Louisiana food is unique among America’s local cuisines in that no other region can boast of such diversity and richness when it comes to its culinary tradition and heritage. The cuisine blends influences from West African, French, Spanish, and Amerindian cultures with some good ole Southern-style cooking thrown in for good measure.
Such a melting pot of flavors and textures has produced food that many consider soulful comfort food. This is the reason why it’s very popular among foodies, making it probably the most well-known regional cuisine outside of the US.
The cuisine is actually a composite of three cooking traditions. Northern Louisiana cooking traces its roots to its English-speaking Anglo-Saxon forebearers so its food is similar in taste and method of preparation to those found in other southern US states. Southern Louisiana, meanwhile, has its Creole and Cajun traditions, both of which were the result of French, Spanish, and West African influences mingling together to produce something new and distinct.
Any good Louisiana cookbook should have an equal mix of recipes that represent each culinary tradition. But given that the cuisine is always evolving, it can be pretty hard to distinguish each one distinctively. Even now, some culinary experts can be hard-pressed to say whether a dish can be truly Cajun or Creole given that most dishes share the same influence.
What is constant though is the cuisine’s reliance on a “Holy Trinity” of spices, the use of rice as a main or side dish, and its use of roux as a base for soups and gravies. So if you’re looking for a good Louisiana cookbook, it should teach you to do all of these easily.
Some of them offer more than just recipes and cooking essentials. They also provide an overview of Louisiana's rich culinary history. Whether this is through old photos or personal stories, the best cookbooks show that the cuisine is also full of history and culture. And these make them not only a useful collection of recipes for the kitchen but also an engaging and informative read.
Here are my top 10 Louisiana cookbooks on Amazon.
Best Louisiana Cookbooks
- Best of the Best from Louisiana Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Louisiana's Favorite Cookbooks Plastic Comb
- Fresh from Louisiana: The Soul of Cajun and Creole Home Cooking Hardcover
- Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen Hardcover
- The New Orleans Kitchen: Classic Recipes and Modern Techniques for an Unrivaled Cuisine
- Can You Dig It – Louisiana's Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery Hardcover
- Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana: A Cookbook Hardcover
- The Best of New Orleans Cookbook: 50 Classic Cajun and Creole Recipes from the Big Easy Paperback
- Jay Ducote’s Louisiana Outdoor Cooking Hardcover – Illustrated,
- Justin Wilson's Homegrown Louisiana Cookin' Hardcover
- The Essential Louisiana Cookbook Paperback
1. Best of the Best from Louisiana Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Louisiana's Favorite Cookbooks Plastic Comb
Published in the late 80s, this cookbook is a compilation of favorite recipes submitted from popular cookbooks in Louisiana. This crowdsourced selection is, according to readers, one of the most authentic as it contains a lot of regional home cooking with such dishes as Crawfish Etouffee, Cajun Red Beans and Rice, King Cake, Hurricane Punch, and Creamy Smooth Pecan Pralines.
Recipes are simple and easy to follow for beginners and seasoned home cooks. Unlike modern cookbooks today, there are not many photos of the dishes. Those that are included are in black and white. The contributing cookbooks are also listed in the book, along with their ordering information which should interest cookbook collectors.
Readers found the recipes spot-on as samples of authentic Louisiana cooking. One found this more useful than the River Road cookbook series. Another found this a must-have book for anyone interested in Louisiana cuisine.
Recommended for cookbook collectors and home cooks looking for 80’s style home cooking recipes.
2. Fresh from Louisiana: The Soul of Cajun and Creole Home Cooking Hardcover
The recipes in this book are restaurant versions of classic Cajun and Creole recipes along with some new dishes that utilize the signature flavors of Louisiana cuisine creatively. There are more than 100 recipes here that include breakfast and brunch favorites like Corn and Crab Bisque, Crawfish Boil Chowder, Mini Bell Peppers Stuffed with Crabmeat, Pork Roast with Apple Pan Gravy, Crisp Chicken Thighs with Creole Jasmine Rice, and a Gulf Shrimp Pasta Primavera. There are also recipes for sides, sandwiches, and drinks.
