Become a whiz in the kitchen with your iOS device by using these great apps
When you’re feeling hungry, your first instinct might be to reach for your iPhone or iPad. Using Spotlight, you can quickly find local restaurants, or download apps to get something hot (and most likely unhealthy) delivered to you in minutes. But there’s a better way: grab some apps that instead get you cooking, serving up delicious meals you make yourself.
Whether you’re the kind of person who stares quizzically at a colander, or believes they should already have a cookery show on network TV, there’s an app for you. Our selection encompasses a wide range of options, not only in terms of diet, but also in approach.
So whether you want some quickfire cooking tips, step-by-step recipe guides, or a scrapbook for saving favorite dishes, you’ll find a suitably tasty app to try.
Kitchen Stories – best for skills
Free • v12.0 • 83.3 MB • By AJNS New Media
On iPhone and iPad alike, Kitchen Stories initially comes across like a swish, minimal digital magazine. The lush photography and sleek interface look clean enough to eat off of, and it feels a more premium experience than those offered by the vast majority of its contemporaries.
This sense of usability and style is infused throughout the app. Tap through to an editorial column, and you’ll get plenty of tips about a foodie subject. Check out an individual recipe, and you get all the usual components – cooking time; ingredients; steps – but all served up in a manner that aims to make things as straightforward as possible.
Each step has its own photograph, so you can keep track of where you are as you cook. Enter the specific cooking mode interface, and you gain access to handy integrated timers, and tap-based navigation that minimizes how often food-covered fingers touch your device.
Another side to Kitchen Stories is the sense that it wants to teach you how to cook, and makes no assumptions about your ability. Excited about making a pie? Kitchen Stories will also provide a video on how to knead dough (and why). A touch worried at the butternut squash and very sharp knife lurking before you? This app will ensure it’s the vegetable that gets chopped up rather than your fingers.
The built-in shopping list is a bit incoherent, but otherwise this is a first-class app, with superb filtering, guides, and usability – and, most importantly, varied and tasty recipes.
Tasty – best for fun and efficiency
Free • v2.6 • 114.1 MB • By BuzzFeed
To some extent, Tasty comes across like the overly excitable younger sibling of Kitchen Stories. Where the former is all white with the odd flash of pastels, Tasty slaps vibrant colors everywhere, searing your eyes with blues and pinks. Also, rather than make do with beautifully shot still images of each recipe, Tasty instead treats you to a super-fast video of the dish being made.
At first, this may all come across a bit like a cookery app for the easily distracted. Got a low attention span? Then watch how to make a cheesecake from scratch in about 30 seconds, complete with a funky tune playing away in the background. The thing is, the more you use Tasty, the more you realize how clever this approach is.
The videos show things being made, in context. For first-timers on any recipe, this can be far more helpful than a photo, let alone basic written instructions. But also, snippets of video are embedded into the step-by-step guides, keeping you on track as you cook.
Elsewhere, the app is similarly smart. You can filter recipes by diet, difficulty, cuisine, and other criteria. Favorites can be stashed for later. And you can share recipes with a friend as basic text-only emails, but that handily include a link to the full video experience – and the app, if they’ve a smartphone or tablet handy.
Jamie’s Recipes – best for celeb fiends
Free • v3.6.5 • 49.1 MB • By Zolmo
Given the way in which famous chefs command a big chunk of screen time, it’s surprising how few have made a successful leap to apps. If you want your iOS cookery experience to have a healthy dollop of celebrity, though, Jamie’s Recipes is your best bet. Based on recipes by Jamie Oliver, it’s a free taster for the full Jamie’s Ultimate Recipes app that’ll set you back $7/£7.
But what do you get for free? Quite a lot, as it happens. Every Monday, you can dip into 15 seasonal recipes from the full collection. Select a dish and you get ingredients and equipment lists. Tap Start Cooking Now, and you end up in an image-heavy step-by-step interface not dissimilar to the one in Kitchen Stories.
