Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on July 19, 2023.
North Carolina is packed full of award-winning chefs whose amazing dishes keep people coming back for more. We’re also blessed with wonderful, prolific writers who know our state’s food all too well!
That’s why it wasn’t too difficult to find an amazing collection of cookbooks and writing from North Carolina chefs and food writers.
Even if you ate something before reading this, you’ll come away hungry again after learning dishes and reading stories from these wonderful makers and creators.
Essential Cookbooks from North Carolina Chefs
Note: All book cover images and links are provided by Indiebound, a community dedicated to helping you find and purchase books at your local book store. Featured image (top) by Christina Riley, the author of this guide and the better half of NC Tripping.
Eastern North Carolina
Deep Run Roots, Vivian Howard
Vivian Howard hails from Deep Run in Lenoir County and has taken off in the food world. That’s an understatement, considering she was the first woman since Julia Child to win a Peabody Award for her PBS series A Chef’s Life.
That binge-worthy TV show chronicles her family’s journey running Chef and the Farmer in Kinston (pictured, top) from its beginnings. Based on our experience there, we think all of us are very lucky to have this must-eat spot, which also made our NC Bucket List.
Whole Hog BBQ, Sam Jones
Sam Jones comes from a long line of pig smokers, starting with his grandfather Pete. Of course, they’re still going strong after three generations, with Sam, Pete’s son Bruce, and his nephew Jeff running the show at Skylight Inn!
Some might argue that his family has produced the best barbecue in North Carolina, but we won’t take a stand here.
Arguments aside, in Whole Hog BBQ, Sam features 20 family recipes for barbecue, sides, and desserts!
Southern Smoke, Matthew Register
If you drive through the tiny town of Garland, you’ll see people dotted up and down E Warren St. Join them for a look inside at the chalkboard of Matthew Register’s Southern Smoke.
This North Carolina chef’s delicious cooking brings people from across the state to line up for his barbecue! You can own a piece of Register’s knowledge in his Southern Smoke Cookbook.
Central North Carolina
Poole’s, Ashley Christensen
James Beard Award-winning and Raleigh-based Chef Ashley Christensen does Southern food like nobody else. There’s no debate that she transforms classics into bold new culinary masterpieces.
Christensen shares her recipes and stories of her beloved North Carolina restaurant in her book titled Poole’s.
The New Southern Garden Cookbook, Sheri Castle
Sheri Castle is an award-winning professional food writer and former Southern Living’s Senior Food Editor. She’s even contributed to Our State, The New York Times, and Eater.
Castle shares her love for healthy and homemade meals in her North Carolina-centric The New Southern Garden Cookbook.
Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook, Ricky Moore
And In Moore’s Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook, he goes even further with 60 recipes that celebrate his coastal heritage, plus some from his famous and crave-worthy dishes.
If you’re familiar with Saltbox, you’ll know these recipes have people lining up from far down the block!
Read More: Black-owned Restaurants in Durham
Cooking in the Moment, Andrea Reusing
Named one of the most notable cookbooks of the year by The New York Times, The Durham Hotel executive chef Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment blends sustainable agriculture and down-to-earth kitchen advice.
Reusing’s book highlights one-pot dinners and meals for a gathering. And most importantly, the author celebrates the farmers, makers, and people who help bring food to our tables.
Mama Dip’s Cookbook, Mildred Council
Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill is an institution. It’s different from the Southern-inspired restaurants trying to elevate and reform. Mama Dip’s serves that home cooking that you’ll find coming out of the kitchen for Sunday supper.
And in Mama Dip’s Cookbook, the late, great Mildred Council shares over 300 of her family’s recipes and tips on getting that family feast tabled.
For even more favorites such as old-fashioned chicken pie and the Southern staple of banana pudding, check out her first cookbook, Mama Dip’s Kitchen.
Seasoned in the South, Bill Smith
Bill Smith is a legend in North Carolina’s food scene. His restaurant Crook’s Corner is highly recommended if you’re ever in Chapel Hill. And if you can’t make it, keep a slice or two of Bill’s work with you in this cookbook.
From his Seasoned in the South, you can whip up seasonal menus such as Supper at the Beach or a Fourth of July Picnic. His insider tips will help you recreate the best recipes from one of Chapel Hill’s best restaurants.
Bonus Bill Smith: Crabs and Oysters
Since Smith grew up in Eastern North Carolina, his second book Crabs and Oysters delves deep into the world of North Carolina seafood. It’s a part of the Savor the South Series and shows that this chef really knows his coastal cuisine.
