Amazing 10 South African Cookbooks and Recipes Books!

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Hi, I am Chef Zara. In this post, I will guide you through South African Cookbooks

I love discovering new food and cooking with friends and family. One of the most common questions that I often get is for cookbook recommendations. I have created this guide for friends, family, and new friends alike. I hope that you enjoy our site.

South African Cuisine👌

This introduction to South African basic cooking methods explores South African historical contribution to the diversity of its tasty recipes, which originated during the settling of the Dutch East India Company’s Service Base in the Cape Province. Sea-farers and adventurous souls of various nations: Malayan slaves, British and Scottish settlers, and French Huguenots who settled in South Africa have definitely contributed to South African cuisine. South Africa offers a world of flavor!

South Africa is a country with many diverse cuisines and fresh ingredients. There is something to satisfy all cravings, from sweet to savory to fusion and much more. In the past years, there has been an explosion of South African cookbooks on the literary market written by talented chefs and cooks. Here are just 10 of the many South African cookbooks to add to your bookshelf and kitchen! Browse the best South African recipes to see why the continent’s southernmost nation is a bona fide culinary destination.

Here are the Top 10 South African Cookbooks for you!

1. My Cape Malay Kitchen

Why We Love It ❤️ 

This stunning South African cookbook is ideal for anyone who needs a little inspiration in the kitchen and for anyone who would like to experiment with the exotic spices and the delicious, truly South African Cape Malay cooking.

Review 📖

My Cape Malay Kitchen”  is a beautiful presentation of more than 80 Cape Malay recipes packed with colorful and inspirational photographs. It is Cariema Isaac’s heartfelt account of the extraordinary relationship between herself and her father and how that was reflected in their shared passion for food and cooking. She remembers all of the dishes they cooked and ate together and shares her childhood memories growing up in Bo-Kaap (the Cape Malay Quarter in Cape Town, lending insight into the culture, religious ceremonies, and family events that have shaped the Cape Malay community into what it is today.  

“My Cape Malay Kitchen”  is also about richly spiced curries, flavorful food, decadent desserts, and indulgent cakes. Cariema’s energetic and loving approach to food showcases many of the much-loved Cape Malay vintage recipes as well as a selection of contemporary dishes.

The author dedicates a whole Chapter to Bredies (stews) that range from Cauliflower Bredie (where cauliflower can also be substituted with cabbage); Worteltjiebredie (Carrot Stew), a bright and colorful dish; Ertjiebredie (Pea Bredie); Sugar Bean Stew (Boontjiebredie); and Tomato Bredie (Tamatiebredie) which has truly earned its place as a firm favorite among South Africans, not only on Cape Malay tables but also in Afrikaner households. All these are made with either mutton or lamb, vegetables, and plenty of exotic and aromatic spices that are available in most stores.

Another section of the book talks about Cape Malay Classics. As the author puts it: “ Call them vintage or heritage delicious recipes – I know these dishes as my childhood, my first taste of Indonesia, Malaysia, and India in my Cape Malay home in Bo-Kaap”. We learn about Denningvleis (a sweet and sour South African lamb stew that is made using tangy tamarind paste); Mavrou (a very colorful meat dish) usually served at weddings, on Eid, or other special occasions; Cape Malay Rotis (hot, buttery and flaky round flatbreads).

Other chapters cover Smoortjies (smoothies); Curries – The Magic of Spices, Garlic and Ginger; Ramadan; Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha; Great Food, Fast; Side Dishes – Those Underrated Little Gems; and Dollop of Sweet Love.

About the Author ✍️

Cariema Isaacs was born in Scotcheskloof, in Bo-Kaap, one of the oldest parts of Cape Town. She has a natural flair in the kitchen and, from an early age, was familiar with ingredients that her grandmother would transform into the most scrumptious dishes. Cariema lived in Cape Town for most of her life before moving to Johannesburg and, thereafter Dubai, where she and her husband raise their two teenage sons. “My Cape Malay Kitchen” is her first book. She has published two other cookbooks: “Spice Odyssey” and “Curried.

2. South African Cooking in the USA

Why We Love It ❤️ 

In this great South African cookbook, you will find over 170 beloved traditional and contemporary South African dishes tested and perfected for easy preparation in American kitchens. Ranging from appetizers and snacks to entrees and desserts, the dishes in South African Cooking in the USA will inspire hundreds of delicious three-course meals. It is a perfect gift for those longing for the taste of home with an interest in South and West African food.

