There's no shortage of cooking apps to give you a helping hand in the kitchen. Paprika Recipe Manager, one of the category's best options, offers recipe and grocery-managing tools that make it a fantastic mobile companion app for rigorous home cooks and casual kitchen dabblers alike. Paprika doesn’t pretend to be anything other than an incredibly well-designed recipe organizer that delivers text-based cooking directions, so don't expect video content or recipe recommendations. That said, the recipe manager doesn’t need much else. Paprika includes a top-notch pantry system, highly customizable recipes and lists, and other excellent features that make the $4.99 kitchen tool our Editors' Choice pick for cooking apps.
Getting Started With Paprika
Paprika is available on the Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows platforms as a free app, but you can purchase it for $4.99 to unlock Paprika Cloud Sync (to carry recipes and lists across devices) and the ability to save unlimited recipes (otherwise you're limited to just 50). If you own Paprika on iOS, Family Sharing lets you use the app on five other iOS devices, including iPad and Apple Watch (Android and Windows lack this feature).
Upon firing up Paprika, the app suggests purchasing the much more expensive desktop version ($29.99). It’s a nice idea, but requiring separate purchases for different platforms is bothersome and pricey. After you make or decline that desktop app purchase, you're dropped right into the app to start your recipe hoarding. Paprika is a one-time purchase; with BigOven ($2.99 per month), Chefling ($4.99 per month), SideChef ($4.99 per month), or Yummly ($4.99 per month), you'll need a subscription to get the most out of those services.
Paprika isn’t quite as handsome as the image-focused Yummly and Big Oven, but it is by no means unattractive. It uses a white background with red highlights for its toolbar and special icons. The Browser page, your first stop when using Paprika, features an explanation of the app’s processing engine, a guide for how to download recipes, and a list of recommended recipe websites. This page in particular could use some cleaning up, as there’s too much text cluttering the screen and distracting from the browser bar. Its other categories, which include the Recipes, Groceries, Pantry, Meals, Menus, and Settings tabs, are all much cleaner and easier on the eyes.
Paprika lacks preference options and recipe suggestions. Instead, it offers an in-app, Google-powered browser to use to search for whatever recipe tickles your fancy. This is an impersonal approach compared to Yummly, Chefling, or BigOven's curated experiences that use AI and semantic search engines to power their suggestions. Paprika integrates Google search directly into the app, letting you browse and select recipes at your discretion.
Paprika’s value doesn’t come from recipe suggestions or fancy formatting. Once you find a recipe you like, simply click the download button to archive it. This saves the ingredients, directions, and any nutritional values included with the original recipe. Paprika also grabs an image thumbnail for said recipe, displays a 5-star rating scale, cooking time, serving sizes, and the recipe category. This is similar in function to Chefling.
Once the recipe is in your archive, you are free to modify it to your liking. You can remove or strike-through directions and ingredients, scale the recipe for larger or smaller sizes, add photos, and even change the measurement sizes to US or metric units. You can use the same tools to enter your personal recipes, which is a wonderful touch; it’s like you’re managing your own personal recipe book. This is also what sets Paprika apart from other cooking apps. Chefling lets you pull recipes from the web in much the same way as Paprika, but editing the recipes requires you to create and save a second version of the same recipe. BigOven's edit feature operates in a similar fashion.
Managing Your Stock
I’m ashamed to admit that I often forget about valuable, yet underutilized, foodstuffs in my kitchen until they spoil and go to waste. I love cilantro, but I don’t always use it all in time before it wilts and bruises in my fridge. Food waste is part and parcel for any kitchen, be it professional or personal. Paprika helps to manage and minimize this by giving you a dedicated Pantry category to inventory your stock. The Items must be entered manually by ingredient name, quantity, date of purchase, and expiration date. Paprika adds a red expired note next to any items in your pantry past their expiration date. This is an invaluable function, and not very many cooking apps have this functionality. Only Chefling is on-par with Paprika's pantry system, and may even edge it out thanks to its colorful graphic design.