Recipes are explained in great detail and include beautiful color photos. Prep and cooking times are listed. The ingredients list emphasizes whole foods instead of pre-packed items and while some of them won’t be available outside of the region, they can easily be ordered online.
Readers enjoyed the book not only for its recipes but also for its stories of the region’s history and culture. One liked browsing through it for its great pictures.
Recommended for anyone interested in seafood-centric gourmet recipes from Louisiana.
3. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen Hardcover
Chef Prudhomme was known for popularizing Louisiana cuisine and this book presents authentic recipes for Creole and Cajun cooking that Prudhomme himself kitchen-tested during the writing of this cookbook. From the traditional classic dishes of Gumbos and Jambalayas, Shrimp Creole, Turtle Soup, Crawfish Etouffee to his modern creations of Seafood Stuffed Zucchini with Seafood Cream Sauce, Veal and Oyster Crepes, Artichoke Prudhomme, and Blackened Redfish, this cookbook will show readers how to cook this food in a home kitchen.
The majority of the recipes are complex and require long prepping and cooking times. But there are chapters in the book that provide step-by-step instructions and how-to pictures to explain how and why certain steps are necessary. Many of the recipes also include instructions on how to present the dish, or how to garnish it. Spice mixtures are spelled out for every recipe for the readers' convenience.
Those who tried the recipes said that the directions should be followed exactly, no matter how strange the quantities or the procedures are. When done exactly, the recipes will always work out.
Recommended for experienced home cooks and fans of Prudhomme.
4. The New Orleans Kitchen: Classic Recipes and Modern Techniques for an Unrivaled Cuisine
This cookbook features a modernized approach to classic New Orleans cooking with a selection of 120 recipes that have been updated for the home kitchen. Samples include Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Abita Root Beer-Braised Short Ribs, Bacon Vinaigrette, and Crawfish Pierogi.
Recipes are straightforward with step-by-step photos to illustrate techniques. Each one has an extensive headnote that is full of tips for preparing in advance, refrigerating, freezing as well as cooking the dish. It also includes ingredient substitutions.
Readers liked that the recipes inform each other; for instance, you will be taught how to brown butter properly for a salad dressing and then later use this same technique for the seared scallops or the skirt steak. Another liked the quality and diversity of the recipes.
Recommended for anyone looking for gourmet Louisiana recipes.
5. Can You Dig It – Louisiana's Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery Hardcover
This is a thick cookbook (around 950 pages) that features recipes that focus on vegetables as primary ingredients. There are about 600 recipes that cover all food types, from appetizers, bread, entrees, soups, salads, sides, desserts, and even drinks. There are extensive chapters here on Louisiana’s swamp floor staples, leafy greens, exotics, off the vine, and root vegetables. It also includes cooking techniques for each vegetable in order to fully maximize its flavor and texture.
Samples of the selection include Wild Mushroom Fricassee, Sweet Potato Puffs, Cassava Fries with Peruvian Cheese Sauce, Quinoa- and Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes, Polenta Tamale Pie and Eggplant Belle Rose, and Fried Lotus Roots.
Recipes include photos and illustrations. An index is also included to keep track of all the recipes. Those from Louisiana who read this book found its recipes authentic and comprehensive.
Recommended for cookbook collectors, vegetarian home cooks, and gardening hobbyists.
6. Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana: A Cookbook Hardcover
This is a guide to the history and cuisine of the Acadiana region of Louisiana, better known as Cajun Country. The recipes in this selection have their roots in the family recipes and cooking traditions of this region. Samples include Seafood Gumbo, Smothered Pork Roast over Rice, Baked Oysters with Herbsaint Hollandaise, Louisiana Crawfish Boudin, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits with Fig-Ginger Preserves, Bourbon-Soaked Bread Pudding with White and Dark Chocolate, and Blueberry Ice Cream.
Recipes are delicious but fattening, with lots of cream. Many of them require long prepping times but the payoff is spectacular according to those who tried them. There are also lots of color photos of both the food and the region for easy reference.
