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Show HN: I built a no-BS recipe search engine (stovetop.app)
403 points by milomildus 75 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 207 comments

I love the tabulated recipes shown on cookingforengineers.com [1].

Ever since I first saw this, whenever I get a recipe, from anywhere, I convert it by hand to this format.

Perhaps you can automate that process? That would be rad!

[1] http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/108/Banana-Nut-Bre...

Oh wow, thank you for sharing this! That tabulated view is almost exactly what I've been looking for when baking. I had an idea along the same lines, but a slightly more visual approach where portions are represented by illustration that quickly give you a sense of the size of the portion as well.

I also like the modernist cuisine format, example here:


I can't stomach using anything by Nathan Myhrvold

You are missing out.

ugh, that's a neat format but they have ruined it by having the actual recipe be a blurry picture of text!

You may be interested in this analysis on various recipe formats, along with the proposed "RxOL" notation for explicitly expressing recipes as such a tree based structure[0].

Personally I find RxOL hard to read & edit though, so I have been thinking about whether it would be doable able to infer such tree structures from CookLang's more readable recipe format[1][2].

Ingredients and times are already marked, so surely verbs & follow up mentions of ingredients can be extracted from the text without further annotation? Haven't tried doing it yet though.

[0] http://diyhpl.us/~bryan/papers2/CompCook.html

[1] https://cooklang.org/

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28997309

You’re right. It’s like a Lisp for cooking:

Just like with a Lisp, the benefit is that you always see at first glance what is the noun and what is the verb. With other recipes, you have to read through an entire “step“ instruction in order to parse that information.

A trip down memory lane. Thanks for the pleasant reminder that it's still around, and pretty much unchanged. A hidden gem.

Some of the comments on the site from ~2005 are so quaint ("Great site. Am linking to you!", etc.). Makes me feel like I'm in a quaint old-world town: proud of its anachronisms that morph into charm and wisdom with the passage of time.

Recipes are basically flame graphs, but for food.

Interesting, I always translate recipes into a mental GANTT chart and use multiple timers because I like everything to be finished at the same time.

Please excuse my ignorance, can you explain how I'm supposed to read those? Top-to bottom first? I studied the pizza one and onion rings and while I could create the items from the format, I feel as though I don't fully understand it.

Read it in whatever order, just make sure to do all the things inside one enclosure, before moving onto a bigger one.

I'd say those tabulated views at the bottom of each recipe page should be read like this:

1. Read and do all the "full-width" items at the top first as preparation

2. The remaining items in the tabulated recipe should be read as a combination dependency graph and Gantt chart. E.g. mashing ripe bananas can be done in parallel with melting the butter and beating the eggs, but all three must be completed in order to move onto the step of "mashing until smooth" all those ingredients together with the vanilla extract ingredient. This way of reading is more of a "left to right" approach.

Wow that's really interesting, thanks for sharing. I find it wildly unintuitive but it's nice to be pushed into a different way of thinking about recipes!

This site still holds up better than most today. Imagine if we had how-tos and tutorials like this instead of a youtube video for everything.

I get so frustrated nowadays looking for origami instructions; everything seems to be a video when all I want are the diagrams that used to get posted.

I buy origami books. It's a great way to leave the computer for a bit and of course they're readable outside, don't have ads...

I recommend John Montroll's origami books.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've got a bunch of books (including quite of few of Montroll's) that I've collected over the years. I just the old man who hates seeing interesting creations being posted on /r/origami, only to find a video instead of diagrams when I click through.

It shouldn't be sorted by rating to begin with.

If I search for "doughnuts", it's rather unlikely that I'm interested in "Chapssal doughnuts" (top spot), "Pumpkin Doughnuts" (second spot) or even "Gluten-Free Baked Chocolate Doughnuts Recipe" (third spot).

The list should be ordered (somehow, no idea how) by classic or common interpretation of the query first and pushing exotics, varieties and fusion stuff down to the very bottom.

Another one is "sourdough" - "Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons" is the top suggestion, followed by "Hard-Boiled Eggs and Parmesan on Toasted Sourdough" and "Radicchio Salad with Sourdough Dressing". Not exactly relevant.

I feel like having 2 separate sections for this would work pretty well. Recipes for making ingredients from scratch vs. recipe for a meal.

Completely unrelated to your point, but I had to check what "sourdough dressing" was. And, yeah, it's a salad dressing with bread blended into it. I've heard of doing that, but kinda want to try it now.

Ha! Thanks for this. I knew that this must be a solved problem but wasn't searching for the right thing. I'll take a look at implementing a better default sort order.

For another similar rating system, there's also this one: https://steamdb.info/blog/steamdb-rating/

Not exactly sure how the two compare.

He compares it at the bottom of the article:

Compared to Wilson's formula, it's very short, and it's not nearly as difficult to understand the idea behind how it works. One could easily get the question "Why would this random formula give better results than what a very established mathematician came up with?" I can't really answer that, but it would seem a lot of you agree that it does indeed produce better results when rating Steam's games. I can, however, try to give some insight into this.

For one, Wilson's formula isn't really meant to be used quite like this. It takes a rating and the sample size (the number of reviews), and outputs a confidence interval. And a confidence interval basically says that “We are some% sure that the score is between x and y”. If you increase the % of how sure you are, the distance between x and y also increases, and vice versa. But to get a single rating, it's not quite okay to just take the lower bound of that interval.

Secondly, because of what was mentioned in the last paragraph, it always gives us a lower rating than the original. This is clearly the incorrect behaviour, as something that just came out and gets a single negative review will be marked as having a score of 0%. Meanwhile, an established terrible game can have 10 positive and 500 negative reviews, and it will rank higher. This is also the reason why one of the two rules I listed was that all ratings should be biased towards the average.

