Another year, another amazing selection of cookbooks. This year saw some fantastic releases, but as always, not every fabulous cookbook is right for the busy family cook. If you fit the bill and also happen to be a avid foodie or, when you have the time, a dedicated kitchen connoisseur, this list will be your go-to for weeknight meal inspiration. You should also check out the best of the year cookbook lists in other food publications to round out your options.
But if you’re someone whose relationship with food is primarily defined — at least for now — by the fact that you have to feed children (whether you like it or not), we pride ourselves on being one of the only serious food publications that is here specifically for you. And so we found the best cookbooks of the year specifically for you.
Here are the best cookbooks for families of 2017.
CME is an rStyle and Amazon affiliate.
This might be a strange one to start with, but well, we are in love with Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen. If you have tweens or teens, especially, food is such a fantastic way for them to get involved, and the table is the perfect place to have conversations about the many complicated things happening in the world today. Plus, the recipes as fantastic. Homestyle, crowd-pleasing goodness, the dishes in this book are perfect for potlucks and gatherings… and family dinners too. ($10.06, Amazon)
Another strange choice, given that this book was released 10 years ago, but hear us out! It was re-released this year and has been completely revised. It even included photos now! Given the rise in popularity of plant-based eating over the last 10 years, revisiting this tome is a fantastic idea. If you don’t already own How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, but have even a small interest in serving more vegetarian meals to your family, this is the book to get. ($15.40, Amazon)
We’re huge fans of everything that Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion do, so we were beyond excited to check out their latest, The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule. Thankfully — and as expected — the ladies did not disappoint. This book is not only chock full of fantastic, easygoing recipes that kids and grownups alike will love, but the tips and tricks will help you master weeknight cooking even when you go beyond the recipes in this book. So, basically, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. ($19.49, Amazon)
If you’re not already familiar with Nom Nom Paleo, get ready to have your mind blown, because Michelle Tam and Henry Fong manage to make meals without gluten, grains, dairy, or refined sugar that everyone will love. Honestly: It’s almost weird. You can read more about why we love their latest book Ready or Not! and even get a few sample recipes to see what we’re talking about, but needless to say, we think you should look into this book even if you don’t keep a paleo diet. And especially if you cook with an Instant Pot. ($17.50, Amazon)
In her second book, Bake Sales are my Bitch, April Peveteaux hilariously takes on baking with food allergies. While this book is probably most useful to parents who either have food allergies or children with food allergies, the truth is that most of us have to contend with food allergies through school policies. And, yes, it’s a good thing because it keeps all children safe. So if you want one helpful resource to have on hand for when you need to bake cupcakes that all of your child’s classmates can safely enjoy, this is the one. Because reading it will make you laugh too. And that, alone, is worth the price. ($9.98, Amazon)
If you ask us, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart by Alex Guarnaschelli could be dubbed The Sophisticated Home Cook — and we mean this in a good way. If you like the idea of worldly takes on home cooking classics that keep it laid back, but not without calling for ingredients like miso paste, five spice, and harissa, this book is for you. This is definitely for family cooks who enjoy being in the kitchen and either have adventurous eaters or have a high tolerance for cultivating adventurous eating habits, which, by the way, we encourage. Because if you’re willing, the recipes in this book will help you turn out fantastically delicious family meals. ($23.39, Amazon)
Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons is another cookbook that will have you making (simple, but) sophisticated-sounding things like gremolata and za’atar breading for chicken. Do not be afraid! At its core, the recipes in this cookbook are homey and accessible. After all, she’s eating Spaghetti Pie on the cover (could we love her any more?!). If gremolata and za’atar are already in your wheelhouse, buy this stat. If they aren’t and you’re willing to stretch just a tiny bit, this is a great book to consider, especially since Gail gives great kitchen tips too. ($15, Amazon)
If you have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, we cannot stress enough that Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark is a MUST HAVE. Sure, pressure cookers are great for dump and cook dinners that come together in 10 minutes, but they can do so much more than just save our butts (which is all meals like that are doing). They can actually make great food and they can do it quickly and efficiently. This cookbook will show you how with recipes like mouthwatering ribs, Indian Butter Shrimp, Japanese Beef Curry, and more.
Yes, the dinners from this book will be slightly more involved than dump and press a button, but only slightly. And, yes, there are lots of global flavors that go beyond Instant Pot burrito bowls, but we promise that if you give your IP dinners an extra 5 or 10 minutes and bring a slight sense of adventure, this book will become an instant favorite. ($11, Amazon)
Family cookbooks are not just for mom and dad, and this year saw a new release from one of our favorite kids cookbook authors, Deanna F. Cook. Her latest, Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake is packed with easy to follow instructions, tips, and great photos for classic baking recipes that kids can get to know and master on their own. This colorful book, like all of Deanna’s work, manages to capture that magical tone of silly whimsy without talking down — even a little bit — to kids, creating a book that’s both educational and totally fun. It’s te kind of book that your kid, whether 6- or 12-years-old, will return to over and over. ($9.47, Amazon)
The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Everyday is a book that we’ve been meaning to write about for the last several months, except we’ve been too busy cooking from it to pull it out of the kitchen long enough to have it in the office! Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, author of another one of our favorite cookbooks, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, has done it again. From supper solutions to lunchbox inspiration and healthy snacks, Aimee inspires with her whole foods, scratch recipes that bring on major warm fuzzy feelings — and that’s before you even cook them.
If you’re not used to making everything from scratch, Aimee will be your guiding light and she takes that job seriously by providing the ultimate soul-satisfying, family-friendly meals like Cranberry-Glazed Turkey Meatloaf with Baked Sweet Potatoes (a sheet pan meal!). Maybe you’ve never thought to make granola homemade before, but if anyone will get you to, it’s Aimee. And if that’s just a no-go, don’t worry, because as a busy working mom of three, Aimee made sure that there are plenty of other recipes that you will have time to make. Because she knows you want to feed your family as well as you can — and she wants to help. ($17.68, Amazon)