Recipe database


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Recipe database

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Modificato: Ago 31, 2007, 8:36am

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Ago 31, 2007, 11:49am

You probably are bonkers but, if so, then I'm right there with you! No, I haven't done what you've done, but I have dreamt of it. Often. In fact, just the other day I was looking around online to see if there's a program out there that will catalogue recipes in just the way you've described! You ought to sell your product!

Ago 31, 2007, 12:08pm

I have finally entered the name of every recipe in every cookbook we own



Modificato: Ago 31, 2007, 2:08pm

Hi perodicticus,

I haven't nearly added every recipe in every cookbook I own, but I'm up to 47945 recipes in a database I created. I use it as an accumulated index for my cookbooks and binders of cut out and printed recipes.

I index the name of the recipe, in which book on which page it is, from which country, what kind of dish it is (starter, main course etcetera) and the main ingredient.

And yes, I'm bonkers ;-) But hey, it's an innocent enough hobby.

Ago 31, 2007, 2:42pm

you might want to check this out: -- enjoy! I just discovered it myself because I love your idea of organizing your recipes online -- I have a bunch in my recipe box, but that only holds 50 for each username. So now I am going to see if there's a site close to LT, but for recipes. This one looks like it's pretty close....

Ago 31, 2007, 2:46pm

I also had been wondering if there was such a tool available. I found several different software packages for a reasonable price that might do the trick. There is a website that compares the different features and recommends the top products, it is

I haven't selected one yet since I'd like to try the software for a few days before I decide. They certainly look like fun!

Set 1, 2007, 12:34am

tis1215 - Sigh. That looks like so much fun. But I probably won't have time until my next life. I especially like the feature of being able to access your recipes when you are not at home. Several times I've been visiting people who wanted me to make a specific dish and I either couldn't or had to guess at it. It would beat writing them out over and over for people who want a recipe. Sigh.

Set 1, 2007, 7:03pm

Re: 5. I just joined. All of you are tempting me, with your searchable databases: but remote access really sells it. I added one recipe, a tad long on cooking steps, and find it really didn't take that long. It's a great way for me to explore my cookbooks, if nothing else... and, yes, nice for sharing. Thanks for posting about it, tis1215!

Set 17, 2007, 3:01pm

#5, 6

Couldn't raise the URL that LittleTaiko gave us, but ...

Wouldn't it be great to have a database of one's recipes that you cold query saying something like "What can I make with the 5-spice powder / galangal / whatever I've just found ..."? I suspect a database listing just main ingredients is relatively easy compared to this, so we need something that will correctly interpret scanned input -- an even bigger ask if you're starting from recipes like Escoffier's!

Set 17, 2007, 3:08pm


There are websites that do things like that (although I'm not sure about '5-spice powder') for their catalog of recipes.

Set 18, 2007, 2:26am

> 9

You can enter ingredients on and get back a list of recipes. Its mostly American, and not as upmarket as, say Chow or Epicurious.

12nanann Primo messaggio
Set 18, 2007, 3:56am


I have not even compiled a list of the cookbooks that I own.

You might try using the index in some of you print books as catagorization tool.

Set 18, 2007, 2:42pm

#10, 11

A million thanks to both of you. Will continue checking -- h

Set 18, 2007, 4:21pm


Anybody have any opinion or experience with the software "Cook's Palate"?


Set 23, 2007, 11:09pm

This is a TERRIBLE idea. It's going to take me WEEKS to create a database of all the recipe names in all my cookbooks. Criminy. Why did you have to suggest THIS????


16chloecmorrow Primo messaggio
Gen 1, 2008, 3:43pm

Hi all - for those on this list who have already started work on the ambitious project of cataloging the recipes in their cookbooks - I wonder if you would be willing to share your lists with me ?

I am working on developing a website that would would be a shared index of recipes from cookbooks. The idea is that the recipe index would be contributed by cookbook owners over time so that you could enter a list of cookbooks you own and hopefully a lot of the recipes would be indexed already. Users could then tag the recipes to suit their own needs, making it easy to figure out where to lookup a particular recipe later.

The site isn't quite done yet, but I'm starting to look for any existing sources of data to seed the database initially. So... if you have a list, and would be willing to share it, drop me a line at

(If you don't have a list but would like to know when the site is ready for initial testing - you can send me an email as well)


Gen 5, 2008, 3:12pm

I am tempted with the master index...

I will say for recipes, I use Living Cookbook for random recipes, subscriptions and other things I find that are good. The copy/paste feature makes it too easy (you copy the recipe and then just highlight sections indicating whether it's the procedure, ingredients, title, notes, etc.). And for the subscriptions I have to a few magazines with exceptionally good sites, I'm able to get in an entire issues worth of magazines and menus in no time at all. Of course, some magazines (cough, Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit and Gourmet) only seem to have about 20% of their recipes on-line. Ingredients tend to finish themselves when you type them, but there's always the issue of typing up the directions...

