The Piglet

A Look Inside the Piglet, Our Tournament of Cookbooks

The method behind the cookbook madness.

February 25, 2019

This article was originally published in February 2018, but we're running it again to give you the skinny on this year's upcoming Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks. The Piglet starts on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, so stay tuned for all the fun!

For those of you whose cookbook wish list is long, and whose bookshelf has lots of splattered cookbooks marked up with “must make” picks, you’re going to be thrilled. For those of you who just want someone to tell you which cookbook is right for you, we’ve got exciting news. And for those of you who love savage games and real talk, but couldn’t care less about sports or talk shows, you’re in luck: The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is back for its 10th year! It's a March Madness-style bracket contest that has nothing to do with basketball, and everything to do with cookbooks.

The Piglet was founded by cookbook author Charlotte Druckman and Food52 co-founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs in the hopes of generating better, more transparent cookbook reviews—and a little lively, friendly competition.

Its structure and name are inspired by the Morning News’ tournament of novels, The Rooster. Sixteen cookbooks are chosen as the standouts of the past year: books that are thoughtful, cookable, and original in spirit. In the case of this tournament, it really is an honor just to be nominated.

The books are filtered into a bracket and paired off. Judges pick a favorite between the two titles. And who are these judges? In the past, everyone from Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ari Shapiro to Susan Orlean and Gabrielle Hamilton have participated. Judges are chosen for their ability to test the books in a way most home cooks would experience them, and for their ability to write an honest review of how it went.

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Top Comment:
“My favorite piglet was 5 years ago, and I was in an ICU after surgery, and someone handed me my iPad , and I read something that made me laugh. A belated thank you.”
— jamcook

Each review explains the judge’s point of view: Are they more of a winging-it cook and less of a recipe person? Are they a box-mix sort of baker? They also might talk through the first impression of each book, what they think the books set out to do, and ultimately—after spending time with and testing at least two recipes from each book—how the books hold up. They will then crown a winner of their heat, and that book will advance to the next round.

The result of all these judgments: Strong opinions (by judges and commenters), good fun, an introduction to some of the year’s best cookbooks, and, ultimately, one winner. You’ll know why that book won because there will be four reviews from four very different cooks to back it up, which is one of the many reasons why we find The Piglet so special.

For the roster of this year’s cookbooks, head here. And for a peek at what’s to come, enjoy some of the standout reviews from years past:

What have been your favorite Piglet Tournament moments to date? Share with us in the comments!

The Piglet—inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books—is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a NCAA-style bracketed tournament. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Threemoons
  • Vickster
  • jamcook
  • Tess Jones
    Tess Jones
  • Mihaela Pacurar
    Mihaela Pacurar
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


Threemoons March 26, 2019
Will there be an event/party in NYC this year?
Vickster March 12, 2019
Where is the review by Andrew Knowlton of Art of Fermentation and Shaya? I can't find it.
jamcook February 26, 2019
Didn’t even know round one had happened.???
My favorite piglet was 5 years ago, and I was in an ICU after surgery, and someone handed me my iPad , and I read something that made me laugh. A belated thank you.
Brinda A. February 27, 2019
Hi jamcook! Round 1 of the Piglet hasn't happened just yet—it starts on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Stay tuned! And thanks for the lovely Piglet memory :)
Tess J. October 26, 2018
I would like to submit "Cooking With Crohn's"
Mihaela P. April 5, 2018
Hi - when is the final round going to be posted? I too am checking in often, and trying to find the bracket with no luck.
Lemongrass&Lime March 24, 2018
For those of you disappointed in the delay and lack of info - I found this note at the end of the article linked below...

Ready for more Piglet? Tune in next week for our 2018 Community Picks and March 26th for the start of round two.
Elle March 24, 2018
I’m adding this to the list of people wondering what’s going on with the piglet. Following the contest is usually so fun! This year—not so much. I do agree that you all should at least give some kind of update. This is disappointing and the longer you continue to hold fans in limbo, the more you risk everyone losing interest.
Lemongrass&Lime March 24, 2018
It would be helpful to those of us who enjoy the Piglet to know why the tournament has stalled after round one this time. May we please have an update?
lindsaypq March 23, 2018
Agree with other comments posted here. Disappointing that it seems there is no information about the schedule of posts and when to expect Round 2. Any updates?
Kathleen March 23, 2018
I agree with all the comments - at least looking at the bracket gave a better perspective of what was to come. Its been so long I can't even remember who won round one. Then your not responding!!
Karen F. March 22, 2018
don't you think you shoudl give us an update about what is going on, and when to expect round 2?
Amber B. March 20, 2018
Where can I find the bracket? When is round 2? Thanks!
familydinners March 20, 2018
round two?
Inko March 19, 2018
Going though Piglet withdrawal! I thought it was a daily event until it was over. Can you please post a Piglet 2018 schedule? Thanks.
Valerie March 22, 2018
I too am checking back frequently, what’s up? When does round two begin?
Karen F. March 19, 2018
when does round two start?
Saga March 16, 2018
Why isn’t the bracket being updated this year?