More importantly, Paprika considers your pantry items whenever you add food to your grocery list. You have the option to add ingredients from a recipe, but the app also tracks what you have in your pantry and unchecks items you already own. The system has some flaws, however. Paprika categorizes food with slightly different names as different items, so “flour” and “all-purpose flour” are considered separate items. Fortunately, this can be remedied by manually editing the name. In this same example, if you change the pantry entry, as well as all recipe entries to use “all-purpose flour” instead of just the word “flour,” Paprika correctly adjusts the labeling in the future.
The system takes a bit of work to get running, but its practical applications are invaluable for any kitchen. It could use some automation, though. Yummly has a cool scanning feature that lets you use your phone's camera to correctly identify produce for recipe suggestions. Chefling incorporates a barcode scanner into its pantry system for easy data entry. Paprika incorporating similar functionality could radically improve its own pantry.
Makes Shopping Easier
Paprika has a Groceries category that you can manually edit, or pull from a recipe to bulk-add whatever you need for a given dish. This function incorporates Pantry entries, too, so you don’t need to worry about Paprika adding items to your grocery list that you already own. Paprika also accurately consolidates multiple quantities of the same item, so if several recipes ask for unsalted butter, the app adds the sum total to your list rather than multiple entries of butter. It’s a handy feature that not all meal managing apps do right. Yummly, Chefling, and BigOven all tend to repeat item entries when multiple recipe ingredients are added in bulk to your grocery list. Paprika is highly customizable, so any incorrectly entered items can be easily adjusted or removed.
Unfortunately, Paprika lacks grocery-delivery functionality. Yummly, on the other hand, incorporates Instacart to let you order groceries online. That said, once you make your purchases, you can return to the Groceries tab to move any foods you purchased to your Pantry list, rather than manually entering the items. This is a terrific function that makes it easy to categorize food.
Meals and Menus
Naturally, a recipe manager should offer good meal-planning functionality, and Paprika’s edit-friendly entry system makes this process as easy as pointing and clicking. The Meals category pulls from the recipes you’ve saved or entered manually, letting you select four meals for each day of the week. These are Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snack. The categories are mere labels, and don’t limit you in any way. If you want pumpkin pie as your breakfast item, or multiple dishes for each meal, there’s nothing stopping you.
You can enter recipes for every meal and every day of the month, and I confess that it's quite addicting due to its simplicity. Menus can be created in the same way. Create a title and description for your menu, and pair whichever meals and recipes you want into one handy list. This could be useful if you’re developing a menu for a party or special event, or just pairing your favorite meal combinations. These menus can also be imported into the meal planner if you want to have some pre-designed themed meals ready to add to your calendar.
Unfortunately, Paprika doesn't alert you about when to start prepping or cooking meals. Instead, it lets you export your meal plans to your phone’s Calendar, where you can make these edits yourself. I would have preferred an in-app notification function instead, like Yummly does for its planned meals, but the overall simplicity and ease of use still put Paprika on top for meal planning.
Cooking With Paprika
Finding recipes online is nice, but digging through websites is a slog. Thankfully, Paprika pulls the valuable recipe details off the web page, and places them into handy recipe cards—it's an incredible convenience. On top of that, the step-by-step directions are easy to read, or modify to your tastes.
Paprika's recipe entries are simpler in design than Chefling and Yummly's offering, but they all share a similar format and style. Paprika differs by letting you effortlessly swap between ingredients and directions, whereas Yummly, and BigOven require you to scroll down to read instructions. Yummly features a subset of video-guided recipes, but these are limited in quantity; most of its recipes resemble Paprika's.
Paprika contains a fantastic and severely understated feature that helps your cooking: it prevents your device from entering sleep mode while in use. This is extremely useful, as you don't want to have to unlock your phone while chopping vegetables or handling raw food. Of the cooking apps we’ve tested, only Paprika and BigOven have this handy feature.
A One-Stop Shop for Meal Planning
Paprika gives you the tools to be productive in the kitchen, unless you fancy video instruction. It's easy to use, highly editable, and doesn't require a monthly subscription like Yummly and other competing apps. For a one-time $4.99 fee, you enjoy a fantastic kitchen companion to use in all your cooking endeavors. Sure, Paprika lacks the fancy presentation and recipe suggestions that make BigOven and Yummly attractive apps, but Paprika makes up for that with top-tier functionality. For its all-around pantry and categorization excellence, Paprika is our Editors' Choice pick for cooking apps.