Jewish cooking has been often defined as a cuisine of the diaspora. It’s influenced by a variety of elements, ingredients, and techniques adapted from the host countries where Jews have lived. What binds all of these regional cuisines together is the adherence to a series of Jewish dietary laws known as “kashrut”. And these are rules based on the Torah for keeping kosher. Jewish cookbooks are a fantastic way to get familiar with Jewish cooking and prevent yourself from getting confused.
Jewish cuisine then is diverse and global. Culinary writers tend to categorize the cuisine into two labels: Ashkenazic from Middle and Eastern Europe, and Sephardic from the Mediterranean and stretching eastward to the Middle East (including Spain, Portugal, and North Africa). But as there are many other Jewish communities in other places around the globe, so are there other kosher cuisines that have yet to be mainstreamed.
One way to get to know these regional culinary culture is by reading a cookbook. While most Jewish cookbooks tend to feature either one of the two major categories, there are books that also highlight other varieties of Jewish cooking.
But more than just the cooking, a Jewish cookbook is also a history lesson. They offer insight into an old way of life through heirloom recipes and techniques that have been developed in Jewish communities that no longer exist.
In this list, I’ve picked the ones that not only have the best recipes but also offer the reader a view into the life and history of the Jewish diaspora. Come for the flavor and texture of the best Jewish recipes worldwide but stay for the richness of their traditions and shared historical experience.
Here are my top 10 Jewish cookbooks.
Best Jewish Cookbooks
- Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today's Kitchen Hardcover – Illustrated
- Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen: A Kosher Cookbook of Beloved Recipes and Modern Twists Paperback – Illustrated
- Kosher Revolution: New Techniques and Great Recipes for Unlimited Kosher Cooking Hardcover
- Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World Hardcover
- Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes Hardcover
- Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Essential Jewish Cookbook: 100 Easy Recipes for the Modern Jewish Kitchen Paperback
- Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen: A Cookbook Hardcover
- The New Yiddish Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Paleo Kosher Recipes for the Holidays and Every Day Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York: A Cookbook Hardcover
1. Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today's Kitchen Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features 175 recipes that fuse traditional Jewish cooking with modern-day culinary techniques. Classic dishes like latkes or matzoh balls are updated by using vibrant spices and smart cooking methods.
There is a good number of meatless dishes in this book. Recipes are written clearly and are easy to follow. There’s a good variety in the selection, ranging from soups to sweets, all incorporating regional influences as befits a cuisine of the diaspora. A good number of photos accompany the recipes.
Readers like the book for its approachable recipes and holiday menus. One liked humorous tone of its anecdotes and recipe origin notes. Another recommended the book for its delicious and modern twist on the challah recipe.
2. Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen: A Kosher Cookbook of Beloved Recipes and Modern Twists Paperback – Illustrated
This kosher cookbook celebrates Jewish family home cooking by featuring more than 100 recipes from the author’s grandmother. This is a diverse selection of recipes representing traditional and modern Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi cuisine. Samples of the dishes include classics such as babka, brisket, and matzo ball soup and global favorites like za'atar pita chips and Persian chicken stew.
The book begins with an overview of how Jewish cuisine has kept kosher for generations. Recipes are user-friendly and include photos, sidebar tips tidbits for ingredient substitutions, and cooking tricks. There’s also a meal planning section as well as measuring conversion charts for convenience.
Readers liked how the book reinvigorated classic Jewish recipes by putting a unique twist to the familiar. One recommended this book for the kosher curious or the beginner because it covers all the basics of kosher cooking “without being overwhelming.”
3. Kosher Revolution: New Techniques and Great Recipes for Unlimited Kosher Cooking Hardcover
This book equips you with the necessary skills to be able to whip up a modern kosher dish from scratch or turn any non-kosher dish into a kosher one.
Recipes in each chapter are arranged from basic to neo-kosher so that when a newbie cooks through the book, he’ll be building his skills and refining his techniques step-by-step. There’s a section for making substitutions as well a chart for exchanging info-at-a-glance. Recipes are also labeled as Dairy, Meat, Pareve, etc for easy reference. There are also how-to photos as well.
Readers liked that the recipes are “sophisticated, tempting and DO-ABLE”. One mentioned that its recipe for homemade duck prosciutto was great. Another found the cookbook thought-provoking for its approach to mimicking non-kosher foods not only by flavor but also texture.
4. Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World Hardcover
This book presents Jewish vegetarian recipes collected from home cooks from all over the world. There are 300 recipes here, covering soups, salads, grains, pasta, legumes, vegetable stews, egg dishes, savory pastries, and more.
Written by a chef who’s also a rabbi, this book takes you on a culinary journey of how Jewish communities worldwide disseminated and incorporated kosher ingredients into the culinary culture of their host countries resulting in a legacy of kosher vegetarian dishes.
The featured recipes come with appended variations of different flavor profiles. The variations show how ingredients can be modified to fit the tastes of different regions, or to capitalize on available fresh ingredients. Most of the recipes are healthy and highly flavorful.
