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How to make a cooking or recipe app?

Updated: May 9


Cooking is an absolutely special process. Some see this as a highly artistic event, while for others it’s just a daily routine. Yet, no matter on which side you are — cooking app development is something that can help lots of people.


That’s easy! Since people from almost any social group can be your Target Audience. Men and women, youth and adults, families and singles — they all cook and having a special recipe app on their smartphones will definitely help them.

It’s also possible and even reasonable to concentrate on a specific niche for your Target Audience. For example, build a cooking app especially for vegetarians.

In today’s article we’re going to share with you our insights on how to make own recipe app MVP and then enhance it with a bunch of cool features. Read on, it’s going to be yummy!

📱 Basic Features: a Must-Have for Your MVP

While surfing the Web, you could find the articles about different types and modes of recipe apps, and other too sophisticated stuff. Frankly speaking, they don’t help a lot in building a recipe app.

On the contrary, they just leave readers even more confused. We in ADevIndustries decided to choose a more straightforward way and supply you with everything you need to create a recipe app: features, tech tips & estimations.

And our first step today is the list of essential features. Like an apple pie can’t be without apples, your cooking application can’t be without these features. Let’s discuss them!

The List of Recipes and Ingredients: Where to Get One?

Since you’re building a recipe app, these sacred pieces of information on how to turn separate ingredients into something tasty mean the most for you. Without them your application, actually, makes no sense.

But how can you get them? This is the most challenging thing for anyone who thinks about building such an app. Yet, keep calm and let’s make it crystal clear.

There are 3 ways to fill your mobile app with recipes:

  1. Integrate already existing databases of recipes and/or ingredients by using free/paid APIs (look for some options in the “tech tips” section).

  2. Create your own database.

  3. Let your users upload their recipes and fill up the application in such a way.

Each approach has its strong and weak sides.

If you’re thinking about the API integration, here are the main pros and cons:

Strong Sides:

  1. Pre-made databases include thousands of recipes and ingredients so you’ll have a good point to start with from the very beginning.

  2. This is the fastest way — you just integrate a ready-made solution into your application.

Weak Sides:

  1. Really good databases aren’t free and will cost from $99 and up per month.

  2. You depend on someone else — they may stop supporting the database or change the pricing policy and you’ll have to obey.

  3. If you’re using someone else’s DB, you need to carefully think what added value you give to your users. Because everybody can use that DB, right?

  4. If you’re building a cooking app for a specific niche - it’s difficult to filter that DB.

Building your own database is a good solution if you want to stay independent. Yet, it has own disadvantages as well:


  1. You don’t depend on someone else.

  2. You keep your core business-value in-house.

  3. You get only what you need. Public databases include a wide range of recipes that make not much sense for you if you’re building a niche app (for example, vegetarian- or desserts-only one).

  4. You are free to create content that your competitors probably don’t have.


  1. It will take pretty much time and content resources to set up and maintain such a database from scratch.

Finally, so-called “social cooking apps” that rely predominantly on users themselves also have good and bad points:


  1. You don’t have to compose the database — your users will do it for you!


  1. You have to put a lot of efforts into the moderation of users’ recipes. Otherwise, your app will soon turn into a dump.

  2. In the early stages you have to encourage users somehow — a few will want to use the almost empty app and be among the first to fill it up.

  3. You need to find early adopters and motivate them to constantly post relevant content.

Actually, nobody prohibits you to combine different approaches while building a recipe app. Moreover, that’s what we in ADevIndustries recommend you to do! Here are the 4 best combinations to remember:

Which one to choose to build a cooking app? Depends on your goals, niche and business model.

Yet, if it seems challenging to you, you can always contact us using the button below the article and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Actually, your whole target audience (regardless of age, sex etc.) can be divided into 2 big groups:

  • People who are proficient cooks and just look for new ideas.

  • People who are in need of the guidance while cooking.

During the cooking app development you should keep the second group in mind. The best thing you can do for them is to implement step-by-step instructions in a clearly distinguishable way — whether it’s a separate screen or a dedicated table.

You can improve this feature by adding related photos to each stage of cooking. Having descriptive pictures can significantly improve the UX.

Looking for more ways to improve step-by-step instructions? Read on, we’ll share them in the next section!

Personalization Block: Let Users Add Recipes, Comments & Bookmarks

We all have different preferences and habits when preparing food and your cooking app design should reflect it, too. That’s why we believe some personalization features should be in your application in one way or another.

First of all, you can make it possible for the users to upload their own recipes. They can either be private or public. In the first case, each user can see only his/her recipes and the ones that were shared, therefore no moderation needed. In the second case, anyone can see each other’s recipes so the moderation from your side is needed.

Secondly, you can deliver more personalization by letting users leave comments. And even more interesting - getting into a discussion with the author. In such a way that can share their own hints & tips regarding particular recipes or simply express their emotions about the dish.

Thirdly, an absolute must-have is bookmarks. The possibility to save favorite recipes is essential for many users so don’t neglect it during your cooking app development.

Searching & Filtering

The searching and filtering functionality is extremely important for both advanced culinarians and cooking rookies. That’s why it’s important to take care of these features when you create a recipe app.

