Caley Jack Steward

May 22, 2021

Hey Siri, Make Me a Recipe App: Part I

I have been a big fan of recipe apps in the past. Over the years I have used BigOven, Allrecipes, Jamie Oliver's app, and many more forgettable ones. In time, each app’s shortcomings become too painful to bare. Whether it is ugly UI, bad UX, low quality recipes, or missing recipes for entire regions of the globe (after all, variety is the spice of life imho).

About eight years ago I had settled on the Basil Recipe Manager app. It gave me the freedom to save my own recipes as well as the ability to scrape them from other websites with ease. But alas, it has been over two years since Basil last updated their app for iOS and iPadOS and some features had started to break. I knew it was time to move on and find something new.

Unfortunately the app situation had not gotten much better in those eight years. If anything it has devolved with the rise of the dreaded subscription-based app. Aside from not wanting to spend money monthly or annually, I also did not want to end up in a situation where I had to migrate my recipes again.

After much consternation it eventually it hit me, I should migrate to Apple Notes! It’s an app I trust and has more than enough features to pull it off. If something were to ever happen to Apple or Notes, it would be easy enough to export the recipes in any format I needed via Siri Shortcuts.

Here is how I setup Apple Notes as my new recipe database:

Step 1
Create a new folder called “Recipes” (Of course you can name this whatever you want or forego the folder altogether and use tags instead, e.g. #recipe)

Step 2
Devise a template to use for all your recipes. Here is mine:


Believe it or not but that is it! The only downside was that I had to spend a few evenings migrating my recipes from Basil. That little bit of pain was quickly offset by the obvious benefits to this approach. Lets look at the features we can now automatically take advantage of:

  • Searchable from Spotlight!
  • Taggable & searchable in Apple Notes
  • iCloud syncing and backups
  • Available on all devices that have Apple Notes with iCloud syncing turned on
  • Ability to share and collaborate
  • Save a recipe from a website (Because the share feature in Safari allows us to save the link to Notes, we can essentially bookmark them for later and expand out the recipe when we have time later. It is not as convenient as Basil’s scraping feature but I digress)

Amazing right? Subscribe or stay tuned as the next part in this series will use Siri Shortcuts to add some additional features that we usually see in recipe apps. Like adding ingredients to a grocery list and a dedicated full text search!

This post was updated on Nov. 27, 2022 to include tagging which was added to Apple Notes in late 2021.

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About Caley Jack Steward

Fanboí extraordinaire, technology is my passion