Finally, while Wilson's formula probably gives us a more “precise” rating, so to say, it's not necessarily what we want to see. There's a lot of mathematics behind why what it does is correct, while the previously mentioned numbers of 2 and 10 that I picked for my formula were rather arbitrary. Still, I selected them so that the result would also account for the high number of reviews when assigning a good score. It's why you'll probably notice a lot less games with a low review count among the top games than before.

I think that's important because a game that is very popular and very highly rated should be ranked higher than a game that isn't as popular and is also very highly rated. Not because we can be more certain that this rating is indeed correct, but because you, as a random person who has yet to try that game, will more probably like it if a lot of other people have liked it as well — if it's not a niche game. And I think this aspect is definitely important and should be accounted for when trying to represent an entire game with just a single number.

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this. I could grok this one much more easily than the other algorithm.

You need multiple rating systems for recipes and the lack of that model is why recipe sites are bullshit, and will continue to be bullshit.

A recipe that tastes bad should never be shown to anyone. But if there are two flavorful recipes and one of them has better instructions, then that's the one that should be sorted to the top. My go-to analogy for people being bad at documentation is to compare them to the variation in quality in cooking recipes. That's both a commentary on developer docs and on chef's docs.

I have been reworking a highly rated pie recipe. They have not covered browning the crust. They have made no mention of order and grouping of ingredients. If you follow the recipe literally, you're going to end up with a fluffy mix that won't fit in the pie tin. You're also going to get lumpy spices. That has a rustic appeal, but as the picture does not have lumps, the author is just bad at documentation. In my version, I split the spices so that you get a little texture but most are homogenized. I'm still experimenting with number of eggs. I've had 2 eggs (as in the recipe) taste eggy, and 3 eggs (minus a little egg white for the crust) taste fine, depending on how good the emulsion is, and that depends on order.

Most recipes still seem to be built on a model of fear and social barter. Fear that if Aunt Susie figures out Grandma Beth's brownie recipe, then nobody will 'have' to invite Grandma Beth to holidays or at least be excited to see her. If you want brownies then you need Grandma Beth.

You are so correct on the order and timing of items. Everyone in my family was trying to make my grandmothers cookies. I was the only one who went over and documented exactly how she made them. Now that she is gone. I have been designated as the only one who 'knows how to make them'. Even though I proclaim loud and clearly and have documented 'you must make them exactly like this or they will not taste the same'. They all seem to want to take short cuts. There are no shortcuts with this one and it will take 2 days. I even gladly show them exactly how to do it. Yet they still fail, because they want to skip steps. If you do not follow along exactly you are doomed. Now I want cookies...

And now I want the recipe.

Two days ago please, I want the cookies now.


That one is pretty close. Just at step 4 instead of 30 mins she did 24 hours as the previous steps usually took 1-2 hours and she was tired because of how much flour she used. She also used 9-10 cups of flour instead of the 3-4 that calls for as she was also wanting to make a larger batch. If you did that little amount of flour it would probably be very and goopy to roll and cut in the next steps. She also fiddled the sugar, with corn syrup and molasses, I do not have it in front of me but I think it ended up being 1/2cup each and 1/2 cup regular sugar 1/2 cup brown. She also would add in 1/4tsp of anise. But basically all the wet stuff, spices into that, incorporate it good, then add flour until the correct consistency to roll out. With as much flour as she used you better have a good arm or a monster blender. But that recipe should be pretty close, there are thousands or variations on the internet (many include pepper and lemon), these fall on the ginger tasting side. They should be a crunchy cookie not doughy.

Off-topic but I might get an answer here:

I used to have a great recipe (I) called "15 minute cookies". The total time from first thinking about making them to eating - including preparation and cooking - was 15 minutes. Which was almost always irresistible, so I often made them. Somehow I lost the recipe. Does anyone know what that recipe might be? Thank you!

To me it sounds like a sugar cookie? There usually is not much in them other than sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, and eggs? There are a lot of '15 min' cookies out there. But sugar cookies are usually the simplest. I was always partial to the ones on the bag of chocolate chips. Buy stuff on back of bag (you are at the store already and cant miss it), mix, cook done. yummy!

Thank you. I'm vegan so that narrows it down, also not into chocolate. It was a very simple recipe. I think maybe was sugar, oil, flour, oats, maybe cinnamon. Thanks for the comment, will definitely try to get back into making them!

It's a small step from sugar cookies to snickerdoodles as well. Not everything is better with cinnamon, but some things really are.

> Considering only positive and negative ratings (i.e. not a 5-star scale)

Is there anywhere that details the changes necessary to use for other rating scales (such as the 5-star/10-star system)?

You could just convert the 5-star scale to weighted upvotes/downvotes, like so:

  1 stars = 0.00 upvote, 1.00 downvote
  2 stars = 0.25 upvote, 0.75 downvote
  3 stars = 0.50 upvote, 0.50 downvote
  4 stars = 0.75 upvote, 0.25 downvote
  5 stars = 1.00 upvote, 0.00 downvote
And then calculate as usual, and then re-map the result of the formula from the [0, 1] interval to the [1, 5] interval.

> Considering only positive and negative ratings (i.e. not a 5-star scale)

I hate this. It feels like part of the internet getting dumbed down.

Yes, we should dumb up, not down!

How does Amazon, a trillion dollar company, not make this solution default!

Well, how don’t they filter spam reviews? My guess: They earn whenever you buy. And they are a monopoly when it comes to online shopping. So even if you buy crap, you’ll buy from them again. If anyone gets blamed, it’s going to be the seller. The house always wins.

Thank you.

I'll take this opportunity to mention one of my favorite apps: Paprika [0].

It's a recipe app that can import from just about every recipe site/blog/etc and if it can't auto-import it then you can use the really easy tools to grab all the pertinent information. Once imported you can edit/scale/rate/tag/categorize/etc the recipe. Furthermore it has meal planning tools and a grocery list built in. I love the grocery list feature because you can easily click "Add to Grocery List" (of which you can have multiple if you want) and then just uncheck all the things you already have. It has a "Pantry" feature but I've never used it, I assume it will auto-uncheck items you already have when you go to add them to the grocery list but I'm not sure about that.