Review 📖

Which popular dishes come to mind when you think about South African cooking: Sosaties barbecued over an open fire; a thick bredie; a sweet Malay curry? You would be right with all of these. But you would also be right if you thought of sweet and sour pork, spaghetti Bolognese, veal schnitzel, or even roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. The fact is that cooking in South Africa is as international as the ancestors of today’s South Africans. Take a peek inside the average South African kitchen and you are likely to find a veritable storehouse of international ingredients, most of them grown or prepared right here in South Africa but also available anywhere else in the world.

South African Cooking in the USA is a complete South African cookbook and includes old time favorites: Samoosas (a triangular savory pastry fried in oil, containing spiced vegetable, cheese, ham or meat), Peppadew dip (pickled pepper dip), Bunny Chow (typical South African takeaway food consisting of a hollowed-out half loaf of bread filled with vegetable or meat curry), Bobotie (South African casserole), Oxtail stew, Hot Durban Curry, Monkeygland Steak (Monkeygland sauce is thick, savory and tangy made with chutney and tomato sauce and served over steaks and burgers), Chakalaka, also eaten in the Congo (a spicy South African vegetable relish consisting of tomatoes, beans and onions as its key ingredients, although some cooks might add various other ingredients such as carrots, bell peppers, chilis and ginger), Buttermilk Rusks (sweet bread-dough, formed into little balls and baked in a loaf tin), Melktert (a truly South African dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust containing a custard filling made from milk, sugar and eggs), Hot Cross Buns, Brandy Pudding, Koeksisters (braided doughnuts drenched in syrup) and more!

About the Author ✍️

Aileen Wilsen and Kathleen Farquharson are the authors of South African Cooking in the USA. Aileen was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the United States in 2008. She spent much of her career in recipe development. When Aileen moved to the USA, her daughter Kathy felt that there was a need for a book of traditional South African recipes developed specifically for preparation in American kitchens using available ingredients and equipment.  The mother-daughter team founded  Cape Point Press and set to work on this exciting project.

3. Shisanyama: Braai Recipes from South Africa

Why We Love It ❤️ 

Every South African understands the significance of the braai. This beautifully illustrated cookbook is ideal for meat lovers who love their barbecues. This book is definitely for those who want to know what South Africans love to braai and how they do it. 

Review 📖

The braaivleis or braai or Shisanyama (in Zulu) – the South African version of a barbecue – holds a prominent place in the food culture of the country. It is a relaxed, informal occasion taking place around an open fire on which the meal is cooked. Pretty much everything gets braaied – beef, mutton, pork, sausages, game, fish, and poultry. Different marinades are also being used to enhance the flavor of the dish. Strongly flavored marinades are ideal for red meats and game, while mild-flavored marinades are more suited for poultry and fish.

This book is an important piece of braai literature. It is a collection of popular dishes, tips, and advice from citizens all across the most beautiful country in the world. Some easy-to-prepare recipes in this book were not contributed by one person but are the result of many things different people showed, told, and taught the author. Other recipes are a direct result of a public call to the nation to send the author their best braai recipes for the creation of this book. Recipes include Fillet Steak Stack (made with a delicious marinade of olive oil, brandy, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme), which can be paired with mustard mash; Namibian Chimichurri Steak that uses lots of chilis for its fiery sauce; tender Hunter’s Olive-Oiled Steak; Beef and Stout Potjie (a slow cooked dish prepared outdoors and cooked in a round, cast iron, three-legged cauldron), Coffee Spiced Steak (with an aromatic coffee rub and spices); Brandy and Cola Beef Short Rib and many more.

About the Author ✍️

Jan Braai’s real name is Jan Scannell, and he lives to cook on a fire. He started the National Braai Day initiative in 2007 with the aim of creating a national celebration of the one activity all South Africans have in common. He also wrote “Braaibroodjies and Burgers”, “The Democratic Republic of Braai”, “Braai, the South African Barbecue Book”, “The Vegetarian Option”, “Fireworks – Recipes, Techniques, Advice” and “Red Hot”.

4. The Classic South African Cookbook

Why We Love It ❤️

This stunning cookbook will inspire you to create that place of loving, sharing, and connecting over food in your own home. “The Classic South African Cookbook” contains more than 180 mouth-watering colorful recipes that will set you on a culinary journey no matter what your skill level is. It is a compilation of recipes from the author’s own kitchen, from friends, and recipes she has collected over the years. 

