How to Search for a Recipe (and find what you love.) We all do it, we all get frustrated, and we all spend way too much at it, too. So here are my top google and Pinterest recipe search tips for navigating that black hole called the Internet, surviving to tell the tale ~ and maybe even cooking up something amazing!
Recipe search tips for google, Pinterest, and more!
Our mom’s had it easy, they just leafed through their worn copy of Fannie Farmer, or flipped open the recipe box on the counter. But it’s a (BIG) brave new world for recipe hunters everywhere, and it’s all at our fingertips. But it can be hard to navigate, overwhelming, and so time consuming. That’s why I’ve compiled my best tips for making the most of your next hunt.
Tip #1 speak google’s language
The way you type in a search can make all the difference. Let’s say you’re searching for a pumpkin pie recipe…if you type in pumpkin pie recipes you’ll get 110 million results (literally) and that will be great if you have half a century to devote to finding your pie. But there’s a better way…
- Use quotation marks. Are you looking for Libby’s new pumpkin pie recipe? Put your search in quotations “Libby’s new pumpkin pie recipe” and you’ll get just that.
- Use the + or – before a word you DO or DON’T want included in your search, for instance, search pumpkin pie + Libby’s, or gluten free pumpkin pie – cornstarch. This is a great technique if you need a recipe that’s special diet or allergy friendly.
- Imagine what sounds good to you…pumpkin pie + pistachios? Pumpkin pie + chocolate? If you can imagine it, someone’s probably made it, so type it in and you’ll find lots of inspiration.
- Maybe you want to see results from your favorite website, just type site:yourfavoritewebsite after your search. For instance, pumpkin pie site:theviewfromgreatisland.com and you’ll get just those results.
- Found a great recipe once but lost track of it? Search My Activity on google. It will search only the pages you’ve visited.
Tip #2 visual aids
When it comes to food and recipes it helps to visualize. We all eat with our eyes first, and visuals really help us identify what we’re looking for. Let’s say you’re looking for a cranberry pie. There are lots of very different types of cranberry pie out there, and you will probably want to see them to make your decision.
- On google you can always switch to image results ~ look right under the search bar, you’ll see it. Once there you can quickly skim through the photos to see what looks good to you.
- I recommend downloading the google app on your smartphone. The new Lens function harnesses the power of AI and lets you point your phone camera at anything to call up all kinds of info and related results. Recipe results will be part of coming updates so familiarize yourself with it. Look for the lens icon in the google search bar.
- Pinterest is great for visual searches, but it manipulates the results just like google does. Try searching by hashtag (#cranberrypie) to bring up current in real time results that you won’t see in a regular search. Or make use of their additional filters right underneath the search bar.
- One of my favorite tricks on Pinterest is to bring up a pin that looks good, then scroll down, right on that screen, and you’ll see lots of related results that are closer to what you’re looking for. I find a lot of great stuff this way.
- Other visual search sites I like include foodgawker (less overwhelming than Pinterest) and feedfeed.
Tip #3 refine and dig deep
Vocabulary matters! Use your words, the more specific the better.
- Refine your search so your results will be more relevant. A search for gingerbread cookies will bring up an army of little gingerbread men that all look alike…but search glazed gingerbread cookies or stamped gingerbread cookies to come up with the beauties above!
- Looking for an old time recipe nobody in the family seems to remember? Try using words like vintage or retro in your search.
- Use words like one bowl, 30-minute, or easy to get results that fit your cooking style.
- Maybe you want to make something a little different, but you’re not quite sure what? In that case, add the words unusual, unique, or variations to your search.
- Don’t stop at page one if you don’t see what you’re looking for. I find page 2 or 3 to be the sweet spot for finding really good recipe results.
Tip #4 search by ingredients
You open your fridge, take stock of what you’ve got, and need a dinner plan. There’s an app (many, in fact) for that, but they’re limited by their inventory of recipes, and I find you can get better results right in google.
- You can search for recipes according to the ingredients you’ve got on hand. Just type in the ingredients and hit enter.
- Try it: choose 3 main ingredients that you’ve got: try kale+lentils+sweet potatoes, you’ll get yummy recipes that you can make.
- This trick works in the search bar of your favorite blogs, too. You’ve got feta, olives, and bread in the fridge and last minute guests? Type it into tvfgi searchbar…no prob!
- Keep your ingredient list to 2- 4 for best results, keep your pantry well stocked with essentials, and this can be a really handy technique.
Tip #5 Find your niche
Your online niche is sort of like your neighborhood, or a better analogy might be like your favorite cookbooks. Finding a niche is a way of narrowing down your options and keeping the vastness of the Internet from overwhelming you when you’re hungry.
- If you find yourself repeatedly loving recipes from a certain place, that’s a niche…examples might be Bon Appétit, Mark Bittman, America’s Test Kitchen, or your favorite blog.
- Once you’ve found a source that matches your taste, use it and don’t lose it! Subscribe, either by email or via the rss feed. If the site allows you to keep a personal recipe box, do that.
- You can also enhance your recipe searches by adding your niche into your search. If you were to search brussels sprouts you’d probably miss my favorite Creamed Brussels Sprouts, unless you were savvy enough to search brussels sprouts + theviewfromgreatisland.com. Some of the best stuff gets buried 😉
Tip #6 Read the reviews
Once you’ve done your searching, you going to need some way to weed through the results.
- Reviews are the main way we can understand a recipe we encounter online. If you see repeated glowing reviews, that’s a pretty good sign that the recipe is worth trying. This recently posted pumpkin bread started getting raves from day one.
- Don’t rely on any one or two random reviews, look for themes in the comments to tip you off to the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Look for consistent responses from the site owner ~ that’s a sign someone, a human, cares and is taking responsibility for the recipe. I have been on many large sites (I’m looking at you Martha!) where recipes have many negative reviews and the questions go completely unanswered.
- That being said, don’t let the lack of reviews turn you off, people are busy and don’t have a lot of time for commenting, so if something looks good and you trust the source, go for it!