Finding the ever-elusive perfect gift can be hard. Where do you even start when no two people on your shopping list have the same taste in, like, anything? We’ve been there, too.
Enter our go-to gift: the cookbook. Everyone likes food. Everyone likes pictures of food. Not everyone likes to cook, but anyone can use another coffee table book—right? And it just might inspire them to get into the kitchen. Read on for seven of our favorite Southern cookbooks published in 2017.
For the entertainer: New Orleans Cocktails: Over 100 Drinks from the Sultry Streets and Balconies of the Big Easy by Sarah Baird
New Orleans Cocktails reads like a crash course on New Orleans drinking, with bartender interviews and more than 100 cocktail recipes in the mix. Based in the Big Easy, author Sarah Baird has an insider’s take on the city’s bars and booze. Pair this book with a bottle of Louisiana-distilled liquor for a gift that really delivers the holiday spirit.
For the one-and-done kind of cook: The Southern Cast Iron Cookbook by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr
For those who are set on cooking meals in a single pan, The Southern Cast Iron Cookbook might be the best gift since, well, the cast-iron skillet. North Carolina native and blogger Elena Rosemond-Hoerr touches on the care of cast-iron skillets before sharing her best recipes, from beignets to bourbon quail.
For the unashamed carnivore: The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection by Matt Moore
Don’t mind the cheeky title. Part cookbook, part food-tour, The South’s Best Butts features profiles on some of the South’s best barbecue joints—Lafayette’s Johnson’s Boucanière made the cut—and the men and women behind them. Matt Moore, author of A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen, shares tried-and-true techniques as well as some unconventional recipes. (Barbecue-topped ramen, nachos and spaghetti for the win.)
For the all-things-Cajun connoisseur: The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist by Melinda Risch Winans and Cynthia LeJeune Nobles
Though born in Missouri, iconic Baton Rouge photographer Fonville Winans had a knack for Cajun and Creole cooking. Famous for photographing Louisiana’s people and culture, Winans left photographs and a collection of recipes unpublished when he died in 1992. The Fonville Winans Cookbook not only tells his story but also includes many of his recipes, photographs and notes on cooking. This gem of a cookbook is a must-buy for anyone who loves biographies, local history and, of course, food.
For the farmers market frequenter: Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Down-Home Classics for Vegetarians and the Meat Eaters Who Love Them by Damaris Phillips
Food Network Star winner and Kentucky native Damaris Phillips begins this cookbook with the story of her “meat cute” with her now-husband—how the weeks after their first date left her wondering whether she’d ever reconcile her love for down-home cooking with his vegetarian ethos. Two years into marriage, Phillips has adapted countless Southern classics into mouth-watering meatless meals, like buttermilk biscuits and tempeh gravy. Plant power.
For the busy bee: Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics by Robyn Stone
Make meal prep easier with Georgia-based blogger Robyn Stone’s simplified take on Southern cooking. Stone doesn’t sacrifice taste for time. Instead, she’ll show you that pepper jelly pork medallions or oven-fried green tomato caprese stacks can totally be cooked in a half-hour. Stone caters to convenience with recipes labeled freezer friendly, slow cooker favorites, 10 ingredients or fewer or 30 minutes or less.
For the aspiring pitmaster: Southern Barbecue & Grilling by Daniel Schumacher
Southern Barbecue & Grilling will leave wannabe pitmasters fired up and ready to cook some meat. From Louisiana Cookin’ editor Daniel Schumacher, this cookbook is full of beef, pork, chicken and seafood recipes, as well as tricks of the trade from bonafide Southern pitmasters.