iPad Week: Using Recipe Apps

Q: The iPad seems perfectly suited to at-home cooking. What are the best apps for recipes and how do I use them?

The iPad, in part because of its form factor and in part because the display is so gorgeous, was almost immediately put to work in the service of good food and great cooks. Cooking sites released image-laden apps that allowed users to browse, search, bookmark, and drool over fabulous recipes. The larger food and cookery sites realized right away that cooks want an easy way to generate printable, shareable recipes and shopping lists. They also realized that cooks were going to be following recipes on their iPads in the kitchen while they cooked.


Long before the iPad, there were cookbooks; glossy cooking and food magazines, many with equally glossy Web sites; and large community sites for cooks and lovers of food of all sorts. There still are. With so many resources available, searching for just the right recipe can be confusing. Fortunately, iPad apps are available to save you time and effort. Epicurious.com, the Web home of Epicurious magazine, recently released a version of its iPhone app for the iPad. This free app (available at the App Store) makes it easy to browse or search thousands of recipes provided by Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, professional chefs, popular cookbooks, and famous restaurants. Here's how.

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Using Epicurious to browse recipes:

  • Tap the Epicurious icon on your iPad to launch the app. The Epicurious splash screen appears very briefly, followed by the home screen, with its control panel open. On startup, the control panel displays the Featured category. (The categories change based on season.)
  • Tap one of the categories in the control panel to browse recipes by type. You see a screen that looks very much like a page in a printed cookbook, with navigational tabs along the right side.
  • Tap a recipe to see that recipe in its own screen, with the Ingredients floating window open.
  • Tap the recipe to make the Ingredients window disappear and see information about preparing the dish.

TIP: A display bug in version 2.1.1 of Epicurious may prevent the red Back button from appearing. If you're viewing a single-recipe screen and don't see this button, rotate your iPad to change its orientation. The button will appear.

Searching for recipes in Epicurious:

  • If a category screen isn't already open on your iPad, complete the first two steps of "Using Epicurious to browse recipes."
  • Tap the gray Control Panel button in the top-left corner of the screen. You return to the home screen, where you find the control panel open.
  • Tap the Search button at the top of the control panel to perform more advanced searches. This feature lets you search for a specific type of food or drink, the main ingredient in a recipe, or a cuisine; it also lets you search by dietary restriction or special occasion.

NOTE: You can also search via the Search field in the top-right corner of each recipe screen, but that field limits you to a keyword search.

Favoriting Epicurious recipes:

  • Tap the Epicurious icon to open the app, if it isn't already open.
  • Locate a recipe that you want to be able to find later. When you're looking at that recipe's page, you'll find a white star to the right of the recipe title.
  • Tap the star to favorite the recipe. The srar turns blue to show that the recipe has been added to your favorites list.

TIP: If you want to remove a recipe from your favorites list, tap its blue star. The recipe is deleted from the list, and its star reverts to white.

Displaying your Epicurious favorites:

  • Launch Epicurious, if it isn't already open.
  • If the control panel doesn't appear on the home page, tap the gray Control Panel button in the top-left corner.
  • Tap the Favorites button at the top of the control panel. The My Favorites screen opens. Each recipe in the My Favorites list has three icons to the right of its title. These icons all work the same way wherever they occur in Epicurious.

Viewing and emailing a recipe's shopping list in Epicurious:

  • Display your My Favorites screen.
  • Tap the Shopping List icon to the right of a recipe's name to generate a shopping list for that recipe. If you tap the Shopping List icon for other recipes in your list of My Favorites, those shopping lists are combined with the first.
  • Display the shopping list by tapping the Control Panel button in the top-left corner to open the Control Panel screen and then tapping My Shopping List at the bottom of that screen. You see a nicely laid out My Combined Shopping List screen.
  • To email yourself a copy of a recipe, tap the red Back button in the top-left corner of the My Combined Shopping List screen to return to your My Favorites screen; then tap the email icon to the right of the recipe you want to send. Epicurious creates a blank email ready for you to add addresses, with the Subject line listing the recipe's title and the body of the email containing the recipe.
  • Add an email address and a brief message at the top of the email body, before the recipe.
  • Tap the send button.


Thousands of recipes are available via Epicurious, and more are added all the time. Navigating this sea of recipes can be tricky, so here are a few hints:

  • Tap a tab on the right side of a category screen to see the relevant view: Photo (recipes with mages), Rating (recipe ratings by other cooks), A-Z (recipes in the category listed alphabetically), or Newest (most recently added recipes in the category).
  • The colored navigation tabs at the bottom of every recipe screen provide more information. Reviews displays comments by other cooks who have tried the recipe; About describes the source of the recipe; and Nutrition Info lists the calories, grams of fat, and grams of fiber in a serving. Some recipes offer other tabs that provide additional information.
  • Each recipe screen has an orange bookmark. You can slide this bookmark up or down to mark your spot in the recipe, which makes it easy to keep track while you work in the kitchen.


BigOven began as a website for people who love to cook but who face the never-ending question "What do I make for dinner tonight?" on a regular basis. The BigOven website and apps are designed to help people plan meals and exchange recipes.

Two apps are available for the iPad: BigOven Pro ($9.99) and BigOven Lite (free). The paid app allows you to create grocery shopping lists that sync across devices, email grocery lists, and look up terms in a glossary. It's also ad-free.

Searching for recipes in BigOven:

  • Tap the BigOven Lite icon to launch the app. You see the splash screen, which is different each time you launch the app, though the toolbar is always visible.
  • Tap the BigOven button in the top-left corner. You see the BigOven navigation form, which displays categories you can search.
  • Tap Find a Recipe. A search form opens. You can perform a variety of searches, including restricting your search to the title of a recipe or keywords. The basic function of all the search types are the same, however, so we'll go through one search step by step and leave the others for you to explore on your own.
  • Tap the Leftovers button at the top of the search form.
  • Enter up to three "leftover" ingredients to search for recipes that use those ingredients.
  • Tap the large red Search BigOven button to see a list of recipes that match the ingredients you chose.
  • Tap a recipe in the list of search results. The app displays the recipe in easy-to-read form.
  • If you want to return to the search results from a recipe screen, tap the BigOven button in the top-left corner. When you've found a recipe you like, it's useful to mark it as a favorite so that you can find it again easily, as we show you in the following tasks.

TIP: Click the Prepare button in the toolbar to view the recipe without ads or extraneous data so you can follow the instructions easily when you're preparing the dish.

Marking favorite recipes in BigOven:

  • Tap BigOven Lite's icon to open the app, if it isn't already open.
  • Find a recipe you like.
  • Tap the Export button at the far-right end of the toolbar.
  • Tap Add to Favorites. BigOven Lite adds the recipe to your favorites list

Viewing favorite recipes in BigOven:

  • Tap the BigOven button in the top-right corner of the screen. You see the navigation form.
  • In the My Kitchen section, tap Favorite Recipes to see your favorites. After you find and favorite recipes, you can email them to yourself or to a friend.

Emailing a recipe from BigOven:

  • Launch BigOven Lite, if it isn't already running.
  • Find a recipe by searching for it, or tap a recipe in your favorites list.
  • Tap the Export button at the far-right end of the toolbar. You see the export options.
  • Tap Email it. A formatted email message opens, with your default email address displayed in the From field.
  • Enter the recipient's address, add a short message, and tap Send to send the email. Now that you know how to find, favorite, and email recipes, the next step is creating a personal recipe collection on your iPad that you can add to at will.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Excerpted from THE IPAD PROJECT BOOK by Michael E. Cohen, Dennis Cohen and Lisa L. Spangenberg. Copyright 2011. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.