It's great to import a recipe and then tweak it after making it and see what works/doesn't so you don't have to find the recipe again later and/or remember the changes you made to it.

It's cross platform (Mac/iOS/Windows/Android) and running it on an older tablet in my kitchen is an awesome experience (timers built in, switch between multiple recipes easily, cross out ingredients after adding them, etc).

I have no connection to the company, I just love the app. If I had 1 request it would be a way to share recipes with friends through some "social"/"friend-ing" concept in the app (not using a social network). You can share a ".paprikarecipe" file that includes everything about the recipe but passing around a file isn't always easy and Discord just cuts off extensions longer than like 12 characters which makes it harder.

[0] https://www.paprikaapp.com/

My wife and I share the same account to have the same info available on all our devices. This means shopping lists too and thanks to the lightning fast sync our shopping has become distributed, effectively halving the time we spent at the store.

We tried several other apps and this one is worth every penny. Some of my favourite features: - Customize aisles - Auto stacking in shopping list - Clickable timers - Custom import from web - Well working scaling

Strongly recommending this app to anyone.

Sidenote: If available, use a portable scanner at the store. This reduces the amount of times you touch an item significantly, speeding up the experience.

Sidenote 2: To make auto stacking in the shopping list work the item name needs to be identical. We found that separating ingredient from processing works best. So 2 kg potatoes as ingredient and cutting in half in the directions instead of 2 kg of potateos cut in half as ingredient.

This is fantastic and does a great job distilling pages of information, ads and videos down too easy to follow steps and ingredients.

We subscribe to a meal service called fresh prep which comes ad the problem from the other side, removing some prep and having to ask the question "What's for dinner". I think this is the killer feature Paprika is missing, browsing meal ideas that can be imported and added to your planner.

There is still lots of room for disruption in this space, thanks for sharing.

Ive heard great things about it. And while it is cross platform but you do have to buy it per platform. Which is a bummer.

5 for ios. Free on android. And 30 for windows.

And seemingly no browser version? :(

No, no browser version but it’s not been an issue for me since they have apps everywhere I need. Also, their (undocumented) API is simple enough if you want access.

As far as having to purchase per-platform, it’s a steal for the utility I get from it and there is no subscription fee, it’s 1-time.

next level: mining the sites for the content and getting rid of the recipe's life story.

to me, no-bs means ingredients and instructions. Maybe a few pictures of the target meal. thats it.

You don't have to mine the site at all. There's a schema for the data that basically all cooking sites support if they want SEO https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/structure...

Perhaps I'm dim, but I don't understand how that means you don't have to mine the site. Doesn't that simply mean you could perform the process all of the URLs in the database here by making the http request, grabbing those`recipeIngredient` sections, converting units and such, and then populating your simpler database from that?

That seems like pretty textbook (albeit very simplistic) mining to me.

Interestingly, someone built a recipe app with this narrative and received a ton of backlash online: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56241653

I love how they say the content that users dislike is "relevant to the recipe", rather than admitting its SEO fodder.

It's actually not SEO fodder (necessarily).

Recipes are not copyrightable but if you pair a recipe with a story, the entire deliverable is copyrightable [0] because the recipe becomes a work of expression rather than a rote list.

> In other words, a bare recipe, without literary expression, is not copyrightable

[0]: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=3741a5c0-f146....

Interesting point, I hadn't considered this.

I don't think its SEO fodder I think its to space out the page so you have to scroll through multiple advertisements so they get their revenue.

Either way its total garbage.

Yeah. Screw those guys trying to make a living!

I mean, yeah trying to make a living by annoying the snot out of people is a thing that people don't like. It's the "business-model-belle of the ball" at the moment, but that doesn't mean we folks subjected to it have to like it, nor is it somehow "morally wrong" to object to being inconvenienced.

You can try to diminish the real-world confusion and inconvenience of said business model by saying "cmon, it's not that bad, what's the big deal, why not let them make some money, why you gotta be such a stick in the mud?" That does nothing to reduce my or other peoples annoyance and lost time caused by said business model though. It's real, it does waste my time, and your time, and everyone else's time, it does inconvenience us, and it does make it harder to get the information we want.

Because of that, I'm glad to see these other websites arrive to replace blogspam recipe mills. I plan to use websites like http://www.cookingforengineers.com and https://stovetop.app/ search for most all my recipes going forward. Thanks OP for stovetop and thanks to other commenters here for posting more resources for us to use.

I've automated my meal planning using a command line app I wrote in python (https://github.com/steven-p-walsh/menuplannercmd) The app tries to estimate the best menu based on what I like, what I have, what i've made in the past, and something I call slots, which let me give myself more or less time to cook. I also add some randomness to keep things fresh.

As i've built the app, I realized I almost never care about anything more than a rough estimate of the ingredients needed. Even then, I really only care about a few key ingredients. Here is an example (https://github.com/steven-p-walsh/menuplannercmd/blob/master...)

In addition to the other suggestions, a Firefox extension that does this:


I wrote recipe-filter thanks to a comment here on HN years ago!


It didn´t work with this link: https://www.bakerita.com/oatmeal-fig-bars-gluten-free-vegan/

I've personally found mysaffronapp.com to be way better at this: It has been able to process recipes from every website I've shot at it. I think the developer contributes here to HN, as i learned about the site from a post she/he made.

Man, what a disappointing thread.. the BBC site is great except it’s all weird British ingredients and units (how do I convert grams of British flour into cups of American flour without a scale?)

