The internet is a giant, free recipe book. So giant that it can be overwhelming. A few new apps and sites are solving this problem of plenty with smart ideas that reinvent how you cook or look for recipes.
Even Google has realized how complicated things get when you try to find a recipe, so it has made Google search easier for recipes. It’s also why Buzzfeed’s Tasty section has grown so popular with those quick recipe videos. The order of the day is simplifying recipes, finding the right one quickly, and saving what you like for later.
Every recipe writer has their own take on how to make even the simplest thing, be it French Toast or a cup of lemonade. Average Cookbook finds the consensus of multiple recipes, to form a new recipe that everyone agrees on.
It might seem like a weird idea, but it works. Each recipe includes variations too. For example, mashed potato can be made without salt, or without milk, or by adding sour cream, or by adding garlic, and so on. Average Cookbook takes 1,034 total recipes for mashed potatoes to turn them into seven basic variations depending on the ingredients. And for each variant, it has different directions to make it.
Rather than checking a recipe on All Recipes and then comparing it to the same item on Food Network, It’s easier to search on Average Cookbook and find these aggregations that clearly state what is different in each variation. It puts the focus on cooking, not on searching the many recipe sites.
Plant Jammer (Android, iOS): AI-Generated Recipes for Vegetarians
Plant Jammer is another app that helps you find recipes based on ingredients. What’s different is that Plant Jammer actually guides you in building a healthy, well-rounded meal.
Here’s how it works. The app first asks what you’re craving to eat: pasta, pizza, stir fry, dips, risotto, stew, and so on. Depending on what you pick, it will help you “build” a dish. For example, if you pick a warm salad, it will guide you to pick four types of ingredients: a base (like couscous), a splash (like olive oil), a boost (like spring onion), and a topping (like cheese or nuts).
Each choice can be based on what you have in your pantry already, or a new item that you shop for. And once you choose the first ingredient (like mushrooms), the AI will change its recommendations for the next type (like turning olive oil into vegetable stock).
At the end of choosing ingredients, Plant Jammer spins your choices into a simple step-by-step recipe. Start cooking!
Get Noodles (Web): Simplified Way to View and Collect Recipes
Run a Google search for anything and one of three recipe sites will dominate the results: The New York Times’ Cooking, Epicurious, or All Recipes. Each has its own format for how it displays and talks about recipes, ingredients, and so on. Get Noodles strips this formatting for a minimalistic view, and ingredients listed by your preferred units of measurement.
You’ll need to sign in to use Get Noodles. Go to the Explore section and search for a recipe. Find what you like and add it to your Recipes section. It’s a simple, standardized text format, stripped of all the photos and videos that these sites usually throw in your face. Of course, you can follow the link to the original site to see those photos or videos if you want.
Get Noodles also works with several other popular recipe websites, but those aren’t included in the search. For example, if Alton Brown has your favorite recipe for a Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the Food Network, you’ll need to manually import that link to your Recipes section.
Think of Get Noodles as your personalized Pinterest on steroids, made purely for discovering and cooking your favorite recipes.
Cinc (Web): Mix and Match Recipes to Create Your Own
Cinc calls itself the Github for cooking. Geeks, you’re going to love this one. The site is a giant database of recipes from various sites. It also supports several blogs, so you can import a recipe from your favorite food writer.
There are several things that set Cinc apart from a regular cooking site. It can automatically convert ingredients between metric, US, or cup-based calculations, and even scale them up or down so you can serve more or fewer people. Unlike Get Noodles, Cinc also imports photos from the recipe site, giving you that visual guidance you sometimes need.
But what’s the Github connection? Well, Cinc lets you “fork” recipes, which means you can take an existing user’s recipe, and “fork” it to create a variation of your own with some different ingredients or techniques.
These forks are also a wonderful way to discover new dishes. You might come across a variation of one of your favorite food items, and you can see where else this dish was used. For example, checking a recipe for the chicken stock might lead to new items among soups, broths, and stews.
Chowii (Web): Aggregator of Short Video Recipes on Facebook
By now, you’ve definitely seen some of those super-quick recipe videos on social media. Usually shared on Facebook, these videos simplify recipes and make cooking look easier than ever with their stop-motion style. More often than not, this simplicity can inspire you to actually cook the dish than looking at a daunting, long recipe.
Several sites make these videos, like Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Feedy, Spoon University, and others. Chowii collects all of them in one place, giving you an easy way to search through such video recipes and get inspired to cook. There’s even a bit of categorization, like breakfast, desserts, drinks, salads, etc., as well as a few collections of cuisines.
Remember, you won’t get ingredient listings or any textual guidance here. It’s a short and quick recipe, made to inspire and browse. If you have lesser time than you think, then try these sites for quick meal ideas too.
Beginner Cooks, Start Here
The above sites assume you aren’t a complete beginner in the world of cooking. You’ll need to know the basics to be able to use any of the above apps effectively. In case that’s not you, you should start with our essential sites for newbies in the kitchen.