Behind The Butter

My Favorite Cookbooks

I get asked quite often about what my latest favorite cookbooks are since as much as I love developing recipes, that sometimes feels like a job to me. What I really love is paging through a wonderful cookbook, stumbling across something that sounds amazing and whipping it up for my family! That’s how I actually destress. I have a LOT of cookbooks. I feel like I’ve been collecting them for at least fifteen years now, and I keep them all out in a big bookshelf in our living room where I can see them all! 

My “favorites” list is constantly changing, but since you asked, here are a few of my most used cookbooks. The ones I come back to time and time again, whose pages are dogeared and stained. I hope you can find some inspiration from this post. Food blogs are truly wonderful, but at the end of the day I am such a tactile person that I prefer cooking from a book rather than a blog (maybe I shouldn’t say that because you’ll stop reading my blog? haha). 

Food52 A New Way to Dinner:

I love this book! I don’t follow it to a T (as in, I don’t prep all our meals on Sunday for the entire week like the book recommends) but I have really loved all of the recipes that I’ve tried and it’s actually made me more into leftovers! I love how the recipes use leftovers in creative ways. There are so many winners: chicken with chermoula sauce, rosy chicken, fish tacos, thai steak salad….I would buy this book just for the baked rice recipe because it’s literally changed my life and it’s the ONLY rice that I will make now. 

Dining In:

I just love the way Alison (the author) writes! I laugh out loud while reading this and her lemon shaker tart is THE BEST LEMON DESSERT IN THE WORLD. Seriously though. I’ve made it a few times and even my husband who claims to not “like” lemon desserts goes crazy over it. Oh, and the chocolate chip cookies, which are actually more like chocolate chunk shortbread, are divine…as is the bucatini with roasted tomatoes and anchovies (and I never thought I liked anchovies?). I made her buttermilk biscuits last night and they are gigantic and incredible. Oh, and the citrus olive oil poached salmon!! Basically, you can’t go wrong. I cook from this book so much for our family.

Deep Run Roots:

I love the author’s show on PBS (Chef’s Life) and love this book, too. Let’s just say after trying her method for brining pork chops I could never NOT brine chops again. Incredible. I also adore her tomato pie recipe. A few months back, I ponied up and made her eastern carolina biscuits with lard and woahhhhhhh nelly. This is a huge book and obviously was a big labor of love to make. The photos are stunning and I love all of the little bits of her life that she writes about as well. 


Well, you guys probably know my love for Ottolenghi by now! I call him my British boyfriend. I love that man. Yes, his recipes are all a little involved (and all involve boatloads of either cilantro or lemon) but I love them all the same. Everything I have ever made from this book has been jaw dropping incredible. The very full vegetable tart is one of my favorite recipes in the entire world. I catered a baby shower once using recipes from this book and had such good response. Those little green pancakes with the lime butter! Drool. 

Plenty More:

Just an extension of the first book! This book is worth it alone for the tagliatelle recipe with walnuts and lemon. I also made his version of Ash-e reshteh (sort of like a thick, wonderful Persian minestrone soup) and crave it all the time now. I can’t wait to make it again once the weather gets a little cooler. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, I will probably make it and freeze it sans noodles because it would be wonderful postpartum. 


This is the most beautiful cookbook. I take it to bed sometimes and just read it over a cup of tea. I’ve made many things from it, but I think my favorite is the roast chicken with clementines, which I basically make all winter long. I also love the chicken and rice recipe (one of my family’s favorites), the burnt eggplant recipe and his method for hummus. Did I mention how obsessed I am with Ottolenghi?? It’s on my life bucket list to go to London and eat at one of his restaurants. 

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life:

Speaking of taking books to bed with you, this is my favorite bedtime read. Oh, Ruth! The prose are beautiful and the accompanying recipes are delicious. My favorite recipe so far is the pork and tomatillo stew (another great meal to make a freeze!). Just the way that she writes….I love it. I have heard that her recipe for grilled cheese is life changing but haven’t made it yet so if you make it, let me know!

Small Victories:

So I JUST got this but I already know I’m going to love it because FRIED CHICKEN. Omg. Her fried chicken is so darn good. I have many recipes flagged that I want to make – especially the snow day udon soup and the chocolate cake. I love the way she writes and have been a fan of Julia’s for some time now (she co-wrote Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, It’s all Good, which I love). 

