5 Delicious Apps for The Foodie in You

My computer is a constant companion in the kitchen, it can be a bit risky, but I just love having limitless recipe options at my fingertips. Unfortunately, when I find some great recipes sometimes, they often end up jumbled among hundreds of bookmarks, where I’ll probably never see them again.

A number of Mac app developers have capitalized on the kitchen-computer connection, and developed various solutions for storing and organizing recipes on the Mac. Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders and what they have to offer!

YummySoup

YummySoup provides a slick interface for importing and organizing recipes clipped from websites. It features a built-in browser with one-click importing from 11 popular recipe sites (including my favourite, AllRecipes). Importing from other websites is also simple, you simply highlight sections of the recipe, then click on the part of the recipe card you want it to be assigned to (e.g. ingredients, directions).

Once you’ve imported a recipe, you can display it full screen on your computer using a choice of pre-defined html templates (or create your own). YummySoup also has a groceries feature, coverflow-style browsing, smart folders, full screen view,  and cloud publishing (currenlty through MobileMe).

YummySoup interface with meal planner

YummySoup interface with meal planner

I found the one-click importing quite easy to use, and I appreciate the ability to customize the appearance. YummySoup covers all the basic functions you’d want in a recipe manager, but I think the price is a bit steep for what it does.

Price: $19.99

SousChef

SousChef places the emphasis on the actual cooking process, and tries to make cooking with your computer as easy and mess-free as possible. SousChef features a full screen mode designed to be read at distances of up to 10 feet, has a text-to-speech option, and is controllable via remote or voice.

It’s a great concept for a food application, becuase though organization and collection of recipes can be useful, realistically, you’re going to be spending more time actually cooking. The full screen display is pretty legible even at a distance, even on my 13” MacBook Pro. I love the remote control option, I’d definitely prefer to get the remote sticky than my keyboard. Though the voice recognition is a really cool idea, I couldn’t get it to work reliably. I’m not sure if this is an inconsistency on the part of the developer, or with Apple speech recognition.

My very professional squash soup recipe. It's pretty excellent.

My very professional squash soup recipe. It's pretty excellent.

The recipe organization and importing features are pretty basic, and it lacks a web importer. $30 is a bit pricey, but might be worth it if you can get the speech recognition to work. There’s a free trial, so you can see if you can make it work for you.

Price: $19.99

Paprika Recipe Manger

Paprika is a newer recipe management app featuring cloud syncing between Mac, iPad, and iPhone versions. It has a web importer similar to YummySoup, and features a polished (though derivative) interface that allows you to easily manage and organize recipes.

Paprika also boasts a meal planner and grocery list functionality, which when combined with the iPhone app, could be really helpful for grocery shopping.

Paprika main recipe listing. May seem familiar to Twitter App users.

Paprika main recipe listing. May seem familiar to Twitter App users.

Unfortunately, Paprika doesn’t have a full screen mode, and even the iPad version isn’t terribly kitchen-friendly. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on the iPhone and iPad apps, hopefully Paprika will jump on the Lion bandwagon and go full screen with a future update.

Price: $19.99

MacGourmet

I reviewed MacGourmet for AppStorm a couple months ago, and though it wasn’t a glowing review, MacGourmet might be the best option for people who are interested in cataloging and organizing a large number of recipes in flexible ways. MacGourmet features the same importing, full-screen, and shopping list features as the other apps, but includes more organization options, and has a more streamlined recipe creator/editor.

Browsing recipes in MacGourmet

I found MacGourmet to be overcomplicated for my uses, with a pretty high price ($24.99 for the basic version, $49.99 for the “deluxe” version). Though it may have more features than the average cook requires, it is more geared towards users that are serious about creating a digital recipe database.

Price: $24.99 ($49.99 for Deluxe version)

Appstorm Review of MacGourmet

The Photo Cookbook

The first three apps on this list help you manage and use recipes, but the Photo Cookbook aims to actually teach you to cook. The app comes with 84 recipes, each with detailed, step-by-step illustrated instructions. Though seasoned cooks probably don’t need such a thorough approach, I can see this being a great resource for younger people just starting to cook on their own, or anyone that has trouble following undetailed or jargon-filled recipes.

Step-by-step recipe instructions in The Photo Cookbook

Step-by-step recipe instructions in The Photo Cookbook

Whether or not this app is worth the $15 probably depends on whether or not the recipes are any good, which is a pretty big leap of faith for an app with no trial version. I’m on the fence about this one: on one hand, there are hundreds of blogs out there that offer this kind of step-by-step instruction for free, but on the other hand, I know people that are overwhelmed by the options out there, and would benefit from a systematic, organized approach.

Price: $15.99

Bonus: Evernote

Though it’s not specifically a cooking app, Evernote is what I usually use to store my recipes. I use the web clipper for Safari, add some tags, and add the clip to my recipes notebook (it also automatically adds the source URL to the note). I don’t find I need too many organization options, because it’s easy to just keyword search for the recipe I’m looking for.