Review 📖

The food in this book reflects the diversity of the country and the spirit of adventure which has awakened in South African kitchens in recent years. It explores many culinary boundaries and also includes traditional dishes which have endured through changes in lifestyles and eating habits. Many international classics have been adapted so that local food heroes can have everything of the best. This beautiful book is a kaleidoscope of modern lifestyle with influences from my grandmother’s kitchen, very popular Mediterranean cuisine, as well as both African and Indian culture. So, no matter what your roots are, this cookbook sets a foundation for honest, good, and carefree home cooking skills. From creamy scrambled eggs, poached eggs on spinach, and toasted baguette with tomato relish, French toast with berry compote and crème Fraiche, buttermilk scones with maple syrup, krummelpap (a South African porridge made with maize meal) to camembert and fig parcels, cheese and herb straws and crumbed prawns – this cookbook is a true inspiration for those who are passionate about home cooking. 

About the Author ✍️

Melinda Roodt, along with her husband Gerhard, is a senior pastor at the Delta Community Church in Vereeniging (a neighborhood of Johannesburg). She is also a musician and oversees and directs three bands. Melinda has run several cooking courses at her home, teaching more than 360 women to cook delicious homemade food. She manages her own rusk and biscuit label, “Mel’s Kitchen,” and undertakes oil painting commissions. She loves gardening and horse riding.

5. A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife

Why We Love It ❤️

South African Jewish cooking is an exciting element in the country’s cuisine. The recipes in this book make it clear that cooking and being a South African are not mutually exclusive.

Review 📖

The history of the Jews in South Africa began during the period of Portuguese exploration in the early modern era. During the period of British colonial rule in the 19th century, the Jewish South African community expanded greatly. With a relatively large and active Jewish population, the city has a good choice of kosher restaurants and stores.

The author has combined the influences of her culinary inheritance, which means cooking kosher as a proudly South African, which is not a cooking style but a lifestyle. In her book, “A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife”, Sharon takes the home cook on an adventure encompassing many of the country’s iconic and diverse dishes, including traditional South African food with a Jewish twist. This book includes meat, dairy, and non-dairy dishes. You will find anything in this cookbook – from starters to sweets with everything in between. Written in a fun and humorous style, “A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife” is like no other cookery book!

About the Author ✍️

Sharon Lurie married into a fourth-generation family of butchers and has been cooking and creating for 25 years. Sharon contributes recipes to the South African Jewish Report. She has been writing articles for many local magazines and doing cooking demonstrations of her new recipes. She has written two more books: “Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife” and “Cooking with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife”. Sharon has her own cooking show on a Johannesburg-based radio station and continues to consult and create excellent kosher recipes.

6. “Potjie for Two

Why We Love It ❤️

Different Potjies are mentioned in the book: Beef and Beer Pot, Beef and Vegetables Pot, Oxtail Pot, Lamb Shanks, and Vegetable Pot, Easy Chicken Pot, Chicken Curry Pot, Venison Pot, and even Ostrich Pot. Desserts include Banana Lollies, Honey Caramel Oranges, Quick Apple Pie, and Mocha Pedro.

Review 📖

Potjiekos translates as “pot food”. The dish consists of a variety of ingredients, typically meat and vegetables, layered in a round cast-iron pot and placed on open coals. When the Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape in 1652, their tradition of cooking in cast-iron pots came with them. These containers were ideal for the time, as they retain heat very well, and as such, food simmers for hours on end – resulting in tender stews.

The best meat to use for Potjiekos is beef, but mutton, venison,  chicken, and even fish make ideal Potjiekos. It is important to layer ingredients when cooking a Potjiekos. Meat is added first and sealed well. Once the meat is almost cooked, garlic, onions, herbs, stock, or wine are added. Vegetables should be stacked on top of the meat in order of the cooking time and include potatoes, baby marrow, carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, spinach, eggplants, or sweetcorn. The possibilities are endless.

Charcoal or wood is used to make a fire, making sure that the heat can be regulated. A Potjie must cook for a few hours, so it is important to start the fire well in advance.

“Potjie” for two is a unique cookbook designed for a date with a difference. This lovely book focuses on a traditional South African dish as the main course with starter and dessert options to guarantee a unique date for you and your guest.

