We can’t all be writers. Good thing or I’d have to find another line of work. If you purchased a cookbook as a gift and are looking for what to write in it, something other than “bon appétit,” you are in the right place.
Cookbooks are the perfect gift. Whether you are gifting the best cookie cookbooks or a copy of your personal favorite cookbook or a DIY cookbook with many a family recipe, anyone who loves books and cooking or baking will enjoy your thoughtful gift.
Learn what to write and what personal information to include in this complete guide.
Why Should You Give a Cookbook as a Gift?
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (2017) by Samin Nosrat (Amazon) (eBay)
From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen (2018) by Snoop Dogg (Amazon) (eBay)
Cravings: All Together: Recipes to Love (2021) by Chrissy Teigen (Amazon) (eBay)
If you are thinking of gifting a cookbook, do so for the right reasons — and make it a great cookbook. This is not the time to regift a shoddy or error-filled cookbook to a couple of newlyweds. If you enjoy cooking or baking (or both) and want to pass on your great good love, then gifting the right cookbook is the way to go.
I love finding a used cookbook with an inscription scrawled across the inside.
A cookbook is a great way to boost someone else’s excitement about a new cooking technique they’ve discovered or a genre of cooking they want to explore. It’s also an easy way to help someone else learn the joy of cooking at home.
Whether it’s the latest cookbook from Chrissy Teigen or the first work (yet a cooking technique masterpiece) from Samin Nosrat, there’s a cookbook to fill any void. Even Snoop Dogg has a cookbook, yo.
So, now that you’ve decided that a cookbook makes a great gift, how should you write in it? You’ve got a few options. Consider this your complete guide to figuring out just the right inscription to elicit all the feels. It’s hard enough to nail down the note. Just imagine if you were the one actually writing cookbooks.
What Should You Include in Your Cookbook Inscription?
It doesn’t matter if you’re gifting a custom cookbook or a DIY cookbook using the self-publishing route; your book needs a message. Once you have the perfect gift in hand, you might wonder what sort of personal information you should write inside the cookbook. This part is simple. Your thoughtful gift should include the following:
What kind of personal information do you want to include? Use a nickname or their real name. Either way, don’t jump right into your message.
This is not the time to be vague. Years will pass, and someone will crack open that book and laugh at the “modern recipes.” The owner of said book may or may not remember much about when it was gifted or why. Make it easy for the generations to come. Your thoughtful gift should include the month, day, and year.
Pen in the event’s name. Is this a birthday gift for your son or your go-to wedding present for the special couples in your life? Is it for Father’s or Mother’s Day, Christmas Eve, or a pretend holiday like Sweetest Day? It’s easy to close your inscription with a “Happy Birthday! With love, X.”
If your friend is from a cookbook club or other recipe-testing social group, consider their favorite ingredient to work with or a past favored dish. Use that to come up with a good fit for their needs. Just remember to add the name of your group.
If you’re gifting a “congrats on your new home” or “good luck with your move” cookbook that involves a change of location, put that in your writing. Mention the specific destination the person is headed to, sign your name, and include your hometown underneath.
If the person you care about is going to San Francisco, then mention San Fran in your handwritten message. Consider a cookbook gift that includes a collection of cookbook recipes revolving around San Francisco. For example, I’d highly recommend the classic San Francisco Chronicle cookbook (Volume One) (1997) or Volume Two, or Williams-Sonoma San Francisco (2004).
But, if you prefer something less vintage, mule over the cooking technique and modern recipes found in Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook (2022) from SF Chronicle writer Illyanna Maisonet. It’s a new way to cook Puerto Rican food that any foodie will enjoy.
Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook (2022) by Illyanna Maisonet (Amazon) (eBay)
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: The Recipes of Record (2021) by Amanda Hesser (Amazon) (eBay)
The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook (1997) Edited by Michael Bauer and Fran Irwin (Amazon) (eBay)
A state or regional cookbook or one focused on local flavors, like a community cookbook, is a sweet taste of home no matter where your family member or friend may roam. Gift a cookbook to remind the person of the food they are leaving behind. Provide them with the resource to recreate feelings of home from anywhere. One day, when they get a little homesick, it will be a warm reminder of happy times.
Gift a colossal compendium of modern recipes with The Essential New York Times Cookbook: The Recipes of Record (2021) by Amanda Hesser or the classic The New York Restaurant Cookbook: Recipes from the City’s Best Chefs (2009) by Florence Fabricant (New York Times Dining contributor) for a mix of interesting restaurant history and good restaurant recipes.