Readers love the book for its culture-rich discussion of ingredients. One said that reading the book is like “traveling the world on a plate instead of a plane.” Another mentioned that its suggestions for holiday menus from Yom Kippur to Passover are very helpful.
5. Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes Hardcover
This book presents more than 200 kosher recipes that are easy and quick to do but are versatile enough for a wide variety of dietary needs.
The book begins with an overview of the kosher principles in cooking. There is also a list for ingredient staples as well as compact equipment that would be useful for a kosher kitchen. The recipes are clearly labeled with their kosher status and include prep and cooking times as well as number of servings. It also comes with recommendations for kosher wine pairing.
Readers love the “Dress Up/Dress Down” feature of each recipe which makes it easier for the home cook to choose between a simple or fancy version of the recipe. Another liked its very thorough guide on how to adapt the recipes for Passover. One recommended this book as a great housewarming or wedding gift since the recipes are delicious and are easy to do, even for a newbie home cook.
6. Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More Hardcover – Illustrated
Kosher cuisine also includes baking and this cookbook will teach you how to make the seven types of Jewish baked goods: challah, babka, bagels, rugelach, hamantashen, pita, and matzah in a systematic way.
The recipes are accessible even to novice bakers and are written clearly with step-by-step directions. Each main recipe comes with a diagram to help illustrate techniques like filling and braiding easily but there are color photos as well. There are also notes on make-ahead strategies, ideas for using leftovers, and other practical tips.
Readers also liked this book because it also allows them to engage in a bake-your-own adventure once the basic recipes have been mastered. One found the photographs for forming the dough to be very instructive. One said that the flavor combinations in the recipes were delicious.
7. The Essential Jewish Cookbook: 100 Easy Recipes for the Modern Jewish Kitchen Paperback
This cookbook features a variety of European Jewish recipes that have been adapted to make them simple yet modern for the busy home cook. It also includes an overview of the culinary history of the featured dishes and a section on holiday menus.
The recipes are straightforward and easy to understand even by beginner cooks. Each one comes with a dietary label to identify whether the dish is vegetarian, kosher, or gluten-free. There are also tips and tricks for getting the most out of each recipe. There are also color photos as well.
Readers like this book for using whole food ingredients than processed or packaged ones. One also liked how the dishes are curated and contextualized in terms of their culinary history.
8. Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen: A Cookbook Hardcover
This cookbook features 125 recipes from Israel that have been tweaked so that the average American home cook will be able to prepare it easily.
The recipes are uncomplicated and use local and seasonal ingredients. The book shows readers how to use pantry staples like tahini, sumac, silan (date syrup), harissa, za'atar, while also introducing them to more exotic spices and ingredients. All the recipes are kosher.
Readers like the approachable tone of the book. One liked how it encourages riffing on the recipes especially when using seasonal ingredients. Another noted its informative section on Middle Eastern/Israeli spice mixture and pantry ingredients and how to find them or make them yourself.
9. The New Yiddish Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Paleo Kosher Recipes for the Holidays and Every Day Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features over 100 traditional Jewish foods that are gluten-free and paleo-approved. Classic favorites like tzo balls, borscht, challah, bagels, sweet potato latkes, and apple kugel have been tweaked so that people with strict dietary requirements can make them easily.
The book is divided into sections by meal types: Appetizers and Soups, Grain-free Breads and Crackers, Not-So-Traditional Deli Fare, Pastured Meats and Main Courses, Garden-Fresh Salads and Veggies, Naturally Sweetened Treats, Dairy-Free Condiments and Sauces, and Holiday Menus and Tips. There’s also a Yiddish glossary for easy reference.
The recipes are written in a lighthearted, easy manner and are user-friendly. Each one comes with a color photo and a humorous tip from a Jewish grandmother on how to make the recipe work for you. Recipe measurements are in metric.
10. The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York: A Cookbook Hardcover – Illustrated
There are 800 recipes in this cookbook that offer an interesting overview of the development of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish cuisine over centuries. Some of these heirloom recipes have never been documented.
The recipes are practical and workable for a home cook familiar with Jewish cuisine. There are no photos of the recipes but the diversity and number of the featured selections are noteworthy. Readers who’ve tried some of them have said that they’re reliable. If you’re looking for heirloom kosher recipes, this is the book to have in your kitchen library.
BUBBE AND ME IN THE KITCHEN: A KOSHER COOKBOOK OF BELOVED RECIPES AND MODERN TWISTS
by Miri Rotkovitz
This is a good intro for anyone unfamiliar with Jewish cuisine. Nothing can be more authentic than a Jewish grandmother’s treasury of recipes and there are lots of that here along with some modern ones courtesy of the author.
The cookbook is user-friendly, plus it has a list of Kosher rules and a special section for Passover meals. The recipes are categorized into food groups like fish, soups, and desserts and includes a background on each. The recipes are all labeled in accordance with a kosher diet.
If you’re looking for a kosher cookbook that also encourages experimentation, this is the book to have.