Apples for Jam

A beautiful, cozy book to curl up with! Make the pan fried sole! It could be one of the best fish dishes I have ever made in my kitchen. So delicious. We also love her banana bread and her apple bread. This book is full of simple Italian influenced recipes, and I can’t get enough of the way she writes.

How to Eat

I absolutely adore Nigella Lawson. I have clung to this book for ten years now and it’s been such a lifeline to me. I can’t believe I JUST made her garlic chicken wings because woah…incredible. This is probably my most dogeared and stained book in my collection and it’s been a good friend to me through it all. If you have to pick one book…gosh, get this. You won’t regret it. It’s very special.

Nigella Express

Worth it for the pork chops with cider recipe! It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals and I always serve it over gnocchi. I am starving now just thinking about it. My mom has made her chicken and ribs tray back and said it was absolutely incredible. If I am ever lacking dinner inspiration, I go here first.










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  • Courtney
    August 14, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    For the baked rice recipe, do you use brown or white rice? I have this cookbook and have been wanting to try this recipe since you recommended it so highly, but we eat brown rice. Any suggestions on changing cooking time or amount of liquid?

    • jenna
      August 15, 2018 at 6:46 am

      I only ever use white rice in anything! I wouldn’t change the cooking time with brown rice. Or just try it and adjust accordingly?

  • Milo
    August 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    So cool, thanks for sharing this list!!

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  • Lee R
    August 15, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I already had a cookbook problem and now I want to add all of these to my collection šŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing!

  • Sue
    August 15, 2018 at 7:03 am

    I love your list of books! I have a couple of them and since I agree they are awesome, I’ll have to buy the others. Thank you for the recommendations.

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm
    August 15, 2018 at 7:23 am

    I love a good cookbook! I’ll totally have to check some of these out from the library soon!


  • sally
    August 15, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I LOVE Small Victories. You MUST make the lasagna (I just handroll the pasta and prefer it that way), turkey ricotta meatballs, indecision chicken, and zucchini fritters.

  • Grandma Honey
    August 23, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I bought the Food52 cook book a few days ago and made the baked rice on Pg 83 last night. It’s magical the way it turns into pilaf while baking in the oven! We quite like it and today I’m going to make it again using brown rice. I will add about 1/2 cup more water and put the baking time up to 45 minutes. We’ll see how it works!

    • Grandma Honey
      August 25, 2018 at 11:42 am

      So I tried using brown rice and made the changes for that (see my comment above) and I thought it worked perfectly! A different flavor since it was brown rice obviously, but still very good!

      • Courtney
        August 28, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        Thanks for leaving this comment! Iā€™m going to make this this week!

  • Grandma Honey
    August 23, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Sorry, I meant to say chicken broth….I didn’t make it with water, I used chicken broth. šŸ™‚ And thanks Jenna for this great post on cookbooks!

  • Molly
    August 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I am loving the Dining In cookbook!! My husband is always asking for the chicken gator recipe!
    I may sign up to make biscuits for Thanksgiving with your enthusiasm over them!

  • Michele Koltookian
    September 17, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Thank you Jenna for this post!!! I have been having a hard time on the dinner front lately and have been wanting to desperately add to my cookbook collection so great to have suggestions on what you and your family have loved! PS. My twins boys (3 yrs old) love watching your Instagram stories with me and seeing your boys they ask me daily to see their friends on mama’s phone. šŸ™‚

  • sarah
    September 19, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I LOVE Dining In. If you haven’t read or cooked out of Michael Solomonov’s Zahav yet, do it! It’s a real winner in every way. Beautiful, loving writing, gorgeous photos, and fantastic recipes.

  • Jassica
    February 15, 2019 at 12:51 am

    I like favorite Cookbook. It Is really helpful article.

  • Grandma Honey
    February 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    I know you are so busy these days, and not sure when you will see this…but I have a quick question. I have made the baked rice from The New Way to Dinner cookbook numerous times and we love it. Today my DIL asked me if that recipe can be doubled or tripled and still work out? She is having company over tomorrow. Have you ever made that baked rice in larger quantities?

  • Ed W
    March 14, 2019 at 5:08 am

    ‘Dining In’ by Alison Roman is a favorite of mine. This has definitely given me a few new cookbooks to check out though.

    You can never have enough cookbooks šŸ™‚


  • Rani
    July 10, 2020 at 1:10 am

    Thanks for sharing