Originally posted in 2011:
I started this post by looking for a decent recipe search engine. One that would allow me to search by ingredient and match me up with the recipe that would best suit my pantry. As my research continued into November, it dawned on me that this would be an excellent resource for people looking to use all those Thanksgiving leftovers.
To test each site I searched for ‘tomato, garlic, basil’ (I had bruschetta on the mind that evening I guess). The following list is probably not complete. If you know of any that should be on this list please let me know!
Supercook is one of those websites that you instinctively know how to use without looking around. As you type your ingredients, the autocomplete helps choose words or phrases that match the recipe database.
As you select ingredients they appear in the “My Kitchen” area, which is essentially your pantry. As your ingredients list grows, the search results refresh automatically. Under the title of each recipe there’s an indicator to let you know whether you have all the ingredients for a that recipe, or lists the ‘missing ingredients’ for that recipe. Clicking on a missing ingredient adds it to your pantry.
Other features include a word cloud below the your pantry that aggregates all the ‘missing ingredients’ from the current search results. You can click on each word to add it to your pantry. There’s also a smart “Shopping List” that takes stock of what you have in your pantry and suggests other ingredients to increase the number of recipes you can cook.
Supercook also has a keyword search field to further filter your recipe results. For example, ‘sauces’ will show only sauce recipes in the search results. Clicking on a recipe will take you to the site that hosts the recipe. Oddly, it does this in the same browser window so you need to click your back button if you wish to see your search results again.
The recipes from AllRecipes.com are submitted directly to the site by it’s members. The search form is limited to 8 fields. Four for ingredients you want to include and four you want to exclude. There is also an additional keywords field. The “Search In” drop box defaults to “All”, but when you look at the options it’s filled with registered trademarks like Newman’s Own and Pillsbury. This gives the site a very corporate feel, as if they’re trying to sell you something (which I suppose they are).
Once you click submit the search results appear directly below the search fields. You may sort by Title, Rating and Relevance. You can also view only those recipes with images. Otherwise there’s no other filtering mechanism. Clicking on a recipe opens the recipe details page (still on AllRecipes.com domain).
You can switch from U.S. to Metric measurements, rate and comment, share, print and add to your shopping list. The shopping list feature on AllRecipes.com will have all the ingredients from whichever recipes you added to the list. if you are a paid member you can also customize the recipe or add an image.
Recipe Puppy’s design is minimalist, making the focus all about the search. The home page has one search field, where you enter your terms. For those who are not familiar with boolean search terms, it will take some getting used to.
The sample on the home page is “Potato Pancake Recipes with onions and eggs but without green onions”. The search term for recipes matching that description would simply be ‘onions, eggs, -green onion’.
The search results page shows the first 10 recipes matching your ingredients list. Recipes at the top of the list will have all or most of your ingredients. The missing ingredients will be under the recipe title and you can add it to your search with one click.
Sprinkled between the advertisements in the right column are the four additional menu boxes. They are: 1. Search Options: search by keyword, view recipes with images 2. Your Ingredients: remove ingredients one at a time or start over 3. Suggested Ingredients: a list of ingredients that go with existing search results 4. Ingredient Information: lists existing ingredients, each links to Recipe Puppy’s sister site FoodGuts.com (an equally cool website).
Food Guts is powered by Recipe Puppy, and the idea is quite simple: Type in an ingredient and it will present you with a list of recipes, ingredients it goes well with, nutritional data, cooking considerations, storage considerations, substitution ideas and the wikipedia article.
If cooking considerations, storage considerations or substitutions are empty, you can add them to the database. While Food Guts is not focused primarily on recipes, the idea itself is brilliant and I see this as a very handy tool.
Cook Thing is also powered by the same database that runs Recipe Puppy and Food Guts. Think of this one as a reverse lookup for ingredients. The idea here is that you already know what you want to cook, say bruschetta.
Type in the term and it presents you with a list of ingredients. You can check the box next to multiple ingredients and find recipes that contain all of them, or click on the “XX% of bruschetta recipes have this ingredient” and view those recipes. Along with Food Guts I’d say this is a pretty handy tool.
Tastebook is much, much more than just an ingredients based recipe search engine. It is a very cool website that allows you to browse recipes, create your own cookbook, print it or even sell it for a commission. While the entire site would take up a whole post here, the ingredients search, user interface and overall number of features make it one I’m adding to this list.
Cookstr is an ingredient based search engine with recipes from popular cookbooks. What makes it stand out is the number of filters on the search results screen. There are 19 main filters and over one hundred sub-filters to narrow your search results such as taste, texture, occasion, course, budget, skill level and many more.
