Sometimes, when you’ve watched a really great show or film—or played a really fantastic game—it feels like there ought to be more. How else can you immerse yourself in the world once the series is over or you’ve beaten the final boss? Luckily for food lovers, there’s another option: sinking into a cookbook and either reading, or eating, your way deeper into your favorite setting.
Geeky cookbooks aren’t new. There are a dozen different unofficial Lord of the Rings inspired cookbooks, some of which have been out for a decade. But the growing library of officially licensed cookbooks that celebrate so many favorite settings, series, and games have expanded cuisine options for the adventurous with otherworldly ingredients (usually with appropriate modern-world substitutions). Some focus more on the food and the atmosphere, while others provide full narratives within the pages. These are some of the best geeky cookbooks to read—or gift—this holiday season.
The Witcher Official Cookbook
The video games, books, and the Netflix series of The Witcher all feature travel across the Continent—and journeying to different regions means experiencing plenty of different foods (including recipes good for the road). Like the series, the chefs who created the cookbook drew on folklore from Europe to place recipes within the setting—and then introduced a new character, a cartographer traveling the world and collecting recipes as she makes her maps, to be a guide through the world. An introductory map gives a sense for those travels, and her encounters with familiar characters, including not just Geralt but lesser-known characters like Boris the Troll and the Ladies of the Wood (Witcher 3), as well as Ciri and Vesemir.
The regional ranges echo the foods of real world nations that inspired them—the recipes from the Skellige Isles are drawn from Scandinavian foods, while the meals from Beauclair lean toward French ingredients, for example. Several travel focused recipes, such as the Campfire-Style Baked Potatoes, or Ciri’s breakfast porridge, emphasize the importance of moving from one place to another as a traveling monster slayer. Other references, including recipes for potions, echo items that might be found in the games—Hattori, an elven dumpling maker in Witcher 3, even contributes two of his dumpling recipes. While many of the featured recipes are more challenging than a casual cook might want to attempt, the beautiful photographs and the in-world introductions to each make this one just as fun to read as to bake from.
Heroes’ Feast Flavors of the Multiverse: An Official D&D Cookbook
The team behind Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook created a delicious, rule-book structured cookbook full of delicious, D&D-world inspired recipes in 2020, featuring cuisines from among the most well-known D&D species. Looking for a delicious halfling dessert? Try the Heartlands Rose Apple and Blackberry Pie. A Wood Elf Forest Salad decorated with edible flowers (as available) sets the stage for a main course of Dragon Salmon. Those with more monstrous appetites could indulge in Twice-Baked Cockatrice Wings or Fire-Spiced Abyssal Chicken Kebabs.
Not a team to rest on their laurels, they’ve returned with another adventure in the Flavors of the Multiverse collection. This cookbook features a twist: the narrators of the cookbook are lost between worlds, jumping from one D&D setting to another as they collect recipes. It’s possible there’s a traitor in their midst, and not every member of the adventuring party can be trusted. The combination of a real narrative, focused on a group that calls themselves the Bureau of Dark Tables, led by goblin poet Squirladax, with recipes from across the D&D multiverse, makes for an epic read, with recipes just as delectable as in the first installment. (And for fans of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves or Baldur’s Gate 3, there are even some featured recipes from the Sword Coast, as well as a drink made with owlbear milk…)
Fallout: The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook
With the Fallout television adaptation scheduled to hit Amazon Prime Video in April, 2024, now is a perfect time to dig into this post-apocalyptic cookbook, filled with recipes sure to bring a dystopian smile to the faces of your guests. Leaning hard into the setting’s gimmicks, the cookbook is narrated as an official Vault-Tec production, with approved ingredients and a thumbs up from the iconic Vault Boy mascot.
The introduction offers a Joy of Cooking style instruction on how to prepare certain foods, both within the Vault and in the world beyond, but in the propagandist voice of the corporation. Each recipe contains a stat block giving its difficulty, the time needed to prepare and finish, and the number of servings—as well as a game effect for the person who eats it. Instamash, for example, offers +1 to strength for 1 hour, while the dessert Mushroom Clouds gives +1 endurance for a half hour. (“Here at Vault-Tec™, we like to celebrate the wonderful powers of atomic energy…”) Some recipes feature notes from, presumably, a survivor in the world, including Matcha Cookies edited to be Buffout and Blue added to Cornbread Muffins. Molerats, deathclaw eggs, and cave mushrooms are among the more colorful ingredients, and the omnipresent Nuka-Cola is offered in multiple flavors.
