When one talks about Cajun cuisine, dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, and catfish come to mind. That’s because the cuisine is shaped by the ingredients available in the region. Not surprisingly, these feature heavily in Cajun cookbooks.
Cajun cooking is known for its spicy notes and strong, intense flavors. The base for this comes from the use of a Holy Trinity of spices – onion, celery and green bell pepper. These, along with the use of a flour-based roux, is what defines a typical Cajun dish.
There’s a saying among Cajuns that good food takes time and that’s why many of the traditional dishes require a slow browning, followed by a long simmering until the ingredients soften and break down.
For the casual home cook, such can be daunting. In general, traditional Cajun food isn’t easy to prepare. The roux alone isn’t just a single recipe that can work for all. Cajun cooks use different oils and fats to make a specific roux for a particular dish.
This is why if one is looking to make an authentic Cajun dish, it helps to have a Cajun cookbook. It will show you how to prepare them so that the flavor and textures are authentic. The same is true for many other cultural types of cooking, like Thai or even French cooking.
Some Cajun cookbooks feature updated recipes that can be easily done in a home kitchen. Such books will appeal to casual home cooks or newbie ones who are looking for easy and accessible recipes.
Some, however, will showcase authentic traditional recipes that require special equipment or ingredients that may not be easy to source. These cookbooks will demand a skilled cook since most of these recipes aren’t easy to do. But they do make excellent reference material on an ethnic cuisine that may be fast disappearing due to climate change.
In this list, I’ve picked the best of the old and the new. Some of these books have become classics because of the reliability and the nostalgic affection for their recipes. Others have become best-selling favorites for their creative ingenuity in translating an ethnic cuisine for a modern and diverse audience.
Here are my top ten Cajun Cookbooks on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Cajun Cookbooks
- 1. Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou Hardcover – Illustrated
- 2. Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking Hardcover – Illustrated
- 3. Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana: A Cookbook Hardcover
- 4. Better Homes and Gardens Cajun Cooking Paperback
- 5. Modern Cajun Cooking: 85 Farm-Fresh Recipes with Classic Flavors Paperback
- 6. The Easy Creole and Cajun Cookbook: Modern and Classic Dishes Made Simple Paperback
- 7. Cajun Cuisine: Authentic Cajun Recipes from Louisiana's Bayou Country Hardcover
- 8. The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine Hardcover
- 9. The New Orleans Cookbook Paperback
- 10. Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook Paperback
- Top Pick
Best Cajun Cookbooks
- Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou Hardcover – Illustrated
- Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking Hardcover – Illustrated
- Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana: A Cookbook Hardcover
- Better Homes and Gardens Cajun Cooking Paperback
- Modern Cajun Cooking: 85 Farm-Fresh Recipes with Classic Flavors Paperback
- The Easy Creole and Cajun Cookbook: Modern and Classic Dishes Made Simple Paperback
- Cajun Cuisine: Authentic Cajun Recipes from Louisiana's Bayou Country Hardcover
- The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine Hardcover
- The New Orleans Cookbook Paperback
- Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook Paperback
1. Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook highlights 100 traditional Cajun recipes and weaves them through colorful stories of the bayou’s ingredients, culture and traditions. Gorgeous color photographs of food and place punctuate each page. Samples of the recipes featured include duck gumbo, shrimp jambalaya, she-crab soup, crawfish étouffée, smothered chicken, fried okra, and oyster bisque.
The cookbook is organized into 12 twelve chapters, each highlighting an essential Cajun cuisine ingredient. Each section begins with a story about the ingredient. The recipes are accessible and easy to follow. There are no exotic ingredients and the book includes tips and suggestions on how to eat the critters or how to adapt the dish.
Readers love the environmental slant of the cookbook (Lousiana is fast losing land to the bayou) and its stories that document the vanishing regional culinary culture. One said that it had the best Cajun recipes in any book. It comes highly recommended for home cooks looking to explore Cajun cuisine and for casual readers interested in reading about bayou culture.
2. Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook is all about modern Cajun cuisine. It features 100 recipes which include hopper stew, Louisiana ditch chicken; some favorites like boudin, dirty rice, crabcakes, cochon de lait, and the chef-author’s signature double-cut pork chop and toups burger.
The recipes are easy to follow with extensive notes on the cooking process. It’ll teach you to dig a barbecue pit on-the-fly or make up a dark roux in just 15 minutes. Almost every recipe has a full page photo of the dish. Others will have a two-page spread that includes at least 12 how-to photos.
Readers were entertained with the personal stories and tall tales that accompany the recipes. There are some f-bombs thrown in but for the most part, the laugh-aloud commentary sprinkled across the pages appealed to most reviewers. Recommended for those looking for an excellent hunters cookbook from the bayou.
3. Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana: A Cookbook Hardcover
This cookbook features family recipes and favorites from the author’s New Orleans restaurants. Samples of the recipes include seafood gumbo, smothered pork roast over rice, baked oysters with herbsaint hollandaise, Louisiana crawfish boudin, and bourbon-soaked bread pudding with white and dark chocolate.
The recipes are easy to follow but require a significant amount of prep time. Most of them have been modernized for the home kitchen. There are a lot of beautiful photos, along with personal stories of the author’s life in Cajun country.
Readers found this a great book with lots of different techniques, including how to make Louisiana sausage. Another found the recipe selection satisfying for a traditionalist but also diverse enough to include general Southern cooking. Recommended for home cooks and fans of the author’s New Orleans restaurants.
4. Better Homes and Gardens Cajun Cooking Paperback
Published in 1987 by the editors of Better Homes and Gardens, this cookbook gathers traditional Cajun-style recipes for fish and meat, gumbos, stews and soups, rice and vegetables, and desserts.
This is a slim cookbook and the recipes are simple and easy to follow. In the 80s, this was the go-to guide in many home kitchens for Cajun cooking. Despite its age, the recipes are still reliable and useful for anyone looking for a simple introduction to the cuisine.
Recommended for anyone looking for a basic starter book or for anyone looking to replace their tattered and worn copy with a decent one.
5. Modern Cajun Cooking: 85 Farm-Fresh Recipes with Classic Flavors Paperback
Another modern fusion Cajun cookbook, this cookbook’s recipes are written for the home kitchen. The selection include shrimp étouffée stuffed potatoes, crawfish butternut squash mac n’ cheese, fried green tomato BLTs with caramelized onion remoulade, smoky bacon and crawfish flatbread, and chicken and andouille sausage gumbo with fried okra dippers.
The recipes are accessible and rely on fresh ingredients. They’re categorized into sections based on meal types: Everyday Dish, Small Bites, Date Night, and Happy Hour. They’re also accompanied with color food photos.
Readers liked that the recipes were easy to do and still had the authentic Cajun flavor. Recommended for casual home cooks interested in trying out Cajun cuisine.
6. The Easy Creole and Cajun Cookbook: Modern and Classic Dishes Made Simple Paperback
This cookbook introduces you to a selection of authentic Cajun and Creole dishes. There are 50 recipes here, from the classic shrimp, sausage, and grits to the aromatic crawfish bisque.
It also covers the basics, like how to use the magical Cajun Trinity of fresh onions, celery, and bell pepper or making a quick roux without burning it. There are also a lot of helpful tips on how to stock your pantry, and what the essential kitchen appliances one must have.
Recipes are laid out well and are quick to do with one-pot and 30-minute options. They also use easy-to-find ingredients with recommendations for ingredient substitutions if one is in the mood for a challenge.
Readers liked the authenticity of the recipes. One liked that family recipes are also included in the book. Another liked how the author references the local restos when introducing some of the recipes. Recommended for anyone new to Creole and Cajun cooking.
