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Cooking together adds a new element to date night. It's a fun way to connect and bond before you even sit down to eat dinner. Plus, your options are endless. Keep it casual with comfort food or whip up an elaborate three-course meal. Experiment with a new dish or make a different version of a tried-and-true favorite.
By no means are we knocking date nights at restaurants—after all, who doesn’t love dining out, being served, and not having to deal with clean up? That being said, there’s something extra special and intimate about mixing things up and staying in rather than going out.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, check out these cookbooks that offer a little something for everyone—it's a surefire way to ensure a successful at-home date night.
Here, the best date night cookbooks.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Based on the idea that you really only need these four elements for a delicious dish, Nosrat’s award-winning book offers an overarching cooking philosophy and it's a great pick for people who prefer to wing it in the kitchen.
There are plenty of comforting classics—think buttermilk roast chicken, garlicky green beans, and Cacio e Pepe. But with a conversational tone and plenty of whimsical illustrations, this is a nice change from the “classic” cookbook. Stay on theme for date night and cap off dinner with an episode of "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat", Nosrat’s Netflix docuseries inspired by the book.
The Newlywed Cookbook
Consider registering for this cookbook, filled with over 130 special recipes to cook together and for one another, plus heartwarming stories and relationship anecdotes from the author. The basic concept: Food is is a way to show love and is a key element in a happy and healthy relationship.
There’s even an entire chapter devoted to date night ideas, with lots of innovative and romantic recipes. And per the point of registering, there’s also a helpful section at the beginning detailing which kitchen tools and supplies are most important and worth having.
In Bibi's Kitchen
This new cookbook is a gorgeous glimpse into the world of East African cuisine, told through the eyes (and cherished recipes) of eight different grandmothers. Somali chef Hawa Hawa Hassan, along with notable food writer Julia Turshen, curates these fascinating stories and adds her own memories. The recipes are steeped in flavors and spices of the regions and include everything from savory stews to sweet desserts and bread.
Date Night In: More Than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship
Ashley Rodriguez created this book after she and her husband instituted at-home date nights to rekindle their marriage. In fact, each chapter starts with an intimate story of a moment in their relationship.
Split up by season, each section boasts plenty of seasonal recipes, from simple to more complex. And don’t miss the cocktail recipes…rhubarb sour anyone?
The Defined Dish
Food blogger-turned-cookbook author Alex Snodgrass has an easy, effortless approach to food, which comes across in all of these crowd-pleasing recipes. Ideal for couples with dietary restrictions, the majority of her recipes are or can easily be made Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, you name it.
There’s a great date night section filled with meals that rival anything you’d find in a restaurant, plus a wide array of global-inspired choices—think fun takes on tacos, pad thai, stir fry, and more.
The forward of this book by the renowned New York Times columnist clearly states, “this is not a book about entertaining.” Instead, Roman says it’s all about using food and feeding people as the ultimate expression of love, an ethos we think works perfectly for date night. Her recipes are simple yet interesting, the kind that quickly becomes a social media phenomenon. (Google ‘The Cookie’ and you’ll see what we mean.)
Many of the recipes do feed more than two, but we say that you should go ahead and make them as written rather than scaling them down—you’ll want to have leftovers.
Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes
If you and your S.O. are vegan, vegetarian, or just love vegetables, this book is a must-have. Chef Bryant Terry is a master of flavor and takes favorite ingredients like collards and sweet potatoes to another level. Try the Panko-Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry or the Jerk Tofu Wrapped in Collard Leaves—and don't forget to listen to the curated tracks of music that Terry adds to each recipe.
A Girl and Her Greens
While chef and restaurateur April Bloomfield is known for nose-to-tail food, this book is all about veggies. Great for anyone looking to eat a more plant-based diet or the couple that loves going to the farmer’s market together, it features all kinds of ways to take veggies from a side dish to a starring role.
There’s also a host of out-of-the-box salads, soups, and more. While a handful of recipes do use meat, vegetables are always the focus.
To really step up your at-home date night game, why not make homemade pasta? (Oh, and gnocchi and risotto, too.) It’s not as intimidating as it may sound, particularly when you have this book, which features tons of tips and tricks the author amassed during his time in Italy.
There are over 30 different recipes for pasta dough alone, and 100 recipes in total, so it's sure to satisfy all your carb cravings.
Date Night Cookbook
Consider this your complete guide to an at-home date night. Not only is it packed with recipes, but there are also fun themes and ideas to transform a simple meal into an entire experience.
It's not just about dinner–the book is also rife with delicious recipes for breakfast in bed (Under-the-Cover Pancakes!), picnic lunches, and more, all of which can be made in less than an hour.
Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing
Calling all bakers! This inviting cookbook features fresh takes on favorite comfort foods. Although many of the recipes are a "healthier" version of the original, famed author Jerrelle Guy doesn't skimp on flavor. Start your date night with the Everything Chickpea Tumeric Crackers and finish with the delectable Sea Salt Butterscotch Tart.
Clean + Dirty Drinking
Sure, you could open a bottle of wine along with your homemade dinner. But if you’re ready to shake things up, pick up this book and channel your inner mixologist (or, have a cocktail hour at home and then go out to dinner).
There’s a wide range of homemade cocktail ideas that can easily be enjoyed with or without booze—hence the clean and dirty—plus recipes for the different components that make for delicious cocktails, think flavored syrups and infusions.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
It’s an irrefutable fact that everyone loves Ina Garten and her iconic recipes. If you’re going to choose just one of her 11 cookbooks (mark your calendars because number 12 comes out soon), pick up this one, her first.
It’s chock full of the classics that everyone wants to eat—meatloaf, pan-fried onion dip, tomato soup. It’s an equally great pick for date night ideas and for the first dinner party you and your S.O. decide to throw together.
Dessert for Two
No date night would be complete without a sweet ending. Here, you’ll find all of your favorite desserts: brownies, pies, cookies, and more. (Honestly, the gorgeous photos alone are enough to get you drooling.)
The best part? The recipes are all scaled down so that you have just enough for two people, and no tempting leftovers sitting in the kitchen for weeks on end.
One Pan, Two Plates
Equally as good for special date night as it as for easy and yummy weeknight meals, there are over 70 mouth-watering recipes in this book. But perhaps the best part is that they’re all made for two people, take less than an hour, and can be cooked in one pot.
A delicious dinner with no arguing over who has to do the dishes after? Now that’s a major relationship win.
Cravings: Hungry For More
It’s tough to find someone who hasn’t drooled over the insanely yummy-looking meals Crissy Teigen creates and shares on social media (not to mention that Teigan and husband John Legend truly embody #couplegoals.) Her second book is rife with unbelievably delicious recipes that you'll love, whether you want to keep your meal casual or go a little more upscale.