turshen’s ‘Simply Julia’ as well as Gregory Gourdet’s ‘Everyone’s Table’. But that’s just scraping the surface. Take a look at the cookbooks that got us through 2021 and order your favourites today.

RECOMMENDED: 15 really, really great books that got us through 2021

Best cookbooks of 2021

If you’ve already cooked your way through bestselling author Julia Turshen’s other hits (namely ‘Now & Again’ and ‘Small Victories’), you’ll want to snag her latest: a collection of 110 ‘oolproof' recipes that are equal parts practical and nutritious. Sprinkled throughout the pages are personal essays, adaptations for dietary needs and tips you’ll return to again and again (like how to use up that leftover buttermilk).

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BFFs turned food bloggers Jesse Tyler Ferguson (yes, the Modern Family star) and recipe developer Julie Tanous compiled their all-time favourite recipes for their debut cookbook. The ideal gift for the cooking buddy you miss the most, ‘Food Between Friends’ explores the duo’s childhood food memories through crave-worthy dishes like hatch green chile mac and cheese and little grits soufflés.

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Self-proclaimed Nice Jewish Boy and former Time Out New York dining editor Jake Cohen makes his cookbook debut with a collection of new-ish Jew-ish recipes. Home cooks can expect a bevy of modern recipes that are rooted in tradition – like Cohen’s take on kugel, which is imbued with the savoury, cheesy flavours of spinach-artichoke dip.

Organised by season, ‘My Shanghai’ explores the dynamic, destination-worthy fare of one of the world’s largest cities. Author Betty Liu transports readers to Shanghai through homestyle eats, many of which have been passed down through generations and re-examined with a modern lens. Start with a weeknight stir-fry and work your way up to Liu’s mother’s deeply savoury Suzhou red-braised pork belly.

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Bring the culinary hub of Oaxaca, Mexico, to your kitchen with 50 recipes from celebrated chef Alejandro Ruiz (Casa Oaxaca restaurants). This cookbook is a treasure trove of staples – including handmade tortillas, tamales and moles – as well as a step-by-step guide to some of Ruiz’s most noteworthy plates. Psst! The book also includes a list of must-visit restaurants in Oaxaca for all your post-pandemic travel needs.

If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that cake can be a suitable substitute for any meal. Baking star and pastry chef Zoë François restocks our arsenal with 85 new recipes that are simple yet wildly impressive (coconut candy bar cake, anyone?). Plus, she’ll teach you the basics along the way with helpful, photo-heavy guides to techniques you’ll use again and again, like creaming butter and sugar like a pro.

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Sam Sifton wants you to ditch the recipe and have some fun in the kitchen. The founding editor of NYT Cooking does away with fussy ingredient lists and step-by-step instructions, opting instead for casual, conversational descriptions that allow home cooks to improvise, learn and evolve. With a dash of this and a fistful of that, you’ll be whipping up fettuccine with minted ricotta in no time.

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Explore the beauty and bounty of Arabic cooking through Reem Kassis’s compilation of home recipes that are organised by primary ingredient. The follow-up to her acclaimed debut, ‘The Palestinian Table’, this new release allows Kassis to flex her deep knowledge of the ancient cuisine while also offering her takes on classics.

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If you follow Chrissy Teigen on Instagram (honestly, who doesn’t?), you’ve already fallen in love with her mother and culinary muse, Pepper. In her debut cookbook, everyone’s favourite Thai mum shares some of her most iconic recipes, including roasted lemongrass chicken, seafood pad cha and Thai beef jerky. Between recipes, Mother Teigen shares personal anecdotes about moving to the USA from Thailand and learning how to cook her favourite meals with American ingredients.

Part history lesson, part cookbook, this stunning new tome by chef-farmer Matthew Raiford delves into the rich history of the Gullah Geechee people, ‘descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and Sea Island cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast’, according to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. Raiford examines the singular culture through soul-soothing recipes like Gullah fish stew and hot buttermilk biscuits.

