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13 Best Cookbook Covers of 2020

January 4, 2021
8 MINUTES
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Danica Popovic

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Get your brand new recipe book ready to share with the world by creating a perfect cover design, with the help of the best examples from 2020.

When it comes to designing your cookbook layout, there are plenty of useful templates you can find online, whether you need recipe card dividers, recipe binders, or just a basic page layout. These are things where if you have some knowledge of software like InDesign, you might be able to wing your way into a great cookbook.

However, when it comes to cookbook cover design, sloppy custom artwork never works. More often than not, this is what can sell your book online on places like Amazon, so take due care into creating a cover that’s visually appealing and perfectly captures what the idea of the book is all about.

We’ve looked at the best examples from 2020 that will show some current trends in cookbook cover design, and perhaps get you thinking about the cover of your dreams. Enjoy!

Cookbooks covers with photography

Whether it’s a book of family recipes or a glamorous collection of a famous chef’s best recipes, a photo of a mouth-watering dish is always a good way to catch people’s attention. However, remember that we are somewhat overwhelmed by visual stimuli, and chances are most foodies see at least one appealing photo of food per day on their social media feed. So if you go down this route with your own cookbook cover, make sure that the photos you use deliver something a little different and out of the ordinary. Here are some amazing 2020 cookbook covers to inspire you!

1. 50 Ways to Cook a Carrot, Peter Hertzmann

As I said, it’s very likely that your target audience will have seen thousands of artsy photos of very intricate plates. So if you want to stand out, going with simplicity might just be a brilliant idea. Peter Hertzmann’s cookbook focuses on one of the simplest and most common ingredients, and this great cover design perfectly captures what the book is about. Although simple, it’s still got a strong visual quality, without looking too “staged”.

50 ways to cook a carrot cookbook cover.jpg

2. The Book on Pie, Erin Jean McDowell

Written by The New York Times contributor and food stylist, Erin Jeanne McDowell, this is another instance of pairing food photography well with the cookbook title. Whether or not the writer wanted to make a subtle nod to Yann Martell’s bestseller The Life of Pie, the title is still catchy and again, focuses on one type of food.

Any aspiring baker will know that piemaking is not the easiest culinary task, but this lovely front cover photo shows that pies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and there’s something very comforting about that. The white marble countertop background is an excellent design choice, as it gives the different elements (pies) room to “breathe” and stand out.

book on pie cookbook cover.png

3. My Korea, Hooni Kim

If you try to look for free printable book covers or photos fitting for a cookbook, chances are you’ll find something that looks good but feels a bit generic. Although very simple, this photo is unique and shows a very traditional ingredient in Korean cooking, Napa cabbage. And simplicity isn’t a random design choice here, either. Avoiding unnecessary kitchen decor or tons of spices and is representative of Korean cuisine which often uses ingredients in a very slightly modified form.

my korea cookbook cover.jpg

4. In Bibi’s Kitchen, Hawa Hasan

Let’s end this section with another stunning cover design, which takes a very unique approach to traditional photography covers. Instead of an image of food, this cookbook showcases the family recipe of grandmothers from eight eastern African countries. The picture of women working together inspires a sense of community and togetherness, whilst also celebrating different cultures. Without photos of very rich foods, this cover design might also appeal to those looking for new and innovative vegan or gluten free recipes.

in bibis kitchen cookbook cover.png

New cookbook covers using the power of simplicity

Graphic designers know what sometimes a book and cookbook cover doesn’t need much else than the author’s name and title. This is a great choice for eclectic recipe books, where one photo or illustration couldn’t capture the wealth of ideas hiding inside. However, don’t think for a second that just because a cover is simple, it’s an easy DIY project to undertake. You need to know a lot about graphic design to make a simple cover pop. Here are some hip examples to convince you.

5. The Mexican Home Kitchen, Melly Martinez

Mexican food is probably one that’s most commonly found in cookbooks with intricate, colorful designs, often with lots of illustrations paying homage to this rich culture. So, a book cover like this one is truly a breath of fresh air. The gorgeous red color makes an instant strong impression, while the ornaments and dingbats help the sleek lettering stand out. And again, this rather simple cover shows the importance of spacing and layout in good design, since even without all the usual tropes, you immediately know what type of food this family cookbook is all about.

