A Dozen Cookbooks to Read (or Gift) This Holiday Season

Whether you want to bake for Christmas or get healthy in the new year.

winter cookbook release covers
Photo by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

The holidays are a time to think big, get our hands dirty, and indulge. It’s the season of sugar cookie swaps and figgy pudding—whatever that is. To help us tap into our patissier potential, we’ve got a selection of baking handbooks to offer up festive inspiration. From Esteban Castillo’s Chicano Bakes to Claire Saffitz’s What’s For Dessert, you’ll cover everything from spongy-yet-crunchy conchas to decadent chestnut brownies. And, if you’re looking to get the kiddies involved, there’s Jennifer Latham’s Baking Bread with Kids.

But come January, we might find ourselves leaning into healthier options, taking the oath of Dry January and drafting restorative resolutions. For that, we have Camille Wilson’s Free Spirit Cocktails, a perfect manual for inducting yourself into the mocktail movement, as well as Maya Feller’s Eating from Our Roots, a collection of home-cooked favorites from cultures around the world. Or, perhaps you have no intention of setting foot in the kitchen and are looking for a new cookbook to gift your chef-y friend. They—and, in turn, you—will be sure to get something out of these titles.

Here’s the full list of cookbooks, cocktail guides, and more that we cannot wait to tuck into this holiday season.

Chicano Bakes by Esteban Castillo

Release date: November 1
Esteban Castillo’s follow-up to the widely popular Chicano Eats focuses on sweeter offerings, like Mexican pan dulce and sweet corn tamales. The award-winning blogger has a knack for combining the traditional Mexican flavors he grew up eating with his Californian lifestyle. In this book, Castillo hopes to instill confidence in novice bakers who might’ve been discouraged by a history of cookbooks that overlooked their cultural tastes. Expect technicolor treats like Red Velvet Chocoflan and Strawberry Guava Shortbread bars.

The Woks of Life by the Leung Family

Release date: November 1
In 2013, the Leung family founded the blog Woks of Life to document generations of Chinese recipes for home cooks. There’s Judy, the culinary researcher who regularly scours Chinese cookbooks; her husband, Bill, who grew up working at his parents’ Chinese takeout joint; and their daughters, Sarah and Kaitlin, millennials who learned how to cook from their parents and food TV. In addition to recipes for Mini Char Siu Bao and Spicy Beef Biang Biang Noodles, you’ll find everything you need to know about cooking with the namesake wok as well as a few QR codes scattered throughout to help you master more in-depth techniques, like making lard or folding dumplings.

Snow Food by Lindor Wink

Release date: November 1
Snow Food is an ideal companion to après ski, whether you’re wintering in Gstaad or just wish you were. Chef Lindor Wink, who has a background at Sweden’s top restaurants, also happens to enjoy skiing and, today, he conveniently works at a restaurant in the alpine town of Engelberg, Switzerland. So, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about a meal by the fire. In Snow Food, he shares his favorite warming recipes for cozy winter nights—everything from nut roasts and crispbreads to winter soups and salads to hearty pastas.

The Pasta Queen by Nadia Caterina Munno

Release date: November 8
When Nadia Caterina Munno, a.k.a. “The Pasta Queen” on TikTok, says “Just gorgeous,” about a plate of pasta, you have to believe her. Munno’s love for pasta can be traced back to the 1800s, when her family started a pasta factory in Southern Italy. In her debut cookbook, she presents never-before-shared recipes as well as some familiar favorites, like her viral Pasta Al Limone, alongside tips, tricks, and Southern Italian traditions.

Cook as You Are by Ruby Tandoh

Release date: November 8
Cook as You Are is predicated on the idea that everyone cooks differently. And, instead of cooking ourselves into a version of who we want to be, we should be satisfying our cravings as we are. This is not a conventional cookbook. Food writer and former Great British Bake-Off finalist Ruby Tandoh divides her book into six chapters that range from low-effort cooking (“More food, less work”) to immersive cooking projects (“For the love of it”). You won’t find any glossy photography, as Tandoh hopes you’ll start to judge your success by whether or not the end result looks good to you. But fear not: The book is filled with charming illustrations and scrumptious-sounding recipes like Buttered Miso Linguine with Leeks and Lemon Mochi Squares.