The OP’s site is a really nice search engine, but it dumps you into the recipes’ unreadable SEO trash pit websites instead of parsing out the data

PlainOldRecipe isn’t working to strip recipes down for me

"it’s all weird British ingredients and units (how do I convert grams of British flour into cups of American flour without a scale?)"

dear God please let this be satire, and make it satire if it isn't

Volume measurement for flour is inconsistent and annoying.

Metric and by weight is by far the best format for recipes and best way to measure ingredients.

In professional kitchens it's all we ever used (I used to work in some top restaurants, talking world's 50 best back in the day).

Oh, that's good to know. Maybe it's time to invest in a kitchen scale. (And I'll buy an actual cookbook while I'm at it, so I won't have to deal with this SEO disaster any more..)

EDIT: Hey, wait, I actually found a good website with recipes: http://online-cookbook.com/goto/cook/rpage/000DDF

and a good search engine: https://search.marginalia.nu/search?query=pancake+recipe&pro...

A scale makes for less dishes too. Just reset the scale and pour next ingredient into the bowl. No need to use another spoon to dig from the flour or sugar bag.

The reason why volume measurements developed in the US rather mass measurements can be traced back to Frankie Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1896. The first cookbook with accurate and repeatable recipes. Volume measurements were a practical matter. Every kitchen had measuring cups. No one had a scale.


And now you can buy a digital scale for like $20. It's the 21st century, weight measurements are way more accurate, easier too for small quantities.

It's almost as if legacy recipes don't exist, nor are very important to people, nor have working knowledge built around these units.

And? Legacy units can be converted.

I've got cookbooks that date back to the 17th century. Lots of recipes from the 19th century. And old family recipes too. Doesn't mean I won't use metric and weights when I create new recipes, write recipes down, etc... And all my professional cookbooks are metric and by weight.

While this is true and adds effort, it is relatively easy to convert them too.

Interesting, the 1860 historical farm I toured as a kid had a balance and they were careful to not have volume measures at all in the house. Most general store exhibits of that time have kitchen scales and no volume measures.

Not sure if calling the metric system weird is actually serious or not but the solution is to get a scale. Modern cooking highly utilizes the scale and probe thermometers. They seem unimportant to the new cook but I end up using one or both for nearly all my meals now. Dry ingredients especially should be done by weight.

If you’re baking, sure measure by weight for best results. If you’re cooking basic, non-technical meals it’s more about proportions than anything else.

> how do I convert grams of British flour into cups of American flour without a scale?

A web search will turn up dozens of helpful sites that will do the conversion for you. Or the US could try joining the rest of the world.

To be fair, the UK went metric many decades ago yet we still use MPH on the roads; and most people would struggle to tell you how tall they are or how much they weigh using only metric measurements.

Haha, yeah. I wanted to turn my flour, milk, and baking powder into pancakes, but it’s surprisingly nightmarish to get the two floating point numbers I need in order to get the ratios right

“Why not simply…”

I assure you that the optimal way to turn flour, milk and baking powder [no eggs? -Ed.] into pancakes is to keep trying different ratios until it works properly.

There's a LOT of variance in flour, milk and baking powder that make attempts at measurement based recipes a fool's errand.

No baking powder would be a start. The rest is just 3-6-3. That is 3 eggs, 6 dl milk, 3 dl flour and a pint of salt and some melted butter or oil.

The road to my hometown is called 363 so easy to remember. Just have to figure out which of them was the milk now again.


if somehow you could combine the search of OPs site, plus the garbage stripping convenience of plainoldrecipe, plug in some really good unit conversion system, & save my preferences while you're at it, you might have the ultimate recipe tool.

This. The amount of ads/js on most cooking/recipe sites is terrible.

> it dumps you into the recipes’ unreadable SEO trash pit websites instead of parsing out the data

This is the BS that I as hoping would be removed, but it was left intact unfortunately.

As someone who lived in the US for 8 years... How much is a cup?

A cup is exactly three tenths of a half of a metre wide/long divided by the inverse square of a millilitre, provided the initial measurement was in cubic zlotys at half a pint over Pi.

Let me know then next time you pay for a kilogram of petrol at the pump. Some things make more sense to measure by volume, others by weight. This is disjoint from imperial vs metric.

Fuel would make more sense to measure by mass, because the volume and energy density changes with temperature. It just happens to be easier to measure by volume. I believe many locales mandate pumps which correct for temperature and dispense slightly more volume on a hot day.

Yes, it makes more sense to measure something fluid by volume when it doesn't fit on a scale.

Also, the fact that gasoline pumps are pressurised and standardise the volume based on a certain temperature should be a clue to one pitfall of volume-based measurements.

Precise recipes, i.e. anything related to baking, where ambient temperatures matter - everything is measured in grams, even water. I'm so used to this by now that measuring anything by volume sounds disappointing, let alone dark age units like cups and spoons. I get it, not everyone is serious about cooking enough to own ingredient scales but are these users still the majority of recipe consumers?

I don't bake much but for all my other cooking, I can mess with most ingredients by 100% with little delta in the experience. Sure it tastes a little different but I'm not a factory, this is home cooking. This also makes you much more resilient to missing an ingredient.

Making Coq-au-Vin, and use double the chicken? Probably not a problem. Add carrots, 0 carrots, totally fine.

Barbeque? You can do all sorts of things with the spice mix, it'll likely come out fine.

Making mac and cheese? 4x the cheese, totally fine, just keep adding it till it melts. Too thick? Add cream. Not tasty enough, add some bbq sauce. Measure? Why!

I commonly use a Pinch and a Dash of seasoning. Really it's tasting it and knowing what's off and being able to balance.

Because here's a real truth: every batch of a given ingredient likely has different strength. Dried, fresh, been in the jar for 2 years, brand new from the store, McCormick vs Store Brand vs Different part of the country/world... Also your vegetables will taste different depending on time of year, location, variety, as will your meats, dairy, cheeses, etc, literally everything.

Yes. I cook based on recipes a lot and anecdotally so do a lot of people I know and we still use cups, table/teaspoons and so forth.

