The best cookbooks for entertaining

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the power of food and cooking, and how it can bring people together, allow us to explore our creativity, and nourish both body and soul. I’ve spent over 20 years creating recipes for home cooks, published in magazines, and inspiring confidence in the kitchen. Now I share my best advice, takes on traditional favorites, and the beauty of food and entertaining in cookbooks and on I encourage cooks to find cookbooks they inspire, with tested recipes, helpful tips, and beautiful pictures to entice all the senses. Trying new recipes from my cookbook list will bring joy to your cooking and entertaining.

I wrote...

Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

By Tara Bench,

Book cover of Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

What is my book about?

Delicious Gatherings is your invitation to step into the kitchen and create a meal worth remembering! Author Tara Bench, a.k.a. Tara Teaspoon, helps you impress guests and gather friends around your table with recipes for elevated everyday meals and special holidays, plus helpful tips and how-tos. This cookbook aims to bring joy, flair, and amazing taste to all your get-togethers. 

Tara has been in the food publishing industry for more than twenty years and is also the author of Live Life Deliciously: Recipes for Busy Weekdays and Leisurely Weekends. In Delicious Gatherings Tara shares over 120 recipes from Sunday suppers and weeknight family meals to elaborate buffets for bigger crowds and holiday celebrations, and her recipes include delicious showstoppers and unique takes on comforting classics.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings

Tara Bench Why did I love this book?

The author is a food and entertaining expert, and I know first-hand. Susan was my boss for many years at Martha Stewart magazine, and is the example all cookbook authors should aspire to. You know her recipes are tried and tested, as would any recipe from a seasoned recipe developer, food stylist, and food writer. The pictures in the book are gloriously inspiring, and do their job of making your mouth water. As a frequent hostess herself, Susan draws you in with several chapters of expertise, including creating your pantry, what equipment and ingredients to have on hand, and simple starters to get your party going. The rest of the book is full of recipes you will end up making based on the beautiful visuals, simplicity, amazing flavor combinations, and helpful tips to give you cooking confidence.

By Susan Spungen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Simple, stylish recipes for fearless entertaining from the renowned food stylist, New York Times contributor, and founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living.

As a professional recipe developer, avid home cook, and frequent hostess, Susan Spungen is devoted to creating perfectly simple recipes for good food. In Open Kitchen, she arms readers with elegant, must-make meal ideas that are easy to share and enjoy with friends and family.

An open kitchen, whether physical or spiritual, is a place to welcome company, to enjoy togetherness and the making of a meal. This cookbook is full of contemporary, stylish, and accessible dishes…

Book cover of Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast

Tara Bench Why did I love this book?

Few chefs make cooking seem as fun as Jamie Oliver. His genuinely happy personality shines through in his recipes from this cooking library staple. This book is unique because the recipes are organized into 50 full meals instead of separate chapters. This makes entertaining super easy because you can choose a main dish, and Jamie tells you what to serve with it. The recipes are all completely approachable and there’s no guessing what side dishes or desserts go with dinner. I’m the kind of cook who uses this book as a jumping-off board, and I change up his menus depending on what I want to serve. But the fact that you can do this, or follow his formulas to the tee and get a great meal, is the selling point for me.

By Jamie Oliver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned chef Oliver, bestselling author and star of ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," shows home cooks how to use their kitchen and their time more efficiently so they can get exciting, delicious meals for the whole family on the table in no time.

Book cover of The Minimalist Entertains

Tara Bench Why did I love this book?

This is the only entertaining book I’ll ever recommend that doesn’t actually have pictures! It would be blasphemous other than Mark is an expert recipe developer who churns out 40 menus for successful meals and offers a plethora of tips and helpful success secrets throughout. I miss the pictures but love how he organizes the meals by season. It’s easy to narrow down the chapter you want to cook from, and the descriptive titles let you choose a menu based on the delightful sound of the recipe! You’ll be thrilled to have these seasonal menus laid out for you, but they lend themselves well to inserting some of your own updated favorite recipes in place of canapes. Try his Pasta with Walnuts, or Chili-Fried Shrimp with Scallions and Orange, yes please!

By Mark Bittman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Minimalist Entertains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The popular New York Times columnist and award-winning, bestselling cookbook author Mark Bittman now shares his winning strategies for creating elegant, delicious dinner parties with no fuss. Famous as “the Minimalist” for delicious recipes that can be made in a flash, Bittman’s entertaining cookbook is a must-have for hosts and home cooks of all skill levels.

The book features more than 150 recipes in 40 menus organized by season. Bittman’s signature “Keys to Success” offer a wealth of tips, from choosing the best ingredients to improving and streamlining your cooking techniques. Invaluable “Timetables” break down the process of preparing the…

Book cover of Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook

Tara Bench Why did I love this book?

Ottolenghi hits it home every time with his flavor combinations, and in Simple his sometimes unapproachable recipes become every home cook’s dream! He offers straightforward recipes with shorter ingredient lists and methods so you can put them on your dinner menu. With some fresh herbs and a few pantry staple ingredients he shows you how to make simple asparagus the star of the dinner party! I love that the pictures are instructive as well as beautiful throughout the book, he offers very sharable dishes and ideas. This book is what modern entertaining is all about, and you might even find some standouts easy enough for a weeknight meal.

By Yotam Ottolenghi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ottolenghi Simple as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

JAMES BEARD AWARD FINALIST • The New York Times bestselling collection of 130 easy, flavor-forward recipes from beloved chef Yotam Ottolenghi.

In Ottolenghi Simple, powerhouse author and chef Yotam Ottolenghi presents 130 streamlined recipes packed with his signature Middle Eastern–inspired flavors, all simple in at least (and often more than) one way: made in 30 minutes or less, with 10 or fewer ingredients, in a single pot, using pantry staples, or prepared ahead of time for brilliantly, deliciously simple meals. Brunch gets a make-over with Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar; Cauliflower, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad refreshes the side-dish rotation;…

Book cover of Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen: Authentic Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Mediterranean Home Cooking

Tara Bench Why did I love this book?

The fact that the recipes in this book are authentic Mediterranean home cooking doesn’t mean they don’t stand up to almost any dinner party. Whether you’re putting on a sit-down dinner or a festive buffet, the sides, mains, and snacks from this cookbook are fresh and flavorful enough to hold their own. I add a salad, small plate recipe, side dish, or skewer from this book to many dinner parties. The recipes mix well with menu items from other flavor profiles. I love that there is a generous amount of bread recipes that are simple and approachable. They are perfect additions to any meal where you want your guests to feel at home and comfortable. 

By Julie Ann Sageer, Leah Bhabha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since she was six years old, Julie Ann Sageer (nicknamed Julie Taboulie by her close-knit family) has had a passion for cooking the meals of her Lebanese heritage. Just like in her Emmy- nominated cooking show Cooking with Julie Taboulie, each of her recipes comes with hands-on instructions, tips, and tricks for making homemade Middle Eastern dishes using heaps of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Here you'll find dishes that range from classics like falafel, shawarma, and (of course) taboulie, to warming Bazilla - a stew of tomato, green pea, and lamb - to honey and rosewater-infused desserts. In these 125 recipes,…

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