Five Best Recipe Search Tools

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. (Web-Based, Free), 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 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.


    Problem with lifting this thing from the US is you miss the best Australian site - and that's very important when it comes to things like available local produce, seasons, measurements and more. - you should include it now - is probably my favourite recipe site. Along with as listed above, I rarely have to look anywhere else for recipes. And the ratings and reviews on both ensure I only ever try things that work.

    It's Australia -

    It's basically the equivalent of all of the above but uses the Aussie food magazine recipes. And, unlike the ones in the article that I have used, the recipes are in metric, and don't require things we can't get here. Yay!

    You can put in the ingredients you want and get a recipe, or go to the advanced search and pick what kind of food you want

    google? 1st page results will always return enough recipes for me to find what i want to cook.

    Anoter vote for The five star recipies are in most cases very good. is my favourite too!

    i prefer to know a little more about the authors of the recipes and their philosophies (for want of a better term).

    finding a recipe that includes "1 tin cream of mushroom soup" as an ingredient seems to undermine the benefits of cooking for yourself.

    i swear by the following sites:

    I like They also have Australian ingredients and measurements.
    Best Recipes also has room to review, have your own recipe book filled with recipes from the site and has forums.

    The recipe sifter (formerly is no longer on the first page. Also, you can no longer ask to NOT include ingredients (e.g. if you're allergic to something). You now have to search a recipe, THEN "narrow search" by adding ingredients/etc. they list that you WANT in it, that's all. The options to remove items OR to type in ingredients they don't list no longer exist.

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