The Cooking App That Changed My Life

Paprika may just do the same for you, too

Whitson Gordon
Published in
4 min readMay 10, 2019


This is “I Can’t Live Without,” a column about the apps, gadgets, and services that make all the difference.

MyMy mother is weirdly protective of her recipe box. The little handwritten cards can’t leave the kitchen, despite the fact that only a few of them are truly irreplaceable. I never understood why she would put so much stock in a tiny box of index cards, until I got my own.

My collection of recipes doesn’t live in a physical container, though: It’s in an app called Paprika. And while Paprika bills itself as a “recipe manager,” it’s far more than a simple list of dishes. It’s really more like a cookbook shelf, grocery list, personal assistant, and fancy calculator rolled into one, and it’s become one of the most important apps on my phone.

Growing up, I was a picky eater — I thrived on plain, ungarnished food, and would accept nothing even remotely unfamiliar. Anything with a sauce, salsa, or vegetable was immediately suspect, and to be avoided at all costs. I’m not sure I even ate fish until I was 15.

So my poor mother — who has a passion for experimenting in the kitchen — stuck to basic meals like grilled chicken and panfried pork chops to appease my fussy palate. Occasionally she’d try to introduce me to something new, to no avail. I still remember her convincing me to try guacamole, which I spit out in defiance before I even had a chance to taste it.

In a sick twist of fate, my horizons expanded quickly after I left my mother’s house and moved to California, where I discovered the wonderful worlds of pesto, Indian food, and — yes — avocado and cilantro mashed into a vibrant paste. I still wouldn’t call myself adventurous, but my days of eating for sustenance alone were certainly over.

Unfortunately, like most lazy college grads, I had no patience for grocery shopping or cooking. My only experience in the kitchen was grilling the simple meals from my youth, which were no longer satisfying to my more evolved taste buds. So, more often than not, I caved and ordered takeout instead.

Without it, my fridge would probably contain nothing but condiments and beer.