Cookbooks are an ideal present for a baker: They offer a wealth of inspiration, new recipe ideas, and gorgeous photography over which to pore (and drool). But with so many exceptional baking books out there, how do you choose? Your best bet is to ask a fellow baker for a recommendation — which is where we come in. We polled the employee-owners at King Arthur on their favorite books of the year and came up with a list of nine exceptional tomes — including, of course, a couple that we wrote ourselves.
(Heads up: At King Arthur, we only recommend the cookbooks that we, as bakers, truly love. When you buy through external links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.)
Posie Brien, Content Editor: I love making cookies and I do it with great regularity — my freezer is never empty of a batch. And though I have a reliable and time-tested roster of recipes I turn to for the basics, sometimes I want to switch it up. This is where Jesse Szewczyk’s book changed everything for me. His brilliantly creative takes on beloved recipes offer an incredible wealth of inspiration: I bookmarked over a dozen the first time I flipped through it. And they all deliver!
Each recipe has clearly been thoughtfully developed and carefully tested to ensure success. Unexpected additions give familiar favorites new life (like Raisinets in an oatmeal raisin cookie for a dose of chocolate and fruit, or salt and vinegar potato chips in a chocolate chip cookie for crunch and acid). Don’t miss the savory cookie section at the end, which is full of clever ideas for cocktail hour, like Cacio e Pepe Slice and Bakes.
If you want to give this cookbook a test run, try Jesse's Malted Brownie Biscotti.
David Tamarkin, Editorial Director: I own more books by Dorie Greenspan than any other cookbook author, and all of them are tattered, splattered, and dog-eared from years of use. So it’s no small thing when I say I expect to bake from this Greenspan book the most. It’s because she’s so playful in these pages: She throws miso into a maple-flavored tea cake, suggests setting her One Big Break-Apart Chipper — a huge chocolate chip cookie — right on the table at the end of a meal, and even riffs on her most famous recipe, the World Peace Cookie. It’s classic Dorie, only more playful, more flavorful, and, somehow, more fun.
DT: Cheryl Day’s latest collection is both a document of the recipes we owe to Black bakers (many of whom were enslaved) and an indispensable compendium of America’s best baked goods: cobblers, cookies, layer cakes, pies, and, of course, biscuits — lots of biscuits. My favorite of those turned out to be the Sweet Potato Biscuits, which are the tallest, flakiest biscuits I’ve ever made, and had the added benefit of the vegetable’s earthy, molasses-like sweetness.
Martin Philip, Baking Ambassador: When I originally flipped through Michael James' first book (The Tivoli Road Baker), I’ll admit that I was jealous. Spelt pastries, Khorasan scones, a huge section of "larder" recipes showing the depth, creativity, and skills of this chef-turned-baker … is there anything he can't do? With the release of his second book, James doubles down on his creativity, leaning into savory recipes that emphasize whole grains and offering compelling options for every hour of the day. From unctuous quiche to new classics like Ham and Cheese Palmiers or Beetroot and Shallot Tarte Tatin, he inspires us to find more flavor in every minute.
Rossi Anastopoulo, Blog Editor: My second favorite part of Kristina Cho’s Mooncakes and Milk Bread is the various dispatches from Chinese American bakeries across the United States, a virtual tour of the bakeries that inspired these pages. But my favorite part, of course, is the recipes, a deeply personal collection of Cho’s favorite Chinese bakery goods: pillowy buns, fluffy cakes, and more. One particular standout was her Cocktail Buns (Gai Mei Bao): Unbelievably soft and hiding a sweet coconutty surprise, they were so good that I had to hide them from myself so I wouldn’t consume the entire pan.
PJ Hamel, Baker/Blogger: I’ve always loved sharing recipes, starting a half-century ago when I’d submit my favorites to The Boston Globe’s “Confidential Chat” recipe column. But my proudest “share” started nearly 20 years ago, when all of us bakers at King Arthur decided to gather our favorite recipes into one big book. The result? The All-Purpose Baker’s Companion, destined to be the foundation of any baker’s library. Its 450+ recipes, from traditional (Simply Perfect Pancakes) to “new classic” (Japanese Milk Bread Rolls) cover the entire delicious and diverse baking landscape. And the genius tips and detailed techniques sprinkled throughout? Well, they simply make all the recipes we lovingly share with you even more valuable.
Andrea Quillen, Bakery Lead — Pastry: When I first read the introduction to Mother Grains, it was like reading my own thoughts. The way that Jullapat describes the process of opening a bakery kitchen, the magic of the day-to-day operations, how she approaches recipes and baking through her Costa Rican heritage (her father immigrated from Costa Rica and her mother from Thailand; my mother came to the United States from Chile), and, importantly, how she uses mother grains like barley, corn, oat, rye, and rice, is so engaging.
She doesn’t just bake with these grains because of consumer interests in flour alternatives, but because they’re local — they grow in our backyards. It’s an insightful and unique book that offers education alongside recipes. You don’t just learn how to make her baked goods (I’m particularly looking forward to trying her Macadamia Brown Butter Blondies made with barley and her rice-based version of Tres Leches Cake) — you learn why they’re important.
If you want to give this cookbook a test run, try Roxana's Baked Buckwheat Pancake with Berry Compote.
Tatiana Bautista, Editorial Coordinator: Every baker has their own set of strong cookie opinions, but luckily The Essential Cookie Companion (now revised and updated!) has a recipe for everyone. Knowing how meticulously each recipe has been tested, I can bake with confidence — with plenty of reassuring tips sprinkled throughout the book that will take a cookie from good to great. I have a soft spot for the Chocolate Peppermint Snaps in particular — they’re a tribute to Girl Scout Thin Mints in chewy, double chocolate chip cookie form. As someone who keeps her freezer always stocked with at least one log of cookie dough for emergency dessert situations, I appreciate the wide range of recipes (400!). The Essential Cookie Companion is a sweet reminder that no matter how wide the cookie world spans, there’s always room to find a new favorite.
Andrew Janjigian, Contributor: I’ve often found cookbooks from popular pizza joints disappointing. I’m not sure whether it’s because these chefs feel the need to overly simplify for home cooks, or because they hold their “real” recipes close to the vest, but they rarely seem to give you the intel you need to make pizza just as good as theirs at home. Happily this is not the case with The Joy of Pizza, the comprehensive (and beautifully photographed) new book from Razza New Jersey’s Dan Richer (with assistance from Jersey girl and Italian-food maven Katie Parla).
One reason it succeeds where others have failed is that it doesn’t try to recreate the restaurant pizza experience at home. Instead, Richer understands the limitations of home ovens and kitchens, and guides you toward slinging the best possible pies under the circumstances. The book includes QR codes to take you to videos of Richer demonstrating key techniques, and PDFs of printable sensory evaluation rubrics so you can assess the quality of your ingredients and pies just like Richer does at Razza. It also contains an extensive selection of composed pizza recipes, including one created by Pamela Yung that's topped with crumbled polenta and bitter greens, a mind-blowing combination I can’t wait to try myself. It’s clear from every page that the “joy” in the title is first and foremost Dan’s own — and with this book in hand, it will also become yours.
What are your best-loved baking books? Tell us in the comments!
Cover photo illustration by Michelle Chen.