Plan your Fourth of July barbecue on iOS

This week's apps are all about cooking apps for iOS. The first lets you browse recipes from famous chefs on the Food Network; the second gives you a giant database of recipes for any time of year; and the third is perfect for cooking on the barbecue.


Independence Day is coming on July 4th, and that means people will be getting together to light fireworks or watch fireworks shows, and--perhaps most importantly--cook great food.

Though this might seem early with the 4th of July more than a week away, we wanted to make sure everybody had time to figure out their menus and get their supplies ready before the mad rush to the grocery stores. With these apps, you can start planning for the perfect Independence Day feast.

This week's app collection is all about cooking apps for iOS. The first lets you browse recipes from famous chefs on the Food Network; the second gives you a giant database of recipes and cooking guidance for any time of year; and the third is perfect for planning and cooking outdoors on the barbecue.

In The Kitchen
Get a quick overview for each recipe to see if it's what you want. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

In The Kitchen ($1.99) gives you a database of delicious recipes from all your favorite Food Network chefs. The interface offers a number of ways to find a good recipe, either by using a search tool or by touching the image of a chef from the Food Network.

Browse through thousands of recipes from popular chefs including Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis, and Rachael Ray, and get reviews for recipes from other users. Once you decide on a dish, you can have In The Kitchen create a shopping list for you so you can check off ingredients as you walk around the store. The shopping list is particularly helpful because you can add just the items you need or all the items from multiple dishes. Even if you don't want to make a particular recipe today, you can store favorites in a recipe box so you can get back to them later.

Along with tons of recipes from your favorite Food Network chefs, handy tools for shopping, and a recipe box for your favorites, In The Kitchen offers timers so you don't even need to set a separate one. With all these features and the addition of special seasonal recipe collections, anyone who wants to add to his or her cooking repertoire should definitely download this app.

How To Cook Everything
The home screen is the perfect launching point for finding the best grilling recipes. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

How to Cook Everything ($4.99) is a cooking and recipe app based on New York Times columnist Mark Bittman's best-selling cookbook, and it offers several easy-to-use tools that will be extremely helpful for your holiday feast.

The interface is very intuitive, with an opening screen that acts as a launching point for whatever you might want to cook. You can browse recipes; learn how to perform specific kitchen duties with kitchen basics; or search for recipes by entering a keyword in the search field. You have additional options when you're not sure what you want to cook with buttons for Bittman's picks, most popular recipes, featured recipes, or a selection of easy-to-make quick dinners. There also are buttons across the bottom of the screen for your saved favorites, your shopping list, and more.

How to Cook Everything comes with more than 2,000 recipes, all with Mark Bittman's guidance and helpful illustrations and techniques. Especially handy are the built-in timers included within recipes that help you easily track each step of the process. You also have the option to show each step of the recipe onscreen, and with a swipe, you can move on to the next step so it's not as confusing.

Other extras include the ability to quickly print recipes and shopping lists wirelessly over AirPrint; the ability to share what you're cooking over Twitter and Facebook; and the ability to send up to 10 recipes a month to your friends via e-mail. Best of all, the recipes are embedded within the app so you can use it even without a reliable connection to the Internet.

Overall, How to Cook Everything is an excellent cooking guide and reference whether you're in the kitchen or standing out by the barbecue. With tons of recipes, illustrations, built-in timers, and other handy tools, this is the app to have to make your kitchen time a success.

Weber's On The Grill
There are plenty of great grilling recipes with pictures to browse through. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Weber's On the Grill ($4.99) takes more than 300 recipes from the company's popular grilling books and adds some handy tools to make this app an almost perfect grilling companion on your iPhone. Start by picking the type of meat you plan to grill by opening up a large list of recipes with mouth-watering pictures to pique your interest.

From there, you can add the ingredients to an included grocery list that lets check off each ingredient while you shop. When the coals are hot, use your knowledge gained from more than 100 grilling tips and set the included timer so you know your meat will come out perfect. Weber's On the Grill also comes with a grilling guide for each type of meat so you know approximately how long to cook your steak and when to take that chicken off the grill.

Weber's On the Grill offers an intuitive interface for finding recipes, big clear pictures of recipes you want to create, and plenty of tips for grilling each type of food. The grocery list feature is a great way to make sure you have all the right ingredients at the store, and you can send the list to someone else (whoever might be doing the shopping) via e-mail. One issue we found is, as you grill, it seems like you should be able to launch the timer straight out of a recipe you're using rather than having to switch back and forth. In spite of this minor problem, Weber's On the Grill is definitely a worthy grilling companion for Independence Day BBQing, and I imagine there will be updates to smooth out any rough edges in the future.

Have a better cooking app we should know about? Let us all know in the comments.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.