If you haven’t heard of a cookbook book club (say that ten times fast), then you are in for a treat! A cookbook club is a community that gathers once a month to dine on and discuss specific recipes from a selected cookbook. Now, all of us here at Off the Shelf might not be experts in the kitchen, but we do have some experience curating niche book club lists for everything from thriller groups to seasonal historical fiction and beyond. So if you’re interested in starting up your own club, here are some fantastic picks to get you going.
In the hit series Binging with Babish, YouTube sensation Andrew Rea teaches cooking techniques for every skill level. Covering recipes from challah bread to homemade bacon, this comprehensive cookbook based on the series features hundreds of step-by-step photos and valuable tips, while embracing learning through culinary mistakes. BASICS WITH BABISH is more than a guide; it’s a testament to growth and learning in the kitchen, making it the perfect pick for even the most novice of home cooks.
Our discussion question pick: What was your worst cooking mistake, and how did you fix it?
NAMED A BEST COOKBOOK OF FALL 2023 BY FOOD & WINE, DELISH, and TASTING TABLE
Over 100 easy-to-follow recipes that teach you how to learn from your mistakes and become a better cook, from the culinary genius who created the Babish Culinary Universe YouTube channel in this long-awaited companion.
In his wildly popular Basics with Babish series, YouTube star Andrew Rea, who has amassed millions of subscribers, attempts, often fails, but always teaches cooking techniques for all levels of cooks. He’s explained everything from how to make challah bread and English muffins to Asian dumplings and homemade bacon. Now those classic, essential recipes (and many more) are compiled into an authoritative cookbook which contains hundreds of step-by-step photographs with tips and tricks to help you troubleshoot anything from broken butter to burnt bread to bony branzino. Basics with Babish isn’t just a kitchen Bible for a new generation of home chefs, it’s a proud reclamation of mistakes which encourages you to learn from your and Andrew’s missteps alike.
Andrew Rea launched Binging with Babish on YouTube in 2016, recreating and reimagining dishes from famous television programs and movies inspired by everything from Mad Men to The Simpsons to Game of Thrones. The tie-in cookbook, Binging with Babish, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and fans of that book and countless more will delight in this new cookbook which will truly teach you how to cook, with Rea’s beloved sense of humor and guiding hand throughout.
If you have friends who are fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race or who like their meals with a side of tea, this is the book to kick off your club with. Part Southern-inspired cookbook and part hilarious yet vulnerable memoir, SOUTHERN FRIED SASS will satisfy your taste buds and your desire for discourse. This treat is jam-packed with more than fifty recipes, including The Minx’s Sick’ning Scalloped Pineapple Paradise, Red Barn BBQ Ribs platter, and Better Than Sex cake, plus the most valuable lessons Ginger has learned from both her years in drag and her grandmother’s personal brand of Southern resilience.
Our discussion question pick: How does this cookbook subvert the idea of femininity and women in the kitchen?
RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Ginger Minj shares her favorite recipes, best advice, and wildest stories in this hilarious book that’s part memoir, part cookbook. Perfect for fans of Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood.
Drag icon Ginger Minj brings her signature humor and sass to this tongue-in-cheek memoir-cum-life manual-cum-cookbook. Featuring Ginger’s favorite Southern-inspired recipes, Southern Fried Sass showcases some of her most vulnerable and celebratory moments, revealing the most valuable lessons she’s learned after years in drag and the pearls of wisdom she’s gleaned from her grandmother’s personal brand of Southern resilience.
You’ll cheer for Ginger as she spills the tea with exclusive behind-the-scenes details from three seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and offers her best advice on everything from contouring to cooking and setting the table for a full-on Southern-style Thanksgiving dinner. Did we say dinner? Here, you’ll find more than fifty recipes, including The Minx’s Sick’ning Scalloped Pineapple Paradise, Red Barn BBQ Ribs platter, Better Than Sex cake, and countless other decadent desserts. From fighting for what you’re worth to looking good on a motorcycle as a big girl to finding love while also making damn good cupcakes, this is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to live their best life.
This one is for the history buffs out there! Max Miller re-creates dishes from the past, often using historical recipes from vintage texts, and then updates them for modern kitchens while telling the stories behind their culture. From ancient Rome to Ming China to medieval Europe and beyond, Miller has collected the best-loved recipes from around the world, shared with beautiful photographs and historical artwork throughout. This book creates the perfect opportunity to discuss history and the evolution of cuisine, and if you want to really level up your experience, have everyone pick a recipe from a specific era and also read a historical fiction book from that time period, so there’s even more to talk about!
