The Best Recipe App

Impress yourself (and your guests) with what you put on the table next.

The best recipe apps promise to elevate your kitchen skills and streamline grocery shopping. Though we don’t think downloading an app will transform anyone into a master chef instantaneously, most of the apps we tried did give us the guidance we needed to shop, plan, prepare, and cook a little bit more like a pro. (And all the great photos and recipes inspired us to try out a few new dishes along the way.) After downloading and testing the top six recipe apps, Allrecipes Dinner Spinner was our favorite — its recipe list is massive and spans numerous types of cuisines. More experienced cooks who need a way to organize their recipe library should also check out Paprika Recipe Manager.

In order to find the best recipe app, we spent 45 hours researching the industry. We read dozens of articles and hundreds of user reviews, and we aggregated and compared user app ratings across several platforms. We asked multiple industry experts which features were essential, and most importantly, we spent hours downloading and testing each of the top contenders. And, of course, we hit the kitchen.

There are thousands of recipe apps. Some do it all, while others have a single mission, like organizing recipes from across the web or guiding cooks through a particular technique. Some are backed by famous chefs or popular TV shows, while others crowdsource from their massive community of home cooks. Ultimately, we chose to focus on the apps that go well beyond old-fashioned cookbooks, and provide tools and resources to make the entire process seamless.

The 4 Best Recipe Apps


Allrecipes Dinner Spinner


Food Network - In The Kitchen


Yummly


Paprika Recipe Manager

Our Favorite Feature

Active community
Recipes from the best chefs
Discovery engine
Simple one-click recipe import

Price

Free; in-app purchases ($1+)
Free
Free
$5 (mobile); $20 (desktop)

Shopping List

Online
Offline
Online
Offline

Tutorial Videos

x
x

Won’t Time Out During Cooking

x

iTunes User Rating

3.5
4.5
4.5
4.5

Google Play User Rating

4.4
4.4
4.5
4.3

How We Chose the Best Recipe App

In our search for the best recipe app, we read through dozens of online reviews, pored over tech articles, and analyzed customer ratings in the top two app stores (Apple App Store and Google Play) to compile a list of the most popular apps.

To narrow down our list, we turned to the experts. We asked Kevin Dillane, a software development engineer at Amazon, and Sean Ellis, executive chef of The Westin Seattle, for their opinions on the essential tech features and culinary components for a recipe app. Dillane stressed that the best apps should be available on both iOS and Android and should get bonus points if they’re available on Windows and BlackBerry systems, too. Ellis, who’s been an executive chef for the last decade, said that home cooks will benefit most from apps that help you make the most of your ingredients. He really liked apps that could make recipes based on regional and seasonal ingredients, or the one’s you’ve already got on hand.

Finally, we downloaded the apps and spent hours with each to test the features, user friendliness, and the actual experience of following a recipe. We tested each app on an iPhone, iPad, and an Android smartphone to see if there were any differences. An entire weekend was dedicated to tapping (and cooking) our way through each app. We created an account for each, browsed the recipes, and saved our favorites.

Every app we tested had a grocery-list feature that made us question why we were still writing grocery lists on scraps of paper. Once we found a recipe we really wanted to try, we used the app on our phones in the grocery store to pick up our ingredients. The apps that had account sync were our favorites — it was very convenient to go shopping with the phone and then switch to an iPad to get cooking once we were back home. Our favorite apps had a bevy of great features, high customer ratings, and worked well on all our devices.

Our Picks for the Best Recipe Apps

Best Overall

Free via App Stores

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner is a well-rounded app that has a database of 50,000 recipes and an astonishing 30 million users from its parent site, Allrecipes.com. You can browse the entire database on the app, and detailed search filters can help you sort the results based on specific dietary needs, time constraints, and ingredients you want (or don’t want) included. The app’s ability to find recipes based on ingredients we already had was also helpful. One downside: The app doesn’t filter by cuisine or meal type like you can on the website.

The handy “My Recipe Box” function collects recipes from the database, and you can add your own on the app or the website, since they’re synced. We found it easier to type our recipes in from a laptop than on a mobile device — and they were immediately synced with the app.