Recommended for food history buffs, and home cooks looking for modern fusion Cajun recipes.
7. The Best of New Orleans Cookbook: 50 Classic Cajun and Creole Recipes from the Big Easy Paperback
Both a guide to the city and its cuisine, this cookbook covers many Cajun and Creole classics that range from simple to sophisticated. It also includes a guidebook to the best places in New Orleans as well as things to do when visiting.
Recipes are easy to follow but most do not have photos. Prep time, yields, and cooking times are included in the recipe along with additional cooking tips and tricks. There is also a section that teaches the reader the essentials in Louisiana cooking like how to fry like a pro, how to whip up a roux, and how to learn what a Cajun Holy Trinity is.
Readers loved the diversity of the recipes; one particularly found its recipe for Beignet as the most authentic among all the cookbooks. Another liked that the ingredient lists are accessible for the ordinary home cook.
Recommended for lovers of New Orleans restaurant food and those looking for a culinary travelogue of New Orleans.
8. Jay Ducote’s Louisiana Outdoor Cooking Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook showcases more than 150 outdoor recipes that can be done in a barbecue pit, grill, smoker, or cast-iron cauldron.
Recipes are easy to follow and are delicious enough to enjoy in a family get-together or at a tailgate.
These include smart dishes like Chicken Andouille Gumbo and Crawfish Rolls, Crawfish Étouffée Arancini, Wild Duck and Oyster Gumbo, Venison Grillades, and Coconut Chili-Chocolate Tarts.
Readers found this a good reference cookbook for Southern outdoor cuisine. One liked that chef’s seasonings are all laid out. Another raved about his Blackberry Bourbon Boston Butt recipe.
Recommended for anyone interested in modern Louisiana barbecue and grill cuisine and fans of Ducote.
9. Justin Wilson's Homegrown Louisiana Cookin' Hardcover
This is an old but reliable cookbook that features soul food recipes. There are some 300 Louisiana recipes here and a guide to basic prepping techniques like how to prepare roux, how to clean a crab, and how to clean crawfish. There’s also a chapter on learning how to make your own Louisiana hot sauce.
Recipes have step-by-step instructions but only a few have photos of the dishes. Samples of the recipes include Deep-Fried Turkey, Justin's Succotash or Something, Oysters Justin, Mama's Fried Chicken, Crawfish Salad, and Pralines.
Those who’ve tried the dishes found them to be delicious examples of Louisiana home cooking. One found this a must-have book for authentic Cajun cooking.
Recommended for fans of Wilson and anyone interested in home cooking recipes.
10. The Essential Louisiana Cookbook Paperback
This is a collection of South Louisiana recipes that range from traditional classics to modern creations. There are 50 recipes here that emphasize using quality local ingredients to create distinct and fresh flavors. Samples of the selection include Chicken and Sausage File Gumbo, Shrimp and Okra Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffée and Crawfish Crepe, Potato Salad, Mushrooms Stuffed With Boudin, and Oyster & Andouille Cornbread Dressing.
Recipes are straightforward with beautiful photos of the featured dishes. Those who tried them found them delicious and authentic. One found this book’s selection as one of the better ones for its niche cuisine.
Recommended for anyone looking for fresh approaches to Louisiana cuisine.
FRESH FROM LOUISIANA: EXTRAORDINARY HOME COOKING FROM CAJUN AND CREOLE COUNTRY AND BEYOND, WITH MORE THAN 125 RECIPES by George Graham
Well written and organized, this is a great starter cookbook for anyone looking to cook Louisiana food. The recipes have a more of the country or small-town vibe and are a bit more meat- and seafood-centric but there are enough vegetable dishes to satisfy those looking for healthier food.
It’s also user-friendly; recipes have clear directions, color photos, and lots of side notes that teach the reader about regional flavors.
Some ingredients may be hard to find if you’re not from Louisiana but skilled cooks can easily make substitutions. For newbies, everything can be ordered online.