Long before Pinterest, there was the community cookbook, an authentic collection of shared recipes that told the story of a people and a place. We cooked from dozens of our dog-eared favorites to unearth vintage recipes for today's home cook.
The Southern Baker
From frosted Bundts to gooey orange rolls, The Southern Baker celebrates our favorite Southern Living Test Kitchen recipes handed down through the years, many from our own families. With over 150 recipes—along with our best tips, tricks, and secrets—it's an heirloom-worthy compilation to give to a new generation of Southern bakers.
Recipe: Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
The Southern Living Community Cookbook
We may not be bound by spiral (or by staples anymore, for that matter), but Southern Living has been the ultimate community cookbook of the South, publishing the country's best home cooking for nearly 50 years. After poring over 45,000 recipes in our canon, author Sheri Castle collected 200 of the most delicious, including Hummingbird Cake and Classic Deviled Eggs, regional favorites and created The Southern Living Community Cookbook.
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Ever since he lied about his age in middle school so he could sign up for a cooking class, Emeril Lagasse has been collecting recipes. All 100 recipes in this book have stories—served with valuable tips, step-by-step tutorials, and a lifetime of lessons in technique.
We Southerners all know and love fried chicken, but there's more than one approach to frying a bird. In her latest cookbook, SL Contributing Editor Rebecca Lang explores both classic and surprising ways to enjoy this beloved dish.
The Broad Fork
If you've ever felt lost at the farmers' market, chef Hugh Acheson has the answer. In his latest book, he shares 200 recipes and meal ideas centered around fruits and vegetables, with a side of fatherly advice for getting kids to eat them too.
First, product designers Eric Prum and Josh Williams took the Mason jar, a fixture in their Virginia childhoods, to the next level with The Mason Shaker, a lid that turns a jar into a cocktail shaker. Now they have a new recipe book and new tool, The Mason Tap, a lid with a spout. Inspired by adding fresh peaches to a jar of whiskey, they share ways to infuse oils, spirits, and water with fresh flavor.
Recipe: Cucumber-Mint Water
A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen
Nashville cook Matt Moore wants all Southern gentlemen to feel comfortable whipping up a great meal. But you don’t need a Y chromosome to find inspiration in Moore’s collection of 130 recipes with classic and New South flavors. All Southern cooks—men and women alike— will want to keep this book close at hand.
Around the Table
When the SL Test Kitchen started to test recipes from Martina McBride's new cookbook, we quickly found out this country star doesn't just write Grammy-winning songs—she also creates cookies that are big hits! Around the Table is filled with her most beloved dishes, family stories, and easy party ideas from a woman who knows how to keep a crowd entertained.
Lighten Up Ya'll
If you think Southern classics such as pimiento cheese and smothered chicken don't fit into a sensible diet, Virginia Willis' lightened-up versions will show you how they can. With Lighten Up, Y'all, Willis reminds us why she's one of the most creative cooks in the South.
Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love
From the moment their bakery opened, Cheryl and Griff Day always dreamed it would become a community gathering spot. Twelve years, countless homespun sweets and rustic breads, and one award-winning cookbook later, their community extends well beyond their charming Savannah digs. If you're hungry for another heaping helping of their baking magic, check out Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love.
Southern Made Fresh
Cheesemaker Tasia Malakasis turned the tiny town of Elkmont, Alabama into the goat cheese capital of the South. In her second cookbook, Southern Made Fresh, she shares simple and fresh Southern recipes inspired by her Greek heritage and her award-winning Belle Chèvre creamery.
Food to Die For
If you die in the South, you can count on one thing: There will be a casserole in your wake. The healing powers of funeral food reflect a distinctly Southern phenomenon, and Food to Die For benefitting the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia, goes way beyond Bundt recipes for the bereaved. The cookbook gives advice on transporting a meatloaf, organizing food delivery, and even writing a condolence note—all with a comforting dose of humor.
Recipe: Chloe's Pumpkin Bread
Recipe: Chicken Hash
Recipe: Cemetery Ginger Cookies
The desserts in this ethereal collection are indeed divine. Compiled by Brenda Rhodes Miller from culinary-gifted church ladies across the country, the cookbook features a Southern roll call of down-home favorites with delicious twists, including a decadent Coconut Custard Pie from the author’s mother, who was a member of Toulminville-Warren UMC in Mobile, Alabama. The rich French custard, baked in a graham cracker crust that softens to a seductive cake-like texture, is (dare we say!) the best we’ve ever tasted.
