In Notes from a Young Black Chef, chef Kwame Onwuachi writes, “the most corrosive form [of racism], and often the hardest to address, is not being seen at all.” Even though food itself is universal—we all need to eat—the food industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity and inclusion. One way to start? By seeing, recognizing, celebrating and supporting the Black chefs, cookbook authors and food writers who’ve contributed to the industry in your own kitchen. Here, a noncomprehensive list of 21 cookbooks by Black authors that you can buy in support.
(Psst: We encourage you to check your local bookstore or bookshop.org to see if they carry the title you’re looking for. Know of a book we should add? Email us.)
If you’re a fan of The Great British Bake Off, you’ll remember Benjamina Ebeuhi from season 7. Her cookbook, which is filled with 60 cake recipes, is inspired by her journey to GBBO, her Nigerian heritage and her London, England upbringing. It’s divided into six chapters based on flavor: spice; chocolate; citrus; nuts and caramel; fruit and floral, with inventive yet easy recipes for every season.
Jerrelle Guy is the voice behind food blog Chocolate for Basil, but she’s also a food stylist, photographer and New York Times contributor, and runs a food photographer studio with her partner. Her cookbook, nominated for a James Beard award, infuses storytelling with the warm, comforting recipes that are tied to memories from her life (and many of which are vegan or gluten-free).
Two-time Chopped winner Lazarus Lynch grew up on Southern and Caribbean food—his mother is Guyanese and his father, originally from Alabama, ran a soul food restaurant in Queens, New York. His voice-y cookbook is one part art, one part family history and one part modern soul food.
Sourdough newbies should look to Bryan Ford (aka @artisanbryan) to first master the basics (like how to make a starter), and then his more creative loaves (like bananas foster sourdough). Step-by-step photos and Ford’s focus on technique make the process and recipes easy. Ford recently announced on his Instagram that he’ll be donating five percent of lifetime royalties earned to various causes combatting systemic racism and police brutality.
Jubilee, which just won the 2020 James Beard award for best American cookbook, is a history of Black cooking in America as much as it is a collection of recipes. Tipton-Martin, a historian, documentarian and food journalist who also wrote The Jemima Code, gives each dish an origin, ranging from celebrity chefs to restaurants.
Grandbaby Cakes started as a blog in 2012 and quickly grew from there. Inspired by her grandmother’s baking, Adams presents the classic Southern desserts of her childhood with fresh, 21st century updates, telling her family’s story along the way.
Most cookbooks (and recipes, for that matter) serve at least four people, even though many of us live alone. Cooking Solo offers a solution to that, with 100 recipes developed in single-serving sizes. But don’t expect sad salads and sandwiches: Miller’s dishes are gorgeous and inventive, proving that cooking and eating alone is worth embracing.
Cheryl Day’s Back in the Day Bakery has been a Savannah, Georgia landmark since 2002. Her cookbook, written with her husband, is full of recipes for customer favorites (like buttermilk biscones and s’more pie), plus expert know-how for budding bakers and behind-the-scenes photos of life at the bakery.
Dora Charles was a chef for Paula Deen for 22 years, breaking ties to write her own cookbook after the celebrity was revealed to be condoning racism in her restaurant. Her honest, personal cookbook is full of Black Southern recipes, yes, but it’s also brimming with invaluable advice that will make you a better cook overall—there are a whole two pages dedicated to frying.
When Jenné Claiborne—who grew up on classic soul food in Atlanta—went vegan, she proceeded to spend years developing plant-based recipes with the same flavor and depth as their original counterparts. Sweet Potato Soul highlights the importance of using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients along with their inherent health benefits, for healthy vegan recipes that nourish and comfort.
Soul is the autobiography-slash-cookbook of self-taught chef Todd Richards. It illustrates the diversity of Black cuisine in America, blending cultural justice with his joy for cooking and sharing recipes.
In Between Harlem and Heaven, chefs Johnson and Smalls explore more than 400 years of cuisine, starting in West Africa and ending in the food scene of Harlem, New York. It explores the melding of Asian, African and American flavors by way of historical essays, profiles and 100 delicious recipes.
Vegan chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry covers the basics of vegan cooking and shows you how to make nourishing, healthy plant-based meals from vegetables, grains and legumes. His recipes focus on the use of spices and technique to celebrate the flavor of vegetables (instead of relying on meat substitutes).
In her lifetime, Edna Lewis wrote and co-wrote four cookbooks that championed and refined the understanding of Southern cooking in America. In Pursuit of Flavor contains cooking insights, techniques and recipes collected from her childhood in Virginia, where she grew up in a farming community founded by her grandfather and his friends after emancipation.
In The Up South Cookbook, Georgia native Nicole A. Taylor reimagines Southern cooking in her Brooklyn, New York kitchen, with updated versions of traditional recipes like grits with New York cheddar and deviled eggs with smoked trout.
In Soul Food Love, Alice Randall and her daughter Caroline overhaul traditional soul food recipes to be easy, affordable and healthy (without sacrificing flavor or culinary heritage).
Culinary historian Jessica B. Harris’s High on the Hog is more of a cooking reference book than a recipe book, following the path of African American cuisine as it originated in West Africa. It explains the “why” behind the dishes that became mainstays in Black Southern cuisine and a part of the American identity.
The upcoming Vegan Soul Food offers meat-free versions of soul food favorites, which Nadira Jenkins-El explains, are healthier and better for the planet. They’re also fast, easy to make and rely on familiar ingredients.
Haile Thomas’s upcoming cookbook contains only all gluten-, dairy- and egg-free recipes, along with her advice on how to take actionable steps to nourish your body and mind. Oh, she’s also an activist, motivational speaker and only 18 years old.
Instead of finding ways to substitute for plant-based foods, Rachel Ama’s vegan recipes focus on dishes that are naturally meat- and dairy-free. That means they’re also easy to shop for, quick to execute and designed to become regulars in your rotation. (She also includes a song with each recipe, because everyone needs a cooking playlist).
Brooklyn-based rum expert Shannon Mustiphe spins midcentury Tiki cocktails into modern versions using fresh fruit juices and homemade spirits. Her expertise and thorough instructions will appeal to cocktail aficionados and novices alike.