Depending on your generation, entertaining can mean different things. In the 50’s and the 60’s, it meant a lot of social rules and etiquette: what to wear, how to behave, what to serve. These days, however, the rules have loosened up. But there’s one element that has remained constant over time: serving great food.
That’s why there are entertaining cookbooks are geared for such events. These cookbooks will give you a variety of recipes for different occasions so that you don’t have to stress out choosing what recipes to cook.
Whatever theme you have for your party, there’ll be a cookbook for it. If you feel like having a spur-of-the-moment party that doesn’t require you to cook, there are cookbooks that show you how to assemble a snack board of cheese or meats. Don't forget about the wine to pair with your cheese either.
Or if you feel like having a Southern-style genteel dinner, there’s a cookbook that’ll provide you a selection of heirloom dishes that have been updated for the modern home kitchen. For that matter, many classic cookbooks are fantastic for entertaining.
But more than just good recipes, entertaining cookbooks also give useful tips on how to set the table, how to scale up recipes, and even provide parlor games to keep the party going. There are even cookbooks that recommend playlists!
In this list, I’ve picked out the best ones that take out the guesswork and anxiety of hosting a meal for a group. From delicious and accessible recipes to valuable tips on entertaining, these cookbooks will help make you a great host.
Here are my top 10 best entertaining cookbooks on Amazon.
Best Entertaining Cookbooks
- Magnolia Table Hardcover – Illustrated
- Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
- Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over Hardcover – Illustrated
- Entertaining with Mary Berry: Favorite Hors D'oeuvres, Entrées, Desserts, Baked Goods, and More Hardcover – Illustrated
- Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Southern Entertainer's Cookbook: Heirloom Recipes for Modern Gatherings Hardcover
- Effortless Entertaining Cookbook: 80 Recipes That Will Impress Your Guests Without Stress Paperback
- Appetites: A Cookbook Hardcover
- A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty Hardcover
- Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion Hardcover
1. Magnolia Table Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features 125 recipes selected from Joanna Gain’s family favorites and from the menu at her restaurant, Magnolia Table. The recipes range from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts. These include Chicken Pot Pie, Asparagus and Fontina Quiche, Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon, Overnight French Toast, White Cheddar Bisque, Fried Chicken with Sticky Poppy Seed Jam, and Lemon Pie.
Recipes are easy to follow, despite some being labor-intensive. They also use common ingredients that are easy to find. More than half of the selection are accompanied with color photos of the dish.
Readers liked the family-friendly but sophisticated vibe to the recipe selection. Those that tried the recipes say that they’re flavorful. Another loved the cookbook’s selection of dessert recipes.
Recommended for home cooks looking for Southern comfort food for entertaining.
2. Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
This is a selection of lifestyle celebrity Chrissy Teigen’s favorite recipes that are ideal for family and date nights or parties. The flavor and texture profile for these recipes are a mixture of “spicy, salty, sticky, crunchy, juicy, oozy”.
The cookbook also includes lifestyle tips like using bacon as a home fragrance or learning the best way to wake up in the morning. But if you’re not here for that, you can always go to her recipes which include her husband’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter and her mom’s Thai classics.
Recipes are simple, straightforward, and are accompanied by gorgeous food photography. Some of those in the Thai section may have a longer list of ingredients than the rest but they’re all easily available in local stores. Those who have tried out the recipes found them all delicious and doable.
Recommended for fans of Chrissy Teigen’s brand and those looking for comfort food.
3. Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook presents a collection of recipes that can easily be made using ingredients that are very accessible and usually underused. For instance, anchovies are used as an ingredient to provide umami flavor to a variety of recipes.
There are 125 recipes here that are accompanied by food photography that’s reminiscent of Bon Apetit’s. The recipes are sorted out into Snacks, Salads, Sides, Mains, and After Dinner chapters. Flavor profiles are big and bold.
Readers liked the simplicity of the recipes and their easy-to-source ingredients. Another liked the versatility of the recipes since they can be used for dinner parties or for a quick midweek evening meal after work.
Recommended for casual cooks, millennials, and those looking for simple, creative recipes.
4. Entertaining with Mary Berry: Favorite Hors D'oeuvres, Entrées, Desserts, Baked Goods, and More Hardcover – Illustrated
This is an all-purpose cookbook with more than 160 recipes for entertaining. It includes tips to make it easy for anyone to cater for intimate dinners and small lunches or for large parties and buffets. It will also teach you how to prep in advance and offers suggestions for stylish presentations.
The recipes are easy to adapt for any number of guests. They come with two sets of ingredients good for six and twelve people, plus additional advice on how to scale these for more people. Measurements are in American standard.
Readers liked the recipes and found Mary Berry’s suggestions useful. One said it inspired many more ideas for entertaining.
Recommended for fans of Mary Berry, the Great British Bake Off, and British-style entertaining recipes.
5. Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features 85 recipes that are inspired by Garten’s childhood comfort food which are great for special weekend breakfasts or weeknight dinners. Samples of the recipes include Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches, Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, Roasted Sausages, Peppers, and Onions and Boston Cream Pie.