Our discussion question pick: What myths about the cooking of early civilizations did this book dispel for you?
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Begin your very own food journey through the centuries and around the world with the first cookbook from the beloved YouTube channel Tasting History with Max Miller—a perfect gift for Father’s Day!
What began as a passion project when Max Miller was furloughed during Covid-19 has become a viral YouTube sensation. The Tasting History with Max Miller channel has thrilled food enthusiasts and history buffs alike as Miller recreates a dish from the past, often using historical recipes from vintage texts, but updated for modern kitchens as he tells stories behind the cuisine and culture. From ancient Rome to Ming China to medieval Europe and beyond, Miller has collected the best-loved recipes from around the world and has shared them with his fans. Now, with beautiful photographs portraying the dishes and historical artwork throughout, Tasting History compiles over sixty dishes such as:
-Tuh’u: a red beet stew with leeks dating back to 1740 BC
-Globi: deep-fried cheese balls with honey and poppy seeds
-Soul Cakes: yeasted buns with currants from circa 1600
-Pumpkin Tourte: a crustless pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon and sugar on top from 1570
-And much more.
Including the original recipe and Miller’s modern recreation, this cookbook is a must-have for any avid cook or history fan looking to experience delicious recipes from the past.
If you’re ready to start your club tomorrow, there’s no better place to begin than with PREPPY KITCHEN. With recipes like Pecan Shortbread + Rosemary Caramel Bars and Blackberry-Balsamic Pork Chops, Kanell’s dishes are the ideal addition to your table this cozy season. And, along with the delicious recipes and time-saving tips and tricks, you’ll find special projects like making flower arrangements, crafting winter wreaths, and pickling vegetables.
Our discussion question pick: What’s a cherished holiday recipe in your family, and what’s the story behind it?
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Decadent, delicious seasonal comfort foods and desserts you can make at home no matter what your cooking level from the beloved social media star @PreppyKitchen.
Preppy Kitchen creator John Kanell delivers his fan-favorite recipes and baked goods so everyone can create them at home. Organized by season so you can shop at peak freshness and embrace new traditions, the dishes featured in Preppy Kitchen are inspired by well-loved staples updated with a touch of Kanell’s signature sophistication.
-Chive and Parmesan Buttermilk Biscuits
-Pecan Shortbread and Rosemary Caramel Bars
-Roasted Garlic and Olive-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
-Blackberry-Balsamic Pork Chops
-Apple Butter and Marzipan Bread
-Chorizo Beef Burgers with Queso and Avocado
-Fresh Tostadas with Green Tomato and Mango Salsa
-And many more!
In addition to the delicious recipes that feature tips and tricks throughout to help save time in the kitchen, Kanell includes special projects, everything from making flower arrangements and winter wreaths to pickling vegetables. Through these mouthwatering recipes, inspirational crafts, and beautiful photography, Preppy Kitchen is sure to delight longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Pasta royalty Nadia Caterina Munno’s THE PASTA QUEEN is a New York Times bestseller that features over 100 delectable recipes alongside Munno’s signature pasta tips, which are 100 percent authentic to Italian tradition. This guide is ideal for a group with all levels of culinary expertise, as it includes everything from the process of creating the perfect bowl of naked noodles to a dish that is larger and more complex than the Colosseum itself. Plus . . . who doesn’t like pasta?
Our discussion question pick: If you were forced to eat only one pasta dish for the rest of your life, which shape and sauce would you choose?
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
TikTok sensation and beloved home cook Nadia Caterina Munno, a.k.a. The Pasta Queen, presents a cookbook of never-before-shared recipes featuring the signature pasta tips and tricks that are 100% authentic to Italian traditions—and just as gorgeous as you are.
In the first-ever cookbook from TikTok star and social media sensation Nadia Caterina Munno—a.k.a. The Pasta Queen—is opening the recipe box from her online trattoria to share the dishes that have made her pasta royalty. In this delectable antipasto platter of over 100 recipes, cooking techniques, and the tales behind Italy’s most famous dishes (some true, some not-so-true), Nadia guides you through the process of creating the perfect pasta, from a bowl of naked noodles to a dish large and complex enough to draw tears from the gods. Whether it’s her viral Pasta Al Limone, a classic Carbonara, or a dish that’s entirely Nadia’s—like her famous Assassin’s Spaghetti—The Pasta Queen’s recipes will enchant even the newest of pasta chefs.