About the Author ✍️

“Life is a novel waiting to be written” are the words of Roelof Beukes, a South African-born author. He writes books about animals, nature, and his own life experiences. He pretty much likes to write about everything and anything. His true two loves in life are South Africa and Cooking. 

7. Taste the Little Karoo

Why We Love It ❤️

The recipes and beautiful photographs will definitely inspire readers to be creative in the kitchen, whether they are entertaining guests or just cooking family meals. It is a beautiful book for life enthusiasts and wine lovers who respect traditional food but also love experimenting with new ideas. 

Review 📖

The Karoo is a magical semi-desert natural region of South Africa that is perfect for unwinding, relaxing, exploring, and eating. It is famous for its beautiful, rugged landscape, food traditions, and hospitable people. The region is also famous for its sheep meat with its distinct taste and texture as cattle graze on its indigenous vegetation. In “Taste the Little Karoo”, the author captures the essence of the region and its people through her cooking with a twist on traditional and classic dishes. The area is also well known for its fruits, vineyards, game, ostriches, and unique fynbos (an evergreen, hard-leaved Mediterranean-type shrubland) vegetation.

The recipes cover side dishes, snacks, breads, soups,  salads, robust meat dishes, celebratory platters, braai (barbecue) recipes, as well as sweet treats, desserts, and preserves. There are lots of recipes featuring pestos, tapenades, and chutneys.

“Taste the Little Karoo” is a celebration of the good life where the focus of meals is fresh, simple, and seasonal. This motivated the author to establish the Alfresco Deli. A wine list from the region is also included in the book to complement the dishes. So be brave, play with flavors and ingredients and just taste the Little Karoo!

About the Author ✍️

Beate Joubert owns and manages the Alfresco Deli on her family farm Joubert-Tradauw in the Little Karoo. She serves traditional Karoo dishes with a twist. She has worked in wine cellars in France, Switzerland, and the Napa Valley. She has also worked in different restaurants across South Africa.

8. Traditional South African Cooking

Why We Love It ❤️ 

Here is a book truly for South African cooks, a book that uses the wealth of local ingredients to create the wonderful international heritage of cooking that South Africans made their own. The fact is that cooking in South Africa is as international as the ancestors of today’s South Africans.

Review 📖

Anyone who is longing for good old traditional South African cooking must have this book in their kitchen. “Traditional South African Cooking” is a superb South African cookbook and is a collection of very well-known South African recipes with delicious flavors. South African cuisine is a rare and unique blend of the culinary art of many different cultures. Settlers from Holland, France, Germany, and Britain, as well as Malays who came from the East, all brought their own recipes to this country. Immigrants from Portugal and Greece have also made their mark. South African cooks are lucky: their rich heritage has given them a whole gamut of dishes upon which to draw. It is this cosmopolitan background that is reflected in this cookbook.

The following chapters are presented in the book: Soups, Starters, and Snacks; Fish and Seafood; Poultry; Meat; Game and game birds; Vegetables, salads, and side dishes; Desserts; Biscuits, scones, cakes, and sweet tarts; Bread and rusks; Sweets and sweetmeats; Preserves, jams, and jellies; Pickles and chutneys and Fruit drinks, beers and liqueurs. Various methods of stock and sauce preparation are also featured in this cookbook. The recipes have been modernized in the sense that present-day utensils and appliances are used. Another modernizing feature is that metric measures are provided for all the recipes.

About the Author ✍️

This wonderful cookbook is a collaboration of two cookbook writers. Pat Barton is a freelance writer, editor, and translator and has collaborated on a number of books. Magdaleen van Wyk is the author of more than 30 culinary cookbooks.

9. The South African Illustrated Cookbook

Why We Love It ❤️ 

This cookbook will make a wonderful gift and a memento for both locals and tourists. The author has captured various landmarks around South Africa to accompany many local cooking techniques that she has collected from chefs around the country.

Review 📖

“The South African Illustrated Cookbook” is a beautiful compilation of recipes very special to South Africans from all walks of life and tradition. It includes the diverse Cape Malay, English, Indian, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Xhosa (one of the tribes in South Africa), and new South African dishes.

This cookbook is wonderfully illustrated to accompany local South African recipes that the author has collected from cooks around the country. Her watercolor illustrations are charming and humorous yet extremely perceptive of South Africa’s rich and varied influences. This great South African cookbook has several sections: Salads, Fish, Mains, Poultry, Side dishes, Desserts, and Baking. The recipes are personal and collected from all over the country: from Hazel’s Chicken Liver Pate, Nontobeko’s Steam Bread to Butternut and Cold Cucumber Soups.

