Foodies rejoice because this is your holiday!

Yes, Thanksgiving is all about, literally, giving thanks. But it’s also, indubitably, about the food. Smithsonian Magazine reported that some of our now-classics were at that first feast, including pumpkins, turkey and cranberries, but alas, there were no potatoes whether mashed, smashed or otherwise dressed up. But who needs to have a perfectly authentic Thanksgiving supper, anyway? 

These days, you can serve practically whatever you want at the big meal. This modern approach leaves a lot of room for options, which can leave chefs with an alarmingly big decision to make. How do you know what to make when you can make anything at all?

Here’s some help! We have a collection of suggestions for Thanksgiving (and any season) with some of the best cooking and baking books. Happy Holidays!

Gobble: The Quintessential Thanksgiving Playbook
by PK Isacs and Nadine Isacs

Gobble is the debut book from this ambitious mother-son duo, who for years have hosted elaborate Thanksgiving celebrations for their family and friends. These feasts were so beloved that they merited going on record, and so the duo decided to write the book; they were especially motivated after the tragic and sudden death of their father/husband in August 2020. Gobble honors him and their favorite holiday with its all-in-one guidelines for everything Thanksgiving. Now you can learn to both start new traditions and embrace old ones, go forth and set the best tablescape your guests have ever seen, and, of course, serve up the meal of a lifetime (with a perfect beverage pairing, too.) So much more than just directions for a delicious dinner, Gobble will give answers to all our festive questions and help you create an atmosphere of gratitude. Simply reading it cover to cover is a feast for the heart. 

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The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of America’s Great Classic Cookbook
by Marion Cunningham

Old school? Have I got the cookbook for you. This book was my mother’s tome, her culinary bible. I remember her leafing through it when I was too small to hold the heavy volume in my own tiny, sticky hands. Certain recipes were bookmarked, some were marked up with hard-to-decipher penciled-in additions, and many pages eventually were falling out from constant use. This cookbook isn’t only well-loved by my family, but by countless families across decades since its publication in 1896; Fannie compiled such a behemoth that, if you so chose, you could only ever make recipes from one source for the rest of your life. It’s basic, it’s essential, but it’s also impressively comprehensive and, therefore, endlessly surprising. In giving the old book new life, Cunningham kept all of Fannie’s best while retesting and rewriting when necessary and also rediscovering some lost gems. You can’t go wrong! 

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Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
By Samin Nosrat

Have you seen the Netflix series that’s brought joy to cooks, travelers and take-out-ordering couch potatoes alike? If you haven’t, and if you fall into the third category, you may rocket to chef-status when riding the waves of inspiration that come rolling in thanks to the loveable Samin’s show and book. A New York Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook and multiple IACP Cookbook Awards, the cheerful yet educational volume highlights the four elements that make food deeply delicious: Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food. With heaping doses of these medicines, your mediocre meal will be healed beyond recognition and become a transcendent experience. This one’s been named one of the Best Books of 2017 by NPR, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Rachel Ray Every Day, San Francisco Chronicle, Vice Munchies, Elle.com, Glamour, Eater … need I go on? Last but not least, it doesn’t just throw recipes at you; it takes you on a culinary journey that, by the end, will leave you with all the skills and tools you need for confidence in the kitchen. 

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Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains
By Tieghan Gerard

I almost don’t want to tell you about Half-Baked Harvest because it feels like a personal secret. That’s the glorious vibe that Tieghan Gerard manages to exude in her work; you’re right there with her in her bucolic Colorado home and she cooks her way through wildflower-flecked summers and white-clad winters. But I wish her all the best, and I wish you all the best, so my conscience leads me to recommend that you all meet Tieghan yourselves. For a taste of what to expect in the physical cookbooks, first check out her blog. She posts new recipes daily (yes, every day!), seasonal roundups and even a collection of Thanksgiving cocktails to try. You’ll see some of her gorgeous photography, too, which will appear even better on the glossy pages of real books sitting pretty on your kitchen shelves or, since they’re so dazzling, your living room coffee table. Well, they won’t be pristine long, because you’ll use them so often that I expect chocolate smears across the pages. Best of all, she has a sequel called Super Simple published in 2019, and a third, Everyday, to release in 2022. While you wait for the package to arrive with your new cookbook, may I recommend making Cider Pumpkin Waffles with Salted Maple Butter for your Thanksgiving brunch? 

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Cooking With Nonna: A Year of Italian Holidays
By Rosella Rago

An Italian by blood, at heart and in stomach, I had to include this collection of recipes straight from the mouths of real Italian grandmas. While you are correct in assuming that Thanksgiving isn’t the top priority for Italians, Italian-Americans use the food-centered holiday as the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops. Care for a side of lasagna with your turkey, anyone? Okay, you may not find a lot of traditional Thanksgiving menu items here, but you’ll find some with a Mediterranean flair as well as a plethora of recipes for other occasions. Christmas is close on the heels of Thanksgiving, after all, and trust me, Italians do Christmas right. Have you heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve? And if you’ve never tried struffoli, delightful little fried dough balls wreathed in lemony honey and dusted with sprinkles, your holidays are sorely lacking. Buy this book or I’ll give you the Malocchio (aka “the evil eye.”) All kidding aside, family is the core of Thanksgiving, and Italian family-style cooking will warm everyone from the inside out. Now who wants a slice of Cannoli Cheesecake?

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The Great British Baking Show: A Bake for All Seasons
by Great British Baking Show Bakers

How can someone dislike The Great British Baking Show? It’s the cozy sweater of reality TV with its wholesome and happy content. Even though there’s only one winner at the end of the season, we’re all winners when watching it and letting it inspire our next “good bake.” A Bake for All Seasons is The Great British Baking Show’s way to help us do just that and succeed at our most delicious new fluffy cake, elegant tart and crumbly “biscuit” (it means cookie in proper British English, you know). While we’re now in the thick of Thanksgiving and well on our way to dreaming of sugarplum fairies, this baking book will also take you through to springtime and into summer since it offers recipes fit for any season’s greetings. Maybe you can whip something up while watching an episode of the show in the background. Sounds like an ideal afternoon to me!

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