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Best Dinner Recipe Apps for Special Occasions 2021

Whether holiday cooking delights or overwhelms you, recipe apps can make your experience easier and more delicious. We tried the top apps, and here is the Freemium 411.

Food & Drink



Best Dinner Recipe Apps for Special Occasions 2021
The holidays might be a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods. And a recipe app can help you plan your meals for a stress-free dinner. We tried out ten popular cooking apps to see which were most helpful for planning holiday feasts at the best prices. While there are many great recipe apps, the Food Network app stood out for its vast library of high-quality content and great recipes for $39.99/year or $4.99/month. Here’s why we love this app and more:

Table of Contents

  1. 1. Apps We Selected
  2. Our Pick Food Network Kitchen Food Network Kitchen Runner Up Yummly Recipes & Cooking Tools Yummly Recipes & Cooking Tools Also Groovy Oh She Glows - Healthy Recipes Oh She Glows - Healthy Recipes Also Groovy SideChef: Recipes, Meal Planner, Grocery Shopping SideChef: Recipes, Meal Planner, Grocery Shopping
  3. 2. Everything We Recommend
  4. 3. The 411 from our Appventurer
  5. 4. Other Apps Considered
Our Pick

You can't mess up with this one

  • Enjoy on-demand cooking classes, trusted recipes, and so much more.
    4.8 Ratings 771K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free In App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases


There’s more to cooking than just recipes, and the premium version of The Food Network app goes above and beyond simple instructions and measurements for a full, pro-chef experience that will ensure a successful dinner.

Why we chose Food Network:

  • Tons of content, holiday-related and otherwise. Videos, classes, recipes, and shows help you learn techniques for all your special occasion favorites, and access many different holiday menu plans.
  • Meal planner tool helps you plan and stay organized while preparing complicated meals.
  • You can create shopping lists from recipes, and connect to Instacart through the app to have groceries delivered at your convenience, contact-free.
  • While the amount of content can be a little overwhelming, the app is well organized and useful.
  • The premium version ($39.99/year or $4.99/month) is a significant upgrade, with commercial-free access to Food Network shows, classes, weekly meal plans, and live Q&As with top experts.
  • 30-day free trial can help you decide if the extra content is worth it for you.
We found the added content enhanced our experience of the app and was a very worthy upgrade. It could make a great Christmas gift for the food lover in your life! 
Read Food Network's Full Review
Runner Up

Convenient and customizable

  • Conquer the kitchen with meal plans, personalized recipes, shopping lists & more
    4.5 Ratings 137K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases


This user-friendly app is all about a personalized experience, not to mention the “Seasonal” section is packed with holiday recipes, many of which have video guides to help you execute them perfectly.

Why we chose Yummly:

  • Lots of holiday recipes in the “Seasonal” section. You can also sort according to various diets and other preferences. Some recipes have video guides.
  • Recipes come from a number of different sources, all are easy to follow.
  • The meal planner feature lets you set the date and time you want to eat and tells you when to start prepping and cooking — especially important for a complex holiday meal with lots of dishes.
  • You can add recipe ingredients to a shopping list and have them delivered from stores near you.
  • A pro version, $4.99 per month, lets you access video content from a stable of experts.
Yummly’s free version includes most of the recipes and guides. The pro version adds step-by-step guides that offer new techniques and tips. However, the price is steep unless you are passionate about learning to cook better.
Read Yummly's Full Review
Also Groovy

For plant-based eaters and Instagram fanatics

  • Enjoy over 160 mouth-watering plant-based recipes at your fingertips.
    4.8 Ratings 14K+ Reviews 50K+ Downloads
    In App Purchases
    $2.49 In-App Purchases
    $1.99 In-App Purchases