This app’s pretty great on the details. When immersed in the steps, you can make little notes to refer to next time you make the dish, and quickly switch how many people you’re cooking for. It also has a decent crack at a shopping basket, aiming to (and often succeeding in) coherently merging multiple ingredients sets and then splitting everything into aisles. The only shortfall is the highly limited number of tips – but then if you fancy checking out those, you’ll just have to buy the full app!
Yummly – best for a big selection
Free • v4.2.1 • 137.4 MB • By Yummly
The sole non-universal app in this round-up (there are separate downloads for iPhone and iPad), Yummly primarily makes the cut because of the sheer range of recipes it has access to. That’s because it’s an aggregator, designed to provide fast access to a range of top foodie websites.
This means when you search, you’re filtering a massive two million dishes. Short of being the world’s fussiest eater, you could feasibly cook something new using Yummly every day for the rest of your life, without ever repeating the exact same thing.
Select a recipe and you’re shown a full-screen image, an indication of how calorific it is, and an estimate of preparation and cooking time. Scroll up and you get an ingredients list, along with a bunch of reviews. Yummly isn’t the only app to integrate user feedback, but its popularity means you’re far more likely to get a range of opinions, and to see whether a dish is worth trying out.
The app is less impressive when it comes to dealing with directions. There, it essentially directs you toward the originating website. Still, as a way of finding new things if you’ve exhausted an existing app, it’s a good bet. And if you find yourself always heading to a specific source, you can always ditch Yummly and use the relevant third-party app or site instead.
Green Kitchen – best for vegetarians
$4/£4 + IAP • v2.17 • 395.4 MB • By Amazing Applications AB
Every cookery app worth its salt these days includes a range of dietary options. However, there’s something to be said for an app with focus when it comes to the likes of vegetarian and vegan food. When that’s the only cuisine on offer, it can be a good way to not be tempted by things you’ve decided you shouldn’t be eating – or a way to try a new kind of diet for a month, knowing you won’t accidentally ‘stray’.
Green Kitchen has a smallish selection of dishes, but they are quite varied. It’s not too big on filtering, instead relying on search or manual browsing; however, you can in the settings hide non-vegan recipes and/or those that contain gluten.
The actual recipes pages are a bit weird to use. Full-screen pics when tapped provide an overview. Tabs then enable you to peruse an ingredients list and a basic text-only list of instructions. The last of those at least enables you to check off (and gray out) items you’ve completed, but a few extra in-recipe images wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Still, if you want to change the way you eat, or just fancy checking out ‘beet bourguignon’ or a savory tomato crumble, you can’t really go wrong here for a few bucks.
Paprika – best for clippings
$5/£5 • v3.3.0 • 48.8MB • By Hindsight Labs LLC
Unlike every other item in this round-up, Paprika isn’t about serving up recipes of its own, nor even aggregating content into a single location. Instead, it’s a manager for all your culinary needs. Think of it as a combination scrapbook, meal planner, grocery list, and pantry organizer.
Unlike rival apps, Paprika’s browser is simply a set of links to popular foodie websites, and a Google search bar. You use the in-app web browser to find something suitably tasty on the likes of BBC Food or Epicurious, and then tap Download, at which point Paprika extracts all the salient details, such as an image, prep information, ingredients, directions, and nutrition. Alternatively, you can send items to Paprika directly from Safari’s Share sheet.
The recipe experience is subsequently rather bare-bones. You don’t get help in the form of images or videos. But what you do get is content that remains fully editable. Not keen on an ingredient? Swap it out. Found a better way to make a dish? Write your own steps inline.
Along with the meal planner and shopping/pantry smarts, Paprika comes across as a complete cooking manager for your iPhone and iPad (details can be synced between devices). But even if you only use it as a scrapbook – a permanent home for favorites found elsewhere – it’s well worth grabbing for a fiver.