The rest of the world uses litres instead of gallons. Much easier to then convert to weight by using molar mass of petrol and volume.

> As someone who lived in the US for 8 years... How much is a cup?

While its not quite right (its a little smaller), at the level of doing a recipe, 250ml [0] (but for flour in baking, you should use weight, not volume, anyway.)

[0] 4 cups = 2 pints = 1qt ≈ 1l

I love the cookbook app for this, you can point it at a URL and it parses the important bits, ingredients, method, pictures etc. and saves the recipe. But it also saves a link to the original incase you want that story.

I primarily use it because it was the only app I could find with a good OCR mode for importing recipes from physical cook books.

A lot of sites have a "Jump to Recipe" link. If this linked directly to that section, it'd be okay.

Cooking sites were pretty good with micro formats a few years ago, so it wasn’t that hard to scrape them

This is already mentioned upstream, but the Paprika app does exactly this. It makes online recipes useful and understandable again.


Great tool to improve the dismal experience of searching recipes online.

To intrepid cooks I encourage getting a good cookbook, e.g. from Julia Child or Mark Bittman – where you can learn cooking fundamentals and techniques aimed to teach you how to cook self-sufficiently.

Break away from recipes and you’ll be dancing around your kitchen to your own culinary tune instead of recreating mediocre click bait.


Cookbooks have editors, and the recipes are tested so they can be made with common ingredients. They want cooks to be successful!

Oddly I've found cookbook recipes to ALWAYS be better than online recipes. Book recipes tend to be shorter, clearer, and more successful. Online recipes are okay but sometimes don't come out the way I'd expect, they're more fiddly.

It's great to have options!

There is something to be said for cooking shows as well. Certain activities take time, and they end up editorializing things that they wouldn't think of with just the written word. What order to mix things. Common substitutions. How to avoid pitfalls (use this tool for this step, not this other one) and fix problems.

Example: too much salt in your soup? Add a little potato starch.

The barrier to publishing online is lower, so recipes are always hit or miss. Really depends on the author.

Online content is optimized for (a) SEO and (b) immediate visual appeal. Most ranking signals are not coming from actual cooks testing the recipe.

Your'e right, I've found some good content online. e.g. Chef John / Food Wishes has great recipes and videos. He also conveys some good tips & technique.

The ecosystem of publishing also has people who have to exhibit their value to the process or get eliminated. Online publishing removes both technical and social friction for putting half-baked ideas out there. We haven't invented a good way to have one but not the other yet.

My latest favorite is Cook it in Cast Iron from Cook's Country.

No recipe in it has been bad. One or two have been "too much work to be worth it", but on average, the food has been good to excellent.


America's Test Kitchen, which Produces Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country – is my single favorite publishing resource.

A perfect balance of technical information & pragmatic recipes for the amateur cook to be very productive in the kitchen with minimal tools & ingredients.

I've come to like Cook's Country a little more.

Cook's Illustrated is great, and the food is always excellent, but it always seems to me that it's more work than you strictly need to do to get that quality.

Cook's Country recipes are about 90% as good for about 80% less work, in my opinion.

I highly recommend Ratio by Michael Ruhlmann. So far I've only used it for basic doughs, cakes, biscuits. Learn the ratios, and why they're like that. Very liberating.

This is basically all professional baking/pastry, also cooking in ultra-high end restaurants.

And yes, it's a much better way of doing things, plus helps you to think about the effect of each ingredient on the outcome.

A corollary to this is to purchase an affordable ($20) food scale. Despite appearances, a scale advances your skills by making it easier to measure ratios correctly, memorize them and reduce the # of utensils needed. All your ingredients are measured in a single bowl instead of using multiple measuring cups & spoons which each need washing

Hey, another fan of vegrecipesofindia/Dassana's Veg Recipes I see! The site has some quirks (best not to try to use the quantity adjustment (which doesn't change everything) or metric/US customary toggle (which is often wrong on at least one side)) but in terms of actual recipes, range of stuff to enjoy making and eating - and quality of photos/general SNR actually - it's really nice, highly recommend it.

yeah I'm a big fan -- what other sources / sites do you generally use? I'm trying to aggregate an 'authoritative' list of high quality sources.

Archana's Kitchen (archanaskitchen.com) sometimes, and I'm currently working through Delia Smith's cookery course book, many (all?) recipes of which are available at deliaonline.com actually. I'm also working through Dishoom's (restaurant) book, which I think is not available online.

Aside from those I don't really have go-to places, I tend to prefer to read through a few (i.e. just whatever top few results searching for the thing I'm thinking of making) for a general idea and inspiration of particular flavours, then 'wing it'. In future I'll try using Stovetop for that search :).

Edit: Oh yes and BBC Goodfood as sibling commenter pointed out. That's often where I search actually (because it's multiple author) rather than a general search engine, so if it were a Stovetop source I could definitely use it for that purpose.

foodwishes.com cookingissues.com ladyandpups.com


I wanted to be able to search recipes from sources I knew I could trust. I also wanted a way to sort recipes by rating and include and exclude ingredients I already had.

Going forward, I aim to add more sources, better ingredient filtering (hierarchical) and more dimensions (cuisine, meal time, etc.)

Let me know what you think! One thing I struggled with was whether to includes mode with pictures or not. I can’t decide if the loss in info density is worth the benefit.

Love the fast interface. It would be awesome if you could add functionality to filter by diet (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc.) For many people, diet determines which recipes are useful more often than any other factor.

I spent a couple of minutes trying to turn it into a usable vegetarian recipe filter by selecting every exclude that was meat related. An overflow auto on the excludes ingredients list would help avoid it spilling over into the results. Not sure why: Quick-Broiled Pork Chops With Peanuts and Gochujang

Almond and Dried Fruit Pilaf With Rotisserie Chicken

Freestyle Roasted Chicken Parm

etc. Still show up even with chicken, pork and 150+ other meat terms in the exclude list. But overall it's much improved.

