The 7 Best Apps for Recipes Based on Ingredients

Why let food go bad when you can find a recipe for it?

A stock photo of kitchen equipment next to an assortment of ingredients for a pasta dish, all laying on a bright teal background. There are two pieces of equipment: a frying pan and a stock pot. There are six ingredients shown: tomatoes, garlic, a bunch of leafy greens/herbs, dry pasta and two small piles of spices.
The apps on this list can help you figure out what to make for dinner based the ingredients you already have.

Icons8 team/Unsplash

Whether you're on a budget or pressed for time, making the most out of the ingredients you have at home is essential. 

With the cookbook apps listed below, you'll be able to find the culinary inspiration you need to figure out what to make for dinner instead of just grabbing take-out again.  

Here are the seven best recipe apps to help you figure out what to cook with the ingredients you have. 

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Cookpad: Social Networking While You Cook

A screenshot of the recipe upload screen on the Cookpad app on an Android phone. The upload screen is a simple form you can fill out to publish your own recipes on the app to share with other Cookpad users.
You can publish your own recipes to share them with other Cookpad users.

Cookpad has a heavy emphasis on social networking and many of its features revolve around the concept of making cooking a more social experience. You can search through the app's user-generated recipes or publish your own. Many users opt to publish their recipes, but Cookpad gives you the option to keep your recipes private as well. 

True to its social media theme, Cookpad also provides a chat feature, allowing you to share recipes with your friends and ask questions. 

Cookpad is free to download and use on Android and iOS. It offers a $2.99 premium service that includes features such as better search results and the ability to access recipes offline, however, it seems the premium service is only available to users of the Indonesian and Arabic language versions of the app and those who use the Spanish version in Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. 

Aside from the premium service, Cookpad users can also purchase the ability to edit recipes for $0.99. 

Available for Android and iOS.

What We Like:

  • Simple, intuitive interface.
  • Recipes also include other Cookpad users' attempts at cooking each dish, which allows you to see recipe variations and tips. 

What We Don't Like:

  • User-generated recipes sometimes include low-quality photos of finished recipes.
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Allrecipes Dinner Spinner: Cook And Save Money

A screenshot of the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app that shows the search results listed once you search for recipes based on ingredients and completion time. Here, we searched for recipes that included the following ingredients: spaghetti, garlic and red pepper flakes. We then filtered the results to recipes that could be made in 45 minutes or less.
On the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app you can search for recipes with a list of ingredients you already have at home.

The Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app is good for home cooks who are short on time and money. While you can search the app for recipes by ingredients you already have, you can also view which ingredients are on sale at stores located near you; certain recipes are even suggested when you arrive at certain stores. These grocery shopping features would be especially helpful for last-minute chefs who still need to pick up a few ingredients on the way home from work or school. 

The Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app is free to download and use on a variety of platforms. The app offers extra features you can purchase for $0.99 each, such as Winner Winner Simple Dinners and Paleo Cooking Primer. 

Available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Kindle.

What We Like:

  • The app highlights which ingredients are on sale at stores nearby, showing the current price and how long the price will last. 
  • Dinner Spinner feature in which you shake your phone and the app chooses three recipe search variables at random to find suggestions for you. Perfect for days when you have no idea what you want to eat. 

What We Don't Like:

  • The app sometimes takes a while to load recipe results. 
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BigOven Recipes: Best For Leftovers

A screenshot of the BigOven app, showing the search results after we searched for recipes that included angel hair pasta and eggs.
You can make the most of your leftovers with the BigOven app by searching for recipes with certain ingredients.

BigOven is a recipe finder that helps you reinvent your leftovers by allowing you to search its recipe collection by up to a maximum of three ingredients. 

Another notable feature of BigOven is it doesn't limit you to its own recipe collection. You can also use the app to grab recipes from your favorite websites or take photos of family recipes. 

While BigOven is free to download and use, the app offers premium services through its Pro membership. Features such as the removal of ads, advanced search filters, and unlimited recipe uploads can be purchased with either a $1.99 monthly subscription or a $19.99 annual subscription. 

Available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Kindle.