If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or just looking for some delicious and healthy sides, Oh She Glows is for you. With stunning photos and detailed recipes, the app is sure to offer inspiration for your holiday (and every day) meals.
Why we chose Oh She Glows:
  • BEAUTIFUL app featuring plant-based recipes. Smooth interface and mouth-watering photos make you want to scroll forever.
  • Recipes all come from the app’s creator — they have a uniform (and attractive) look, and are simple and accessible.
  • Recipes are arranged with more recent entries to the top, so you see whatever season/holiday is closest first.
  • No meal planning, shopping lists, or really anything besides recipes.
  • Great for plant-based eaters, people looking for healthier meals, or those who want to browse gorgeous food pictures.
The app is free but does have some special bundles with themed recipes not available elsewhere. These are not subscription-based — more like buying a cookbook.  
Read Oh She Glows' Full Review
Also Groovy

Best curated collections

  • Save time and money with recipe ideas for all diets and easy grocery shopping
    4.5 Ratings 7K+ Reviews 500K+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases


In the internet age, we don’t suffer from a lack of options. Sidechef is great for cutting through the noise and helping you find the best recipes for your needs. Sorted around themed collections, the app enables you to find exactly what you need without wading through all the stuff you don’t.

Why we chose SideChef:

  • Features great holiday collections — classic Thanksgiving, reinvented sides, a guide to leftovers.
  • Simple and helpful guides may be especially useful to new cooks or people making complex meals or dishes for the first time.
  • The Premium version offers content from a variety of experienced cooks.
  • The meal planner in the Premium version provides a week of delicious recipes and takes the stress out of planning.
Like Yummly, the premium version ($4.99/month) here is nice if you are serious about cooking, or want to be, but the free version offers all a more casual cook needs. However, the premium version does have weekly meal plans that would be worthwhile for folks who want to offload the time and energy spent on meal planning each week. 
Read SideChef's Full Review

Everything We Recommend

  • Our Pick
    Get the kitchen help you need to be a more confident cook all at your fingertips with Food Network Kitchen. When you sign up for a free account, you can stream on-demand cooking classes with Food Network stars, award-winning restaurant chefs, best-selling cookbook authors, culinary experts - and even some surprise celebrity guests! Search more than 80,000 trusted recipes for every cuisine and occasion imaginable, save your favorites in one place to access later, order ingredients delivered to your door when it's time to cook, and more. Download now and create your free account to make cooking fun again!

    Brush up on basics or master a new technique. Get inspired to try something new for dinner and know your next holiday meal or party will be a hit with the power of Food Network in your hand. Choose from thousands of recipes, tips, and classes taught by your favorite Food Network stars, award-winning chefs, and cookbook authors.

    With more than 80,000 trusted recipes, you’ll never be without a dish to cook. Save your favorites and access them across multiple devices at any time, no matter where you are — from the kitchen to the living room to the grocery store and beyond.

    Our meal planning tool makes it easy to find and build a meal plan that works for your household. Use what you already have in your fridge or get easy substitutions to save a trip to the store. You’ll find shortcuts, make-ahead tips, nutritional information, and more.

    Found something you want to make? Quickly add the ingredients from your favorite recipes to your shopping list; our tool will group and sort your ingredients by aisle. Take that list into the store, or have all the ingredients delivered to your door from a variety of retailers with the tap of a button.

    Download now and sign up for your free account to get started.

    Mobile network and WiFi charges may apply to your use of Food Network Kitchen. You must be 18 years or over to create a free account.

    By downloading and using this app, you are agreeing to the Food Network Kitchen Visitor Agreement:

    For more information about how we use your personal information, please see our Privacy Notice: By downloading this app, you acknowledge the terms of our Privacy Notice.

    This app uses tracking technologies to understand how users interact with our content and to help personalize our content for you. You can learn more by reading our Tracking Technologies Notice: By downloading this app, you agree to the use of tracking technologies as described in the Tracking Technologies Notice.

