Cookbooks We Absolutely Love for Summer

Staying tucked away at home is so much more palatable, literally, when you’re eating well. And while there’s no shame in ordering delivery a few (or several) times a week, sometimes meals made from a good old-fashioned cookbook just taste better — maybe because they’re tested and curated by true pros. 

These foodie-approved gems are SwearBy faves, and just might make 2020 your most delish summer yet, whether you want to master an old-fashioned favorite or you want to get out into the world via your kitchen, courtesy of Anthony Bourdain.

Here, cookbooks we swear by for the summer.

Dining In by Alison Roman

Chrissy Teigen and Alison Roman may have gotten into a bit of a Twitter feud, but we’re not picking sides—at least when it comes to their divine cookbooks. Roman’s is a big favorite of SwearBy curators, who rave about its relatively simple yet mouthwatering recipes. Megan Lamoreaux loves the adaptability of each dish, and says they never fall short of delicious. “What can I say about this cookbook that hasn’t already been said? Alison Roman’s recipes are so refreshingly simple to follow, unlike many other cookbooks. I’ve had this cookbook for just over a month now, but I’ve probably cooked at least two recipes a week from it.” The impressive recipes within are a hit with dinner party guests, despite idiot-proof steps that are far easier than what you’ll find in Martha Stewart’s books. Plus, it’s fun to read. “I read this book like it was a novel,” says Kate Hofstra. “Can’t get enough of Alison Roman.” 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Martha Stewart are fans of this infamous food blog by Deb Perelman, which was kick-started in her teensy Manhattan apartment. So when some of her best recipes walked offline and into bookstores in the form of this must-have tome, people noticed. “I don’t have a great track record of actually cooking from the (many) cookbooks I own, but this is the one I reach for the most. Based on Deb Perelman’s food blog, it is full of recipes that are fairly easy yet come out delicious and impressive,” says Anika Chapin. Another SwearBy cook loves how relatable Perelman, who divulges plenty of personal intel about her own fam on the blog, is. “She writes in such an entertaining way and her meals are simple yet flavorful,” says Danielle Estrada

Cravings Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen

Safe to say Chrissy Teigen has some fans. The model and self-professed “de-motivational speaker” is a Twitter legend, with 13 million followers and counting showing up for her viral tweets (see this Buzzfeed list of some of her best, if you’re hard up for some LOLs). She’s also a hardcore foodie, having created indulgent comfort food recipes for everything from jalapeño parmesan-crusted grilled cheese to Thai soy-garlic fried ribs. Says Vidya Gopalan: “She is beyond hilarious. This cookbook is amazing and very easy to follow.” Like what you’re eating? Try Teigen’s latest cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More.

Food 52 Cookbook

Founded by longtime New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser, Food52 has become a go-to destination for all things edible (and edible-related), whether you want to perfect your grain-free chocolate chip cookie recipe or buy compostable bamboo napkins. Their cookbook, “A New Way to Dinner,” is just as helpful, with weekly recipe plans (ranging from olive oil-poached tuna to blistered tomatoes) and shopping lists. Among its many fans: Jessica Karle, who touts the wellness, sanity-saving aspect.“I can do a lot of things well but cooking healthy meals on the regular is not one of them. The authors opened my mind to the concept of meal planning with their tasty and easy-to-prep recipes.” Her fave recipe in the book? “Low Maintenance Fish Tacos, which are always a hit for a spontaneous dinner party.”

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

For a certain echelon of the food world’s cognoscenti, Ina can do no wrong. (I should know; I once did a photo shoot at her house where she explained she’d tested a scone recipe something like 45 times, and still didn’t have it right.) The only issue: she’s put out so many cookbooks, it’s hard to know where to start. Thankfully, Brooke Jaffe has the answer: “My sister and I love this the one best of her entire collection.” Her go-to dishes: 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. Ina knows how to dress up a veggie like no one else!” Another SwearBy curator, Lauren Kester, puts it best: “Ina is Queen.”

Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore

If you, like us, have spent quarantine gaining weight, consider this toxin-reducing cookbook written by a bona fide nutritionist your new, wellness-driven bestie. “A friend gave me this book while I was pregnant, and although I was initially insulted that they thought I’d even have time to cook after having a baby, it’s turned out to be a total lifesaver,” says Lizzy Ott. “These super easy recipes all have ten ingredients or less, incorporate fresh, healthy foods, and are so delicious!” On the lineup: chocolate chia milkshakes, banana coconut muffins, and cauliflower flatbread pizza. Say it with us: “Mmmmmmm.”

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

We’re still not over Anthony Bourdain’s passing. So this cookbook—which includes some 40 years of the CNN star’s favorite recipes, including fiercely authentic Korean fried chicken and “the grill bitch’s bar nuts,” from one of his early restaurant gigs in New York City—is comfort food, indeed. Says Stephanie Breijo: “Ask anyone in the food world to choose their favorite Bourdain tome, and most will name “Kitchen Confidential.” I’ll tell you mine: “Appetites,” the ultimate cookbook for the basics and all levels of home cooking, delivered with a pinch of irreverence and a whole lot of honesty. The range of topics and stellar copy, co-written by Laurie Woolever, are so entertaining that it’s impossible not to read the whole book front-to-back, even if you’ve never had any interest in Brazilian jiu jitsu or whipping up a batch of sarawak laksa paste before.”

Aloha Kitchen by Alana Kysar

Had to cancel your Hawaiian vacation? Save your tears and instead, bring the Hawaiian islands to you via this cookbook by Maui native Alana Kysar. “Whether you’re looking to learn some of your favorite Hawaiian food recipes or you want to transport to a tropical vacation by way of a homemade dish, look no further than this incredible cookbook,” says Sara Tan. “Not only does this book cover all the bases in terms of Hawaii food staples, but the recipes are also super easy to follow. Even novice home cooks will be able to replicate these delicious dishes!”

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