You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Review: How to Cook Everything

May 17, 2010


How to Cook Everything is the iPhone app version of Mark Bittman's award winning book of the same name. There are over 2,000 recipes and 400 how-to illustrations available, as well as a built in timer, search function and grocery list.


- Over 2,000 recipes - 400 how-to illustrations - Advanced search - by ingredient, type and technique - Favorites - Grocery list - Built in timer - Recipe of the day The first time you open the app, it will take a few more seconds than usual as it needs to index all the recipes. Once this is done you can get on with finding great recipes. The home page has five tabs, starting with the home tab. The home tab offers a 'kitchen basics' button which offers ingredients, equipment and techniques for you to be able to get your kitchen, and your cooking skills, ready for creating amazing meals. The next prominent button is the browse button, which allows you to browse through all the recipes by category. The categories are also split into subcategories (e.g. Soups>cold soups). Each recipe has four icons next to it to indicate the cooking time and type of dish; fast, make ahead, vegetarian and essential. If you find a recipe you really like, you can add it as a favorite as well as vote for it.  Favorites are available from the tab at the bottom and voting increases a recipes ranking in the most popular section. How to Cook Everything also offers collections of recipes to try out. Some of these recipes include, 'Bittman's Picks,' which includes a top 100 from each of the sections (fast, essential, make ahead and vegetarian). Most Popular offers a list of the highest rated recipes, and featured recipes offers a different recipe each day for you to try out. The quick dinners section offers a collection of recipes that fall into the 'fast' category. There is a quick search bar on the home screen as well as an advanced search tab so you can find the exact recipe you want. Searches can be filtered by type, key ingredient, cooking technique and flavor. If a recipe you want to cook (in the 4000 recipes, there must be something you like) you can add it to the grocery list. This will add every ingredient needed for the recipe to the grocery tab, and will split the items into sections of the supermarket. Items can be added and deleted depending on what you might already have at home and the lists can be emailed for easy sharing or printing. Items can be ticked off from within the app so this can be used while you are shopping. Found the recipe you want? Got all your ingredients? Time for a bit of cooking. Each recipe has four tabs; overview, ingredients, steps and variations. The overview tells you a little bit about the dish and offers related content such as '14 ideas for roast chicken.' Each step of a recipe is on a separate page, accessible from the numbered buttons at the top, to stop you from getting ahead of yourself. The 'variations tab' offers, as you can probably guess, variations of a recipe so instead of olive oil, you might use black beans as a coating. When reading instructions for many recipes, you will see that times are shown in red. Pressing on these brings up a timer preset to the exact time you need. The timer can be minimised and you are free to browse the app or continue cooking until the timer sounds. You can also close the app whilst the time is running, and as long as you reopen before the timer is up, the app will use the last exit time to readjust the timer. Another feature available from the settings is the ability to change the size of the font for recipes.

The Breakdown

The Good: How to Cook Everything really does offer recipes for everything from sauces to chicken, soups to desserts, there is a recipe in here to please everyone. The grocery list implementation is fantastic and something that works really well and makes it simple to use the app from the planning stages of a meal, right through shopping, all the way to the end result. The instructions are easy to follow and the built in timer really sets How to Cook Everything ahead of other recipe apps. The kitchen basics section is great for getting you up to scratch on what you might need as well as how you go about preparing specific foods. Most of the how-to's are accompanied by illustrations making it easy to understand exactly how to do something. The Bad: For everything that is good about it, one thing really disappoints me; pictures. Although there are plenty of illustrations for the how-to section, there are no photos of the finished meals which is something I really enjoy about physical cook books. Maybe it's just me, but I like to choose meals based on how nice they looks as well as the actual recipe itself.

The Verdict

This is without a doubt the best recipe app I have used and for $4.99 this is an absolute must for everyone who cooks; amateurs, students and professional alike will all find something they love about this app. How to Cook Everything isn't just another recipe app; it's your primary tool in your cooking arsenal.

Related articles