I started writing cookbooks in 2005 before the publishing world discovered the internet. My co-author and I not only cold-called every newspaper around the country, but we also sent copies of our new book to all the food bloggers (there were only a few dozen at the time) to ask if they’d bake from it. They did and many of them wrote about us. It was a long and exhausting process, but we were confident if people tried our 5-Minute Bread method, they would love baking bread as much as we did. Eventually, it caught on, The New York Times wrote about us, and we’ve sold about 1 million copies of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day series since then.
The publishing game has changed a lot, but those early days made me keenly aware of how important it is to pay it forward. These books are a labor of love and a part of the author’s soul, so I want to help them share their talents with the world. Below are just some of the books I’ve loved reading and baking from.
Please share a book you are particularly excited about in the comments. I have hundreds of cookbooks but am always looking for new ones.
And don’t forget! You can get signed copies of my books in my ZoëBakes Shop! Whether you’d like to purchase on Amazon or from your favorite local independent bookstore, you can find all the details about Zoë Bakes Cakes right here.
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Best Cookbooks 2023
Bake Smart by Samantha Seneviratne – Samantha is such a beautiful baker and her new book, along with her show on Magnolia Network exudes her charm and love for baking. She gives you the tips and tricks to bake smarter and the recipes are both accessible and delicious.
Snacking Bakes by Yossy Arefi – This is the follow-up book to Yossy’s Snacking Cakes, both are full of brilliantly simple recipes that deliver on flavor and satisfy every possible craving. I made this delicious Tahini Cake with Berries from Snacking Bakes and used cranberries for the season.
Big Heart Little Stove by Erin French – if you’ve had the good fortune to have your postcard chosen and journeyed to Erin’s restaurant in Freedom, Maine, you know what all the buzz is about. You’ll want this book as a keepsake of that experience. For the rest of us, this is our way of recreating the magic of The Lost Kitchen. Erin shares all the bits that make her food and tables so special. I’ve baked the ice cream stuffed cream puffs with caramel sauce and they are just perfect for an occasion or a Tuesday.
100 Morning Treats by Sarah Kieffer – By now you know that Sarah is one of my favorite bakers. Her 100 Cookies is a MUST HAVE and this book is too. Her recipes are delicious, and you can be confident that every bake will come out just like the gorgeous photos. I baked her cruffins filled with pastry cream and I love them so much! You can read my Q&A with Sarah about the book (and Extras subscribers get the recipe for the cruffins!) here. And get a chocolate tart recipe from her book Baking for the Holidays here.
True North Cabin Cookbook by Stephanie Hansen – This book is about the love and respect Minnesotans have for the North Woods cabin culture. Starting with a campfire cocktail, followed by comfort foods we want to share with family or just eat in our cozy robe after a winter sauna. Then there are the classic desserts that make you smile and feel good about life. The Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake is a must!
More Than Cake by Natasha Pickowicz – Natasha is an amazing pastry chef and super creative. She balances her high level of technical know-how with whimsy and surprise. She decorates a cake with lettuce, and you find yourself wondering why you hadn’t thought of it. I made the Espresso, Chocolate, and Spicy Hazelnut Cake, which was over-the-top yummy!
Bake it Better by Matt Adlard – He’ll mesmerize you on Instagram with his precise pastry-making skills that turn into edible jewels or playful treats. Matt’s book is all about helping you kick up your pastry game a notch or two or three. He starts with a simple plan and then elevates it with pastry chef flair. He’s self-taught so he encourages everyone to follow suit and push themselves, ever so slowly to the next level. I fell hard for his incredibly easy and fail-safe chocolate souffle, which I’ve made a few times.
Company by Amy Thielen – You’ll want to be invited to Amy’s house for a party, but she lives kinda far away, so you’ll be grateful she wrote down, in great detail, how to throw a “radically casual” party yourself. I love throwing a party and she has delicious secrets on how to prep, cook, bake, and be a guest at your own soiree. It’s an art she has perfected, and I am so pleased she shares her menus and advice so freely. I made the Lemon Nemesis for a family gathering and it was dynamite. I even taught my very young (maybe too young) niece how to use a blowtorch, which none of us will forget (especially her dad, my brother). 😉
The Ranch Table by Elizabeth Poett – Another one of my Magnolia Network sisters who serves up gorgeous food from her ranch and makes you want to take up horseback riding and makes you want to reorganize your spices (I have a bit of pantry envy). We can’t all live on a bucolic ranch with endless lavender fields but with Elizabeth’s book, we can recreate the dream of it at home. I made her Peanut Butter Meringue Pie, and I am a better person for it!
Veg Forward by Susan Spungen – Susan is the food stylist and recipe developer to the stars. She’s worked with Julia Child and Martha Stewart, just to name a couple. Her food is gorgeous but beyond that, it is full of flavor and seasonal ingredients. The book is, as the title suggests, about putting the delicious vegetables first, which is how I prefer to eat. She sprinkles in some beautiful fruit too. I made the lovely strawberry tartlets with goat cheese filling and popped them in my mouth like they were candy. So fresh and bright and creamy.
Tenderheart by Hetty McKinnon – Hetty’s food is soulful and from the heart. Every recipe evokes a sense of love and comfort because she is developing them for her own family and from her rich experience in the kitchen. I’ve had the great fortune to eat in Hetty’s kitchen and they were some of the most soul-satisfying dishes I’ve ever eaten. Luckily, we can all cook like that now with the recipes from her books. I made her rhubarb upside-down cake and it’s simply awesome.
Cookbooks I am excited to bake and cook from but haven’t had the chance yet:
Baking School by King Arthur Baking Company – Everything they do is thoughtful and makes us better bakers. This book is designed to teach the art of baking and I think it will help make sense of some of the mysteries behind cookies, cakes, pies, and bread.
Scandinavian from Scratch by Nichole Accettola – I’ve become nearly obsessed with Scandinavian baking in the last few years. It is the foundation of so much of the Midwest culture of baking and this book takes it to a new level. It offers up a whole world of sweets and pastries that I want to live in. The photos are gorgeous, and you’ll want to bake it all.
Holiday Coupetails by Brian Hart Hoffman and Brooke Bell – these two know how to do a deep dive on everything festive, charming, and tipsy. They had me at the coupe glass, which I find the most elegant and just the sight of the delicate stemware means a party is on the way. The recipes are a mix of classics and some fun twists on cocktails for the holidays. Plus, there are snacks to serve at your party.
Make it Japanese by Rie McClenny – I met Rie at a Cherry Bombe event and she did a demo from her book. In 30 minutes, she convinced me that Japanese food is completely doable, even for someone who loves to bake but cooking can be challenging. I love Japanese food, so this book is super exciting to me.
Noon by Meike Peters – My biggest meal of the day is lunch, so making it something special is key and this book will get you there. Salads, soups, stews, sandwiches, sweet and savory tarts, plus more. They all look brilliant!
Veg-Table by Nik Sharma – A heady read about vegetables. He comes at food from an engineering background and this book feels like a resource manual for all the vegetables you’ve been curious about but haven’t known what to do with.
In Mary’s Kitchen by Mary Berg – The Canadian TV cooking host has created a stress-free cookbook for every home cook. Her style is fun and approachable. This is a great one for a new cook.
The Food of Sicily by Fabrizia Lanza – I’m obsessed with Sicilian food and culture and this book satisfies my curiosity for both. It is gorgeous and makes you feel like you are there. I want to make everything in this book.
Cherry Bombe Magazine is filled with recipes and stories of women in the food industry. It is stylish, delicious, and makes an excellent gift.