Today's the Day to Start a Cookbook Club — Here's How

Become a better cook, one party at a time.

You’ve hosted dinner parties. You’ve participated in a book club. And now you’re ready to combine the two — with Genius Kitchen's stress-free, super-friendly cookbook club.
 
Cookbook clubs are an easy way to host impressive dinner parties with a literary twist — just pick a cookbook, prepare a recipe and share with friends.
 
While it’s quite easy to want to start a cookbook club, it can be a little tricky to actually pull off, which is why we’ve created this step-by-step guide for starting (and consistently hosting) your very own cookbook club. 

 

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1 Find Your People

The first rule of cookbook club? Invite everyone to cookbook club. And by everyone we mean all your friends with an interest in cooking, not just the ones who went to culinary school.

We recommend asking about five to 10 people to join your cookbook club — fewer people and you don't get to really explore all that the cookbook has to offer, more people and it can feel a bit cacophonous. Who has more than 10 sets of silverware anyway?
 

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Cookbooks are designed to provide a range of recipes, so not everyone needs to be a pro in the kitchen to get involved.
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2 Pick The Book

It's cookbook club, so starting with a great book is the first step to a successful night. Here are four of our tried-and-true favorites, perfect for starting off your cookbook club on the right foot:
 
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, for crowd-pleasers who want to be fabulous in the kitchen.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for cooks looking for a taste of classic France.
Plenty More, for people who want easy-to-execute, life-changing vegetables.
My New Roots, for cooks excited to try healthy recipes that taste anything but boring.
 
If these books are already earmarked and stained, then you might be ready to check out some of the new releases we can’t get enough of.
 

3 Books We’re Loving Right Now

There is nothing as sweet as the smell of new cookbooks — er, the recipes from new cookbooks?
 
Our newest cookbook club picks include:

Titles to inspire wanderlust:
The Drinking Food of Thailand
Chai, Chaat & Chutney
Aperitivo
Smörgåsbord
Istanbul & Beyond
Holiday cookie helpers:
Dorie's Cookies
Holiday Cookies
• You Can't Judge a Cookie by Its Cutter,
Books to ensure every day of the week will taste great: 
Downtime
Vegan
A Beautiful Mess Weekday Weekend
The Slider Effect
Recipes for indulging your sweet tooth:
Sweet
Classic German Baking
The Fearless Baker
Meyer's Bakery
Cakes by Melissa
Federal Donuts
Past favorites:
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Small Victories
The Savvy Cook
Plenty More

Not sure which one to choose? Check out our favorite recipes from each book, plus all our past cookbook club contenders here

 

4 Are you hosting?

So, you’ve decided to host. You’re too kind! Just remember: This is a club so you shouldn’t have to host every time. We recommend setting up a rotation so club members know when it will be their turn.
 
But, since you are hosting, this is how to create the most-inviting space.
 

• Use neutral dishes and table covers to act as a canvas for the food and the cookbook.
• Don't over commit. It's OK if you want to take on the cocktail or the no-bake dessert. But hosting is also a great excuse to make the showstopper that would be hard to otherwise transport.
• Feeling fancy? Serve spa water!
• Make everyone feel welcome with name cards.
 

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5 Are you attending?

Pick a dish that suits you, your available time and your resources. In other words, don't offer to make the cake if you've never pulled your stand mixer out of the box and failure freaks you out. This should be a fun, stress-free affair. Treat it as such.
 

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If you always run late, make the salad or the cheese plate — something that won’t get cold and can be served at the end of the meal.

6 Who is bringing what?

Make a shareable, online document — easy as that. It's a great way to keep track of who is bringing what and avoid any unnecessary repeats. It's a cookbook club, not a technical bake, after all. 

To make it even easier on you, we've created a Google Doc for the occasion! Simply copy it into your Drive. We like to create a new tab for every cookbook; that way you and your club members can keep a running tally of all the books you've cooked from and the recipes you've tested. 
 

7 Drinks

It doesn’t matter if they're alcoholic or not, fun drinks are a must. 

If you cookbook doesn't include drink recipes, here are some thought-starters

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Having a drink on the menu allows for an easy dish for whomever is having a busy week.
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8 Conversation Starters

Like any good book club, cookbook clubs should incite conversation and insight — you’re reading the book cover to cover, after all. We love the idea of conversation cards to get the culinary conversation moving. Print our favorite prompts here and write in some of your own. 
 

9 Plan Next Time

Never leave the party without coming up with your next book! Be sure to bookmark this page and check back for updates about our newest must-cook-from cookbooks.
 

10 Eat Dessert

It doesn’t matter if no one is a baker. You should always end with dessert.

Now that you know the ins and outs, just remember these three things:
1. Cookbook club is best as a potluck. 
2. The recipes shouldn’t scare you, but they should push you.
3. Choose a book you’ve been itching to read cover to cover. (Don’t worry: We're here to help with our recommendations!)

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Photos by Probably This
 

About Hannah Petertil

A known candy hoarder and well-eaten traveler, Hannah gravitates toward grocery stores, where scoping out local favorites and ogling bulk bins could pass as her day job.