Cooking Hands Free with iPad – Gilt Taste vs. iCookbook

Thanks to Paprika, I use my iPad every night to get dinner on the table, so when two iPad apps recently received updates promising to end the need to touch the screen while prepping a meal, I was intrigued.

Though iCookbook and Gilt Taste approach going hand-free in the kitchen (and pretty much every thing else) differently, the aim is the same: to help the cook keep her slimy, poultry-covered hands off the screen. Keep reading after the break to see which app wins the no-touch cook off.

Hand-free function:

  • iCookbook allows the user to turn a recipe’s digital pages via voice control, while Gilt Taste requires the cook to wave a hand across the screen to change pages. Both iCookBook and Gilt Taste successfully implemented hands-free options while cooking. Nice work all around. However after using both apps, I found neither was that much of an improvement over just putting the iPad in a ziploc bag and touching the screen as needed.
  • Both systems have requirements to function properly. Gilt Taste needs sufficient lighting, while iCookbook needs relative quiet. It’s important to assess your kitchen before trying to use the apps. Ultimately I preferred Gilt Taste because I live in an open-plan home and found the voice control awkward to use with other people around. It might be great if you live alone or can shut the door to the kitchen.


  • Gilt Taste’s content is more ambitious. While there are some dishes that I can’t imagine making (looking at you, Garlic Thyme Duckfat Popcorn), there were also a number of recipes, from spaghetti carbonara to pancakes to hamburgers – many by former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl — that aimed to improve daily cooking. I liked that the app included both basic, useful recipes as well as more exotic fare.
  • Gilt Taste’s format is looser than a traditional cookbook. It feels more like a blog and new recipes are added often (yay!) but there is no way to search, sort, or favorite recipes (boo!). The relaxed, conversational writing style drew me in and I wanted to spend time going through the recipes.
  • In contrast, iCookbook is full of recipes that include specific brands. I do not favor cooking with recipes that rely on brand name ingredients because the nutritional value of the dish often suffers if one relies on pre-packaged components. However, iCookbook also includes slow cooker recipes (sponsored by Crock Pot) that eschew brand-name ingredients in favor of promoting their slow cookers. I am always looking for new slow cooker recipes, and iCookbook had 205 of them!

If you’re looking to learn about cooking, Gilt Taste wins over iCookbook, but iCookbook might be a better choice for busy families who need to get a meal on the table quickly and want lots of choices.

Cost: Gilt Taste is free, but it can’t be considered ad-free because the app’s supporters want users to spend money in the Shop. Unlike most ad-supported apps, users have a choice to avoid the shop if they choose, and there are no banner ads.  In contrast, iCookbook is universal and ad-free, but sells for $4.99, and promises readers frequent updates.

Conclusion: While iCookbook offered more recipes than Gilt Taste, save for the slow cooker recipes they weren’t necessarily for food I wanted to cook or eat. For me, Gilt Taste beat iCookbook on all three factors I evaluated, and since it’s free, there is no reason not to give its hands-free recipes a try. Users whose taste leans toward traditional American fare, and who don’t might the emphasis on brand name, processed foods will find iCookbook to be a useful addition to their iOS recipe collection.

Hands-free innovation is an exciting, but still nascent, idea, and even though I probably won’t turn to either of these apps because of the hands-free options, I hope developers keep trying new ways to make cooking with iPad better.

Part of PadGadget’s continuing series “Get Cooking with iPad”

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite