We doubled down on the cooking in 2021, that’s for sure. And thanks to these Aussie food legends, our culinary journeys were varied and immensely tasty. These books aren’t only bursting with recipe inspiration, they helped us become better cooks. So if you’re looking for a new culinary challenge, or simply want more lunch fillers or after-work quick meals, these are the best cookbooks that came past our desks this year.

And, if you want even more great local cookbooks, check out our list of the best cookbooks of 2020 – last year was a cracker, too.

Two Good Cookbook Two: Recipes for Resilience, by Two Good Co
The social enterprise Two Good Co called on its network of impressive supporters for the more than 100 recipes in this book. There are prawn wontons by Kylie Kwong, fried prawn sandwiches from Clayton Wells, Dan Hunter’s baked eggs and O Tama Carey’s potato curry. You’ll also find dishes contributed by the talented Two Good Co kitchen team, and this zesty, crunchy salad by Hetty McKinnon. Buying it helps Two Good Co continue its work creating, selling and donating food and products to support women in crisis – and it’s got kick-arse recipes by some seriously impressive chefs. It’s a win-win: feel good and eat well.

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Home Made, by *Broadsheet
This book was born in 2020’s lockdown after we noticed chefs, stuck at home like us, were sharing dishes on their socials and revealing an arsenal of tips, tricks and wisdom. We were fascinated because they helped elevate even the simplest dishes. We knew we wanted to learn more.
Broadsheet’s latest book, Home Made, doesn’t just reveal 80 diverse recipes by top Aussie cooks and chefs – dishes they’ve perfected at home over years cooking for themselves, friends and family – it helps you become a better cook. Find a 25-minute fried rice by Raph Rashid and a pasta that Andrew McConnell – the man behind Cutler & Co, Marion, Cumulus Inc and Supernormal – whips up on weeknights. Plus the addictive noodles that helped Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters) get through one of the toughest times of her life, and lots more.

Under Coconut Skies: Feasts & Stories from the Philippines, by Yasmin Newman
In the forward to this pretty book, Filipino-American chef Alvin Cailan says, “Philippine cuisine, as we know it today, has been treasured and preserved by the Filipino people since the early 1900s; and yet, in 2021, Filipino food still hasn’t reached the worldwide popularity of other national cuisines”. He’s right, so it’s excellent to see such a comprehensive book on the cuisine. It’s the second by Filipino-Australian food and travel writer and photographer Yasmin Newman. The recipes in Under Coconut Skies are by friends and locals Newman met while travelling around the country, and they transport you to its tropical islands and reveal how eclectic, vibrant and nuanced Filipino food is. There’s plenty of grills, salads and fruit, making it a good summer cooking go-to.

Home, by Stephanie Alexander

Most home cooks have a copy of Stephanie Alexander’s hulking The Cook’s Companion. The 80-year-old returned this year with her 18th book, Home – and it might not be as big as that career-defining tome from 1996, but it’s got 200 original recipes ranging from after-work meals to labour-of-love feasts. Case in point: this lush Basque-style chicken with sweet peppers and smoky paprika. The book also includes essays on people, places and experiences to deepen your appreciation of food. After a culinary career spanning five decades, Alexander has a lot to talk about.

Take One Fish: The New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Eating, by Josh Niland
It’s hard to think of an Australian chef – perhaps any chef – trying as hard as Sydney’s Josh Niland to make us think differently about fish. The Saint Peter and Fish Butchery operator has been arguing for years that there’s just too much unnecessary fish wastage here and around the globe. For the pioneering fin-to-scale chef’s second book he’s out to prove there is much more to a fish than its two fillets, and uses 15 species to show how people can be creative and transform even the oddest bits into amazing dishes. We love his bodacious fried-bass-groper burger and his spice-spiked tuna kofta.

Everything I Love to Cook by Neil Perry
It’s been a busy year for Neil Perry. He came out of retirement to open Margaret and spent lockdown writing this huge book. It wasn’t meant to be as comprehensive as it turned out, but it just happened, he told us in September. For example, the original plan was to include five or six really good sandwiches in the book, but it snowballed to 21. It includes this hefty fella with many meats, pickles, provolone and much more, served in a crusty ciabatta roll. Beyond bread things, the book has an overwhelming amount of dishes you’ll want to cook, proving again what an outstanding chef Perry is.

All Day Baking: Savoury, Not Sweet, by Michael James and Pippa James
If you’re into savoury baked goods, this is for you. Michael and his partner Pippa James (who met over the pass at the two-Michelin-starred London restaurant Pied à Terre) share recipes for inventive pies, sausage rolls, pasties, loaves and tarts, and this umami-packed steak-and-vegemite pie. Michael is a renowned chef and the co-founder of the perennially popular Melbourne bakery Tivoli Road and, as the name suggestions, All Day Baking includes recipes for every part of the day. You’ll become a better pastry chef with this one.

Indian Cooking Class, by Christine Manfield
Christine Manfield is often referred to as the “spice queen”. The nomadic Aussie chef has travelled extensively through India for more than 30 years, learning how to blend spices and make curry pastes (among other things) to turn out everything from home-style dishes to aromatic masterpieces. The multi-cookbook author and chef (she used to run Sydney’s lauded Universal many years ago) calls this latest book a “personal masterclass” – “a guide, where I’ll take you by the hand and explore the intoxicating world of spice and straightforward techniques that are the benchmark of Indian cooking”. You’ll be able to up your spice skills with this 2021 highlight.

Fridays From The Garden, by Richard Christiansen
Martha Stewart pens the intro to this book: “The recipes are collaborations with some of [Christiansen’s] favourite chefs, the table settings are evocative, and the landscape at his fantasy home, Flamingo Estate, conjures up memories of foreign places, tropical hideaways, and a lot of intense work and talented gardening expertise”. Aussie-born Richard Christiansen founded a successful creative agency in New York and lives in LA, and this collection of 150 recipes is from a year in his verdant garden – a glorious 1940s house that became a brand and then a supporter of regenerative gardening principles. It’s gorgeous and evocative, and makes you wish you were invited to long-lunch with Christiansen and his pals.