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If your bookshelf is dotted with healthy-eating cookbooks that are collecting dust, Top Chef star Gregory Gourdet has just the thing: a delicious new take on mindful eating. Since getting sober, Gourdet has focused on nourishing, superfood-charged recipes that are full of flavour and free of gluten, dairy, soy and legumes. Rather than leaning on copycat-style fixes, Gourdet sends readers globetrotting with dishes that are hearty, filling and bold.

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Daydreaming of a sun-soaked holiday in South America? This stunning tome should hold you over. Recipe developer and food stylist Mariana Velásquez explores her Colombian roots through 100 recipes that range from traditional arepas and empanadas to remixed lemony chicken soup. And if the cover didn’t tip you off, Velásquez serves plenty of tablescape inspiration along the way, too.

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‘Middle Eastern Sweets’ by Salma Hage
Image: Courtesy of Phaidon Press

‘Middle Eastern Sweets’ by Salma Hage

Bake your way through the Middle East at home with a helping hand from award-winning author Salma Hage. Soon enough, you’ll be lining your kitchen counters with flaky pistachio-apricot baklava, dense sesame power balls and tahini-infused chocolate fridge cake. But first, a piping-hot cup of cardamom-scented arabic coffee (the recipe’s on page 16).

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If you’ve been thinking about cutting back your meat intake but you’re not sure where to start, bestselling author Jenny Rosenstrach has just the thing: a cookbook that offers a compromise. She and her family challenged themselves to go vegetarian on weeknights (hence the title), and they discovered a treasure trove of fantastic meat-free recipes along the way – including a hearty three-bean chilli that’s served with honey-crusted cornbread. Beef who?

When Vallery Lomas won the third season of The Great American Baking Show, she could have never imagined that the footage would be scrapped after one of the show’s judges was accused of sexual harassment. Her relentless determination makes this debut cookbook even sweeter. Get to know Lomas through a sprawling collection of 100 recipes that range from lemon-honey madeleines and apple cider fritters to crawfish hand pies.

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Craving more time in the kitchen with Antoni than an episode of Queer Eye allows? His latest tome is jam-packed with approachable meal inspo that’ll keep your plate full from Monday to Sunday with dishes like pulled chicken nachos and pan-seared steak with harissa butter and crispy potatoes. And because Antoni keeps his shopping lists tight and recipe steps to a minimum, you can always count on time for a post-dinner Netflix session.

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YouTube star and chef Joshua Weissman wants you to know that ‘great cooking does, and should, take time’. That means learning how to make the stuff you'd usually buy, like nut butters, ketchup, flour tortillas and cheese. Then, he’ll show you how to take those newfound skills and apply them to seriously delicious dishes – from fluffy ricotta pancakes and loaded breakfast tacos to next-level peanut butter cookies.

The key to becoming a great home cook is having a recipe in your back pocket for every situation – from rushed weeknights and boozy lunches to leisurely Sunday suppers. It’s why award-winning author and former Bon App editor-at-large Carla Lalli Music has organised her newest cookbook by logistical need. Along the way, she drops knowledge that’ll help you level up your skillset – like how to figure out what to make ahead to save yourself time and stress.

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Home cook and storyteller Joanne Lee Molinaro – you might know her as @thekoreanvegan on TikTok – knows what you’re thinking. Vegan Korean food? How? She’ll show you the way with her debut cookbook, which is peppered with the same affable personal stories that you’ll find on her social handles. Tuck into a big bowl of jjajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce) or bake your way to bliss with her chocolate-sweet potato cake.

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It doesn’t feel fair to label ‘Black Food’ as a cookbook when it’s so much more than that. There are recipes, yes, but Bryant Terry’s hardcover masterpiece also houses poetry, history lessons, essays, artwork and more – all centred around Black culinary innovation. Feed your mind with works from more than 100 Black trailblazers, then try your hand at Jenné Claiborne’s sweet potato pie or Yewande Komolafe’s crispy cassava skillet cakes. 

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