Hallelujah and pass “The Taco Cleanse”: 2015 was a good vintage year for cookbooks. Early on, it seemed as though “paleo” — meats, fish, vegetables, no dairy or grains or beans or processed foods, a la caveman — would club and drag down the category’s sub-genres: paleo pressure cooking, paleo French, paleo baking. Bone-broth books arrived unfashionably late. But less-tortured cookery prevailed overall, with sure-handed exploration of real craftsmanship.
And were we not entertained? With the likes of “Thug Kitchen Party Grub,” Jammy Lannister’s “Game of Scones: All Men Must Dine” and, in the case of the aforementioned tortilla-based vegan title, we were treated to cheeky humor even in recipe directions.
As usual, our annual recommendations undergo a three-part test: Is the cookbook truly user-friendly? Does it inspire and/or teach us well? Is this a book we’d cook out of again and again?
Here’s our top-10 list, plus with many more recommended titles, in alphabetical order:
A Bird in the Hand; Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood , by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99). This is a handsome book you’ll cook through year after year, enriched by the author’s knowledge of global cuisines and ear for the English language. Recipe: Lemon and Pistachio Chicken.
The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking , by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Taunton Press, $40). This made its way to the top of a substantial pile of 2015 baking books because Dodge knows how to write a complete recipe, with substitutions and make-ahead information; illustrates them with process shots; and has included the ones readers will be inclined to make.
NOPI: The Cookbook , by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully with Tara Wigley (Ten Speed Press, $40). These dishes marry Mediterranean with bright Malaysian flavors. Chef Scully’s whole roasted celery root is an eye-opener. The recipes are more multi-part than those in other Ottolenghi books, making this more appropriate for committed cooks. Recipe: Black Radish, Endive and Apple Salad.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science , by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (W.W. Norton, $49.95; reviewed Oct. 12). Think of this as a reference book with recipes. Read the chapter openers and experiments, take your time. You’ll learn a lot. Recipe: Basic Almost No-Stir Risotto.
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto , by Aaron Franklin and Jordan MacKay (Ten Speed Press, $29.99; reviewed May 18). Delicious nuts and bolts pack this engaging manual, down to how to split wood and get past the “stall” point in brisket cooking. It wins the want-to-eat-the-cover prize. Recipe: Espresso Barbecue Sauce.
Mamushka: Recipes From Ukraine & Eastern Europe , by Olia Hercules (Weldon Owen, $35). Plenty of reasons here to step out of your kitchen comfort zone: Russian broth, Moldovan pumpkin breads, Armenian beans. Photos of real cooks and markets in Ukraine complete the European charm. Recipe: Berlin Curd Cheese Cookies .
Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook’s Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors , by Susan Volland (W.W. Norton, $39.95) Smart and wide-ranging, with terrific pages of tips and variations. There are not a lot of photos, but that’s okay.
New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited, by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen (Chronicle, $40; reviewed Feb. 17) The Philadelphia husband and wife chef-restaurateurs deliver a fine first cookbook that introduces the cuisine to a new generation. Jeremy Nolen learned at the elbow of immigrant home cooks, so he’s got the chops. Recipe: Quark Cheesecake With Pretzel Crust.
V Is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks — From Artichokes to Zucchini , by Michael Anthony (Little, Brown and Co., $40) The best kind of chef-written book, because it’s not cheffy. Instead, Anthony offers quick, short recipes and a wealth of tips and techniques aimed to help everyday cooks get a variety of vegetables on their table. Recipe: Caramelized Cauliflower With Peppers and Onion.
Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking , by Madhur Jaffrey (Knopf, $35). The world’s best-known ambassador of Indian cuisine travels the subcontinent to showcase the vast diversity of vegetarian dishes. Best of all: She makes them doable for the Western cook. Recipe: Stir-Fried Orange Pumpkin.
BIY: Bake It Yourself — A Manual for Everyday Baking , by Richard Burr (Quadrille, $30.20).
Crossroa ds: Extraordinary Recipes From the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine , by Tal Ronnen (Artisan, $35).
The Essence of French Cooking , by Michel Roux (Quadrille, $45).
The Everyday Rice Cooker: Soups, Sides, Grains, Mains and More , by Diane Phillips (Chronicle Books, $24.95).
Fire and Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking , by Darra Goldstein (Ten Speed Press, $40).
Food52 Baking: 60 Recipes You Can Pull Off in a Snap , by the editors of Food52 (Ten Speed Press, $22.99).
Growing Tomorrow: Behind the Scenes With 18 Extraordinary Sustainable Farmers Who Are Changing the Way We Eat , by Forrest Pritchard (The Experiment, $24.95).
The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking With Pleasure , by Alana Chernila (Clarkson Potter, $24.99).
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking From Around the World , by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen (Clarkson Potter, $35).
Let’s Cook French, a Family Cookbook , by Claudine Pépin (Quarry Books, $21.99).
Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook , by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Knopf, $37.50).
My Darling Lemon Thyme: Recipes From My Real Food Kitchen , by Emma Galloway (Roost Books, $26.95).
Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons , by Steven Satterfield (Harper Wave, $45). Reviewed July 20, with recipes.
The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition , by Amelia Saltsman (Sterling Epicure, $29.95).
Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well , by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press; $27.50). Recipe: Giant Spelt Pancake With Squash Blossoms.
The Southerner’s Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories , by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine (Harper Wave, $37.50).
Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake Sip and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food , by Cheryl Sternman Rule (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22) Recipes: Raisin-Poppy Seed Flatbreads With Cardamom-Honey Butter; Trout With Tahini-Lemon Yogurt and Baby Arugula; Beef-Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls With Yogurt Sauce.
Joe Yonan and T. Susan Chang contributed to this report.
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