The Piglet

The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is Back! Here Are Our 2018 Picks

February 23, 2018

Cooks, cookbook lovers, food enthusiasts, and food eaters, gather ‘round! The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is ready to rumble. Below, you’ll find our list of the 16 cookbooks that absolutely knocked our socks off in 2017, as well as the judges who will be vetting them. From now through April, these books will be going head-to-head in what promises to be an intense competition.

Currently in its 9th year, the Piglet is the event that has helped so many people find their new favorite cookbooks—titles to cook from, cherish, and add to their collections. (So many books come out each year, it’s hard to learn about all of them!) 16 worthy titles get put through the ringer by a cast of distinguished judges (in years past, they've included Yotam Ottolenghi, Tejal Rao, and Ina Garten). This year's judges will be cooking from the books just like you: with time restraints, grocery bills, and a supreme desire to make great food. Their goals? To help you learn about the books, and also select a winner.

As the winning book of each round advances in a bracket-style tournament, we’ll ultimately end up with one champ on April 20th. It’s the fairest book of them all, crowned by the fairest (if unscientific and completely subjective) cookbook competition of them all. There will be upsets. Early favorites will be knocked out. You can share your gripes and kudos in the comments section of each judgment. (Those are fun to read, too!)

The ultimate goal: an earnest, full-fledged celebration of the stellar cookbooks that come out each year. Authors put blood, sweat, tears, and butter into their books, and Piglet judges give each author’s work a thoughtful, thorough read. The same can’t be said for many other cookbook reviews floating around the internet (don’t they often sound like press releases?).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Jennifer Reese, the author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and numerous articles about food and travel for Slate and many other publications, is one of the most charming writers I have ever read and has had plenty to say about the cookbooks from Piglets past on her delightful blog, The Tipsy Baker. ”
— witloof

For more information on how it works, head to the cheat sheet here. And...let the 9th annual Piglet games begin! Here, our cast of books and judges. Tune in for the first-round kickoff on March 5th.

This Year’s Books

This Year's Cast of Judges

  • Jen Agg, author and restaurateur
  • Bonnie S. Benwick, Deputy Food Editor and Recipe Editor of the Washington Post
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar, actress, cookbook author, and entrepreneur
  • Tim Gunn, educator, author, fashion consultant, and co-host of Project Runway
  • Evan Kleiman, chef, author, and radio host of KCRW's Good Food
  • Kevin Kwan, novelist
  • Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation
  • Carmen Maria Machado, author, essayist, and critic
  • Brett Martin, author and Correspondent and Chief Food Critic for GQ
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey, actress, writer, producer, and comedian
  • Garrett Oliver, author, Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, and Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery
  • Rachael Ray, celebrity cook, TV show host, cookbook author, and Founder and Editorial Director of Rachael Ray Every Day
  • Stephen Satterfield, food writer, digital media producer, and Founder of Whetstone
  • Kate Schelter, artist, illustrator, and author
  • Kenzi Wilbur, writer, former Food52 managing editor, and James Beard Award-nominated podcast host and producer

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.

  • Saga
  • DianneV
  • Rhonda35
  • witloof
  • Connie
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


Saga March 16, 2018
Why isn’t the bracket being updated this year?
DianneV March 15, 2018
Where is the bracket?
Lindsay-Jean H. March 15, 2018
Hi DianneV, we caught an error on it, so we're updating it, and it will be available again soon!
Rhonda35 February 26, 2018
Ali, thank you for taking charge of the Piglet every year - you do such a fantastic job!! Yay you! I agree with others regarding surprise that Alison Roman's "Dining In" didn't make the cut - maybe it will be a Community Pick?? If not, my bet is on "Salt Fat Acid Heat." :-)
witloof February 25, 2018
Can I please nominate a judge for next year? Jennifer Reese, the author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and numerous articles about food and travel for Slate and many other publications, is one of the most charming writers I have ever read and has had plenty to say about the cookbooks from Piglets past on her delightful blog, The Tipsy Baker.
Victoria C. February 26, 2018
I totally agree about Jennifer Reese. She would be great if she's willing to take it on. I also nominate Rachel Roddy. I love her two cookbooks - great recipes, excellent writing - and her weekly column, Two Kitchens in Rome, which she writes for The Guardian.
Joan B. March 1, 2018
YES! JENNIFER REESE! She is a wonderful writer, thinker, and cook and she would be a fantastic judge for the Piglet.
Connie February 25, 2018
This does look like another awesome assortment of cookbooks. I just received Kachka for my birthday, and I have already made Lobio. Delicious.
Am planning on trying Herring in a Fur Coat and the Sour Cherry Vareniki next weekend. Fun cookbook!
Janice W. February 24, 2018
A great assortment of cookbooks once again! I assisted Rolando Beramendi at a cooking class last month and he is truly Autentico! Tartine All Day is the most recent addition to my cookbook library and I recommend it especially to new home cooks. A friend recently made brownies from Bravetart and they were over-the-top delicious! Happy to learn more about all the Tournament cookbooks.
Barbara B. February 24, 2018
What? I should be a judge. I'm a consumer who's actually bought many of these for my own library.
SandraH February 24, 2018
Yay! I’m so glad the Piglet is back! I have two of the picks, Melissa Clark’s and Samin Nosrat’s cookbooks, and am looking forward to learning about the rest. Looks like a great group of judges. Love the eclectic mix.
Sydney February 24, 2018
I'm sure Sweet was not added because of the numerous mistakes made in the US edition, concerning conversions of measurements from metric and oven times. The publisher is issuing brand new copies of the book to purchasers when the revised edition is published in March. I just received an email from Penguin, regarding the replacement book. It's such a shame, as there are so many good recipes in Sweet.
Irina J. February 24, 2018
Happy to see Gill Meller in here with his mind blowing book,Gather. Proud of Olia Hercules,too - her food opens our minds to Eastern European cuisine. Fingers crossed for both of them. Irina
Melina February 24, 2018
So happy! This always brightens those winter months!! I am surprised Sweet did not make it, it is such a beautiful book with unusual takes on desserts. Must run to the book store to look at the ones I do not know.
gingerroot February 24, 2018
Squeal of delight!! One of my favorite things ever. My daughter has grown up reading piglet results in the car on the way to school. Cannot.wait.
Rhonda35 February 26, 2018
I love that your daughter reads Piglet results with you! SO great.
KDH9966 February 23, 2018
I am really looking forward to the Piglet....I own 4 of the books and I love them all. Bravetart, Dinner, SFAH and Six Seasons (really love this book).
txchick57 February 24, 2018
I have 9 of them and the ones I don't have don't interest me in the slightest.
Amanda S. February 23, 2018
Tim Gunn!!! Wow. Also reading this made me so very.... homesick !
Connor B. February 26, 2018
Elizabeth G. February 23, 2018
What about Sweet?
BocaCindi February 23, 2018
I am so psyched. Does it get better than this??!! I think that this time around everyone will be respectful of each other's opinion. How's that for thinking positively. Here's hoping.....
SGSF February 23, 2018
Six Seasons - surprises and delights with each recipe.
Erin P. February 23, 2018
Thank you!!! Best time of year. :)
Do you have a bracket print out again this year, or are the books listed above as the pairs that will face off in the first round?
Thanks! and looking forward to this year's competition!
garlic&lemon February 23, 2018
When are the Community Piglet books going to be announced?
Terry H. February 26, 2018
Sydney February 23, 2018
My money is for Six Seasons to win!