Recipes are relatively quick and approachable with lots of side notes for cooking and entertaining. Each one is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph of the dish. The selection is divided into chapters on cocktails, lunch, dinner, vegetables, and sides, dessert, and breakfast with an index at the back of the book for easy reference.
Readers praised its solid collection of reliable recipes. One liked the laid back tone of the book. Another found the recipes simple but elevated.
Recommended for fans of Garten and those looking for sophisticated comfort food recipes for entertaining.
6. The Southern Entertainer's Cookbook: Heirloom Recipes for Modern Gatherings Hardcover
Whitmore is a well-known stylist and party planner and in this cookbook, she shares her family’s classic and heirloom recipes which have been updated for the current generation. It includes lots of full-page photos to provide inspiration as well as party planning ideas, and menus.
Recipes come with step-by-step instructions, with cute and short anecdotes about the dish. Samples of the selection include Louisiana Hush Puppies with Comeback Dipping Sauce, Poppie’s Fig Jam & Prosciutto Crostini, Southern Fried Chicken Cobb Salad, and Carolina Blackberry Cobbler.
Readers liked that the recipes are easy to do and use common ingredients. One found her “Tips” notes very useful for inspiring her to create her own parties.
Recommended for newbies and those looking for Southern-style recipes for entertaining.
7. Effortless Entertaining Cookbook: 80 Recipes That Will Impress Your Guests Without Stress Paperback
Great tasting food for entertaining doesn’t need to be sophisticated and this cookbook presents an easy selection of recipes that can serve as complete dinners or as separates. Samples of the recipes include Shaved Asparagus Salad, Vanilla Bean and Bourbon Peaches, and Easy Duck Confit with Orange Honey Glaze.
Recipes are easy to follow even for newbies. There are quick tips and shortcuts all over the book. Recipes also use short lists of ingredients and the measurements come in metric and imperial.
Readers liked the reliability of the recipes. Another liked that the cookbook takes into account all kinds of food diets so the recipes are easily adaptable.
Recommended for beginners and casual cooks looking for a practical guide to entertaining.
8. Appetites: A Cookbook Hardcover
This is a collection of Bourdain’s favorite home-cooking, home-entertaining recipes that are a distillation of his professional culinary experience and his food travels all over the world.
This recipe selection is basically global comfort food that’s been adapted for the American home kitchen. There’s Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce, Korean Fried Chicken, and Lasagne Bolognese, but the cookbook also includes some homegrown classic faves like New England Clam Chowder, Sausage & Pepper Hero, and even the Hamburger.
The writing is trademark Bourdain: caustically witty, brutally honest, with some casual profanity thrown in. Recipes are straightforward with ingredients that are easily sourced.
Readers found this cookbook as a great starter for relatively new home cooks looking to expand their repertoire. One found its sections on Party 101 and Thanksgiving recipes useful.
Recommended for Bourdain fans, male chefs, and home cooks looking for creative and international comfort cuisine.
9. A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty Hardcover
This cookbook has over 100 simple recipes that are great for hosting parties or for intimate dinners. It has recipes for every occasion, from quick weeknight meals to large buffet feasts. It also includes fuss-free tips and recommendations on how to cook in advance or how to assemble a beautiful table layout.
Recipes are user-friendly; they’re categorized into Stars, Sides, Sweets, and Extras for easy menu planning and are further organized into Throw Together, On The Hob, and In The Oven for convenient prepping. Samples of the recipes include the Honey-Roast Poussins, Butter-&-Sage Roast Pumpkin, Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola, Pear & Walnut, and Chocolate Chestnut Meringue Cake.
Readers liked that the book recommends entire dinner party menus for each recipe. Another liked the simplicity of the recipes.
Recommended for those looking for a fuss-free meal planning guide for entertaining.
10. Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion Hardcover
Snack boards are a great way to make gatherings memorable and this book will show you easy-to-recreate snack boards that are creative and fun to assemble. There are boards here for family meals and snacks, seasons and holidays, breakfast and brunch, desserts, and entertaining and special occasions.
Each of the snack boards is presented in a two-page spread and accompanied by an ingredients list and instructions on how to assemble it. The ingredients range from the traditional cheese and meat selections to a variety of fresh and prepared foods.
Readers enjoyed the creativity of the designs presented. One liked the colorful photography. Another found this a useful resource for organizing last-minute get togethers.
Recommended for any one looking for party planning inspiration.
THE SOUTHERN ENTERTAINER'S COOKBOOK: HEIRLOOM RECIPES FOR MODERN GATHERINGS by Courtney Whitmore
It’s also distinctively American in perspective so this means that the recipes have relatively familiar flavor profiles which should please anyone, but especially those with picky taste buds.
Its tablescaping photos are also very creative and will easily inspire any one into making their own table settings for their parties.
Over all, a practical guide for entertaining, Southern charm style.