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How to Plan, Make & Monetize a Recipe App: From Idea to MVP

Yuliia Podorozhko
Market Researcher

Cooking is a necessity, a hobby, an art, and a part of cultures and life. Cooking is also a profession and a passion shared by millions. Do you have delicious recipes or cuisine advice to share with the world? Share your knowledge with other enthusiasts and make a profit by starting a dedicated vlog, website, or building a cooking app. 

In this article, we look at how to build a recipe app, share some app ideas and advice on must-have features, and examine the most popular monetization models.

Why build an app? Comfort is the main reason why 88% of mobile time is spent on apps.

It's far more comfortable to open a recipe in an app on a mobile, smart TV, or even fridge screen than to bring a laptop to the kitchen. Apps can also provide more structured information and offer personalisation to users. Besides, many cooking apps work offline, so they function much like a traditional cookbook, and much better than a website. Unlike a website, an app won’t leave you face-to-face with beef Wellington with no clue about the recipe’s next step.

apps vs browser

Recipe app development: Who can profit from this business

It’s not obligatory to be a Michelin star chef to start a food app. For example, nutritionists and health coaches could make use of their knowledge and build a healthy recipes app or a recipe nutrition calculator app. Vegans could help their mates and teach others how to stay healthy without meat via a vegan recipe app. Or, you could simply share the recipes from your great-grandmother’s cookbook.

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Also, if you already own a restaurant or an app like Tayble (an app for restaurants), a recipe application makes a good addition. Interact with your target audience more and promote your business via the app. For example, you can make videos showing how your chef cooks dishes from your restaurant’s menu. People trust you more if you openly discuss your ingredients and recipes.

Cooking app ideas

Still not sure what sort of a recipe app to build? Here are some popular ideas:

Recipe database app – Users who have a thing for neat collections will appreciate a digital recipe database. An integrated recipe manager feature allows users to create a personalised recipe list, or organise family recipes. In addition, recipe database apps have in-built browsers to find any recipe on the web, clip it, sort it, and save it to a virtual recipe box.

example of recipe app

Source: Pinterest

Pantry app – This type of app finds recipes based on the user’s available ingredients. Such cooking apps help users to track, organise and manage the food they already have, plan their meals, create grocery lists, avoid unnecessary purchases, and save money.

example of pantry app

Source: Big Oven

Recipe collection app – Build this type of recipe app if you want to share your cookbook or chef-level cooking advice. Consider adding short video recipes and tutorials to make your app more appealing.

example of recipe collection app

Source: Yummly

Healthy recipes app – Such apps are useful to users who follow a healthy lifestyle or a specific diet, be it paleo, low-carb, plant-based, gluten-free, or others. Don’t forget to add a calorie or ingredient calculator so users can make a precise diet plan and control calorie consumption.

Example of healthy recipes app

Source: Metrofone

Recipe sharing app – These apps function somewhat like a social network for cooking amateurs and professionals. Users can share recipes, tips, news from chefs, photos of food, exchange ideas, and even create study groups.

example of recipe sharing app

Source: App Store

Meal planner – With these apps, users can easily plan their meals for weeks in advance. It helps users reduce food waste and grocery costs, acquire healthier eating habits, and shave time off meal preparation. If you want to build this kind of recipe app, don’t forget to integrate a calendar for meal planning. Also, consider adding seasonal recipe collections.

example of meal planner

Source: Shape

Kitchen tool apps - This type of app can connect to smart kitchen gadgets to check what’s in the fridge and add missing items to a grocery list, for example. The same application could also convert units of volume, weight, or temperature, or set a timer for what's in the oven.

example of kitchen tool apps

Source: Asmag

Recipe cost calculator – Allows users to make a list of ingredients, add prices, and get the total cost of a meal, a dish, or even a portion of a given recipe. These apps aren’t only useful for chefs; people on a budget or those planning a large meal or event form part of the target audience, too.

example of recipe cost calculator

Source: App Store

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How to build a recipe app: User flow & core features

To bring your cooking app to life and start building an MVP, you need to understand the “user flow.” What are the milestones of the cooking journey? According to a Google study, there are three main cooking phases: what do I make, how do I make it, and am I making this right? 

