Search engines can pull up hundreds of recipes for any given dish. Which one will you choose? Surely, the one that doesn’t require you to run to the supermarket to pick up missing ingredients. Once in a while you can make that effort, particularly if you have guests coming over for dinner. But if you are feeling tired or lazy and just want to prepare something good out of whatever you have in your pantry, the usual cookbook won’t work. You need a reverse-recipe search engine.
Here are a few of them to try out.
1. Recipe Matcher allows you to enter whatever ingredients you have in your fridge and matches it to recipes in their database. Just enter the ingredients you have at home or the ones you want to use and the site will tell you all that you can make. You can narrow down the results to better match your tastes by telling the search engine what type of dish you wish to prepare (breakfast, dessert, American, Asian) and what the primary ingredients need to be.
2. Super Cook has the search as you type functionality bringing you results in real time as you enter each ingredients. The results update every time a new ingredient is added. A suggestion box keep asking you for specific ingredients like “Do you have olive oil?”. If you do, click on it to add to the ingredient mixer. You can also highlight some of the ingredients to emphasize them. And if a recipe has almost all the ingredients except one or two, it will tell you what’s missing.
3. Recipe Puppy is a true recipe search engine. It lets you enter the ingredients and brings you results from all over the web. You are also allowed to emphasize on certain ingredients.
4. Cook Thing lets you start with one ingredient. Let’s say tomatoes. When press enter you get a list of ingredients that commonly appear with tomato recipes. Now check the boxes against the ingredients that you have and click ‘Find Recipes’ to get a list of recipes to try out. CookThing too is a universal search engine, meaning, it brings you recipes from all over the Internet.
5. My Fridge Food allows you to choose the ingredients you have from a huge list. (Click use detailed kitchen to reveal the entire list). Once you get the results you can filter it by category – breakfast, dinner, snacks etc. My Fridge Food will also show you the calorie count, fat, carbohydrate and protein content for each recipe – useful for the health conscious.
6. Recipe Land has more than 50,000 recipes to search through. You can add any number of ingredients to search using the “with” or “without” parameter. The most unfortunate thing about the site is that the search doesn’t work. I hope it’s a temporary problem because RecipeLand does have a nice looking search tool.
7. Recipe Key: You begin by searching for an ingredient and then dragging it to a virtual pantry. You keep doing this until you have added all the ingredients to the pantry. Then click on ‘Find recipes’ to find matching meals. You can filter the results by meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner), cuisines (American, Chinese, Indian), cook method (grill, stove, microwave), preparation time, cook time and even difficulty level! Amateur cooks should keep this on their bookmarks.
8. Food.com (amazing domain name, by the way) uses menus which you have to navigate to locate your ingredients and add them to your selection. A little orange box tells you the number of matching recipes they have found even before you search it. The menu approach is a bit clumsy, I prefer manually typing in the ingredients. Success rate is variable.
Note: You have to click on the “Recipe sifter” button on the right of the navigation bar to open the recipe search tool.
9. Not Beans Again lets you enter up to 5 ingredients. The results are limited and some very irrelevant. For example, one recipe says I need Tuna when I didn’t have any.
10. Fridge to Food is a simple no-frills search site. You enter all ingredients together into the search box and hit enter to see the results. The site’s database of recipes is small and some of the results are not too relevant.
11. Ideas4Recipes is another simple recipe search site that lets you whip out a quick meal from available ingredients. You can enter up to 5 ingredients at once.
12. All Recipes has a search by ingredient section that allows you to add up to 4 ingredients. It also lets you enter ingredients you don’t want to appear in results. Options are limited.
13. Food Pair allows you to add up to 10 ingredients. But adding more ingredients instead of showing more recipes, oddly shrinks the results down until you are left with one to no recipe. The problem with the search tool is that it thinks we want to use all the ingredients on the same recipe.
14. Big Oven lets you search by adding up to 3 ingredients. You can refine the results by choosing to exclude up to 3 ingredients, stuff that you don’t have in hand. Results can be sorted by food category and preparation time.
15. Cooking by Numbers is another of those ingredients search site. You select the items in your fridge and your cupboard using checkboxes and the site will try to find out what you can prepare with minimum fuss. The website was down at the time of this review, and therefore I wasn’t able to explore it in full.
16. Food Combo is a search engine that lets you search for recipes across multiple websites by adding ingredients you have within reach. You can then filter the results by tags such as "Italian", "breakfast", "low carb" etc. If you have allergies towards certain food, you can eliminate them from the results. This allergy filter can also be used to eliminate recipes that require ingredients you don't have. You can fine tune the results further by adding dietary restrictions, such as if you are a vegan or or a vegetarian.
Bonus Site: What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner?