Clean, clutter-free, well-organized: so many of RecipeZaar’s strengths lie in its design and layout. Unlike many online recipe and entertaining sites that are riddled with confusing categories, arrangements and dead-end search features, RecipeZaar offers a strong alternative with large fonts, scrupulous organization and intuitive search features. However, though RecipeZaar has some impressive design and organization strengths, its premium membership price, lack of community features and resources only serve to make other sites like Epicurious, Chow and Food & Wine that much better.
One of RecipeZaar’s greatest strength lies in its recipe listing and organization. Along with advanced search options that enable users to make recipe searches by ingredient, cuisine, meal and other criteria, RecipeZaar also provides an additional “recipe sifter” tool to help you locate the recipe you want. Best of all, RecipeZaar’s listed recipes all come with detailed nutritional information, taking the guess work out of recipe decision making. However, though RecipeZaar features user ratings for recipes, there are no difficulty measurements, potentially causing problems for cooks venturing beyond their skill set.
Though RecipeZaar features thousands of recipes across the culinary spectrum, the recipes, by and large, tend to fall more on the everyday side of things, with only a small minority of gourmet recipes available. Though few are likely to be disappointed simply by the sheer abundance of available recipes, having a dedicated gourmet section that doesn’t simply include recipes that have the term “gourmet” attached would be greatly appreciated.
Like most online recipe and entertaining sites, RecipeZaar hosts member recipe discussion forums that are arranged topically and categorically. The forums themselves are well organized and moderated, but most thread topics are mandated, with few subjects outside of recipes and cooking allotted to RecipeZaar members.
RecipeZaar’s chief weakness is its lack of virtually any resources. Aside from the Eater’s Digest blog that features cooking tips and recipes, there are no articles, how-to guides, technique videos or podcasts to help members take their recipes from the page to plate. Though the member forums may offer information pertinent to given recipe or cuisine, there are no links to these threads and forums from the recipe pages themselves, tasking users to seek out these related threads and forum discussions themselves. In RecipeZaar’s defense, however, they do provide a measurement converter and food dictionary: a feature that most online recipe and entertaining sites neglect.
RecipeZaar does provide an array of technical support and user assistance options in the form of a detailed FAQ section, a helpful and a well-organized site map. Further technical assistance and customer support can be received through related discussion forums.
Though RecipeZaar boasts an impressively clean design, there is little substance outside of recipes that utilizes its potential. Worse, with a yearly cost affixed to the benefits of premium membership, many will end up paying for what is free in abundance in sites in top-rated sites like Epicurious, Chow and Food & Wine. However, despite these detractions, RecipeZaar shouldn’t be discounted completely. With an added emphasis on resources, community features and culinary appeal, RecipeZaar could easily give the top online recipe and entertaining sites a run for their money.