Cookbooks make great gifts during the holidays as well as hostess gifts throughout the year. It allows visitors to bring a taste of the South home with them.
The best Southern cookbooks are written by local chefs as well as experts in the cuisine. These picks for cookbooks cover both the classic dishes of the region, as well as modern takes on them.
The Southern Vegetarian, Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence
We had a chance to interview Memphis-based food blogger Justin as a part of our This Is My South series. This cookbook takes your Southern favorites, which aren’t known for their health factor, and puts a vegetarian spin on them.
I can personally recommend the recipes for super-moist banana muffins and am excited to try the vegetarian “chicken” scotch egg and waffles and the butternut squash macaroni and cheese.
Purchase The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table.
Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart
In the style of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Dupree and Graubart go through more than 600 beloved Southern recipes and include plenty of images for techniques.
The cookbook even won the 2013 James Beard Award for American Cooking. It’s comprehensive and works for every skill set of home cooks with ingredients you can find easily.
Purchase Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.
Smoke & Pickles, Edward Lee
Edward Lee is a former Top Chef contestant and chef of the acclaimed Louisville, Kentucky restaurant 610 Magnolia. His first cookbook takes his Korean heritage and his adopted Southern culture and fuses them into some truly unique recipes. He has an entire section devoted to canning and preserving, a tradition shared by both of his cultures.
Purchase Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen.
Fire in My Belly, Kevin Gillespie
Another Top Chef contender, Kevin Gillespie served at the helm of Woodfire Grill in Atlanta for years before opening his own restaurant Gunshow. He was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year and brings his knowledge to his cookbook, elevating junk food and getting you to revisit foods you thought you hated.
Purchase Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking.
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, Matt and Ted Lee
While Charleston is full of great chefs and cookbook authors, Matt and Ted Lee, brothers who grew up in the city, may be the most well-known. It took moving to New York to make them appreciate the cuisine of their hometown. Recipes included are straight from grandmother’s table, including crab cakes, St. Cecilia punch, and hoppin’ john.
Purchase The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners.
Charleston Receipts, The Junior League of Charleston
This is the original Charleston cookbook that you’ll find on the shelves of nearly every home in the state of South Carolina. First published in 1950, this is the longest-running Junior League cookbook in print. Some recipes are still classics today, like turkey tetrazzini, while others bring you back to the time when the cookbook was originally made.
Purchase Charleston Receipts.
A New Turn in the South, Hugh Acheson
Hugh Acheson is known for his Atlanta and Athens restaurants as well as appearances on television. His cuisine is undoubtedly “new south,” using modern methods on traditional recipes. Recipes include roasted pork belly, yellow grits with vegetables and a roasted carrot and beet salad.
Purchase A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen.
Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, Southern Foodways Alliance
The authority on Southern cuisine takes the best community cookbooks from around the South and brings all 170 recipes into one place. Look for classics like chicken and dumplings, gumbo and ham and gravy, edited by Sara Roahen and the legendary John T. Edge.
Purchase The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.
Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook, Chris Hastings, Idie Hastings and Katherine Cobbs
Birmingham, Alabama’s foodie favorite celebrates family meals in their first cookbook. The restaurant uses only fresh and local ingredients and has the same standards for their recipes like foie gras on brioche, their famous hot and hot tomato salad and devil’s food cake with beets.
Purchase Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Family, and Traditions.
The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, John D. Folse
There is no cookbook that tells more of the history of Cajun and Creole cuisine than that of Louisiana’s most famous chef, John Folse. Tracing the food of the region back to the French and slave migrations, this cookbook teaches of the classic roux, cooking with wild game, and the quintessential boudin sausage.
Purchase The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine.
If you’re gonna stick to one, make it Chef John Folse