Wondering what to cook with the ingredients and groceries you have at home? These recipe search websites will recommend cooking something based on what you have at hand without needing to go shopping for additional items.
SuperCook is perhaps the most famous of these, and several other recipes-by-ingredients websites like MyFridgeFood. This only shows how common the need for this is, and different apps and websites approach the problem with unique solutions to make your cooking easier.
1. Gumbo (Web): Simplest Way to Search Recipes by Ingredients
Gumbo is a new recipe search engine to find dishes based on your ingredients without any frills or fuss. You don’t need to sign up to use it or give it any additional information apart from the ingredients you have.
Fire it up, and start clicking the ingredient tags or type them in the search box. Click Search Recipes when you’ve added what you want to cook with, and the app will find recipes that fit your criteria, sourced from some of the best recipe sites on the internet.
Gumbo lets you further filter those recipes by three parameters: time taken (increments of 15 minutes to 4 hours), diet (vegetarian or vegan), and meal type (breakfast, desserts, and baking, drink, main, and side). Each recipe card also shows the total cooking time, along with the ingredients you already have marked in black and missing ingredients marked in red.
2. ChefGPT PantryChef (Web): AI Generated Recipes Based on Ingredients and Equipment
As everyone explores the limits of ChatGPT and what you can do with AI, it’s no surprise that someone built an AI recipe bot. ChefGPT has several recipe-related features in its paid full version, but in the free version, you can still explore an advanced version of finding recipes by ingredients through PantryChef.
PantryChef first asks you to list the ingredients and quantity of each for better recommendations. Can’t make a shakshouka for the whole family if you only have two eggs, right? Then you will need to add which kitchen tools you have, choosing between a stove top, oven, microwave, air fryer, blender, food processor, and barbeque grill. The bot then asks you to choose how much cooking time you want to dedicate to the dish. And it also asks about your current skill level in the kitchen.
Finally, PantryChef gives you two options before getting results. Gourmet Mode uses only the best combination of the ingredients you have, so there might be some that you need to continue to store. If you want to use all the ingredients immediately, choose the All-In Mode.
Based on your choices, you’ll get ChatGPT-like recommendations for the best recipe (or recipes) you can cook. The free tier lets you generate five recipes a month. The Pro tier ($2.99 monthly) generates unlimited recipes and opens other bots like MasterChef, MacrosChef, and MealPlanChef.
3. FoodCombo (Web): Ingredient-Based Recipes With Dietary Restrictions, Beliefs
If you usually look up recipes by the ingredients you have, you’ll want to invest time, energy, and perhaps even money into FoodCombo. Apart from simply showing recipes, it allows you to build a profile of several things that matter to your food.
When you create a profile, FoodCombo asks you to add your food allergies and intolerances (gluten, dairy, peanuts, shellfish, etc.), dietary and religious restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, no alcohol, paleo diet, halal, kosher), and foods you dislike. This helps the app create a flavor profile unique to you and avoid suggesting certain types of dishes.
Next, you’ll have to add the ingredients or items in your pantry. FoodCombo’s free account restricts this to 15 items, but you can pay to add unlimited ingredients. Since it’s a profile you’ve saved, your most common pantry items will show up every time you log in, reducing the time and effort required to add them.
The recipe recommendation page has plenty of ways to refine the suggestions further. For example, you can filter out certain ingredients, sort by tags like quick and easy or kid-friendly, set how many ingredients to use, or filter by nutritional values. And any recipes that you like can be saved in different lists in your account.
4. Eat My Fridge (Android, iOS): Keep Inventory of Ingredients and Get Recipes
Eat My Fridge is the best of the phone apps we use to get recipes based on ingredients. And it’s by far the best at keeping inventory of all your items and where they’re stored, making grocery shopping lists, and track expiration dates.
Once you sign up for the free app, search for and add ingredients to your inventory as needed. You get three sections to sort items into: fridge, freezer, and pantry. You can long-press any item to add details like the quantity and the expiration date. The latter is critical as you’ll see at a glance what items will expire soon and plan a recipe using them. Plus, Eat My Fridge remembers your saved items, so you don’t need to add them each time.
The recipe collection gets its sources from some of the best recipe websites on the internet, like BBC Food, Epicurious, and All Recipes. Each recipe card shows how many of your ingredients were found or not found in it and what you can use as substitutes from your inventory. And if you want to make it later, add the recipe to your favorites and the missing items to the Shopping list so you know what to make after shopping.
5. Eat Your Books (Web): Recipe Search for Your Favorite Cookbooks and Magazines
Most people start to learn cooking through a cookbook. Heck, most regular cooks have a few favorite cookbooks — dog-eared with favorite recipes and pages splashed with years-old flour, oil, or other ingredients. But how do you search for recipes across these cookbooks since they’re all physical? Eat Your Books to the rescue.
Eat Your Books has digitized and indexed thousands of recipes across hundreds of famous and not-so-famous cookbooks, from classics like Julia Child to modern favorites like Nigella Lawson. With a free account, you can search for and add up to five of these cookbooks to your library (with the honor system that you already own these as physical books). The full catalog includes food magazines and even famous websites and blogs.
This personal library can now search for food based on ingredients, dish name, chef, cuisine, etc. The ingredient search doesn’t let you select multiple ingredients to find suggestions that incorporate them, and you’ll have to stick to one main ingredient. But given that this is probably the best (and perhaps only) way to search the cookbooks you love, you can’t ignore it.
It’s also an effective way to compare recipes across multiple favorite chefs. For example, want to compare the differences between how Child and Lawson bake souffles? Open them in two tabs beside each other instead of finding space for two large cookbooks.
Learn Food Pairings to Use Up Ingredients
With any of these websites, you’ll be able to learn how to use your ingredients best to make something delicious. But if the recipe doesn’t include one of the ingredients, that doesn’t mean it won’t go well with the dish.
If you want to level up your cooking skills, you need to learn the science of food pairing. Once you know which ingredient can complement another naturally, you’ll find that your cooking repertoire increases exponentially. You might not need any of these recipe sites after that, and get creative to make your dishes.