It’s no secret that I love foodie romances. I mean, I love food, so there’s that. There is also the fact that I’m a fairly decent baker. That isn’t to disparage my cooking skills, but I do feel baking is where I shine. Back when my day job was in an office, whenever we had a potluck, baking was always my contribution. The cheesecake cupcakes I made were semi-legendary — at least, I’d like to think so.
It’s only natural that I love the apron tugger sub-genre. I’ve even written about its appeal in the past. As I argued there, cooking is an act of love because you’re providing substance for someone that you care about. It’s a very emotional process all around. This is true even in other genres: take Like Water for Chocolate, for example. While it’s not what I would call a romance novel, Tita’s emotions always come out in her cooking, even if the results are sometimes less than pleasant.
Add in the spice, heat, and forced proximity that comes from cooking in the same kitchen, and it’s no wonder the romance genre has fallen for foodie romance. And when it’s a queer romance as well? That’s even better. If you’re in that space with me, then here are some books to add to your TBR. Just be sure to read these with snacks nearby.
Queer Adult Baking and Cooking Romances
Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Dahlia and London both have their own reasons for wanting to win cooking competition Chef’s Special. Dahlia looks at it as a chance to reinvent herself after her divorce, while nonbinary London views it as a chance to make trolls and their father take them seriously. As the competition continues, the two grow closer and begin to wonder if, after the winner is chosen, there’s a chance at a happily ever after for them.
Mangos and Mistletoes by Adriana Herrera
Kiskeya and Sully both have entered the Holiday Baking Challenge for their own reasons and must work together to try to get first place. However, their respective grumpy and sunshine personalities prove to make this a difficult task, especially when an unexpected betrayal puts their chance at winning at risk.
Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander
Simone enjoys the routine and order of her job at The Discerning Chef, something that is put at risk when the new kitchen manager, Ray, enters the picture. Even more adjustment is needed when they find themselves at the center of a YouTube series, with her grumpiness pairing nicely with their sunshine. When Ray comes out as nonbinary, she finds herself in the role of fierce ally. Soon, she realizes that she has started to view them as more than just a colleague.
The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett
Chef Amy will do anything to save her restaurant, including hiring the attractive former reality star Sophie in the hopes that her skill and fame will draw a crowd. Sophie, having recently realized she’s queer, wants nothing to do with the limelight anymore. She would rather cook and try to ignore her growing attraction to her boss. When an unexpected opportunity presents itself, however, she can’t refuse the offer and the good exposure it may bring. This leads to the two women working after hours while trying in vain to ignore their simmering attraction.
Queer YA Baking and Cooking Romances
The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar
Shireen is over the moon when she gets selected to compete on the Junior Irish Baking Show. She knows it’s the perfect opportunity to help bring publicity to her family’s donut shop, You Drive Me Glazy. So she tells herself not to be deterred by the fact that her ex-girlfriend, Chris, is also a contestant. When she meets fellow contestant Niamh, though, things become even more complicated when their quick friendship soon develops into more.
Café con Lychee by Emery Lee
Theo and Gabriel have a complicated relationship. On one level, they’re competing against each other via their family’s respective restaurants. On the other, they’re soccer teammates, although Gabriel is less than coordinated on the field. When a new fusion shop opens and threatens both of their family’s livelihoods, they realize they need to work together off the field to take down their common enemy. As they conspire, it leads to them realizing there may be more between them than animosity.
The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta
Syd (no pronouns) has always used baking to work through emotions. When Syd bakes a batch of brownies at The Proud Muffin, it causes everyone who eats them to break up, including the owners of the bakery. Enter bike messenger Harley (he/they pronouns, depending on the day), who believes Syd’s tale of magical anti-love brownies and promises to help. Syd is faced with the task of coming up with a counter-spell snack as well as juggling developing feelings for Harley.
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
Dylan is determined to win the Mid-Autumn mooncake-making competition, both to honor the memory of his mother and help his aunt’s Chinese takeout restaurant. That’s when the swoonworthy Theo enters his sphere and charmingly convinces him to fake date him. Between the looming competition and Theo’s less-than-kind relatives, Dylan feels he is being pulled in all directions. But he knows he needs to focus on winning, even if it means leaving Theo to face his family on his own.
I hope that you found at least one book to pick up for your next reading adventure! You might also be interested in 12 Culinary Romances That Make You Hungry For More.