GPS has changed the way we drive. No longer do you have to closely analyze a map before heading out to a new destination; just punch in the address, make sure you have some gas, and hit the road. Now, you can apply that same mentality to cooking with SideChef.
The free iOS and Android app takes full advantage of your smartphone to guide your through the most complicated of recipes. With built-in timers, full-screen photos and an easy-to-use interface, the app is a big step up from normal cooking apps.
It also features a 2,500-recipie-strong library and a nice exploration mode to dig into that library. Recipes come from a range of sources, including cooking TV shows, restauranteurs and food bloggers.
Once you pick out your meal and make sure you have all the ingredients on the list, SideChef shows you each step of making a meal individually. So if you have to measure out dry ingredients first, that’s all it shows you. No getting lost in the directions of a lengthy cookbook. When you’ve completed one step, just hit the checkmark and SideChef will show you the next one.
You can also enable voice control to keep your sticky, wet or doughy fingers off your phone. And SideChef even has spoken directions for some recipes, so you don’t have to walk back across the kitchen to read the next step. However, the spoken directions didn’t always kick in, so you may want to stay close to your phone while cooking.
When you need to cook something for a certain length of time, SideChef will automatically start a timer. Then, it’ll let you know if you should start on something else while that’s cooking. This is especially helpful with complex recipes that may need multiple timers going at once. SideChef also includes how-to videos for more complicated procedures, and returns you right to the recipe after the video is over.
The beauty of the app is that it is a real improvement over traditional cookbooks. Many recipe apps give you instructions in the same you get them from a recipe card; SideChef replaces that process with a more guided approach and allows cooks—especially novice ones—to focus on the task at hand and not worry about parsing confusing recipes.