If you’re emailing recipes to yourself, printing them out, or still keeping index cards, there’s a better way. Grab your Android phone, there are a ton of great recipe apps out there, but we have one we think is the right blend of features for the right price. Paprika is the app for you.
Automatically download recipes with a tap from recipe sites around the web or from your phone’s clipboard
Create your own custom recipes
Built-in browser for searching supported sites for recipes
Browser clipboard view to clip recipes from unsupported web sites
Smart recipe view to prevent you from losing your place
Integrated timers and screen lock so the display won’t turn off while cooking
Recipe pinning when working with multiple meals
Custom categories, and the ability to assign a single recipe to multiple categories
Personalized notes section
Easy recipe scaling
Intelligent grocery list that consolidates ingredients needed for multiple recipes and organizes them by aisle
Search recipes by name, ingredient, or source
Meal planning with week and month options
Easily share recipes with other Paprika users
Cloud syncing between supported devices
Offline access to saved recipes
Bookmarklet support for importing recipes from your desktop computer, and from other desktop recipe managers
Where It Excels
Like its iOS cousin, the best thing about Paprika is that it does everything a recipe clipper should do and then some. Whether you use Paprika’s built-in browser to search for recipes and add them manually, or import recipes from unsupported sites, it’s super easy to add the recipes you find from around the web to your Paprika collection. If you’ve been emailing a bunch of recipes to yourself, you don’t have to do that anymore.
Once you have a decent collection of recipes, organizing them is easy. You can assign them the base categories that Paprika offers, like “appetizers,” “chicken,” “dinner,” and so on, or you can give them your own category names and organize them into folders the way you choose. Those folders act a bit like Gmail’s labels though, so a recipe can exist in more than one at any one time, which is really nice. Similarly, if you find recipes on the desktop that you’d like to save to Paprika, you can add them yourself, or you can use the browser bookmarklet mentioned above to add them without pulling out your Android phone or tablet. It’s essential for building up that collection of recipes without stopping and grabbing another device just to do it.
Paprika’s best feature however are the built-in timers and tools that let you cook and follow along with the app while you actually make your dish. If you need to make a dish—or a meal—for a crowd bigger than the one the recipe writer intended, or you’re feeding two and the recipe is for an army, Paprika can do the math for you and save you the effort of figuring out what can scale in the recipe and what can’t.
Similarly, Paprika lets you plan your meals in advance, for those folks interested in taking the stress out of what’s for dinner on any given night, and the app quickly consolidates everything you need for those meals into a handy grocery list that’s actually consolidated into bags of flour and numbers of eggs, instead of other apps where you’ll have five line items across your grocery list for various quantities or eggs, cup-sized measurements of flour, and so on.
All in all, Paprika is easily one of the most feature-rich cooking apps available for Android. It boasts all of the recipe management features you could possibly need, and it syncs across devices. On that front, it’s near flawless in how easy and organized it is. The cooking timers and calculators are icing on the cake, and useful if you like to cook along with the recipe. Beyond that though, the rest of the app’s features are bonuses.
Where It Falls Short
Sadly, Paprika does fall short of its iOS cousin, something blatantly obvious when you try the two side by side (or check the Google Play reviews, for that matter.) Some basic features that might be essential—and are flagship features in the iOS version—are missing in Android, like the ability to have multiple “pinned” recipes so you can quickly hop between the main course and sides for your fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. Finding recipes once they’re organized again can be tricky too, so if you have thousands and recipes, it’s tough to scroll through all those categories, and then scroll through all the recipes just to find the one you’re looking for. The app’s built-in search is for finding new recipes, not the ones you already have.
Oh, and we should mention that the “pantry” feature much loved in the iOS version is missing from Android too, which means you can use Paprika to organize a grocery list, but it’s not that useful at keeping track of what you already have so you don’t re-buy stuff you have in the cupboard at home already, which is a bummer.
One more thing to note—the app doesn’t really make it easy to export your data, so if that’s important to you, you might want to also email your recipes to yourself, just so you have a backup. Speaking of business stuff, yes, we should mention the price. The Android app is $5, and it runs on phones and tablets. However, if you have an iPad, you’re out another $5, and if you have an iPhone, the app’s not universal over there, so you’re out another $5. The desktop app is $20, which we’d argue isn’t necessary unless you’re planning on typing in and archiving all of your old recipes—and if that’s what you want to do, it might be worthwhile, but keep that backup and export note above in mind.
We should also mention Pepperplate(Free), which is out there and humming, completely for free, on multiple platforms. It’s a solid contender and I’ve been a fan in the past, but it hasn’t been updated or touched for well over a year (its last update was in July 2014.) That wouldn’t normally be a problem, but some users have reported the app doesn’t work at all on their newer devices, or newer version of Android (although I didn’t have an issue, to be fair). It’s feature lighter than even Paprika, but it does include cooking timers, the ability to add your own recipes and import them from multiple sites, and organize them in the app. It’s missing some of those nice features like adding recipes by URL or locking the screen on so it doesn’t go to sleep while you’re doing something. All that aside, if you like your apps free, cross-platform, and with the basic features needed to get the job done, check it out. Your “Deal With It” level may be high enough that it’s all you need.
Food Planner (Free, $4 Pro Version) is probably Paprika’s biggest competition, and seems to be well loved by Google Play reviewers. I found it a little much and over-the-top for what I needed it to do, and the app pushed pretty hard on in-app purchases, downloadable cookbooks and recipes, and other paid ecosystem stuff that just got in the way when I wanted to add recipes and retrieve them later. Still, if you want a cooking app that’s part recipe management, part cooking helper, and part social network with recipes behind it—something that Paprika is definitely lacking—it’s worth trying the free version to see if you like it. You’ll find similar grocery list, tagging, organizing, and manual entry features in Food Planner, and true to its name, it’s also great at helping you plan out your means long in advance, so you know what’s for dinner on any given night and what to get at the store. If you’ve tried Paprika in the past and didn’t like it, or felt it was lacking, or that it was too simple for your tastes, Food Planner is probably the app for you.
If you like your recipe management apps packed with recipes to browse and search as soon as you install it, Yummly (Free) is worth a look. It can clip recipes from major food blogs, but good luck if what you’re looking for is on an unsupported site, or you want to archive your grandma’s old hand-written ones. However, if your goal is to get inspired to make something delicious, or you’re on a special diet and want to filter based on recipes that work for your eating habits, it’s a great app.
BigOven(Free) is also a contender in the inspiration department, but expect to be nickel-and-dimed for everything, including nutrition information (pay per-recipe, too), unless you shell out for the ridiculously unnecessary $20/yr pro account. Considering basic features like offline access to recipes and reliable syncing are absent and the UI is a bit lacking, we’d suggest skipping it unless there’s a specific reason you want to try it.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.