But the act of cooking also served as a delicious distraction: even the dreariest days of lockdown could be brightened by a valiant attempt at an extravagant dinner; our deep, persistent worries temporarily quelled by pretty pastries and pies. Cooking, for a good group of us, once was a chore. Now, it’s a hobby.

So this holiday season, perhaps a cookbook is the perfect gift for yourself-or any blossoming amateur chef in your life. Bakers will be forever thankful for Pies for Everyone, a chronicle of Petee’s Pie’s beloved crusted confection, whereas budding mixologists can up their cocktail game with Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World. Clean eaters? Look no further than Bryan Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom, or Vivian Liu’s Eat California, which captures the fresh, farm-to-table cuisine of the Golden State. Then there's the ultimate go-to for the frequent host or hostess: Skye McAlpine's A Table for Friends, which is all about recipes that are perfect to whip up for two people or 20.

For a loved one who wants to expand their culinary horizons, In Bibi’s Kitchen, a fascinating anthology of Eastern African cuisine, is a must-order, as is Xi’an Famous Foods (you’ll never find clearer instructions on how to make dumplings). With international borders closed, at least your gift-recipients’ tastebuds can take a trip with Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from Sardinia or Hong Kong Local: Cult Recipes From the Streets that Make the City.

Want to gift something while also giving back? Consider Serving New York, a delicious set of recipes from the city’s top restaurants-all proceeds go to ROAR, a nonprofit dedicated to saving them from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below, 18 of the year’s best cookbooks that, this holiday season, will be the sweetest of treats to find under the tree.


Eat California: Vibrant Recipes From The West Coast


Sant Ambroeus: The Coffee Bar Cookbook: Light Lunches, Sweet Treats, and Coffee Drinks from New York's Favorite Milanese Café


A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty


Hong Kong Local: Cult Recipes From the Streets that Make the City


Dishoom: From Bombay with Love


Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from Sardinia


Dimes Times: Emotional Eating


Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen


Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World


The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food


Serving New York: For All The People Who Make NYC Dining Unforgettable


Vegan Christmas: Plant-Based Recipes For the Festive Season


In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean


Pie for Everyone: Recipes and Stories from Petee's Pie, New York's Best Pie Shop


Xi’an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York’s Favorite Noodle Shop


The French Laundry, Per Se


Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes


The Noma Guide to Fermentation


The Barbuto Cookbook: California-Italian Cooking from the Beloved West Village Restaurant