The search usually goes by the name of a dish or by an ingredient. In the second case, the user gets the list of dishes in which the mentioned ingredient is among main ones.

Here are components of a great searching feature:

  • Visibility — users should be able to easily find it.

  • Autosuggestion — to autocomplete users’ requests.

  • Ability to search recipes by characteristics (like sweet, low-carb, gluten-free and so on).

Also, it’s impossible to build a cooking app without a good filtering feature. It helps to narrow down the search results by setting additional requirements.

And that’s where you can give free rein to your imagination. The possible filtering options are:

Of course, you’re free to add any other categories that, in your opinion, will improve the UX.

So this was the review of top features which are needed to create a recipe app. Let’s briefly remember them:

  1. A list of ingredients and recipes.

  2. Step-by-step cooking instructions.

  3. The block of personalization features (own cookbooks and recipes, ability to add comments and bookmarks).

  4. Searching and filtering features.

But what technologies do you need to implement these features? Let’s find out!

🛠️ Tech Tips: How to Make a Recipe App From the Development Perspective

As usual, we ADevIndustries prepared the list of helpful technologies that you may use during the cooking app development:

Finally, let’s find out what is the average cost to create a recipe app.

💰 What Are the Development Costs to Make Own Recipe App?

So, according to the estimations made by the ADevIndustries team, development costs are as follows:

Note: we took an average rate of $90/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.

Thus, it will take about 8-10 weeks to create an MVP of such an app. The cost to build it starts from $32,400.

However, we in ADevIndustries came up with 7 more cool ideas on how to make the recipe app even cooler during the post-MVP stage.

👌 Top 7 Advanced Ideas to Improve Your Cooking App

# 1: The Discover Screen

In many cooking apps this feature is also known as a “home screen”. Yet, it doesn’t really matter how you will call it. Its main goal is to keep people engaged with your app as much as possible. How does it work?

On this screen the most relevant recipes for a specific user are usually shown. For example:

  • If the app is opened in the morning, you can suggest a few ideas for a breakfast.

  • Or you can share special holiday recipes during the week before the holiday itself.

  • It’s also a good idea to post a “recipe of the day” in different categories (like dessert, healthy, kid-friendly and so on).

# 2: Video Guides

To improve the UX, you can also build a cooking app with video guides. It’s been proven that people are more receptive to visual information so take advantage of it!

Moreover, this feature may be extremely helpful to people who aren’t proficient cooks. Actually, for some of them the presence of video guides in the app may be one of the decisive factors.

# 3: Shopping List

It often happens that users find a great recipe but can’t cook the dish due to the lack of ingredients. Let them have a shopping list right in your app!

This will encourage people to use the application more frequently (not only when they’re preparing food but also during shopping).

Tip: don’t forget to develop a special button that allows adding all the ingredients from the current recipe to the shopping list.

# 4: Grocery Store Locator (+ Price Comparison)

This feature is definitely not among the high-priority ones but as you grow, it may be a nice addition to your application.

With its’ help users will be able to spot nearby supermarkets/grocery stores. You can either:

  • Show all stores simply by taking this info from Google Maps.

  • Or, if you want to achieve an even better effect on the UX, also show which stores have groceries from the shopping list and where they’re going to cost the least. To get this info, you’ll have to use some external APIs (like Preisente API).

# 5: Voice Commands (Hands-Free Mode)

While preparing the food and using the cooking app, people usually have only 2 options: either wipe their hands every time they need to touch the screen or smear the device with a foodstuff. Yet, the hands-free mode lets users relax.

By simply saying “next step” or “go back” they can navigate through the recipe and concentrate on the process itself and not on the risk to drop the iPhone in the boiling soup.

# 6: Additional Ingredient Info

SideChef application’s ingredient section is a true inspiration for cooks. If you’re wondering how to make a recipe app with an improved ingredient info screen — that’s gonna be one of the best examples for you.

So here’s what you can place on this screen to make it useful for the users:

  • The general description of an ingredient.

  • Select & store hints.

  • Cooking tips.

  • Seasonality - for veggies and fruits.

  • Health benefits.

  • The list of recipes that include this ingredient.

And, of course, while making this screen don’t forget about the main rule of a cooking app design — everything should look tasty and mouth-watering! 🙂

# 7: Food Scanner

This feature allows scanning a barcode or an ingredient via device’s camera. After that, users can get the list of recipes which include the scanned ingredient.

💡 Takeaways

These were ADevIndustries insights on how to make a recipe app. We hope this article was interesting and useful. Let’s briefly remember key points.

The must-have features for your application are:

  1. The list of recipes and ingredients (integrated or manually compiled).

  2. Step-by-step cooking instructions.

  3. Searching & Filtering features.

  4. Bookmarks, comments and private cookbook.

Gradually, you can improve your app with the following features:

  1. The discover screen.

  2. Video guides.

  3. The built-in shopping list.

  4. The grocery store locator with the price comparing feature.

  5. The advanced ingredient info screen.

  6. The hands-free mode.

  7. The food scanner.

Have a great idea of a cooking app? Challenge us and we’ll help you bring it on the market.

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