You don’t have to be sous chef with a regular gig on Saturday Kitchen to be able to knock up a restaurant-quality meal. All you need is your smartphone or tablet, the right apps and the ability to follow instructions.
With the help of our knowledgeable buddies over at Mobile Madhouse, we rounded up 11 of the best cooking apps around. These apps provide you with more recipes than you’ll ever need, along with full step-by-step instructions in photo and format and cooking timers so you don’t set the smoke alarm off. Heck, some of the apps will even prepare the shopping list for you!
Food Network in the Kitchen
If you’re looking for cooking tips and food inspiration, Food Network is a go-to channel on the box. With this app, the TV network has harnessed all of that good stuff and packaged it into an easily digestible collection of how-to videos and photos. Content can be searched for by ingredient or chef and there are seasonal sections covering everything from appetisers to vegetarian. You can cook along, step-by-step, with the likes of Alton Brown, Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray, and utilise the in-built unit converter, cooking times and personal shopping list to ensure everything goes to plan. Furthermore, favourite recipes can be saved and altered to suit your preferences and shared to friends across social media.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
With over 11 million home cooks, Allrecipes is never short of recipe ideas. Simplicity is one of the great benefits of Allrecipes, the community and the app. Recipes get straight to the point, telling you exactly what you need and how to put ingredients together to create stellar meals with minimum fuss. Along with standard personal shopping list, seasonal recipes and saving and sharing features, recipes can be filtered according to diet, cooking time and foods you dislike and each includes full step-by-step instructions, with photos and nutritional information. Accompanying member reviews will help you decide whether a recipe is worth your time.
Another nice feature is the ability to cook with what’s whatever recipe ingredients are on sale at a store near you. And if you’re unsure what you want, just give your device a shake and let the Dinner Spinner find a random recipe for you.
If you’ve ever used the Yummly website, you’ll know just how beautifully presented this app is. However, the app’s defining points lie not in its looks, but its search engine and intuitiveness. A quick search will quickly take you to the desired recipe – helped by filters according to lifestyle, nutrition, diet and more. Even better than the search functionality is the way Yummly creates a personal food experience, achieved by learning what you like and dislike and recommending recipes to suit, and allowing diets to be created by allergies and dietary requirements. App usability is also top notch; saving recipes and adding them to shopping lists is as simple as one tap, while stored favourites are bundled together for easy viewing when cooking or shopping. With these features and over 1 million recipes, Yummly is a must-have.
Tender – Social Food
You’ve heard of Tinder, right – the dating app where you swipe right if you like the look of someone and left if you don’t? Well Tender has taken that same premise and introduced it to the world of food recipes. Tender believes you’ll know what you want to eat once you see it and so makes finding a meal as easy as swiping through photos – right to save, left to bin. Recipes can be filtered by core ingredient so you’re not seeing foods that you don’t like and anything saved lives in the Cookbook section of your profile, from where you can follow other users and see what they’re cooking in an Instagram-like news feed. If its photos of food that really get the juices flowing, get yourself on Tender.
Kitchen Stories is all about empowering people to cook. And it works. Millions of people use the app to discover, prepare and cook recipes; choosing from thousands of recipes that are accompanied by HD videos and step-by-step photo instructions. There’s even an integrated notepad so you can add notes to fancied dishes. Recipes can be saved and added to collections, shopping lists can be automatically generated and measurements can be converted into familiar metrics – it’s simple, beautiful and great to use.
Cookpad is the world’s largest home-made recipe sharing app. It’s basically a social network for recipes, and while you probably don’t need another social networking site in your life, it’s worth checking out if you like your home-cooked food. On Cookpad you upload your own recipes, share recipes with others and comment on recipes with advice on serving suggestions, food allergies or just general praise on a job well done. Recipes are divided into categories including appetisers, mains, sides, desserts, stews, soups, ethic and diet recipes and drinks and can be searched by title or ingredients – particularly useful if you’re looking to use up what you have in the kitchen cupboard.
BigOven offers similar features to Food Network and Allrecipes: find recipes, bookmark them and curate shopping lists with the ingredients. It also boasts social functionality in the style of Cookpad and Tender. But what it lacks in uniqueness it makes up for in content and usability. BigOven has a library of over 350,000 recipes from cooking enthusiasts ranging from respected bloggers to your friends mum. You can follow your friends, receive notifications and comment and rate recipes that you’ve tried. We found the search function to be an excellent time-saver, while the ability to plan meals and sync them across multiple devices is great if you’re sticking to a strict diet.
So far, all of the apps we’ve featured focus on recipes and instructions on how to cook them. Food Planner offers recipes too, but they’re a lesser feature, and not the reason we’ve decided to add it to this list. What we like most about Food Planner is the ability to create integrated meal plans and sync them across multiple devices. Using imported or downloaded recipes, you can easily plan your daily meals and have a shopping checklist ready to use on the days you do your shopping. If you’re trying to stick to a specific diet and save money on shopping, Food Planner is a great help.
A PRO version of Food Planner removes ads and offers paid user perks, but the free version is more than satisfactory for most people.
You already know how to boil an egg, but do you know how to boil it so it’s only partially set or tender solid or rubbery solid? Egg Timer uses scientific research and methods to calculate the time an egg needs to cook to reach the desired consistency down to the second, based on size, number of eggs, start temperature and altitude. The results are eggs just how you like them.
As Egg Timer is only available on Android, iOS users need an alternative offering, in which case we recommend the Egg Farmers of Canada’s official app. Features are similar, with the added advantage of instructions on how to boil, poach, scramble and fry eggs and a chicken noise alarm when the egg is cooked.
Get Egg Timer – Android
Get Egg Timer – iOS
Unit Converter Ultimate / Kitchen Calculator Pro
Ingredients measured in cups mean nothing to Brits – we like grams and kilograms, pounds and ounces. A lot of the recipes you find online (and on some of our recommended apps) are written for an American audience, where cups of dry and liquid ingredients are standard. Unit Converter Ultimate (Android) and Kitchen Calculator Pro (iOS) will be instantly convert measurements into units you understand. Both apps are simple and designed for ease of use. The former is also useful outside of the kitchen, converting a whole host of units, including speed, distance, power, pressure, time and torque.
Get Unit Converter Ultimate – Android
Get Kitchen Calculator Pro – iOS, £2.29
Great British Chefs Kids
Cooking with kids is great fun… especially if you have this app to hand. Available on iOS, Great British Chefs Kids offers 105 exclusive, easy-to-follow recipes contributed by top chefs including Marcus Wareing, Alfred Prasad, Marcello Tully, Shaun Rankin and the Galvin Brothers. All recipes are kid-friendly and feature cooking times, equipment and cooking tips, with a great search function on hand to help you find the recipe you need with little fuss. As you’re unlikely to have any hands free between preparing ingredients and supervising children, the app also offers voice functionality, so you can talk to your device, without having to get messy hand prints all over it.
Finally, Great British Chef Kids is made in association with Tesco RealFood and all ingredients link through to the Tesco groceries website, allowing you to buy everything you need in just a few clicks.
Get Great British Chefs Kids – iOS
You don’t have to be sous chef with a regular gig on Saturday Kitchen to be able to knock up a restaurant-quality meal. All you need is your smartphone or tablet, the right apps and the ability to follow instructions. With the help of our knowledgeable buddies over at Mobile Madhouse, we rounded up 11 of the best cooking apps around.