16 Cookbooks by Black Authors You Should Add to Your Bookshelf
One of the best ways to appreciate the culture, history and traditions of Black Americans is through food, be that Southern or soul. Here are cookbooks by Black authors that tell the story, all of which can be found at independent booksellers or on Amazon.
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Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking
The amazing Cheryl Day—baker, author and co-owner of Savannah’s acclaimed Back in the Day Bakery—brings her recipes for Southern desserts and pastries to life in her latest cookbook, Treasury of Southern Baking. Showcasing recipes handed down through generations, including those from her great-great-grandmother, an enslaved pastry cook famous for her biscuits and cakes, it’s a definitive guide through made-from-scratch baking.
Notable recipe: The Very Chocolate Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting is not a misnomer. It’s one of the most luscious, chocolatey cakes ever baked.
My America: Recipes by a Young Black Chef
Kwame Onwuachi’s My America walks us through food and tradition of the African Diaspora via his own family history, travels, and experience in and out of kitchens from around the country. There are more than 125 recipes of the chef’s personal story, one that celebrates flavors from Nigeria to the Caribbean, from the South to the Bronx and beyond. It’s a must-have book from one of the most striking culinary voices of today.
Notable recipe: Jamaican Callaloo, a soul-affirming braised stew of greens and aromatics.
Top Chef favorite Gregory Gourdet celebrates global flavors and living more healthfully in his award-winning cookbook, Everyone’s Table. Inspired as much by his Haitian upbringing as his work in notable restaurants across the country (including Kann, his latest in Portland, Oregon), Gourdet’s recipes are vibrant and full of flavor, even without gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and grains.
Notable recipe: Haitian Meatloaf, a perfect mashup of classic comfort food and Gourdet’s family influences. He uses spices like fiery chilies, pimento-stuffed olives and other savory fillings, and lower-fat turkey instead of ground beef (but he still puts ketchup on top because how can you not).
Psst! Take a look at our favorite food and home decor items from black-owned Etsy shops, too.
Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations
Nicole A. Taylor’s book centers Juneteenth and other Black celebrations with a focus on inventive dishes that riff off classic African American cuisine. Rather than focusing on the classics, she takes ingredients found in African American homes and turns them into something entirely new. Watermelon and Red Birds also includes a list of BIPOC brands she loves to buy and use.
Notable recipe: Radish & Ginger Pound Cake which has actual grated radish in the topping—this interesting combination is definitely worth a shot.
Jocelyn Delk Adams reinvents recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen in Mississippi. She cherished visits with her grandmother, known as Big Mama, and Grandbaby Cakes is her way of sharing the family’s baking traditions with the world.
Notable recipe: Kentucky Butter Cake was popular with her family growing up; Adams uses a brown butter glaze to finish her version.
The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food
In The Rise, Marcus Samuelsson gathers food, culture and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking. This is his tribute to chefs, activists and writers, and Marcus shares more than 150 recipes from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.
Notable recipe: Chilled Corn and Tomato Gazpacho manages to be light, refreshing and satisfying.
Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day
Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson give us a window to food that transcends borders. Together, Alexander and JJ have spent more than three decades traveling the African diaspora. Between Harlem and Heaven features recipes that survived the perilous journey through the Middle Passage and embraced influences from around the world.
Notable recipe: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Rosemary and Caramelized Shallots takes a ho-hum Southern food staple upscale.
The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cooking
Food historian Toni Tipton-Martin uses cookbooks published by African Americans to highlight the history and the expanse of American cuisine and the Black women who made it possible. The Jemima Code shows that the cooks of days long gone are also inspirational food and cultural authorities.
Notable recipe: Potato Salad made simply and with good quality ingredients produces delicious, creamy results.
In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean
Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen gather recipes from grandmothers (Bibis) in eight African countries facing the Indian Ocean. The flavor-forward comfort foods of In Bibi’s Kitchen can be whipped up easily in American kitchens.
Notable recipe: Prego Rolls with Piri Piri Sauce, a grilled steak sandwich with chile sauce, tastes like so much more.
Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul
Chef Lazarus Lynch originally created Son of a Southern Chef on social media to honor the recipes his Guyanese mother and Alabama father served in their popular Queens restaurant. It’s a bold take on classic soul food!
Notable recipe: Lazarus’ Shrimp and Crazy Creamy Cheddar Grits manages to improve on a dish that I didn’t know needed improvement.
Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing
Jerrelle Guy leads you on a baking journey through recipe descriptions that touch on related moments in her life. Growing up, she learned that good food is the most powerful way to connect, understand and heal. Jerrelle uses all five senses in Black Girl Baking, sharing food memories while using ingredients that make her feel connected to family.
Notable recipe: Orange Peel Pound Cake was inspired by memories of eating oranges at Big Ma’s house.
Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes
Food justice activist Bryant Terry breaks the fundamentals of plant-forward cooking alongside 100 simple recipes. The delicious meals in Vegetable Kingdom use popular vegetables, grains and legumes in brand-new ways.
In his latest, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, Terry explores the intersection of food, art and storytelling with curated recipes from other notable chefs, plus stunning artwork and a fun playlist to listen to while you’re cooking.
Notable recipe: From Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom, Millet Roux Mushroom Gumbo is a keeper, even for meat lovers.
The Taste of Country Cooking
Culinary legend Edna Lewis grew up in a small Virginia farming community that was settled by freed slaves. She turns memories and recipes into a travelogue through the world of country cooking in the Virginia Piedmont.
Notable recipe: The simplicity of fresh Blackberry Cobbler is totally satisfying.
Carla Hall’s Soul Food
Carla Hall’s Soul Food employs her Nashville roots and anecdotes to trace the history of soul food from Africa and the Caribbean to the American South. The nearly 150 recipes, laden with vegetables and farm-fresh ingredients, are easy to follow, and packed with bold flavors.
Notable recipe: Caribbean Smothered Chicken with Coconut, Lime, and Chiles proves that when done right, anything can be smothered to full deliciousness.
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
Recipes are intermittent in The Cooking Gene, where Michael W. Twitty tells the story of how his enslaved ancestors passed down their foodways to him, along with their cooking techniques. This one is a must-read. As is his latest, Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew, where he considers cross-cultural culinary traditions via more than 50 recipes that shaped his journey as a chef.
Notable recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Hummus is a surprisingly good shake-up of the traditional chickpea variety.
California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West
Tanya Holland’s rich visual storytelling combined with her interpretation of soul food shows why her Oakland restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, is such a delight. In California Soul, she traces the roots of modern California soul food to the Great Migration, when Black Americans left the South for new opportunities out West. Much like her previous cookbook, Brown Sugar Kitchen, locally grown produce is often the star of her comfort-food recipes.
Notable recipe: Holland’s Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pull-Apart Rolls are flavorful, puffy as clouds and a dream to serve on any supper table.