There's nothing better than the feeling of presenting a beautiful dish that you've worked hard on — especially when it comes out tasting great too. But it can also be tricky to find the time and energy to make a whole meal from scratch. Lately, we've felt the kitchen fatigue settling in, so we've rounded up the best cookbooks to give us the inspiration we need to get our creative juices flowing and not throw in the (kitchen) towel.
From renowned chefs (many of whom we featured in our In the Kitchen video series), kitchen whizzes and baking pros, these top cookbooks are chock-full of amazing recipes that will help you elevate your cooking game, teach you some new tricks and revive your love of cooking.
Whether you're looking for year-round baking recipes, trying to get into grilling, planning for future get-togethers or just after some simple summer snacks, these are the best cookbooks to help you on your way.
1. Conveniently Delicious: How to Cook and Eat with Spontaneity and Joy
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Local cookbook author and recipe developer Devin Connell shows us how to have fun with bright recipes that will bring some joy into the kitchen.
In this cookbook by the chef and creator of online platform Crumb, Connell gently reworks the “often-arduous task of kitchen and meal prep” into something manageable for those of us who don’t have six hours to braise beef on a weeknight.
Take a stab at one of her straightforward dishes, and experiment with punchy flavours and a dash of, dare we say, fun?
2. My Ackee Tree: A Chef's Memoir of Finding Home in the Kitchen
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Ouff, someone pass the tissues. The synopsis alone of chef and social advocate Suzanne Barr’s stunning, new memoir made us weep into our morning cuppa. We can’t wait to cook through her amazing recipes and sink into her incredible stories of family, growth and finding comfort in the kitchen during times of great uncertainty.
3. tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine
Shane M. Chartrand
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Cree chef Shane M. Chartrand has spent years learning about his history, connecting with First Nations Peoples and exploring practices rooted in Indigenous teachings. The result, tawâw (Cree for 'come in, you're welcome’) is part personal culinary journal, part cookbook.
4. Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day
Bestselling author and salad queen Hetty McKinnon's cookbook, Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day, aims to take the planning out of picnics. McKinnon is famous for Arthur Street Kitchen, her independent home-delivery business in London that focuses on internationally inspired vegetarian food. McKinnon’s book swaps out the usual cold sandwiches with more sophisticated picnic pickings like roasted cauliflower and asparagus gnocchi.
5. Charcoal: New Ways to Cook with Fire
For the aspiring grill master, we've chosen a book that takes the intimidation out of cooking over charcoal. Chef Josiah Citrin translates the vibe — culinary and otherwise — of his casual Venice, California grill house to the pages of Charcoal: New Ways to Cook with Fire. It offers accessible recipes for getting that “kiss of fire” on vegetables and meat.
6. Kitchen Party: Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion
Mary Berg, MasterChef Canada winner and host of the cooking show Mary’s Kitchen Crush, promises us that hosting a celebratory meal doesn’t have to be as daunting as an on-air cooking competition. With her cookbook Kitchen Party: Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion, Berg shares recipes that’ll impress a crowd while still being approachable to those of us that don’t consider ourselves expert chefs.
Kitchen Party is inspired by Berg’s notion that dinner parties revolve around the kitchen with friends popping in to help, chat or grab another drink from the fridge. In our experience, the best parties end in the kitchen too with that nth bottle of wine getting uncorked while guests fork at leftovers of your tasty creations.
7. Kosher Style
For Kosher Style, Toronto food personality, bakery owner and journalist Amy Rosen brings us recipes to help us channel our inner bubbe. Her recipes may be firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, but these hearty creations effortlessly cross cultures to find a well-deserved place on any modern kitchen table.
8. Hearth & Home: Cook, Share, and Celebrate Family-Style
Lora Kirk and Lynn Crawford
In addition to being one of Canada's most recognizable culinary exports, Lynn Crawford released another cookbook filled with over 140 delicious and comforting recipes perfect for both regular cooking and celebrations.