The recipe also shows you the skill level, original author and cookbook, nutritional data and related recipes.
Yummly is one of those recipe sites that really stands out for me. The UI is really slick, taking advantage of the latest in web technologies, which makes it like eye candy for a geek like me.
The search results screen has some really sweet features as well, such as sliders for taste (saltiness, sweetness, savoryness, sourness, bitterness) and nutrition information (carbs, fat, calories, cholesterol).
This post just won’t do it justice, you really need to check it out for yourself.
FoodieView is a website that focuses on restaurant reviews and recipes. The recipe search guide is pretty robust, allowing you to search by ingredients or narrow it down using eight main categories (from type f cuisine to famous chef). They claim to have cataloged over 1 million recipes.
iVillage is NBC’s website that is aimed directly at the female demographic. With such a large company behind it I expected more from the recipe search.
I typed in my standard search of ‘tomato, garlic, olive oil’ and click search. The results page was a huge disappointment: 3 ads, 4 recipes, 3 more ads, 4 more recipes. In addition, most of the recipes on the first page only had a single ingredient from my list.
Given the other excellent recipe sites available, I don’t recommend this search engine.
MyRecipes is a database of recipes from Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, Real Simple, and Health magazines. It has a decent search by ingredient engine. The search results were decent, giving me recipes that had all three of my ingredients on the first few search result pages.
The site also has a nutrition search feature. Use the sliders to change the nutritional data and search the database. Pretty handy. There were a ton of ads to sift through, though, which is typical of any corporate site. There were also a couple of annoying popups.
Epicurious has been one of my favorite bookmarks for many years. If you’re new to the world of online recipes, the Epicurious database is a collection of recipes from every issue of bon appetit, SELF, Gourmet, Parade, Nutrition Data and Random House magazines (all owned by Conde Nast).
The quality and diversity of these recipes is excellent, and the search engine they’ve created compliments it very well. The advanced search form really has everything you need, and the search results were spot on. I’ll continue to use Epicurious well into the future and will always recommend it to anyone who will listen.
FoodPair claims to do exactly what the name says: “searches for recipes you can make with the ingredients in your kitchen”. This looks promising! I entered my search terms and without ANY delay was brought to a very intuitive results page. Only one leaderboard ad at the top and one skyscraper ad on the right. Thank you FoodPair!
The search results were very accurate, yileding 90 recipes that matched my terms. The recipes were sorted by the number of “missing ingredients”, so that the first recipe only had 2 additional ingredients (which I could add with a single click to my search terms). The more additional ingredients the recipe has, the farther down the list it appears. A list of all the additional ingredients for this search result appears on the left, saving me the hassle of scrolling. Additional filters are available as well, such as ‘number of ingredients’, ‘Course’ and even which recipe sites to search.
This is an excellent, intuitive search engine and I’m definitely bookmarking it!
This is the official recipe search of Redbook Magazine. I expected a little more, to be honest. The advanced search form has plenty of options, and it yielded lots of search results (529). But the results page was a little confusing.
The first 5 recipes were from the ‘Redbook Kitchen’, the next three were from the Redbook community (non from the magazine but added by a subscriber), and the last 2 were from sponsors (although when clicked there was no recipe to view, for any of the sponsored links!).
The Redbook Kitchen recipes were decent. They have nutritional info for each one, and the option to review, save and submit your own version (you need to register for all of these). Overall a so-so experience, but nothing to get excited about.
Recipe Bridge was disappointing. It searches a bunch of external sites for your terms and presents the results in kind of an un-intuitive way. You can’t add/remove ingredients without doing a new search. There’s no filter in the search results.
When you click on a recipe you are redirected to the website that is the source of the recipe in a new window but within an iframe of Recipe Bridge. I don’t doubt they have as many recipes as advertised. They are, after all, simply culling from other sources. The overall user experience is lacking, however.
The concept of My Fridge Food is that you can find what to make by searching what is already in your kitchen. At least that’s what it says on the front page. There’s a predefined list of ingredients (not sure who determines what goes on that list). There’s also a larger list of ingredients, but you have to click on “use quick find” to get to it.
At this point you need to go through the entire list, checking off each item you have in your kitchen. This is not only unintuitive, but a terrible user experience. I have no idea who thought this was a good idea. I had to use my browser’s find feature to find my ingredients on the page. Oh, and don’t bother adding ingredients to this list, it’s for recipe titles only.
When you finally do get to the search results, they are all on one page (no pagination) in a list, sorted by matching ingredients. Click on a recipe to view it. Click the back button and you have to “Confirm Form Resubmission” to get your list again.
