In an effort to make finding gifts for your food-loving friends and family as easy as pie, we’ve put together a list of our 15 favorite cookbooks (and other food-centric tomes) that were released in 2018, from Instant Pot cookbooks to coffee rulebooks. Sure, we left out Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook, but she seems to be doing just fine without our help.
Even though this rundown is meant to help you buy the latest and greatest books for everyone you know, you may be inclined to buy one or two for yourself. Happy gift-giving!
Buy this book for: your friend who is obsessed with hummus
It was a good year for anyone who cooks Middle Eastern food at home, with titles from hummus masters like Alon Shaya (Shaya) and Michael Solomonov (who co-wrote Israeli Soul with Steven Cook). It also saw the September debut of The Mezze Cookbook from Lebanese chef Salma Hage, a James Beard Award-winning author. It offers a cornucopia of recipes from the Middle East, and many of the 135 dishes are naturally vegetarian: orange blossom labneh with squash, citrus-glazed carrots with spiced pistachios, and a quick orzo with kale and sumac.
Buy this book for: your friend who has a favorite local coffee shop
This book is a perfect gift for all coffee lovers: from people who only drink coffee if it’s in a Frappuccino to those who don’t blink at spending $25 on a bag of beans. It’s written by Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen, the two guys behind the super nerdy coffee site Sprudge, but they write about their favorite beverage in an approachable way, from how to make great coffee at home to the difference between a light roast and a dark one. The book is split up into 55 easily consumable “rules,” and the illustrations on nearly every page make it seem like a breezy read. You’ll learn something whether you’re a coffee nerd or not.
Buy this book for: your friend who loves meal-planning
Author Kevin Curry is Instagram-famous, but this book is anything but an attempt for him to cash in on his fame. He offers tips on how to meal-plan and gives you the motivation to get healthy, and it’s all written and laid out in a super digestible format. Most importantly, you’re going to want to make these recipes: sweet potato and chickpea abundance bowl, quick orange chicken, and low-carb shepherd’s pie will likely be new additions to your dinner rotation.
Buy this book for: your friend who’s a current, former or future vegetarian
Back in 2011, the documentary “Forks Over Knives” presented the facts behind the obesity crisis, and gave evidence that a plant-based diet may be one solution. It’s since turned into a brand that offers cooking classes online and cookbooks like this one. Flavor! will go a long way toward getting anyone excited about a vegetarian diet. It not only shares the essentials to always have in your home (as in, which fruits, veggies, grains and legumes), but 150 flavorful recipes to whip up, including black bean chilaquiles, soba noodles with shiitake mushrooms and eggplant, and fig and rosemary crumble bars.
Buy this book for: your friend who opens beers with a lighter
Full disclosure: The author of this book, Ben Robinson, was once my boss. And I can say without hesitation that he’s the right person to write a book about beer. He’s funny and knowledgeable, and his love for the liquid magic shines through. The 100 tips, tricks and projects range from how to make beer can chicken to how to cool down a brew in 20-30 seconds using a fire extinguisher. He also tells you how to open a beer using a wedding ring, though he leaves out the part about how to find someone to love you. Perhaps he’s saving that for the sequel.
Buy this book for: man’s best friend
Your dog can’t talk (probably…?), but if it could, it would definitely be asking you to cook for it. Ditch the dry food and feed your dog healthier and more nutritious eats with the help of author Liviana Prola, who has a doctorate in animal nutrition. Prola offers 50 recipes that’ll satiate puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs alike. And when you’re done whipping up dishes like rice, egg and vegetable croquettes, or pork and chicken stew with rice, you can enjoy the adorable illustrations of pups scattered throughout the book. Or you can just hang out with your dog some more.
Buy this book for: your friend who has a subscription to a wine delivery service
Seasoned sommelier Dana Frank and former Kinfolk recipe editor Andrea Slonecker collaborate on a cookbook that’ll teach you a thing or two about wine while providing 75 recipes that are made for dinner parties and brunches alike. Each recipe features a wine style to pair it with (along with some exemplary wine producers), what the wine will taste like, and why it meshes with the food. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll start the day with a glass of cabernet franc with wild mushrooms and baked eggs, and end it with a dinner of Indian-spiced duck breast with burst grapes and glazed cipollini with a red Bordeaux.