What’s For Dessert by Claire Saffitz

Release date: November 8
Baker extraordinaire Claire Saffitz has done it again with her latest cookbook dedicated to dessert lovers. These 100 recipes range from flambés and soufflés to simple loaf cakes, all crafted to be as streamlined as possible—no stand mixers necessary. And, if you know Saffitz, you know you can count on expert troubleshooting advice. Stand-out recipes include Whipped Tres Leches Cake with Hazelnuts and Caramel Peanut Popcorn Bars. Plus, the photography is so vibrant and lush, you could almost take a bite out of it.

Tava by Irina Georgescu

Release date: November 8
Tava means “tray” in Romanian, and here it’s used as a metaphor for how a whole culinary landscape is presented to the reader. In this well-researched collection of baking recipes, food writer Irina Georgescu explores the overlapping cultures that form today’s cuisine in Romania. You’ll find Armenian pakhlava, Saxon plum pies, Swabian poppyseed crescents, Jewish fritters, and Hungarian langoși alongside plăcinte pies, alivenci corn cake, strudels, and fruit dumplings. Flipping through this book is akin to walking through a glamorous Eastern European pastry shop.

Free Spirit Cocktails by Camille Wilson

Release date: November 1
When a British philanthropic group first launched the concept of Dry January circa 2013, it had a fairly limited reach. But the spirit-free movement is really starting to take hold, and, thanks to books like Free Spirit Cocktails, we have an arsenal of inventive, zero-alcohol recipes at our disposal. Wilson’s book features everything from twists on classic cocktails to easy, three-ingredient recipes, making it the perfect entry point to sober-flexible living.

Vegan Africa by Marie Kachochia

Release date: November 15
In this culinary journey from Ghana to Ethiopia and Nigeria to South Africa, Marie Kachochia highlights naturally plant-based dishes. She draws from her experiences living on the Ivory Coast, delivering 70 recipes from more than 15 countries. The book includes savory dishes like Cassava Tabbouleh with Radishes and Herbs as well as a few sweeter options, such as Coconut Rice Pudding. Plus, you’ll learn a bit more about all those superfoods that have been fueling humans for centuries, like cacao and ginger. It’s the perfect way to reset for the new year.

Baking Bread with Kids by Jennifer Latham

Release date: November 15
If you’ve ever been intimidated by the concept of making bread, this kid-friendly guide is here to prove that it’s no biggie. Jennifer Latham, director of bread at the famed Tartine Bakery, provides easy-to-follow instructions alongside beautiful illustrations that will help you master the art of mixing, folding, proofing, and baking various kinds of loaves. She designed this book for school-age readers who are accompanied by an adult in the kitchen—so get the family involved in recipes like Milk Bread and Baguettes as well as a few bread-adjacent treats like Flour Tortillas and Pizza Dough.

Smitten Kitchen Keepers by Deb Perelman

Release date: November 22
In an industry that often hypes what's new, it’s refreshing to see equal attention paid to the familiar. If there’s one person to rely on for tried-and-tested recipes, it’s Deb Perelman, who has been running her blog, Smitten Kitchen, for 16 years. The essence of her latest cookbook is about repetition—recipes that she’s made time and time again, each time with a new improvement, so that they may make their way into your forever files. This collection features those almost-perfect dishes, peppered with Perelman’s inviting energy.

Eating from Our Roots by Maya Feller

Release date: January 24
In Eating from Our Roots, Maya Feller, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, highlights nourishing dishes from around the world. She believes the typical American diet is heavy in added sugars, salts, and synthetic fats, and when we try to correct it with one-size-fits-all nutrition plans, we are left feeling unsatisfied. But, if we look to culinary traditions from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South America, and beyond, we can rely on minimally processed ingredients and naturally healthy, flavorful food. Her recipes include Salted Cod from Trinidad & Tobago, Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread) from Brazil, and more.

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Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Food & Drink team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram