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You may think that the best gift to give a cheese lover would be more cheese. Indeed, that could make a lovely present, but unless you know their favorites (and what’s already in their fridge), you may end up getting something that they’ll regift. Instead, you may want to consider a cheese book or even get one for yourself. Learn how to craft beautiful and delicious cheese plates, find inspiration for your next meal by way of a cookbook, relish in a lyrical memoir, and more. The possibilities are seemingly endless and outrageously cheesy.
Here are the best cheese books for you and all your cheese-loving friends.
Best for Cheese Plates: That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life: Creative Gatherings and Self-Care with the Cheese By Numbers Method
Includes gluten-free prep and ingredient choices
Sections organized in an unconventional format
Marissa Mullen, founder of That Cheese Plate and Cheese by Numbers went from publicist to cheese influencer by posting her beautiful creations to Instagram. If you, too, want to create spreads that stop your guests in their tracks, pick up her book and get your phone camera ready. This guide offers formulas for making boards, like the ones Mullen famously creates, using either the same or similar cheeses, plus helpful tips on which accompaniments pair best. As you find yourself following her formulas for gorgeous boards, you may just find your own creativity unlocked. Think of it as cheese board 101.
Number of Recipes: 50 | Pages: 304 | Date Published: 2020
Best for Next-Level Cheese Plates: The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude
Good choice for cheese connoisseurs
Does not include many substitution options
Tia Keenan is a longtime chef, writer, and fromager, who knows her cheese. In "The Art of the Cheese Plate," she takes readers on a tour of her world and teaches them how to create cheese boards that will both inspire and delight. New cheese lovers will learn the names of spectacular farmhouse cheeses and how to pair them, while experienced cheese lovers will be delighted with new combinations and flavor ideas, and recipes for easy pairing items. You’ll braise rhubarb in tequila, make creamed corn with pickled mustard seeds to try with goat cheeses, mix olives with white chocolate, and more. Keenan is a true master of cheese, and you’ll be closer to mastery yourself after working your way through this treasure.
Pages: 192 | Date Published: 2016
Best for New Cheese Lovers: The New Rules of Cheese: A Freewheeling and Informative Guide
Very few recipes
Anne Saxelby is cheesemonger to the stars—or at least to the restaurants of New York City. Her shop Saxelby’s is famous among cheese fans, thanks to its thoughtful selection entirely comprised of American-made treasures. Saxelby’s book, which was released in 2020, is accessible enough for beginners, but her insight and profundity make it a treat for longtime cheesemongers, as well. It's a delightful little guide, which will surely become a classic.
Number of Recipes: Less than 20 | Pages: 160 | Date Published: 2020
Best Memoir: Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese
Interesting historical info
Includes advice about raising goats
Not useful for cooking
"Goat Song" is the tale of a couple leaving their one-bedroom apartment in New York City to move to Vermont and start a goat farm. Woven in with the memoir are author Brad Kessler’s musings on the human relationship to land and animals, and the long history of those interactions. He traces back the history and traditions, not just to Europe and the United States, but also to India and Africa. If you also dream of owning a goat farm, Kessler’s book will be the perfect fit for you, but it’s also a great read for those looking to reexamine their relationship with food and the earth.
Number of Recipes: 0 | Pages: 272 | Date Published: 2010
Best Cookbook: Hot Cheese: Over 50 Gooey, Oozy, Melty Recipes
Easy to read type
Low number of photos
If you prefer your cheese melty, you’ll love Polina Chesnakova’s "Hot Cheese," featuring the ooziest, tastiest recipes and photos. You’ll find best-ever versions of standbys, like mac and cheese and grilled cheese, and new favorites, like asparagus, taleggio, and preserved lemon tart, adjaruli khachapuri, and shepherd’s pie tater tots.
Number of Recipes: More than 50 | Pages: 144 | Date Published: 2020
Best for Fondue: Essential Fondue Cookbook: 75 Decadent Recipes to Delight and Entertain
Less expensive than other books
Measurement conversion chart
Few visuals of different fondue pots
To fondue or not to fondue? Do it, especially if you’re guided by Erin Harris’s "Essential Fondue Cookbook," featuring recipes, techniques, shopping tips, and more. Classic recipes include traditional Swiss fondue, and then there are also options like Asian tempura fondue and tomato-saffron broth fondue. If you love fondue, this is the book for you. Get out your bread, potatoes, and more, and start dipping.
Number of Recipes: 75 | Pages: 182 | Date Published: 2020
Best for Cheesemaking: Home Cheese Making, 4th Edition: From Fresh and Soft to Firm, Blue, Goat’s Milk, and More; Recipes for 100 Favorite Cheeses
Milk composition charts
Great glossary and resources guide
Many recipes are time intensive
Industry leader Ricki Carroll first released "Home Cheese Making" in 1982. Today, by its fourth edition, it has inspired countless cheese fans and even professional cheesemakers to create the cheeses of their dreams. In it, you’ll find recipes for burrata, triple crème Brie, goat milk gouda, and more. She also includes some recipes for some favorite condiments and simple cheese dishes.
Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 384 | Date Published: 2018
Best Reference Book: The Oxford Companion to Cheese
Info about rare cheeses
Great for culinary professionals
This James Beard Award-winning tome is the first major cheese reference book on the market, with 855 A to Z entries on every aspect of cheese, from animal husbandry to production to history and culture. With 325 contributing authors from 35 countries, this is essentially the ultimate cheese encyclopedia. If you're interested in learning more about specific cheeses and producers, understanding its history, and more, you should have this one on your shelf. While it’s not really meant to be read cover to cover, the writing is clear and engaging enough that you could do so if you wanted.
Pages: 872 | Date Published: 2016
Best for Discovering New Cheeses: The Book of Cheese: The Essential Guide to Discovering Cheeses You'll Love
Regional data for each cheese
"The Book of Cheese" is a highly readable reference book for widening your cheese horizons. Using Thorpe’s system of "Gateway Cheeses" (a term that Thorpe has trademarked), readers will discover similar cheeses that they will theoretically also love. The former VP of Murray’s Cheese, who built out Murray’s extensive wholesale program, Thorpe is a cheese legend, and if there’s anyone in the cheese world who can offer a great recommendation, it’s her. From the nine Gateway Cheeses she has pinpointed, a whole world opens up. For those looking to taste new cheeses that they’ll certainly love (especially handmade options from the US), Thorpe’s book is the answer.
Number of Recipes: Less than 10 | Pages: 416 | Date Published: 2017
Best New Release: Great Book of Grilled Cheese: 100+ Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food, Soups, Salads, and Sides (Fox Chapel Publishing) Cookbook - Delicious Sandwiches, Toasties, and More with Simple Ingredients
Measurements only in American standard units
During the 10 years Kim Wilcox has owned and operated It’s All So Yummy Café, more than 120 different versions of a grilled cheese sandwich have rotated on and off the menu. She now has incorporated the majority of these renditions into a cookbook, along with a variety of side dishes, condiments, and desserts, which pair well with this favorite American food. Other culinary pros, such as World Food Championship judge Mark Grove and real food advocate Mark McKinney, also contribute content throughout.
Many of the recipes require minimal ingredients resulting in quick meals sure to satisfy both kids and adults. In particular, readers affirm the chocolate chip cookie dough grilled cheese, the Mississippi chicken grilled cheese, and the Slim Shady Supreme are must-tries in this collection.
Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 160 | Date Published: 2021
What to Look for in Cheese Books
How You Serve Cheese
How do you like to serve cheese? Are you informal about it? Maybe you are the kind of person who likes to put cheese out on every occasion possible, and you're looking for recommendations for not only how to serve it, but also for new and unusual cheeses to try.
Whether or not you're new to cheese, an encyclopedic book will could be beneficial. Guides are often helpful; look to see if they offer suggestions on how to store and serve cheese, especially as it pertains to accompaniments. Next-level cheese lovers might want some great recipes that involve cheese or maybe even instructions on how to make cheese.
The author should ideally have some expertise and authority in the area of cheese. Many of the books we recommend here were written by cheesemongers or who have extensively researched or otherwise worked with cheese. These authors write the types of books that will inform, surprise, and entertain you.
Is it best to serve cheese chilled or at room temperature?
Most medium-soft and hard cheeses are best at room temperature to ensure you experience the best flavor, texture, and aroma. The rule of thumb is to remove the cheese from the refrigerator an hour before you want to serve it. Other cheeses, such as ricotta, cream cheese, and mozzarella, for example, are meant to be served chilled and taste better when they haven't been sitting for an hour or so.
Why is bacteria added to cheese?
Special "starter" bacteria are added to cheese to begin the cheese-making process. The bacteria convert the lactose (milk sugar) to lactic acid. It's a necessary ingredient.
Why is cheese so important in history?
The story of cheese is happenstance: It may have been accidentally discovered due to the practice of storing milk in containers made from the stomachs of animals. You may have heard of rennet—it's an enzyme found in the stomach of ruminant animals such as cows and goats. It was discovered to cause the milk to coagulate, separating into curds and whey. And so, before there was refrigeration, cheese was created as a way to preserve milk. There's evidence of early cheese making in the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. The earliest cheeses were very salty, as part of the preservation effort.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer, reader, and professional cheese eater Christine Clark teaches cheese and pairing classes throughout the United States and is dedicated to helping people expertly get their cheese on. Her cheese adoration is so strong that she has a whole podcast dedicated to it. She is a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society.
Rachel Werner is a culinary writer and a former World Food Championship judge. Her book, product and restaurant reviews, and food styling and photography have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Gourmet Insider, Fabulous Wisconsin, and Brava. A selection of Rachel's recipes are also included in "Wisconsin Cocktails," a regionally themed mixology book (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020).