Good news, foodies! When it comes to recipe apps, there are a ton of good options. In fact, all of the 14 recipe apps we tested are noteworthy for one reason or another. The best recipe apps have a few things in common: a sleek interface that is easy to browse, gorgeous food photography, and a good selection of recipes. We also looked for extra features like intuitive shopping lists, helpful cooking videos, and nutrition facts. Here are our top picks.
Not only is Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals ($7.99) the best recipe app, it's also one of the best apps I've ever tested period. It includes detailed, step-by-step pictures for each recipe, so it is the perfect app for those who aren't confident in the kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and there's a tab at the top that switches the ingredient amounts from two to four people. The biggest downside? The 20 Minute Meals app only has 60 recipes, so it doesn't have the largest collection. It's also on the expensive side compared to other recipe apps. Even so, Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals is so well done that those downsides are easy to overlook. Overall rating: 5 stars out of 5.
If you're a fan of Italian food, you can't go wrong with the Mario Batali Cooks app ($4.99). Like Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meals, Mario Batali's iPhone app has an excellent interface that is stylish, intuitive, and fun to use. It includes more than 60 Italian recipes, each with step-by-step photos and overview videos, which make the instructions ridiculously easy to follow. There's also a good deal of wine information, including wine pairings for each recipe. We like Mario Batali Cooks so much that it's also featured on our list of the best new iPhone apps of 2010. Overall rating: 5 stars out of 5.
The Whole Foods Market Recipes app (Free) is a terrific value. The sleek interface is easy to navigate, and the app includes hundreds of recipes that are illustrated with mouthwatering pictures. Each recipe has icons that tell you if it's gluten-free, vegetarian, low-sodium, etc. Nutrition facts are also included. The Whole Foods app includes an "On Hand" tab, where you can find recipes based on the ingredients you already have. The shopping list is pretty robust -- I love that it can be emailed -- but it doesn't consolidate the items, so some ingredients may show up twice. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
At first glance, the How to Cook Everything app ($4.99) may seem a bit pricey. Take a closer look, however, and you realize that you get all 2,000 recipes from Mark Bittman's book of the same name -- and the book costs at least US$20. The app's interface is pretty sleek, although there are no pictures to accompany the recipes. Even so, the app does include an integrated cooking timer and shopping list. How to Cook Everything also has more cooking instruction than nearly any other recipe app, with videos on everything from how to sharpen knives to how to roast a chicken. It's a comprehensive resource that will have you cooking in no time. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
If you have problems coming up with dinner ideas, you'll want to take a look at the AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner app (Free). It includes thousands of user-submitted recipes, and you can shake your iPhone anytime you want a new random recipe. AllRecipes is a good choice for vegetarians or those with special diets, as you can filter recipes easily. Nutrition facts are also included for those who watch their calories. The recipes take a few seconds to load over WiFi -- you'll have to look at an ad while the recipe loads -- and there's also no shopping list. If that feature is important to you, AllRecipes Pro ($2.99) has it. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Simply Organic (Free) is a simple -- no pun intended -- recipe app that makes it easy to serve healthy and wholesome meals. Like the AllRecipes.com app, Simply Organic includes a random recipe generator if you just need a quick dinner idea. For browsing, there are a ton of categories to choose from, including vegetarian entrees and healthy recipes for kids. One of the best parts of the Simply Organic app is that you can sort your results by a variety of criteria, including rating. That makes it easy to find the most popular recipes. Nutrition facts are included for each recipe as well. Unfortunately, Simply Organic doesn't include pictures. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
It's clear that someone put a lot of thought into the Tyler Florence Fast app ($4.99). It has a ton of functionality and over 500 recipes from celebrity chef Tyler Florence. The interface is sleek, although I would like to see thumbnail pictures for the recipes list view. Like some other recipe apps, Tyler Florence Fast has a cooking timer but it has a unique feature -- you can set the timer to play songs from your iPod playlist. The "Ask the Chef" email feature is something else you won't see in other recipe apps. There's also a good amount of instructional content for cooking novices. As it stands now, all the app needs is more pictures. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Weber's On the Grill app ($4.99) is a great choice for those who are serious about their meat. It includes more than 250 illustrated recipes, and the pictures will definitely make you want to fire up the grill. Like many recipe apps, Weber's On the Grill includes a shopping list and a favorites section. It also has lots of how-to articles if you're not yet comfortable around a grill. The integrated grill timer is a nice touch, as is the 'doneness calculator,' which tells you how long to cook different types of meat and at what temperature. The app does seem a little expensive, but it is packed with features. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
If you're still upset about the shuttering of Gourmet magazine, the Epicurious app (Free) may make you feel better. Featuring recipes from both Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines, Epicurious is definitely a foodie's app. The slick interface is easy to use, and you can browse recipes by main ingredient, meal, dietary consideration (vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and more. However, the recipes are displayed in a slideshow format -- while pretty, this makes for too much swiping if you're browsing a lot of recipes. I also encountered a glitch when some recipes weren't added to my shopping list. Even so, Epicurious is still a good deal among free recipe apps. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Martha Stewart's recipe app ($0.99) includes a number of standout features for a low price. It supports push notifications, so each day you'll recipe a message for the daily recipe -- a great feature if you want dinner ideas with minimum effort. The recipes are easy to follow and each one includes a picture. Martha Stewart's app also has a host of sharing options, including email, Twitter, and Facebook. The shopping list is broken down by aisle (produce, meats, etc.), making it easier to manage in a busy grocery store. I did encounter a few crashes here and there, and the app includes a good amount of ads. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.