SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
Recipe inspiration and tips on everything from dietary needs (gluten-free, low-sugar and sodium) and ethnic cuisine to cooking for one
Not so long ago, the phrase “recipe search” meant leafing through page after page in cookbooks or folders full of stained and dog-eared photocopies. But today’s Web-fueled crowd-sourced world offers an easier approach: Just bookmark a few favorite food blogs on your computer or tablet and have at your fingertips all the cooking information and recipe inspiration you’re likely to ever need.
Don’t get me wrong: Cookbooks still hold a cherished place on my kitchen shelf. Among my many old standbys are Julia Child’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," the California Culinary Institute’s "Cooking A to Z," "The Joy of Cooking" and Marcella Hazan’s "Classic Italian Cooking," to name just a few.
But as food trends and tastes change and many of us bump health and dietary concerns up the priority list, we want to find new recipes. And what better place to search than the Internet, with its infinite offerings.
There is one downside to this paperless approach, however: an embarrassment of riches. As of May 2012 there were 8,390 active food blogs on the Web (and that’s just in English). Add to that all the food websites, magazines, newspapers, chefs and brands that offer recipes on the Internet, and that number easily climbs into tens of thousands.
For those still not sure what the difference is between a blog and a website, the former is a collection of personal journal-like postings (Web log = blog), usually with frequent updates, whereas websites (like Epicurious.com) tend to have vast amounts of “static” (unchanging) content.
So how does one find the best blogs out there? Even if you don’t “live” in the food blogosphere, you may already have a few favorites. But with the landscape changing daily, there are always new ones to discover and enjoy.
To save you from getting totally overwhelmed, I’ve curated a “short list” of 25 excellent food blogs that I think are worth their salt. I made my selections based on the following criteria: recipe writing and detail, design and layout, photography, organization, topic coverage, frequency of updates and blogger credentials. From there I broke them down into categories, so you can pick the ones that most interest you.
25 Fantastic Food Blogs
General Food and Cooking
- Food52 A crowd-sourced recipe blog that proves home cooking doesn’t have to be complicated to be excellent. Founded by two foodies, New York Times Magazine writer Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the site serves up inventive yet tested recipes from their own weekly (hence the name) contests. The site also has a "hotline" page, where readers can ask or answer cooking-related questions.
- The Salt NPR has a foodie blog that is, as you might expect, full of interesting news and stories about food and eating. The posts are quirky and informative, with sections relating to eating and health and movers and shakers.
- Shockingly Delicious Dorothy Reinhold, a former newspaper writer and editor and longtime recipe developer, shares her tried-and-true dishes, which she describes as "scary good recipes that will make you a star in the kitchen.” And I have to agree. The recipes are excellent, and the easily navigated site has interesting categories, like Cheap & Easy, Cooking Class and Favorite Things.
Cooking for One or Two
- Joe Yonan This wonderful collection from, you guessed it, Joe Yonan (whose "Cooking for One" column appears in The Washington Post) is chock-full of his fabulous recipes and his lively writing.
- Kitchen Scoop -- Cooking for One or Two This blog is defined by its easy, quick recipes for one or two, but it also includes nutritional information, money-saving tips and cooking advice.
Baking and Dessert
- Pastry Studio Enticing photos and a straightforward writing style make this blog easy to navigate and enjoy. Every recipe includes bench notes that lead you to conclude you’ve stumbled upon one talented baker.
- Tartelette Blogger-in-chief Helene Dujardin displays some serious baking and photography skills on this visually stunning site. It's loaded with solid recipes and in-depth baking information. There’s even an extensive gluten-free selection.
- Joe Pastry The blogger known only by the moniker “Joe Pastry” offers some of the best instructional culinary content on the Web, including visually impressive tutorials on baking and pastry techniques. (There's even some non-pastry savory content here.)
- Sodium Girl Jessica Goldom Foung’s personal health issues were the spark for this blog. She is on a mission to bring color and flavor to low-sodium cooking, and this site’s popularity is a testament to her success. It has great recipes but also covers shopping, traveling and dining out from the low-salt diet perspective.
- Gluten-Free Doctor Chef Jean Layton became a naturopathic physician after losing her first husband to cancer, and started blogging to teach people that Hippocrates was right and that "food is the first medicine.” Her focus on gluten-free living came about because of family health matters, but even those not affected by gluten issues will appreciate her creative recipes.