Featuring a colorful tour of Italy through stunning photographs and celebratory tales of the country’s rich culinary heritage, along with stories about Nadia’s own life and family, The Pasta Queen is a cookbook that will warm your heart, soothe your soul, and spice up your life. And best of all? It’s just gorgeous.
From the Slutty Vegan herself comes a collection of 91 mouthwatering plant-based recipes that will impress even the most carnivorous of eaters. With gorgeous photographs and easy-to-follow instructions, EAT PLANTS, B*TCH celebrates Pinky Cole’s belief that cooking and enjoying irresistible vegan comfort food is both fun and accessible. From Avocado Egg Rolls to her Black Pea Cauliflower Po’Boy or Oyster Mushroom Parm and everything in between, this book delivers on the promise of flavor first, and the fact that it also happens to be vegan feels like an added bonus.
Our discussion question pick: How do the origins and cultural significance of soul food intersect with modern plant-based movements?
From the Slutty Vegan herself, a collection of ninety-one delicious, guilt-free, plant-based recipes that you will love to indulge in from the comfort of your own home.
When Pinky Cole opened her first Slutty Vegan food truck in 2018, she was inspired by her love of vegan comfort food. Now, after having expanded to restaurants, a bar, and a philanthropic organization, Cole is ready to bring her best recipes straight to you.
With mouth-watering photographs and easy-to-follow instructions, Eat Plants, B*tch celebrates Cole’s belief that it’s fun and accessible to cook and enjoy irresistible vegan comfort food. From Avocado Egg Rolls to her Black Pea Cauliflower Po’Boy or Oyster Mushroom Parm and everything in between, it won’t be long before you will also be declaring Cole’s timeless mantra: Eat Plants, B*tch!
We couldn’t help but include this renowned behemoth of a cookbook here because it really is as fantastic as people say! If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s the short version: learn to cook by mastering the use of just four elements—salt to enhance flavor, fat to deliver flavor and generate texture, acid to balance flavor, and heat to ultimately determine the texture of the food. SALT FAT ACID HEAT goes beyond merely being a series of recipes; it serves as a visionary master class in cooking.
Our discussion question pick: How does the book’s emphasis on mastering fundamental principles, rather than just following recipes, empower you as a cook?
If you’re still waiting for your Hogwarts letter after twenty years, or you want to include the kiddos in your book club this month, you can’t go wrong with THE UNOFFICIAL HARRY POTTER COOKBOOK! With more than 150 easy-to-make recipes, tips, and techniques, you can indulge in spellbindingly delicious meals drawn straight from the pages a childhood classic. So while you might not be able to cozy up at the Burrow with the Weasleys, you can bring together your friends and family for your very own Yule feast!
Our discussion question pick: How do the foods of the Wizarding World reflect the whimsical and unpredictable nature of magic?
“A fun way to get kids interested in Harry Potter also interested in food.” —New York Magazine
Conjure up feasts that rival the Great Hall’s, sweets fit for the Minister of Magic, snacks you’d find on the Hogwarts Express, and more! This bestselling unofficial Harry Potter cookbook is perfect for chefs of all ages, from new readers to longtime fans—no wands required!
Bangers and mash with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Hogwarts dining hall.
A proper cuppa tea and rock cakes in Hagrid's hut.
Cauldron cakes and pumpkin juice on the Hogwarts Express.
With this cookbook, dining a la Hogwarts is as easy as Banoffee Pie! With more than 150 easy-to-make recipes, tips, and techniques, you can indulge in spellbindingly delicious meals drawn straight from the pages of your favorite Potter stories, such as:
Treacle Tart--Harry's favorite dessert
Molly's Meat Pies--Mrs. Weasley's classic dish
Kreacher's French Onion Soup
Pumpkin Pasties--a staple on the Hogwarts Express cart
With a dash of magic and a drop of creativity, you'll conjure up the entrees, desserts, snacks, and drinks you need to transform ordinary Muggle meals into magical culinary masterpieces, sure to make even Mrs. Weasley proud!
Photo credit: iStock / Evgeniya_Semenycheva