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Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Cookbooks of 2016

You can’t go wrong with a gift of one of the best cookbooks of 2016. 

Best Cookbooks 2016 Gift Guide | Umami Girl

I don’t know why, but I’m kinda excited for holiday shopping this year. Maybe I need retail therapy more than usual. Or maybe it’s because shopping has gotten so easy? Between local independent shops and online retailers, these days you can largely buy on your own terms and your own time. Whatever the reason, I’m just gonna roll with it. I’ll be putting out quite a few gift guides in the next few weeks showcasing a few of my favorite things. They won’t all be food-related, but I thought it made sense to kick off the season with some of the cookbooks that have become my favorites this year. (Including my own, ahem.) Baaaasically my goal here is to channel a whole year’s worth of investigation into giving you as many great ideas as possible without spoiling too many surprises for the people in my own life. 

Many but not all of these books were published in 2016, and just for transparency’s sake, please note that (1) I’m friendly with some of the authors and (2) these are affiliate links, so if you buy something Umami Girl will earn a small percentage of the sale. But mostly these are just cookbooks that have made me really happy throughout the year, and that I think you and your gift recipients are likely to enjoy as well. You can click through on any of the images below to buy on Amazon, or visit your local indie bookstore, or scroll below to read a little more about each book. Happy shopping see you soon.

Carolyn xx 

Shop the Books

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Food 52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore: A compilation of recipes deemed by the editors of Food52 to be game-changing in one way or another. The title promises a lot, and many of the recipes really deliver. Includes standards like Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce and Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, along with many others you likely haven’t heard of.

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin: Part encyclopedia of the whole food kitchen, part classy vegetarian recipes, many vegan and gluten-free. Gorgeous photos. Would make a really great gift.

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones: A fresh take on vegetarian food from one of the people who helped Jamie Oliver become a big deal. Very appealing vibe, very appealing food.

Near & Far by Heidi Swanson: The latest from the creator of 101 Cookbooks, largely inspired by her world travels. Beautiful photos and lovely, Heidi-ish recipes.

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz: Recipes and stories from the beloved blogger, all reflecting his take on modern Parisian cuisine. 

Street Vegan by Adam Sobel: Finally a cookbook from the founder of everyone’s favorite vegan food truck The Cinnamon Snail. Such good vegan food. 

It’s All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow and Thea Baumann: Hate if you must, but I like this book. I might quintuple the portions, but the food is otherwise lovely, accessible, and beautifully photographed.

Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti: I searched for a perfect giardiniera recipe for years. When I learned that one of my favorite authors of Italian cookbooks was writing a book on preserving, I knew my time had come. This book does not disappoint.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle: You guys! May I interest you in a Bridget Jones’s Daiquiri? The Postman Always Brings Ice? The Count of Monte Cristal? If you like literature and drinking, you’ll love this quirky little cocktail book.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg: I’ve talked up this book before. It’s practically a must-have for anyone who likes to create their own dishes with lots of vegetables.

Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten: A very Barefoot Contessa holiday to you. How bad can that be? 

We Love Quinoa and We Love Kale by Yours Truly and Friends: Sooooo…it was awkward enough to talk about these once. That said, I really think you’ll like them. 

Zahav by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook: From the chef/owner of the Philadelphia restaurant with the same name. Modern Israeli cuisine done beautifully.

V Street by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby: from the owners and chefs of Philadelphia’s haute vegan restaurant Vedge and more casual V Street, this book celebrates plant-based cuisine in full-on street food style.

Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh: From the creator of the popular blog My Name is Yeh, this fun and intimate cookbook is nothing short of totally delightful.

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer: From the creator of the wonderful Vanilla Bean Blog. You will want to bake every recipe in this book. I could take or leave like 85% of all baked goods in the world but could leave exactly 0% of these.

Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule: Make your own yogurt or just use yogurt in recipes inspired by a wide variety of global cuisines. As with everything she does, Cheryl brings her wit and educated approach to this terrific book.

The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley: This book is brand new and just wonderful. Just like on her blog Savory Simple, Jennifer’s recipes and photography are the perfect balance of stunning and accessible. Newer and more seasoned cooks will both enjoy this book. 


Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.

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