Unfortunately can't find a way to bookmark the exclude list without a JS injection, and the source is obfuscated, so I'm probably not gonna bother figuring out how to do that.

... hm. I see that it does send out a promising looking API request that could be possibly turned into something bookmarkable. Looks like it has a handy array name too.

https://pastebin.com/nddrvGcy <= a start at meat filtering

I love the speed! I agree with other comments about the pictures. They help to skim so I think they add to information density in a way.

I would remove the author column personally, and maybe you could remove " reviews" in the reviews column (just show the number) and show the time as a number in minutes? If no time provided just show nothing.

If you add pictures you could have the option to show as a grid, similar to a file explorer. In the list view you could have a small picture with a bigger one when you hover?

I found it kinda cool to read the names, but with most, I couldn't even imagine what it is. May be showing images is a good idea. For mobile, I would leave it like now, but add a possibility to scroll within each result by tap & drag to see the images

(A few links showed 404 btw)

Nice work!

I'm curious how you're parsing ingredients. I built a keto recipe search tool a few years ago[0], and I got so into the ingredient parsing problem that I spun that off into a separate service.[1] I still maintain the open source version, if you're interested in using that for stovetop.[2]

[0] https://ketohub.io/

[1] https://zestfuldata.com/

[2] https://github.com/mtlynch/ingredient-phrase-tagger

Thank you for sharing your project.

I like the minimal design.

Please take this as constructive criticism, because I like your project overall, and want to only encourage you:

Please consider testing your project in older browsers, and including no-JS configurations in your testing suite.

It is easy, as a developer with a beefy machine with the latest and greatest installed, to overlook these possibilities, and it severely limits the accessibility of your site by older devices, slower connections, security-conscious users, and other edge cases.

I applaud your effort.

Building is the first step, sustaining is the second.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Figure out how to sustain the site and info density will become less of an issue.

Don't get me wrong, I think yours is definitely a no-bs application, however I think the entire recipe search engines is not working, or at least, not in the way I expect it to work. I wish it was more a holistic solution, mixing calendar, already available ingredients, non available, shopping list, where to get what you're missing, different profiles (I'm vegan, for instance, but I grew up in Italy so I wish I could mix both profiles), search by available time, by difficulty, requirements, and much more. Let's say that how to get the recipe is something that isn't the problem I have.

I already support time and includes / excludes ingredients, but saved profiles and the other filters are good ideas!

Ideally, I would use it this way (as a narrative):

Calendar: dinner with Anna and John next Friday. I know Anna is vegan and John hates hot spicy food. Go through a possible list of menus (not recipes) for the night, based on food that takes X time to be prepared. Get me a complete list of what I need for y amount of guests (and a cost estimation).

Add what I need to an online grocery store list making sure it arrives the day before at the latest (but not too soon since I want it fresh).

Another use case. I have a profile where I set I'm vegetarian, I don't like soups, blah and blah. I am hungry. I go to the fridge and I make a list of what I have and how much I have.

I now search for recipes with those ingredients that can be done in less than 40 mins.

Or, I'm preparing something that requires different timers: go and set them for me! Tell me that it's now time to put that thing in water if I want to prepare it tomorrow morning, or that I can now don't pay attention to this process during 45 minutes and alert me after that.

As I was saying, the recipe is really the easy part for me :)

1. This makes an API request for every keystroke. Perhaps adding debouncing would be a good idea?

2. 500 error when typing a quotation mark - needs escaping: https://api.stovetop.app/recipes?q=%27

    "statusCode": 500,
    "code": "42601",
    "error": "Internal Server Error",
    "message": "syntax error in tsquery: \"':*\""

Looks great!

https://based.cooking/ might be another good source of recipes if you're not already using it.

For all the borderline-insane things Luke Smith endorses, I'm glad he has at least one decent contribution to the internet. based.cooking should be a model for everyone else trying to take back the internet on their own terms.

Based.cooking is great. I have my own instance running on my server. Version controlled recipes are the way of the future

Where is the data coming from? Are you manually entering each recipe, ingredients, rating etc into a database or do you have an automated service pulling it all in from various apis/scraping?

Looks good once the 404 issue is fixed. Perhaps for a future release you could tag / filter sources by country? A big problem for me in recipe search is avoiding localisation issues (e.g. Having to do all the conversions from cups; remembering that 'heavy cream' is somewhere in between single and double cream etc.)

404 issue should be fixed.

Tagging by country / locale is a good idea. Another thing I'm currently working on is using a data structure of ingredients instead of a flat list. This structure will handle things like different names for ingredients and hierarchy (ie. no dairy will exclude milk and butter as well.)

Here are some good UK sites to consider including:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/tone/recipes BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com Jamie Oliver: https://www.jamieoliver.com Delicious Magazine: https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/ Great British Chefs: https://www.greatbritishchefs.com

I should add that there are legal restrictions on scraping and re-use of content from third party websites; I haven't checked if the above permit this.

I gave in and bought a set of US (not the old British, nor the metric..) cups in the end.

I don't like it, but it beats using something else for a volumetric measurement.

IMHO it's better not doing volumetric measurement and doing everything by weight, having your mixing container on a scale the whole time and "resetting the weight" when adding new ingredients.

Yes, I agree, but when confronted with a bunch of 'cups' in a US recipe you want to follow, IMO using cups is better than a metric jug and a calculator, and also better than scales, calculator, and looking up densities.

My normal challenge with recipes is that I have no idea how authoritative the reviews are. On some sites, there are a lot of recipes that make no sense whatsoever, and yet have 5 stars.

As I mentioned elsewhere, quality of a recipe can't be plotted on a line. It's at least a 2D space. The wrong mix of ingredients can be bad, but the instructions can also not be repeatable. And repeatability might even have dimensions of its own. Some ingredients age better than others, for instance, and some measuring systems are more consistent. Baking powder and spices are examples of the former, and brown sugar for the latter, or possibly both.

