Cookbooks to get your Quarantine Baking Skills to the Next Level

You’d think spending waaaay more time at home would inspire me to improve my chef skills, but my meals lately have been nothing short of #sad (see: the fairly flavorless quesadillas I seem to be making every single day). Is winter making my life lackluster and uninspired? Or is it this seemingly endless pandemic? 


Now that vaccines and the promise of a return to normal are on the horizon, I think it’s beyond time to embrace all things delicious again. These cookbooks, all favorites of SwearBy curators, are tailor-made to put edible bliss on your table, whether you’re cooking for your whole brood or just you.

Dining In by Alison Roman

Sure, Alison Roman had a feud with none other than Chrissy Teigen. But who among us hasn’t put our foot in our mouths when we should have been eating, like, croissants instead?? Plus, Dining In received rave reviews for good reason. “This cookbook is simple and smart,” says Laura Denby, a private chef. “With plenty of warm, inviting recipes using quality ingredients and punchy flavors, your guests will keep coming back dinner after dinner.” Megan Shea is equally obsessed, using it to make at least two meals a week. “What can I say about this cookbook that hasn’t already been said? The recipes are so easy and adaptable, and never fall short of delicious.” Recipes in this tome include the aptly-named “Shrimp in the Shells with Lots of Garlic and Probably Too Much Butter.”

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients: Ina Garten

I was lucky enough to interview Ina Garten in her Hamptons home once, and, lemme tell you: she really is as great as she seems. So it’s no surprise her cookbooks are legendary. The question is, which Barefoot Contessa cookbook should the uninitiated buy? “My sister and I love this the one best of her entire collection,” says longtime Ina fan Brooke Jaffe. “Go to dishes from this one: Tuscan Lemon Chicken and the Parmesan Roasted Broccoli. I’ve made these dozens of times and I always feel like I’m serving something impressive. I think Ina knows how to dress up a veggie like no one else and I genuinely love her ingredients.” Lauren Kester puts it simply: “Ina is Queen.”

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

“I love a good laugh, this book with all its swears and puns kept me laughing in the kitchen while whipping up some really delicious food,” says Alice Keefe of this vegetarian favorite brand, now called Bad Manners, with recipes ranging from maple berry grits to roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos. “And it’s just inappropriate enough to spark the interest of my tween daughters to get them helping in the kitchen. Such a fun book, I bought one for each of my BFF’S.” Jess Hughes raves over it too. “I don’t love cooking, but I do love swearing and eating good vegetarian food!” Preach.

Cravings Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen

If you like Chrissy on Twitter, you’ll LOVE her in Cravings. Because she’s clearly way more than just a pretty face/bod. “As a huge Chrissy Teigen fan, I was so excited to buy this book – and I’m so happy I did!” says Reagan Villet of the tome, which contains what she calls “amazing” recipes. Included among them: Chinese chicken salad summer rolls and sweet chili fajita tacos. “She is beyond hilarious,” says Vidya Gopalan. “Her cookbook is amazing and very easy to follow…My fav thing about this book is the variety and flavors; if you are a mild-flavored person, this may not be a good fit for you.” Like spice? Bring it on!

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence

Listen, I’m no clairvoyant, but I think I can say with confidence I’m gonna need a helluvalot of dessert to get through 2021. Which is where this cookbook by YouTube fave Claire Saffitz comes in. “That’s right—the always lovely Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit has written a cookbook dedicated entirely to baking,” says Madeleine Letellier. She’s not the only one who can’t get enough. Says Ryan Schroeder, who loves how well-written it is: “Dessert Person is so00oo good. I’ve made several recipes already and each one blew me away. Everything is either the best version of an old standby, a new twist on a classic, or something entirely new (to me at least). Don’t sleep on the Thrice Baked Rye Cookies.” Aye aye, boss. 

Hi! [Insert waving blonde emoji here] I'm a Colorado-based freelance writer, and I'm Niles Crane-level picky about everyyyyything.