Holiday Gift Guide: Top Cookbook Picks for the Home Cook in your Life


Cookbooks for the Home Cook in your Life graphic

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You may or may not know this by now, but I have a severe addiction. It has cost us a lot of money through the years and has sufficiently clogged up precious shelf space in our kitchen. Yes, I have a terrible addiction to:


I simply cannot get enough of them. 

For someone who loves cooking and experimenting and playing in the kitchen, there is nothing greater than a fresh new cookbook filled with new ideas, beautiful pictures and great recipes to work through. As a true self-taught home chef, I believe that cookbooks are invaluable to anyone who likes to play around in the kitchen, or even anyone who wants to learn to to play around in the kitchen.

They’re great for the young single girl living on her own for the first time and for the busy young professional who cares about what his health and doesn’t want to eat out every day. They’re as important for a home cook who’s been in the kitchen feeding a family for years as they are for a brand-new first time mom who wants to learn how to nourish her family from the inside out.

Simply put, they’re for everyone. Therefore they’re the also the perfect gift for everyone. 

So, as we are just ONE WEEK AWAY from Black Friday (try not to panic) and, even scarier, just 37 days until Christmas, I thought I would help you out. If you’re shopping for the perfect gift for the home cook (or wannabe home cook) in your life, look no further. I’ve put together a no-fail list of my top cookbook choices so that I can take the guesswork out of your holiday shopping. You’re welcome. 

Balanced by Laura Lea:

I’m a huge fan of Laura Lea and have been for a long time. Both this book and her blog, are filled with recipes that are as beautiful as they are delicious, and because is a certified holistic chef you know that what you are eating is also healthy and nutritionally balanced. Her recipes, in my opinion are a win-win. 

top cookbooks for the home cook

Recipe Highlights:

-Slow Cooker Butter Chicken (coming up next week on the blog)

-15-Minute Taco Meat (featured in my Quick and Easy Family Recipe Round-up post)

-Energizing Oatmeal Cookies

-Tuna Salad 

Perfect for: The health-conscious home cook who wants to expand their repertoire of delicious yet healthful meals. 

Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate 

The Midlife Kitchen by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice:

Don’t freak out if you’re not midlife and instantly dismiss this as irrelevant. What Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice manage to put together in this beautiful book is a great round-up of healthy, delicious, and very unique meals. Their main focus is common sense cooking, healthy meals that come together easily and beautifully. And they manage to put together a visually stunning collection of photos as well. What I like most about this book, though, is the comprehensive selection of recipe bases. From oatmeal blends to guacamole to granola they share a wealth of recipe building blocks that are healthy and wonderfully tasty. 

  Top Cookbooks for the home cook

Recipe Highlights:

-Midlife Oatmeal in various flavor combinations. (Featured in my Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Post.)

-Soto Ayam (a Balinese chicken soup that makes me weak in the knees)

-Roast Chicken 

Perfect for: The adventurous cook who wants to expand their palate, but also values health and wellness.

Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced 


It’s All Easy by Gwenyth Paltrow: 

Wait. Stop. Don’t groan. I know there is a ton of controversy over GP. I know people find her pompous and out of touch with the common man. I know this. And when I first checked it out of the library, I felt the same. I was prejudiced from the beginning, imagining that her recipes would be inaccessible and filled with fancy things like truffle oil and caviar. But I was very pleasantly surprised. GP pulled it off, creating a great collection of recipes that even the greenest cook can replicate. 

Top Cookbooks for the home cook

Recipe Highlights:

-Taquitos (used as the base for my Chicken and Black Bean Taquito post)

-Chicken Chow Mein

-Simple Tomato Soup

-Matcha Green Tea Latte (I’m not going to lie, she introduced me to Matcha with this recipe and it has since become an obsession. Thanks, GP. I appreciate you.)

Perfect for: The home cook who wants quick and easy meal ideas that focus on health and flavor.

Experience Level: Beginner 

The Seasoned Life by Ayesha Curry:

I received this book as a gift for Mothers Day from my boys who were, at the time, obsessed with Ayesha’s husband, Steph. I didn’t have any previous knowledge of Ayesha so probably wouldn’t have picked this up on my own. But, regardless of how I got it, I’m so glad that it ended up in my hands. Ayesha gets more personal than a lot of cookbook authors, and gives the reader a real glimpse into her life and her kitchen. Her recipes are easy to follow and delicious, most of them getting a 5 star rating from all of my children, which is extremely rare! 

Top cookbooks for the home cook

Recipe Highlights:

-Chicken Curry

-Game Day Pasta

-Power Coffee

-Fried Oreos (yes, you read that correctly)

Perfect for: The home cook who is cooking for a family and wants new recipes to get her kids excited about eating healthy and trying new things. 

Experience Level: Beginner 

The Simple Kitchen by Chad and Donna Elick

Chad and Donna run a wildly successful and wonderful food blog over at  Filled with beautiful photography and easy, delicious and family-friendly meals, there’s a reason why their blog is visited by thousands daily. And their cookbook is an extension of this spirit. Perfectly quick and amazingly tasty, each recipe they write is one that a home cook could easily recreate on a busy weeknight, regardless of their level of expertise in the kitchen. They have an entire chapter devoted to both slow-cooker favorites and one-pan wonders, which is music to the time-pressed dinner chef if I’ve ever heard it. 

top cookbooks for the home cook
  Recipe Highlights: 

-Homestyle Chicken and Biscuits (a Mr. BurntToast favorite)

-Crunchy Baked Chicken Strips

-Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

-Cheesy Taco Skillet

Perfect for: The time-pressed home cook who values flavor and ease when creating dinner for the family.

Experience level: Beginner to intermediate


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There's no better gift for the home cook in your life than a cookbook. These five are the best out there for people who love to cook, love to learn, and love to try new and exciting recipes. Surprise your home cook with one of these and you'll be sure to have a happy chef in your life!
Top Cookbooks for the home cook in your life
Top cookbooks for the home cook

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