Kitchen & Cooking

11 essential cookbooks by Black chefs and authors

Celebrate Black History Month with a feast.

Here are the essential cookbooks by Black chefs. Credit: Sasquatch Books / Lorena Jones Books / Ten Speed Press / Grandbabby Cakes / Voracious

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This year for Black History Month, take the time to cook your way through recipes by people of the Black diaspora. Cooking goes beyond a hobby for many African American people; It's also a love language, a way of life, and a way to bond and teach family history to younger generations.

Have you ever thought about why black-eyed peas and collard greens are served on the first day of the new year? Ever pondered the origins of pound cake and eggnog? There are a number of Southern dishes and comfort foods like these that are enjoyed across the country as well as the world that can be traced to enslaved African people.

Today, Black communities continue to create culture and history through cooking. And because there was a time in the not so distant past when our ancestors didn’t have the means to record recipes, cookbooks like those listed below are especially important as a method of documenting our history by way of recipes to honor those who came before us and those who will come after us.

Here are 11 cookbooks by Black chefs you will enjoy having in your library for years to come.

1. Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Landmark Restaurant

Black White and The Grey
Credit: Lorena Jones Books / The Grey

Chef Mashama Bailey pens this cookbook about her journey to The Grey and the recipes therein.

Mashama Bailey, executive chef and co-owner of The Grey and The Grey Market, recounts her journey to opening the award-winning Southern eatery. The Grey, which was once a Greyhound Bus Terminal, is now a popular food destination in Savannah, Georgia where Bailey serves her delicious cuisine.

Get Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant cookbook from Amazon for $18.39

2. In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean

in bibi's kitchen
Credit: Ten Speed Press / Basbaas Sauce

Because grandmother will never steer you wrong.

Packed with 75 recipes from grandmothers, Somali chef Hawa Hassan's cookbook is the next best thing to actual travel thanks to flavorful spices and pairings. "Bibis," also known as grandmothers, discuss with Hassan the history of spices as they relate to their home countries. Try the Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper or the Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew) for a hearty solution to everyday meals.

Get In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean from Amazon for $21.99

3. The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food

the rise
Credit: Voracious

This chef wants to reclaim Black culinary traditions.

Television star, bestselling author, and chef Marcus Sameulsson journeys through history to examine the impact of the culinary contributions of Black Americans. Sameulsson makes that case that Black chefs and cooks have pushed American food culture to the forefront despite being erased in the process.

With over 150 recipes and notable historical facts accompanying them, you'll be eager to try incredible dishes such as crab curry with yams and mustard greens, grilled short ribs with a piri-piri marinade, and saffron tapioca pudding.

Get The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food from Amazon for $31.59

4. Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking

jubilee
Credit: Clarkson Potter / Toni Tipton-Martin

African-American culinary scholar Toni Tipton-Martin introduces new historical insight in this cookbook.

In this award-winning cookbook, African American culinary scholar Toni Tipton-Martin introduces new historical facts and insight on Black American cuisine. Tipton-Martin combines the insight and skills of the enslaved cooks to the today's Black food influencers in order to document generations of culinary achievements. Dive into recipes like sweet potato biscuits and spoon bread.

Get Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking from Amazon for $23.85

5. Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking

sweet home cafe
Credit: Amazon

This cookbook features recipes from the Sweet Home Café located in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture selected 109 recipes from its very own Sweet Home Café in order to create this cookbook. As the museum gained recognition, so did the cafe, which serves foods long associated with Black culture. Now, fans of the museum can cook their favorite recipes from the comfort of their own home.

Try recreating the dreamy johnnycakes recipe or the tomato-watermelon salad. Reviewers say this is the perfect cookbook if you want to learn some modern techniques on traditional Black recipes.

Get the Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking from Amazon for $25.56

6. Eating Well to Win: Inspired Living Through Inspired Cooking

eating well to win
Credit: Mango / Instagram

Get your hands on the same recipes that your favorite famous athletes eat.

