What recipe app do I want?
March 14, 2021 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I’m sure this is the six zillionth question about recipe apps. But I have snowflakes! (Don’t we all...)

I am in search of an ipad recipe app that has the following:

— Ability to download/import recipes from web pages and keep just the relevant parts (no stories, photos, links to other recipes, etc)
— Ability to import recipes from a text file (bonus if it can put the right content in the right place) or PDF. What I am really getting at here is the ability to enter recipes from cookbooks. I can get them from cookbook —> PDF or text, but if you have some other/better way I am open to that too. OCR (and content being organized correctly) from a PDF would be awesome but I’m guessing that’s a pipe dream.
— Ability to work with units in weights and/or volumes
— Ability to scale both weights and volumes OR ability to use the Apple Pencil to write on the file manually (so I can do the math in my head and just write the numbers on the screen)
— Ability to enter recipes entirely manually (by typing)
— Ability to add notes to each recipe
— Some folder or tag capacity would be nice.
— Ability to export in PDF or some text format would be nice.

Things I do not need:

— Photos, stories, etc
— Integration with shopping lists, pantry lists, menu planning, etc
— Nutrition info
— Ability to share recipes, other than exporting as I mentioned above.
— Ability to access the recipes on other devices, though if that is needed for the import-from-cookbook-function I do have a 4-ish year old MacBook Pro and a 2-ish year old iPhone, both on current OS/iOS.

I am fine with paying for this. Frequent favorite Paprika seems to do most of this but I am not sure about the importing part. Their documentation says it can import .txt files but that is only in context of output from one other cooking app, and while it has instruction for importing “other files” it doesn’t say what file types. Some reviews complain about lack of OCR/having to type in recipes from cookbooks, but that could just mean someone hasn’t figured out the right way to do this.
posted by 2 cats in the yard to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing the TXT import doesn't exist in a free version for you to experiment with it? Regardless, if that's the only thing keeping you from using the app, I'd drop them an email to ask what their TXT import requires and how manual a process it might be. Don't tell them any of the other complicating stuff, just specifically to clarify the TXT import part.
posted by rhizome at 1:17 PM on March 14, 2021

Right now I am trying to decide between Paprika and Copymethat. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. You seem to know Paprika, so here is the info page for Copymethat
posted by alchemist at 1:48 PM on March 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Paprika does a pretty good job importing recipes from web pages (and removing all of the non-recipe content); I've been pleasantly surprised by how often it just works.

I've never imported recipes from a file, but the supported YAML format looks pretty straightforward.

You can export as HTML or "Paprika recipe format" files; if you're a bit adventurous you'll find that the Paprika recipe format is compressed JSON data.

Paprika seems to have the other features you're looking for, including the tagging/folder organization and recipe scaling. It will scale both weights and volumes, but it won't convert between them (though it will convert between US and metric units).
posted by sriracha at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2021

Note that Paprika on the desktop is a separate purchase from Paprika on a tablet, but you can have one account that syncs between them. I've entered a number of recipes by hand on my iPad, but every time I do it I ask myself why I haven't just paid for the desktop version so I can use a physical keyboard. It parses plain text recipes very well. When I abandoned Evernote I was able to move all my recipes over without having to do any editing at all. It is reasonably good at parsing recipes on the web, figuring out what's an ingredient and what's a direction, although I've found for some recipes with complicated HTML it may not parse ALL of the directions (like, for this roast chicken it got through about step 7, and then just didn't have the rest). You can create your own arbitrary categories, you can nest categories (so I have "dessert" and I have "cookies" nested under that), and a recipe can be sorted in multiple categories.

One thing that tripped me up is that it will only scale the first measure of any ingredient on a line. So if you have an ingredient with both volume and weight measurements in one line, e.g. "1 cup (130 g) flour," only the first measure will be scaled. After a pie crust disaster I am now very careful to edit my recipes to match the way I actually measure the ingredients.

