Antiracism

21 Black-Authored Cookbooks to Add to Your Shelf

by:
June  4, 2020
Photo by TY MECHAM. PROP STYLIST: SOPHIE STRANGIO. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.

Black Lives Matter. We at Food52 are devastated by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dreasjon Reed, and so many others. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, and we hope that this coverage will serve as a helpful and important resource to further antiracism work in our community.


Like the rest of the food industry, food media has a long way to go when it comes to equal representation. We're here to self-examine—to learn and to unlearn how our company and coverage are part of this problem. Today, we're celebrating Black-authored cookbooks (keep an eye out for future articles on black-authored food books and black-created blogs). We understand this is a small start. And we're committed to continuing this conversation, both on the website and internally as a team, and finding ways to use our platform to further amplify Black voices and stories.

First, we recommend that you check out this list of Black-owned bookstores to purchase these titles from them. And below, we've linked directly to the authors' websites, which have purchasing information for their books; for the rest, we've linked to IndieBound, which helps you locate your nearest independent bookstore.


1. The Africa Cookbook by Jessica B. Harris

Written by award-winning culinary historian Jessica B. Harris in 1998, The Africa Cookbook includes over 200 recipes from across the continent—like spicy fried oysters with peanut sauce and potatoes with mint leaves and garlic. To learn more about Harris’ life, read her memoir, My Soul Looks Back.

2. The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day

Based in Savannah, Georgia and run by husband-and-wife team Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, Back in the Day Bakery is the spot for gooey cheddar biscuits and lattice-crust blackberry pie. If you don’t live in Savannah, this book is the next best thing, full of buttermilk-cornmeal pancakes and cinnamon-sugar doughnut muffins. Also check out: Back in the Day Bakery Made With Love.

3. Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy

Nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the Best Baking & Dessert Cookbook Category, Black Girl Baking is the debut cookbook from food blogger and stylist Jerrelle Guy. She was named an Eater Young Gun in 2019, in which she shared: “I’m excited to push convention if it means allowing hope for someone who wants to follow their passion but also make money doing it.”

4. Brown Sugar Kitchen by Tanya Holland

Brown Sugar Kitchen shares recipes from the acclaimed California restaurant of the same name, where Tanya Holland is owner and executive chef. There’s black pea salad, andouille gougères, herbed mushroom spoon bread, and more. “I like to think when people come to Brown Sugar Kitchen for the first time they see beyond the stereotype of West Oakland as a dangerous, dirty place,” Holland writes. “That they see what I see when I come to work—a dynamic, diverse community brought together by a shared appetite of fried chicken and for the kind of connections food can forge.”

5. Carla Hall’s Soul Food by Carla Hall

Top Chef competitor and The Chew co-host Carla Hall published her first cookbook, Cooking With Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You, in 2012. Since then, she’s published Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes From Around the World and, most recently, Carla Hall’s Soul Food, in which she shares soul food’s history from Africa and Caribbean nations to the American South.

6. Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself by Klancy Miller

Writer and pastry chef Klancy Miller earned a Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, then kept living there to work in the Michelin-starred Taillevent restaurant. Her cookbook Cooking Solo is for her “fellow singletons” (over 100 million in the U.S. alone). Picture a: ginger biscuit scone, pork burger with coconut, and lemony white bean soup.

7. Cooking With My Mother by Elsy Dinvil

Chef, author, and Haiti native Elsy Dinvil caters events, teaches cooking classes, and makes from-scratch pikliz for the Beaverton Farmers’ market in Oregon. Her book, Cooking With My Mother, is a guide to Haitan home cooking through stories and recipes. She also authored Spice Up Simple Dishes With a Haitian Twist.

8. The Dooky Chase Cookbook by Leah Chase

Founded in 1941 by Emily and Dooky Chase, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is a New Orleans landmark. Years later, it was “through the vision of Leah Chase [that] the barroom and sandwich shop grew into a sit-down restaurant wrapped within a cultural environment of African-American art and Creole cooking.” In addition to The Dooky Chase Cookbook, Chase authored And I Still Cook.

9. In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan & Julia Turshen

Hawa Hassan is the founder and CEO of Basbaas Sauce, a line of condiments, such as tamarind date sauce and coconut cilantro chutney sauce, inspired by her home country, Somalia. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Julia Turshen, comes out in October and is now available for preorder. In Bibi’s Kitchen is a collection of stories and recipes from bibis (grandmothers) in eight African countries. On her Instagram, Hassan says, “This is a book about connections: multi-generational, cross-cultural, and most of all human.”

10. Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin

Jubilee, as our Kristen Miglore describes it in her column, is “the groundbreaking cookbook that journalist Toni Tipton-Martin developed from her collection of nearly 400 African-American cookbooks from the past two centuries.” Besides those Genius Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp, you can also count on sweet potato biscuits with ham and wilted mixed greens with bacon.

11. Living Lively by Haile Thomas

Haile Thomas is the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in America, as well as an international speaker, wellness activist, and vegan content creator. Her journey began over a decade ago, when she was eight years old, once her father developed Type 2 diabetes. Next month, her cookbook Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential publishes (you can preorder now), full of dishes like turmeric berry chia pudding and potato nachos with green chile cheese sauce.

12. The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi

With modern, minimalist styling and photography, this collection—from Great British Bake Off star and London-based baker, food stylist, and recipe developer Ebuehi—is as at-home on a coffee table as it is in the kitchen. Look forward to: apple cake with sage caramel, nutmeg custard cake doughnuts, and plum–black pepper cake.

13. Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook by Pamela Strobel

Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook was originally published in 1969. “It's a compendium of pork spoon bread and peanut butter biscuits, ham hocks and oxtail ragus, catfish stews and giblet gravies, pickled pig’s feet and roast opossum,” writes Mayukh Sen in his James Beard Foundation Award–winning profile of Strobel. “For decades, though, the only prints of Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook were pumiced paperbacks that would dissolve in your hands. It has taken nearly half a century for this to be rectified.”

14. Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats by Rachel Ama

Rachel Ama launched her YouTube channel in 2017 and has since garnered almost half a million followers (to start, watch: “Meat Lovers Try Vegan Fried Chicken” and “Changes Since Vegan”). Last year, she published Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats, with recipes like plantain burgers and African peanut stew.

15. Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne

Jenné Claiborne started her blog Sweet Potato Soul in 2010, a year before she became vegan—a lifestyle change that, she writes in the intro, has “the power to transform the world.” Sweet Potato Soul is full of Southern food, inspired by Claiborne’s Georgia upbringing, just without any animal products. Think: coconut collard salad, fried cauliflower chicken, and peach–date BBQ jackfruit sliders.

16. The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis

“Though Lewis is well known in the food world...she doesn't have the widespread name recognition she should,” writes Mayukh Sen, “especially given her impact as a black woman cooking in a time when the odds were stacked against her.” In The Taste of Country Cooking (1976), Lewis celebrates simple, honest, Southern food, like pan-fried chicken and corn pudding. To learn more about her life, start here.

17. A Taste of Heritage: The New African-American Cuisine by Joe Randall & Toni Tipton-Martin

An inductee to the African American Chefs Hall of Fame, Joe Randall is “known by many as the Dean of Southern Cuisine.” This collection—co-authored with award-winning journalist Toni Tipton-Martin—has 300 recipes, like catfish stew with cornmeal dumplings. In the introduction, the authors write, “It became crystal clear that African-American cuisine was quietly experiencing a renaissance. This book was born out of that revelation.”

18. Soul by Todd Richards

“From the minute I opened this book, flavors were wafting up out of the pages as I turned them,” Piglet judge Kyle MacLachlan wrote about Soul last year. Richards is a James Beard Award–nominated chef, who describes this book—organized by ingredients like collards, melons, bean and rice—as “my homage to the cuisine of my family and ancestors.”

19. The Up South Cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor

Nicole A. Taylor hosts Hot Grease, a food culture podcast, and is the founder of NAT Media. In an interview with Good Food Jobs, she shared “Finishing The Up South Cookbook: Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen solidified years of home cooking and being my family/friends’ go-to culinary person.” The collection is inspired by growing up in Georgia and includes recipes like no-mayo pimento cheese (crème fraîche instead) and pasta with collard green pesto.

20. Vegetable Kingdom by Bryant Terry

“For Terry, being vegan doesn’t come from the approach of recreating the taste of meat with substitutes, but of the celebration and abundance of affordable—not just Instagrammable—nutritious food,” writes Vonnie Williams. “He’s debunking the misconception that veganism is purely aspirational for food-insecure Black and brown communities.”

21. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh

“‘Oh! I’ve never tried that before.’ This is the usual response when I mention Ghanaian food and tell people what I do for a living. This is has inspired me to write this cookbook,” writes chef Zoe Adjonyoh in Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, her 2017 cookbook full of plantain peanut curry and fried fish with shaved papaya. Since COVID-19 led to months of cancelled events, Adjonyoh started a campaign to feed hundreds in need in her local community and employ those who lost jobs—you can donate here.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“For one, _Soul Food Love_ by Alice Randal & Caroline Randall-Williams was the foundation for the idea of “celebration food” in African American Foodways/Soul Food, which is the entire idea behind Carla Hall’s book. Another glaring omission is _Vibration Cooking_ by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, which was a really groundbreaking book in this space. _A Date With A Dish_ by Freda DeKnight was also a pioneering book in this space that should’ve been included. And one thing that’s more about the reading list y’all posted—how in the world did you not include _The Cooking Gene_ by Michael Twitty? It’s been one of the most consequential books published in the last few years about African Americab Foodways (and it won a James Beard Award, so it’s not like it’s some obscure book). Ok. Rant over. Please try and do better.”
— dylan
Comment

This is by no means an exhaustive list. We hope our community will share their favorite cookbooks by Black authors in the comment section so we can all grow our collection.