More interested in Bethesda’s fantasy setting? They have an official cookbook as well in The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook.
A Feast of Ice & Fire
If you’ve finally recovered from season 8 of Game of Thrones and are still anxiously anticipating George R. R. Martin’s prose conclusion to the series, revisiting the world through recipes is a fun way to keep the world alive without fretting over the fates of your favorite characters. Following an introduction from Martin himself, who confesses that he can’t cook and gladly turned over the recipe creation to the cookbook’s authors, the book is populated with recipes drawn from the books. Presented with other foods from their regions within the seven kingdoms, the recipes feature quotes from the books where characters are indulging in specific meals.
The chefs and superfans behind the cookbook also offer notes on how to stock a medieval kitchen, allowing readers and cooks to make substitutions for creatures like aurochs, or hard to get fowl like pigeons or quails. Some recipes even feature both a medieval and a modern version, giving readers a peek into what earlier eras of chefs had to go through to get a similar result. The resulting meals—such as a trout wrapped in bacon with a summer garden salad, turnips in butter, and pease porridge—are sometimes taken straight out of the books (in this case, A Clash of Kings) to lay on your table, something any fan will find delicious.
The Princess Bride The Official Cookbook
The eternally quotable Princess Bride never goes stale, and this cookbook, full of stills from the film and quotes peppered throughout, offers some fantastic, easier recipes to embrace the best foods of Florin and Guilder. Grouped by types of meals rather than by region, the cookbook features “Enchanting Breakfasts,” “Swashbuckling Snacks,” and “Triumphant Drinks,” among the heartier fare. While many of the cookbooks featured here start from unprocessed ingredients, creating everything from scratch, this leans into what one might imagine the grandson’s mom has time for in her 1987 kitchen: Lightning Sand Pudding, for example, starts from ingredients like vanilla wafers, graham crackers, and vanilla pudding mix.
Other recipes are more complex, including Spaniard’s Paella (no shrieking eels needed) and the adorable dough-ball R.O.U.S.es (with raisin eyes and almond ears, sprinkled with Parmesan). But the real fun comes from the titles of each dish: “Have You the Wing” is a recipe for chicken wings, “Bread Pirate Roberts” is a chocolate filled pastry, and “Inconceivable” is a non-alcoholic mint, juice, soda, and butterfly pea flower iced drink. And don’t worry, in addition to a recipe for Miracle Max’s Miracle Pills, there’s also a recipe for a nice MLT—Mutton, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich. This is full of recipes to cook as you wish.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook
If you’ve been to Disney Parks and experienced the excellent food at Docking Bay 7, Ronto Roasters, or Oga’s Cantina, you know that the park’s experience is designed to fully immerse visitors in the Star Wars setting of Batuu. While blue milk isn’t featured in the official cookbook, many other foods and drinks available at the park are—and the cookbook expands into the galaxy beyond. Curious about what nerf herders eat? Try nerf kebabs. Like your food a little green and slimy? Huttese Slime Pods might be exactly what you need. Longing for a traditional meal from Mandalore? Pair the Spicy Mandalorian Stew with Mandalorian Uj Cake for a filling dinner and dessert.
Each recipe within is written by Strono Tuggs, also known as Cookie, formerly the head chef from Maz Kanata’s castle and now a captain on a food freighter, collecting meals from around the galaxy. Cookie’s voice is pitch perfect within the Star Wars universe, and the references to locations like Lothal and Bespin make use of classic Star Wars locations as well as newer planets. There’s also a very cute nod to LEGO Star Wars’s beleaguered battle droid, Roger, who gave Cookie a recipe for Sweet-sand Cookies. If you’re looking to bring a galaxy far far away into your kitchen (or are just dreaming of your next visit to Disney Parks), the delicious meals within will make you feel like the Force is with you.
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