What We Like:

  • Many food bloggers have contributed recipes to the app's recipe collection, so there are a lot of gorgeous food photos to drool over. 

What We Don't Like:

  • The size of the app is a bit big for what it is at 76 MB; that's even before you start saving recipes.
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SideChef: Best For Diet-Specific Recipes

A screenshot of the SideChef app. As seen here, the SideChef app also offers themed recipe collections. The recipe collection featured here is called
You can search for recipes on your own with the SideChef app or you can browse its themed recipe collections.

In addition to providing recipe suggestions based on ingredients you already have at home, SideChef also helps you find recipes based on your desired diet. Recipes for vegan dishes or gluten-free and paleo diets are all included in the app. 

If you're missing something from your list of ingredients, the SideChef app also allows you to order groceries and have them delivered to you. 

SideChef is free to download and use, and is available on Android and iOS.

What We Like:

  • Beautiful, easy-to-use interface, with magazine-style food photos. 
  • Variety of diet-specific recipes offered; you can choose from 15 different diets. 

What We Don't Like:

  • The app itself is a bit slow and not very responsive at times. 
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Yummly: Best For Food Blog Fans

A screenshot of the Yummly app on an Android phone. This screenshot shows one of Yummly's recipe video guides for Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo. The video is at the top third of the screenshot and the bottom two-thirds of the screenshot is a quick recipe description.
The Yummly app also provides video tutorials of the recipes in its collection.

Yummly is best for foodies. If you've got a favorite food blogger or culinary website this is the app for you. Yummly's recipe collection doesn't just contain recipes from its own test kitchen; users of this app also have access to recipes from popular food sites like Food52 and Epicurious. Recipes from food bloggers are also featured in this collection. 

Yummly is also helpful for those with allergies, as it allows you to filter out recipes based on allergens, as well as taste preferences and diet.   

Yummly is free to download and use and is available on Android and iOS.

What We Like:

  • Recipe video guides demonstrating culinary techniques.
  • You can set a search filter for disliked ingredients. 

What We Don't Like:

  • Not always intuitive. Some menus and features are kind of hidden and search filters can't be set until after the search has been run (unless it's a profile preference). 
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Cocktail Flow: Best For Last-Minute Bartenders

A screenshot of the Cocktail Flow app's My Bar feature which allows you to select the cocktail ingredients you already have to get drink recipe suggestions. This screen shows part of the ingredient selections for the Spirits category.
The Cocktail Flow app lets you find the best drink recipes based on the ingredients you already have on hand.

Cocktail Flow provides recipes suggestions based on the drink ingredients you already have at home. And when you're selecting those ingredients, you can choose from liquors, spirits, and mixers. 

The app also includes other helpful features such as ingredient profiles providing background information on each ingredient and the ability to search the app's recipes by drink strength and color

Cocktail Flow is free to download and use and available on Android and iOS.

What We Like:

  • The My Bar drink recipe recommendation feature quickly comes up with interesting suggestions based on the ingredients you have on hand.
  • You can learn fun facts about each ingredient and cocktail. 

What We Don't Like:

  • In the My Bar feature, the variety of products to choose from is inconsistent. Some liquor types have lots of brands and sub-types to choose from, while others have limited choices. 
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Tasty: Best Customizable Cookbook App

A screenshot of the Tasty app on an Android phone. The screenshot shows that you can not only search for recipes by ingredient but you can also further filter those results by other factors, even by social occasion.
The Tasty app not only allows you to search for recipes by ingredients, but also by social occasion.

Buzzfeed's Tasty app allows its users to create customized mobile cookbooks. You can search its recipe collection by many different factors, including diet, ingredients, recipe difficulty, speed, and even by social plans. 

Recipe recommendations are even given based on time of day, major holidays, and day of the week. 

Tasty is free to download and use and available on Android and iOS.

What We Like:

  • While each recipe includes a video guide, the text version of the recipe has a unique feature. You can tap each step to view a video clip of that specific step, so you don't have to watch the entire video if you don't want to. 

What We Don't Like:

  • Limited options for budget-friendly recipes.