With over fifty recipes, learn his secrets to Crabmeat Ravigotte or Oyster Shortcake.
Beans and Field Peas, Sandra Gutierrez
Another addition to the Savor the South Series comes via Cary author Sandra Gutierrez. Beans and Field Peas goes into the intimate details on how beans and field peas have graced the plates of people all over the world.
Gutierrez follows the rise of legumes to their now trendy status through fifty-one recipes.
Well, Shut My Mouth!, Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner
Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner’s Sweet Potatoes have a cult following in and around downtown Winston-Salem. And of course, Tyson’s Well, Shut My Mouth! provides the same lip-smacking delight for chefs at home.
With recipes such as Pimento Cheese Fondue and Sweet Potato Bread Pudding, you’re bound to be jumping for joy with Well, Shut My Mouth!
Fearrington House Cookbook, Jenny Fitch
The Fearrington House Cookbook shares recipes from one of the greatest restaurants of the American South. It also discusses the flower arrangements that have given Fearrington its distinctive charm.
Author Jenny Fitch also offers instructions on seasonal projects like a honeymoon basket and forcing blossoms. That makes this cookbook a true celebration of the seasons, by honoring the details that surround spectacular meals.
Western North Carolina
Cúrate, Katie Button
Enjoy a meal at her Spanish tapas restaurant Cúrate, and you’ll understand that Chef Katie Button has taken the Asheville food scene by storm.
Button teaches readers how to use American seasonal ingredients to recreate classic Spanish dishes more than 125 recipes.
Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke, Elliot Moss
Starting with a small chicken and ending up with a whole hog, Moss shares his secrets.
Don’t have space for a pit? Moss also includes economical ways to infuse wood-smoke into these recipes!
Homemade Living Series, Ashley English
Ashley English of Small Measure is a prolific North Carolina author and lover of Southern scratch cooking. A few of the author’s Homemade Living Series include Canning & Preserving, along with Keeping Chickens and Home Dairy.
Biscuit Head, Jason Roy & Carolyn Roy
You’ve probably stood in the line around the block for Biscuit Head in Asheville. Now with the Biscuit Head Cookbook, you can make the same delicious biscuits near or far.
From the Beer City Biscuit to Biscuit Donut Holes, you’re bound to have fluffy delicious pillows of love whenever you crave it!
12 Bones Smokehouse, Bryan & Angela King
Famous ribs, pulled pork, and iconic blueberry chipotle sauce are just some of the things you’ll find inside the 12 Bones Smokehouse Cookbook!
From old family favorites to just something the Kings whipped up, this North Carolina pitmaster-led cookbook will have you ready to light up the grill and get to cooking!
The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook, Carrie Schloss
With Asheville being one of the most pollinator-friendly areas in the United States, the Asheville Bee Charmer has taken advantage of an opportunity to become a travel destination for those who love local honey.
This place offers more than 50 different artisanal honey varieties. And inside The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook, Carrie Schloss offers over 130 recipes, a guide to honey varietals, and a renewed respect for the love-filled labor that produces nature’s sweetest syrup.
Bonus: Books about North Carolina Food Culture
The Carolina Table, Randall Kenan
Gather around the table and transport yourself to the stories and traditions that have shaped North Carolina in The Carolina Table.
Compiled by more than a dozen of the state’s best authors, transport back to meals and manners, cooking and ingredients, and recipes and recollections.
The Month of Their Ripening, Georgann Eubanks
Ever wonder what ingredient is at its peak in North Carolina each month? Author Georgann Eubanks takes us through the year in her book The Month of Their Ripening.
She also shares stories of Tar Heels making snow cream to a midnight canoe ride in search of shad!
Kiln to Kitchen, Jean Anderson
North Carolina’s pottery traditions are some of the best in the nation, and routinely potters will stick recipe cards inside their creations as a special treat to the buyer.
Jean Anderson fires together both great food and North Carolina pottery in her book Kiln to Kitchen. Anderson tours through three pottery regions profiling the potters and recipes!
Holy Smoke, John Reed
Consider Holy Smoke the bible on smoked pork in North Carolina.
With profiles on historic barbecue joints across the state as well as extensive background and recipes, Holy Smoke was our greatest resource when creating our own NC Barbecue guide.
Our Thoughts and Yours, Too!
At least a few of these cookbooks should grace your kitchen and I hope you enjoy the stories that go along with them, too. The North Carolina chefs and food writers we’ve included are a crucial part of our state’s food scene and story.
Now, I’m ready to visit my kitchen and cook something delicious. Which of these cookbooks do you think I should go with? And which one do you want to pick up first?