    California Privacy Notice:
    California Do Not Sell My Info:

    We may work with third-party advertising companies and other partners that help us deliver tailored advertisements to you. To opt-out of behavioral tracking on mobile devices, you may use the DAA AppChoices Tool, available at
    In-App Purchases
    $2.99 - $19.99 per item
    $2.99 - $19.99 per item
  • Runner Up

    Yummly Recipes & Cooking Tools

    4.5 Ratings 137K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Yummly is the smart cooking app that's all about YOU! With customizable meal plans, personalized recipe recommendations, smart shopping lists with optional grocery delivery and more, Yummly is here to help you conquer the kitchen, your way.

    Simplify mealtime with a mouth-watering selection of easy-to-follow recipes picked just for you, table-ready in 30 minutes or less. Shopping lists are created automatically, with optional grocery delivery to your door in available markets.

    Paid subscribers also get exclusive step-by-step recipes that include video tutorials, timers, and more handy tools that make cooking a breeze. With recipes designed for beginners to advanced cooks, you'll learn from the best, one recipe at a time.

    Like magic, Yummly learns from your favorite cuisines, saved recipes, and personal food preferences to suggest recipes just for you. Tell Yummly your diet needs and allergies, and you’ll only see recipes that work for you.

    Let Yummly do the heavy lifting for you! Our unique filters allow you to narrow your search by cook time, course, cuisine, occasion, diet, allergy, nutrition and more, so finding the perfect recipe is a snap!

    PLAN. SHOP. RELAX. ✅ 🛒 💆‍♀️
    Shopping is easy with a smart list that's always at your fingertips. Add ingredients from any recipe with a click, get suggestions based on your shopping history, then take your shopping list on the go or order groceries from local stores right from the app.*
    * Service available in select U.S. locations.

    Use your phone to scan ingredients you have on hand and save them to your virtual pantry. Choose from a variety of suggested recipes you can make today, and get reminders when food is about to expire.

    Saving your favorite recipes couldn’t be easier. Browse Yummly's collection of 2M+ recipes or use the Yummly bookmarklet to add recipes from anywhere on the web — then stash them for safekeeping in your own digital recipe box.

    With convenient app-based cooking assistance, timers, and alerts, you can be confident in your cooking — even when you're multitasking.

    ★ Special features ★:
    Schedule a recipe to the exact time you want to eat and it's instantly added to your calendar. You'll even get a gentle nudge when it's time to start cooking.
    Navigate hands-free through our step-by-step Guided Recipes with Yummly Voice Control. Just say "Hey Yummly" to activate voice commands so you can move through recipe steps, see ingredients, start timers, and more.

    Cook smarter with Yummly at your side! Certain features require a paid subscription.

    CA residents - Do Not Sell My Personal Information:
    In-App Purchases
    $0.99 - $29.99 per item
  • Also Groovy
    Brought to you by New York Times bestselling author Angela Liddon, The Oh She Glows Recipe App features the most popular fan-favorite plant-based recipes from the award-winning recipe blog, and stunning, vibrant food photography for every recipe. Angela has been creating healthy, veggie-packed recipes for almost 9 years, and she only shares recipes that are hits with her family, friends, and recipe testers, so you can be confident that the recipes in this collection will win over even the biggest skeptic. One thing is for sure, this healthy recipe app—named as one of the Apple App Store's Best of 2016—will have you glowing from the inside out and bursting with cooking inspiration!

    Enjoy over 160 mouth-watering plant-based recipes, including more than 140 gluten-free recipes and many exclusive app recipes not shared anywhere else. Be sure to check out the bundles page, where exciting recipe bundles—both free and paid—can be accessed. The Oh She Glows Recipe App will continually have new recipes added to it; each recipe that’s published on will also be uploaded to the app, so it will grow and grow.

    Recipes are in English & French language only.


