A Closer Look at Successful Cooking Apps in Case You Want to Develop Something Really Tasty

Cooking can be a hobby, a dreaded necessity or just a part of your routine, but no matter what your relationship with the kitchen is like, cooking takes time and effort. That’s where apps for iOS and Android step in, offering step-by-step instructions to help you prepare a hearty home-made meal or curate a weekly meal plan that goes with your diet.

Cooking applications vary in their sophistication - some cater more to the needs of chefs, while others are invaluable for somebody who’s struggling with basic recipes. There are all-in-one apps and apps that focus on one function: listing ingredients for recipes, creating meal plans, providing suggestions for cooking.

But most successful cooking applications, regardless of what they focus on precisely, share similar qualities: a simple design that combines mouth-watering pictures of food with a social component and an easy-to-navigate recipe manager.

At Yalantis, we’ve previously written about what it takes to develop a great grocery shopping list app. Now we wanted to look into successful cooking apps and see what makes them popular.

We’ve identified five different types of cooking apps: built-in recipe collection apps, customizable do-it-yourself recipe collection apps, social cooking apps, reference book cooking apps, and kitchen tool apps. Each type has its own unique development challenges and appeals to a slightly different audience.

Built-in recipe collection apps

BigOven is one of most popular tools for recipe management and meal planning. It combines a built-in library of recipes, sorted by category, with meal planning functionality. In practical terms, this means you can create a shopping list based on the recipe you choose. Recipe apps can be overwhelming if thee are too many details, but BigOven knows how to provide all necessary instructions in a smart and concise way.

Best features:

  • Snapshots of your own recipes

  • Weekly organizer to make sure you have ingredients on hand for the week’s meals

  • See what your friends are cooking and share your cooking experience with others

  • Seasonal recipes to cook tasty and healthy meals all year round

If you want to develop a similar type of recipe app, possible development challenges might include:

  • Integrating a calendar for meal planning

  • Curating content for seasonal recipes

recipe and cooking apps

[The BigOven app. Image source: Digital Trends]

Food Network also offers an app with their own recipe collection. Their main selling point is that their recipes come from well-known chefs that you can see on popular TV cooking shows. The Food Network app has a convenient navigation system and a collection of helpful how-to videos for more complex recipes.

Food Network’s app is praised for its search functionality, which lets you find recipes containing a particular ingredient or by a particular chef, and also for its wide selection of categories that makes finding exactly the recipe you want quick and easy. The app lets users set up multiple timers so that they can prepare several ingredients simultaneously.

Best features:

  • Video instructions

  • Search by ingredient or by chef

  • Add your own notes, tips, and substitutions to saved recipes

  • Unit converter

Possible development challenges for a similar cooking app:

  • Getting in touch with chefs or contracting with a network to receive updated content

  • Storing and displaying video files

Customizable do-it-yourself recipe collection apps

Paprika is another successful recipe management app that allows users to capture online recipes and sync them automatically between devices. Most recipes found on food websites can simply be saved with the click of a button, but even entering recipes from non-compatible web-pages is quicke. Just like BigOven, Paprika makes it easy to generate meal plans based on your saved recipes.

Best features:

  • Meal-planning calendar that lets users create menus for a week or a month.

  • Auto-lock screen feature so users don’t have to “wake up” their device every few minutes to see instructions or a list of ingredients (you know how inconvenient it is to touch the screen when your fingers are covered with flour and coconut flakes!)

  • Built-in measurements converter

Possible development challenges for a similar cooking app:

  • Capturing online recipes and syncing recipes between devices

  • Developing algorithms that create meal plans based on saved recipes

Social cooking apps

Cookpad is a cooking app for social media fans, offering a space where users can exchange their favorite recipes. Cookpad lets users upload a picture of the finished dish and make comments – they might note what can be used a substitute for rare ingredients in the recipe, offer a warning about potential food allergies, or include a suggestion for a side dish that goes well with the meal.

Best features:

  • Photo archive of dishes you’ve cooked (photos accompany recipes)

  • Bookmarking

  • Timeline where you see what your friends are cooking

Possible development challenges for a similar cooking app:

  • Image recognition and sorting for the cooking diary (the app has to import pictures from your device’s gallery)

social cooking apps

[The Cookpad app. Image source: Digital Trends]

Reference book cooking apps

Speciality Produce represents a different type of mobile app that is equally loved by experienced cooks and the general public. With a dictionary of ingredients – from most basic vegetables to exotic fruits and rare spices – each entry has information about the history of the ingredient, its taste, preparation techniques, and links to recipes that require the ingredient.

Users can search within the app either by ingredient or by PLU codes, making the app useful in many markets around the globe. Speciality Produce features more than 3000 ingredients, including rarities that even an experienced cook might not be familiar with.

Best features:

  • Nutritional information

  • Search by ingredient or category

  • Preparation tips

Possible development challenges for a similar cooking app:

  • Curating and updating content

  • Presenting lengthy dictionary-style information in an engaging way

Kitchen Tools Apps

The last – simplest – group of cooking and food-related apps are apps that replace standard kitchen tools, helping users convert units of volume, weight, or temperature, or set a timer for what’s in the oven.

This type of a kitchen app is pretty simple to build, and cheap as well. But the problem is there are tons of competing apps like these on the market. Some cooking apps might be better suited for professional cooks, whereas others are good for anyone who’s just learning basic skills, but undoubtedly there are certain must-have features that help great cooking apps stand out and gain a following.

What does an ideal cooking app look like?

  • An ideal cooking app makes it easy to access information and use the app while cooking. Certain formats such as short video guides and gifs are more kitchen-friendly that lengthy text descriptions.

  • An ideal cooking app has a UI that can be adjusted to work across multiple devices and screens.

  • An ideal cooking app lets you collect and customize recipes from other sources, as well as exchange recipes with others through social networks.

  • An ideal cooking app has an essential built-in tool kit that helps with unit conversion or calorie intake calculation, or acts as a kitchen timer.

The app market is already loaded with cooking apps for iOS and Android, so it takes attention to details and a well-thought-out design to develop a cooking app that has a chance of winning over the tech-savvy cook.

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