You might not know it driving past the town on I-75, but some of the best hostesses in the world reside in the 14.6 square miles of Griffin, Georgia, where, according to The Stuffed Griffin, “gracious ‘dining in’ is a practiced art.” Published in 1976 by the town’s Utility Club of Griffin, the recipe collection is stuffed cover to cover with ideas and recipes, some 370 pages of them. All of the archetypal community cookbook dishes are in here, from the Cheese Ball to the Coca-Cola Cake. So, too, are menus for any occasion. Try the “Seasonal Lunches for Ten, Dinner for Twenty-Five,” or age-appropriate theme parties from “Celebrations for The Very Young.” Our cult favorite, though, is “Cooking with Flowers.” Day Lily Casserole, anyone?
By putting more than 1,300 recipes through the rigorous testing and tasting of over 90 women, the Cookbook Committee at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Baton Rouge compiled what must be one of the most diverse and reliable compendiums of homespun recipes in Louisiana. They even recruited their husbands to contribute; Norman J. Wilton, Jr.’s “Julian Baked Fish,” had been highlighted in our copy; I can’t say it’s the kind of recipe that we’ll test in the SL test kitchen, but we just may try it at home to see if Wilton, Jr.’s recipe is worthy of the book’s title.
In 1950, The Monticello Cook Book began as a fundraiser for the University of Virginia Hospital. Throughout the book you’ll find a bit of history about Thomas Jefferson’s love of French cuisine along with a mix of regional recipes submitted by the Ladies of the city of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle. One might even imagine some of these old family recipes being served at our third president’s Monticello table. You’ll also find a fun chapter at the end, called Household Hints, that offers clever tips—who knew that dry mustard removes fish odor from pans or that putting soap under your fingernails before gardening keeps the dirt away?
From menu ideas and party tips to a comprehensive collection of delicious recipes, The Dallas Junior League Cookbook offers something for everyone. A Testing Committee of some 60-plus members ensured that only tried-and-true recipes were published (music to the Southern Living Test Kitchen’s ears!), including those from the local community as well as the finest Dallas-area restaurants at the time. Don’t miss the section on “Things Grandmother Never Told Me,” where you’ll learn helpful kitchen tips and easy shortcuts for cooking success.
Charleston Receipts, first published in 1950, is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. By all accounts, it remains the doyenne of the spiral-bound South. It’s remarkable not only for the lasting quality of its recipes, which inspire new generations of cooks and celebrate the natural bounty of the region, but for embracing the closely woven culinary heritages of the elite Lowcountry aristocracy and the Gullah people, descendants of the slaves who worked on the rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. Charleston Receipts Repeats, published in 1986, continues the tradition with more community favorites, including menus and recipes from local restaurants. Both cookbooks were inducted into the Walter S. McIlhenny Community Cookbooks Hall of Fame.
Recipe: Mrs. Ralph Izard’s Awendaw
In French, soupçon means a taste, or small sampling. At the Louisiana Arts and Science Center, the word soupçon got patron’s stomachs rumbling for ladies-who-lunch classics like cream of celery soup, cheese and horseradish sandwiches and crab quiche, because the museum’s beloved riverside restaurant went by the same name. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed over a decade ago, but the recipes that were prepared and served at Soupçon have been preserved in this little cookbook. Categorized into salads, soups, sandwiches, quiches and desserts, they’re fit for a luncheon and as classically Southern as they come. Bonus: as the cover suggests, the cookbook is peppered with images of paintings and sculptures from the museum’s collection.
High Hampton Hospitality begins with colorful (slightly quirky!) stories about the Hampton family and their love of the western North Carolina mountains, complete with vintage photos of family members and beloved landmarks, such as the beautiful High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, that made this place their home. Flip to the recipe section where Lily Byrd offers a collection of beverages, hors d’oeuvres, casseroles, and more for a true taste of High Hampton.
A Charleston grande dame compiled the recipes from other prominent families on the peninsula and shipped them north to be tested in the New York Herald-Tribune Institute’s test kitchen. The result: a seminal cookbook that paints a detailed portrait of how the well heeled ate during the early 20th century, about two decades before the arrival of the more egalitarian Charleston Receipts. We love the book’s historical notes, its photos of Charleston vendors, especially Ralph Bennett, aka Honey Man, and the amount of ink dedicated to the town’s generous way with shrimp, crabs, and fish. Too bad this one’s out of print —vintage cookbook sellers list it as high as $800.
A Tampa cocktail party, circa 1961. On the buffet: Mrs. J. Brown Farrior’s Shrimp Roundelays, Mrs. Arthur D. Brown’s Fondue Neufchateloise, and Mrs. Eckford Hodgson’s Rancho Aubrey Bean Dip. To drink? Dr. William Moore’s Artillery Punch (1 quart each of sherry, bourbon, brandy, and soda water, among other tinctures). Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack” plays on the turntable. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s tan, and everyone on the cul-de-sac is sharing their favorite recipes from a hot new release, The Gasparilla Cookbook. Fifty-two years later, the book, named after the pirate ship of Jose Gaspar, a lieutenant in the Spanish Navy who went rogue, still sizzles.
With its first edition published in 1955, Recipes from Pawleys Island was compiled by churchwomen of All Saints Waccamaw Episcopal Church, celebrating the bounty of coastal South Carolina. You’ll find fun lessons on clam digging and creek shrimp catching along with regional staples, including classic pilau and Hoppin’ John. And because Southerners love their sweets, you can’t miss the dessert section, which practically takes up a third of the book.
This little book is a marvelous look into recipes or “receipts” that have been adapted only so that “modern conveniences such as stoves with adjustable controls” can be used. Sprinkled between illustrations of historic homes in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the recipes in this book—from the simplest pecan pie we’ve ever seen to a potato salad from 1860—are an authentic and charming glimpse into the recipes that define the Old South.
Haunted by a tragic but not forgotten past, Louisiana’s plantations not only display some of the most beautiful architecture in the South, but they also symbolize the evolution of the Creole culture. Back when Louisiana planters enjoyed high society in the Crescent City, family cooks would shop the market and prepare six-course meals for elaborate social events, which sometimes included French royalty. As a tribute to the heritage and cuisine, The Junior League of New Orleans compiled The Plantation Cookbook, complete with line drawings of mansions throughout the state, historical notes and directions for each, and over 300 recipes that honor Creole cooking.
For a true sense of place, start first with the book’s Old Kentucky Bourbon Marinade, a recipe for grilled beef, pork, or chicken so versatile that we call it the little black dress of marinades. This junior leaguer is not your mother’s spiral bound but a slick, big-budget affair replete with color photos, a glossy green hard cover, featured chefs, and contributions from folks in the Louisville brown liquor trade. If bourbon’s not your thing, then check out the charming wine guide in the back with phonetic spellings for 26 different grape varietals, including, say it together now, “Sauvignon Blanc (Sow-veen-yonh BLONK).”
Judging by the region’s prolific output of spiral bounds in the last 100 years, coastal South Carolina and Georgia are fertile ground for community cookbooks. Do Lowcountry cooks have more to say and share? Or are the women’s groups behind the books more active fund-raisers? Hard to say. What we do know is that Bluffton, SC may have more fun than any town by the looks of Great Cooks Rise. This book takes us out of a humid church basement kitchen onto the breezy bluff overlooking the May River. On the table? Start backwards with a dessert from the “Sweets” chapter, which features everything from cakes, tortes, crisps, puddings, and tarts to cobblers, trifles, brûlées, sherbets, and cookies. Then flip forward to “Appetizers” and ponder the treatise on the tomato sandwich on page 18. Everything reads delicious in between.
Okay, it doesn’t feature a spiral spine. And it was written by a professional writer. But we still claim John Parris’ Mountain Cooking as a beloved community cookbook because it captures the authentic soul of a region through storied recipes. Parris, a longtime columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, was a born storyteller, and his work remains vital reading for anyone interested in the food and folkways of Appalachia. Read Parris’ short, anecdotal essays on cat-head biscuits and sawmill gravy, moonshine, apples, and poke sallet, then turn to the back recipes to learn the old-time secrets and lost arts of mountain cooking.
