Great as gifts, even better as centerpieces, and all can arrive by Christmas.

By Megan Soll
Updated December 18, 2019

We’ll admit it: we’re pretty obsessed with cookbooks. We would own one for every day of the week if we could, and keep them in a room full of bookshelves if we had the real estate. When curating which books we keep on display, however, we like to have a few options for the coffee table. Wherever you gather with friends and family in your home, that’s where these books belong. Some offer recipes, others restaurant recommendations, and a few are just plain gorgeous to flip through. Read on for some of our favorite coffee table books to own right now.

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Bright photos and illustrations combined with historical knowledge make up this condensed food encyclopedia. Learn the stories behind the world’s most interesting foods in several categories, from how they were harvested to how we use them today.

The Story of Food: An Illustrated History of Everything We Eat, $20 (originally $35) at amazon.com

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Inspired by the classic cookbook The Joy of Cooking, this book is upbeat and beautiful to look through and cook from. Who wouldn’t be comforted by chocolate cardamom babka or a nectarine galette? Look to this book for a pick-me-up.

The Joys of Baking: Recipes and Stories for a Sweet Life, $28 at amazon.com

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This collection of drawings of New York restaurant mainstays like Minetta Tavern and Frankies 457 is charming and perfect to flip through regularly.

All the Restaurants in New York, $12 (originally $27) at amazon.com

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Wine nerds and even wine novices will appreciate the genius infographics in this book from the wine director and sommelier at Le Bernardin. Aldo Sohm guides readers through everyday tips and key varietals to know, as well as how to do wine tastings at home and evolve your palate.

Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier, $23 (originally $33) at amazon.com

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Master pasta maker Evan Funke’s foundational instructions come to life with Kate Parla’s writing and Eric Wolfinger’s beautiful photography. Even if you never intended to make pasta, this book will have you grabbing your flour and eggs moments later. Learn how to make 15 classic pasta shapes and four foundational dough styles and become a pasta maker in no time.

American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta, $23 (originally $35) at amazon.com

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A giftable coffee table book that will make any art buff swoon, this reprint of Salvador Dali’s 1973 cookbook has 136 recipes with his illustrations, all inspired by his famously wild dinner parties with his wife, Gala, at the turn of the 20th century.

Dalí. Les dîners de Gala, $41 (originally $60) at amazon.com

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Questlove puts his authority on both food and music on display in this fun cookbook, where he imagines inviting 50 different chefs, entertainers, and musicians to a dinner party. Each personality gets paired with a recipe and a song. Any pop culture lover will be delighted with this book and read it cover to cover.

Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, $18 (originally $30) at amazon.com

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The Alps come to life in this collection of 80 rustic dishes from Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France. It’s a travelogue and cookbook all in one, with strudels and confections, fondue brioche, and a schnitzel recipe so enticing that you’ll be yearning for a wintry escape.

Alpine Cooking: Recipes and Stories from Europe's Grand Mountaintops, $27 (originally $50) at amazon.com

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Mark Bittman’s book has been a staple in home cooks’ collections for 20 years, and this year’s edition has been completely revised with color photos and new variations on the classics. Buy it for new cooks, buy it for seasoned cooks, buy it for yourself.

How to Cook Everything―Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food, $22 (originally $37) at amazon.com

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For anyone that delights in design and graphics, this huge book has almost every food graphic imaginable. Informative and surprising illustrations demonstrate everything from flavor pairings to cooking tools and types of tea.

Food & Drink Infographics: A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures, $54 (originally $70) at amazon.com

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Listen your way through 70 of the best vinyl albums of all time, with cocktails to pair. There’s a Side A and Side B for each, so you can drink to Ziggy Stardust or Born to Run in whatever style you please.

Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, $20 at amazon.com

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Take a visual tour through the history of food photography from some of its most important figures. It includes fine art photography as well as scientific photography and photojournalism.

Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, $36 (originally $70) at amazon.com

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From the authors of Death & Co, this book breaks down cocktails into six fundamental styles that almost any drink can be built from. Master the old-fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, whisky highball, and flip, and you’ll be on your way to being a mixology master.

Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions, $23 (originally $40) at amazon.com

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Learn about cocktails and spirits from an herbologist’s perspective. The herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that contribute to alcohol in all its forms are detailed in this handy guide.

The Drunken Botanist, $14 (originally $23) at amazon.com

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Ideal for anyone who loves to travel and dine out, this is a guide for where to find the best meals in 70 countries around the world. 650 chefs across the globe shared their favorite bargain spots, fine-dining experiences, late-night eats, and world-class dessert spots everyone should try.

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants, $28 at amazon.com

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