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Online Community Recipe Apps

Online Community Recipe Apps

Several large community cooking sites offer free apps. Their basic feature sets include searching for recipes based on ingredients or specific dishes, printing and sharing recipes, making your favorites, and generating shopping lists based on recipe ingredients.


The Epicurious website incorporates thousands of recipes from magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appétit, as well as from published cookbooks, professional chefs, and members. The Epicurious iOS app is free.

The Epicurious app's home screen has a constantly updated view of recipes by category (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 The Epicurious home screen.

Tap the menu icon at upper right to see a navigation menu, offering Home, Search, Recipe Box, and Shopping List options (see Figure 5). The Recipe Box feature lists the recipes you've saved on the Epicurious website.

The search feature gives you a great deal of control. You can search by ingredient, meal or course, dish, special diet, or even holidays (see Figure 6).

Figure 5 The Epicurious navigation menu.

Figure 6 The Epicurious app lets you search in multiple ways to find recipes.

Once you discover an interesting recipe, tap it to see the ingredients and other details, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7 The standard recipe view is easy to read.

Using the Cook View option at upper right enlarges the type and removes images, adding quick navigation tabs so you can move easily between the ingredients and preparation sections. The Shopping List feature automatically adds ingredients from the current recipe to your shopping list, with checkboxes.


Whereas Epicurious offers recipes that are mostly from printed sources, BigOven is a collection of recipes contributed by members of the BigOven website. A basic BigOven membership, like the BigOven iOS app, is free.

The BigOven screen displays a rotating selection of images linked to recipes (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 The home screen displays recent recipes.

Swipe right or tap the BigOven pop-up menu at upper left to see the navigation menu. You can search for key words in recipe titles by using the search field at the top (see Figure 9). The Search feature that's in the menu (and linked to the magnifying glass icon) is more sophisticated.

Figure 9 BigOven search tools.

You can search for a particular ingredient or dish, including searching for recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand. Alternatively, you can simply browse recipes via the opening screen. Once you've located an interesting recipe, tap it to see the details (see Figure 10).

Figure 10 The BigOven recipe view.

Tapping the heart icon adds a recipe to your favorites.

For $20 a year (via in-app purchase), you can access BigOven's Pro level. This version of the app eliminates ads, offers a "smart grocery list" feature for recipes in the app, includes unlimited personal recipe storage, provides the ability to make recipes you add private, and allows you to add recipes from other sites by copying-and-pasting a URL. But what really makes the Pro level worthwhile is the OCR function: Using your iPad or iPhone camera, you can upload a readable photo of a recipe that's handwritten, typed, or clipped from a newspaper, and BigOven will use its built-in optical character recognition (OCR) capability to convert the recipe—with humans assisting in interpreting the imaged text, and with very accurate results. BigOven emails you when your image is received and when the OCR version is finished; this second email includes a link to your photo. Officially, the OCR/edit process takes about two to five days, though I usually have results in a few hours. You can edit the recipe, add pictures, and choose to share the recipe or keep it private.

The first 25 scans are free, with additional scans costing $1 each. This is a great way to back up precious handwritten family recipes and share them!

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