Simple Recipe & Cooking Apps for iPad and iPhone

March 24, 2016 | Natasha Singh

Simple Recipe & Cooking Apps for iPad and iPhone
Simple Recipe & Cooking Apps for iPad and iPhone

With meal kit companies like Blue Apron and eCommerce organic food delivery websites like Farms and Forks all the rage, it nice to have a digital sous chef just a few taps away. Every cook needs a little help from time to time; until our phones grow arms so they can stir that chocolate roux, apps are the best help we can find.

While your phone may not be able to make gumbo for you, it can guide you along the path. Apps like Epicurious and Chef Watson (technically only a web app, but the site is responsive & definitely worth checking out!) help the aspiring gourmet chef achieve culinary excellence through innovative and delicious meals.

Of course, cooking apps can do more than provide recipes. There are apps out there to help make the perfect roast, to help find ingredient substitutes and even some with instructional videos – a great option for those just starting to get into the culinary game. This is a burgeoning market and, as home cooking becomes more popular, will continue to grow for years.

One of the biggest drivers behind the growth of Cooking apps is the advantages new tablets like the iPad present. Instructional videos on a phone are often difficult to see and many phones lack the GPU necessary to correctly display complex images and videos.

The new iPad Pro, on the other hand, has not only a superior graphics system, but its extremely fast and powerful (nearly 80% faster than the average desktop!). Additionally, Cooking app design plays very nicely into the increase screen size an iPad offers. Let’s go over some of the top iOS apps for chefs.

Chef Watson

Again, this may not be technically an iOS app, but it functions beautifully on my iPad and the inventive and strange (but tasty) recipes that Chef Watson creates recipes that are a joy to make for any cook; not to mention a joy to eat! This app is an interface for the IBM Supercomputer (near A.I.) Watson. The app is a front-end display for users, but behind the scene, it’s a Supercomputer figuring out the best possible recipe.

One of the biggest advantages of this web app is are the customizable, unique recipes. You tell Watson what you’re main ingredients are want to use and provides a recipe (created on the spot, though inspired by other recipes). In today’s market, consumers expect unique, tailored app experiences – exactly what Chef Watson provides.

Chef Watson especially is known for “cognitive cooking” – or creating dishes that pair ingredients not normally seen together (my favorite so far has been Jerked Caribbean Salad with Mint-Serrano dressing!). While this is a great approach to cooking, it does lead to the biggest criticism of this web app: bizarre, hard to find ingredients. That being said, the clever designers anticipated this problem; each ingredient has a drop-down menu of potential substitutes (remember, design is the most important part of app development!).


Epicurious is an excellent tool for finding the perfect recipe with easy to find ingredients. They offer a curated list of 30,000 different recipes from all over the world, searchable by keywords. Excellent addition to the search function are filtered for dietary restrictions – i.e. Low Fat, Heart Healthy, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian/vegan and so on.

The best feature is the ability to transfer recipe ingredients to a digital shopping list. This ensures that all the ingredients you need are on your list – nothing worse than getting home and realizing you missed that one key item! Additionally, Epicurious offers different formats for the iPad, providing a different UX across multiple devices. This app is available on Android (learn more about how to mirror your successful iOS app on Android here)

Finally, this app is one of my favorites when it comes to themed or seasonal meals. Epicurious does a great job of not only presenting currently popular dishes but in providing custom lists for different weather and for multiple holidays. Any chef can tell you Thanksgiving is a hectic day in the kitchen, but Epicurious goes out of its way to make cooking for families easier. Plus, they provide a nice drink recipe list for when the family is over.


Available on both Android and iOS, this little helper app provides a comprehensive recipe walkthrough. This includes itemized instructions accompanied by videos and photos. SideChef contains a large searchable database of recipes and offers a curated list of daily featured recipes.

SideChef is an example of an app development team that does their research. In addition to the itemized instructions, videos and photos at each step, SideChef has built-in timers for all steps so a chef can keep on cooking. If you’d like to design your own cooking app, keep in mind that a chef’s hands are usually occupied – photos and videos are extremely useful.


Other than Chef Watson, this is my favorite cooking aide on this list. Instead of providing a mammoth list of recipes, Yummly provides unique recipes to you, based on your tastes and dietary restrictions. For those of you with Celiac’s, Gluten/Dairy intolerances, and other restrictions, this is your app.

Yummly (available on Android as well as iOS) takes Epicurious’ exported shopping list feature to the next step: instead of simply creating a list, you can actually use the app to order the ingredients directly from Instacart. With a few simple clicks, this app gives you a recipe, orders the ingredients, and gets it all delivered to you. The modern era, eh?

Make your Own Cooking or Recipe App

SDI can build your cooking app at an affordable cost. Do you know that Farms & Forks website mentioned above? We built that. We know how to make a cooking app fly off the shelves – call us at 408.805.0495 or contact us directly and let’s get cooking! Call soon to get 25% off your first app or web project.

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