Overall a this was a terrible user experience. The user interface was unintuitive and the recipe search results were limited.
Fridge to Food is a recipe sharing community built with WordPress. All recipes are added by it’s members, so the database is smaller than some of the larger ones that cull recipes from other sites. But the recipes are original, which makes the site itself unique.
The community is growing and the site is still being developed. Which means it’s one of those sites that I will bookmark, check back on less frequently than others, but am hopeful it will flourish.
ideas4recipes.com is going with the minimalist approach to searching recipes. You are presented with 3 choices: enter your list of ingredients (up to 5), search by recipe name, or just click the bottom button and get a random recipe.
I entered my search terms and was presnted with a list of 10 recipes. To view others I need to click on “older entries”, so I have no idea how many results there are. Also, there’s no other filtering mechanism. Overall the front page looked promising but I was a little disappointed with the results.
Big Oven is a social network for cooks. It does have a recipe search section, but the ‘search by ingredient’ feature is limited. Basically you click on the “use up leftovers” link on the right and select from a drop down of ingredients. You are limited to only 3. The results page may have a lot of recipes, but they are not sorted by ingredients. You can sort by quality, date or alphabetical order, as well as filter them by excluding items (again, 3 is the limit), cook time, and category.
Overall the site looks nice, and it may work well as a social network, but I wouldn’t bother if you are searching by ingredient.
I’ll preface this by stating that Cooking.com is one of my favorite sites. It has almost everything a cook could want! I knew they had a recipe section, but I never gave it much thought until researching this post.
The search form is pretty standard. You can enter up to 4 ingredients and choose from several options and sources. The results page is clean, presenting the first 15 of your results. You can sort by 5 different categories, and additional filters appear on the left. Overall it’s a decent search engine. Results were served up fast with decent relevance. There’s nothing really innovative or trendy, it just works.
Cheffy is a nifty little recipe website with several ways to search and filter results. It also has some pretty cool additional features for registered users (registration is free).
To find recipes on Cheffy, you can search by recipe title, ingredients and ‘power search’ (additional criteria such as main ingredient, type of cuisine, dietary requirement). I started with a simple ingredient search: garlic, basil and tomato. There were 42 recipes on the results page, sorted (by default) by cooking time. You can also sort by number of calories, fat content, protein content, fiber content, rating and recipe title. There are also convenient little icons that let you know if the recipe is low fat and/or vegetarian.
Each recipe page is quite detailed. It has the recipe details and diet and nutrition information, and you can scale the recipe (by number of servings). You may also switch between metric and imperial measurements and celsius/fahrenheit.
Registered users can also get some pretty sweet additional features. You can change the default values of each recipe to suit your household needs (serving size, etc), add recipes to your own cookbook, add notes to each recipe, share recipes and create a shopping list from recipe ingredients.
Overall I’m digging Cheffy a lot and would recommend it to everyone.
Recipe Finder is an excellent search by ingredient website. You can search the recipe database (text or image search) for keywords, or used the advanced search form. The advanced form has additional fields for including/excluding ingredients, as well as entering caloric, serving and cook time data.
If you use Google Chrome to browse the internet, you can click the microphone icon and speak your search query, thanks to the implementation of HTML5 speech function. Overall an excellent resource!
Delish is owned, built and edited by Hearst Magazines Digital Media and distributed by MSN.
Their recipe finder is pretty robust and the recipes are culled from Hearst Magazines so there are a lot of them.
Cookthink allows you to search by ingredient, dish, cuisine or mood (adjectives such as minty, fragrant or chewy). The search tool is presented as a tag cloud. Clicking on any of the tags adds them to the search field. You can manually add stuff to the search field as well.
The search results were decent, though not as many recipes were presented as other websites featured here. The recipe details show ingredients and instructions, cook/prep time and tools necessary. No ntritional data was shown.
If you register for a free account you get the benefit of saving recipes.
The BBC has done a really fine job with this recipe site. The ingredient search field yielded excellent results, and the advanced search form is detailed, taking into account special diets, holidays and special occasions and even specific television shows.
The recipe details show the ingredients and instructions, as well as a link to any additional preparation techniques. For example, if the recipe calls for something to be finely chopped, there’s a link to an instructional video showing how to use this technique. Handy! If you register you can save the recipe to your binder. You also have the ability to send it to a shopping list or a mobile device.
Cookblast is recipe search engine with a twist. It searches for how to videos! While the search engine works pretty well, and the videos are decent, the only thing that is missing are the actual recipes.
Looks like cookblast is now defunct. Pity, it was an excellent idea.