16 Black American Cookbooks from 1800-1950s

According to the Michigan State Library, between 1800 and 1900, four cookbooks are known to have been written by Black Americans. They include Robert Roberts, The House Servant’s Directory (1827), Tunis G. Campbell, Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and Housekeepers’ Guide (1848), Abby Fisher, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking. (1881), E.T. Glover, The Warm Springs Receipt-Book (1897).
Earlier books with the subject heading “African American cooking” were written by white authors who included recipes they had learned from black cooks. It’s hard to know which ones they were. There were no dust jackets with author photos during most of this period. However, black authors wrote books after the civil rights movement.
Search the MSU library catalog for 200 Black American cookbooks published since 1960.

16 Black American Cookbooks from 1800-1950s

Black American Cookbooks

Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection

Karen Hess (Author)


This is a history of the influence of rice and African culture on the economy and households of the Old South. Included is a facsimile of Carolina Rice Cook Book.

Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

Adrian Miller (Author)


In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish–such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and red drinks–Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity.

Cornbread & Collard Greens: How West African Cuisine & Slavery Influenced Soul Food

Deah Berry Mitchell (Author)


Everyone loves “Southern” food, but until recently few acknowledged the heavy influences of soul food, which itself was born of necessity from West African cuisine and slavery.

Deah effortlessly infuses her love of history with her personal familial narratives and carefully crafts recipes she’s designed as a nod to a skill her ancestors perfected – creating delicious meals out of not only a necessity but imagination. Her unique cooking style is complemented by her influences from various countries she has visited.

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist

Perre Coleman Magness (Author)


“He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, his homemade canned fig preserves, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.” –Obituary from Gulfport, Mississippi

So-called “funeral food” is having a moment. Comforting casseroles; jugs of sweet tea; creamy, cheesy potatoes–all these foods provide sympathy and sustenance for the bereaved. The Southern Sympathy Cookbook includes unexpectedly humorous obituaries and anecdotes alongside staples of Southern funerals such as:

Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine

James C. McCann (Author)


Stirring the Pot offers a chronology of African cuisine beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing from Africa’s original edible endowments to its globalization. McCann traces cooks’ use of new crops, spices, and tastes, including New World imports like maize, hot peppers, cassava, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts, as well as plantain, sugarcane, spices, Asian rice, and other ingredients from the Indian Ocean world. He analyzes recipes, not as fixed ahistorical documents, but as lively and living records of historical change in women’s knowledge and farmers’ experiments. A final chapter describes in sensuous detail the direct connections of African cooking to New Orleans jambalaya, Cuban rice and beans, and the cooking of African Americans’ “soul food.”

My Official Goat Meat Products Cookbook: Representing African-American Slave Descendants, Africans and Carribeans

Sharon Hunt Rd (Author)


“MY” Official Goat Products Cookbook is a combination of goat meat recipes from Southern states, Africa and the Carri beans with desserts, plantation popular dessert recipes and short important facts about the possible kinship bonds and food selections bonds from Africa and former African slaves.
The main purpose of the cookbook is to promote the study of where Africans may have come from in Africa during the slave trade. Hopefully, the book will be an excellent African= American Source.

High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

Jessica B. Harris (Author)


Acclaimed cookbook author Jessica B. Harris weaves an utterly engaging history of African American cuisine, taking the reader on a harrowing journey from Africa across the Atlantic to America, and tracking the trials that the people and the food have undergone along the way. From chitlins and ham hocks to fried chicken and vegan soul, Harris celebrates the delicious and restorative foods of the African American experience and details how each came to form an important part of African American culture, history, and identity. Although the story of African cuisine in America begins with slavery, High on the Hog ultimately chronicles a thrilling history of triumph and survival. The work of a masterful storyteller and an acclaimed scholar, Jessica B. Harris’s High on the Hog fills an important gap in our culinary history.