It has fields for nutrition information that it will populate if the source recipe has them, but I don't think it will calculate that on its own. It has a shopping list feature you can easily ignore (I do). It will manage multiple timers for you if the directions are clear enough (like, in the recipe I'm looking at now "5 minutes" is a timer link, as is a later "18 to 20 minutes"). If the source recipe has a photo it will use it for the list view, but I don't think it will import multiple inline photos. And yes, it has a notes field you can use for whatever you want. I've found the plain text sharing features to be adequate, although I feel like the ability to create a PDF instead of just printing would be nice.
posted by fedward at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2021

The layout of recipes in cookbooks generally doesn't lend itself to getting good OCR results. OCR works well for pages of words, not columns of mixed content with alphanumeric and symbols, fractions, etc. Any time I've tried, the amount of time spent cleaning it up offsets the benefit of doing OCR in the first place.

That said, Paprika is the best app I've used, you are better off typing everything in either with the desktop version or a Bluetooth keyboard.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2021

Best answer: For 5 or 6 years or longer I have been using Recipe Keeper Pro. It was inexpensive and it does all you want it to do from importing recipes ..etc: I would be lost without it.
posted by smudgedlens at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2021

Best answer: I'm a Paprika user on my iPhone and my Mac and I love it. Paprika doesn't import PDFs and text files so I've done copying and pasting manually, which really only took a few seconds per recipe. Just highlight the entire ingredients list, paste it into the ingredients field in Paprika, and then do the same for the instructions. There is another way to do this that probably wouldn't save you any time, but you could try it:

1. Upload PDF or text file of recipe to Google Drive or other cloud service like Dropbox.
2. Create a shareable link to the file. Make sure to change the 'Restricted' setting so that anyone with the link can open it (you'd do something similar in Dropbox and other services).
3. Paste that link into the 'Browser' mode in Paprika and proceed as you normally would with a web link.

I imagine other methods of batch-converting PDFs and text files to html and then importing those into Paprika would also probably work, but again, I don't know if this would really save you much time.

All of the other features you want are in Paprika. A little addition I'll make to fedward's caution about scaling: Only amounts in the ingredients list are scaled. Amounts mentioned in the directions field will not change.
posted by theory at 7:59 PM on March 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: +1 for Recipe Keeper Pro. I'm not sure it scales but in my experience it does everything else you want
posted by knile at 9:39 PM on March 14, 2021

+1 to Paprika. It uses Paprika's own cloud storage so your recipes sync across devices and platform ecosystems.

Over the years, I tried a number of recipe apps/websites that had smaller organizations (or individuals) behind them, and was frustrated when they went away. So I suggest that whatever you go with, go with something that appears to have some organizational weight behind it.

I have managed to OCR some scans of printed recipes, clean up the text, and get them into Paprika, but this requires a fair amount of hand work. It's probably not much faster than retyping.
posted by adamrice at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2021

RecetteTek does about everything you need. You can import from web, from files, enter the recipes manually, edit any recipes you have imported. It scales, but doesn't convert between Imperial and metric. You can tag the recipes, annotate them and export them in a variety of format. There's a free version with ads, and the premium version is a one-time purchase.
posted by snakeling at 10:26 AM on March 15, 2021

Just chiming in to second Copymethat. It is hands down the easiest app for quick clipping and entry of recipes, and I've tried almost a dozen of them.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:03 PM on March 15, 2021

Response by poster: Yes, Recipe Keeper Pro does everything I want! It does scale - but it is kind of hidden behind "serving size" which here means "number of servings." So if the "serving size" is 6 and you change it to 3, it will cut the ingredients in half. It will do this for different kinds of units if both are listed (e.g. "4 tablespoons/55 grams") - I think it just does the math on any number in the ingredients section, but I haven't thoroughly tested this by listing an ingredient that has a number as part of its name. It does not make the corresponding change in the recipe directions.

It also will grey out an ingredent (to show it is added) if you touch it, and make a step bold (to show you are on it) if you touch it. I had not through to ask for these, but they are great features.

Thanks also to those who gave me suggestions for importing to Paprika, esp theory.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:35 PM on March 16, 2021

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