Because Black culture, flavors, and culinary traditions are integral to the ornate tapestry that is American history, stocking your personal library with cookbooks by Black authors is essential to having a well-rounded selection of recipes to choose from as you whip things up in the kitchen. But if you’re unsure of where to start or which cookbooks by Black authors represent the best of the best, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!
Below are 15 cookbooks by Black authors that we think best showcase a diversified spectrum of recipes, cooking advice, and storytelling. Though each cookbook offers a unique anthology of recipes and commentary, they’re all thematically connected by the author’s desire to celebrate Black history by underscoring and elevating the impact of Black culinary excellence on American social consciousness.
So to celebrate Black history not just during February but all year long, check out a few of these cookbooks by Black authors—then be sure to also learn more about the 5 Foods That Fueled the Civil Rights Movement.
As you build out your personal collection of cookbooks by Black authors, be sure to pick up this foundational text. A James Beard nominee and a winner of the Art of Eating prize, Bryant Terry’s Black Food is considered “a deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity” that “captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food.” This is because the text is comprised of recipes from an abundance of contributors, as well as poetry, essays, photos, and art woven together, culminating in a tapestry of Black cultural excellence.
When you think of Southern cooking—and soul food, in particular—the vegetarian options may seem few and far between, and finding vegan ones may seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. But this no longer has to be the case, thanks to vegan chef and food blogger Jenné Claiborne’s innovative cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul. In this cookbook, you’ll find 100 easy plant-based recipes providing a modern take on classic soul food favorites like sweet potato cinnamon rolls, Georgia watermelon and peach salad, smoky collard greens, fried cauliflower chicken, and more. Additionally, Claiborne explores the historical narratives associated with the quality ingredients that are like the unsung nutritional heroes in classic soul food cooking, like dandelion, black-eyed peas, and okra, providing new perspective on your classic favorite dishes.
A Bon Appetit “Best Book of the Year” award-wining cookbook, Nigerian-American chef Kwame Onwachi’s My America features over 125 recipes celebrating signature flavors of the African Diaspora, including baby back ribs, jambalaya, red velvet cake, Nigerian jollof rice, Puerto Rican red bean sofrito, Trinidadian channa, and more. These recipes are fused together in an enthralling account of Onwachi’s travels, highlighting the inherent connections between food and location as well as food and culture.
Top Chef finalist and fan favorite Gregory Gourdet’s James Beard Award-winning cookbook Everyone’s Table features 200 decadently flavored dishes via a collection of carefully curated recipes that each capitalize on the nutritional benefits of superfoods. You won’t find any ultra-processed ingredients in this text. Rather, Gourdet’s recipes use only the highest-quality, nutrient-dense items rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in dishes inspired by his deep love and appreciation for global ingredients and cooking techniques.
Another beloved Top Chef veteran and former co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration is a collection of recipes representing a return to Hall’s Southern roots, providing a fresh perspective on classic comfort food dishes while illustrating the cultural evolution of soul food across the African Diaspora throughout history. From black-eyed pea salad with hot sauce vinaigrette, coconut cream layer cake, and field peas with country ham, to Caribbean smothered chicken with coconut, lime, and chiles, Ghanaian peanut beef stew with onions and celery, and Hall’s signature Nashville fried chicken, this collection of 145 original mouthwatering recipes are a surefire way to fuel your body and soul while impressing everyone at your table.
No library of cookbooks by Black authors would be complete without The Cooking Gene. Part memoir, part cookbook, African American-Jewish culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers on a journey through the culinary history of the South through the lens of his own multiracial and multicultural ancestry. As Twitty sharing his family’s personal narrative, Twitty reveals the foods and recipes that he credits with inspiring their survival across nearly three centuries of enslavement and systemic oppression while also highlighting the complex political undercurrent associated with the origins of barbecue, soul food, and Southern cuisine as a whole.
As Carla Hall reportedly said in a review of Jerrelle Guy’s Black Girl Baking, this cookbook has “a rhythm and realness to it.” Jerrelle’s book is comprised of nearly 50 baking recipes designed to ignite all five senses via quality ingredients more beneficial to your long-term health like whole flours, less refined sugars, and even some vegan alternatives.
Written by legendary New Orleans chef and “Queen of Creole cuisine” Leah Chase, the Dooky Chase Cookbook is a collection of the beloved Creole recipes served at the historic Dooky Chase restaurant, including red beans and rice, Creole jambalaya, gumbo, and more.
Another James Beard Award-winning book to make our list, In Bibi’s Kitchen is a collection of 75 recipes and stories shared by “bibis,” aka grandmothers, from South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. The recipes and the culinary techniques shared throughout are generational gems reinforcing the connection between food, family, and history.
Although today Martha’s Vineyard is considered among the go-to vacation destinations for the social elite, many are seemingly unaware of the island’s rich culinary history, much of which is predicated on Black cuisine and culinary traditions. As one of the few American summertime sanctuaries flocked to by Black families since the 1800s, culinary historian Jessica B. Harris shines a light on the island’s unique, majestic place in the grand scheme of Black history in The Martha’s Vineyard Table with recipes representing an amalgam of New England flavors and Black culinary flair.