About the Author ✍️

Lehla Eldridge is a talented illustrator, performer, and writer. She has also illustrated many books for children. Lehla spends much of her time between the UK and South Africa. This is her first book.

10. The South African Cookbook

Why We Love It ❤️ 

This cookbook has Starters, Snacks, Salads, and Side Dishes. What can be better than asparagus with parmesan cheese or candied shallots? Chicken and crab salad? Grilled peppers? Oh yes, please.

This is a delicious book that will leave you with wonders and the beautiful spices of South African cooking – so go on exploring and cooking!

Review 📖

This “diverse” cookbook has recipes from the “big cities” in South Africa. Most of the ingredients can be found in the average kitchen. South Africa has a rich diversity of both indigenous as well as European cultures. This influence is represented in the 158 delicious recipes in this cookbook.

South Africa has a history of foreign visitors and occupiers and a tumultuous history – all of these have influenced the cuisine of the country. The country has a rich diversity of both European and indigenous cultures.

About the Author ✍️

Diane Kersey is a prominent South African cook and the creator of this wonderful cookbook.

About South African Cuisine

South Africa is a country filled with rich heritage and history. A country with 11 official languages, 9 provinces, and a variety of culinary options. It doesn’t matter if it comes from East Africa or South Africa, from Madagascar to Ethiopian, cuisine is as diverse and colorful as it’s the rainbow nation.  With influences from the indigenous population, along with the Dutch and English, South Africa offers a range of mouth-watering dishes that will excite any palate.

A Braai (barbecue) is a staple of South African cuisine, the country’s communal tradition of round-the-fire barbecue, with its skewers and smoked meats, hearty sides, and Gebraaide kaasbroodjies (juicy grilled cheese sandwiches with sweet and sour chutney). Uniquely South African, traditional Boerewors (sausages made from ground beef, coriander seeds, salt, and vinegar) are also thrown on the grill and sometimes served in a bun. As for dessert, the melktert (milk tart) must be tried with tea or coffee. Biltong is a South African classic. It is air-cured meat immersed in vinegar and spices. Various types of meat are used to make biltong, but it is most commonly made from beef. Other meats include game meats such as kudu and impala (yes, an antelope!), and ostrich.

From Cape Town’s essential grilling tradition braai to the Indian-inflected cuisine of Durban’s immigrant enclave, this is the best of South African food. The exotic dishes of the Malay and Indian kitchen predominantly influenced South African Cuisine introducing favorite dishes such as Sosaties ( a dish of cubes of curried or spiced meat grilled on a skewer), Bobotie (the dried fruit in this curried South African dish offsets its cayenne spiciness, while its almond crust adds a crunchy counterpoint to the tender ground meat), different kinds of Bredies (stews), especially a unique Waterblommetjie (which translates as “small water flower stew”) bredie are best enjoyed in the Cape region.

Beef, lamb, fish, and all crustaceans curries should be tried in Durban (located on Natal Bay of the Indian Ocean with a coastal stretch of over 3000 km), which is famous for its exotic spices, “fresh catch of the day”, mussels, crayfish, and all other fresh ocean surprises. Or try a famous Bunny Chow where a curry-meets-bread bowl combination that South Africans sing endless praises about. Bunny Chow is a hollowed-out bread bowl with a spicy, meaty curry filling, it is as delightfully messy as it sounds, and you will eat every last morsel of it in no time!

The British have introduced Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. Scones, cucumber sandwiches, and crumpets are typical for traditional tea times. The typical English Breakfast was also introduced to South Africa, which is still served in major hotels and would include baked sausages, bacon, eggs, herbed crumbed tomatoes, smoked haddock, and kippers with scrambled eggs.   

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Chef Zara is the founder and chief editor for Bakeaholic. She loves bringing smiles to people with the delicious visuals, smells, and tastes of food. Chef Zara's passion for baking started at a very young age, and she has never looked back since. She enjoys experimenting with different flavors and combinations, and takes great pride in creating unique recipes that will tantalize your taste buds. When she’s not whipping up something delectable in the kitchen, Chef Zara can be found exploring new culinary delights around the world. Chef Zara holds a Associate of Arts and Sciences from Kendall College and is a sought after private chef. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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