There are so many wonderful Thanksgiving cookbooks, but here are a few of my old and new favorites — in no special order. I also have added, at the bottom of this section, links for some books I haven’t bought, but that look scrumptious and worth checking out. If you don’t have a very basic, all-purpose cookbook such as HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING by Mark Bittman or JOY OF COOKING, BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS, etc., then that must be your first purchase. You need something in which you can look up anything. Go to the bookstore and look at a few; buy the one that appeals the most to you. After that, order a special holiday book or keep your eyes out at the used book or thrift store for these or other Thanksgiving specials.
Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers The book by the cookbook expert. Also wrote Christmas 101. Includes basics like Turkey 101 or Pan Gravy 101, but also features a variety of desserts, fun sides, good leftover recipes, as well the stories we like to hear.
The Thanksgiving Table and The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan. Fun and beautifully illustrated books by another long-time expert, who also wrote The Christmas Table and Gifts Cooks Love. Adored the first and feel the same about the second, which highlights regional holiday favorites like “Jack Daniels’ Whiskey and Brown Sugar Crusted Ham” and “Honey and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potato Spears with Lime.” Diane Morgan’s Thanksgiving for a Crowd on Epicurious.com
Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton, the food editor of the New York Times. A bit smaller book without the big glossy photographs of some holiday tomes, this is not only a useful reference tool, but is a happy read as it’s very personally written. Basics are covered perfectly well, but we also get to tune in to some homey pages like, “Apple Pizza” and “Turkey a la King.” Need directions for a proper turkey sandwich? This is your book.
Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pieby Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and PLIMOTH PLANTATION. An excellent gift for families or anyone interested in the holiday from its historical perspective, Giving Thanks shares the story of the holiday from the famous living history museum, complete with myriad illustrations, and favorite dishes from all over the United States.
Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Written by the late Michael McLaughlin, a well-known and respected food writer, this book is chock full of the stunning color photographs we expect from Williams-Sonoma. Not all books like this are well done (some are incredibly repetitive), but this one is well-balanced and, while focusing on the basics, includes recipes you can totally trust. WS has published a newer Thanksgiving book, as well.
Friendsgiving by Alexandra Shytsman of The New Baguette dot com food blog. This entertaining little cookbook, new for 2017, is about just what the title says, Friendsgiving, a no-family holiday–or anytime–meal that skips politics and family squabbles and focuses on fun for those too far way to get to mom’s table. Choose from small, but artful menus such as The Classic (traditional turkey-type stuff), Cuban Fiesta, Southern Feast, or Modern (vegan/gf) and enjoy eating together just exactly as your group desires.
Quick Breads by Howard Early and Glenda Morris. These well-known teachers from THE BALTIMORE SCHOOL have the knack for writing recipes that turn out tastily beauteous every. single. time. Want yeast bread look and flavor without yeast? Bake here. Fun for holiday breakfasts or for a basic bread for the holiday dinner, I’ll give away that my favorite recipe in the book is Cherry-Chocolate Bread. 20 years old and this tiny little book is still giving pleasure.
Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott; photographs by Andrew Scrivani. I’ve been baking pies for 45 years, but love learning anew with this entrancing 2016 book by pie maven Kate McDermott. To gild the lily, photographer Andrew Scrivani– my favorite food photographer ever–took the pics.
Don’t want to read quite so much about pie? Buy the November, 2017 issue of SOUTHERN LIVING; it contains a stunningly full article on southern pie-making by well-known cookbook author Nancie McDermott, “Lost Pies of the South” and might fill the bill!
Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Not a Thanksgiving book per se, but a readable, doable complete, stand-alone baking book for which you’ll be thankful should you want to bake anything from biscuits to yeast breads to cheesecakes or pies for the holiday–or any other day. Keep this one on the kitchen shelf year-round.
And in case you still need help, please check out New York Times’ Food Thanksgiving Planning post. This will take you from soup to nuts, but will also remind you to defrost that turkey!
Enjoy being thankful,