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Recipe Managers

Recipe Managers

A serious recipe collector may want a dedicated recipe app. Such apps feature layouts and tools designed for making the recipes easy to use on an iPad in the kitchen.


Paprika is designed for the cook who mostly finds recipes online, manages her collection on a Mac, and uses and modifies recipes on a tablet or phone. Apps are available for Mac OS X, Android, the Kindle Fire, and the Nook Color. Paprika for iOS is $4.99. The OS X Paprika Recipe Manager is available from the App Store for $19.99. I've been using Paprika on my iPad without needing to resort to the OS X app. Paprika relies on the cloud for syncing data between various devices and the Paprika website. You'll need to register, but you can do it free via the app.

Use Paprika's built-in web browser and Google Search within the app to find recipes, or browse a site from the list of supported sites. When you discover a recipe you want to save (see Figure 11), tap the Save Recipe button, wait a few seconds for Paprika to import and format the recipe and present a preview, and then tap Create Recipe (see Figure 12). Tag the recipe, if you want, and tap Done when you're finished. You can edit the recipe at any time by tapping Edit at upper right (see Figure 13).

Figure 11 Find a recipe you like; then tap Save Recipe in the lower-right corner.

Figure 12 Check the preview and then tap Create Recipe.

Figure 13 Paprika displays the formatted recipe; edit it as needed.

Paprika has special formatting tools for importing recipes from unsupported sites. This process involves selecting a region of a recipe, such as the ingredients, and tapping a button labeled Ingredients to aid in importing. (This approach is awkward at best.)

Tap the heart icon to mark a favorite recipe. Tap Scale to change the recipe's scale, adjusting the ingredients to increase or decrease yield. Use the Pin icon at lower left to pin two recipes so you can rapidly switch between them.

In the kitchen, tap to check off ingredients as you use them, highlight the current step in the preparation directions, and tap time indications to start timers—or you can add your own timers if the recipe doesn't include them. Tools help you with meal planning, scheduling, and grocery shopping, with easy-to-understand online instructions. You can print recipes, or share recipe name and photo via Facebook or Twitter. Emailing a recipe sends the complete formatted recipe, with a reduced-size photo.


Basil is an iPad-only recipe app for $2.99, meant primarily for curating and importing online recipes, rather than storing your own. The home screen shows recipes sorted by name or category (see Figure 14).

Figure 14 Basil's home screen, showing recipes by name.

To add a recipe, tap the green plus sign (+) and choose Add Recipe to add a recipe by hand, or choose Add Recipe from Web to import a recipe. Add Recipe from Web displays a list of supported sites. Many of the larger cooking sites are supported, along with some of the larger food blogs, though there are some odd omissions.

Select a site and use Basil's built-in web browser to locate a recipe, or use the selected site's own search function. When you find a recipe you want to save, tap Basil's green Save button. Then tap Done, and the recipe appears on Basil's home screen. Tap the picture or name to see the imported, formatted recipe, as shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15 A recipe after importing into Basil.

You can enter a URL for an unsupported site, or search directly for a recipe, but as with Paprika, importing recipes requires using Basil's formatting tools, which involve selecting recipe sections and tapping a button to label and import them. This process can be frustrating.

Basil supports tagging or categorizing based on meal or course and cuisine. Recipes are formatted so tapping a cooking time launches a timer. Tap ingredients as you use them to check them off onscreen. Basil automatically converts units (say, from metric to U.S.) based on your preference settings. The app supports importing and exporting recipes via Dropbox, as well as exporting via the Settings menu. You can share recipes via email, Facebook, or Twitter (an image and the recipe name). When you email a recipe, the entire recipe is sent in plain text, formatted for easy reading, although images aren't included.


Like Basil, Pepperplate is a free iOS app that's designed to be used in the kitchen. Unlike Basil, however, Pepperplate doesn't require online access to use your saved recipes. Pepperplate syncs your recipes, menus, plans, and shopping lists between its website and the Pepperplate apps for Windows 8, iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, and Nook. There's no app for OS X, but the website works with modern browsers. Registration is free at the Pepperplate website or via the app. To import and format recipes from other websites automatically, you log onto the Pepperplate site and paste a URL into a form. When this technique works, it works beautifully—but it doesn't always work.

When you open the Pepperplate app, you're on the Recipes screen, as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16 Pepperplate Recipes screen.

You can also add recipes to Pepperplate via your iPad or iPhone, by filling out a form. The same form is available on the website. It's tedious at best to add recipes this way. A bookmarklet is available to simplify importing web-based recipes from your computer, but it has the same problems as pasting a URL—it often fails. When it works, though, it works well, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17 A recipe in Pepperplate.

Pepperplate has a don't-dim-the-screen mode (tap Cook Now at the top of any recipe) to make it easier to follow a recipe in the kitchen; it also has tools for tagging, annotating, and organizing your recipes; menu and meal planning; grocery shopping (including organizing your list via store aisles); and built-in recipe sharing via email, Facebook, and Twitter. When you email a recipe, the entire recipe, including the original source information and image, is included in body of the email.

Though it syncs across all platforms, Pepperplate also stores all your data locally (and backs up the database of recipes via iTunes), which means that you can use your recipes even when you're offline. Currently no export function is included, but alternatives include backup via iTunes.


While there's a lot to admire in all of these apps, cooks who want to browse for recipes on a computer but use those recipes on their iPhone or iPad may find the free Evernote for iOS app to be all they need. Evernote is available for Mac or Windows as well as for iOS and on the Web, and it syncs across all of these platforms. The free browser plug-in Evernote Webclipper lets you copy and store PDF files and web pages via your computer and web browser to your Evernote account.

You can copy data from the Web via computer using the Webclipper (see Figure 18), or enter it yourself on any supported device.

Figure 18 The Evernote Webclipper.

Once you've added a recipe to Evernote, you can add images, edit, change formatting, share recipes, tag them, and print them. Tap a recipe in the Evernote recipe list (see Figure 19) to view the entire recipe (see Figure 20).

Figure 19 Evernote recipe list.

Figure 20 A recipe in Evernote.

The basic level of Evernote is free, though you need to register on the Evernote website or via the app. The premium membership level of Evernote includes offline access.

Which apps you use is very much a matter of personal preference. Paprika has the largest number of supported sites, and may appeal to Mac OS X users. Pepperplate's offline availability is appealing to people who might not have local Internet access all the time, and Windows users may like its Windows 8 app. Basil's tools for cooks may particularly appeal to those actively using an iPad in the kitchen who want iPhone access as well as iPad access. If you're already using Evernote to take other notes, it may be the logical choice for recipes, too.

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