israeli food

Jewish Cookbooks that Should Absolutely Be on Your Kitchen Shelf

Favorite Jewish Cookbooks Your Bubbe Would Definitely Approve Of

With so many fabulous recipes online these days, it begs the question…is there still a need for Jewish cookbooks? I believe the answer to that is a resounding yes. As made evident in so many of the ones listed here, Jewish cookbooks are not just a compilation of recipes; they interweave years of research and tell stories of Jewish history which is all manifested into a tangible, physical work. In our estimation, this list curates the best Jewish cookbooks available with favorites ranging in publication dates from 1985 to 2021. We’ve included some of the best Middle Eastern cookbooks, classic Jewish cookbooks, and modern favorites as well.

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Middle Eastern (Israeli) Cookbooks

1. Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking (2015)

By Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook

Michael Solomonov’s cookbook Zahav is named after his restaurant which opened in 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not only did the restaurant win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2019, but the cookbook itself won the James Beard Book of the Year and Best International Cookbook in 2016. All of the recipes are winners and the recipes are easy enough to follow. A lot of the dishes are small plates called mezze and are very vegetarian forward as one might expect with Mediterranean food. Choose from an array of hummus recipes, roasted eggplant, halva, and rice pilaf, etc.

2. Jerusalem: A Cookbook (2012)

By Yom Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Co-authors Yom Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore the local cuisines of Jerusalem, their home city, in this gorgeous cookbook which infuses both Israeli and Arab influences into its 120 recipes. Ottonlenghi, an Israeli, was the head pastry chef at the artisanal pastry shop Baker and Spice in London, England when he met the Palestinian chef, Tamimi, in 1999 and they bonded over their shared Hebrew language and the fact that they were both born in Jerusalem in the same year. In 2002, They opened up their first London restaurant together, Ottonlenghi, in 2002 and today, the Ottonlenghi brand has expanded to include six delis and restaurants in London.

This recipes in this cookbook utilize bold, unique flavor combinations from all of the many culinary traditions that coexist within the city. Just keep in mind that the recipes tend to call for lots of ingredients and some of the spices and herbs are more specialized and might be harder to find.

3. Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen: A Cookbook (2019)

By Adeena Sussman

If the 1,000 plus five star reviews won’t convince you, perhaps the fact that Adeena Sussman has co-authored eleven cookbooks will! Adeena moved to Tel Aviv in 2015 and lived footsteps away from the Carmel Market, where she shops, explores, and creates on the daily. Sababa is a cookbook that you buy to use and not just to have look pretty on a shelf – although the colors and imagery in the book are downright stunning. You will want to make all of the recipes in this book – the za’atar feta bread, tahini glazed carrots, and the honey challah – because the recipes are easy and utilize fresh ingredients and combine unexpected flavors in a delightful way.

Classic Jewish Cookbooks

4. California Kosher: Contemporary and Traditional Jewish Cuisine (1995)

By Women’s League of Adat, Ari El Synagogue

You wouldn’t expect that one of the best Jewish cookbooks of all time was created by a sisterhood at a Conservative synagogue in North Hollywood, California. The Women’s League of Adat Ari El gained national acclaim among Jewish cooks and  bakers for this treasury of outstanding recipes. The Passover section includes the famous flourless chocolate cake recipe that is always a hit, as well as numerous other kugels and a great spinach cheese bake. What makes this book so popular for so many years is that every recipe is fabulous. Seriously, there is not one bad recipe in the whole book.

5. Fast and Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays (1997)

By Marlene Sorosky

Famed Jewish cookbook author Marlene Sorosky really created much more than a book of recipes with this gorgeous compilation. It’s a complete how-to guide to preparing for and celebrating every Jewish holiday. Sorosky organizes the book chronologically by holiday and gives you historical background on each festival, the appropriate blessings, anecdotes about each recipe, menu guide for each holiday and a cooking timeline. All of this and it’s beautiful to look at thanks to the gorgeous full color photos as well as the charming line drawings that accompany each chapter. Her Crowned Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah is a family favorite, as well as the Cherry Chocolate Dreidel Cake which takes a basic 9 x 13 square of chocolate cake and transforms it into a colorful dreidel. 

6. Jewish Cooking in America (1998)

By Joan Nathan

TV cooking star Joan Nathan created this really extensive book to highlight regional AND historical Jewish cooking across America, such as North Shore Chicago Kugel and Brooklyn Egg Creams. Right away you can tell these are old school Jewish recipes with personal stories about each creator. For example, Poor Man’s Purim Cake was published in 1879 by the NY Times as a way for economical bakers to bake a cake using only two eggs and costing only 20 cents. While many of the recipes are a bit dated for today’s contemporary Jewish cooks, the book is fascinating to read and offers great historical insight on Jewish food throughout American history. And since it’s by Joan Nathan, you know the recipes are good!

7. The Jewish Holiday Cookbook: An International Collection of Recipes and Customs (1985)

By Gloria Kaufer Greene

This is a somewhat obscure book that offers Jewish recipes from across the globe. Arranged chronologically by holiday (which is always so helpful), everything in this book is delicious despite it not having the panache of a famous chef author. You’ll find traditional Jewish recipes from Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Hungary, etc. My family considers the Ashkenazi-style Charoset to be the best around as well as the Spinach-Tomato Mazo Pie which is really a kind of lasagna. The recipes are comprehensive and the directions are clear and well thought-out. If you can find this on eBay or in a used book section, you’ll have a treasure.

8. The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York: A Cookbook (1996)

By Claudia Roden

With over 800 recipes, this cookbook by Claudia Roden has a recipe for everything, for every occasion, from all over the globe. Claudia spent over 15 years traveling and researching to develop this cookbook and her efforts did not go unnoticed. The book won the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook of the Year Award in 1997, just a year after it was published. The book is rich in Jewish history and is divided into Ashkenazic and Sephardic sections; it is truly a wealth of information.

Modern Jewish Cookbooks

9. Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch (2021)

By Jake Cohen

TikTok star and Instagram phenom, Jake Cohen, rose to fame in quarantine with his modern, youthful take on classic Jewish food. Recipes include: Tiramatzu, Schmaltzy Chex Mix, and Pastrami Biscuits. As you can see, this cookbook reimagines antiquated dishes and makes them relatable for a younger generation. Jake is Ashkenazic, and his husband is Sephardic, so Jake has learned – with the help of his husband’s mother-in-law-to interweave both traditions into his cooking. Consequently, the cookbook has a great mix of European and Middle Eastern flavor profiles.

10. Millennial Kosher: recipes reinvented for the modern palate (2018)

By Chanie Apfelbaum

Chanie Apfelbaum, the creator of kosher food blog, Busy in Brooklyn, has written a modern, kosher cookbook perfect for someone who enjoys cooking with more natural foods and fresh ingredients, and still wants flavorful results.The recipes are easy to follow and they are innovative and fun. Some of the highlights include sushi nachos, hasselback salami, and mile high s’mores pie.

Honorable Mention

Were your favorite Jewish cookbooks included in this list? If so, share your favorite recipe and which book it’s from! And if not, let us know your favorite cookbook in the comments below. Be sure to check out more content on the BMA blog!

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3 thoughts on “Jewish Cookbooks that Should Absolutely Be on Your Kitchen Shelf”

  1. Francine Weistrop

    This is for collectors .
    Aromas of Aleppo
    It’s a compilation of Syrian Jewish recipes brought to the US when Jews left Syria ( not voluntarily).
    Several women in the group compiled their recipes, took photos, told their story. It is a large, beautiful book and prices range depending on availability.

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