Weeknight Cooking

Why it Was Time for Our New (Not)Recipes App

March 23, 2016

We're delighted that today we launch (Not)Recipes, our first iOS app built in-house, and our most ambitious and exciting project this year—and we're just getting started, with lots more features to come! We thought last year's launches of a wedding registry, a line of cookbooks, and Burnt Toast podcast weren't quite big enough; we could do more...

Photo by James Ransom

We founded Food52 in the belief that people need a curated and trustworthy place to share recipes, to find beautiful and useful products for their kitchens and homes, and to meet like-minded cooks. We wanted to build a site that celebrated the people who shared our passion, and that offered them meaningful ways to contribute to our community. This is why we now have 40,000 excellent recipes, 175,000 great household questions and answers on our Hotline, and a social following that teaches us new things every day—all thanks to you!

We intentionally designed our recipe form to make it a commitment to add a recipe to our site. Our belief was that making you clear a hurdle would encourage you to upload only your best, most practiced recipes. And this has worked incredibly well.

Braised cauliflower leaves(!) shared by Olia Hercules

As we've grown, we've looked for easier, faster ways for you to contribute. Our social platforms, Instagram in particular, have become hives of activity. On Instagram, people in our circle are constantly posting what they've cooked and participating in our photo-themed #f52grams contests. We noticed the cooking conversation was changing, too—it became less about the destination and more about the journey.

Shop the Story

We also heard from a lot of our food friends that while Instagram was an okay place to post some cooking photos, they hesitate to add too many, lest they bore their less food-inclined followers. Existing social platforms were good for inspiration, but lacked usefulness.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Loving the app because this is the way I cook when I'm not recipe testing or working on a specific project, though like another commenter, I see many people just posting photos with no (not) recipes attached (i.e. like Instagram). Also looking forward to Search and Edit (and will be have the option to follow people as well?). In any case, great work :)”
— Mardi M.

This got us thinking.

Hot chocolate pro tips shared by Amanda Hesser

And we realized that we weren't capturing and celebrating the casual, off-the-cuff cooking that most people do every day. In fact, the great majority of the world's cooking doesn't involve recipes: It's putting together dishes you know, with your own signature touches. It was time to highlight this timeless style of cooking, and all the knowledge and artistry packed into it.

What felt like a natural next step on our mission at Food52 was to create (Not)Recipes, a place for everyone to share what she or he is cooking in the moment. A safe space for you to post as much (or as little) as you want about food!

Tips for hand-rolling pici dough shared by Heidi Swanson

(Fun fact: the app is named after our popular column of the same name, that's been tapping community voices to explain how to cook everything from marinara to pancakes to masala chai without a recipe every week since March 2013.)

You can post a photo and short description of what you've made on (Not)Recipes, and the app will magically distill any ingredients you mention into a handy (and editable) grocery list. And you can make your photo look even more scrumptious using filters we designed with our photographer James Ransom (and sourced from you) to reflect the style of some of our favorite food icons, such as Alice Waters, Julia Child, and Anthony Bourdain.

You might post a fried egg and tell us your technique for keeping the bottom crispy, or show us the pork butt you smoked, or the spaghetti carbonara you whipped up after work. (Not)Recipes is a place for triumphs, failures, tips, and experiments—but mostly it's a place to bring cooks together in a real and useful way. We want to inspire you, give you ideas, and allow you to dig into the topics that interest you most. Obsessed with cakes? Dive into #cake! Looking for a new drink? Try #cocktails!

Oh, and while you're at it, try #notcontest—where we'll post monthly contests on inspiring topics. Our first, Your Best 20-Minute Freestyle Dinner, comes with a snazzy prize: a set of Staub cookware and an iPhone 6—just share yours by 11:59PM E.S.T. on April 5, 2016.

We know we're on to something here. What we're launching today—download here—is the kernel of an idea to capture your everyday cooking. We want you to tell us how you like to use it and help us make it an indispensable tool for your cooking. We know there are a lot of great features we want to build in and can't wait to hear from you!

Listen Now

On Black & Highly Flavored, co-hosts Derek Kirk and Tamara Celeste shine a light on the need-to-know movers and shakers of our food & beverage industry.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • M.McAwesome
  • AntoniaJames
  • aleeshapatel
  • Loves Food Loves to Eat
    Loves Food Loves to Eat
  • MangoEats
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


M.McAwesome May 2, 2016
Can't wait for an Android version! :) Sounds like a great app.
AntoniaJames April 28, 2016
Is anyone else having problems loading photos + text? The App has now crashed five times on me, maybe six. Is there something I need to know? Is there a User's Guide somewhere? I've had success loading 10 NotRecipes over the past week or so without a hitch. Thanks so much. ;o)
aleeshapatel April 14, 2016
Is there a way to link my Instagram account with my account on this app? Seems cumbersome for me to post twice!
Kristen M. April 14, 2016
Sadly, Instagram isn't as open to cross-posting as Twitter or Facebook are (we have both of those sharing options in the app already). You're right, it's a little more cumbersome to repost, but really not too bad, especially if you copy the caption from Instagram and edit from there, and then (Not)Recipes handles the ingredient list for you!
Loves F. March 28, 2016
Question: is there a place in the app that says what the #notcontest is, when you should use certain hashtags versus others, etc? I tried to figure out the notcontest just by scrolling thru posts and frankly was super confused, until I just now saw this article.
Kristen M. March 29, 2016
This is a great question—there isn't a central place to find details yet, so we're trying to get the word out via posts on the app and places like our emails and social channels for now. Good to see you!
Cheryl B. March 31, 2016
Hey Kristen, is one considered entered into the contest with the hashtag #nocontest instead of #notcontest? I couldn't figure out a way to add that hashtag once I posted the recipe, so I added my own comment. Would love to get my hat in the ring!! Also, I found the video on facebook about the app to be helpful. Thanks!
Kristen M. April 1, 2016
For this first one, we'll keep an eye out for any wayward entries, but going forward we might start being sticklers for using the proper hashtag in the caption!
MangoEats March 28, 2016
I LOVE the app, but not too happy that I can only use it on my iPad. My Galaxy S7 takes beautiful photos and I lose that quality if I'm relying solely on my tablet. So me, the process is still long. Take pics on phone, sync to Google Pics, pull up Google Pics on tablet, select photos, download to tablet, share in app.

