Sometimes you have to stray to remember how good you have it

Because I was having issues with my internet service today I needed to test response times and decided to use some recipe search engines to gauge how well the ISP’s fix was working (yes, I know I could do an Oookla speed test but where’s the fun in that?). After navigating several websites, I was reminded of just how good I have it here at EYB. During my testing I encountered clunky interfaces, puzzling categories, a dearth of filters, and too many slide shows, among other disappointments.

I subscribe to a handful of food magazines and was reminded of why I never use their search engines. None of them have different views available; you are stuck with whatever tiles or lists they have deigned to use, even if only six options appear at a time and you have to endlessly click to the next page. There is no way to sort on most of those sites and you must hope that its algorithm is in line with your needs and desires, a dubious prospect. Plus, the obvious flaw remains: you are limited to only the recipes that have appeared in that magazine. Pffft.

Sites that aren’t tied to magazines might be marginally better but still contain serious flaws. Most are designed to have you select a category of foods, courses, or meal types and browse their curated collection without any insight into how recipes are chosen or ordered. Often there will be a slide show of a specific (and weird) number of recipes for a given category, such as “31 easy weeknight dinners”, which does little to help you find a recipe that will work within the constraints of your pantry and preferences.

Very few sites offer the ability to narrow your search by applying filters, and those that do offer a scant number of options. One had a filter for ingredients but only about 35 were listed. Fewer sites still give you the number of results so you have an idea of how many recipes meet your search criteria, as hobbled as the criteria may be. Is it 20, 200, or 2000? Who knows?! Speaking of numbers, I found some of the sites’ boasts about the size of their repository to be amusing. Williams-Sonoma invites you to “search our 7,500+ recipes“. How cute!

Since I have half a can of coconut cream idling in my fridge, I attempted to find recipes that included this ingredient but quickly gave up on other sites. Unlike EYB, none of the interfaces allowed me to limit or filter by this ingredient, much less exclude other ingredients or recipe types that I didn’t want. Not only can I search EYB for “coconut cream”, I can eliminate recipes that had those words only in the title by typing ‘ingredient:”coconut cream”‘ to retrieve only recipes that use it as an ingredient (7,502 if you’re curious). Conversely, if I wanted to find only coconut cream pie recipes I could type ‘title:”coconut cream pie”‘ and see the 417 results for that.

That was in the entire EYB Library, but of course I don’t own every book or subscribe to every magazine or blog (don’t get me started on the frustration of trying to search for anything on most blogs) so I switched to my Bookshelf to limit the search to my readily available resources. This returned fewer results, of course, but included authors and publications that I have found to be in line with my tastes. When you go to a site like or (heavens forfend) plain old Google, there’s no telling who wrote those recipes.

I do not wish to disparage other websites; I sometimes head to a specific site or even to Google in an effort to hunt something down, especially if I recall seeing it somewhere other than the EYB Library (and then I add it using the Bookmarklet to make sure I don’t lose it!). But I find that these excursions remind me that I’m much better off looking for a recipe that already resides in the nearly 2.5 million indexed at EYB.

In describing all of these searches it’s easy to overlook the biggest advantage EYB has over other search engines: the ability to search for only recipes that appear in cookbooks or magazines that I own. What a gamechanger that was for me, and I will forever be grateful to Lindsay McSweeney, who alerted me to this site when it launched 14 years ago (further enabling my cookbook collecting).

All of these comparisons only touch on the search engine, and we all know there is more to the site: a vibrant Member Forum, shopping lists, recipe notes (one of my favorite features), cookbook reviews, giveaways, and more. Jenny works tirelessly to keep us informed about the latest releases and introduces us to new products and services as well. What a great site! (Am I biased? Of course! But I loved EYB before I started writing here, and will remain a loyal Member even if I stop.)

Post a comment


  • matag  on  September 13, 2023

    Don’t stop

  • JaniceKj  on  September 13, 2023

    Thank you for the “note to self” on searching by ingredients. I use it often as well. It’s a game changer. Continue with all the goodies that EYB can develop, I’ll be here always.

  • Jane  on  September 14, 2023

    Thank you Darcie for this great outline of how essential EYB has become for so many cooks. I came up with the idea for EYB because I wanted this search engine myself – I’m so happy it helps other cookbook owners around the world.

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