The recipes all have calorie and nutritional information and you can scale the serving size up or down. They aren’t sorted by skill or difficulty, but they do all have user ratings and reviews. We definitely recommend reading the reviews for tips, tricks, and handy ingredient subs from people who’ve already made the recipe. The app, like a few other options, lets you check off each step in a recipe as you complete it. This is a useful feature that helps you keep track of exactly where you’re at in the recipe.

We thought the “Dinner Spinner” feature was pretty fun, too. On a newer iPhone, it works a bit like a slot machine — with “reels” displaying different dish types, ingredients, and preparation times. When you shake the phone, the categories start spinning and the app displays recipes that match the results. Unfortunately, when we tested it on other, older phone models, we couldn’t replicate the fun.

Dinner Spinner phone & tablet screenshots

In-app purchases ($1–$3) give you access to even more recipe bundles, such as “Top Five Slow Cooker Recipes.” When we made a $3 in-app purchase from an iPhone, however, the recipes didn’t unlock immediately. According to customer service, an Apple server glitch was to blame.

Who is it best for?

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner is best for home cooks looking for recipe ideas and feedback from a community of cooks just like them. We consider ourselves to be average cooks for the most part, and we found that the recipes offered were easy to follow.

Who should skip it?

Allrecipes includes recipes from fellow users, so if you only want recipes from professional chefs, this isn’t the app for you. For cooks with a lot of their own recipes or a collection of favorites, an organizing app, like Paprika Recipe Manager, might be the way to go.

Pros

  • Huge recipe database from the website’s passionate community of 30+ million amateur chefs
  • Powerful search filters for dietary sensitivities or leftovers in the pantry
  • Detailed instructions with video

Cons

  • Not meant for organizing a collection of existing recipes
  • Focuses on crowdsourced recipes instead of celebrity chefs and renowned cookbooks
  • Difficulty levels not listed

Allrecipes has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars from over 97,000 customers in the App Store, and a solid 4.4 out of 5 stars from 36,000-plus users in Google Play. It’s also available on Amazon and Windows devices.

Best Recipe Organizer

$5-$20 via App Stores

When you open Paprika for the first time, you might be surprised that there are no recipes in the app. The good news is that when you’re ready to try out a new dish, adding recipes and photos from more than 200 of the most popular cooking websites is literally as easy as tapping the “Create Recipe” button.

The one-click import is a breeze and it’s what earned the app our recommendation, but we were not able to successfully import recipes from videos or slideshows. This could be frustrating (and a deal breaker) if your favorite recipe sites are dominated by video or other types of media.

As with Allrecipes, we found it easiest to get existing recipes into Paprika using a laptop. But after adding several recipes, the subcategories and multiple search options made it easy to find the one we wanted and start creating.

If your latest experiment isn’t quite to your liking, you can add personalized notes to make sure you get it right next time. Several of the recipes we tried weren’t designed for our three-person testing-team, but the scaling feature made it easy to modify the recipe. While you’re cooking, Paprika makes it easy to keep your place in the recipe — you can cross off each step as you go.

Like other top recipe apps, Paprika syncs across multiple devices. This useful feature lets you take advantage of a larger tablet screen when you’re actually in the kitchen cooking, and then switch to your smartphone when you run out of supplies and need to hit the grocery store. Items on your grocery list are automatically sorted by aisle, which is a nice bonus feature that can help you save time.

In terms of accessibility, Paprika should have you covered as native apps are available on iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, Kindle Fire, and Nook Color. The one drawback is you’ll need to purchase the Paprika app for each device you plan to use. Paprika ranges from $5–$20 depending on the platform, which can add up.

Pros

  • Intuitive features prioritize recipe scraping, clipping, importing and organizing
  • App is equally useful while finding recipes, cooking, and shopping
  • Cross-device syncing and usability

Cons

  • Database of recipes starts at zero
  • Function over form, not the prettiest app
  • App had a hard time importing recipes from sites with videos or slideshows

Paprika Recipe Manager has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 630 customers in the App Store, and a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars from 770 users in Google Play. It’s also available on Amazon and Windows devices.

