A New Player in Recipe Search

Scripps Networks, the parent company of The Food Network, has quietly launched a new website that might just be a "killer app" for online recipe search.

Foodcomhome Currently in "beta," Food.com sports a clean, almost zen design -- lots of white space, a bunch of carrots, a sprig of rosemary -- which stands in stark contrast to the brash style of its sibling site, the Food Network. Food.com is a vertical search engine for recipes and an online repository for recipe collections. Down the road, Scripps also plans to add social media tools to enable commentary and interaction between users.

Surprisingly, it's not just a search engine for Scripps' proprietary recipes on the Food Network website and Recipezaar (which Scripps also owns). Rather, Food.com searches all of the major recipe publishers on the web -- from epicurious to Food & Wine (it presently skips over blogs). Unlike these other sites, which search only within their own sites, Food.com's search has no walls. Aside from FoodieView, I believe it's the only recipe search engine of its kind.

Using the Food.com website (or a downloadable toolbar), you may select among sites such as epicurious, gourmet.com, Bon Appetit, CHOW, and other outlets, to search for recipes. Enter search terms and Food.com will display the results from all of the sites in a single, scrollable list. Recipe results and searches may also be filtered by variables such as the type of course, cuisine, main ingredient, technique, special diet, and cooking time.

Foodcom Interestingly, Food.com doesn't only list recipe titles from the other recipe sites. It generates a thumbnail photo and -- here's what's unusual -- scrapes the entire ingredient lists as well (see screenshot, right). A link is provided for the user to go to the recipe owner's site for the complete instructions. While ingredient lists are generally understood to be copyright-free, and traffic will ultimately be directed to the recipe owners' sites, this seems like a game-changer for recipe search, and I am very curious to see how the other publishers will respond.

Food.com also has a bookmarking feature which enables user's to "add" recipes to your "recipe box" from other sites not included in the recipe search collection. It's a little clunky right now. The function only works for those sites food.com has "white-listed" (the developers told me more sites are being added all the time). Moreover, by adding a recipe from one of these outside sites, Food.com currently only logs the URL and none of the rich information offered on a search of the major publishers.

So, is food.com a game changer? It would seem to eliminate the need to go around from site to site searching for recipes, and it also provides a single place to "store" recipes found online. Moreover, scraping the ingredient lists allows for a time-saving way to skim through recipes and compare their complexity. What do you think?



Hmm, seems like it's positioning itself to be the google of the foodie world as the go-to place. I wonder how sites such as epicurious and CHOW will feel about being filtered through it?


I think it's creating a problem where none exists. I already save my recipe finds to a folder with a couple of clicks. And I can save any recipe from any site.


I am in love with it. I always bop back and forth between the food network website and epicurious, not to mention allrecipes. Brilliant


It's nice to have but I don't think I'll be using it too often. I generally prefer to look for recipes from sources I like and trust. Some of these sites have very different characters. Recipezaar, for example, has a lot of stuff I would never in a million years want to cook -- knock-off Olive Garden recipes and that sort of thing -- it's just more information to sift through, to have their recipes mixed in with ones from sites I like.


food.com isn't the only one doing this. Project Foodie (http://www.projectfoodie.com) has been around for about 2 years.

We have similar sources and features, but we also index by publication date so, for example, you can see all recipes published in a specific issue of a magazine.


This site is removing (or at least obscuring) editorial filters that have real value. Also: 90% of the recipes accessible in beta are from RecipeZaar (ie pretty much worthless).


I like the idea of it but execution leaves something to be desired. I don't like that I am unable to open up recipes in new tabs, since I like to open up a bunch of recipes at once. This going to a recipe, clicking the back button, going to another recipe thing is way too slow. Also, there doesn't seem to be a way to exclude words or ingredients from searches, which Google does much better. For example I was searching for an Indian-spiced whole roast chicken recipe, but could find no way to exclude words like thighs or pieces or breasts.


Take a look at springpad, also currently in "beta" - online notebooks to help manage your life. http://springpadit.com

You can drop in the URL for ANY recipe & the site will scrape the ingredients for you & also store a link back to the original source for later.

The weekly meal planner allows users to add recipe to specific dates & easily create shopping lists. There's a new recipe box feature under development, too!


I'd like to know other people's thoughts are on whether or not they participate in the foodie communities (comments, ratings)? Or are they more interested in finding great recipes? What I've found to be the best recipe search engine is http://www.RecipeBridge.com They claim to have over 200+ cooking sites, blogs, and magazines indexed for over 1.4 million recipes right now. Sam, to your point it's the only site that seems to have figured out how to prevent RecipeZaar recipes from dominating the search results.


I also really like Recipe Bridge (http://www.recipebridge.com). I've been using it quite a bit lately and have found it to be easy AND comprehensive. A number of times, I've been looking for a recipe that I've made in past but have misplaced. Recipe Bridge has always found the recipe I was looking for. It's been a lifesaver.


Nice post, Josh! I agree with Anonymous_Crab and Sam about the quality of these engines.

As far game changing goes, I think it will hurt food blogs down the road by reducing traffic to blogs, as it is positioning itself to be a "go to" source and is currently excluding blogs. It appears to be a subtle way of positioning the food-related publications - united - as "one voice."

It is exactly the type of marketing effort I would come up with, if I were the marketing consultant to these publications - it's brilliant! Its success will ultimately depend on how they market to the general population. It is likely to become popular those who are not so discerning or research oriented, and want a one stop shop (i.e., most of the general population).

If this takes off with enough marketing behind it, the food blogging community will ultimately need to come up with its own version to adequately compete, which I think is a brilliant idea anyway. Now THAT is a search engine I would use everyday!

Bill and Andy: www.recipebridge.com sounds cool. I will check it out next - thanks!


~ Paula


There are so many recipe sites out there. I personally like Gold'n Plump's chicken recipe search engine and Tablespoon for quick and easy recipes.


is a search engine linking over a million recipes, including celebrity chefs' own web sites and other reputable sources such as tv stations, supermarkets and other corporations. The principle behind searching these sites is that their recipes are comparatively well written, tried and tested. Of course the community sites contain a myriad great, creative recipes which are also in the index.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to look for recipes by specific authors. It's here that Panjoy differs from other search engines, in that Panjoy only looks at the authoritative sources of the author's recipes. For example, a search for Jamie Oliver recipes will not return links to all those pages out there that mention his name in the small print at the bottom, but that give a recipe not actually having been created by him.

Owen (Panjoy architect)


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