6 Contemporary YA Books for Food Lovers

Is there anything better than food? No? Then you haven’t heard about these YA books for food lovers! When I think of my own high school experience, food was not a prevalent part of it. Then again, I was running around in marching band, theatre club, and yearbook club. That said, these books really zone in on the role of food in these young protagonists! Explore the different options below!

**Note, the links below are affiliate links to my store through Bookshop.org. These links provide me a small commission and 10% of your purchase supports independent bookstores.

Here is a list of some of the most popular contemporary YA Books for Food Lovers. My full list is here


Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love

"A briliant multicultual collection that reminds readers that stories about food are rarely just about the food alone." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

I think this is a super approachable book if you are new the Young Adult or new to the foodie writing space. One of the best parts about this book is there are thirteen unique stories inside. That means you could simply read one story a day if you wanted. I love having this kind of book on my bedside table at night because reading one story is usually enough to get my brain to enter sleep mode - plus, you're away from your phone - which we know is a huge reason we're all staying awake (sorry - I got off track).

This is a collection of short stories that cross and interact other sub-genres and elements such as family, culture, and food in the lives of teens. There are also tons of unique diverse authors and voices, including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco.

Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

Salty, Bitter, Sweet:

  • Is a YA contemporary #OwnVoices novel written by CNN producer Mayra Cuevas

  • Is a perfect book for foodies ages 13 and up, and features a Latina main character who is trilingual

  • Explores complicated family dynamics and relatable themes of friendship, acceptance, and learning to care for yourself

Man - Bookshop.org is crushing it with their breakdowns. I've been pitching this book as a new found family and a cooking school competition all at the same time. But as I take a step back, there's also a nod to Julia Child in here. If you aren't aware, Julia Child started cooking school after she moved abroad for her husband's new job (I'm really really paraphrasizing here). Isa, our heroine, is now in Leon, France, trying to rise through the ranks on her own cooking journey.

While trying to become the best chef she can be, she's trying to understand her new family that her father has married. She has a new step-mom, Margo, and a new step-brother-who-is-way-too-handsome, Diego.

Critics love Salty, Bitter, Sweet! School Library Journal says, "A heartwarming testament to the power of female friendships, the drive for success on one's own terms, and accepting one's family, even if they turn out differently than originally thought." Midwest Book Review calls it "an impressively and deftly crafted novel."

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acavedo

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

First, if nothing else that you do after reading this blog post, please listen to this book as an audiobook. Acavedo narrates the book herself and the prose here are fantastic. It took my breath away listening to this story.

We follow Emoni Santiago and her life has been nothing but easy. She got pregnant freshman year and kept her baby - but she has NEVER regretted having a daughter. Her mother has passed away and her father, well, he's kind of around, but is always drawn back to his homeland. So she lives with her abuela and her daughter.

The only place where Emoni finds peace and a little bit of magic is in the kitchen. She somehow always knows that "extra little something" that will take a dish from good to great.

But so-called magic conflicts with the realities of a commercial kitchen and Emoni learns that head on as she signs on last minute for a cooking class elective. She's not sure why she signed up because her abuela wants her to go to school and her dream will always be secondary to the needs of her daughter. But she always brings the heat.

The Heart Break Bakery by A.R. Capetta

Teenage baker Syd sends ripples of heartbreak through Austin's queer community when a batch of post-being-dumped brownies turns out to be magical--and makes everyone who eats them break up.

I mean, need I say more? This October 2021 release is also at the top of my reading pile. Yes, I know, it's already December, but your girl has been busy!

Syd (with no pronouns) has always dealt with big heart talks by baking. Being dumped was no different. But now that Syd is a baker at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and event space, her bakes impact more than her own stomach. Now her breakup brownies are causing EVERYONE to break up. Even the owners of Proud Muffin are breaking up and the bakery might go down with them!

What is Syd going to do?

Where There's a Whisk by Sarah J. Schmitt

This is a new October 2021 release and I cannot wait to read this one! I pre-ordered a YA book, that's how excited I am!

I've described this book as Chopped Teen with a mix of reality tv show like The Real World built in but age appropriate? I'm excited to read this one!

Here's the description from Bookshop.org:

"Life is what you bake it.

Peyton Sinclaire wants nothing more than to escape her life as a diner waitress in her small, North Florida town and attend culinary school. Top Teen Chef, Food TV's new show that pairs reality TV drama with a fast-paced culinary competition, is her ticket out of her boring future. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make her dreams come true and Peyton is determined to prove to herself, and the world, that where you're born does not determine where you can go. However, once on the show, Peyton quickly discovers that there is more to the competition than just a well-seasoned dish.

As things start to heat up on and off the set, Peyton will have to prove to the judges that she deserves to win while trying to untangle what is real and what is scripted drama, and decide what she is willing to risk to win before her dreams end up on the chopping block."

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

One of Forbes Best YA of 2020

Two family-owned restaurants, in a rivalry, over grilled cheese? Say no more, I was hooked.

All is fair in love and cheese - until the Twitter war between Pepper and Jack's spat turns into a viral war. Their public rivalry makes great news and something fun, but in person, the two of them are falling in love with each other on an anonymous chat app Jack built!


Kim is the founder & owner of Bookmarks & Breadsticks LLC. When she's not busy creating new products for Halo Top or working on the #ReadItandEat subscription box ideas, she's reading everything foodie!