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The Fall 2020 Cookbooks Worth Your Time (and Money)

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The seasons are changing, and the weather is getting colder, so it’s the perfect time to get cozy with some comforting recipes. Fall signals a slew of cookbook releases and a different approach to cooking. And this year in particular, there are a number of books promising to get us out of that cooking rut.

After perusing several releases, Ruth Gebreyesus and I have come up with the top food books we want to add to our collections. More than just cookbooks, they include memoirs, drink books and more. Happy cooking and reading.—Urmila Ramakrishnan

Be My Guest

Be My Guest book co ver
Penguin Random House

(November 3)

From Priya Basil, this memoir is a self-reflection on how food and the act of serving it are used to express love and support. Basil draws on food, family, identity, immigration and hospitality to look at the world at large and how food plays a central part in its dynamics. Basil draws on some of her earliest memories of food and how it affected her upbringing and relationship with her parents. Now a parent herself, she centers food in her book’s exploration of that transition.—Urmila Ramakrishnan

Blockchain Chicken Farm

Blockchain Chicken Farm and other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside book cover
Courtesy of FSG Originals

(October 13)


Technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores tech’s social and political articulations in rural China in their debut book. Wang challenges conventional assumptions about the luddite tendencies of pastoral workers with stories of farmers integrating AI to produce a perfect pig, and studies the economic and political correlations between China’s villages and globalization. The author has also included what they term “sinofuturist” recipes shaped by evolving technologies. Wang is speaking at an event later next month organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media with technologist and writer An Xiao Mina.—Ruth Gebreyesus


East book cover
Courtesy of MacMillan Publishers

(October 20)

From Guardian columnist Meera Sodha comes a cookbook centered on all things vegetables. The book features recipes that span a variety of Asian cuisines. It’s a book that speaks to vegetarians and one that non-vegetarians can appreciate. Sodha showcases the diversity and vibrancy of vegetarian cooking with dishes like eggplant larb, salted miso brownies, mushroom bao, Bombay rolls, food court Singapore noodles and so much more. The 120 recipes cover noodles, seasonal specialties, sides, sweets, curries and salads. Helpful tips on cooking and portion sizes are peppered throughout the book as well. The sections that focus specifically on noodles and rice are particularly helpful for those looking to expand their knowledge of these carbs.—U.R.

Chi Spacca

Chi Spacca book cover with a butcher's knife and the title of the book
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

(October 13)

Nancy Silverton’s very meat-centric book focuses on Italian fish, vegetables and proteins. For a restaurant cookbook, it dives deep into recipes and makes them approachable. You’ll find recipes from the eponymous restaurant, such as whole roasted cauliflower, Morrocan braised lamb shanks and bone marrow pie.—U.R.

Coconut & Sambal

pink and green book cover for Coconut & Sambal by Lara Lee
Courtesy of Bloomsbury

(October 13)

Lara Lee walks through traditional Indonesian recipes that range from hearty nasi goreng to fluffy pandan cake. The book weaves Lee’s memories of the various islands that make up Indonesia with techniques that are easy to replicate. The book features savory snacks, soups, rice, vegetable dishes, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, meat, sambal, sweets and more.—U.R.

Good Drinks

Stemmed glass wtih an ice cube, clear liquid and a lemon peel on a black background. Book cover for Good Drinks
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

(October 6)

For those who aren’t drinking or have always been looking for ways to create non-alcoholic beverages without having to scroll through countless webpages, this is the book. Julia Bainbridge proves that a good drink doesn’t have to include alcohol, and I’m here for that.—U.R.

I Cook in Color

Hands holding a plate with lots of different kinds of produce
Courtesy of Running Press

(October 6)

A follow up from her first cookbook My Two Souths, Asha Gomez focuses on the rainbow of vegetables to create desserts and cross-cultural mains that meld culinary traditions of her mother’s Keralite kitchen and Gomez’s travel experiences.—U.R.

In Bibi’s Kitchen

Three hands deseeding something on a table. Book cover for In Bibi's Kitchen
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

(October 13)

Spice entrepreneur Hawa Hassan is publishing her first cookbook along with Julia Turshen, telling the stories and recipes of eight grandmothers. Each of the eight bibis hails from a country alongside Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, including Hassan’s country of birth, Somalia, as well as Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania and others. Recipes from coastal regions are rich by virtue of trade routes, and Hassan seems to know grandmothers are the safest place to keep that wealth.—R.G.

The Full Plate

The Full Plate: Flavor-Filled, Easy Recipes for Families with No Time and a Lot to Do Hardcover – Illustrated, September 22, 2020 by Ayesha Curry CR: Voracious
Courtesy of Voracious

(September 22)

For those looking for under-an-hour recipes to cure kitchen apathy, Ayesha Curry’s new book is one of those. This book focuses on dishes that can feed a family. It’s a great one for beginners looking for a place to build their repertoire.—U.R.

Time to Eat

Time to eat cookbook cover
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

(November 10)

If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show and Nadiya Hussain’s Netflix series, you’ll be just as excited for the American release of this book of time-saving tips for home cooks on a budget. It’s a book to go to for inspiration that doesn’t involve countless hours of toiling over a hot stove. Ease and simplicity combine with tasty ideas that prove that cooking something good doesn’t have to take five hours.—U.R.

Xi’an Famous Foods

Xi'An Famous foods cookbook cover with someone pulling noodles from a bowl with chopsticks
Courtesy of Xi'an Famous Foods

(October 13)

Beloved New York City noodle destination Xi’an Foods is publishing its first-ever book this month. David Shi’s Queens restaurant, which has expanded to 14 locations, highlights northwest Chinese specialities, including their famous lamb and hand-ripped noodles. The book written by Shi’s son, Jason Wang, along with Jessica K. Chou, is full of stories and recipes from the mighty New York noodle empire.—R.G.

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