Consider Tavern on the Green: 125 Recipes For Good Times, Celebrating The New York Legend (2009) by Jennifer Oz LeRoy and Kay LeRoy or New York Cookbook: From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four-Star Restaurants (1992) by Molly O’Neill for a walk back in time.
I moved more than any person should, and I know I’d appreciate the brain jog. I, too, would have enjoyed a cookbook gift containing the favorite family recipes of a good friend or a cookbook that shared modern recipes from my beloved locales.
Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion (2019) by Maegan Brown (Amazon) (eBay)
Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts from the Queen of Cake (2019) by Maida Heatter (Amazon) (eBay)
The Golden Girls Cookbook: Cheesecakes and Cocktails!: Desserts and Drinks to Enjoy on the Lanai with Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia (2022) by Christopher Styler (Amazon) (eBay)
Why are you gifting this cookbook? Is it because it was on a gift registry, or was it something the person asked for? Is the book part of an inside joke, or are you gifting a recipe book because you love the food writer, celebrity chef, or subject matter and want to share it with others? No matter what the reason, let the receiver know.
Jot down a line like, “I’ve made the recipe for x on page x for the past 20 years. It’s been a favorite family recipe for a long time. I hope it will become a favorite of yours, too.”
Or: “I know how much you love Maida Heatter’s cookbooks. Here’s a book I know you don’t have. Congrats on the new home!”
You could also write that you love Chrissy Teigen or Samin Nosrat books. “Turn your kitchen into a test kitchen with a new way to cook from your favorite chef (or food writer) x. If you need help with recipe testing, I’m here for it.”
If you are asked to buy a book by a specific author, and the author has more than one book behind them, read customer reviews, and see which book is the best. Flip through a copy at your local library, or (if you are lucky) head to your local bookstore and order one.
If your cookbook choice includes foreign cuisine, end your message with a simple “Bon appétit” in a French recipe book or a “Buon Cibo” for a book of modern recipes in Italian. Try “buen provecho” for a Spanish cookbook, “Smacznego” for Polish, and “guten Appetit” for a German cookbook.
You’ll want to add your first and last name. In order to differentiate myself from the vast sea of Jessica’s, I always add my last name.
Where Should You Inscribe Your Note?
A book is nothing if not full of spaces to flex your creative writing skills and scribble in your message. Make it easy on the receiver. Don’t leave your thoughtful note on the back inside cover. No one will think to look there.
Turn to the inside front cover. Write your message here or, like I do, use the page next to it. As a lefty, it’s easier for me to write there.
Of course, all cookbook layouts are different. Some include text, images, or illustrations in unexpected places. Keep shuffling pages forward and unleash your inner creative writer. You shouldn’t have to skip past many pages until you get to a clear enough area.
What Should You Use to Inscribe a Book?
Pencils are my favorite. But this is not the time to use a pencil or funky-colored ink. Stick with blue or black ink. I’d recommend writing your note with an archival-quality pen. They are easier to find than you’d think. I prefer the brand Micron with a larger tip in black ink.
I use these pens when I write inside my cookbooks too. After all, I want these notes to last and not fade over time. It’s only a couple of bucks for these pens and well worth it. The last thing I want is to spill a liquid on it and have my notes disappear.
Practice your message on paper before you potentially mess up your perfect gift.
How Can You Give a Cookbook as a Gift?
A cookbook is a great standalone gift idea and works well as an add-on for so many other items.
For example, if you love your Instant Pot and notice the small appliance on the couple’s wedding registry, finding a complete guide to the Instant Pot would be a great gift idea. Bundle in a cookbook of your favorite Instant Pot recipes.
Write a nice note on the inside of the cookbook along with your recipe recommendations. Wrap up a couple of handwritten recipe cards of your favorites from other sources as part of the package.
Does the person or couple want an ice cream maker? Include an ice cream cookbook. I’d recommend The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated: 200 Recipes for Ice Creams, Sorbets, Gelatos, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments (2018) by David Lebovitz and bundle it with the small appliance. Add ice cream bowls from their gift registry and include an assortment of sprinkles, jimmies, and ice cream toppings.
If you created your own custom cookbook for your family or close friends and planned to gift it out as appropriate, bundle your DIY cookbook with other items. Package it with blank recipe cards to encourage recipe sharing, scan their gift registry for small kitchen accessories, and set it inside a high-quality cake pan, slow cooker, or large stock pot.
Celebrity Food Quotes Perfect for Cookbook Inscriptions
Sometimes you want to add in a little fun. If your creative writing well feels completely dry, and all you’re doing is wondering what to write in a cookbook gift, check out these quotes below. Be sure to include the author of the humorous statement and the other points I made above (like the date, event, and page numbers for your fave cookbook recipes).
