Who doesn’t love eating desserts? When done well, dessert is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And when you create a dessert from scratch, it makes the experience of eating it even more pleasurable.
Making desserts, however, requires skill. And that’s why a dessert cookbook is a handy thing to have. Just like what our TV favorite Mary Berry says, if you can read a cookbook, you can certainly bake.
There are many cookbooks that would fit a dessert-phile collection. But the best ones are those that have delicious reliable recipes, beautiful food porn, and writing that inspires and engages. These are the cookbooks that earn their dog-eared, stained pages from frequent use.
In this list, I’ve gathered the best ones that offer practical, no-frills, and easy to do recipes or elevate classic recipes by adding historical or cultural anecdotes. The foods in them could easily be added to a dessert charcuterie board or served at home after dinner.
Here are my top ten best dessert cookbooks.
If you want more ideas, why not try some baking cookbooks? Many of those will offer sweet treats along with savory ones. Or, how about joining a dessert of the month club? Yes, those exist and they're amazing.
Best Dessert Cookbooks
- Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence Hardcover – Illustrated,
- Delish Insane Sweets: Bake Yourself a Little Crazy: 100+ Cookies, Bars, Bites, and Treats Hardcover
- Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Pastries from the British Queen of Baking Paperback – Illustrated
- BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts Hardcover – Illustrated
- Tasty Dessert: All the Sweet You Can Eat Hardcover
- The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies Hardcover
- 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Weeknight Dessert Cookbook: 80 Irresistible Recipes with Only 5 to 15 Minutes of Prep
- The Deceptively Easy Dessert Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Extraordinary No-Bake & Baked Sweets
- Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake
1. Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence Hardcover
This cookbook contains more than 100 recipes that cover all kinds of desserts. It’s a cookbook for aspiring pastry chefs of any level who want to push their skill level further.
It’s written in the same warmth and clarity that author Saffitz puts into her popular Bon Appetit videos. It provides foundational know-how and practical do’s and don’ts when making desserts.
Each recipe includes the skill level, prep and bake time. It also outlines the potential problems one might encounter when making the recipe and how to solve them. Gorgeous photos accompany each recipe with step by step guides.
Topics are arranged in a logical and user-friendly way. Each chapter starts with the easy recipes and progresses to the complex ones. There’s a matrix for the recipes organized through a time chart that one reader found very useful. However, some of the recipes use unusual ingredients to create complex flavors so be prepared to spend more time at the market for some desserts.
2. Delish Insane Sweets: Bake Yourself a Little Crazy: 100+ Cookies, Bars, Bites, and Treats
This collection from the popular Delish magazine features 100 classic and reader-favorite dessert recipes. It’s a cookbook that has a lot decorating and flavor ideas for the creative baker.
The book covers only 3 types of desserts: cookies, brownies and cupcakes. But readers love this book because the recipes are well written, short, and easy to follow. Plus, each has a great photo. The book is also written in a fun and accessible manner.
Some of the recipes utilize cake mix as a base and add elements to elevate it. But there are enough “made-from-scratch” recipes for newbies and pros alike. This cookbook will appeal to those looking for church potluck recipes too, as the desserts are over-the-top gorgeous but simple enough in execution that a newbie will feel confident enough to make them.
3. Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Pastries from the British Queen of Baking Paperback
This cookbook features more than 100 dessert recipes from the iconic Mary Berry which are practical and fool-proof.
It’s written clearly, and straightforward, with most recipes having 3-5 steps. There’s a wide range of desserts for every level of baking skill. There’s also a section on baking techniques.
This edition uses American measurements and the recipes tend to use basic ingredients like flour, sugar and butter. The book also features full-colored photographs of the finished desserts.
If you love watching her on The Great British Baking show and would like to try Mary Berry's signature Heavenly Chocolate Cake or her Mincemeat and Almond Tart, this cookbook is for you.
4. BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts
This cookbook is more than a collection of American dessert recipes. It’s also a great read for those interested in the origins of how our iconic desserts came to be.
The recipes are accompanied with advice on how to mix them up by suggesting several variations. Some recipes come with gluten-free variations. There’s also a section on baking techniques, pantry essentials, and what equipment to use. This book uses weight as measurements although some recipes will have volume measurements.
It’s got great photos, a notable bibliography and an index to make it user-friendly. This is not, however, a cookbook for brand new cooks. The recipes require precision and familiarity with standard kitchen techniques and ingredients. That’s why this book is heavy on variations so that you can be creative in putting your own twist on your beloved American comfort food.
And if you need help, author Stella Parks will gladly answer your questions on her Twitter feed. One reader said that it’s like having “near-real-time tech support with a cookbook”.
5. Tasty Dessert: All the Sweets You Can Eat (An Official Tasty Cookbook) Hardcover – Illustrated
This is a collection of 75 dessert recipes from the world’s largest social food network. It’s an easy read, with recipes that are mainstream and written with simple directions.
