Monday, April 11, 2011

There’s an App For That – iPad Cooking Recipes

Is the iPad the greatest thing since sliced bread? Some would enthusiastically say, “Yes!” with no hesitation. So can your iPad actually slice bread? Well, not exactly, but it certainly can find a way to teach you how.

So in that spirit, this request came in from Daniel K., and seems like a good opportunity to feature some apps that aren’t so much business related and more for your lifestyle enjoyment.

“Hello Beryn, do you have any suggestions for an app that can take existing recipes to organize on your iPad? Also, an app that offers new recipes would be helpful too. The iPad could be of great help in the kitchen. Thanks.”

I’ll break this question into two categories; organizing existing recipes, and apps for recipes, and then show you a way to put your iPad in the kitchen without it being in the way of your work surface.

As far as organizing your existing recipes goes, if they’re already in your computer, that’s easy. If they’re scribbled on a piece of paper and stuffed into a box or notebook, not so much because first you’ll need to get them into your computer, and I don’t mean by jamming them into the slot meant for disks. You'll have to scan them first, then store those files in your computer.

If they exist as documents in your computer in Word, JPG, or PDF formats, then they can be organized into files by topic, subject, etc. and transferred to your iPad. Here’s how:

If you go to my earlier post, “There’s an App For That – Working From Your iPad,” you’ll recall that I showed you an app called “Docs to Go.”  It’s a wonderful app for organizing files that you create on either your computer’s desktop or on your iPad, and then you can synch them back and forth.

Another way to organize, update, and synch your recipes between your computer and iPad is to keep your information stored in the cloud by using Dropbox or iDisk on your Mobile Me account. I referenced these apps and services in my post “Is Your Head in the Cloud About Data Backup?”  As this relates to saving important files, who says that your grandmother’s cookie recipes aren’t important files too?

By way of full disclosure, I will say that I haven’t tested all of these apps, but do know how to read between the lines of reviewers’ comments.

As expected, the best apps have thousands of recipes, several ways to share them, provide nutritional information, create shopping lists for the recipes, and have web sites that provide membership programs and support.

Listed in no particular order, here are some of the top recipe apps available for the iPad. Click on each name to go to a link for it.

Created by Condé Nast, this award-winning app has over 30,000 recipes, mostly from their Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines. There are several different ways to search for recipes, build shopping lists, and share with friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It even has a Recipe Box so you can retrieve your recipes on-line, but you’ll need an account to do this. It received rave reviews from the people who review cookbooks, but received mixed reviews on iTunes, so read them and decide for yourself if this app will work for you.

This app boasts over 170,000 recipes shared by more than 800,000 members, so this should keep any chef busy for the rest of their life. It too has received numerous awards from both the tech and food industries and the reviews on iTunes are mostly raves, so this is a clue as to how good it really is. They also have a web site that’s free, but you need an account to post and retrieve recipes,

Last year the NY Times wrote a side-by-side comparison of these two apps; Here’s a link to it. Bottom line, they liked Big Oven more than Epicurious.

This app is designed to store and retrieve your own recipes rather than other people’s, so your grandmother’s cookie recipe is safe here. You can copy and paste recipes from emails, and add new ones easily by typing them into the app. While the number of users reviewing it on iTunes is significantly lower than the above two, these reviews are unilaterally positive. It seems to me that using this app with one of the others above would be a good way to have your cake and eat it too (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

This well-reviewed recipe app has more than 2,000 recipes that use name brand products as some of the ingredients. It also has voice control to enable you to manage timers, go to the next recipe, etc., so you don't have to touch your iPad with greasy fingers. It also allows you to edit recipes and print via AirPrint. Here's its review in USA Today.

Of course, Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, and Jamie Oliver are all well represented in the app store. Click on each name to go to their app.

And just in case you want to know approximately how many calories are in the dish you just created, naturally, there's an app for that too.

Take a picture of the dish, add a short description, and "auto-magically" detect the nutritional breakdown of the food shown. This app also keeps a log and allows you to share information on Facebook, Twitter, etc. should you wish to let your friends know how decadent your meals really are.

UPDATE: Since writing this article, one my favorite apps, Evernote, has released a new app for people who enjoy sharing pictures of food and other info about their favorite dishes. Evernote Food lets you do this and save the info to your Evernote account.

Remember the food and meals you love,  snap and organize photos of your food, setting and fellow diners, add a title, your location, tags, captions and additional notes about the experience, 
share meals with family and friends on Twitter and Facebook, or via old fashioned email account. More info about what this app does is available on their site.

Now that you’re ready to use your iPad in the kitchen, where will you put it so you can work from it? Yes, there are lots of stands for the iPad out there, but this means using valuable counter space and potentially spilling something on it. So, of course, inventive people have created several other ways to position your iPad, visible but not in the way: you choose which one works best for you.

The Wallee is a protective case that goes around the iPad and features a socket, which then connects to a small wall plate mounted on the wall. Simply line up the socket with the mount, turn and click. That's it.

This well-designed acrylic rack can be stored out of sight when not in use and clips onto a pre-installed bracket under a cabinet, above the counter, when you’re ready to use your iPad.

This unit lets you mounts the bracket in a variety of ways, swivel the iPad in all directions and lets you push it away when you don’t need it. A strong bracket holds the iPad, and releases it when you want to take it elsewhere. As of this date, I don’t know whether it’s iPad2 compatible as the newer device has different dimensions than the original. I’m sure it will be available eventually.

UPDATE: Jan. 9, 2013
The newest, hottest recipe app on the market for iOS and Android devices is "Whisk." This app lets you build your grocery shopping list from the recipes, and then you can buy those ingredients directly from the within the app. It's getting rave reviews from those in the know. Check it out at your App Store or iTunes.

UPDATE: July 10, 2012
Technology continues to make our lives easier and more efficient. Case in point; now there's an app that allows you to turn the pages of a  recipe on your iPad without actually touching the screen. 
This app, from Gilt Taste, uses the camera in the iPad 2 and newest iPad (not to be called "3"), to detect your arm motion and turns the page for you. This means that you no longer have to wipe gunk off the screen! There are a limited number of recipes in the app so far, but hopefully, more will be added as it gets more popular.

UPDATE: March 28, 2012
The Steelie holds your iPad on a counter
Here's a nifty way to put your iPad on the counter and swivel it to make it easier to read while you're stirring, mixing, and waiting for water to boil. It's the call "Steelie" and is very efficient for an iPad in the kitchen.

I hope I’ve answered your question about using the iPad for recipes, and look forward to tasting one of your delicious creations.

UPDATE: Nov. 30, 2011
Since writing this, lots of new products to help the cook have come onto the market. Here's a useful article about iPad protectors so that you can leave the ingredients in the pot and not on the screen. To read it, click HERE.

This information is intended for guideline purposes only and does not guarantee the results of your cooking endeavors.

Photos courtesy of iTunes, Griffin, Wallee, and

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company, 2011


  1. I have the AllRecipes app and love it!

  2. Hi Beryn. Thanks for helping me with my original question. I thought I would offer a review of the recipe box app which is the app I have been using. At first I found it cumbersome but after some use-Love it. It only imports recipes from the internet. It offers easy import from epicurious (so no need for the epicurious app), Martha Stewart and several others. However, I have a lot of recipes from The Chronicle and other sources not part of the easy import list, so you can custom import them in 3 steps once you enter the URL into the app. This goes for any other website that stores their recipes online. It also creates shopping list to to take to the store which is very handy. I happily have rid myself of all of my clipped recipes that were unorganized. Happy Holidays!

  3. Thanks for your review. I'm sure others will appreciate it too.


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