The Best Southern Cookbooks of the Summer

By: Erin Byers Murray

From tackling food waste and crafting vegan barbecue to exploring global-Southern flavors, this fresh batch of Southern cookbooks is filled with tasty and soon-to-be-treasured recipes.

New Southern Cookbooks for Your Summer Kitchen

Vegetable Revelations: Inspiration for Produce-Forward Cooking

Vegetable Revelations cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

By Steven Satterfield | Harper Wave

We’ve long been fans of chef Steven Satterfield through his Atlanta restaurant Miller Union (pastry chef Claudia Martinez taught us how to bake like a cook last year), and his first cookbook Root to Leaf (Harper Wave, 2015). In the follow up, his recipes show off an evolution in Satterfield’s own culinary journey, one where he now leans on a range of global ingredients picked up along travels and cooking alongside friends and other chefs. Where Root to Leaf trends Southern, Vegetable Revelations opens a door to the world—while still celebrating produce in all its glory. We like that he starts things off with the staples—stocks, sauces, condiment, vinaigrettes, flavor bombs—to put the “building blocks” in place for successful cooking. The second part of the book is all about the recipes, which put vegetables, herbs, and fruit front and center. Organized by type of produce (roots, leaves, brassicas, etc.), the recipes range from quick bites to hearty sandwiches to breakfast and entrees, setting you up for success, no matter what your local market or CSA has in store.

Recipe we’re making: Kale French Toast

Ed Mitchells Barbeque cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque

By Ed and Ryan Mitchell with Zella Palmer | Ecco

There are many beautiful and striking moments found within Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque cookbook—they unfold slowly, with stories blended into recipes and sprinkled throughout the pages like breadcrumbs leading to a treasure. This book is a much-needed written account that shares the history and stories of a legendary Black pitmaster and his home, Wilson, North Carolina. The family has taken great care in both the writing, thanks to help from writer Zella Palmer, and the photos, which share a visual history of the family and their home county. And while the recipes are essential—Ed Mitchell’s method for whole-hog barbecue stems directly from his ancestors—they are like icing on a rich and decadent cake. This is not only an indispensable recording of Southern American history but also a celebration of one family, and their greater community’s, true, complicated, and faith-centered history.

Recipe we’re making: Silver Dollar Corn Cakes with Smoked Honey Butter

Perfectly Good Food Cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking

By Margaret Li and Irene Li | W.W. Norton & Co.

We had the joy of working with Margaret Li on a lead-up to this cookbook in our Fall 2022 feature “Turning Food Waste into a Feast.” Together with her sister Irene, she’s co-authored what will soon become a dog-eared staple on our shelves. The two write that the act of coming up with random but satisfying ways to use up all parts of the ingredients in a fridge can be “as gratifying as solving a puzzle,” which has been our cooking sentiment for years. Designed with delightful illustrations that recall school-grade workbooks, it’s organized by type of ingredient (vegetables, herbs, dairy, and meat) and includes “hero” (multi-purpose problem-solver) recipes within each section. The save-the-fruit shrub, for example, is a handy universal tool for your bar and kitchen while the eat-your-leftover pot pie is as comforting and solution-driven as it sounds. From their multiple ways to “use it up,” (trust them: cook your cucumbers!) to a guide to organizing your fridge for maximum efficiency, it’s a book for any cook who cringes at tossing food scraps in the trash.

Recipe we’re making: Stir-Fried Pork with Cucumber and Zucchini

Big Green Egg Feasts Cookbook cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

Big Green Egg Feasts: Innovative Recipes to Cook for Friends and Family  

By Tim Hayward | Quadrille

It’s no spoiler that you’ll likely need a Big Green Egg to truly appreciate this cookbook—but even if you don’t have one, there are key takeaways for those who enjoy cooking over live fire. Penned by British food writer Tim Hayward, the book will move you beyond Southern barbecue staples and across the globe with feasts inspired by other regions. There are menus centered around Maghrebi, Tuscan, Spanish, and Japanese dishes plus ideas for family gatherings (need a roast turkey recipe?) and pizza night. If you didn’t already know, the BGE is as versatile as a fully equipped kitchen, given the right accessories (helpful illustrations map the way) and this book will take any avid user into whole new territory.

Recipe we’re making: Beef Rib Chili  

Egg Rolls and Sweet Tea cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea

By Natalie Keng | Gibbs Smith

When people ask Natalie Keng about whether her food is authentic, she’d rather answer the question: Does it taste good? Born and raised outside of Atlanta to Taiwanese immigrants, Keng has spent her life being labeled by other people. But where others saw dissonance between cultures, she found a sweet spot—a distinctly Asian and Southern American and female experience that she now celebrates with food. Her mother was a math and PE teacher (Keng’s description of her mom cooking on fishing trips makes us want to hang with her) and her father, a motorcycle-loving scientist-turned-entrepreneur owned a chain of restaurants that did, indeed, serve sweet tea (he preferred to sweeten it with amber rock sugar), which sets the tone for the book, where dishes like fried chicken spring rolls and Korean-style potato salad are plated up alongside wasabi deviled eggs and five-spice mashed rutabaga. For anyone who has ever felt both of the South and simultaneously of somewhere else, Keng’s cookbook resonates.

