Google Launches New Recipe Search: What's it Got Cooking for You?

It seems only fitting that Google, the company world famous, and much envied, for lavishing free food on its employees, has now jumped on the recipe search bandwagon with its latest feature, Google Recipe View. The new tool seems a boon for the many of us with bookshelves full of cookbooks who still run to our iPad or laptop to find the recipe for that last minute, delicious dish. What are its best features, and can it really whip up a regular "Computer Joe" into a "Julia Childs" chef?

It seems only fitting that Google, the company world famous, and much envied, for lavishing free food on its employees, has now jumped on the recipe search bandwagon with its latest feature, Google Recipe View. The new tool seems a boon for the many of us with bookshelves full of cookbooks who still run to our iPad or laptop to find the recipe for that last minute, delicious dish. What are its best features, and can it really whip up a regular “Computer Joe” into a “Julia Childs” chef?

The first thing cooks and novices alike will notice about Google’s new recipe search is that it brings up only recipes, eliminating links to other results like the history and definition of your desired dish. That feature alone makes the tool quick and handy for an easy-to-view rundown of essential ingredients for a dish.

The Recipe feature shows up in the left side bar, underneath the other search options like Shopping, News, Images and Videos. Just type in your search term and Google will list recipes for you to browse.

The feature utilizes a vertical search that lets users filter search results according to ingredients, cooking time, calories and more through a menu on the left side of the screen.

So you can search for a spaghetti recipe by Rachael Ray to include that ground beef left in your freezer and those red peppers in your pantry, request that it has less than 300 calories and, voila, all you have left to do is the chopping and the mixing.

What makes Recipe View unique is that its built on “structured data” that allows it search underlying code invisible in the browser. It also relies on “Rich Snippets” markup, which allows people to get summary information about their search results, like ratings and reviews.

About one percent of the queries on Google are for recipes, the company said in a blog post announcing the new tool.

In keeping with the Google search format, Recipe View does not show full recipes in the results, instead highlighting pictures, ingredients and one- to five-star user ratings to help users quickly select or skip recipes.

The new search view also allows you to search for specific holidays or events, like Christmas. You can go as lateral as you want searching for obscure things like ‘graduations’ and ‘tofu, chocolate and asparagus’.

For less tech-savvy users, Google also posted this video on the Google blog, where Google Chef Scott Giambastiani shares ways he uses this new tool in the kitchen, for example filtering by ingredient.

Chef Giambastiana makes it look so easy, but, as The Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog points out, the tool still has some room to grow. In test runs, the blog found that the search filters weren’t always available, and recipes are sorted by popularity, not quality, for example:

“The Post’s Food section found that the same Web sites popped up, no matter what our search terms. The recurring winners in the Google search gambit were About.com, the Food Network, Epicurious, Food.com, and All Recipes. That’s not to say the recipes on these sites are inferior or not worth cooking, but it shows the limitations in the current search functionality. The recipes do not appear to be weighed on authenticity or credibility of the recipe author, but on the sheer volume of a site. Popularity is not always the best gauge for a quality recipe. The Google recipe search also proved buggy this afternoon. Several features designed to narrow and refine searches to particular ingredients or cooking times were not available, or intermittently available. A spokeswoman for Google e-mailed this afternoon, saying that the site is a work in progress.”

Recipe View is now available just in the United States and Japan, but has plans to add more countries in the future, a Google spokesperson said.