Paprika: A delectable recipe manager for iPad

Paprika ($9.99), by Hindsight Labs, is an absolutely gorgeous recipe manager for iPad. Not only can you catalogue all of your own recipes with Paprika, you can also easily add them from websites. In addition, Paprika will build a grocery list from any recipes you choose, and you can use the app while you cook. An iPhone version of the app is also available.

When you initially open the app, you are greeted by a bare, gray screen topped by a rich red border. There are only three buttons along the top: an edit categories button, a settings button, and an add recipe button. Along the bottom screen are three more buttons: recipes, browser, and groceries. This minimalist environment makes the app feel clean and uncluttered (unlike my kitchen).

Paprika comes with four permanent categories: all recipes, most recent, favorites, and uncategorized. You can add as many categories as you like, and you can assign recipes to more than one category.

To add a recipe, simply tap the “add recipe” button. A new screen opens with a popup dialog that allows you to add the name of your recipe and information, such as the difficulty of the recipe, how many servings it makes, how long it takes to cook, what category it fits in, and your rating. After you save that information, you return to the main editing page where you can add a picture, list the ingredients, and compose the directions.

A really cool feature that was added in Paprika’s most recent update is a special keyboard that has quantities and measurements. It appears when you open the Edit Ingredients dialog. With a tap of two keys you can enter 3/4 cup or 1/2 teaspoon! This is a wonderful addition that makes typing your own recipes a breeze.

But typing recipes can be so time consuming, and this leads me to the killer feature of Paprika. Paprika has its own browser that allows you to search websites for recipes. Included in Paprika’s browser bookmarks are some of the main recipe sites. Once you select a recipe on one of these websites, all you have to do is tap the “Save Recipe” button on the upper right hand of the browser toolbar.

The recipe is downloaded directly into the app along with its ingredients, directions, and photograph! You type nothing! You don’t even have to copy anything! This is simply an amazing feature that makes adding recipes so simple you might actually want to cook again.

Now, this feature only works with the recipe sites included in the app’s browser. But, even if your favorite site isn’t listed, you can still add recipes to Paprika fairly easily. I’m a vegetarian, so I like using the Vegetarian Times website to find recipes. I tried using the “Save Recipe” button, but Paprika didn’t recognize the website’s formatting. All was not lost, however, because you can highlight each recipe element (name, ingredients, directions) and use Paprika’s pop up dialog to save them.

Tap “Create Recipe” and voilĂ , it’s in your database.

Another great feature of Paprika is the grocery list. You can add all of the ingredients for a recipe to your grocery list simply by tapping the grocery cart icon (which appears in list view and in the main recipe view). The ingredients are placed in the list by recipe, and, just in case you don’t want to take your Precious to the grocery store, you can email the list and print it out or read it on your iPhone. If you do take your iPad with you, you can easily check off items as you add them to your cart. It’s also easy to clear the entire list once your shopping is done.

When you’re ready to cook, set up your iPad, preferably on a Joule iPad Stand or the Twelve South Compass, and get to work. Paprika automatically overrides the iPad’s sleep mode when you’re in recipe view so you never have to touch the iPad with greasy fingers.

What’s Macgasmic: Paprika is a simple app with one purpose: managing recipes. It’s beautifully designed and easy to use. Best of all, it actually makes adding recipes pleasurable. I don’t know about you, but my family tends to get in food ruts. We wind up eating the same things week after week because coming up with new meal ideas is difficult. With Paprika, I can browse recipe sites to my heart’s content and download them with the touch of a button. This is simply magical.

What’s Not: It’s hard to find much to complain about with Paprika, but I will point out a few minor annoyances. Although the “save recipe” button is absolutely genius, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes only part of the recipe appears (with the ingredients not listed); sometimes none of the recipe appears. I’m sure this is simply a matter of the website not communicating correctly with the app, and you can always use the copy and paste method if the download doesn’t work. I also discovered that the copy method could be finicky. I highlighted the ingredients, for example, but then the capture box would suddenly expand, including sections I didn’t want. I often had to start over and re-select text. But these are small inconveniences in what otherwise is an amazing and practical app.

I told my husband about Paprika since he’s the main cook in our family. “You bought a what?” he asked.

“A recipe app,” I replied.

“Why?” he asked, “You never cook.”

“Well,” I said, “I’m hoping this will give us some new ideas for meals.”

He rolled his eyes and went back to reading his iPad.

And therein lies the one major weakness of Paprika: it doesn’t do the cooking for you.

I am a professor at a small liberal arts college in West Texas where I teach Old Testament and Hebrew. I am also a writer. I have a wonderful husband, two amazing kids, two destructive labradors named Calvin and Hobbes,… Full Bio