Recipe we’re making: Preppy Pink & Green Handmade Dumplings

Southern Cooking Cover, one of the best southern cookbooks of the summer

Southern Cooking, Global Flavors

By Kenny Gilbert | Rizzoli

Kenny Gilbert traveled the world before he ever left home. As a child, he grew up sharing meals with friends and neighbors whose food traditions came from all over the globe. It’s not surprising, then, that he developed a robust appreciation for flavors and ingredients that originated continents away from his home state of Ohio well before he became a widely recognized and award-winning Jacksonville, Florida-based chef. His respect for the diversity of international foodways is apparent in the recipes and stories he shares in his new cookbook Southern Cooking, Global Flavors. He encourages readers to draw on the flavor profiles they grew up with and to cook in ways that honor who they are and where they come from. At the same time, he never loses sight of his own origins. Whether it’s his mom’s biscuits (beloved of Oprah Winfrey, as Gilbert notes) or his dad’s ribs (the standard against which he measures all others), the dishes Gilbert teaches his readers to cook are rooted in Black Southern cuisine and culture, and pay homage to the long history of African American creativity and innovation. —Emily D. Crews

Recipe we’re making: Jerk-Spiced Spareribs with Coconut Guava Slaw

Franklin Smoke Cover

Franklin Smoke: Wood. Fire. Food.  

By Aaron Franklin | Ten Speed Press

Aaron Franklin’s third cookbook arrives after a transitional period for Texas’ most lauded and renowned brisket maker. Perhaps it’s apropos that this title came, as he writes, “out of the ashes” of a huge smokehouse fire in 2017 that required building a new smokehouse on the second story of his building, followed by the firestorm that was the pandemic. Since penning Franklin Barbecue (Ten Speed Press, 2015) and Franklin Steak (Ten Speed Press, 2019), his business has grown to include a line of sauces, as well as smokers and charcoal. This book ties all of his live-fire cooking tips together with plenty of know-how on technique for both open-pit cooking (good for those who love camping) and slow smoking. There’s an updated recipe for his beloved brisket here, as well as recipes for baby back ribs and smoked turkey and dishes that go well with smoked foods like green salads and oysters with shallot chive butter. Franklin shines when he’s talking technique—like his other books, this one feels like taking a master class on cooking over flame from someone who has spent a lifetime doing it.

Recipe we’re making: Smoky Eggplant Baba Ghanoush

Butcher on the Block cover

Butcher on the Block: Everyday Recipes, Stories, and Inspirations from Your Local Butcher and Beyond

By Matt Moore |Harvest

Diving into Matt Moore’s fifth cookbook is like following a cheery on-air television personality as they take you into the field to interview experts. This time, he’s shining the spotlight on local butchers. Aside from sharing the stories of several meat-focused carving experts (including his own grandfather), he talks to a fish butcher in Boston and a vegetable butcher in San Francisco. His enthusiasm for their stories (and eating their goods) makes it easy to follow along. Many recipes come from the butchers themselves but in the second half of book, Moore shows off his own inspiration with a medley of related dishes. Our favorites might be the recipes from Piece of Meat in New Orleans, where chef Mason Hereford of Turkey and the Wolf fame picks up tubes of bologna for his sandwiches on a weekly basis—their smoked pork chops with grits and red eye gravy and boudin egg rolls show off what Moore is trying to get across, which is that the art of butchery is far from over.  

Recipe we’re making: Seared Ribeyes with Blue Cheese Butter and Beef-Fat Potatoes  

In the Field

Q&A on The Grey’s New Book

Black, White, and The Grey’s unique format—a balance of two intertwined, though at times disparate, perspectives—is perfectly emblematic of its authors, Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano who share with us their experience writing the cookbook.

At the Table

A Q&A with chef Maneet Chauhan about her latest book, Chaat

Chauhan fills the pages with stories that pay tribute to her home country, and specifically, its fascination with chaat, the “sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, creamy, hot, and cold snacks—street food, really—found in Indian markets, train stations, and home kitchens.”

Cook the Book

Cook the Book: Skillet Love

Cast iron skillet recipes we cooked and loved from Anne Byrn’s Skillet Love: From Steak to Cake, More than 150 Recipes in One Cast Iron Pan

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