I often look up recipes when I'm at my parents' place using the Evernote web interface

I often look up recipes when I'm at my parents' place using the Evernote web interface

Though it would be nice to have a full-screen recipe mode, recipe scaling, and a proper recipe importer, Evernote does the basic job of keeping track of your recipes – and keeping them synced across all your devices – for free.

Price: Free

Conclusion

Most of these apps feature similar basic features like web importing, organization, and full-screen modes, and most of them (except MacGourmet) have similar price tags. None of the applications in this category really stood out as exceptional, but I didn’t get to try Paprika or The Photo Cookbook (the Mac App Store has put an end to free trials), both of which look promising to me.

I’d like to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve used Paprika or The Photo Cookbook, or if you’ve gotten SousChef’s voice recognition feature to work effectively. Do you cook much with your computer, and if so, do you keep track of the recipes you find, or do you just Google them again next time?


  • http://drezha.me.uk Drezha

    I think you’ve overlooked MoApps excellent myRecipes option. It’s simple, easy to use and straightforward and has a cheaper price point than all of the above apps. The only thing lacking is iPad/iPhone/iPod syncing to allow you to use it to cook when in the kitchen ( I cant really take my Mac mini into the kitchen!)

    • http://tessathornton.com Tessa Thornton

      Yeah I looked into that, but saw a lot of really, really angry reviews on the app store and thought I’d skip it.

      • http://drezha.me.uk Drezha

        Wow, ok. It’s a 4 star rated app on the European app store with one bad review with someone who thought it contained recipes.

        They also have a free trial of it on the website that is slightly different to the App store version.

      • Tessa Thornton

        There weren’t a lot of reviews on the canadian app store, and one particularly angry report about negative responses from the developer. It has a lot of the same features as the other apps, but didn’t seem particularly developed. I do agree that the price point is appealing, but my response to trying it out was pretty ‘meh’

  • T.W.

    I bought YummySoup 2 years ago and I love it. This app has a lot of useful features.

    • Steve

      I’ve used Yummy Soup for a few years and I like it. However, it does tend to freeze up and crash frequently, especially when I switch out of Yummy Soup to another app and then back again. Annoying.

  • http://twitter.com/@scottld3 Scott Danielson

    Great roundup. I got SousChef from the MacHeist 3 bundle and I’ve been using it every since. Love it.

  • Neal O

    I am a big Paprika fan (Mac and iOS). It’s the over the air sync that’s a killer feature.

    I started with the iPad version which is great on its own. Then added Mac as soon as I did the Lion upgrade.

    Very good tools for capturing internet recipes and easy to keep everything in order. Really top class apps.

    • Tessa Thornton

      I thought it looked pretty cool myself, I do miss being able to try before I buy though. Though it’s lacking some features (like a large-font fullscreen mode) I’m guessing they’ll update if they’re smart.

  • Adam

    Re: Evernote, have you tried Springpad? It is another ubiquitous information management app much like Evernote, but it has some compelling automatic organization and clipping features that Evernote can’t match, such as automatic recipe detection and formatting. Say for example you see a great recipe on epicurious.com–simply fire up the web clipper (available as an extension for Chrome and FF, or a bookmarklet for Safari/others), and it will automatically detect that there is a recipe on the page, and format the clipping as such–with ingredients, directions, the page url, etc. in their proper place. And you can add tags and perform keyword searches just like Evernote.
    In fairness, I’ll say that it does have two shortcomings–you can’t save pdf’s to your Springpad, and it has no desktop app. The former doesn’t bother me, since I use dropbox and Google docs for my ubiquitous document access requirements, and the latter is a non-issue if you use Chrome, as the Chrome extension is actually a Chrome app that allows you to work with your Springpad offline, which essentially turns the Chrome browser itself into your desktop app for Springpad.
    I highly recommend that you at least give Springpad a shot for 2 weeks. In addition to web clippers for all browsers, there are dedicated apps for iOS and Android, and the apps are quite nice.
    I used to be an avid Evernote disciple, but switched to Springpad a long time ago.

    • marc

      I’ll second the recommendation for Springpad. I prefer their recipe format and it handles notes, tasks, and web clippings just as handily.

      I’ve reinstalled Evernote several times to try new versions but keep coming back to Springpad in the end.

    • Tessa Thornton

      I have tried Springpad for a while, and I liked it quite a bit, but found it just didn’t fit my workflow. I do clip a lot of pdfs into Evernote, and like having a desktop app. Besides, this is the Mac App site :)

  • Michael

    Personally, and after trying and using a lot of different apps – I’m now a convert to Pepperplate. I don’t need bells and whistles like being able to add pictures, or rate a recipe – if I’m bothering to save it, it’s because I like it, and why would I keep a two star receipe? – and both the iOS apps and the web app are classy and quick to use.

  • http://8stars.org/ Adam Rice

    I also got Sous Chef in a bundle. I encountered serious bugs with it, and as far as I can tell, the product has been abandoned.

  • Amanda

    I’m a YummySoup! fan. It’s simple, easy to use, and very attractive. I just wish it was updated to use iCloud instead of Mobile Me for recipecast.

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