My computer is a constant companion in the kitchen, it can be a bit risky, but I just love having limitless recipe options at my fingertips. Unfortunately, when I find some great recipes sometimes, they often end up jumbled among hundreds of bookmarks, where I’ll probably never see them again.
A number of Mac app developers have capitalized on the kitchen-computer connection, and developed various solutions for storing and organizing recipes on the Mac. Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders and what they have to offer!
YummySoup provides a slick interface for importing and organizing recipes clipped from websites. It features a built-in browser with one-click importing from 11 popular recipe sites (including my favourite, AllRecipes). Importing from other websites is also simple, you simply highlight sections of the recipe, then click on the part of the recipe card you want it to be assigned to (e.g. ingredients, directions).
Once you’ve imported a recipe, you can display it full screen on your computer using a choice of pre-defined html templates (or create your own). YummySoup also has a groceries feature, coverflow-style browsing, smart folders, full screen view, and cloud publishing (currenlty through MobileMe).
YummySoup interface with meal planner
I found the one-click importing quite easy to use, and I appreciate the ability to customize the appearance. YummySoup covers all the basic functions you’d want in a recipe manager, but I think the price is a bit steep for what it does.
SousChef places the emphasis on the actual cooking process, and tries to make cooking with your computer as easy and mess-free as possible. SousChef features a full screen mode designed to be read at distances of up to 10 feet, has a text-to-speech option, and is controllable via remote or voice.
It’s a great concept for a food application, becuase though organization and collection of recipes can be useful, realistically, you’re going to be spending more time actually cooking. The full screen display is pretty legible even at a distance, even on my 13” MacBook Pro. I love the remote control option, I’d definitely prefer to get the remote sticky than my keyboard. Though the voice recognition is a really cool idea, I couldn’t get it to work reliably. I’m not sure if this is an inconsistency on the part of the developer, or with Apple speech recognition.
My very professional squash soup recipe. It's pretty excellent.
The recipe organization and importing features are pretty basic, and it lacks a web importer. $30 is a bit pricey, but might be worth it if you can get the speech recognition to work. There’s a free trial, so you can see if you can make it work for you.
Paprika is a newer recipe management app featuring cloud syncing between Mac, iPad, and iPhone versions. It has a web importer similar to YummySoup, and features a polished (though derivative) interface that allows you to easily manage and organize recipes.
Paprika also boasts a meal planner and grocery list functionality, which when combined with the iPhone app, could be really helpful for grocery shopping.
Paprika main recipe listing. May seem familiar to Twitter App users.
Unfortunately, Paprika doesn’t have a full screen mode, and even the iPad version isn’t terribly kitchen-friendly. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on the iPhone and iPad apps, hopefully Paprika will jump on the Lion bandwagon and go full screen with a future update.
I reviewed MacGourmet for AppStorm a couple months ago, and though it wasn’t a glowing review, MacGourmet might be the best option for people who are interested in cataloging and organizing a large number of recipes in flexible ways. MacGourmet features the same importing, full-screen, and shopping list features as the other apps, but includes more organization options, and has a more streamlined recipe creator/editor.
I found MacGourmet to be overcomplicated for my uses, with a pretty high price ($24.99 for the basic version, $49.99 for the “deluxe” version). Though it may have more features than the average cook requires, it is more geared towards users that are serious about creating a digital recipe database.
Price: $24.99 ($49.99 for Deluxe version)
The first three apps on this list help you manage and use recipes, but the Photo Cookbook aims to actually teach you to cook. The app comes with 84 recipes, each with detailed, step-by-step illustrated instructions. Though seasoned cooks probably don’t need such a thorough approach, I can see this being a great resource for younger people just starting to cook on their own, or anyone that has trouble following undetailed or jargon-filled recipes.
Step-by-step recipe instructions in The Photo Cookbook
Whether or not this app is worth the $15 probably depends on whether or not the recipes are any good, which is a pretty big leap of faith for an app with no trial version. I’m on the fence about this one: on one hand, there are hundreds of blogs out there that offer this kind of step-by-step instruction for free, but on the other hand, I know people that are overwhelmed by the options out there, and would benefit from a systematic, organized approach.
Though it’s not specifically a cooking app, Evernote is what I usually use to store my recipes. I use the web clipper for Safari, add some tags, and add the clip to my recipes notebook (it also automatically adds the source URL to the note). I don’t find I need too many organization options, because it’s easy to just keyword search for the recipe I’m looking for.
I often look up recipes when I'm at my parents' place using the Evernote web interface
Though it would be nice to have a full-screen recipe mode, recipe scaling, and a proper recipe importer, Evernote does the basic job of keeping track of your recipes – and keeping them synced across all your devices – for free.
Most of these apps feature similar basic features like web importing, organization, and full-screen modes, and most of them (except MacGourmet) have similar price tags. None of the applications in this category really stood out as exceptional, but I didn’t get to try Paprika or The Photo Cookbook (the Mac App Store has put an end to free trials), both of which look promising to me.
I’d like to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve used Paprika or The Photo Cookbook, or if you’ve gotten SousChef’s voice recognition feature to work effectively. Do you cook much with your computer, and if so, do you keep track of the recipes you find, or do you just Google them again next time?