Gen 7, 2008, 2:26pm

Thanks for the tip - I'll take a look at it !

Modificato: Gen 7, 2008, 4:13pm

tls (#5), that wegottaeat website is loads of fun! Thanks for sharing!

I haven't cataloged anything on the computer, but I've made a personalized cookbook. I typed all the recipes I have played with enough to have them the way I like them best. Each is saved in a file categorized by its type -- main dish, yeast bread, etc. all my recipes of one type are together (like in a regular cookbook). I printed them out and put them in a 3-ring binder so that I have one cookbook with everything I like to make.

It took a long time to get everything together, but it's great now that I have it. And when I perfect a new recipe, I can type it in at the bottom of the, say dessert file if it's a dessert, and then just print out the last page so the new recipe is in there with the old ones.

I took a long time organizing formatting and everything so that it looks a lot like an old Betty Crocker cookbook my mom used all the time when I was growing up. Of course now I see this I might be tempted to put everything in there too. :)

Gen 9, 2008, 4:20am

>16 chloecmorrow:

I hate to sound a note of caution, but what about copyright? If you encourage people to enter recipes from published cookery books, that would almost certainly be an enfringement.

Gen 12, 2008, 2:06pm

I think that is a totally valid concern, but I was thinking of it just being an index. You wouldn't enter the actual recipes online. You would use the site to categorize recipes and make it easy to figure out which cookbook or magazine or website had a particular recipe you were looking for.

For example you might want a chocolate cake recipe and instead of pulling down all your cookbooks and checking if one of them has such a recipe (Although of course that is fun too :) you could quickly look it up online and see that 2 of your cookbooks have a chocolate cake recipe and go directly to those cookbooks. Since it's a shared site you could also see what others think about those recipes to help you pick which one to make.

Actually for me the main reason I was thinking of such a site is more because of cooking magazines. I buy lots and dog-ear the pages of the recipes that look good but then I sort of forget to make them. I thought it would be good to have a way to keep a list of all the recipes in my magazines and flag the ones I want to try. Then if I'm wondering what to make for dinner I could quickly look in my 'to try' list for something that sounds good and go directly to the right issue. Then later I could mark that I had tried it and whether I liked it or not.

Gen 12, 2008, 8:16pm

I've never tried indexing my cookbooks the way you all are suggesting. I have had good luck with the "Now You're Cooking" software, and have even given it as a gift in the past. I liked that I could add multiple cookbooks and kept one for 'favorites' and 'to try'.

Another option in the online cooking world is a website that creates the weekly meal plan for you. I know of at least two:
1) "The 6 o'clock scramble" - quick and healthy family friendly dinners. I gave relatives a subscription to this site for Christmas, but haven't heard how it's working for them.

2) I gave myself a subscription to - simple gourmet foods; I've been impressed with the ease and taste of the recipes I've tried so far.

Feb 9, 2008, 10:37am

Just a random thought: I have no idea how many folks out there have scanners. But one nice thing is that even less expensive scanners often include OCR (optical character recognition) software these days. Meaning that you can scan a page (such as an index--or contents--page) from a cookbook and then turn it into a Word document, fully editable to do with as you wish. Being able to scan and then edit all the indices from your/our cookbooks would enormously reduce the time needed to type things in manually.

Apr 9, 2008, 7:06pm

Have any of you thought about that all the time used to index recipes in cookbooks could be used better to read the books and maybe put in a few "post-it" papers to mark things of spesial interest. To put recipes from printed cookbooks out on websites to use for others is not smart since it is a crime to violate the copyrights. The time to spare is better used in the kitchen or out jogging.
I am no better, I wish for a program to collect all the hundreds of recipes from open websites I have saved on my computer and get a sort of indexed book out of them in my computer. For now I use google desktop search to find them.

Apr 9, 2008, 7:06pm

Have any of you thought about that all the time used to index recipes in cookbooks could be used better to read the books and maybe put in a few "post-it" papers to mark things of spesial interest. To put recipes from printed cookbooks out on websites to use for others is not smart since it is a crime to violate the copyrights. The time to spare is better used in the kitchen or out jogging.
I am no better, I wish for a program to collect all the hundreds of recipes from open websites I have saved on my computer and get a sort of indexed book out of them in my computer. For now I use google desktop search to find them.

Apr 26, 2008, 11:51pm

#9 - hfglen
In Now You're Cooking you can actually search by items on hand or for a specific ingredient. I can't speak for other software programs, though I imagine they would also have this ability as it's a matter of searching throughout the database(s).

Apr 27, 2008, 7:58am

Since, as the online editor for Cook's Illustrated I spend most of everyday thinking about this subject and loading recipes, and hearing from users, I thought I'd make a few suggestions:

1) Don't spend a lot of effort putting recipes on secondary websites. Yes they can be great, but if they disappear (and the economics are such that many of them will), you've lost an amazing amount of work.

