Transform Your iPad Into a Gourmet Cookbook with Epicurious

When was the last time you opened your fridge and contemplated its emptiness, not knowing what to cook for dinner? Did you know the few vegetables you have at home taste great with some rice and sauce? Thanks to Epicurious and its thousands of recipes, you won’t have to worry about what to cook for your next meal again! Find the right dish based on the app’s suggestions or what you like — or have at home — and cook delightful dishes you didn’t even know about! Epicurious makes it all easy and enjoyable, so go get your apron on and let’s get cooking!

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Step 1. Find The Perfect Recipe

Before starting to cook anything, you’ll have to find the right dish to prepare. Epicurious has an impressive catalog of recipes to choose from, and even lets you browse them the way you want, so you can easily find something interesting to cook. If you already have an idea of what you’d like to prepare, you can run a manual search. Otherwise, have a look at the wide range of featured recipes and you’ll definitely find the yummy dish you didn’t even know you’d be craving for!

Featured Dishes

When you first open Epicurious, you’re taken to the Featured page, which presents a selection of recipes organized by categories. Some of them take the time of the year into account and will suggest seasonal recipes, such as Thanksgiving dinners, spring desserts and graduation parties. Others are more generic and geared towards an audience, such as kids, vegetarians, easy recipes and professional ones.

The Featured list displays various recipe categories

The Featured list displays various recipe categories

After you’ve selected a category, Epicurious will display a countless number of dishes that correspond on the right. These can be sorted by relevance, rating, photos (some don’t have any, though) or in alphabetical or chronological order. Unfortunately, there is no option to filter the content within a category, which prevents you from hiding recipes that may contain ingredients you’re allergic to. Similarly, when browsing a category, it’s impossible to display recipes that would match the criteria you define, in case you wanted to cook those tomatoes before they go bad!

Manual Search

Thankfully, there is still an option to search for content and filter recipes based on ingredients and other elements you define. Recipes can be filtered by main ingredients (you can pick as many as you like), meal or course, type of cuisine, dietary considerations, dish type and season or occasion. The way of selecting these options is somehow counterproductive, as you have to scroll through images to pick what you want, instead of entering text that could be recognized. However, you can always use the search box at the top to enter keywords, which will be added you the criteria you select.

The Search feature is very handy when you're looking for specific recipes

The Search feature is very handy when you’re looking for specific recipes

In addition to searching for food, you can find great cocktail recipes the same way. All you have to do is tell Epicurious what alcohol and other ingredients you’d like in there, and it’ll suggest recipes for you to try. You can also filter by cuisine, drink type and season, even though these options are less appropriate in this section. As with the Featured categories, recipes can always be sorted by relevance, rating, photos and either alphabetically and chronological order.

Step 2. Mark Your Recipes And Prepare Your Shopping List

Once you’ve spotted interesting items you’d like to try, you can easily favorite them for quick access and even share the recipe. Epicurious can share content via email, Facebook, Instapaper, Pinboard, Pocket, Tumblr and Twitter. The app can also sync your favorite recipes with your iPhone and Epicurious.com, provided you pay a $1.99 premium.

The Combined Shopping List is a useful way of getting all the ingredients you need for your recipe

The Combined Shopping List is a useful way of getting all the ingredients you need for your recipe

Another great feature is the Shopping List, which lets you seamlessly add a recipe to a list you can access from anywhere in the app. The list itself is organized into various sections, such as fresh produce, nuts and spices and dairy, so it’s easier for you to find the items you’re looking for. It can be set to either display ingredients from a specific recipe or a combined view of all the recipes in your shopping list. Nevertheless, the Combined view will simply show all ingredients in a unique list without merging the same items in a single line. For instance, if one of your recipe requires 6 large eggs and another one require 2 large eggs, Epicurious will show the items separately, instead of telling you to buy 8 eggs…

Step 3. Start Cooking!

Now that you’ve been to the store to get all the ingredients you needed, let’s start cooking. Simply go back to the recipe, either by searching for it again or by digging through your Favorites. In landscape mode, the list of ingredients will be shown on the left while the actual recipe will occupy most of the screen space. Epicurious makes it easy to follow along thanks to an on scren marker that points to the line or step you’re at. This way, you don’t have to keep track of what you’re doing, as the application does it for you.

A sample Recipe -- Note the orange marker on the left

A sample Recipe — Note the orange marker on the left

Because you’re meant to use the app while cooking, the font size is relatively big, but can be changed to a smaller or even bigger setting, depending on your needs. The smaller setting makes sense for long recipes, as you can see more of the steps without having to scroll down. At the bottom of the screen, three tabs give you direct access to additional information, such as user reviews for the recipe, details on the author and dish, and nutritional information. However, depending on the recipe, the last tab may not appear if no nutrition information is available.

Shortcomings

Epicurious is meant to be used the most when cooking and therefore needs to be adapted to the environment. Although the text is relatively big so it’s easier to read, the application still requires you to touch your screen to scroll through content. This is definitely not convenient when your hands are full of flour, and an option to recognize a gesture via the front-facing camera or even speech would have been much more useful.

Recipes are also not organized the same way: some have the entire recipe in a bulky paragraph, while others clearly detail the steps with numbers. The first layout makes it harder to follow the steps and renders the on screen marker useless. This inconsistency is also annoying when cooking different recipes for a party, as they are not organized the same way, even though they’re in the same app.

Lastly, Epicurious requires an internet connection to work and doesn’t have an in-app function to download recipes into your iPad. However, thanks to its sharing features, it’s very easy to save a recipe to Pocket or Instapaper so you can cook at your summer cottage that has no connectivity.

Conclusion

Despite its shortcomings, Epicurious is a great way of finding inspiration, getting new ideas and discovering great recipes. The application should be adapted for users not to have to manipulate their iPads during the cooking process, by recognizing gestures through the camera or integrating with Siri, for instance. These drawbacks aside, the app is definitely worth a try and can truly be a great companion for your next dinner party!


Summary

Thousands of recipes straight on your iPad. Discover new dishes and cocktails thanks to featured categories and a powerful search function

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