Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Books

The right book for everyone on your list, from the obsessive food-science geek to the recent college grad.

By America's Test Kitchen | December 02, 2016

There are two gifts that are better than all the rest: books and food. And if you can somehow combine the two, even better. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite publications from the past year—from a handbook that lays out basic kitchen skills to a guide to home preserving, you’re bound to find something on this list for your food-obsessed loved ones.

For the Recent Grad: What Good Cooks Know

This book distills 20 years of test kitchen expertise into a comprehensive kitchen guide. It’s perfect for the recent college graduate who, up to this point, may have relied on mom and dad or the folks in the dining hall for meal prep. Need to know what essential gear you need to outfit your kitchen? What about basic vegetable prep? Are you unsure whether or not it’s okay to use dry and wet measuring cups interchangeably? What Good Cooks Know will answer those questions and many, many more (and it’s also filled with a bunch of delicious recipes).

For the Food Geek: Cook's Science

Our follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Science of Good Cooking is the perfect gift for the food-science-obsessed geek in the family. Cook's Science focuses on 50 essential ingredients and investigates the science behind making them taste their very best.

For the Weekend Baker: Bread Illustrated

Do you have an avid baker in the family who’s often possessed by that big weekend bread project? Well, Bread Illustrated is the book for them. This fully illustrated handbook strips away the mystery of bread baking and provides a roadmap for making more than 100 foolproof recipes—simple and complex, modern and classic, savory and sweet—with hundreds of step-by-step photos. It’s a tome dedicated to celebrating both the art and the science of bread baking.

For the Health-Conscious Friend with a Sweet Tooth: Naturally Sweet

This title is for the friend who loves their sweets, but who also wants to cut back on the sugar. Naturally Sweet includes more than 100 recipes—including one for the iconic chocolate chip cookie—that eliminate 30% to 50% of the sugar used in traditional recipes. This book is packed with educational information, such as a guide to help familiarize cooks with different natural sweeteners like Sucanat and date sugar.

For the Friend with the Green Thumb: Foolproof Preserving

This one is for the loved one with a green thumb. Does your best friend grow perfect summer tomatoes? Are your aunt’s cucumbers the best cucumbers you’ve ever tasted? Is your father the world’s best pepper grower? Give them a copy of Foolproof Preserving and help them enjoy their harvests all year long.

For the Family Grilling Guru: Master of the Grill

Your dad’s favorite hat already proclaims he’s the “Grill Master,” so you might as well make it official and give him a copy of Master of the Grill. This outdoor cooking bible contains 692 recipes, ratings, tips, and techniques that will keep the family’s grill guru occupied for many summers (and maybe even winters) to come.

For the Old-School Home Cook: Cook It In Cast Iron

This book is for the friend or family member who’s dying to learn more recipes to cook in their well-seasoned, well-loved cast-iron skillet. (OK, it’s also for the friend or family member who isn’t aware yet that they love cooking in cast iron. In that instance, they’re going to need our cast iron kit.) Cast-iron skillets are incredibly versatile, durable, and 100% chemical free. Whether searing a flank steak on the stovetop or baking an apple pie in the oven, a cast-iron skillet is up to the task—and Cook It In Cast Iron is the perfect guide.  

For the Friend Who Studied Abroad in Spain: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook is for that friend who spent a semester abroad in Valencia and fell in love with the paella. (Then again, who doesn’t love paella?) Besides the cuisine’s reputation for being downright exquisite, the Mediterranean diet has been proven to be among the most healthy on the planet. This book is packed with 500 foolproof recipes you’ll love to eat (and feel good about eating).

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