13 James Beard Award-Winning Books to Add to Your Library

Meet the 2020 winners of the James Beard Foundation Book Awards.

May 28, 2020
Photo by Ty Mecham

Every year, the James Beard Foundation usually celebrates its Media Awards—which honors the country's best food authors, broadcast producers, hosts, and journalists—with a big gathering of names from all across the food world.

While that gathering may not be possible this year, the work the awards are honoring remains more important than ever. We've spent the majority of the past few months indoors, and turning to the kitchen not just for nourishment, but for a bit of an escape: getting lost in a new recipe, embarking on an ambitious project, or finding comfort in an old favorite.

Of the 2020 James Beard Foundation Book Awards winners, you'll find works that span a variety of topics, from vegetable-forward cookbooks to a "climate memoir." All are worth adding to your must-read (and cook) list.


Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking

by Toni Tipton-Martin

"Though few writers are better at using recipes as a way to look at the past, Jubilee isn’t a history lesson," writes Tejal Rao in her review of Toni Tipton-Martin's work. "It’s a celebration of African-American cuisine right now, in all of its abundance and variety, and a vital reminder that creative cooks are constantly adapting and updating it."

Baking and Desserts

Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making

By Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman

This in-depth book on artisan bread, complete with 60 recipes, from Daniel Leader (founder of the iconic bakery, Bread Alone) and Lauren Chattman (a cookbook author and former professional pastry chef) is an essential resource for any serious home baker.

Beverage with Recipes

The NoMad Cocktail Book

By Leo Robitschek

This comprehensive cocktail guide from Leo Robitschek, award-winning bar director of The NoMad Bar, covers everything from aperitifs and classic drinks to syrups and infusions.

Beverage without Recipes

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition

By Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

This edition of the World Atlas of Wine from Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, who was also added to the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame this year, is considered to be one of the most important—if not the most important—reference books on wine.


Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook

By Carla Lalli Music

According to Carla Lalli Music, Bon Appétit's food editor at large, making delicious food doesn't need to be too complicated. In lieu of prescriptive recipes, the book offers lessons in techniques—all of which readily welcome swaps and substitutions.

Health and Special Diets

Gluten-Free Baking at Home: 102 Foolproof Recipes for Delicious Breads, Cakes, Cookies, and More

By Jeffrey Larsen

Master the art of gluten-free baking with the help of cooking instructor, recipe developer, and pastry chef Jeffrey Larsen. Along with tips and tricks for how to work with gluten-free ingredients, you'll find tried-and-true recipes for the classics, like perfect chocolate chip cookies and tender banana bread.


Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa

By Yohanis Gebreyesus with Jeff Koehler

Through recipes, stories, and photographs, chef Yohanis Gebreyesus guides us through the essential elements of Ethiopian cuisine, as well as the traditions and history that helped shape it.


American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta

By Evan Funke With Katie Parla, Photography by Eric Wolfinger

This debut cookbook from pasta guru Evan Funke highlights the techniques he learned while training in Bologna, the capital of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. The incredibly detailed tutorials, introductions to rarer shapes, and crisp photographs make for an absolutely stunning, artful book.

Reference, History, and Scholarship

The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration

By Chris Smith

Chris Smith knows just about everything there is to know about okra—from its centuries-long history to the many delicious ways you can cook with it. This deep-dive celebration of a single ingredient is an unexpectedly captivating read.

Restaurant and Professional | Book of the Year

The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think

By Josh Niland

The Whole Fish Cookbook takes home an award in not one, but two categories. Here, Josh Niland—the chef and owner of Saint Peter in Sydney, an award-winning seafood restaurant—shares his famed zero-waste approach to working with fish.

Single Subject

Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook

By Vicky Bennison

Inspired by the hugely popular YouTube channel of the same name, Pasta Grannies honors Italy's best cooks—nonne, or grandmothers—with classic recipes and family stories.

Vegetable-Focused Cooking

Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar

By Amy Chaplin

Each chapter in this book centers around a base recipe, and the countless ways it can be riffed upon seasonally. Once you've got the basics down, you can customize pretty much everything you cook.


Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer

By Bren Smith

"This book shows us new ways to grow food and make a living that can both heal the planet and make life more satisfying," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard writes of this groundbreaking book from Bren Smith, a commercial fisherman turned restorative ocean farmer.

What good books have you read lately? Tell us in the comments below!

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.