You’ve heard that buzzword “hygge” by now, haven’t you? If not, it’s a Danish word that’s pronounced “hoo-guh” and is a blanket term to describe anything that captures the coziness of home. Think: candles, a cable knit sweater, playing old-fashioned board games with friends, a cup of coffee in a handcrafted mug with milk swirling in it, or basically anything else an introvert loves. (This is a funny article that offers more detail.)
Hygge is inherently a cold-weather state of mind for me, and cookbooks fall into that same category. To me, the best ones cradle me like comfort food, filling my mind with stories and inspiration and a way of living, regardless of the type of food held within. In the winter, I often find myself pulling one out of my cookbook crate to read through (with a cup of tea or hot cocoa, obviously). Once in a while I even cook something out of them.
Top 6 Hygge Cookbooks
6. Let Us All Eat Cake by Catherine Ruehle What is a gluten-free cake cookbook doing in this list? I mean gluten-free baking has a sort of fussy rep, let’s be real. But this book treats the whole gluten-free thing as a tasty aside, second fiddle to what we all really came here for: Really Yummy Cake. The chapter on Breakfast, Snack, and Coffee Cakes is the one you want. I mean, breakfast cake is really peak hygge, am I right? I’m hoping to try the Polenta Breakfast Cake with Honey-Citrus Syrup or the Fruitcake (yes, really) with Citrus-Ginger Syrup while winter holds.
5. Canal House Cooking Vol. 8 Pronto! by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton Italian food is comforting enough to qualify this book’s spot on the list, but I’m more drawn to it for the edifyingly simple approach: Start with this small collection of standards (capers in vinegar, San Marzano plum tomatoes, bucatini, anchovies), consult this shortlist of Italian wines, read this recipe that’s written in paragraph form to show you how effortless a good meal can be.
4. Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce By now, an oldie but a goodie. I still lean on her expert recipes for chocolate chip cookies, waffles, pancakes, and ideas for what to do with the random whole grains I always seem to have in my pantry. She never, ever makes a misstep. Everything tastes amazing and, even trickier when dealing with alternative grains, comes out perfectly every time. Just listen: Honey Amaranth Waffles, Strawberry Barley Scones, Oatmeal Sandwich Bread, Quinoa Porridge… Plus, everything is photographed beautifully on perfectly scarred wooden surfaces. Scarred wood is so hygge.
3. Mast Brothers Chocolate by Rick Mast and Michael Mast First of all, this is a beautiful object inside and out. Outside, there’s that signature printed paper. Inside, full page photos simply shot facing spare recipes with superb typography. The narrative at the beginning of how these brothers started their chocolate business had me reaching for our container of cocoa just for the smell. Hot cocoa is my personal brand of hygge nirvana. It’s an automatic mood booster and bringer of deep content.
2. The Ginger & White Cookbook by Tonia George, Emma Scott, and Nicholas Scott Being British is automatically hygge. This cafe started with three friends wanting to bring “serious” coffee to London, which led to creating a substantial breakfast menu. I mean, they’re not messing around: Toasted Banana Bread with vanilla cream cheese, rhubarb, and raspberries; Spicy Baked Beans on toast with red bell peppers, chorizo, and feta cheese; Egg Cozies, whatever the heck those are. I read this and immediately wanted to flip our day to make breakfast the most important sit-down meal we share. Save the smoothies for dinner.
1. The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater Could no. 1 be anything but Nigel Slater? This is my favorite of his cookbooks, which really do need to be read straight through. This one is essentially his kitchen notebook opened for us so we can read how he stops at the shop on his way home from work for a loaf of crusty bread and a jar of preserved lemons, and how he scrapes dirt off the last of the season’s carrots from his kitchen garden, and how he takes his gingerbread “with green tea in the afternoon.” I mean… This isn’t the first time I’ve declared my love for this book.
P.S. My favorite bakers to follow on Instagram: @lizprueitt_tartine (not just a baker, but WHO CARES when she posts full recipes for the dishes she’s developing for Tartine’s various outposts?), @zakthebaker, @frysbakery, and @joseybakerbread.