Best iPhone apps for Thanksgiving cooks

A $35 cookbook shrunk to a $4.99 app that fits in the palm of your hand

A $35 cookbook shrunk to a $4.99 app that fits in the palm of your hand

With most of us gearing up to spend Thursday in the kitchen juggling pots, pans, baking sheets, and kitchen timers, we thought this was the perfect time to introduce you to five of our favorite technological Chef's Little Helpers. These five iPhone and iPad apps rose to the top of our list for their affordability, usability, and popularity. Apps for foodies abound on the Apple app store, where you can find everything from grocery shopping list apps to a Zagat restaurant guide app. Read on to see five of our favorites for cooking and entertaining at home.


5. Kitchen Pad Timer ($1.99) The oven timer is counting down the time remaining for the roasting turkey; the microwave timer is covering the dressing in the crock pot, and that twisty mechanical timer is counting down the--nope--your cat just batted it into the pot of simmering gravy. Uncle Jim's watch just beeped, but no one can remember what that one was timing. Kitchen Pad Timer to the rescue! This handy app lets you simultaneously set timers for up to four stovetop slots and four oven slots, with the bonus of being able to label each one, so a cacophony of beeps doesn't leave you weeping, oven-mitted, in the middle of your kitchen, unsure of where to turn or which burners to shut off. Not that that's ever happened to us. As a special Thanksgiving bonus, this app is $1 off on the Apple app store through November 28.

4. Mixologist: Drink Recipes ($.99) With most of the family's attention fixed firmly on the culinary preparations for the Thanksgiving feast, it's important not to neglect an equally important job: bartender. We all know the prosecco's not gonna cut it when Mom wants to show your girlfriend those adorable home videos of your first bath. That's where Mixologist comes in. Simply enter the contents of Grandma Josephine's liquor cabinet and search the app's extensive database of cocktails you can make with the ingredients you have on hand. With nearly 8,000 drink recipes and 1,300 ingredients, surely you can find something tasty to concoct from Peach Schnapps and Grenadine. Right?

3. Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List (free) Epicurious is simply one of the best recipe collections available in app format, featuring over 28,000 recipes from such prestigious, dependable sources as Bon Appetit, Gourmet, top chefs, and leading restaurants. With hundreds of thousands of reader ratings and reviews, you can quickly determine if others shared your instinct that the cream could be halved or the garlic doubled in any given recipe. The recipes are formatted for easy viewing on the iPhone or iPad, and you can create ingredient shopping lists for a dish with the touch of a button. Save your favorites and free up some shelf space by tossing all those old cooking mags. Welcome to the digital revolution.

2. Wine Ratings Guide ($3.99) Touted as the "biggest wine ratings database in the world" with over 2 million wine ratings, Wine Ratings Guide is useful in both stores and restaurants. Find the perfect wine to bring along to Thanksgiving dinner by searching by food pairing ("turkey"), or do a simple search filtered by price range or grape varietal. Rate wines you've tried and keep a log of your favorites and epic fails. Go to the "quick picks" screen for prepared lists of the best values at a variety of stores, such as "Ten best wines under $20 at Whole Foods."

1. How to Cook Everything ($4.99) This killer app is Mark Bittman's award-winning cookbook (which retails for $35) condensed to fit into your palm. Unlike other recipe-collection apps, How to Cook Everything has the advantage of a consistent voice and Bittman's down-to-earth, layman-friendly advice. It boasts built-in timers for appropriate recipe steps, flexible search options, high-resolution graphics, and hundreds of how-to illustrations. It's currently enhanced with holiday-themed menus and wintertime animation. Bittman's simple instructions are sure to help even the first-time host serve a successful Thanksgiving spread. Get it for the holidays, use it year-round.