15 Best Cookbooks 2021 – New Recipe and Cocktail Book Reviews

best cookbooks 2021


Cooking all your meals at home is so delightful when it’s optional. When it’s obligatory, as the past year made it for most people, it’s borderline arduous, like doing laundry or practicing basic human hygiene. It’s been a rough one. If 2020 was the year of being at-home chefs, however grudgingly, 2021 so far is the year of complete and utter burnout. So, we suggest doing takeout every week—help our beloved restaurant industry—and we also suggest some inspiration, pure and simple, from a cookbook. There’s magic happening in those pages. Some of it is bound to flutter off and bonk you on the nose. Our favorite cookbooks of 2020 are all available to purchase now, but if you’ve got a weather eye on what’s ahead, these are the 15 cookbooks we’re most looking forward to reading this year, all due out in the first half of 2021.

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Out January 12

Black, White, and The Grey

By Mashama Bailey and John. O Morisano

In 2015, a white guy and a Black chef who barely new each other took over a Jim Crow-era Greyhound bus terminal in Savannah, Georgia, and together turned it into one of the most important restaurants in America. This book, brutally honest and sincerely written, chronicles exactly how it went down, with recipes; you can read a particularly powerful excerpt here.

Out February 9

How Wild Things Are

By Analiese Gregory


Burnt out by the rush of working in high-end restaurants, Analiese Gregory relocated to the island at the bottom of the world, Tasmania, where she dug her hands quite literally into its soil, its beaches, and its bays. This book shares the recipes she’s mastered out in those wilds, as well as its fair share of soul-searching in near solitude.

By Betty Liu


“Shanghainese cuisine is not like any other in China,” food photographer and recipe writer Betty Liu said when she announced her debut cookbook. Through family recipes and stories of the glittering city, My Shanghai will begin to fill a vacuum for cookbooks about China’s vastly different regional cuisines, written by people who grew up cooking and eating them—like Liu. And the photographs are gorgeous.

Jake Cohen, a self-styled High Holiday Jew, and his husband, who really puts the ish in Jewish, decided to start hosting Shabbat a few years back. This book is what came of that: Classic recipes updated with a younger, slightly more secular, and ravenously hungry audience in mind, from the “perfect” Challah to Matzo Tiramisu.

Out March 9

Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower

By Gill Meller

A year inside may very well have instilled a deeper respect for nature in you. That, and a desire to put anything but more crap into your body. This cookbook is a meditation on how what you eat is intrinsically linked with the environment, offering fruit-, vegetable-, and root-centric recipes that’ll make you feel like a better human.

Out March 16

The Food of Oaxaca

By Alejandro Ruiz

Enrique Olivera of Pujol in Mexico City intros this cookbook by Alejandro Ruiz, all but admitting the capital has competition as Mexico’s culinary hot spot. Ruiz melds past and present in a cookbook journey that promises to pull you into Oaxaca.

Out March 16

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ

By Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie


Rodney Scott has a way about him that’s spiritually sustaining before you even get that first bite of world-rocking barbecue. “Patience and adversity,” he says, are what drive him. Read all about it, and the barbecue, in his new book, which comes on the heels of a star spot on Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

Out March 16

Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet

By Padma Lakshmi


This cookbook is a reissue of the 2007 original, but we’re such nerds for all things Padma Lakshmi—her Hulu show, her transition Ray-Bans, her Twitter feed—that a reissue is a new thrill. This cookbook hops around the globe with recipes and stories shared along the way.

Out March 16

The Twisted Soul Cookbook

By Deborah VanTrece


Before Deborah VanTrece was a chef, she was a flight attendant. She saw some places, ate some food, then made it her mission to learn how to cook those meals herself. That past, plus her family’s roots in Kansas City, inspire these recipes (Spicy pig ear salad! Duck schnitzel with sweet potato waffles!) that pay homage to and build upon soul food traditions, as influenced by the world.

Out April 6

The Art of Cooking with Cannabis

By Tracey Medeiros


For real connoisseurs, this is less of a whoa, weed approach to cannabis cuisine and more like a traditional cookbook your gran would keep on her bookshelf. A really cool gran. Here, you’ll learn how to safely and successfully incorporate THC and CBD into everything from miso soup to meatballs, sourced from a bevy of chefs who’ve experimented themselves.

Out April 13

Cook This Book

You won’t find Molly Baz on Bon Appetit‘s YouTube channel anymore; she, along with many of her peers, removed themselves after Bon App‘s reprehensible treatment of its employees of color was revealed last year. So, it’s perfect timing for her to release a cookbook instead, giving you a ticket to her tutelage. Cook This Book is for anyone who wants to learn kitchen skills that stick.

By Renee Erickson with Sara Dickerman


Sure, it’s trite to say it, but food and drinks pick you up and plunk you somewhere else, somewhere better, and damn do we need that right about now. No book in 2021 looks to accomplish that more beautifully than celebrated Seattle chef Renee Erickson’s. She glides through Rome, Paris, London, and beyond, then distills their best dishes into more practical recipes you can faithfully attempt at home.

By Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis with Lesley Suter


“Middle Eastern cuisine” implies a monolith of culinary history. That just isn’t true, as the team behind Bavel, an Esquire Best New Restaurant on 2018, made obvious with meals like its foie gras halvah and hummus with spicy duck ’nduja. This cookbook continues the mission to smudge the lines and home in on the diversity at the core of Middle Eastern food.

Out May 11

Everyone’s Table

By Gregory Gourdet

Take all that is good and healthy from around the world—like cauliflower with Caribbean seasoning or pineapple upside down cake from Haiti—and filter it through Top Chef star Gregory Gourdet’s irresistibly colorful style, and you get 200 dishes that put flavorful superfoods front and center.

Out June 1

The Japanese Art of the Cocktail

By Masahiro Urushido with Michael Anstendig


On a parting note, we give you a nightcap: a cocktail book from head bartender Masahiro Urushido of Katana Kitten (one of Esquire‘s Best Bars of 2019), which delves into the perfect—yes, it’s fair to call it perfect—art of cocktail-making in Japan. A sublime highball will be yours to master.

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