Our picks for the best cookbooks of 2023 will round out your collection—or provide the perfect gift for others
11 Unforgettable Southern Cookbooks from 2023
By Ann Taylor Pittman and Scott Mowbray
For anyone with a jar of gochujang or chile paste sitting around waiting to be used, Ann Taylor Pittman and Scott Mowbray’s The Global Pantry Cookbook (Workman Publishing) is just for you. Preservation and fermentation techniques, as they point out, are as old as time and have roots everywhere on the planet. Today, that we means we get “the gift of time in a bottle,” they write, with everything from fish sauce to yuzu kosho landing in our current landscape of recipes and dishes. Digging into the current obsession with international sauces, condiments, and spices, the pair of former Cooking Light editors (from Mississippi and Canada, respectively) bring a range of flavor-poppin’ like cherry beet salad with hazelnut gremolata, one-pot green chili with falling apart pork, and mango meringue pie. The multi-page pantry section up front describes all of the items found throughout the book in detail, complete with pictures, so you know what to shop for, while the recipes contain call-out boxes indicating what to use in each.
By Toni Tipton-Martin
Author, food journalist, and magazine editor Toni Tipton-Martin continues to delve into her collection of African American cookbooks for her latest book, Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice (Clarkson Potter), this time focusing on the expert mixologists who have not always been given voice. She collaborated with Atlanta expert Tiffanie Barriere, who developed some of the recipes, to pull together a list of 70-plus cocktails, many of which have roots in the turn of the century and shape the story of Black mixology up through today’s modern scene. From the Clover Leaf and Pousse Café to a jerk-spiced bloody mary, Tipton-Martin’s book is full of tasty libations that celebrate and honor Black experts from all facets of the bar world.
By Steven Satterfield
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, Satterfield goes deeper into vegetable cookery, this time with global ingredients, pulled from inspiration he picked up while traveling and cooking alongside friends and other chefs. It starts with staples—stocks, sauces, condiments, vinaigrettes, flavor bombs—to put the “building blocks” in place for successful cooking, and then moves into recipes organized by type of produce (roots, leaves, brassicas, etc.) and ranging from quick bites to hearty sandwiches to breakfast and entrees.
By Ed and Ryan Mitchell with Zella Palmer
Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque cookbook (Ecco) is a much-needed written account sharing the history and stories of a legendary Black pitmaster and his home, Wilson, North Carolina. There is great care in 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.
By José Andrés and Sam Chapple-Sokol
In its 13 years in existence, World Central Kitchen has gone into the depths of disaster for the simple purpose of feeding those who need it urgently. They have served hundreds of millions of meals all over the world and along the way prepared and shared nearly as many recipes. The World Central Kitchen Cookbook (Clarkson Potter) delivers several of those recipes as well as many stories of heroism and hope that have come from the tireless work of chef José Andrés and the team behind WCK. From chicken chili verde served to firefighters in California to lahmajoun, an Armenian flatbread made after the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2020, the recipes are doorways into the countless flashes of hope experienced in otherwise dark historical moments—proof that food, above all, connects humanity and, as Andrés writes, feeds “hope, one plate at a time.”
By Sandra Gutierrez
Far reaching and impressive in both breadth and scope, Latinísimo (Knopf) puts author and food historian Sandra Gutierrez’s keen research skills on display. The North Carolina resident delivers hundreds of dishes from across the diaspora to bring recipes that proffer a full-fledged foundation of Latin cooking. Everything from arroz con pollo, albondigas en salsa, and garnaches are represented here, with 300 recipes to pull from. Her stories share the richness and uniqueness of these many cultures, shaped through their foodways. The extensive pantry section speaks to Gutierrez’s thoroughness—she prepares home cooks with an army of staples pulled from every country.
By Erika Council
From hobby baker to pop-up to brick-and-mortar—the Bomb Biscuit Co. in Atlanta—Erika Council has become known for her towering biscuits. In her first cookbook, Still We Rise (Clarkson Potter), she expertly breaks down the process, and includes recipes ranging from basics, like her bomb buttermilk biscuit, to angel biscuits and biscuits made with whole milk, sour cream, yogurt, and even Duke’s. She also goes broad with options like red curry basil biscuits, a gluten-free biscuit “you’ll actually want to eat,” deep-fried drop biscuits with cinnamon sugar, and s’mores biscuits. More importantly, she tells the story she felt was missing from the biscuit books out there, notably the contributions of Black bakers and chefs, whom she highlights throughout the pages with quotes, recipes, and lively anecdotes.
By Katie Jacobs
Nashville native Katie Jacobs dives headfirst into the art form of cookie-making in The Chocolate Chip Cookie Book (Harper Celebrate), giving multiple recipes not only for one of America’s favorite cookies but also for incorporating the flavors in numerous other ways. She starts by breaking down the various ingredients and methods into a grid, examining the effects of butter, from melted to cold to beaten, as well as quantity of eggs, the impact of temperature, and various types of sugar and leavening agents. From there, the cookies go from giant to mini, crispy to cakey, and into bars, cheesecakes, and waffles. Start with the cookie that started it all and end with chocolate chip cookie dough energy bites.
By Natalie Keng
Atlanta native Natalie Keng explores the sweet spot she occupies as a distinctly Asian and Southern American female who celebrates all of her cultures with food. Her book shares stories of her upbringing, including those about her father, a scientist-turned-entrepreneur who owned a chain of restaurants that did, indeed, serve sweet tea (he preferred to sweeten it with amber rock sugar). The recipes, meanwhile, reflect her cultures with dishes like fried chicken spring rolls, Korean-style potato salad, and wasabi deviled eggs. For anyone who has ever felt both of the South and simultaneously of somewhere else, Keng’s cookbook resonates.
South of Somewhere: Recipes and Stories from My Life in South Africa, South Korea & the American South
By Dale Gray
If you love traveling through food, Dale Gray’s South of Somewhere(Simon & Schuster) will transport you. From her South African roots to life in South Korea, where she was teaching English when she met her Louisiana-born husband, and now to living in the American South, Gray moves through various locales across the globe, all Southern in their own way, taking culinary ownership of the foodways she encounters. In the American South, she’s gone from El Paso, Texas, to Mississippi, always exploring her new surroundings through ingredients available in the markets and the recipes around her. There are so many new favorites here—burrata with peaches and honeycomb, tinned mackerel toasts with anchovy butter, red beans and smoked turkey, okonomiyaki cabbage “steaks”—that can get you a little global and a little Southern, all in a weeknight.
By Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
There’s a certain intimacy to Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman’s Kugels & Collards (University of South Carolina Press). The coauthors put forth a delicious look at Southern Jewish recipes from across the Carolinas. Theirs is a work of preservation, giving new life to passed-down favorites and Jewish staples, like kreplach dumplings and stuffed cabbage. In some cases, those written treasures come as they are—without measurements or many guidelines—but what might look like an omission instead offers insight into the place, time, and person creating them, and a nod to the traditions that can’t always be written down.
- by Amber Chase
- by TLP Editors
- by Hannah Lee Leidy