I'm confused by what you mean by authoritative. Cooking isn't really like math, there's no canonical pineapple pizza recipe unless you go too vague like: dough, sauce, ham, pineapple, delicious. Or do you mean real reviews where the stars mean something?

For recipes, stars often let me down as they seem to be more related to how the recipe worked and could be followed, not how good it tasted. And the flavors seem to be pretty bland.

I've seen five star recipes say things like "Hawaiian pizza - add pineapple, tuna fish, and lasagna". So, yeah, the star ratings are meaningless - but then there are too many recipes to sort the wheat from the chaff.

The target audience for this recipe is a Venn Diagram of "people who love lasagna but nobody else in their life does" and "people who can't eat ham for religious or dietary reasons" and "people who have no reverence whatsoever for pizza" (which also, according to some, is a superset of Hawaiian pizza eaters to begin with).

That's not a tiny number but it's not large either.

There are Facebook groups that offer reviews in exchange for reviews. You will see very new recipes, that have had zero chance to rank and be cooked, with comments like:

"Ooh I can't wait to make this!"


"I LOVE making chicken like this!"

...and a five star review.

So, ah... is it just me or is "Maangchi" just entirely faking their reviews?

Toggle that slider up to 5k and it's just them sitting there at ridiculous numbers all pegged at 5 stars.

Yeah they must have falsified reviews or the parser is broken. New York Times doesn't even break the first page of results.

Edit: Also they should add a filter for "paywall" recipe sites. I haven't been able to find any of the top recipes as browseable.

Some thoughts:

1) Clean up the plural duplicates, e.g. peanut/peanuts, leek/leeks, carrot/carrots, etc.

2) I've never considered the author, is that common?

3) Mode to toggle pictures on would help scanning, cooking is very visual

4) Not simple to design, but some way to have either/or ingredients (e.g. peanuts OR cashews) could be useful

2) yes. I follow NYT coooking and there are definitely authors I avoid.

I'm currently working on a data structure for ingredients which significantly improves on the current flat list. It should be able to address plural duplicates / locale duplicates / and hierarchy. 4) is a good idea.

The thing I struggle with for pictures is where to put them, but I'll play around with some options. Maybe they can be behind a toggle.

You should start considering the author more, cooks you like will probably sell recipes to a variety of publishers and any given publisher's quality is likely to vary wildly at any kind of scale.

spelling variations are also an issue, like fettuccine vs fettucine, not sure if there's an easy solution for that

Very well done. I love the design and simplicity.

I would be cool if you could search by ingredients or food allergies. Somewhere you can basically state the ingredients you have and then it'll suggest recipes, but I understand if you don't have all the recipes indexed by ingredients

Sorting the table too!

The search feature is nice, but I was sad when it took me to the normal recipe page. What I would really love to have is a very concise and succinct view of the recipe itself. Hopefully the next step is smart parsing of the recipe!

Well, maybe this tool, or you personally, could pipe the recipe through https://www.justtherecipe.com/.

I love the idea, but the first recipe I clicked happened to be from the New York times and they have this BS that I need to create an account to read the recipe. Still, your tool helped me find it, so it is a win.

Disable Javascript for the site. Fixes the problem. Or run it through Outline.com

You've got some ingredients that don't map to any recipes, e.g. "tofu scramble".

Also please add a facets like feature to avoid the user selecting combinations of ingredients that don't match any recipes.

Great job! Love the UI. Did you build this from scratch or is it an extended, existing database front-end? The search/filters/sorting would be really useful to generalise as its own package!

Thanks! From scratch -- I think there are quite a few already existing React components / component libraries for table views like this, but I'll think about if there's anything I can generalize.

Does anyone know of a site that connects recipes by correlated ingredients?

Example: If you made recipe X, you should try recipe Y which uses 75% of those same ingredients, or recipe Z which has 80% of the ingredients in common. That way you can buy those core ingredients in bulk but still have something new and fresh for dinner.

The meal-prep dream for me is 10-15 recipes that taste good, are as distinct as possible, but have the majority of their ingredients in common.

To butcher a phrase, spice needs to be the variety of life in this scenario.

I'm hacking on a project that does this, but kind of in reverse: give it a list of ingredients and the respective quantities, tell it how many servings you want per day and for how many days, and it generates sets of recipes that don't require additional ingredients.

There are other bells and whistles I've added or plan to add, like factoring in diet restrictions or nutrition goals, but the core of it was to basically to find what I could cook without going to a store.

Do we need another hundred recipe search engines?

Or do we need a recipe search engine search engine?

Are their open source projects making progress instead of everyone independently reinventing the same wheel?

Aside from everything going to 404, the front page table design is a bit crowded. Maybe there's some way you can even that out a bit. Otherwise, very nice.

Just some feedback: The links appear to be some sort of magic that doesn't work with cmd-click (open in the tab) This means I have to click and the browser navigates to the recipe webpage. When I click the back button my filters are reset and the order of everything is different. Please consider opening recipes in new tabs.

Done, thanks for the feedback!

Excellent stuff and a nice break from the "rewrite it all in in my tasty-flavour-lang" approaches to doing this that crop up often on HN (not that those aren't impressive on a technical level!). This ties in nicely with the recent discussions here over the need for more specialised search engines.

Are you able to give any insight into how this works behind the scenes, is it all manually input?

Bookmarked for future use.

I'm currently crawling the sources which publish schema.org definitions of their recipes, or the actual html itself. Basically doing whatever google does to create their recipe cards.

Everything gets thrown into a Postgres database with a vanilla FTS implementation.

You're gonna get C&D imminently like that other site did.

I can't find the name of it, sorry.

