In 2011 we asked our readers to share how they organize recipes. Back then Evernote was all the rage, having launched in 2007 as a smart, easy way to save digital everything, including recipes, which were fast becoming the new normal.
Every year since then we've continued to ask readers about organizing recipes to get an overall sense of how systems change with time. Our latest call-out was last week, and here's what we learned: When it comes to organizing recipes, some things never change ... but then again, there's always room for improvement! Here are the top five ways Kitchn readers are organizing their recipes in 2015.
Google Drive made the list for the first time this year. A few readers praised its ability to take notes and share recipes with others.
I use Google Drive to organize my recipes. It's better than just pinning recipes I find because I can make notes, keep track of changes I've made, calculate the nutrition for each recipe, etc. - alisonann
I [also use Google drive]. It's easy to copy/paste recipes from various sites, then modify/make notes. I even share recipes w/ others via Drive. The best thing is that it makes my recipes instantly searchable by either name or ingredient. - whiskeytwins
Pinterest moved up the ranks this year, which is totally not a surprise. Hello, visual recipe board! I want you for dinner.
I cook a lot more because of Pinterest. I'm very visual and it's so much easier to get ideas for dinner by just browsing through my boards. Plus the search option is great. I just add tags to the pins to find specific recipes. - hoosieroutwest
I use Pinterest and a Kindle Fire as my cookbook/viewing device. When I make a recipe I love, I write it into a cooking binder. Pinterest also works on the computer and my phone, so I find it really simple. I tried Evernote but it offered too much when all I want to do is bookmark links and open the webpages on my Kindle or phone to use them. - illuminatedpst
A few years ago our house got broken into and my computer was stolen. I was heartbroken because I had lost all my bookmarks with recipes I had been making for years! I ended up using Pinterest. I have a few different groups for different recipes to make, recipes I have made and liked, and even uploaded a few pictures with recipes I've made on my own and just typed out the ingredients in the description. I'm super visual and it's worked pretty well. - Angknox
Now that so many sites have links to post directly to Pinterest, I get it. I've started using it and so far it's working for me. I still have lots of favorites bookmarked on my browser, though. -aleec
I've been using Pinterest for a few years now, and it really works for me. Once I've made a recipe, I add a comment on the original pin saying how it went, whether it reheats well, if any substitutions/additions come to mind, etc. I started with dinner recipes (because I hate making the same four things all the time!) and then added boards for desserts, snacks, and breakfasts. - cuminafterall
I use Pinterest as I find intriguing recipes, but move them into Paprika if they become proven winners. Paprika was definitely worth it for me, especially now that they're developing a PC version. - AmyM1
I'd never heard of ChefTap, but readers kept mentioning it this year. This Android-only app got high praise for being able to read and format recipes from any site (including ours!) better than other popular recipe apps, like Paprika and PepperPlate.
I just started using ChefTap, after trying PepperPlate and Paprika. ChefTap does a great job of importing your bookmarks and Pinterest pins, and most importantly, it can read and format recipes on most sites, including The Kitchn. PepperPlate had issues importing recipes on some sites, like this one and Real Simple and such. I had heard rave reviews for Paprika, but it turns out it can't import a bunch of bookmarks or pins at once, so ... that was a waste of $5. ChefTap solves those issues, and you can even import an entire Pinterest board as separate recipes. You can then create tags and attach them to recipes.
Drawbacks: the free version gives you space for 100 recipes, and a Pro account costs $16/year. It's also Android-only. Lastly, I'd love it to have a weekly menu function like Paprika does, but I guess I can sort of create that with temporary tags. - Alyanumbers
I did a TON of research before picking an organizing system and it was totally worth it. ChefTap is the best thing that has ever happened to my cooking/baking life. It is truly amazing and allows me to take my recipes with me (modified as I like) everywhere (ideal when you see a sale at the grocery store so you can pull a complimentary recipe and check all the other ingredients you need). (Not affiliated in any way. Just a huge fan.) - inside-of-a-dog
I use ChefTap, and ponied up for the Pro version last year when they introduced it. Their Customer Support is very responsive. I just started having trouble importing from The Kitchn in the past week, and they are working with me to sort it out. I use temporary tags for menu planning. It took a little time in the beginning to enter my favorite non-digital recipes, but now that they're all in, it's great. They don't currently have a grocery list generating component, but I'm sure they're working on it! - Nornee
But don't be fooled! These popular organizing apps haven't gone anywhere. As one reader put it, software options like Paprika remain awesome in part because of the customization options: "[Being able to double or triple recipes] is the biggest reason I liked the software options along with the nutritional calculations instead of the cards and binders. So many recipes do not have those nutritional notes included."