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Shannon318
    Shannon318
  • Penelope Fahlman
    Penelope Fahlman
  • Gary Frankford
    Gary Frankford
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    Lauren Eberhardt
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    Ruby2
Comment
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.

63 Comments

Shannon318 June 28, 2020
Darius Williams is another black cookbook author that I love. He has four soul food cookbooks: Stories From My Grandmother’s Kitchen, 101 Recipes for Your Holiday Table, Vegan But With Soul and Everyday Keto. I had the opportunity to eat at his restaurant Greens & Gravy in Atlanta last year and it was nothing short of amazing! He has now started a new business, Carolina Pound Cake where you can order one of his amazing cakes to be shipped! They’re so popular that they sell out quickly, but eventually I’ll snag one! He even cooks live on his multiple social media platforms.
 
Andrea June 28, 2020
Thanks for sharing. Will check out the Carolina Pound Cake And his cookbooks. I do follow him on Facebook.
 
Penelope F. June 27, 2020
This is a great list. I already have many of the books on it and now I have ideas for future purchases. Some other books that are my favorites are:

Country Cooking by Dori Sanders
Soul Food - Classic Cuisine from the Deep South by Sheila Ferguson
Kwanza by Eric Copage
Vertamae Cooks and Vertamae Cooks Again by Vertamae Grosvenor
The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson
The New Low Country Cooking by Marvin Woods
Grace the Table by Alexander Smalls
Brown Sugar Kitchen by Tanya Holland
 
Gary F. June 26, 2020
With all respect to well-meaning cooks at food.52.com, no diet in America is less healthy and life-sustaining, than the diet of black Americans. Does that imply that all blacks eat a diet suffused with butter, lard (the favorite of a great cook, Edna Lewis, nonetheless), and "everything fried in grease?" Of course it doesn't!

After decades of improving the overall diet of the American people, it seems to me we must not conflate "eating healthy" with "racism" or "lack of diversity." And that pertains especially to what we are willing to put into our bodies.

I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, the home of Scrapple, a bend of all the unmentionables a pig's carcass can offer, heavy doses of pepper and salt, cornmeal, fried and then typically encased in pig intestines, like sausage. I never eat Scrapple more than once a year now, if that, and only when I go "home" to visit family and friends---most of whom long ago banished that delicious poison from their kitchens!

So, with all the great stuff we are presented with by the contributors to this website, I suggest we stick to the healthy stuff and adapt certain recipes from black American diets to fit what modern medical science has taught us: about "clogged arteries" and "fatty livers," for instance. So much is in turmoil in America today; at least, let us not put our hard-won advances in "how Americans eat" into that mess.
 
Agatha B. June 29, 2020
I think chiding others for being enthusiastic about black-authored cookbooks and "black cuisine" sort of defeats the purpose of this exercise. At the heart of this is choice and an awareness of what else is available. I seriously doubt anyone is going to start flavoring everything with lard and increasing salt intake to unhealthy levels. Besides, we all do tend to modify recipes to suit our individual tastes, don't we?
 
Lauren E. June 18, 2020
Capitalize the B in Black please.
 
Elaine June 26, 2020
Apart from a couple times in parenthetical mentions, most if not all references to Black are capitalized.
 
Gary F. June 26, 2020
Should we also "Capitalize the W in White, please?" or the "B in Brown, please?" or all the other skin-colors human beings come in? Are we really this crazy, or is it you only who want us to think, speak, write the way you want us to think, speak, write the way you want us to.....etc?

Political gibberish is not what belongs on a cooking site. We've been down that road before, and let us hope it is finally accepted as standard practice: no politics or politically-correct nonsense on something as wonderful as food52.com. That way, we can all "congregate" here, share our love of family and cooking for one another, and at least have it as a refuge from the storm outside.
 
Kristina G. July 5, 2020
Hi, Gary

I find it interesting that you choose to write a rather garbled epistle on whatever your point was rather than on the fact that they've omitted the honors that many of these books have received and have included a book that isn't even out yet.
 
Ruby2 June 12, 2020
Thank you Food52 for this site. In addition, I thoroughly enjoy Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin; I love the history she includes. Chef Kevin Bolton’s New Orleans Celebration is delightful and my newest cookbook is from Chef Alexander Smalls - Meals, Music and Muses. No only do these books have good recipes, but good information.
 
