It’s been a bumper year for avid home cooks with a swathe of cookbooks released in Australia, so we’ve collated our top picks for the year that was.
Many of these books go beyond the printed recipes on the page and tell stories of lives shaped by food. We saw books that will become true kitchen companions, thick tomes that teach and troubleshoot, bound to become dog-eared and splattered from frequent use. These cookbooks will either teach you new ways to be creative in the kitchen, draw you into new culinary territories, or be your new go-to when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”
Here is our definitive list (in no particular order!) of the best cookbooks of 2022. Remember to shop local and support your independent bookstore.
The Joy of Better Cooking by Alice Zaslavsky
Alice Zaslavsky has blessed us with another epic veg-forward cookbook. If cooking skills weren’t something you learnt growing up, Alice is here to save you. She is your mother now.
The Joy of Better Cooking is a deeply considered and detailed book that rivals her much-loved tome In Praise of Veg. Her latest cookbook doesn’t promise to make you a ‘good’ cook (that is putting far too much pressure on yourself, she says), but it will make you a better cook.
The Joy of Better Cooking will build confidence in the kitchen which quickly evolve into enthusiasm thanks to Alice’s low-effort, high-reward recipes. The book is structured in an approachable way beginning with ‘slap dash’ dishes that are more-so assembling than cooking and ending with more complex recipes for weekends and for entertaining. We love that on top of providing short-cuts she also devises ‘long-cuts’ for when you have the capacity to take things up a notch!
A wonderful book for cooks who are still figuring things out.
First, Cream the Butter and Sugar by Emelia Jackson
‘Baking is more than a science – it's instinct, art and experience.’
Masterchef alumni Emelia Jackson published her debut cookbook this year and it’s a goodie! If you love Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull, definitely add First, Cream the Butter and Sugar to your cart.
A self-professed lazy(ish) baker, Emelia wants to reduce the pressure associated with baking. All the things that can go wrong in baking can make it a daunting and disheartening experience, but practice plus play can help to hone your baking instincts to become more adaptable in the kitchen.
This book is the perfect baking companion choc-full of over 150 recipes from simple sweets to get you through the week to elaborate cakes for special occasions.
Her number one tip for success? Read the full recipe before you start.
First Nations Food Companion by Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan
This is the book we’ve been waiting for. Adnyamathanha and Dieri man, Damien Coulthard alongside his wife Rebecca Sullivan, have sought to restore and reclaim First Nations knowledge of food in this comprehensive compendium of native ingredients.
It’s approachable and informative, quickly cementing itself as an essential for every Australian kitchen. If you’re looking to expand your understanding of First Nations foods, this book will teach you how to source, grow, harvest, and cook with native ingredients found on Country.
This book ultimately delivers “the opportunity for all people, young and old, from all backgrounds, to taste the flavours of the oldest living, continuous culture in the world” and for that we are so grateful!
Also we can’t wait to make their recipe for Warrigal Greens and Saltbush cob loaf — is there anything more Australian?
Lune: Croissants All Day, All Night by Kate Reid
The Lune story is one we never get tired of. The world-renowned croissanterie was founded by Kate Reid, an aerospace engineer turned pastry chef. Her engineer mindset never left her, and she approaches making croissants with the same precision, dedication, and innovation. Her croissants have garnered high praise from Yotam Ottolenghi declaring them the “prototype” that all croissants should aspire to. Say no more.
Apart from co-owning and operating one of the most famous bakeries, Kate can also add cookbook author to her list of accolades. In Lune: Croissants All Day, All Night, Kate shares the secret formulas for 60 of her magnificent creations.
This book is for all die-hard Lune fans and serious bakers who are hungry to embark on the 3-day journey of making croissants at home.
Lanka Food: Serendipity & Spice by O Tama Carey
From the chef behind the popular Lankan Filling Station comes Lanka Food: Serendipity & Spice — a beautiful volume of Sri Lankan recipes by O Tama Carey.
Drawing on her Sri Lankan heritage, she grapples with the concept of authenticity in food. “It’s a twisty topic with many angles and I often find more questions are raised than answered…Being authentic means being genuine, but in terms of food the concept is often inextricably linked to tradition. And while tradition certainly deserves respect, it doesn’t always mean delicious food. All food cultures are subject to innovation, interpretation and influences from others through travel and exchange of ideas and ingredients.”
Although she is Australian born, O Tama feels most connected to her matrilineal roots through food and takes us on her exploration of Sri Lankan cuisine. The result is not just a cookbook, but a guide for understanding the country’s history and culture through the lens of food.
Tenderheart by Hetty Lui McKinnon
This year one of our favourite food writers and fabled cookbook author Hetty McKinnon released her fifth cookbook, Tenderheart. Across 22 chapters (each one dedicated to her favourite vegetables), Tenderheart is an ode to the beauty of fresh produce and the legacy that Hetty's late father created through food.
Hetty describes Tenderheart as her origin story — how her great passion of vegetables came about which she traces back to her dad. She recalls a childhood where boxes of mangoes and bananas would line the hallways of her home—overflow from her dad's market stall—and how she'd tiptoe over them each morning. Fruit and vegetables were abundant and varied, piquing her culinary curiosity and love of vegetables from a young age.
Another incredible instalment from Hetty that would be right at home on everyone’s shelf.
Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen
Equal parts colourful and beautiful, Salamati is a Persian cookbook by Hamed Allahyari, co-authored by food industry legend Dani Valent (Dirty Linen Podcast).
Hamed’s recipes are framed by his life spent in Iran, his journey to Australia as a refugee, and his settlement in Melbourne where he operates a Persian restaurant and runs cooking classes. Not only is food Hamed’s livelihood, but it is also how he stays connected to his country – a place he hasn’t visited in over a decade.
“It’s my dream that everyone tries Persian food. And with my food, they come into my family. They are sitting with me, with my grandparents, parents, and cousins, talking, sharing, and enjoying the feeling of being together.”
Along with his story, Hamed wants to share his pride for Persian cooking through delicious dishes like Fesenjun (Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken Stew) and Sabzi Polow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf). The joyous and celebratory recipes are rooted in tradition, yet accessible for the home cook.
This is a perfect entry point for anyone looking to explore Persian food and who enjoy putting on a spread.