Your app for cooking food has to cover the essential phases mentioned above. You can also add additional features and cover three optional cooking phases (more on those below) to make your recipe app more valuable for users. 

Let’s take a closer look at those cooking phases now.

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Source: Pixabay

Main phases:

Spark – The moment of curiosity about what to cook. At this stage, you should inspire your users with an appealing video recipe or photos of yummy food. 

Preparation – At the ‘how do I make it?’ stage, you should provide your audience with clear, step-by-step instructions in various forms (text, photos, or videos). By the way, the Google study says that this is a perfect moment to introduce kitchen utensils that your company or affiliate partners sell, for example. 

Cooking – This is the stage when users check the details: baking temperature, cooking time, and so on. You can ease this task by adding chapters for video recipes or a voice search for those already cooking.


Shopping – At this phase, you can help users plan meals, create grocery lists, and even order a grocery delivery. Meanwhile, helping users can help you monetize your app. Invite grocery shops, local farmers, and various brands, offering to sell their products via your app in return for a commission on each purchase. 

Planning – This is the moment to help your audience plan their meals intelligently. For example, you can add a feature that enables recipes searches, or allows users to plan meals according to their food preferences and limitations.

Social sharing It’s a good idea to let users share their food pics or recipes from your app on social media or messengers. Not only does it make the cooking process more fun and collaborative, but it helps you promote your product.

While building your recipe app, keep in mind not only your original idea but also the “user flow.” This will help you choose the right features and create an application that stands out. That said, the range of features you can incorporate into your recipe app development plan will depend on the concept you select. 

Just note that to build a well-rounded solution, you need to implement all or most of the following features:

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How to make money with your food recipe app

Wondering how to monetize your cooking application? Here are the most popular app monetization strategies you should know when you develop any type of mobile applications: 

  • User subscription Charge users for access to your content or service: ad-free recipes, vegan or specific diet recipes, a recipe cost calculator, and more. 
  • In-app adds The easiest and fastest way to make your product profitable. You can start with affiliate programs but make sure to advertise products related to your service. 
  • Freemium Charge for extra features in your free app: access to specific recipes, masterclasses, video tutors, and so on. 

Two more monetization strategies suit cooking-related applications well. They are less common but still profitable:

  • Sponsorship – Make your app match the sponsor's brand when your product becomes popular.
  • Sell products or services – The first idea that comes to mind is kitchen utensils or cookbooks, but you could also sell artisan goods or cooking lessons for beginners within the app.

How much does it cost to build a recipe app?

Recipe app development prices vary. Usually, a minimum viable product (MVP) of a cooking application starts from $5,000 to $10,000. However, costs vary widely as many factors play a part in determining the total cost. For example, the selection of a technology stack (Swift, Kotlin, Golang, ReactJS) greatly influences budget, scalability, and development time. The design of an app, its features, size, and platform determine the cost, too.

Adding features and complexity to your app, as well as the choice of app platforms also affect costings. Creating an iOS recipe app costs more than building the same app for Android. Also, the cost of recipe app development depends on developers' skill sets and expertise. In the table below you can find hourly rates for app development specialists:

app developer rates

Building a recipe app: Final thoughts

Even if the world continues to fight the COVID crisis, the best time to bring your recipe app idea to life is now. The number of people who rely on their smartphones for every aspect of life is growing, as too is the popularity of mobile applications. 

Every promising idea on how to enhance and facilitate life can be translated into a viable app. Of course, as with any new product, your cooking recipes app may face challenges and rivalry. Don't give up, just plan the launch carefully. Choose the right concept and monetization model, plan unique features for your product, and hire qualified specialists to build smart and full-featured software.

The best way to build a recipe app is to hire a dedicated development company, such as us here at MadAppGang! We have experience creating high-profile applications, from fintech solutions to mobile apps for restaurants

What's cooking in MadAppGang's world? Not only do we know how to turn out a good recipe and restaurant app, but we know the perfect ingredients for successful e-commerce apps.

Hiring real pros saves a lot of money, reduces costs without compromising the product’s final quality; and means you get smart suggestions from specialists. Our team is not only here to develop creative, intuitive, and feature-rich iOS, Android, and web solutions, but also to assist you at every stage of your project. 

Just drop us a line, we're happy to give in-depth answers to all your questions.