I fully support what you're doing. I am not fussed with someone's back stories about how their great grandmother's auntie's friend had her hair dyed when walking her dog to pick cherries... Blah blah... Just want the recipe and method

But unfortunately... Advert revenues are a thing.

This is linking to the websites in question. It's not too different than GWS, except in that it's not linking to any sites that include back stories.

I hope not -- unlike the other site you still have to go to the source to read the recipe, so hopefully this doesn't have an impact on their ad revenue.

The "no-BS" feature isn't working:

"Unlock New York Times recipes and your personal recipe box with a free account."

I love your website but unfortunately you link to seriouseats recipes, which to me is the equivalent of quora for food. When searching online for recipes, I always "-seriouseats" or have the entire website in Firefox Block SERPs addon.

wow, pretty surprised by this. I often explicitly search for the seriouseats recipe -- they're usually much better than allrecipes, food.com, etc. Also Kenji's book (the Food Lab) is awesome.

Ah, yeah, that's the problem right there. If seriouseats is the quora of recipe websites then allrecipes is the "Yahoo! Answers" to that. Food.com just needs a shitty MIDI tune autoplaying and a couple of animated underconstruction signs and we could relaunch myspace all over again.

These days I have all three of those recipe websites, and others, blocked in my SERPs block add-on in the browser.

I guess I unintentionally turned in to a recipe snob over the years. But I simply don't trust a lot of online recipes.

For no BS recipes, BBC food is great ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/food ), they normally get right to the point.

I would filter out the ones from Ready Steady Cook though

I have wanted to build something like this, but the real pain point to solve is recipe blogs are a pain to navigate. They’re covered in ads, popups, and the first 50% of the page is some story that nobody wants to read.

What we need is wikipedia for cooking.

The problem with that is that recipes are inherently more like blog than Wikipedia articles - they're so personal. Who are you to edit the number of chillies in OJFord's palak paneer, for example?

Wikipedia has a 'first come first stays' policy for British/American spelling - applying that to recipes would be disastrous, giving me the final say on how to make the de facto custard, just because I created the page before anyone else?

Fair points, I'm not saying all of Wiki's policies need to apply. I'm just saying the format and ease of consuming content is good, and there's nothing popular for cooking with those qualities.

Yes, sorry if I seemed too dismissive, I agree and like the idea on the surface, it's just to me what makes the format and ease of consuming Wikipedia good is that there's one page for everything, not a bunch of conflicting entries for the same thing. (Well, any encyclopaedia!)

But you can't achieve that with recipes, because they're not encyclopaedic entries, they're one person's opinion piece on how to make a nice <whatever>, like a blog post.

I suppose the slight flaw in my argument is that you can have competing encyclopaedia publishers - choose your namespace, your single source of truth, within which there's the one entry...

There's probably ways to handle that. Grouping variations together and letting the community rank them for example. It's not a new problem

It's an expensive paid subscription, but the America's Test Kitchen website is basically a professionally maintained cooking information index. The standards of information are much higher than a wiki (they do scientific method testing of every tool, technique and recipe). Unfortunately there is one thing that annoys me, which is that there are full page ads for their other products, even if you are already a subscriber.

As an Indian, I've found some of their Indian food recipes on Youtube to be downright terrible.

I wouldn't know- I ask my mom for Indian recipes, and she gets them from other Indian moms on YouTube. I use ATK for western food, especially southern food.

I think that for the ingredients you need to treat the entire phrase as a single unit. For instance, when i put in apple as an ingredient you return results that need apple cider vinegar or pineapple.

Is there a way for you to get the nutritional info into this page as well? Sticking to a diet is really hard when you have to scroll through pages and pages of exposition and adds to get macro counts.

Feels good. Will use it more.

I searched for 2 recipes which are not particularly common - watermelon juice and scallion pancakes and there was an abundance of results, including ones I have used before.

This is great, thank you. Do you have any plans to do an Instapaper-style scrape that just reduces the recipe down to the ingredients/instructions?

Cool! Sorting by number of ratings, the first 30 or more results are all by "Maangchi". I think there is something wrong with their ratings.

This is great… right up until I go to a recipe and all the BS comes flooding back.

We do not want your life story recipe person! We want to cook dinner!

I searched for flan and the first two results were for pumpkin flan and then almond flan but the rest of the recipes were for flank steak.

Are the filters working properly? I tried filtering for "almond flour" which comes up as an ingredient option, but got no results

hm, I'll take a look at this. Thanks for reporting.

Great idea. Can you add a filter for food and drinks. I want to look for lunch/dinner recipes.

Some actual pagination would be great (instead of just next / previous having page numbers)

Be careful not to point your scraper at those mommy recipe bloggers that have a story about their grandma before the recipe. Most of the well know ones are making 6 figures a year from their blog and will fight, tooth and nail, to make sure their content is not reproduced anywhere on the internet (not even the title), except for a SERP.

awesome - bookmarked!

small bug: go to page 2 of some search results and enter a different search term. You'll stay on page 2 and if there are not enough results to fill page 2, it will just be blank.

please pair it with https://plainoldrecipe.com/ ^^

Great job! I wish there was a way sort data by columns.

Which bs there's when searching for recepies?

What search engine does it use?

Can't type an apostrophe.

' breaks it.

The search here is great - you can filter by min number of reviews and sort by star rating, which should be the default on amzn, newegg, etc.

Ok, I know this filter is not on ecommerce sites b/c money but one day there will be enough competition and then ...

Ok, I know there will never be real competition b/c capitalism. Why can't you just let me have this little fiction?

Ok, I know b/c reality.

This is awesome, nice work

no bs, yet NYTIMES has a modal popup that you cant unclick....

Tried it out. Searched for lamb curry. First listed is a paywalled NYT recipe. Was hoping for no BS as in no paywall, no extraneous narrative. Oh well.

feature request: link to archive.is url of the ny times link to break paywall bs

All recipes are 404 not found

Not all, but a lot of them.

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