mexican home kitchen cookbook cover.jpg

6. Coconut and Sambal, Lara Lee

The right choice of color and typography can make any design stand out, even if it doesn’t seem like much at first. Lee’s book is a wonderful cookbook design idea, since it looks authentic, interesting and modern, with a simple two-color design and some clever use of drop shadows on the lettering. This cookbook font has a quirky retro feel which is a great choice for this type of design. The family recipes found in this book are all about simplicity, so it makes sense that the cover design should look approachable and appealing.

coconut and sambal cookbook cover.jpg

Cover ideas with the chef’s portrait

You might think that unless you’re a well-known celebrity, people won’t be interested in buying a cookbook with your face on the cover (so instead you might opt for a very small picture on the back cover). But don’t forget that your face is an integral part of your personal brand. So if you’ve been working hard on lifting your cooking channel off the ground on YouTube, take the opportunity to reach potential buyers of your new cookbook by putting your photo on the cover.

7. Magnolia Table 2, Johanna Gaines

Another thing that gained popularity in a year where most of us were social distancing at our homes, has been a home improvement. Unsurprisingly, the hit show Fixer Upper hosted by the charming couple Chip and Joanna Gaines seemed to be talked about even more (I happily rewatched several old seasons). Joanna published her second cookbook in April this year. The cover page features Joanna’s familiar face, but more importantly matches the interior designer's personal style, with her favorite taupe color palette.

magnolia table vol 2 cookbook cover.jpg

8. Nadyia Bakes, Nadyia Hussain

Personality is everything in personal branding, and the winner of The Great British Bake Off certainly doesn’t lack in that department. That’s why her smiling face on the cover is a perfect way to attract aspiring bakers to buy her cookbook. The pastel color palette is a perfect match for the dainty baked goods. For Nadiya’s numerous fans, this book is both a lovely present and a perfect keepsake.

nadiya bakes cookbook cover.jpg

9. Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten

If I were to get into self publishing a custom cookbook, I probably wouldn’t go with my photo on the cover. We all get nervous about the way we look and let’s face it, giving someone a book like this as a holiday gift can seem a little presumptuous.

But no one expects chefs to be supermodels. Ina Garten is a cooking legend, and her elegant appearance is definitely something that can sell any cookbook. But this is a great cover for several reasons. When we think of comfort food, elegance isn’t necessarily the first thing that pops to mind. Pairing crisp typography, Ina’s timeless personal style and a pot of hearty home cooking makes for a very eye-catching cover.

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Illustrated recipe book covers

It’s no secret that we love illustrations! But when it comes to cookbook design inspiration, this year has definitely been big with stunning illustrated cookbook covers. Here are just a few unique examples to inspire you.

10. Red Sands, Caroline Eden

If you’re looking for a cookbook that makes an amazing holiday (or otherwise) present, this book is a great choice for several reasons. One, it’s not just a recipe book. It’s also a travelogue, that describes the author’s adventures and meaningful encounters, traveling through central Asia. Secondly, you get to explore traditional recipes from countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, whose cousin is an eclectic mix of influences. And finally, this book has got an absolutely stunning cover that anyone would proudly display on their bookcase. It could easily be mistaken for a mesmerizing book cover!

red sands cookbook cover.jpg

11. Made in India, Meera Sodha

If you’ve got a family recipe cookbook that celebrates the culinary and cultural traditions of a certain country, then it’s always a good idea to let your design reflect this. But of course, there’s a more subtle way to do this than using the country’s flag or most famous landmark (yes, I’m talking to you French food cookbooks with the Eiffel Tower). This wonderfully colorful cover evokes a sense of exotic flavors and tradition in a very creative way.

made in india cookbook cover.jpg

12. Grow Food for Free, Huw Richards

Free recipes you can find on Google are great, but this book has a title that promises a whole lot more! The author, Huw Richardson set himself a challenge to be self-sufficient and grow his own food for free for a year. The aim of this book is to help readers do the same, so it’s definitely not your average recipe book. That’s why these cute food illustrations that could also belong on a storybook are a great way to ignite your inner child and inspire you to take on this lifestyle and cooking challenge.

grow food for free cookbook cover.jpg

13. Mosquito Supper Club, Melissa M. Martin

Need further cookbook cover ideas that make extremely clever use of illustrations? Then check out this wonderful cover design that could easily make a great book cover. What makes this new cookbook design so successful is that it evokes a sense of location, tradition and mystery; not unlike a great book cover! The photorealistic illustration is going to make you look twice but has a unique and dynamic look that you might not find with an ordinary photo.

mosquito cookbook cover.jpg

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and much more!

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Danica Popovic

January 4, 2021

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.