The book begins with a Baking 101 section, with a good list of tips and hints for the newbie baker to get started. It then categorizes recipes according to flavor and texture. It’s a good mix of easy and average recipes; there’s also a chapter for diary-free or gluten-free ones.
The photos look good although not every recipe is accompanied by one. Readers like the book because it also features new recipes along with the ones popularly shared on the food network. Overall, this book is ideal for a beginning baker who wants to conquer the weekend with an awesome dessert.
6. The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies
This is designed to be a comprehensive collection for baking pies by New York Times contributing baker Erin McDowell. It features 140 full pie recipes, from classics like apple and pumpkin pies, to inspired ones like birthday-cake pie.
Sections are divided by introductory material which include information like how to make pie dough extra flaky, how to store and freeze dough, and tips on decorating and styling. At the end of the book, there’s a resource page to help you source specialty ingredients.
There are recipes for all kinds of pie and they are easy to understand and follow. Measurements are given by weight and volume. And more importantly, there are lots of gorgeous comparison photos per recipe to show you how the pie looks like when it’s under, over, or perfectly baked.
The recipes are labeled by difficulty levels. There are ample recipes for beginners but there’s also enough for seasoned ones. Pro bakers will definitely like this book because it has a lot of info on crusts and toppings that they can mix and match. It even has vegan and non-gluten options.
7. 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More – Illustrated
For cookie lovers, this cookbook has 100 recipes for cookies and bars, ranging from classic favorites to modern interpretations of global desserts.
It teaches the baker some innovative baking techniques, including the author’s “pan banging” method which creates crisp edges and soft centers for cookies.
The book is organized into 7 chapters and recipes are written in an easy and user-friendly manner. One reader liked it for its literary references. There are also photos that accompany most of the recipes.
Whether you’re looking to make a bar, brownie, blondie, or cookie, this cookbook has it all.
8. The Weeknight Dessert Cookbook: 80 Irresistible Recipes with Only 5 to 15 Minutes of Prep
This cookbook focuses on dessert recipes that don’t require a lot of fuss, use regular pantry staples and are easy to make.
The recipes have clear instructions and are easy to follow. They’re also accompanied by great photos. There’s a section in the book that highlights several ‘‘no bake” recipes. And the book uses both metric and US measurements.
The ingredients are easy to find so anyone can easily create a made-from-scratch dessert when one is pressed for time. It also doesn’t rely on boxed mixes. Readers also liked the fact that many of the recipes are geared towards 1-5 servings which is perfect for an average household.
Some recipe samples featured in the book include pound cake and chocolate chip cookies mixed in with treats like black forest bars, chocolate blueberry brownies, cranberry lemon scone cookies, and chocolate caramel pecan pound cake.
9. The Deceptively Easy Dessert Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Extraordinary No-Bake & Baked Sweets
Beginners will like this book because it features simple and easy to follow recipes that even a 13-year old can make on her own. It has 90 recipes that cover a variety of desserts including cookies, brownies, bars, custards, puddings, gelatins, ice creams, sorbets, pies, tarts, galettes, candies, and fudge.
The book begins with a Baking Essentials guide that introduces the reader to essential ingredients and equipment. And all these are kitchen and pantry staples in a home kitchen. The explanations are written clearly and to the point. There are not too many photos in this book but the ones that have been included look good. There’s also a section for No-Bake recipes.
Each recipe only requires an under 3-minute prepping time. Readers like this book for its no-frills style, good size and easy to read print.
10. Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake
This cookbook collects the most iconic dessert recipes from popular cookbook authors, chefs and bakers and features tips, riffs, and mini-recipes, as well as the interesting stories behind each recipe’s development.
It’s written in an engaging and accessible manner. At the beginning of the book, there’s a useful section about measuring and ingredients. Not all recipes are easy and quick to do and some ingredients may require sourcing but the steps are outlined in a way that even newbie bakers will feel confident following the recipe.
A reader compared the book to a “very well organized baking semester” by a creative pastry chef. Unlike most cookbooks, this one has the desserts grouped in front and not in the back of the book. Overall, this is an indispensable guide to making creative desserts.
A toss-up between DESSERT PERSON by Claire Saffitz and THE BOOK ON PIE by Erin McDowell
Both books are gorgeously made, with lots of photos to help the beginner or experienced home cook. But what stands out with these two books is the level of care that the authors put into planning these recipes. This includes figuring out potential problems and how to solve them, in the case of Saffitz’s book, and providing photos of what the pie crust and filling should or shouldn’t look, like in McDowell’s book.
They’re also written in an engaging manner that’s designed to build up the confidence of anyone reading the book so that they will try out the recipes. And the recipes are no fluke, either. Most of the reviews I’ve read say that the recipes work well and that they look forward to trying out more. If you’re looking for a cookbook that’s both helpful and pleasurable to read, these books fit the bill.