Justice S. June 12, 2020
"Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking" by Justice Stewart. The first African American to write a book on the subject.
 
Justice S. June 12, 2020
"Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking" by Justice Stewart. The first African American to write a cookbook on the subject...
 
Andrea June 11, 2020
Thanks for the list! I have many that are listed both in the list and by others in the comments. But quite a few that I’ll be checking out.
 
Roberta June 9, 2020
Sweet Home Cafe cookbook, Smithsonian Books
 
Pat C. June 8, 2020
Consider adding “The Brown Betty Cookbook: Modern Vintage Desserts and Stories from Philadelphia's Best Bakery”- stories and recipes from three generations of black women who started a bakery
 
RONIECE A. June 8, 2020
I greatly appreciate seeing the list however you should run another list and compile a new list from the comments below. You left off one book that takes Soul food and puts a healthy spin on recipes that were published by the American Diabetes Association and written by 2 very credible African American Registered Dietitians that have advocated for years to bring awareness of diabetes through healthy cooking.
That book is called: The New Soul Food Cookbook for People with Diabetes. 3rd Edition. They have written over 5 books on healthy cooking and are widely sold throughout the USA.
 
amc June 8, 2020
Buy the books from a Black owned bookstore, not Amazon.
Amazon does not need your money.
 
Shannon R. June 11, 2020
I agree.
 
annette June 8, 2020
Maya Angelou wrote a couple of good cookery books; Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine by the Darden Sisters is an all-time great; Sylvia’s (several) Soul Food Cookbooks; Pearl Bailey’s Pearl’s Kitchen is a classic; all the books by The Neelys; the many marvelous food books by Lolis Eric Elie, including Smokestack Lightning;
The Black Family Reunion Cookbook; Sweety Pies by Patty Pinner; The Church Ladies’ Divine Desserts; all the marvelous black chefs featured in The New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook. These, in addition to those on your list (like Edna Lewis’s four books) and those in the comments, like Vertamae Smart Grosvenor’s, and The Jemima Code, are worth reading and reviving even if they are currently out of print. Used book dealers keep classics in circulation. The works of these cooks and writers deserve to be appreciated.
 
Kamilah M. July 2, 2020
I love the Black Family Reunion Cookbook and the Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook, lovely food and history in the sidebar.
 
Lisa S. June 8, 2020
My #4 is well-used. In my opinion, the best cornmeal waffles and apple cider syrup on the planet come from Tanya Holland’s restaurant in Oakland, and the second best come from my kitchen using her recipe. Prepare to wait a bit if you ever have occasion to stop at Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast, but know that every minute will be worth the wait.
 
Katalin G. June 8, 2020
The last post about Gullah cooking reminded me that I own a book called "Stirring the Pots on Daufuskie." I think it might have been published by a church? I got it way back in the 80's.
 
Parker B. June 8, 2020
I don't own these (yet!), but I have read them and tried some of the recipes.
The Ultimate Gullah Cookbook: A Taste of Food, History and Culture from the Gullah People -- Jesse Edward Gantt and Veronica Davis Gerald

Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way: Smokin' Joe Butterbeans, Ol' 'Fuskie Fried Crab Rice, Sticky-Bush Blackberry Dumpling and Other Sea Island Favorites -- Gregory Wrenn Smith and Sallie Ann Robinson.

The Middleton Place restaurant still uses some of Edna Lewis' recipes. She was head chef there in the 1970s. They were incredibly lucky to have her!
 
Agatha B. June 8, 2020
It was a very nice to see this list. Having said that I would like to give a plug to diaspora (Caribbean side). There are a couple of cookbooks with Jamaican connections that might interest some: Edna Donaldson's "Real Taste of Jamaica" and the "Ziggy Marley & Family Cookbook".
 
Cassandra H. June 8, 2020
Good afternoon. Thanks for listing a variety of cookbooks by Black authors. I am a also a Black cookbook author with three soul food cookbooks and I would love to have a feature done. You can check out all three cookbooks at www.cassandraharrellauthor.com. I also have a Facebook page where you can contact me directly. Thank you for the great work that you are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cassandra Harrell
Cookbook Author
 
Debra M. June 8, 2020
I highly recommend Jubilee, Taste of Persia, and Marcus Samuelsson's Off Duty. I really appreciate the list. I only wish it wasn't under the banner of "Antiracism",
 
Debra M. June 8, 2020
I highly recommend Jubilee, Taste of Persia, and Marcus Samuelsson's Off Duty. I really appreciate the list. I only wish it wasn't under the banner of "Antiracism"/