For Hearth & Home, she's teamed up with yet another homegrown legend: her wife Lora Kirk. The chef, restaurateur and food activist was the chef and co-owner of the now-closed Ruby Watchco alongside Crawford for over a decade.
In the couple's first cookbook, Crawford and Kirk share some of their favourite family-style recipes and get us in the mood for festive feasts. Hearth & Home has everything from a turkey and cheddar biscuit pot pie in the skillet to their spin on the classic pecan pie.
9. Feast: Food of the Islamic world
In Feast: Food of the Islamic world, acclaimed food writer Anissa Helou has managed to show the impact Islamic culture has had on the culinary world through the ages. The stories behind the recipes add historical context for this cookbook that won her a James Beard International Cookbook Award.
10. Lidia's a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl: Simple Recipes for Perfect Meals
Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
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Here to take all the fuss out of hosting, celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich shares her easy Italian recipes that can be made in one pot or pan. Hailing from Italy, Bastianich's name is almost synonymous with this style of cuisine.
The Italian-American chef is the host of Public Television's Lidia's Kitchen and has several restaurants, including Eataly locations in New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, and her eponymous restaurant Lidia's in Kansas City. Here, she uses her years of expertise to bring us accessible and delicious recipes that are easy to master.
11. Bangkok Local: Cult Recipes from the Streets That Make the City
Sarin Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn
Authors Sarin Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn take us on a deep-dive into the bustling streets of one of Southeast Asia’s most important food cities. The beauty of Bangkok Local is that it covers many lesser-known Thai dishes that make Bangkok one of the most famous street food cities in the world. The food is equal parts vibrant and spicy.
12. Rocky Mountain Cooking: Recipes to Bring Canada's Backcountry Home
Over the years, Katie Mitzel has worked as a chef at some of Canada’s most prestigious outdoor playgrounds and backcountry kitchens, including Skoki Lodge, Battle Abbey and Shadow Lake Lodge. In her latest cookbook, Rocky Mountain Cooking, Mitzel shares the catalogue of mouthwatering recipes she built, inspired by the rugged natural beauty outside her kitchen window.
While Mitzel’s dishes — which range from hearty soups to ambitious desserts — often had to be adjusted for factors like altitude and lack of water or electricity, the recipes in her cookbook are just as accessible for less adventurous cooks.
13. Eat With Us: Mindful Recipes to Make Every Meal an Experience
Mystique Mattai and Philip Lago
Toronto couple Philip Lago and Mystique Mattai started a food blog called Chef Sous Chef in 2015, which has since grown into a cookbook and netted them their own Food Network series. Though neither are trained chefs, the co-creators have been able to bring their collection of stunning recipes and everyday cooking to life.
Their combined Guyanese, Italian and Irish heritage has made for an eclectic collection of weeknight meals, special occasion suppers and feel-good baking treats that are destined to become instant classics in your cooking rotation. Divided into sections, from Feast and Comfort to Al Fresco, the stunningly simple cookbook is a collection of memory-making dishes inspired by the multicultural metropolis the couple call home.
14. Farm, Fire and Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune
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Farm, Fire & Feast features recipes inspired by celebrity chef Michael Smith’s live-fire meals at FireWorks, his restaurant in eastern Prince Edward Island. FireWorks is known for its family-style feasts cooked at a 25-foot-long, brick-lined wood-burning fire.
Smith’s recipes are inspired by ingredients found on Prince Edward Island, from sea to land. Granted, not all of us have the luxury of a live fire to cook on or an organic garden to harvest from. But he’s adapted his recipes with instructions for everyday home cooks to pull off dishes on the stovetop or in an oven.
15. Bake the Seasons
In Bake the Seasons, by Marcella DiLonardo, the Niagara-region recipe developer and food stylist brings us simple yet delicious dishes inspired by local, seasonal ingredients. Her recipes are honest and unfussy — they work well in weeknight meals and dinners to impress guests.