I love cooking. Well, let’s be honest, I love eating, but in order to eat good food you sometimes have to cook. I also like baking. Truly, I do, and not just because I love chocolate deserts more than anything else in the world. It’s just fun. Recipes and tutorials can be found anywhere, and there are many helpful online source for the beginner cook, but sometimes these are just not enough.
Owning an iPad has changed the way I cook and bake in my kitchen. If before I used to copy recipes down or run back and forth from the kitchen to my computer, I can now load everything on my iPad, place it in the closest spot where it still wouldn’t get dirty, and cook to my heart’s content.
In order to cook with your iPad, you need some good recipe sources, that’s for sure, but not every recipe is equal to the other, and not every cooking app is the same as the next one. While some cooking apps are nothing but recipe managers or collections of general recipes that are never quite clear enough, good results will come from cooking apps that actually teach you how to cook.
Ready to impress your family/friends/significant other with your amazing home-made food? Read on and get cooking!
Epicurious Recipes (Free, $1.99)
Epicurious is a well-known cooking website, and its iPad app doesn’t fall far from the tree. Yes, Epicurious is definitely a treasure trove for recipes, but for the beginner cook it’s so much more than that. Unlike many recipe apps that provide an ingredient list and some half-hearted instructions, every recipe you’ll find on Epicurious’s iPad app comes with very detailed instructions, and a very specific ingredient list. So where a different recipe might say “brown the lamb in a skillet”, Epicurious will include a whole paragraph.
When looking for recipes, you can search by category, keyword, and even by adding ingredients you have at home to see what you can make using them. Another great feature is the ability to add a recipe you want to prepare to your shopping list, and automatically get a list of everything you have to buy, divided into categories. If you tend to get overwhelmed just by looking at recipes, this feature can be a huge help.
If you already use Epicurious.com and want to sync your recipe box from the website, you will have to purchase an upgrade for $1.99.
The title of this post starts with “not just recipes”, so I felt it would be appropriate to include a cooking app that comes with absolutely none. Cooking is all about helping you reach good results with recipes you already have, teaching you about good replacements for missing ingredients, cooking terms you may not be familiar with, and changes you should make in high altitudes.
If your recipe calls for half a cup of diced celery, and you’re not sure how much to dice, Cooking will help you there too, with its Yields & Tips section. It also provides a thorough converter for every measurement you can think of, including ice-cream scoops, beer barrels, smidgens, and more.
All in all, Cooking is not your conventional cooking app, but it’s going to be very helpful for preparing any recipe, no matter where you’ve found it.
Look & Cook (Free or $1.99)
Look & Cook is hands down the most beautiful cooking app I’ve ever seen for the iPad. This is not your usual recipe collection, where you can search by keyword or ingredient. Rather, the app includes only 44 recipes (two in the free version, but you can get an overview of all of them before buying the full version), divided into seven categories: everyday, breakfast, with the guys, barbecue, picnic, romantic, and dinner party.
The recipes themselves come with a visual overview of all the ingredients and the final product (the “Look” part), and a cook-book like step-by-step recipe (the “Cook” part). If you’re worried about having to flip through the recipe’s pages with dirty cooking hands, simply turn on voice activation to turn pages by saying “next” and “back”.
The Look & Cook recipes are not necessarily for beginners, and are definitely not for the lazy. Even the so-called everyday recipes have long prep times. If you already have some experience cooking and want to bring yourself to the next level, Look & Cook is a beautiful and detailed way to do this, impressing all your friends along the way.
How To Cook Everything ($9.99)
If you’re truly serious about learning to cook, and feel that a $10 app is a reasonable investment, How to Cook Everything is probably the most celebrated cooking app available for the iPad. The app does have a free version you can try, but as its only available for the iPhone, you’ll have to make do with a smaller screen if you intend to use it on your iPad.
How to Cook Everything is based on a cookbook of the same name written by Mark Bittman, and includes 2,000 recipes and hundreds of how-to illustrations like the one you can see in the screenshot above. Like Epicurious, How to Cook Everything helps you shop for the right ingredients, and also includes an in-app timer, so your food doesn’t burn in the oven.
There’s lots to explore in this app, but the price tag is still a little steep. If you’ve tried all other apps and still can’t find the right one for you, or if you absolutely love the original cookbook and want it all on your iPad, this would be $10 well spent.
Bonus: Food Wishes Video Recipes
There is no app for Food Wishes unfortunately, but Chef John’s video recipes are still a great way to learn how to cook on your iPad (or computer, or phone). The best way to do this, and this has worked for me in the past, is to point your YouTube app to the Food Wishes YouTube channel, and start browsing or searching for something you want to prepare.
Food Wishes is a food blog and video blog that’s been active for almost 6 years, so chances are you’re going to find what you’re looking for. The next step is to play the video, place the iPad next to you in the kitchen, and start cooking. Be warned: it’s addictive.
Yes, yes, I know, the iPad is just one of the tablets available out there. Own an Android tablet? Here are 5 great culinary tools for making delicious meals with help from your Android device.
You tell me! Do you know or use exceptional cooking apps for the iPad that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!