One of the best sections of any bookstore is, without a doubt, the cookbook aisle. Not only do the contents of these books promise incredible recipes, but their covers provide an intriguing taste of what's inside! Cookbook covers are some of most carefully crafted in publishing — which is why, if you're figuring out how to write a cookbook , it's crucial to know the cover trends so you can make your cookbook just as appealing.
That's why we've compiled this gorgeous gallery of 50+ cookbook covers for you to enjoy and absorb. So sit back, relax, and let these covers wash over you! You can also skip to your favorite type of cover using the ToC to the left, and click on any cover to enlarge. (And don't forget to check out our talented Reedsy designers, who created many of the covers you'll see here! You'll find their profiles linked in each section's blurb.)
These luscious photo-based covers could tempt even the most seasoned foodies (no pun intended). From the perfectly positioned ingredients to the high-definition photography, it's easy to see why photo-based cookbook covers are so popular: they make readers hungry for more.
Indeed, as you can tell from the covers above, there are many photographic techniques to make food look irresistible! The best approach depends on the dish. For example, bowls with lots of ingredients may benefit from an “aerial” shot, so you can see exactly what they contain. Other foods will look much more delicious in close-up.
The background and surroundings are up to the photographer — anything goes so long as the main dish stays in the spotlight (see: the fries scattered around the burger on the cover of Cantine California). Basically, with the right arrangement and a decent camera, you can't go wrong with food photography on a cookbook cover.
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Another classic book design approach is the “bordered” style: a large central title surrounded by some kind of design. Food photography may be used to border the text, but this style more often involves a decorative pattern, often with a textured appearance.
The origin of the bordered cookbook was almost certainly Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has been adorned with wallpaper-like fleurs-de-lis ever since its release. However, today's designers put a modern twist on this vintage style with more adventurous patterns, such as the vividly embroidered flowers on the cover of Zaitoun.
Authors should note that bordered covers may be especially fitting for culturally specific cookbooks — as these designs are a simple-yet-elegant way to signify cultural aesthetics. That said, if you do go this route, make sure you're not merely appropriating, but accurately and respectfully reflecting the culture of that region and/or group.
Is anything more delightful than illustrations of brightly colored food? We think not — and these cookbook covers would agree. From the renowned bestseller Salt Fat Acid Heat to the adorable “comic book cookbook” Let's Make Ramen, these illustrated cookbooks display a glorious range of artistic methods and styles.
Particularly impressive is how these cover artists have integrated their illustrations with the title text. For example, the plate also serves as a letter in the title of Solo, and the foliage of Pesto intertwines with the text. Even a fairly simple design, like that of Cook Fresh Year-Round, plays with color and text by using yellow to contrast with the greenery of the surrounding fruits and vegetables.
If you're hoping to get an illustrated cookbook cover done, do keep your desired aesthetic in mind! Would you prefer an almost photorealistic design, or a series of cute, cartoon-like drawings? Having a clear idea of what you want is crucial to finding the right illustrator for the job.
Don’t these minimalist covers just make you want to Instagram? Not only is minimalism all the rage these days, it's also perfect for cookbooks: you only need a drawing or two to get the point across.
Take the covers of All About Eggs and Grains, Seeds, and Legumes. Their cover designs are sparse as can be, yet the clear shapes and bold colors leave no doubt about what's inside — interesting recipes that are very much worth readers' time. Even slightly more elaborate covers, like those of Veggie Comfort Food and Craft Coffee: A Manual (both by Reedsy designers!), manage to do a lot with just a few colors and line drawings.
If you've always envisioned a cover for your cookbook that's fashionable but not too flashy, a minimalist design could be just the ticket. And if you're really hoping to cut down on design, pay attention to the following section...
These cookbook covers are pretty self-explanatory: they all call on the power of the printed word. (Or in the case of Let's Eat, the handwritten word.) Though it's a bit risky to completely disregard food on a cookbook cover, it may also convince readers that you take your recipes seriously (see: the impact of Joy of Cooking).
Of course, some text-based cookbook covers get around the no-food problem by incorporating food into the text. For example, the cover of How Not to Die employs tiny illustrations of fruits and vegetables to shape the title text. Others can get away with no images because the text itself is quite interesting, like how the chicken scratch writing on the cover of Let's Eat incites readers' curiosity as to what it might say.
Again, this is a somewhat risky strategy. But it just might pay off once your cookbook falls into the hands of truly dedicated gourmands — or if you already have an established audience, like the authors in this next section.
Celebrity cookbook covers
Reedsy covers: Davina's 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free by Paul Palmer-Edwards. Click on his profile to view his gallery and request a quote!
Sometimes the most compelling part of a cookbook isn't what's on the cover, but who's on the cover. Celebrity cookbooks take advantage of their mega-popular, highly recognizable authors — Antoni Porowski, Chrissy Teigen, Snoop Dogg, Oprah, etc.
One interesting component of these celebrity cookbook covers is the ratio of celebrity to food. Though food is certainly present on all these covers, it's more prominent on the cookbooks of celebrities who became famous through their knowledge of cooking. Conversely, those who first became famous and then released cookbooks tend to feature themselves more prominently on their covers — a savvy marketing move.
So if you're a public figure currently assembling a cookbook, now might be a good time to take stock of your celeb status. Are you best known in your capacity as a chef, or for doing something else? If the former, keep it food-focused; if the latter, you might benefit from a cover photoshoot featuring none other than you!
Dessert cookbook covers
Now for the section you've all been waiting for: dessert cookbooks. Perhaps more than any other category, this type of cookbook must convey sweet deliciousness right from the get-go. Fortunately, there are as many ways to achieve this as there are desserts in the world!
As you can see, dessert covers tend to be photo-based, probably because it's almost impossible to improve upon how amazing desserts look IRL. However, you might observe a difference between these covers and other photo-based covers in our gallery — a sort of dynamic element at play. Cakes are served; cookies are pulled apart; sprinkles are, well, sprinkled.
Why is this so particular to the dessert category? Maybe because desserts are special to us, and we like to see them presented with a flourish. Half-finished desserts may also hold a certain appeal because they symbolize the end of a satisfying meal (whereas a half-eaten salad would just be... confusing). Whatever it is, we love the way these cover designers worked different actions into their dessert covers — and we hope that future dessert cookbook authors have taken note!
Beverage cookbook covers
Reedsy covers: Storied Sips by Chie Ushio. Click on her profile to view her gallery and request a quote!
We've reached our final cookbook category — and a very appropriate one, as a post-meal cocktail or coffee is often the final stage of a dinner party. Whether you prefer a gin & tonic or a strong cup of joe, here are a few beverage cookbook covers to sate your thirst, so to speak.
These “cookbooks” for drinks come in all shapes and sizes. Some have colorful illustrations on their covers and others display stunning photos. Still others are designed in a cool “old-timey” style with a focus on typography (a curious trend that seems unique to beverage cookbooks).
Regardless of the drinks being peddled, one element is constant: the glass. You can't have drinks without glasses, after all — and from champagne glasses to lowball glasses, their immediate recognizability is a boon for each of these book covers. Storied Sips is all about iconic glasses, and even the text-heavy cover of The Drunken Botanist manages to squeeze in a martini glass!
What we're trying to say is: while every subgenre of cookbook has its own cover design quirks, there are countless ways to make those elements your own. If you're currently figuring out how to make a cookbook, it's never too early to start thinking about the cover — fortunately, we have just the experts to help. With that in mind, here's hoping your cookbook brings home the bacon, sells like hotcakes, and all those great culinary idioms. 🥓🥞