7. Cajun Cuisine: Authentic Cajun Recipes from Louisiana's Bayou Country Hardcover
This book is a compilation of more than 200 authentic Cajun recipes screened by several career cajun home economists. It features an introduction by one of the world’s leading authorities on Cajun cuisine and contains informative discussions on how Cajun and Creole cuisine are different.
The range of the selection is diverse, including classic favorites like gumbos, jambalayas, bisques, fricassees, etoufees, sauce piquantes, wild game, and more. Samples include fried okra, maque choux, and alligator stew, plus two ways to prepare frog legs and 11 different gumbos (one using squirrel!).
Recipes are straightforward with spare ingredient lists and none of the history behind each dish. Such an economical approach has allowed the book to include more supplementary recipes for dressings, sauces and condiments.
Readers liked the effort into showcasing authentic recipes from the bayou. One found it useful that each chapter had a table of contents of all its recipes. Overall, a highly recommended reference cookbook for authentic Cajun cuisine.
8. The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine Hardcover
This a heavyweight cookbook featuring not only more than 700 recipes and 850 full-color pages but also the history of Louisiana and Cajun and Creole cuisine.
It highlights various historical culinary contributions , from the okra-carrying African slaves to the French cuisine of the Creoles. There are recreations of classic dishes enjoyed in Cajun cabins and plantation kitchens and more.
Recipes have step-by-step directions and use ingredients that are easy to obtain except, probably for the unconventional meats (like squirrel, and gator). Most are written to feed a lot of people and will require some significant prepping time. Despite this, it’s still a beginner-friendly cookbook, according to one reader.
Readers liked the comprehensive selection of traditional recipes. One said that this is a must-have book for anyone serious about Louisiana cuisine. Recommended for anyone interested in a reference cookbook for Cajun and Creole cooking
9. The New Orleans Cookbook Paperback
This is a classic cookbook that features a selection of Cajun and Creole dishes. There are 288 authentic recipes here collected by food critics in the 60’s and 70’s.
Recipes are simple and use local ingredients. There are no photos of this book but there is a wealth of information about the background of the recipe and the culinary history of each cuisine. Each recipe is kitchen-tested and can be adapted to suit individual dietary needs.
One reader liked the reliability of the recipes. He said that he’s had more success in making them while following the recipe than any other New Orleans cookbook. Recommended for a beginner or for anyone interested in a collector’s item of a cookbook.
10. Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook Paperback
The author was a well-loved cooking show host and an icon of Cajun cooking as well as a successful comedian. This book is a retrospective of his delicious recipe, the evolution of his cooking style, and his best humorous anecdotes.
The recipes here are authentic Cajun and are some of what the author grew up with. Some of the recipes here date back to the 60’s. It includes tips on what to substitute for the ingredients that you can’t find in your local grocery stores.
Readers liked how the recipes were easy to prepare. One noted the book’s squirrel gumbo recipe favorably. Another liked how the recipes incorporated the old cooking methods that were taught to the author. Recommended for fans of Wilson.
MOSQUITO SUPPER CLUB: CAJUN RECIPES FROM A DISAPPEARING BAYOU by Melissa M. Martin
This cookbook has some of the best restaurant Cajun-inspired recipes that can be easily be replicated in a home kitchen. Named after the author’s New Orleans restaurant, the recipes in this book have been carefully chosen to showcase the culinary culture of a vanishing bayou community.
Each dish, along with its ingredients and technique, is carefully and patiently explained for those unfamiliar with this ethnic cuisine. Meanwhile, the stories about the traditions and folklore of the region add poignancy to the dire situation they’re in: Cocoderie, Louisiana is slowly being swallowed by the sea.
One reviewer said that this is a “generational landmark book” for Cajun food. Another said that this is essential reading not only for the recipes but also for the documentation of regional culture. Highly recommended for casual cooks, newbie home cooks, cultural watchers, and environmental activists.