Southern Cookbook 322 Old Dixie Recipes

Lillie S. Lustig (Author)


Soul Food, Comfort Food, just plain old-fashioned Good Food you will find in the recipes contained in this delightful CookBook. The Southern United States is famous for it’s cooking from Fried Chicken to Shrimp Creole the food is a culture of many cultures. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

Mandy’s Favorite Louisiana Recipes

Natalie Scott (Author)


Three hundred authentic recipes from New Orleans’ Creole home cooks fill the pages of this culinary classic. First published in 1929 and compiled by New Orleanian Natalie V. Scott, from the recipes of cooks she had employed through the years, this cookbook contains such gastronomic delights as Cream of Crab Soup, Fried Tomatoes, Grillades Piquantes, Pecan Pralines, and a variety of Creole sauces. These are the same mouth-watering favorites loved today by locals and tourists alike.

The Southerner’s Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories

Editors of Garden and Gun (Author)


From Garden & Gun–the magazine that features the best of Southern cooking, dining, cocktails, and customs–comes an heirloom-quality guide to the traditions and innovations that define today’s Southern food culture, with more than 100 recipes and 4-color photography throughout.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen

Mildred Council (Author)


Mama Dip’s Kitchen showcases the same down-home, wholesome, everyday Southern cooking for which its namesake restaurant is celebrated. The book features more than 250 recipes for such favorites as old-fashioned chicken pie, country-style pork chops, sweet potatoes, fresh corn casserole, poundcake, and banana pudding. Chapters cover breads and breakfast dishes; poultry, fish, and seafood; beef, pork, and lamb; vegetables and salads; and desserts, beverages, and party dishes.

The Taste of Country Cooking

Edna Lewis (Author)


In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. 

Aunt Caroline’s Dixieland Recipes: A Rare Collection of Choice Southern Dishes

Emma McKinney (Author)


Published in 1922, this is a collection of choice southern dishes drawn from the treasured memories of Aunt Caroline Pickett, a famous old Virginia cook. Includes various biscuits and other breads, beverages, cakes, candy, meats, pickles, pies and desserts, salads and many more delicacies from the southern kitchen.

Rufus Estes’ Good Things to Eat: The First Cookbook by an African-American Chef

Rufus Estes (Author)


Born a slave in 1857, Rufus Estes worked his way up from a Pullman Private Car attendant to a job preparing meals for the top brass at one of the country’s largest steel corporations. This cookbook, the first to be written and published by a black chef, includes a number of dishes from Estes’ vast culinary collection.

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking

Abby Fisher (Author)


This is a wonderful collection of one-hundred and sixty authentic and tasty recipes of the Old South. Originally published in 1881, it was the first African-American cookbook. Prior to Applewood’s edition, it had been reprinted only once in a limited edition of one hundred copies.

The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks

Toni Tipton-Martin (Author)


Winner, James Beard Foundation Book Award, 2016
Winner, Art of Eating Prize, 2015
Winner, BCALA Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, 2016

The Jemima Code presents more than 150 black cookbooks that range from a rare 1827 house servant’s manual, the first book published by an African American in the trade, to modern classics by authors such as Edna Lewis and Vertamae Grosvenor.

The House Servant’s Directory: A Monitor for Private Families

Robert Roberts (Author)


“In order to get through your work in proper time, you should make it your chief study to rise early in the morning; for an hour before the family rises is worth more to you than two after they are up.”
So begins Robert Roberts’ The House Servant’s Directory, first published in 1827 and the standard for household management for decades afterward. A classic survey of work, home life, and race relations in early America, the book was the result of many years of Roberts’ personal and professional experiences. One of the first books written by an African-American and published by a commercial press, this manual for butlers and waiters offers keen insight into the social milieu, hierarchy, and maintenance of the antebellum manor.


This is a history of the influence of rice and African culture on the economy and households of the Old South. Included is a facsimile of Carolina Rice Cook Book.


If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles