Part of food blogging is sharing and showcasing your recipes in a way that makes it convenient for the reader to view them, with simple formatting and the ease of accessing them at home. Step by step pictures are nice, but when you are ready to print a recipe, clearly written directions in a clean area that is easy to select and print is a great thing to offer your readers.
Another important reason for having your recipes properly formatted is the ever evolving need for good SEO. With Google offering a “recipe” search, and hundreds of thousands of sites competing for the same key words, any advantage you can have over the competition and to drive people to your site is welcome.
The good news is, you no longer have to be a website engineer or hire a SEO consultant to figure out things that may help your site grow. Many WordPress developers are already out there doing the work for you and making it easier than ever to get your site and its recipes up to date.
Below is a list of available free WordPress recipe plugins. I tested each of them on one of my sites, took screenshots and notes about each, and these are my findings. To prevent a huge post, I grouped the images from each plugin into one screenshot. Feel free to click on the image to enlarge, or email me if you have any questions about any of the plugins.
hRecipe gives you fast, efficient recipe formatting… with an SEO advantage. Your recipes look good, and people searching for recipes are attracted to Google Rich Snippet recipe display, which can mean better clickthrough to your blog.
hRecipe includes the option for a reference URL which I think is great for all of the copyright conflict and sharing of recipes around the internet. There are also option tabs at the top of the pop up box that appears when you click to add a recipe that allow you to include any additional notes or nutritional information. The default styling is a little bland, but with a little CSS savvy this plugin could be customized to fit your site. hrecipe did not offer a print feature, which I feel is an important option to offer.
The most fully featured recipe plugin that doesn’t require a degree in geek!
EasyRecipe makes recipe entry a breeze, with features like cut and paste, auto conversion of your plain text recipe posts, live custom formatting, Google Recipe View formatting and preview button, automatic ratings, conversion from other recipe plugins like ZipList and RecipeSEO, and more.
Easy Recipe had a lot of features that really caught my attention. It includes an area for prep time, cook time, serving size, notes and ‘other’ for anything else you may want to include as well as a line for the original source. Once entered, the recipe is ‘captured’ in it’s own table within your post. What is nice about Easy Recipe that when previewing a post, along the top dashboard (as long as you are logged in to your WordPress account), there is an Easy Recipe button that pops open a box that allows you to edit the formatting of your recipe. If you like some fonts large then others, want to highlight the title, or change the print format, it all can be adjusted.
Make your recipes SEO-friendly and more likely to appear in Google’s Recipe View search. No need to hand-code your recipes into a sophisticated recipe structure when the ZipList Recipe Plugin will do all the heavy lifting for you, enhancing the findability of your recipe website.
Of the plugins I tested, ZipList was probably my favorite. It stared with the formatting. An image can be included in the recipe box, a print button is clearly visible, the ingredient list and instructions are clean and easily read. What struck me, is that it is just the hRecipe plugin with some additional add-on features, but I liked it a lot more than the hRecipe plugin itself. Should your reader decide to print the recipe, the image is removed so that no additional ink is wasted, a feature I loved.
Turn your WordPress 3.0 site into a full fledged recipe sharing system. Allow users to submit recipes, organize recipes in hierarchal categories, make comments, and embed recipes in posts and pages.
RecipePress appears under the main text area of your new posts, prompting you to add a recipe. Once selected a whole menu of options opens up. The ingredients have to be added line by line, something I can’t see myself making the time for, but the options for meal type, cuisines, skill levels and more are all great features. You can even manage these items as if they were their own categories. It did lack a print button, which is a deal breaker for me.
The newest kid to the party, KitchenBug is still operating in beta mode and an only be downloaded once you have been accepted to test the plugin. I had high hopes for kitchenbug, with its easy looking recipe box, but when I tried hitting continue for the first time, I was told there were errors in my recipe and that I couldn’t proceed. I had to go back and assign a pre-designated quantity to every item in my list. Now, this is only something that bugs me because on my table, not everything is measured out. I put out a small bowl of sour cream if people choose to dollop some on, I have never once measured the quantity. But moving on. Kitchenbug does allow you to add an image and tag a recipe right within the Kitchenbug screen.
Kitchenbug had a few features I could see as both pro and cons when I went and published my post. First, it included a link to every item on the list. Does one really need to hover over the word potatoes for a pop up? It automatically calculated nutritional value and assigned ‘tags’ to my post that I did not select myself. Now, I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t count calories so I have never included this sort of information on my posts, mainly because I have no working knowledge of it, so I would never know if Kitchenbug was accurate or not. When hitting the print button next to the recipe, the entire post goes to print. Lastly, after hitting the print option, an ad appeared on my page that I did not install myself. Now, perhaps this is just a function of the beta, and that any ad revenue generated would defer to me, if I were to install and use Kitchenbug, but the idea of an outside company making money off of ads I didn’t manually place on my site just kind of irked me.
With the introduction of Google’s Recipe View, suddenly microformats became incredibly important to food bloggers. If you don’t use microformats for your recipes (or microdata, for those using HTML5), then your blog most likely won’t show up in Recipe View searches.
But most people don’t want to spend the time and effort to hand-code microformats into their recipes every single time they publish a blog post. It’s a lot of work, and quite frankly a pain in the rear, especially if you’re not familiar with HTML.
That’s where this plugin comes in.
RecipeSEO operated in a very similar way to hRecipe or Ziplist, in that it prompted a small pop up box where you would put the ingredients in line by line and instructions. In also included options for nutritional information if you wanted to include it. The styling was simple, but as a whole it made no impression on me. It did not include a print feature and for some reason, the directions and interesting all formatted as a link to an image within the post.
Adds recipe post type, alowing you to add and manage recipes on your website. Supports archives and comments and has easy recipe ingredients and instructions management. Create, manage and publish your best recipes on your own website of blog. WP-Recipe is built out of custom post type (recipe) with multiple taxonomy support, ratings and interchangable formats. This is not another “add recipe to post” plgin, this is a “recipy post type” plugin, with custom template files included!
Well, not to end this on a downer, but I simply can’t recommend WP Recipe. At first, it looks like a good idea. Instead of adding “posts,” a new option called “Recipes” is added to your dashboard. Once you add a new recipe, there are options for formats, tags, types, and other “category’ based filing systems that would be fantastic for a site – if the plugin worked. After hitting publish, I couldn’t find my newly added recipe. So I went and checked the developers installation instructions and changed my permalink structure to reflect what they needed. Still nothing. I went back to the post and hit view, and got nothing but a blank screen. So, as for where my recipe went, how to view it, or how to share it with my readers, I have no idea. Thumbs down.
Overall, I was most impressed with the ZipList plugin. I could customize it to my colors and layout, and be happy with the formatting. With plugins, it is easy to install and test out the options. Give them a go and see which works for you. However, know that if you are going to install and test plugins, it is important to make sure that they are compatible with your theme and version of WordPress. Consult your designer (or kids!) if you don’t have a working knowledge of FTP. Also, keep in mind that if you are testing out plugins, delete the ones you are no longer using. Extra plugins can slow down a site, so go minimal. Now, get to sprucing up those recipes!
[Photo: pirate johnny]