Yea. Too much. I've shared four (not) receipes thusfar, but I am (for now) discouraged on sharing more. I'll stick to Instagram (MangoEats <--- shameless self pimping)
Mardi M. March 27, 2016
Loving the app because this is the way I cook when I'm not recipe testing or working on a specific project, though like another commenter, I see many people just posting photos with no (not) recipes attached (i.e. like Instagram). Also looking forward to Search and Edit (and will be have the option to follow people as well?). In any case, great work :)
weekend A. March 24, 2016
I noticed that a good portion of the posts are simply pictures of what users are eating. Besides just scrolling through featured posts (how do not-recipes make it there anyway?) is there be a way to just see posts that actually contain directions?
Luisa R. March 24, 2016
Did you click on the photos? I seem to see only posts containing recipes
weekend A. March 24, 2016
duh! i'll try that. maybe i'm not clicking.
Kristen M. March 24, 2016
Thanks, Luisa. Yes, the vast majority of (Not)Recipes posted have helpful descriptions, ingredient lists, and lots of ideas to learn from if you click More>—I've been so impressed by what people are sharing. The Featured tab is curated by our editorial team. p.s. I'm a big fan of your name, weekend at bearnaise.
Luisa R. March 23, 2016
I just tried it. Looks awesome!! But yeah search and editing really is missing :) thanks from Germany! P.s. Since it's working in our App Store it also should in the Irish ;)
Kristen M. March 24, 2016
Those features and more are coming just as soon as we can program them :)
weekend A. March 23, 2016
Is there a way to see who likes(d) your contributions? Love the app!
Kristen M. March 23, 2016
If you have your notifications turned on in the app's settings, they'll pop up on your phone. Something less temporary is in the works—expect to see it in an update in the coming weeks!
Valerie M. March 23, 2016
Just so you can hear us too - thank you for launching the Apple app.
Kristen M. March 23, 2016
Thanks, Valerie—so nice to hear!
Valerie N. March 23, 2016
I love this site and would love to see the app, I was really excited about it until I saw it was only for Apple.... :( I guess I'll have to wait.
Kristen M. March 23, 2016
We hear you, Android users. Meet our entire mobile app engineering team, Mike! https://twitter.com/Food52/status/712104851640094721 You can see why it wasn't possible for design both at once, so we focused first on the version that more visitors to our website are on. We’ll keep Mike working hard and keep you posted on Android updates.
tortellini March 23, 2016
I'm another disappointed Android user. It would be great if you could bring yourself to making it available for Android users, it seems my fellow commenters are with me here. Any info on your plans?
Jo-Anne March 23, 2016
Hello this was the response listed at the start of the thread:
"Yes, we hope that will come next! We wanted to focus on developing this one in-house first and making it great."

@tortellini I am like you. I really wanted to get started on the app. So hard to wait for such good thing!
blackpanthershay March 23, 2016
As an island gyal who never follows a recipe(what is a recipe? lol) I was excited for this.
After further searching the comments confirmed nothing for android users.................
zaini March 23, 2016
Soooo disappointed that it's not for Android. Everyone I know uses Android. I don't understand why people don't think of non apple users. Everyone doesn't desire to use apple's over priced products!
Belle S. March 23, 2016
I'm with all the other Android users disappointed you didn't launch at the same time. And it doesn't seem like you even have an ETA for it. Big chunk of us out here that are not Apple-centric.
TheFritschKitchen March 23, 2016
Here here!
Scott L. March 23, 2016
What do I think? The U.S. market share of Android users vs. iOS is twice as large, and growing. Why is this app not available for your sizeable Android followers?
BrooklynBridget March 23, 2016
Scott, we based it our site mobile usage which is over 90% iOS. Trust me, we are hearing #teamandroid loud and clear now, though.
Lynn C. March 23, 2016
Is this just USA based?? x
Kristen M. March 23, 2016
No Lynn, we already have people contributing from all over the world! It's been fun to see what's in season in Australia, the UK, and so on.
Andrew March 23, 2016
There doesn't seem to be a way to edit text of previously-posted photos (I left out an ingredient in the description!), which is fine, but there also isn't a way to delete any posted photos, which is what I would normally do (delete and re-post) to correct the caption. Not being able to delete seems like a basic missing functionality -- when will this be corrected? It's a beautiful app but I'm hesitant to continue using it without this.
Kristen M. March 23, 2016
We have new features (including these) coming very soon—the app will keep improving on a daily and weekly basis as we see how folks are using it.
Andrew March 23, 2016
Awesome! I'll go on posting then. It's great to have a venue to unabashedly share food pics.

(And while I'm an iOS guy, I hope the Android version comes soon so I can get all my fellow foodie friends on board!)
Woland March 23, 2016
Please, do some good for the Android users - we want the app :)!