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11 Cookbooks by Black Authors You Should Add to Your Bookshelf

One of the best ways to appreciate the culture and history of Black people is through its food, be that Southern or soul. Here are cookbooks that tell the story—along with links to many independent booksellers.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food

In The Rise, Marcus Samuelsson gathers food, culture and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking. This is his tribute to chefs, activists and writers, and Marcus shares more than 150 recipes from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.

Notable recipe: Chilled Corn and Tomato Gazpacho manages to be light, refreshing and satisfying.

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Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day

Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson give us a window to food that transcends borders. Together, Alexander and JJ have spent more than three decades traveling the African diaspora. Between Harlem and Heaven features recipes that survived the perilous journey through the Middle Passage and embraced influences from around the world.

Notable recipe: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Rosemary and Caramelized Shallots takes a ho-hum Southern food staple upscale.

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The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cooking

Food historian Toni Tipton-Martin uses cookbooks published by African Americans to highlight the history and the expanse of American cuisine and the Black women who made it possible. The Jemima Code shows that the cooks of days long gone are also inspirational food and cultural authorities.

Notable recipe: Potato Salad made simply and with good quality ingredients produces delicious, creamy results.

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In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean

Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen gather recipes from grandmothers (Bibis) in eight African countries facing the Indian Ocean. The flavor-forward comfort foods of In Bibi’s Kitchen can be whipped up easily in American kitchens.

Notable recipe: Prego Rolls with Piri Piri Sauce, a grilled steak sandwich with chile sauce, tastes like so much more.

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Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul

Chef Lazarus Lynch originally created Son of a Southern Chef on social media to honor the recipes his Guyanese mother and Alabama father served in their popular Queens restaurant. It’s a bold take on classic soul food!

Notable recipe: Lazarus’ Shrimp and Crazy Creamy Cheddar Grits manages to improve on a dish that I didn’t know needed improvement.

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Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing

Jerrelle Guy leads you on a baking journey through recipe descriptions that touch on related moments in her life. Growing up, she learned that good food is the most powerful way to connect, understand and heal. Jerrelle uses all five senses, sharing food memories while using ingredients that make her feel connected to family.

Notable recipe: Orange Peel Pound Cake was inspired by memories of eating oranges at Big Ma’s house.

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Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes

Food justice activist Bryant Terry breaks the fundamentals of plant-forward cooking alongside 100 simple recipes. The delicious meals in Vegetable Kingdom use popular vegetables, grains and legumes in brand-new ways.

Notable recipe: Millet Roux Mushroom Gumbo is a keeper, even for meat lovers.

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The Taste of Country Cooking

Culinary legend Edna Lewis grew up in a small Virginia farming community that was settled by freed slaves. She turns memories and recipes into a travelogue through the world of country cooking in the Virginia Piedmont.

Notable recipe: The simplicity of fresh Blackberry Cobbler is both complex and satisfying.

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Carla Hall’s Soul Food

Carla Hall’s Soul Food employs her Nashville roots and anecdotes to trace the history of soul food from Africa and the Caribbean to the American South. The nearly 150 recipes, laden with vegetables and farm-fresh ingredients, are easy to follow, and packed with bold flavors.

Notable recipe: Caribbean Smothered Chicken with Coconut, Lime, and Chiles proves that when done right, anything can be smothered to full deliciousness.

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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Recipes are intermittent in The Cooking Gene, where Michael W. Twitty tells the story of how his enslaved ancestors passed down their foodways to him, along with their cooking techniques. This one is a must-read.

Notable recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Hummus is a surprisingly good shake-up of the traditional chickpea variety.

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Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland

The rich visual storytelling combined with chef Tanya Holland’s interpretation of soul food shows why her Sweet West Oakland restaurant is such a popular culinary delight. Locally grown seasonal produce is the star of the menu here, too.

Noted recipe: Cornmeal waffles with apple cider syrup matched with buttermilk fried chicken make the perfect brunch combo.

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Melba Newsome
Melba Newsome is an award-winning writer, journalist, editor, social media and communications professional. She has been widely published and is skilled at content creation in a many formats for variety of clients.

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