Cooking isn’t the same anymore. It’s not that home cooking isn’t blossoming or that our grandmothers’ recipes don’t still hold value, but the way people understand and relate to cooking is transforming thanks to the iPad. As a recent New York Times article observed, the range of cooking apps available may be making cookbooks obsolete. Classics like the Fannie Farmer Cookbook or The Joy of Cooking will most likely still be relevant 20 years from now — but probably only in tablet form, with videos and hi-res slideshows demonstrating the skills once only learned through trial and error.
Christine Meranda of Paprika explains that cooking apps make it easier to find recipes and keep organized in the kitchen. "I personally find it easier to cook with an iPad than with a series of sheets of paper because I can quickly scale quantities, find videos online which fill in missing skills, etc. I'm a terrible cook, but our app has made me passable in the kitchen." Everyone from mothers of five to professional chefs appreciates the ability to organize a large amount of interconnected things into one place, she says.
While cooking apps aren’t new, the iPad has allowed the technology to rival the use of traditional cooking tools. Jack Bishop, editorial director of Cook’s Illustrated, explains why cookbooks work exceptionally well on the iPad compared to other mobile technologies: "The iPad allows you to layer information, and unlike a phone, it can really provide depth of content. You can see the story, recipes, variations on the recipe, cooking steps, videos — and you can stack those things in a way that is very user friendly. And you can really cook from the iPad by standing it up on the counter, and there are more and more people who want to be doing that." (The iPad version of the Cook’s Illustrated app is scheduled for release with the July/August issue of the magazine.)
Michael Ditter from The Photo Cookbook app has another perspective. “An iPad is easier to use when cooking than a regular cookbook," he says. "Search functions, access to additional information, easy navigation without manual page turning, all exceed the conventional cookbook’s capacities." He does add, however, that he believes there will continue to be a stable market for printed cookbooks for years to come.
Whether or not iPad apps become the new cookbooks will depend largely on the functionality of the apps and how developers respond to user demands when it comes to what tools are needed in the kitchen. After examining user reviews, Apple rankings, and cooking with some of these apps in our own kitchens, we’ve narrowed down the best cooking apps that will have even the most die-hard cookbook collector setting up a tablet on the kitchen counter.