2) The problem with most recipe software is that it hasn't proved profitable (MasterCook was the biggest out there for a time, and it was sold and resold without the new owners putting any time into updating the software). If you buy one, assume that will be the version you will have and assume not much tech support.

3) Whatever system you use on the computer, it should go without saying to please back up your recipes frequently. Get a memory stick and reserve it for recipes. I've received heartbreaking stories on this.

4) If any of you have looked at the Cook's Illustrated site, you know it's a paid site (which is why, unlike the other publications, we can have all of our recipes and other content on it), so we are especially concerned about copyright and do monitor other sites--it is a serious problem. However, if you have a non commercial site, such as a blog, and post an occasional recipe (accurately)with full credit to the publication, most of the magazines won't pursue you. Putting them on a commercial site is a problem and not a good idea.Nor is posting a lot from any one source.

5) If you use a commercial software package and rely on the nutritional information they generate, be careful. We ran a study; they are very inaccurate. There are good nutritional packages out there, but they're very pricy.

6) When you set up a system, whether it's on the computer or by stickies in a book, most people we've found stick to the categories that cookbooks use, -- poultry, or breakfast, or whatever. Yet in a survey we recently conducted, most homecooks actually mentally use different categories. Recipes that my husband hates, but I love. Recipes that are really good except for the cilantro (which I don't like) but still work if I substitute parsley. The menu I served for Joe's last birthday which he loved. It's kind of a long winded way of saying if you do start organizing, esp. on a computer, spend a lot of time before beginning thinking of how you want them organized and labeled. It'll be much more useful.

7) Finally, take the time to load recipes thoroughly and accurately. If you're a good cook, it's surprisingly hard to do, because people often assume a lot of knowledge, i.e. you can say in a cheesecake recipe, prepare a water bath and move on. One of the real advantages of having recipes on the computer is the ability to share them, esp. within the family and down the generations. But if the recipes aren't complete, it can be very frustrating for the user (we get a lot of letters asking if we can figure out what somebody meant in a recipe).

Modificato: Nov 11, 2009, 8:23pm

to westher: Wow--that works out to more than 43 YEARS of recipes if you try three new ones each and every day! Good luck on finding time to cook all these new foods while you are spending the time indexing!

to others: I have "published" a family cookbook, have had a small town recipe column and am developing a blog for more help in keeping a frugal ktichen in this tight economy. I also cook for friends and extended family several times a week, for fun, fellowship, as well as occasional recipe-testing.

What I am finding to be most useful of all is a simple little Word recipe template that I developed myself and into which I drop those recipes I use and/or want to keep. Some of these are on-line versions of recipes I've pulled together from my cookbooks; most of these are still not in LibraryThing because so many are church and charity collections or old, old, old volumes without the nice barcode info to speedily enter them.

What I find I look for most is a specific ingredient rather than a recipe name. Having my recipes in Word, in a separate recipe file on my computer, makes searching by "masa harina" or "blueberries" extremely easy. I don't have to worry about special software going out of use (there was a great little recipe program for the Mac years ago that stopped being available. I had purchased it on a floppy disk, something none of my most recent computers can read. Oops!)

NellieMc, your list of things to consider is great--thanks so much for sharing things from a "professional's" point of view. Wish I could afford your site, as I have loved the magazine whenever I could manage a subscription.

Nov 10, 2009, 11:29pm

Being a Mac user, I found the program Mac Gourmet to be very good. It is just so time consuming to enter the recipes, so I am just doing the ones I really like and have tested. There are a few I want to try, but I keep them separate until I try them.

I have my mother's old recipe cards and hand written recipes and am in the process of scanning them into the computer, so I have them in her handwriting. She often made delightful comments and always wrote where or who gave her the recipe. Some of the best ones, go on Mac Gourmet.

Good topic, thanks.

Modificato: Gen 27, 2012, 11:38pm

I have created a database for all the recipes I find I like using MS Access. I have tried to copy and paste a page of the database so you could see how it is arranged but have not been successful so far.

The headings I use are-

Recipe name
Cookbook ( you can even use recipes from magazines here as well as just cookbooks)
Date (date of the cookbook)
Cuisine (such as Beef, Chicken, Vegetable,Fish etc)
Category (I have 30 categories such as Asian , Indian, Beef, Chicken,Breakfast, Dessert, Vegetable etc)
Location (This is the location of the cookbook in my number of bookshelves such as L2/4- Living room,bookcase no. 2 ,shelf 4 from the bottom)

I have also created another database just to show all my cookbooks , in which bookcase and on what shelf.
This makes it very easy to locate any particular cookbook or recipe.

Making the databases using MS Access was drop dead simple even for a 74 y.o like me


Modificato: Gen 29, 2012, 10:11am

I use This-Library thing to keep track of what books I have and a program called Eat Your Books to achieve my recipe listings. I tel EYB either what I want to fix as in a sspecific recipe (chocolate Cake) or what ingredients I have ( like eggplant, garlic, lemon)and it lists all the matching recipes from any of my books.

This has caused me to open and cook from books that haven't been opened in 15 to 20 years. It does have limitations like not every book is in its system yet but the number of books and magazines is growing at an incredible rate.

I think that maybe chloecmarrow who talked of indexing above may be part of either the EYB project of a parallel one.

Feb 3, 2012, 5:21pm


The problem I have with EYB is that they have very very few of the cookbooks that I own so that is why I developed my own database.


Feb 14, 2012, 1:13pm

Hi Silkhat - I am the co-founder of EYB so I tried looking at your books to see which ones you own that EYB doesn't list. But you don't seem to have added any books to LT yet so I couldn't check. EYB lists almost 100,000 cookbooks in the Library and any book can be added by importing the ISBN. Of course all those books are not yet indexed, we are indexing by popularity. So 2,500 cookbooks are indexed so far (as well as a lot of magazines and online sites) totalling 560,000 recipes. Although this may seem like a small percentage of the total in the Library, it actually represents an average of 60% of the books our members own since many of them own the same books.

Feb 14, 2012, 2:37pm

Jane, I signed on to EYB and, although it does look like a good idea and well done, it will not work for me. My favorite cookbooks for what my wife calls "experimental food night" are more like these, The New Hostess of To-Day, Time and temperature oven cooking, and Famous recipes by famous people. With your business model, which does make sense, you will never get to the books I prefer to play around with.

Feb 15, 2012, 4:24am

It is also possible to index your own books on EYB. Time-consuming, but it does get the books you really want indexed on EYB.

Feb 15, 2012, 5:21am

You can do the same on, only that it's free...

Modificato: Feb 15, 2012, 10:29am

I really like I use it almost every day. Many of the more popular cookbooks have already been indexed (Ina Garten, Mark Bittman, etc.).

ETA: It's also nice for discovering good recipes on recipe websites.

Feb 15, 2012, 7:06pm


I have about 150 cookbooks and when I first joined EYB I searched the library for any of the books I owned. Whilst there were about 10 books in your library the only one I found with a list of recipes was Mark Bittmans "How To Cook Everything". When I realised this I decided not to take the time entering the titles of any of my cookbooks in to your library.

Now I realise that it is time consuming and costly to you to create such a huge recipe list of all the books listed in your Library and therefore you would need to charge users to avail themselves of this information but in the end I would still end up with the recipes from a tiny proportion of the cookbooks I have.

With the databases I have created for my library using MS Access I have just those recipes that I have selected from each book and the exact location where I can find that recipe and at no monetary cost to me. I merely peruse a cookbook and enter the titles of any recipes that appeal to me into the database. When I want a particular recipe I know exactly where that recipe is located. To create these databases has taken me in the order of 3 months part time work and I have the results NOW.

EYB is a great concept but the process of making it universally applicable to every member is a mammoth, and very costly, exercise for you and your members and would need a very long term plan of maybe 10 years or more to come to fruition.

I wish you well in your endeavours.


Feb 20, 2012, 9:31pm

Thanks Neil for the feedback. Yes it is a huge endeavor but we have already indexed on average more than 60% of our members' books. Because we are indexing in order of the most popular books, as we dig further into the chart, each new book added is an indexed book for fewer people.

But as wester points out members can now index their own books which many of them are doing. So more of the obscure books are getting indexed but obviously there are a lot more of them.

That's great that you are creating your own database and obviously because it is tailored just for you, it will suit you best. Though one of the things people like about using EYB is finding recipes they didn't expect to find. Many people don't have the time or inclination to create their own database.

The difference between Cookbooker, which is free, and EYB, which is $25 p.a., is that EYB is doing the indexing whereas on cookbooker it is members indexing separate recipes rather than the entire book. So for Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Cookbooker lists 213 recipes whereas EYB has indexed all 1,535 recipes. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has 66 recipes on Cookbooker and 2,156 on EYB. So Cookbooker will be great for people who don't mind only searching for part of the recipes in their books (but it is free). And EYB will work for people that think paying $25 is worth it to search through all the recipes in their indexed cookbooks. It's great that people have the choice.

Feb 23, 2012, 5:40pm

EYB has changed my life and helped me get far more out of my large cookbook library. No matter where I am, I can check out recipes and which ingredients are needed to be purchased on the way home. I am using books which had fallen under the radar or titles which didn't fit the assignment categorically (so I wouldn't have checked) but in fact had a great recipe for, say, a pea soup or pineapple raita.

Cheers for EYB! I've more time to cook.