Weeks ago, I was reading a review of a list of cooking apps and two iPad apps that I hadn’t heard of drew my eye. One was Pepperplate and the other Paprika. After reading the iTunes store reviews, I decided to try Paprika (side note: I hate that you can’t sample apps, especially when we get over the $5 price range. I might still like Pepperplate but now that I have Paprika, it gets even more expensive to try Pepperplate).

I must admit, I’m a sucker for cooking apps. I guess maybe it’s my love of cookbooks transferring itself to my love of gadgets and the iPad? I did thin out my cookbooks recently, for the first time in years, because I’ve found myself relying more and more on recipes found on the internet, where I can get reviews and suggested revisions. And this is where Paprika is full of awesome and comes into play.

The Paprika developer page describes Paprika as a recipe management app that “lets you manage *your* recipes”.

And it does do that, and does it quite well (with two quibbles on my end that I’ll discuss later). I’m going to walk you through some of my favorite features, with tons of screenshots.

First, the initial beauty of this app, as you compile your recipes, is tied into having wifi access, so it’s not an app that you would use immediately offline. You need to first start importing your recipes from various websites and browsers. For me, this meant opening the browser within the app and then navigating to my favorite recipe sites (of which I have many).The browser comes pre-populated with some cooking sites pre-bookmarked. You can then add your own bookmarks. I added my own site (since I have a separate recipe page I often access for my own use), Allrecipes.com, Pioneer Woman, Serious Eats, King Arthur’s Flour, Fine Cooking and a few other blogs and foodie sites I like to grab recipes from. Once I had these bookmarked, I knew I could download a bunch of recipes I use often immediately into Paprika.

So there are two options for importing your recipes (and the missing third is one of my quibbles). First, you can navigate to the website and hit the “Save Recipe” button in the upper right corner. If the website you’re on is one of the sites recognized by Paprika, it will automatically save and import the recipe, complete with ingredients, directions, picture and details into your Paprika library.

And it will end up looking like this:

The other option, if the site is not one recognized by Paprika (you can email to request a site be added. They make it easy to do) is to help Paprika define the parts and create the recipe. This is lovely because it’s all just highlighting and tapping a button. No typing required. For example, Paprika doesn’t recognize my site as one of its main sites (of course) so to import my own recipes, I simply highlight first the name, then the ingredients, then the directions and last a picture, after I highlight each section, I tap “Copy Name/Ingredient/Directions” (see below) and it saves that part

If you want to save an image to go with the recipe, you simply click on that image and it gives you the option of copying it (for insertion into the recipe) or saving it to your photo library. Once you have all of the parts copied, as you can see in the bottom area the arrows are pointing to in the photo below, you hit “Create Recipe”

Once you’ve done that, it shows up in your recipe file looking like this (plus an image if you’ve saved one. I didn’t because I didn’t have a photo of it on my site)

One of the things I like about creating a recipe within Paprika is that it saves the URL of where you got the recipe and once you’re in the recipe, you actually have the option of viewing it online again, in case you want to read the comments/reviews.

Once you have your recipe(s) saved into Paprika manager, there’s a lot you can do to organize, sort, categorize and use them. First, you can add as many custom categories as you want, and add each recipe to as many of those as you’d like, so when you’re browsing your recipes, you can browse by a specific category.Or by browsing your favorites.

In addition, you can easily edit every recipe once it’s imported, to change the recipe, ingredients, directions or to update the prep time, cook time, servings and additional information. You can also add notes to your recipes that you don’t want to appear within the recipe itself, but rather as side notes:

Not only that, but you can create a daily or weekly menu, and from that menu create a grocery list. Or, alternately, if you don’t want to create a menu, but want to add a recipe’s ingredients to a grocery list, you can do that as well. Or email yourself a meal plan. The grocery list also has some options, so you can manage that list, email it, print it, etc.

If you look at every recipe, both in a list and individually, you see they all have symbols under them. From left to right those symbols allow you to: add to menu, add a note, favorite, add to grocery list, email and delete. Tapping add to menu, favorite, add to grocery list again will remove them from those lists. And as you can see below, you can also search your recipes not just by name, but also by ingredient.

In addition to emailing yourself the meal plan, you can also email recipes from within the app. So maybe your friend Sarah is asking for your Sausage and Lentil Soup, you can email it to her!

Last, one very cool feature that I can’t screenshot, but can only tell you about, is that Paprika overrides your iPad’s normal screen lock settings. So if you’re in the middle of cutting up raw meat and have messy hands, your iPad won’t suddenly go dark because the screen lock settings have kicked in. As long as you’re viewing a recipe in Paprika, your iPad stays on. Love. This. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to swipe my screen with the back of my knuckles while cooking, because screen lock had kicked in.

There are some other random settings you can utilize, including the font size of the recipes (up to EXTRA LARGE) and doing a manual backup.

I mentioned there’s two quibbles I have with Paprika. One is a method of saving that I think is missing from Paprika, and that’s importing recipes that you’ve saved off the websites. I have a large collection of recipes I’ve saved to my computer that I’d love to import into Paprika. This missing feature is what makes Paprika a four star instead of five star app for me, because recipe management is dependent on my recipes either being on the web, to import, or me typing them in by hand (blech).

The second quibble is their cloud syncing option. In order to sync to the cloud, you have to spend another $10/year for this feature, and you don’t even get to sync to the cloud of your choice (like Dropbox or SugarSync) but their own Paprika cloud. I’d like to be able to sync to my own account on Dropbox, please, and not have to pay to do so since I already paid $10 for the app.

Regardless, despite these two quibbles, I do give Paprika 4 of 5 stars, and would change that to 5 stars in a heartbeat if I could more easily import recipes from offline. And if you’re someone who finds themselves hoarding recipes from online (as I do) I heartily recommend this iPad-only app even at the current price tag of $9.99. For interest’s sake, I’ll point out that this app gets an average 4 1/2 star rating so I’m not the only one who loves it.

Thanks to the developers of Paprika, Hindsight Labs LLC, I have a code to give away for a free download of Paprika, a $9.99 value. All you have to do to enter is tell me your favorite online recipe or foodie blog/source/forum/site. I’ll draw the winner via random.org on Friday, February 25th. Please be sure to use a valid email address when leaving your comment, because I’ll use that to notify you that you’ve won. Giveaway is open to everyone, even if you’ve won something here before. And if you don’t win, I hope you’ll consider buying because this is one awesome recipe manager app.

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