- Kalyn’s Kitchen Blogger Kalyn Denny shares her love for healthy, lower-glycemic home cooking. Started in 2005 as a place to store her own recipes online, Kalyn’s blog has blossomed into a valuable resource. She also includes recipes for the low-sugar South Beach Diet and gives advice on gardening.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Herbivoracious This sophisticated meatless-cooking blog is filled with recipes notable for their big, bright flavors and international essence. A plus: Blogger Michael Natkin is an engaging writer.
- Straight-Up Food Blogger and culinary instructor Cathy Fisher delivers delicious vegan recipes designed for the everyday cook. Her niche: There’s no salt, sugar or oil in any of the recipes. This is no simple task, but Fisher has managed to master it.
- Vegalicious The focus of this blog is on vegan dishes from around the world, and the two bloggers and guest author who run this site offer up more than 600 dishes to choose from. Find recipes organized by ingredient or meal, and take some time to browse through their informative reviews and news sections.
- 101 Cookbooks This blog by Heidi Swanson makes almost every “best healthy cooking” blog list. Along with a great selection of easy-to-follow seasonal recipes, there are stunning photos. Adding to the blog’s huge appeal is that she writes about and posts photos from her frequent travels.
- The Sweet Beet Michelle Madden’s recipes are simple yet appealing, the images are gorgeous, and her desire to get people to eat healthier whole foods is genuine and never dogmatic.
- Nutrition Blog Network This is a collaboration of hundreds of registered dietitians who post recipes, health tips and fitness advice. The categories are well organized, including one called Senior Nutrition, and the bloggers post often, making it easy to find new recipes, tips and the latest health news.
Food and Travel
- The Rambling Spoon Karen J. Coates, former Asia correspondent for Gourmet magazine, knows about the intersection of food and culture, and she communicates it masterfully in this blog. Her focus is mainly cooking, eating and traveling, but she also writes about the environment, history and politics as they relate to food.
- Eating Asia This is armchair travel and eating at its best. Robyn Eckhardt has been living, cooking and eating in Asia for more than 15 years. She began writing about food and travel eight years ago and never stopped. This effort is a collaboration with her husband, professional photographer David Hagerman, who's responsible for the site’s extraordinary photos.
- Worth the Whisk Blogger Patti Londre has worked in the food industry since she was 16, and her no-nonsense approach to food and cooking is inspiring. The recipes are easy to follow, and her documented foodie trips are not only vicarious fun but loaded with helpful information and links.
- Just Hungry Makiko Itoh’s very instructional blog about Japanese home cooking is geared to beginners and those who don’t have access to a wide selection of Japanese ingredients.
- What Katie Ate This Australian blog stands out because of its amazing visuals. Commercial photographer Katie Quinn Davies’ colorful, perfectly staged images and inspired recipes make you want to drop what you’re doing and go get creative in the kitchen.
- Good Wine Under 20 A blog dedicated to helping readers find varied wines from all over the world that are interesting to drink and (mostly) under20. The site’s architecture lets you locate wines by variety, region or price.
- Vinography An extremely popular wine blog, and for good reason: Alder Yarrow knows what he’s talking about, and his storytelling style is a great vehicle for conveying a lot of information.
- Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog British wine writer Jamie Goode offers refreshingly candid posts about the daily life of a wine professional in this blog (that’s part of his website Wineanorak).
Web Recipe Organizers
Getting all of your favorite recipes stored online in one place can be a daunting task, but there are plenty of free tools to help you. Here are a few of the better ones.
- Springpad This Web and mobile app with a special section for recipes combines a Pinterest-like collage board with features that let you create notebooks, type notes, upload images and add tags for better sorting and searching. The design is clean, easy to navigate and user-friendly, and it also features sharing.
- Evernote This cloud-based application lets you save recipes, photos, videos, PDFs, URLs and more, and it automatically uploads everything you put on its servers, letting you sync up to all your devices. With its organization, tagging and search features, Evernote makes keeping and finding your recipes a cinch.
- One tsp. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense approach for storing Web recipes, this may be the organizer for you. You can copy and paste your favorite recipes from other sites or install a bookmarklet so you save them with a single click. The software also allows you to access your recipes from any computer or mobile device and create shopping lists.