Review: Recipe Managers; Paprika vs Cookbook

During these unprecedented times (there I had use the term at least once) you’re probably home cooking more than any time in recent history. And if you’re anything like us you still want to make this as a pleasurable, organised and efficient experience as possible. Step in the Recipe Manager. Fortunately for you, dear reader, we’ve been using recipe managers for almost 10 years now so give you a decent review of veteran Paprika and relative newcomer CookBook.

Paprika Recipe Manager

Having used recipe managers for a while we’ll review the two apps based on the features we’ve held most valuable over all these years. These features are;

  • Ability to import recipes not only from the web but from other sources
  • Ability to sync recipes across various devices
  • How effectively it’s integrated into a shopping list
  • User experience

Importing Recipes

The ability to import recipes from other sources is one of the most important features of the recipes manager. With pretty much all imaginable recipes available and discoverable on the internet the advantage of a personal recipe manager is the ability to capture those recipes easily and customise and annotate as required. Also the ability to capture and import recipes from magazines and promotional materials that you may come across from time to time is an added bonus .

The main sources of import for both recipe managers is copying and pasting from another website. In either case, both import recipe content quite well with Paprika executing it slightly better with its own custom browser embedded into its app. Paprika allows you to categorise and annotate recipes before actual import whereas CookBook does it after the fact and we have to admit, Paprika’s venerable process still holds up.

However, it’s with importing from other sources that CookBook shines. CookBook comes embedded with an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Scanner that allows you to scan in recipes from printed material such as a magazine or recipe cards. While still a little clunky and requiring quite a bit of editing it’s still a good initial effort by CookBook. Paprika has nothing to speak of in this area so we have to give this one to CookBook

Winner: CookBook

Syncing/ Cross-Device Usage

Having your personal recipes available from multiple and various devices is another important feature of recipe manager. More than any other app category it is very important that you can access you recipes from different devices. Each device has its role to play; the smartphone for discovery and importing recipes on-the-go, the iPad to browse your recipes for inspiration and the smart speaker to read back your recipe whilst you’re cooking in the kitchen. This is where CookBook and Paprika’s pricing model and device strategy significantly differentiates itself.

Paprika charges on a strict by-device basis. Meaning which, if you’re access the service from your smartphone, tablet and laptop, you pay for each device that accesses the service. Access from an iOS costs $4.99 per device $14.99 from a Mac or PC and $2.99 from an Android device. You’re not able to access your Paprika database from your web browser on a laptop/Mac which is a significant miss. It is a one-time payment with no recurring subscription fee with cloud syncing coming as part of the purchase but it still stings a bit to have to pay by-device.

CookBook on the other hand allows you to access your database from multiple devices as long as all of those devices are on the same platform (ie, iOS and Android). Web access is completely free with the browser experience being pretty pleasant. It costs $8.49 for the Android platform and $4.99 from the iOS platform with access from PC/Mac (browser access) being free. As with Paprika, the costs are a one-time free with no recurring subscription fee.

As a family with multiple devices on both platforms (and Macs & PCs) the CookBook option is a more palatable model, with a total potential cost of $13.48. If you wanted to get to a similar experience with Paprika you are looking at updwards of at least $38. And with no browser access in Paprika, in this category it is pretty much a no-brainer

Winner: CookBook

Shopping List Integration

More of a nice-to-have feature, shopping list integration is available in both apps but the treatment is quite different. CookBook takes the shopping list from a meal planning perspective. In this respect, the shopping list is not given its own dedicated section (or button) on the main menu but rather it’s positioned more as a sub-section within the Meal Planning calendar area of the app. Once you choose which recipes you’re cooking on which days it automatically adds all the ingredients from that recipe into your shopping list. This feels a little un-intuitive, as with most recipes you normally have most of the ingredients at-hand. It also assumes that you take a very linear approach to cooking. As in, plan, buy, cook, whereas in reality you take inspiration for cooking from many different places; from TV, magazines, from ingredients you have in the pantry or fridge. From this perspective the shopping list feature seems very clunky.

The Paprika Shopping List
The Paprika Shopping List

Paprika, on the other hand, feels a little more intuitive. Once you’ve selected a recipe you want to cook, you can simply click on the shopping cart icon to add the recipe ingredients into your shopping list. Before all items are added you can check off the items you may already have (as above). This makes their integration a lot more intuitive and easier compared to CookBook.

Paprika goes even one step further and has integration into Siri. You can simply say “Hey Siri, add onions to my grocery list in Paprika”. This is a great feature and we can only hope they add Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration soon.

Neither platform have the more ideal feature that we’d like to see which is integration of a 3rd party shopping or to-do list like Todoist, Don’t Forget the Milk or Evernote. Any platform that does this we would strongly consider as the winner.

In this particular feature, we feel Parika’s treatment and integration of a shopping list is the winner.

Winner: Paprika

User Experience

With cooking being such a visceral, tactile and visual activity we feel that the overall user experience. It has to look and feel beautiful. This only encourages you to use it more and to ultimately cook more.

CookBook’s app feels very modern, clean, intuitive and generally a beautiful experience. Right from the moment you open up the app and are greeted with the an image of a contemporary all-white kitchen immediately puts you in a cooking mind frame. The ability to browse your recipes by images continues the modern theme and really sets it apart from Paprika.

And once you get to the actual cooking, CookBook’s app really kicks into high gear. Here CookBook have really thought about the cooking experience. For more novice cookers (or cooking the recipe for the first time) the user experience morphs more into more of a guided experience. Clicking the start icon in the recipe brings you into a literally larger experience, giving you the initial stats of the recipe you may need (prep time, cook time, number of ingredients, number of servings). The larger experience allows for bigger, clumsier interactions while you’re cooking, such as one finger or hand swipes to get to the next step, the ability to start timers when required, having the ingredients icon in the available in the top right hand corner are all very nice little touches to see as you’re cooking along with the app. The web experience feels a little older and clunkier and does not have all these features but at least quite serviceable.

As for Paprika the user experience feels a lot more old-school. The old-style user experience, cartoon-like icon as well as it’s red, white and black colour scheme makes it feel like it hasn’t been significantly updated in a while. For basic functionality of a robust database then the Paprika user experience suits its purpose. But is it UX that I want displayed on my screen in the kitchen and happy to look at while I cook? Not really.

One important note that both platforms fail at is Voice integration. Yes, Paprika has Siri integration into its shopping list but the fact that neither platform can read back recipes onto the main Voice platforms is a significant miss.

Winner: CookBook

Overall

After weighing up the options it might seem obvious to choose CookBook. But if certain factors are more important to you such as a more intuitive shopping list and Siri integration then perhaps Paprika is an ok choice. It has been around forever and doesn’t look to be going anywhere. Consider Paprika more of a browsable, searchable database with a good web importer and if that’s all you need, and you only need to access the database from one platform or device then it’s ok choice. If you want an app that is contemporary, beautiful to look at and experience, something that you’ll be proud to have coming out of your screen in the kitchen and something want to access it from multiple devices for different purposes then CookBook is the better option for you.

It should come as no surprise that the overall winner we give to CookBook.

Winner: CookBook

Carry On and Keep Cooking!

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