Since I first read Relish by Lucy Knisley, I have been fascinated by comics that integrate cooking and recipes with an engaging story. Though the books on this list are very different from one another, they all share a focus on the joy that can come from food and cooking. Whether you hope to one day be a professional chef or simply enjoy a good meal, these books are sure to nourish the mind as well as the body.
Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi – As a child, Najika met a boy who comforted her at her time of need. Now that she is older – and an expert with food – she is on a quest to find him, a quest which takes her all the way to the fancy Seika Academy. Once there, she must use her cooking talents to win over skeptical classmates and find the boy from her childhood. Along the way, she wins a prestigious cooking competition, helps to revitalize a café, tackles difficult topics like eating disorders and learns a lot about her special skills. This manga will appeal to shōjo fans and includes recipes and extras with each volume.
Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Reiss – In this comic that combines a bunch of genres into a fun mix, Peony is a baker from Earth who has an opportunity to compete in Space Battle Lunchtime. As the top TV show in the universe, Space Battle Lunchtime is a dream come true for an aspiring baker, but what will happen when Peony tries to beat alien competitors on a spaceship? This book combines a fun story with wonderful artwork that makes great use of color. It is sure to appeal to everyone who loves cooking and food and it’s particularly perfect for Great British Bake Off fans looking for a very different type of cooking competition!
Cook Korean! A Comic Book With Recipes by Robin Ha – If you love cookbooks and comics, this book is for you. Robin Ha has brought over 60 Korean recipes to life through a combination of illustrations and comic strips. The comic strips offer autobiographical details about Ha and historical details about the food, while the recipes themselves include not only illustrations of the steps but also helpful tips for those who are new to Korean food. This is a great option for anyone who loves to cook, even if you’ve never tried to make Korean food before.
Bake Sale by Sara Varon – Set in a world where food items are personified, Bake Sale follows Cupcake, a cupcake who is a skilled baker trying to grow his bakery business. His best friend Eggplant supports him along the way, even going so far as to try to introduce him to a family friend who is a famous baker. In the end, the story ends up being one about friendship and finding a balance between work and relationships. The sweet (no pun intended) story is complemented by delightful illustrations. The book also includes several illustrated recipes for readers who want to try their hand at baking.
The Manga Cookbook by Yoko Ishihara with art by Chihiro Hattori – Manga and recipes might not seem like an obvious combination, but this book will change your mind about that. With a focus on Japanese food, this cookbook covers basic recipes that anyone can easily make (some don’t even require cooking) and more complicated techniques. In all cases, the steps are demonstrated through manga-style comics. Interspersed with the recipes are short explanatory notes that not only tell more about the types of food featured in the book but also highlight where some of these recipes have appeared in famous manga. If you love manga and food, you are sure to enjoy this book!
Easy Eats: A Bee and PuppyCat Cookbook by Natasha Allegri – This book isn’t quite a comic book, but it is an illustrated cookbook that will appeal to fans of Bee and PuppyCat, who do have their own comic, so it can sneak onto this list. The recipes in this book range from variations on fairly standard recipes (NextGen Spaghetti Bolognese) to more unusual fare (Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes), so there is a little something for everyone. The book covers main courses, side dishes and desserts and features cute illustrations of the iconic Bee and PuppyCat characters.
Knives & Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (with Recipes) by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton – This collection combines artwork of the tattoos of chefs with stories of why the tattoos are meaningful to them to offer an insight into each of the subjects. By focusing on their tattoos, the authors have chosen a very different window than most into these chefs’ lives, meaning that this book offers perspectives not often seen, even for its more famous subjects. The book also includes selected recipes. This book is not written with a young adult audience in mind and does have brief strong language, but it may appeal to older teens who are interested in becoming chefs or tattoo artists.
I hope this list will inspire readers to try not only these comics but the recipes included in many of them. And, if anyone has tried any of these recipes, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!