Just as the title suggests, Stop and Smell the Rosemary is a potpourri of recipes and menu ideas from The Junior League of Houston echoes the notion that cooking and eating should be enjoyed and celebrated. Flip through nearly 300 pages of practical cooking tips, fun food facts, and heartfelt recipes rooted in tradition to be shared with family and friends, whatever the occasion.
Much like painting and sculpting, cooking is an art form, a mastery of different flavors and textures. The collectors who assembled The High Museum of Art Recipe Collection saw this connection between food and art and used it as a way to fund a more artful Atlanta by building a new museum. In this book you’ll find galleries of recipes—from delicious portrayals of puddings and soufflés to even more Southern-inspired works, such as barbecue shrimp and cheese straws—all true masterpieces in their own right.
The good folks of SFA, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at The University of Mississippi, sought out contributions from their tribe of chefs, cooks, writers, historians, and thinkers for this hybrid stew of a community cookbook. As expected, there’s good writing in here. And delicious, if a bit involved by community cookbook standards, recipes. We especially love the chapter breakdowns, from “Gravy,” “Garden Goods,” and “Greens” to “Rice,” “Yardbird,” and “Pig.” For a taste, try Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad from Blair Hobbs in Oxford, Mississippi.
Since 1928 the Georgia Colonial Dames have preserved and maintained the Andrew Low House, their historic headquarters, on Lafayette Square in Savannah. This impressive cookbook (it boasts hundreds of classic Southern recipes as well as cooking tips) was published by the patriotic dames to fund the restoration and upkeep of Low’s home. They eventually turned the house into a public museum. The recipes, submitted from all over Georgia, will entice both new and experienced cooks into the kitchen. Be sure to focus on turning out meals with “variety, color and zest,” three things the dames consider “musts for a successful menu.” And, it’s clear these Georgia ladies know a thing or two about entertaining; the book includes a list of must-haves when cooking for 25!
Our twelfth edition printing (1991) of this popular community cookbook boasts a banged-up green plastic spine from the previous owner, who also penned an X-marks-the-spot asterisk in the margin next to the recipe for Ha’Penny Snacks, a favorite Augusta appetizer of baked cheese coins flavored with onion soup mix. Like the best community cookbooks, Tea-Time serves as a capsule of time and place, including celebrated contributions from golf’s who’s who, including Mrs. Arnold Palmer, “wife of Masters’ Champion 1958, 1960, 1962, and 1964,” who submitted a recipe for Cheese Paste; Mrs. Jack Nicklaus, “wife of Masters’ Champion 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, and 1975 [sic],” who submitted a recipe for Crab Casserole; and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who submitted a recipe simply titled “Pastry.” The book may not feature the Masters’ famous $1.50 pimiento cheese sandwich, but it’s still a hole in one.
From 1752 to 1825, the Old Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street housed a group of gentle and compassionate nuns, whose role was to unselfishly care for orphans while also running an Academy for the daughters of wealthy plantations owners and teaching special skills to the girls of slaves—a curriculum that included the “wifely art” of cooking. As their variations of French dishes caught on, the Sisters helped shape the New Orleans cuisine of today. In fact, we can thank them for one of the most popular Creole confections—pecan pralines. With Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans, you will enjoy generations of New Orleans dishes, a complete glossary of herbs and spices, cooking tips throughout, and sketches of historical culinary landmarks that were inspired by the Ursuline women.
Compiled by The Junior League of Greensboro, this collection of entertaining ideas and recipes were created by some of North Carolina’s leading hostesses (the Martha Stewarts of their time!), who knew how to plan a party with ease and grace. In it you’ll find guest-friendly food gifts, tips galore that still apply to today’s cook, and menu ideas for everything from brunch and tailgating to “Dinner for the Boss.” Don’t miss the last section on keeping the kids busy where you’ll learn how to make homemade bubbles, finger paint, and my childhood favorite—Silly Putty.
The occasional celebrity recipe added a certain cachet to community cookbooks. After visiting the Neshoba County Fair during Ronald Reagan’s 1980 bid for the presidency, Nancy shared her recipe for Viennna chocolate bars in Giant Houseparty Cookbook by the Philadelphia-Neshoa County Chamber of Commerce. The buttery layers of shortbread and fruit topped with crisp meringue definitely get our vote.