Last year at this time, my favorite cookbooks had some pretty distinct themes, placing high value on simplicity and sanity, while occasionally being peppered with something fun to help break out of the doldrums. This year, when we might have started inviting a few vaccinated, boosted guests over for dinner again, it feels like there’s a little more desire to cook a fancy meal or fashion a well-made drink.
It’s still too early to know how safe it is to venture out and travel, so for this year’s list, I’ve chosen books that try to thread the needle between cooking as a way to explore and learn about the world, while still helping us create some fantastic food in our kitchens.
Be sure to read our other cookbook recommendations, like books to improve your technique in the kitchen, and our list of books to help you get the most out of your Instant Pot, multicooker, or slow cooker.
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