The Runners-Up for Best Recipe App

These apps came close to being the best, and might be worth downloading depending on your feature preferences. They have similar features to Allrecipes Dinner Spinner and Paprika, but didn’t claim the top spot.

Free via App Stores

BigOven was a close contender — it’s got nearly identical features to Allrecipes, a database of over 350,000 recipes, and wide availability on Android, iOS, Amazon, Nook, and Windows — but, to us it wasn’t worth the price. The basic app is free, but key features such as nutrition information and a paper-recipe scanner aren’t. BigOven charges $20 for a yearly membership to unlock these features, while other apps offer similar features for free.

Pros

  • Scanning and transcription services for written recipes (or even photos of them!)
  • Powerful search filters for dietary sensitivities or leftovers in the pantry
  • Meal plan with calendar

Cons

  • Free account isn’t as robust as other finalists
  • No video instruction
  • User interface and basic usability not as intuitive

Free via App Stores

This free app sources its recipes from famous Food Network chefs and it’s available on Android, iOS, and Amazon platforms. Unfortunately, you can’t add your own recipes or recipes from other websites within the app.

Pros

  • Highly curated recipe database from network’s roster of celebrity chefs
  • Video tutorials and difficulty levels available for every recipe
  • Unit converter and timer tools

Cons

  • Not meant to save recipes from across the web
  • Search filters aren’t as robust as others in our list

Free via App Stores

The Yummly app stands out for its personalized recommendations based on seasonal ingredients and popular recipes in your area and your likes and dislikes. The iOS version even includes a delivery feature powered by Instacart, which means you can order the ingredients to your door within an hour in 15 major cities.

Pros

  • Instacart integration offers grocery delivery in major cities
  • Discovery engine for local ingredients and recipe recommendations
  • Curated recipe database from popular and niche foodie blogs

Cons

  • Not meant to save recipes from across the web
  • Android version doesn’t support Instacart integration
  • Curated recipes don’t have consistent formatting

$5 via App Stores

The Basil app is cleanly designed and easy to use, with an interface that highlights directions and lets you check off ingredients. It also includes a cool timer that pops up in recipes. It’s more of a recipe organizer like Paprika Recipe Manager, giving you a blank slate to add your own recipes and those from other websites but it’s not our top pick because it costs $5.

Pros

  • Intuitive features prioritize recipe scraping, clipping, importing and organizing
  • Flexible and detailed tagging functionality
  • Made for cooking with unit conversion, checklists, and more

Cons

  • Database of recipes start at zero
  • Only iOS apps available
  • No free option

What You Need to Know About Recipe Apps

The best recipe apps aren’t always at the top of the charts.

We found that just because an app is ranked at the top, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. Apple’s App Store files recipe apps under “Food & Drink,” a category the Google Play store lacks, so we were thrown off when we looked for Android apps. Some recipe apps in the Play store are listed under either “Lifestyle” or “Health & Fitness.” The easiest way to find any type of recipe app for Android is to skip the categories and just type in “recipe” in the search engine.

The app store reviews will let you know if the latest version is a downgrade.

When you visit an app store download page, peruse the most recent customer reviews. Users aren’t shy about letting developers know if a new version is superb, a step backward, or if there’s a bug they need to fix.

There are two types of apps: those that help you keep your recipes in one place and those that help you out when you’re in the kitchen.

If you’re just interested in collecting recipes, look for an app that will sync across your devices and imports recipes without any hassle. If you’re looking to get inspired and learn something once you’re in the kitchen, you’ll find that the apps with video tutorials, pop-up timers, and meal-planning tools will be more helpful.

Take Action

  • Think about what you need. Do you want an app that’ll help you collect all your favorite recipes from around the web and turn your Pinterest board into a culinary reality? Or, do you want an app that’ll walk you through basic cooking techniques and guide you with some really helpful videos? There are a lot of different options out there, so before you start downloading, think about what you’re looking to get from your app.
  • Download and experiment in the kitchen. The great thing about most of the top recipe apps is that you can download them for free. Experimenting with two or three apps is the quickest way to get a sense of what you like in an app. Make sure to try them out in the kitchen, too — it’s amazing how much the experience changes when you’ve got a ball of bread dough in your hands.