One of the things I do for a living is create WordPress websites for people. As much as I love performing feats of technical wizardry, there are some aspects of web development for which plugins are required, particularly when time and budget do not allow for excessive hackery. One such aspect is recipes and formatting them nicely for the web.
I’ve been researching WordPress recipe plugins to use on smarterfitter.com and on client websites and thought some of you might find my findings useful.
Here were the main requirements for the recipe plugins that I tested:
- They must be Google / SEO friendly, that is, use schema.org and hRecipe microformats so that the recipe gets maximum coverage by search engines (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read more about Google Recipe Search and learn about rich snippets).
- Be as painless as possible to use – all plugins have their quirks, but my preferred recipe plugin must encourage me to add recipes, not discourage me by being cumbersome and requiring me to click too many buttons.
- Include an option to “print” which leads to a nicely formatted, printer-friendly version of the recipe.
- Nice to haves: allow images in the recipe instructions; come with some really nice pre-built themes; be free.
Here’s what I found:
EasyRecipe – $24.95, free version. I’ve been using the free version of this for a while now on smarterfitter.com. I like it. It’s simple. I click a button in an entry and the form for entering the recipe data is no-nonsense. The built-in template is pretty bare-bones, but I don’t mind, and if you’re good with CSS/HTML you can style it yourself. A major downside is that the free version doesn’t allow you to choose an image to be displayed with Google Search Results. Other things you get if you pay: more templates; the ability to add images and links within a recipe; support for up to a year (lifetime support would have been nice). [Update: I’ve since paid the $24.95 to upgrade to Easy Recipe Plus, yet further proof of he power of Google.]
Recipe Card – Free. Recipe Card was just released this year from YumPrint and has a lot going for it. The templates are beautiful and come with a whole array of color, font and layout options. Plus it does some wizardry that automatically calculates nutrition information (in Beta). My main complaints are pretty major, though: (1) it requires an account on Yumprint, as if I need yet another subscription to yet another thing that’s going to send me yet more emails I don’t want to read; (2) the plugin includes a very small bit of text at the bottom which states “WordPress Recipe Plugin by Recipe Card” that links to the WordPress Directory and the Recipe Card product page. I really want to love this plugin but those two points are deal breakers for me. I get what YumPrint are trying to do, and indeed this is a great way to grow their website, so I give them credit for that. I just can’t be a part of it!
ZipList – Free. This plugin is fine. It’s very simple, much like EasyRecipe: you enter your list of ingredients in one box, and the instructions in another. The big drawback is this: to include an image, you have to insert the image as a URL, which means leaving the post to upload a picture, and then copying and pasting the URL. That’s too much back and forth for me. It also doesn’t appear to allow you to add images within the post.
GetMeCooking – Free version, or $44.99 for the premium version. I stopped using this when I realised two things: (1) the plugin requires me to add the recipe independently of the blog post (the plugin adds a new menu item in the WordPress admin called “Recipes”); (2) the plugin requires listing ingredients one at a time in an entry form, verses cutting and pasting the list of recipes into one box – who has time for this?
KitchenBug – This plugin is one of the newer entrants to the recipe plugin family. Like Recipe Card, this one tries to do smart stuff with nutritional data, but there’s some major hitches: (1) You have to register an account (which is admittedly painless if you sign in with Facebook), (2) If their database doesn’t “recognize” an ingredient, it complains – you can skip over the complaint but still, it’s one extra thing you don’t need to think about when trying to get your recipe live; (3) You can’t add images within the recipe instructions themselves. The templates are so-so, but they don’t hold a candle to Recipe Card.
There are many more recipe plugins than the ones I’ve listed above but either they haven’t been updated in a long time or I ruled them out after reading their review (Pro Food Blogger did a good round-up last year that helped me rule some out.)
At the end of the day, EasyRecipe wins for me: it does the job in the least annoying way. Its templates may not be as sexy as Recipe Card’s, but I can always sexify them myself using CSS when I have some spare time. And besides, simple is good, right? You can see an example of its no-frills template in this post: Kadhi with Pak Choi.
Which WordPress recipe plugin wins for you? Are there any plugins out there that I’ve overlooked?