If creative writing was never your forte (and the role of creative writer makes you cringe), take a look at the quotes about cooking and baking from people that range from a food writer to a recipe developer to a chef. You can use these quotes “as is” and add a little spin to make them yours. I included an example below each quotation to help get your gears going.
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (2010) by Laurie Colwin (Amazon) (eBay)
More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen (2021) by Laurie Colwin (Amazon) (eBay)
No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, and the wisdom of cookbook writers.
– Laura Colwin
You could add: “Here’s for all the times I can’t be there in person. Your favorite recipes are on pages x, x, and x.”
Think what a better world it would be if we all — the whole world — had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.
– Robert Fulghum
You could add: “Here’s one of my favorite cookbooks for those days when you can have a cookie and a nap. I love the baking recipes on pages x, x, and x and I hope you do too.”
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 50th Anniversary Edition (2001) by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (Amazon) (eBay)
Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking (2009) by Julia Child (Amazon) (eBay)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 2 (1970) by Julia Child and Simone Beck (Amazon) (eBay)
I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make.
– Julia Child
You could add: “Mistakes happen. I hope this recipe book is your guide for a lifetime of fun and adventure in your own test kitchen. Find my favorite recipes on pages x, x, and x.”
I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.
– Julia Child
You could write: “Here’s a cookbook to help you get started. Find my favorite recipes on pages x, x, and x. I hope you love them as much as I have. I’ve included a couple of printed recipes from another much-loved family cookbook, so you have even more options. Bon appétit.”
Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
– Julia Child
You could write: “Baking from this family cookbook became one of my passions. Try the recipes on pages x, x, and x and see if it’s yours too.”
Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook (2011) by Daniel Humm (Amazon) (eBay)
The NoMad Cookbook (2015) by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Amazon) (eBay)
Eleven Madison Park: The Next Chapter, Revised and Unlimited Edition by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (Amazon) (eBay)
A cookbook is a moment in time because, otherwise, you look back at the end of the day, and all the meals have been eaten, and the experience is gone.
– Daniel Humm
You could write: “May you savor this moment in time. A few of my favorite recipes are on pages x, x, and x.”
The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes and Stories of My Life (2009) by Pat Conroy with Suzanne Williamson Pollack (Amazon) (eBay)
A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.
– Pat Conroy
Tips to Write in a Cookbook Gift for a Newlywed
Gifting a copy of your favorite cookbook could make an excellent choice as a wedding present for a family member or a friend. You can only use so many gravy boats. Choose a recipe book with meaning.
Whether it’s a cookbook you loved that showed you how to use your shiny new slow cooker or the family cookbook your happily married parents have long used, make it extra special by including the page numbers of your favorite recipes.
You don’t need to stop there. Bundle the cookbook with kitchen must-haves like wooden spoons, mixing bowls, and measuring cups or spoons. Tuck in a few handwritten recipe cards to make it extra special.
Tips to Write in a Cookbook Gift for a Family Member or Friend
Are you sending along a cookbook to a family member who is moving? Hand them a cookie or other baked goods you made from the book to go with it. Or make a dinner dish and bring it over. Seriously, moving is so hard. That simple gesture would brighten their spirits so much. Ensure it’s a dish and serving ware you don’t mind losing.
We only handwrite a little. Don’t just wrap up a copy of your oft-used cookbook and send it on its way. Scrawl in a few personal notes throughout the book.
If it’s a cookbook you’ve used often, you should have plenty to say about the recipes. Maybe you have memories to share. You may have an ingredient substitution recommendation (or something to avoid). Perhaps you want to throw a random note of some other kind in there. Whatever you write, it will mean so much to the recipient.
Cookbooks Make a Great Gift Idea
Whether a cookbook is a standalone gift or part of a creative gift basket, it’s the best combination of useful and fun. Of course, you expect me to say that. You know I love cookbook recipes so hard.
Tuck in a family recipe, make a joke about wanting to participate in the recipe testing or that you can’t wait to see their new test kitchen, and consider how to best bundle your gift with a relevant item. Whether you go with a slow cooker or a hard-to-find bottled or jarred ingredient, you can’t go wrong when you sneak in a gift of your favorite cookbook.
Flip back up this page. Notice what images catch your eye. Those messages with more than a name and date are impactful. Adding an inscription, something beyond the basic “bon appétit,” is a simple way to upgrade the gift of a cookbook into something meaningful, memorable, and personal.
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