It's been a long time since you had to ask your kitchen-accomplished relatives to hand down great recipes or spend hours sifting through books looking for gems. Here's a look at five of the best tools for finding great recipes online.
Photo by Liz West.
Since this list is based on voting on the US Lifehacker site, it inevitably has a bias towards US-centric sites, and some of the ingredients and measures won't always match up. Nonetheless, these are still useful resources.
Food.com (Web-Based, Free)
Food.com, formerly Reciepzaar, is an all-things-food-related web site with an emphasis on recipes, cookbooks, and more. You can browse popular recipe categories, check out the most frequent searches, and, of course, search for recipes. Where Food.com really shines—massive recipe database aside—is its Recipe Sifter tool. You start by selecting what course you want, then what kind of sub-course (like appetisers in the form of dips), and then from there you can narrow your recipe search with ingredient filters, ease of preparation, occasion (holidays, dinner parties, etc.), dietary requirements, and more.
Bing Recipe Search (Web-Based, Free)
Since early 2010, Microsoft's search engine Bing has had enhanced recipe search features — though as is all too usual with Bing, Microsoft is apparently too disorganised to add them anywhere outside the US. However, if you change your location in Bing from Australia to US and then search for ingredients, recipe names, or other food-related search terms, you'll see the "Recipes" tab along the top navigation bar. Click on it and Bing filters your search results to show and organize just recipe results. From there you can search by ranking, cuisine type, convenience, season/occasion, main ingredients, and more. Bing pulls from a wide range of sources like Allrecipes, The FoodNetwork, Delish, MyRecipes, Epicurious, and other popular recipe sites.
Allrecipes (Web-Based, Free)
Allrecipes is a recipe sharing and cataloguing web site with an enormous database of recipes. You can search the site without an account, but with an account you can store all the recipes you find (as well as ones you add) in your recipe box. The advanced search tool on Allrecipes is especially helpful for drilling down through their numerous recipes and allows you to easily specify very exact requests—say, for example, you want to see lunch-appropriate recipes that are diabetic-friendly, contain no pork or eggs, and are prepared in a Caribbean style. If you enjoy browsing recipes and scanning delicious food photographs as much as you enjoy cooking them up, Allrecipes has an extensive photo section where members show off their food-photographing skills.
Epicurious (Web-Based, Free)
Epicurious combines an extensive database of recipes with a host of features that make recipe search and the subsequent preparation simple. You can search for recipes based on ingredients, food style, or dietary needs, among other factors. For easy shopping you can print a shopping list for the recipe you find or fold multiple recipes for your meal planning into one master shopping list to buy everything in one sweep. Epicurious is available as an Android and iOS application, so your recipe searching and ingredient checklists can travel to the store with you.
SuperCook (Web-Based, Free)
If you find yourself frequently browsing recipe web sites but frustrated when you realise that every recipe that catches your eye requires a trip to the store for extra ingredients, SuperCook is the recipe site for you. To use SuperCook, you start plugging in ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry. The more ingredients you plug in, the more the list of potential recipes grows. All the while SuperCook actively suggests more ingredients you might have overlooked that would expand your recipe list. Put in tomato sauce, pasta, and basil, for example, and it asks if you might have butter, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, or other common ingredients in Italian dishes which would compliment the ingredients you already have.
Feel free to share more details about your favourite recipe search tool in the comments.