Buy this book for: your friend who inexplicably doesn’t ever use their Instant Pot
The beauty of cooking with a pressure cooker is that the machine does the work for you. You can binge watch “Friends” while your chicken dinner cooks in the next room. And while the majority of the recipes in this cookbook can be started and finished in under an hour, there’s something extra special about recipes like creamy chickpea pasta with cumin and mint, congee with chicken, and gingery pork meatballs with Swiss chard that only require 15 minutes of active preparation. Your only other job is sitting back and finding out if Ross and Rachel will or won’t.
Buy this book for: your friend who’s a “Top Chef” superfan
Reading the intro to this book tells you everything you need to know about why Carla Hall wrote a soul food cookbook: The food is a part of her. It’s a part of the African-American experience in general and hers specifically, and Hall’s sharing these 145 recipes she developed with co-author Genevieve Ko feels like a gift. And many of them are naturally plant-based! The photos of dishes like tomato pie with garlic bread crust, Caribbean smothered chicken with coconut, lime and chiles, and banana pudding are so vivid you’ll swear you can stick your fork into them. Please don’t! You’ll ruin the book.
Buy this book for: your friend who never met a food truck they didn’t love
Here are the basics for the uninitiated ― the dosa is a crepe, a South Indian staple food made from lentils and rice. And because the world is very, very small, this cookbook is from Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub, the pair behind a food truck in Brattleboro, Vermont, who are from Hyderabad, India, and New York, respectively. They write that anything that can be put between pieces of bread can be inside a dosa, but there aren’t too many sub shops with inventive fillings like butternut squash and adzuki bean eriseri, Kerala-style fennel coconut chicken, or cardamom chocolate.
Buy this book for: your friend who never tips baristas
This is not a self-help book, despite the title. It’s a very funny nonfiction work by A.J. Jacobs, in which he tries to thank every person involved in getting him his morning cup of java, from the barista at the local cafe to the people working on the farm in Colombia where the coffee is grown. And if you love the feeling of finishing a book, you can knock this joyful one out in a night!
Buy this book for: your friend who’s seen every episode of ”Chef’s Table”
You might know author and former elBulli pastry chef Will Goldfarb from his episode of “Chef’s Table.” Even if you don’t know Goldfarb from a chocolate torte, this book is worth a look. It’s a peek into how he became a pastry chef, plus recipes and photos of his dessert creations that can only be described as stirring. Depending on your level of skill, you can try to make some of ’em, but it’s just as pleasurable to look at the photos while you eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And a lot easier.
Buy this book for: your friend who never fails to order an Irish coffee at brunch
The editors of the booze-obsessed online mag Punch take old-school cocktails for wintertime and make ’em better! Instead of a hot toddy, how good does a one hot ginger with Grand Marnier, cayenne pepper, ginger, bourbon and a little lemon juice sound? The country’s top bartenders submit recipes that’ll keep you happy all season. Thank us after you drink your first winter paloma with mezcal, sage and ruby red grapefruit juice.
Buy this book for: your friend who will let you eat their freshly baked pies
Lisa Ludwinski, the owner of Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, offers up pie recipes for all seasons (apricot raspberry rose galettes for spring and summer, sweet potato coconut pies for fall and winter), and a smattering of desserts to bake whenever, like a honey lemon meringue pie. And if that weren’t enough, there are also recipes for hand pies, scones and salads. Don’t skip her nonpie dessert recipes either: baking peanut butter paprika cookies, vegan brownies and juniper olive shortbread sounds like a great way to spend 2019.
Buy this book for: your friend who’s both a history buff and a foodie
Every few years there’s a movie about a superhero’s origin story, and everyone rushes to the movie theater to watch a film about Spider-Man navigating high school. This is that! But in this case, it’s the true, tumultuous origin story of two titans of the hotel and restaurant industry. Hotelier César Ritz (yep, that Ritz) and chef Auguste Escoffier (they name cooking schools after him) worked together at hotels in London and Paris in the early 20th century, and author Luke Barr brings their story to life. You may also get hungry reading about the food from back then: lobster and asparagus salad, quail with Bordeaux, and peach melba (an Escoffier original!).