Tips for better search results

The number of recipes in the EYB Library is impressive and continues to grow. The only thing better than having such a fantastic repository of recipes is the ability to find just the one you are looking for. To that end, we are providing a brief tutorial on different ways to search for recipes in the Library. Remember, you can always visit the Help section if you want to learn more about a particular tool.  

First, you need to decide where you want to search: only on your Bookshelf, or more broadly. Most people begin by searching their own Bookshelf, by navigating to the My Bookshelf icon and selecting Recipes. From there, a number of tools will help you hone in on exactly what you want. While it is tempting to just type in a search term and hit the enter key, using a few refinements will provide better results. For example, if I have a chicken but do not have a plan for it, I could just type chicken into the search box. However, that search results in over 6,000 hits! That is far too many to browse through, but I can narrow my search considerably using the EYB filters. 

Filters can help you find recipes to precisely match what you are looking for by recipe type, ingredient, ethnicity, course, occasion, or nutrition. In the example above, I will get more finessed results by selecting Ingredient/Meat, Poultry & game/Chicken in the filters than by just typing Chicken into the search box. When I use this filter, I end up with roughly half the number of hits, just over 3,000. Why is that? Many recipe titles include the word "chicken" but don't have chicken in them (e.g. chicken fried steak), or they use an ingredient like 'chicken stock' or 'chicken livers', neither of which is what I have.

Even this reduced list is cumbersome, so I will use additional filters to whittle it down. I also have some lemongrass to use up, so I will add that filter as well by choosing lemongrass from the list of Herbs  under the Ingredients filter Now I am down to 73 results, but I can narrow the list even further. If I am not in the mood for soup, I can exclude all soup recipes. I choose Soups in the "Filter by" list, and then click the "+" to the left of the Soups heading, making it a "-". That excludes all of the soup recipes. Now I have only 46 options. 


I can continue to add filters to include or exclude ingredients, or I can use other types of filters, such as ethnicity, occasion, or meal course to make the list even smaller. Additionally, I can choose to search only within my cookbooks, only in magazines, or only online recipes. For these limitations, choose the appropriate option in the "Only show" section in the upper right corner of the screen. You can select more than one - I sometimes choose "Online Recipes" in addition to "Book Recipes". If I find a recipe that is available online I can use my tablet, which takes up less counter space than a large cookbook. 

If you are using filters to exclude allergens, please note that store-cupboard ingredients such as flour and eggs are not listed in small quantities (less than one cup of flour and less than 4 eggs).  In that case, using filters won't be a completely accurate way to find recipes for food allergies.

You can also restrict your searches to a particular author or book. You can do this by entering the book title or author name in quote marks in the Recipes search terms box, e.g. "Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" or "Ina Garten". From there you can add other search criteria. You can also search within any indexed book - whether it is on your Bookshelf or not - by finding the book in the Library and clicking on the link. When you get to the book's home page, click on the link "Search this book for recipes".

For those who are familiar with Boolean search terms, you can use them in the search box. Most of these results can also be achieved by using the filters but if you're familiar with Boolean logic you might want to use both methods.

Some examples of searches using Boolean logic:

  • AND is the default search for EYB so there is no need to put AND in your searches; e.g. entering chicken AND lemongrass to find recipes that use both chicken and lemongrass will show the same results as entering chicken lemongrass
  • OR to find recipes that have either of the criteria e.g. find recipes that use either chicken or lemongrass: enter chicken OR lemongrass
  • to find recipes that exclude a search term e.g. find recipes that use chicken but not lemongrass: enter chicken -lemongrass
  • by adding a * to the end of a word you will find all recipes beginning with that string of characters e.g. find all recipes that use pomegranates by the author Raghavan Iyer (useful if you can't remember how to spell words) - enter pomeg* ragh*
  • A more complex use of these terms: to find every chicken recipe that uses lemongrass but does not use stock and is not a soup - enter chicken and lemongrass and (-soup or -stock) 
  • Remember that using quotation marks (") limits the search to the exact phrase you type; if there are extra spaces it will look for those

I often switch back and forth between searching only my Bookshelf and searching online recipes. I choose the latter option when I know that I don't have any books, magazines, or indexed blogs that will focus on the subject matter. For instance, I have very few books on Chinese cookery, so I will look online for those recipes. If you are starting with your Bookshelf but then want to expand your search to the larger online Library, please note that the search filters do not automatically transfer from one to the other. If you use Boolean searches you can copy/paste the criteria, so that is another reason to do that if you are familiar with Boolean searching. 

If you search online recipes and find one you like, don't forget to add it to your Bookshelf so you can find it more easily next time! If you have any questions about searching that are not covered here or that are not explained in the Help section, please feel free to put them in the comments and we will try to answer them. Thanks, and happy cooking!


  • lgroom  on  5/12/2017 at 3:41 PM

    Great explanation!!

  • zorra  on  5/12/2017 at 9:18 PM

    Can you clarify please, how do I easily search within a single book on my shelf for recipes I've bookmarked, say as Try Me? I always seem to end up in the library, & in frustration.

  • Jane  on  5/12/2017 at 11:25 PM

    zorra - when you just want to search a single book on your Bookshelf for recipes, enter the book title and author name in the search box when on the My Bookshelf Recipes tab. Now use your Bookmark filters in the right side column to filter just by "Try me?" or whatever Bookmarks you want.

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