Five Best Recipe Managers

Traditionally recipes were stored in a recipe box tucked in the cupboard, but times change and technology accelerates the process. Check out the interesting ways your fellow readers store their recipes.

Photo by deby roby.

Paper (Binders, Notebooks, 3x5 Cards)

The traditionalists among you may rejoice. Despite the creep of technology into all realms of our lives, many of you have eschewed search-friendly text, embeddable images, and virtual recipe sharing for storing your recipes traditionally on paper. Not all of you hand wrote your recipes, some printed and stored them, but there is a certain intimacy that comes with keeping handwritten recipes that some of you haven't abandoned. The votes for paper-based systems were scattered among 3-ring binders, bound notebooks, and 3x5 cards. Paper is an excellent and timeless choice for those wanting to avoid whisking an egg while poring over their laptop screen. Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography.

AllRecipes (Web-Based, Basic Membership: Free/Supporting Membership: $US17.50/year)

Where SousChef and BigOven shine with their powerful software, Allrecipes astounds with a huge and diverse website containing recipes, how-to videos, and more. You don't require a login to browse the recipes, featured recipe collections, and informational videos and articles, but signing up for an account does enable quite a few features if you'd like to use Allrecipes as your virtual recipe box. With the basic membership you can submit recipes, upload photos of your tasty dishes, rate and review recipes, save recipes to a virtual recipe box, and create shopping lists based on the recipes you want to whip up. Upgrading to the rather reasonably priced supporting membership enables you to further customise and edit your recipes as well as create a personal food blog with a vanity URL. Allrecipes is a frequent destination for people when they first start searching the web for new recipes and many of them sign up to take advantage of the abundant recipes and start adding their own.

SousChef (Mac, $US30)

If index cards sprinkled with powdered sugar is the way grandmothers across the land keep their recipes organizesd, SousChef is the way their techno-savvy grandchildren do it. If there is some advantage to having your recipes stored on a computer, SousChef makes sure to take advantage of it. All the recipes you enter are stored in the enormous 90,000+ SousChef recipe cloud—you can opt out of sharing recipes on a global or individual basis to protect grandma's secrets. You can input what you have in your fridge and pantry and SousChef ranks recipes based on what you can make with what you have followed by recipes that require the least ingredients. Astounded that someone would put their MacBook on the same counter cooking oil and flour were being slopped around? SousChef has has a ten-foot mode that combines an enlarged and easy to read display with remote control either by voice commands or by using an Apple or Keyspan Front Row remote. SousChef also maintains a database of substitutions to help you squeeze some mileage out of your current pantry contents without a trip to the store. It also sports easy importing of web-based recipes, highlighting the text of the recipe you find on the web will launch an import wizard.

Evernote (Windows/Mac/Mobile Platforms, Basic: Free / Premium: $US45/year)

What don't Lifehacker readers use Evernote for? It crops up in the most interesting places and apparently lives up to its promise to help you remember everything—even cookie recipes. Many of you already use Evernote for all your note taking and input needs so it's only natural you'd leverage familiarity coupled with Evernote's excellent text recognition and note tagging to turn it into a take anywhere, use anywhere recipe book. While there is a premium account, if you're experimenting with Evernote as a flexible recipe book only, you likely won't need more upload allowance than the free account provides. Evernote's desktop client is available for Windows and Mac and its mobile client is available for iPhone, Palm-Pre, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile.

Big Oven (Web-Based/Windows/Mobile Platforms, $US30)

BigOven is an enormous—170,000+—database of recipes that can be coupled with the BigOven Windows and mobile software. If you read over the features of SousChef and muttered about how all the Mac-nerds always have the flashy toys, don't despair. BigOven is a recipe tool for Windows that stands quite strongly on its own having won Best Recipe Software at TopTenReviews the last two years in a row. Even if you don't use the software, you can search and browse the BigOven website for free. If you're serious about recipe organisation however BigOven offers a host of features including nutritional calculations, integrated meal planning calendar, easy capture for importing recipes you find on the web, the ability to import recipes from outside sources including popular cookbook database formats, and a drag and drop shopping list generator. On top of the online database and the Windows software there are free companion applications available to enable syncing with Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and the iPhone. There is even a cookbook publishing tool for generating cookbooks to give to friends and family.

Have a strong opinion about how recipes should be organised? Shocked that people would share their recipes online? Insist on keeping your secret cookie recipes written in cuneiform? Sound off in the comments below with your recipe sharing or hoarding wisdom.


    You completely missed out on MacGourmet which I believe to be better than SousChef, plus it has an iPhone application to go with.

    My paper recipes (e.g. cut from magazines) are in scrapbooks. They need an overhaul. My online recipes are organised in OneNote. I copy an image of the dish from the relevant website, and paste it into OneNote. The link to the recipe is automatically inserted underneath the image.

    Gmail! I use a 'Recipe' tag, but I'm sure you could use tags even more.

    It allows searching by ingredient, access from anywhere (i.e. at a friend's house for dinner, or on your phone at the shops), and has the added bonus of encouraging you to share the recipe to a few friends who'll like it.

    For general snippets that haven't yet proven to be worth the effort of writing up in this way, I collect them in OneNote.

    You also missed the (horribly iconed, but otherwise great) Yummy Soup! for Mac -!.html

    I've been using the Living Cookbook and it works really well to keep all my recipes organised. I'm surprised its not on you list.
    I read about it here

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