I use Evernote. I have a notebook for recipes I want to try and for recipes I like. Anytime I want to try something new, I can check my "Recipes I Want to Try" notebook and if they are good, they will earn a place in my "Recipes I Like" notebook. Then I always have my recipes with me anywhere I am. Makes it easy to shop for something last minute too. - NickB
I use Evernote. I clip from the web browser and add a tag for what type of recipe it is (e.g., appetizer, lunch, dinner, barbecue), each ingredient (e.g., lamb, harissa, carrot), and because I'm trying to lose weight, approximately how many calories (under 300, under 400, and so on). This makes it really easy at the supermarket — if bok choy is on sale, for example, I can search for bok choy recipes on my phone, right then and there. If I'm planning a party, I can really easily look up party recipes I've already read through. and know I can cook and plan from there. - Nadia85
The recipes which are "keepers" are stored in my Paprika Recipe Manager (I have the iPhone app, Kindle Fire app, as well as the PC app). Paprika's been really useful for meal planning on-the-go, and for saving recipes from websites/blogs. Some recipes in my cookbooks which I use frequently have also been stored in Paprika. I use an OCR app on my iPhone, snap a picture of these hard-copy recipes, convert them to text, and save them in my Paprika. - tohtoro
I use Paprika. Many years ago I had an indexed file, then I went to binders. I had about seven binders (dinner party & Christmas, baking, dessert, main, sauces and condiments, etc). Along with all my cookbooks, they took up a lot of space. If the recipe wasn't from a neat source, I'd re type it. I eventually tried Paprika when my sister and then a good friend used it. Makes it great to swap recipes. Must admit I go a bit crazy on the categories but it works for me -SusanS
I use Pepperplate, which I absolutely love. Not only is it free but it also works across all kinds of devices including Droid, iPhone, Nook, Kindle, etc., and not just on one type of product. - JLynnDC
I can't sing enough praise for Pepperplate. I love that I have access on all my devices and the Chrome extension makes it easy to "add to pepperplate" when I'm browsing recipe after recipe on my desktop. Manually entering recipes is super easy and it's great to be able to whip out Mom's pasta con broccoli recipe when I'm on vacation with friends, or if I have a last-minute stop at the grocery store on my way home from work and I forget what I need.
I also love the ability to menu plan, add several recipes to a shopping list, and double recipes if I'm cooking for a group. Not to mention, I can categorize each recipe as I see fit, to meet my organizational needs. I've also found that the categorization tool is helpful when I'm trying to cut my grocery budget, so I can filter recipes by items I already have or add several recipes to my shopping list that contain similar items.
I do save recipes to Evernote if I'm on my mobile device, but will always save to Pepperplate at a later date. - aecejka
5. Paper Recipes in a Binder
Wait, I thought this list was about how people organize recipes in 2015, you're probably thinking. Well, it turns out that for some people, the old-school way of organizing recipes — on paper, in a binder — is still the best way. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
I need [recipes] on paper. I keep mine in three-ring binders ... one for savory and another for desserts, then divided within each binder by type of recipe (cakes, cookies, quick breads, etc.) - citygirlsf
When I'm planning meals, I pull out the plastic sleeves with the recipes I need and put them in a red file folder for the week. That way they are an easy reference for making my shopping list and also so that I don't forget what it was I wanted to make! If I make a recipe from online, I'll use my iPad to follow the recipe. If it turns out to be a keeper, then I'll print it and add any notes I want to make about how much we liked it, any adjustments made, substitutions, etc. Seems to work pretty well. - HealthHappy
I use 6x9-inch three-ring binders, organized by course. My books double as memory books — photos of my daughter baking or blowing out the candles, thematic cartoons, drawings, collages. I also have a section to record parties with menus and guest lists. - jce
Tried-and-true recipes are typed up or copied and formatted to a standard layout in Word. From there I print them and put them in plastic sleeves in a binder. This lets other family members make our favorites. I also save recipes to Dropbox so I can easily share them online or access them wherever, which is awesome when I am at the store and need to double-check ingredients. It takes discipline to maintain my recipe collection this way, but it has paid off in many ways.
Recipes of interest but not fully tested are saved in bookmarks, Pinterest, remembered in favorite cookbooks, in no particular manner, really. If I love a recipe after I make it, I will make the effort to find it to make it again. It's part of the culling process. I used to try to print or copy everything, but it became overwhelming. This works better for now. - fabricwench
For recipes I want to try, I use Post-it notes in cookbooks, Evernote for online recipes, and a manila folder for torn-out magazine pages or other random paper-based recipes. If I've cooked a recipe and liked it enough that I know I want to make it again and again, it gets written down or printed out and goes in a binder. Each recipe in the special approved-recipes binder is in a plastic sleeve and is filed by recipe type (veggie main, meat main, soup, salad, etc). - arieltinks
Do you fall into one of these five categories? Tell us!
(Image credits: Rag and Bone Bindery; Emma Christensen; The Kitchn; Anjali Prasertong; Sweet Paper Trail)