Richard Ingraham has been NBA star Dwayne Wade's personal chef for more than a decade, so he knows a thing or two about making healthy, hearty dishes. Ingraham has also created his own chef network called ChefRLI that caters to professional athletes across the country. Ingraham consistently creates dishes that allow your body to perform while fueling it with all the nutrients you need. His client list continues to grow, which is no surprise considering his repertoire includes the likes of blueberry oatmeal muffins and sweet potato lasagna.

Get Eating Well to Win: Inspired Living Through Inspired Cooking from Amazon for $19.21

7. Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories

grandbaby cakes
Credit: Grandbaby Cakes

There's nothing like fresh-baked confections to remind you of fond family memories.

Popular food writer Jocelyn Delk Adams has been combining Black culture, food, and her family’s history since 2012 on her blog Grandbaby Cakes. In her debut cookbook, she pays homage to the Black bakers in her family, connecting past, present, and future through baking. Her cookbook is inspirational, fun, and full of tasty treats that've been passed down for generations.

Get Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories from Amazon for $19.34

8. I Heart Soul Food: 100 Southern Comfort Food Favorites

I heart soul food
Credit: Sasquatch Books / Instagram

When you're craving comfort, reach for Rosie Mayes' cookbook.

In the mood for oxtail stew? Craving blueberry cornbread waffles? Fancy some peach cobbler? Lucky for you, Rosie Mayes has compiled more than 100 recipes of comforting foods like these that you can eat anytime of the day! This cookbook is perfect for people who love mouthwatering side dishes and desserts.

Get I Heart Soul Food: 100 Southern Comfort Food Favorites from Amazon for $19.34

9. The African American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrances from Alabama's Renowned Tuskegee Institute

African American Heritage Cookbook
Credit: Citadel

This cookbook allows you to enjoy the menu from the Tuskegee Institute, a prestigious Black educational institution.

The Tuskegee Institute was founded by former enslaved person Booker T. Washington in 1881 along with Lewis Adams and Dr. George Washington Carver. Since its founding, the institution has remained synonymous with Black history, pride, and progress. The recipes in this cookbook are reflective of some of America’s notable Black figures such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Carver.

With Southern recipes like Dr. Carver’s peanut cake with molasses, you'll find yourself transported to a time where Black intellectuals started to flourish. Reviewers say that this book contains delicious, historic recipes as well as vintage photos and poems that provide further context and insight.

Get The African American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrances from Alabama's Renowned Tuskegee Institute from Amazon for $34.19

10. The Taste of Country Cooking: The 30th Anniversary Edition of a Great Southern Classic Cookbook

edna lewis
Credit: Knopf

This classic Edna Lewis cookbook combines recipes with information about harvesting food.

Edna Lewis was born in Freetown, Virginia—a town founded by her grandfather—in 1916. She grew up farming and cooking alongside members of her family. Lewis' first cookbook was published in 1976 and it successfully connected her approach to farm-grown, seasonal cooking with the recipes her family had cherished since they were freed from slavery. Reviewers say this is the best classic Black Southern cookbook on the market.

Get The Taste of Country Cooking: The 30th Anniversary Edition of a Great Southern Classic Cookbook from Amazon for $16.26

11. Vegan Soul Food Cookbook: Plant-Based, No-Fuss Southern Favorites

vegan soul food
Credit: Rockridge Press

Who says soul food can't be vegan?

If you're looking for vegan or vegetarian takes on classic soul food recipes, look no further than this cookbook by Nadira Jenkins-El. (Believe it or not, vegan soul food is just as good and sometimes even better than its meaty counterparts!) Learn how to stew tofu and other protein alternatives so you can enjoy vegan gravy-covered biscuits, gumbo, and even cajun style “chicken." Pro tip: The jackfruit "ribs" are a must-try.

Get the Vegan Soul Food Cookbook: Plant-Based, No-Fuss Southern Favorites from Amazon for $14.39

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