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Are Old Cookbooks Obsolete and Being Replaced by Modern Cooking Apps?

Updated on November 17, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

While it is so easy to find a wealth of great recipes online and there are so many fabulous cooking apps available for tablets and smartphones, there has been rival of interest in the old paper cookbooks that are stained with marks made by past cooks turning the pages and dusted with flour. There is something about the warm old cookbooks that will never be replaced by the online versions. The cold slick efficiency of the new cooking apps will never replace the touch and feel of an old cookbook, despite the stains and yellowing pages.

However, tablets offer many advantages that extend far beyond what is offered by reading a cookbook including videos, links to various sources of information, timers and other tools.

Are old Cookbooks Obsolete for modern cooking? - probably YES in terms of efficiency and getting the job done, and especially learning how to cook and improve your skills - but NO the Old Cookbooks will never die in terms of the tradition and cherished memories of the past that they contain. There is something about old recipes that are much better than the modern ones. Old cookbooks are now collectors items (see

Advantages of Modern Digital Cookbooks

Modern Cooking apps offer many things that would be impossible with a book like producing a shopping list and providing wonderful details about fat and sugar contents and calories per serve. The apps work best on a Tablet rather than a smartphone.

The many cookbook apps have embedded links for extra information, built-in timers, graphics and videos about how to do various things and voice prompts that help you with schedules and timing which is so critical for cooking.

You can now get a virtually infinite lists of free recipes online and reap the benefits from using various search options to quickly find exactly what you are looking after. But many people believe that all this high-tech stuff will never replace the pleasure of leafing through the pages of a good old fashion cookbook taken from the shelves in your kitchen. Still online searches is a great way to find recipes.

But has online search replaced the cookbook - probably only for the younger generation.

For many traditional cooks, the great charm and ritual of cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas is in the planning and leafing through the old cookbooks to find mother's and grandmother's recipes, that are family traditions.

In early November and mid-December, the recipe books, folders, with inserted hand written scraps of paper come out, along with dreams of hoping to perfect the traditional recipes for foods that everyone expects to be made just like mum or grand-mum used to make.

The old cookbooks and scraps of paper covered with splatters from ingredients and sticky fingers evoke past memories, traditions and assume mythical status for cooks everywhere. Younger people don't understand this tradition and what all the fuss is about.

What do the Modern Cooking Apps offer on Tablets and Smartphones?

Modern apps are transforming the entire notion of a recipe which now extended well beyond a list of ingredients and a written description of the cooking method. These apps don't really work of smartphones and you need a tablet for their true worth to be realised. These apps include: embedded hyper-links to additional sources of information, in-built timers, graphics, animations, videos and voice prompts.

The modern tablet with its touch screen and ability to tap through menus offers possibilities well beyond the capability of a recipe on a laptop, let alone a book. Swiping, tapping and zooming through multimedia information and features like technique videos, embedded glossaries and social media links add to the benefits of tablets.

One good example that has been around for a long time is CulinApp, which makes a variety of cooking apps. Users can choose from four separate ways of viewing recipes.

  • For beginner cooks, a step-by-step view is provided that shows each step for the recipe in full screen, with videos or cartoons of someone actually doing each step (making a white sauce or creaming butter and sugar together).
  • CulinApp also offers CulinView, which is a graphics based view for more confident and experienced cooks to follow a recipe. After the ingredients are measured out, the rest of the method for the recipe is shown as a flow chart view, illustrated with images of whisks, mixers, other tools and ingredients. Using arrows and various color-coding, it maps out the process more experienced cooks is a summary view.
  • Another option is SpinView which puts the entire recipe on a single page, and the user can scrolling through the steps.
  • Finally, for the traditional cooks, there is the classic Cookbook view, displayed in the old-fashioned way.

Many developers produce recipe animations, cartoons, either employing stop-frame photography, line drawings or info-graphics. These techniques have a very bright future for digital cooking instruction. Video is not widely used in most apps, because while it is a wonderful tool it consumes too much memory and this severely limits the number of recipes that the app contains.

Several apps also allow users to add scribbles and notes like the one added to the margins of old paper cook books.

While these apps are wonderful the old recipe books will never die.

All modern cooks should be encouraged to go and search through the old book stores and search Ebay and other sources to find one of the old time classics and take the time to read through the old recipes.

List of some of the most popular Cooking apps

Cooking Apps For iPad

AllRecipes - Your Kitchen Inspiration
BigOven Pro
Celebrate the Holidays with Better Homes & Gardens
Classic Italian Pasta Recipes
Cocktails HD
Cook IT Allergy Free for iPad
Cook's Encyclopedia Wine Info
Culinary Fundamentals HD
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List
Fine Cooking: Cooking for the Holidays
Good Food Healthy Recipes
In the Kitchen
Martha Stewart Makes Cookies
Photo Cookbook
Serving Sizer Pro
Smart Chef Suite
Weber's On the Grill

Some Popular Smartphone Cooking Apps

20 Minute Meals - Jamie Oliver
Woman's Day Cooking Assistant
Dishy - Cooking Made Easy - Christmas Update
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List
Tyler Florence Fast
James Martin's Food - Simplicity
Whole Foods Market Recipes
How to Cook Everything for iPhone
170,000+ Recipes - BigOven
The Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook
Martha's Everyday Food: Fresh & Easy Recipes
iFood Assistant LITE
Healthy Recipes - By SparkRecipes
VeganYumYum Mobile
Eco Chef 10 Minute Meals with Bryan Au
101 Diet Recipes by Nita Mehta

Android Cooking Apps

Revathi Recipes
Recipe Calculator
Healthy Recipes – SparkRecipes
Kitchen Timer
Campbell’s Kitchen
Kitchen Measures
Digital Recipe Sidekick
Recipe Convert Free

© 2011 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment
  • Don Bobbitt profile image

    Don Bobbitt 

    7 years ago from Ruskin Florida

    Voted UP and I am now a follower.

  • Wmod514 profile image

    William Odell 

    7 years ago from Upstate South Carolina

    Cookbooks are always useful and will never be obsolete to me....old school recipes are great to use as launching pads for other great creations !!

  • rjsadowski profile image


    7 years ago

    I fear that soon all books will be obsolete and we will no longer talk to each other but text them instead.


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