Google's New Recipe Search: Better Recipes or Big Names?

Whether it's figuring out what to make for dinner, menu planning, the arrival of an unexpected craving or pure research, chances are you're turning to Google to seek out recipes. In March, Google unveiled a new recipe search feature that allows cooks to choose recipes using factors including cooking time, ingredients and calories. This new feature might seem like a boon to cooks who don't have the time to click through the seemingly endless variety of recipes that the web has to offer, but it's not without its flaws.

Before this new feature was introduced, a search for a simple recipe such as roast chicken or chocolate chip cookies would lead to all sorts of exciting links, including smaller blogs where home cooks create and test out their own experiences and recipes. With Google's new search, only recipes written to include nutritional information and cook times are included. This means that when you search for a specific recipe, the ones that appear are sites with enormous recipes databases  like Epicurious, AllRecipes, and Food Network, all sites that have optimized their recipes for the search by including cooking time, ingredients and calories.  

Amanda Hesser, founder of the fantastic recipe site food52, has more than a few issues with the new recipe search. For Hesser, it's not just a matter of smaller blogs' recipes being left out of the equation, but the fact that recipes aren't scientific formulas -- they are guidelines to making great food, something that can't necessarily be broken down into an equation. The quick and easy recipes that are low calorie, which the search prefers, don't always produce the best-tasting dishes.

So, if Google's new recipe search isn't the best way to find great recipe tailored to your tastes, what is? According to Hesser, a good place to start is by checking comments, numbers of "likes" on Facebook, and how many times a recipe has been shared. Many sites include star ratings and options for users to decide whether or not they would make a recipe again. Another option is to bookmark favorite recipe sites and blogs, much as you would with a beloved cookbook.  

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