A Cookbook Book Club

What is a Cookbook Book Club?

Remember the days of The Betty Crocker Cookbook and Better Homes and Garden Cookbook? They were THE cookbooks you used for all your fancy dinner recipes. Well, times have changed. 

There are limitless amounts of “best of cookbook” picks out there now.

With Food Network Chefs like Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, and Bobby Flay taking the food world by storm, the fun has been put back into cooking! This is no longer your mother's chore - cooking is for the whole family!

So you want to do something fun and imaginative? Instead of a reading book club...Let's read to cook!

Starting a Book Club - A Cookbook Book Club!

Italicized book club guidelines are enacted only once - to get the club started. All other rules are repetitive each month.

  1. Start with four people in your Cookbook Book Club. 

  2. Ask each member to research a few cookbooks, and email or call in ideas. Of course, if you already have a cookbook in mind you can skip this step.

  3. The founder of the cookbook book club starts by choosing one of the suggested cookbooks. This will be the featured cookbook of the month.

  4. The host (and founder the first month) picks the main dish from the featured cookbook to prepare for the meeting. 

  5. The other three members are assigned a meal category. I suggest appetizer, side dish, and dessert. Members either pass around or get a copy of the cookbook of the month. Each person picks a recipe from that cookbook in their meal category to prepare. 

    Members should NOT share the dish they've chosen. Remember, the theme is the cookbook itself, not a type of food. It doesn't matter if you have a Lasagna for the main dish and an Oriental Salad as a side, it's the trying out and sharing of the recipes in that particular cookbook that matter.

  6. At your scheduled club date each member brings their dish. Your meeting should be the same day of each month. For example, the first Tuesday of the month, or the last Friday of the month. You should also plan to set aside about 2 hours for the meeting. 

  7. Come up with a system for rating each recipe (I recommend a different scale for each of the four categories). At the meeting, rate each prepared recipe. 

    Each member starts a recipe file box. If the groups decides that one is a “keeper” then over the month before the next get together, the person who made the recipe should create a recipe card including the recipe, the featured cookbook of the month information, and any hints or tips they want to share to make it great. This is where you can get really creative! Decorate, color coordinate, share your "keeper" in a thoughtful way.

  8. Most of all, at your meeting enjoy eating your chosen recipes! The secret of creating successful cookbook clubs is to savor every dish - and of course - DISCUSS!

Continuing Your Cookbook of the Month Club

You've done it! And now you need to know how to keep it going. This is what you do…:

There are two options for how to choose and use the cookbook of the month. 

  1. Use the same cookbook for 4 turns. For the next meeting you would rotate the meal categories (main, appetizer, side dish, dessert). Each member would choose a NEW recipe from the featured cookbook to prepare. This is the "expert" option. This means your group would become experts on that cookbook. The point of doing it this way would be to really try out the cookbook in it's entirety instead of only a few recipes. 


  2. Set up a hosting schedule and each new host chooses a brand new featured cookbook. This is the "enveloping" option. This means your group would cover many different cookbooks in a shorter period of time. This is the way to go if you are all newbies to the world of cooking, and want to figure out what style and which chef you like best!

If you are looking for cookbook ideas for your cookbook book club meeting, think themes… 

  • Southern Cooking 
  • Ethnic Cooking 
  • Crock Pot Cookery 
  • Seafood 
  • Barbeques and/or Grilling 
  • Favorite Food Network Star 
  • Italian Cooking Books

Cookbook Clubs Discussion Topics

Besides talking about your recipes, here are some ideas for good cookbook club discussions. 

Have everyone come with a bit of history or trivia about their food choice to share. For example, where the recipe originated, interesting variations, good drink pairings. 

The story of your preparation. For example, did you run into any problems, did you add or change any ingredient, was it a total breeze?

Book Club Queen's Favorite Cookbooks

Of course we had to weigh in with our own opinion of some tried and true cookbook favs! 

The winner for us is, hands down, 

The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. A definite "must-have" for anybody in a book group!

Return to Book Themes main page.

For Book Clubs

Some books are meant to be discussed in detail.  Here are some we recommend: 

the women
black candle women