    - Browse through beautiful full-screen high-resolution photography with tablet-optimized UI
    - Search for recipes with ease using ingredient keywords or by recipe title
    - Find detailed nutritional information available for each recipe located in the "tips" section
    - Filter your recipes based on dietary/allergy info, season, dish type, and more
    - Strikeout ingredients and directions as you cook so you don’t lose your place
    - Customize your own favorites list with your most-loved recipes
    - Add your own notes to the recipes if you make any changes
    - Take recipes with you on the go with convenient offline access
    - Cook without worry that your device will go to sleep with our anti-lock feature
    - Browse recipe thumbnails by category (e.g., view all breakfast recipe titles and photos in one spot)

    We hope you enjoy cooking with the Oh She Glows - Healthy Plant-Based Recipes app. For any questions please feel free to email us at, and we are happy to help!

    From our kitchen to yours,

    The Liddon Family
    In-App Purchases
    $0.99 per item
    $0.99 - $ree per item
    SideChef’s 18,000 step-by-step recipes help you get from “what’s for dinner?” to cooking your next meal in just minutes. Filter by diet and preferences, search by ingredients, create a grocery list, and instantly shop ingredients on Walmart and Amazon Fresh. Called “best app” by USA Today and the New York Times’s “favorite cooking app,” SideChef empowers you to eat healthier, save money, and live your most delicious life.
    Quickly find recipe inspiration tailored to your specific preferences. Filter by dietary requirements, allergies, food preferences, and ingredients you already have at home to find a recipe you like in less than one minute.

    Easily create a grocery list, and shop ingredients directly through Walmart and Amazon Fresh (U.S. only). Ingredients are intelligently matched to in-store products, and updated with real-time prices and availability. Make smarter decisions by seeing the percentage of each ingredient used in a recipe – an easy way to plan for leftovers and minimize food waste, while also saving money.

    New to cooking? Our step-by-step recipes include an image or video at every cooking step so you know exactly what to do. Built-in timers ensure you never overcook anything again, while how-to videos teach you valuable culinary skills – from how to properly dice an onion, to how to press tofu. Rate recipes, upload photos, exchange tips, and share cooking fails and successes with the SideChef home cooking community.

    Use our meal planning tool to select recipes for the week, or save appealing recipes to your cookbook. Browse thousands of curated recipe collections and meal plans for more inspiration and ideas on what you’ll cook next.

    Remotely control your compatible smart appliances with 2,000+ CookAssist-enabled smart recipes. Compatible brands include: LG, GE, and Bosch Home Connect brands including Thermador and Gaggenau. Simply link your devices and start cooking.

    Personalized recipe recommendations for these diets and allergens: Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Low-Carb, Paleo, Keto, Gluten, Egg, Dairy, Soy, Peanut, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish
    Recipes cover a variety of cuisines: American, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, French, and more! Browse recipes from your favorite culinary influencers – top food bloggers, writers, and renowned chefs.

    “Favorite cooking app” – New York Times

    ”Best App of 2017” – Google Play

    “It’s not just recipes, it does everything for you” – The Today Show

    ”SideChef has become a game-changer in the crowded space of cooking apps” – Forbes

    ”Best Cooking App” – Tom’s Guide

    SideChef is free to download and use. Should you choose to upgrade to SideChef Premium, we offer an auto-renewing subscription option at a price of $4.99 USD / month or $49.99 USD / year.

    By downloading and using this app or purchasing a SideChef Premium subscription, you are agreeing to the SideChef terms of use and service:

    For more information about how we use your personal data, please see our Privacy Policy: By downloading this app, you acknowledge the terms of our Privacy Policy. App icon
    In-App Purchases
    $0.99 - $49.99 per item
    $4.99 - $49.99 per item
Compare All Apps

The 411 from our Appventurer

Caroline Rothnie
Written by:

Caroline Rothnie

Hard as I try to keep a minimalist phone, I can't stop downloading more apps. In addition to my can't-live-without apps for organization, music and podcasts, fitness, and meditation, I'm constantly trying out new ones. So I love apps, but it's a complicated relationship -- some of my favorites are for keeping me off my phone/internet.

In second grade, I attempted to do a book report on a story I had written myself, so you could say I've always thought of myself as a writer. These days, I write a wide variety of web content with a focus on mental health and productivity. I also write personal essays. I live in Kansas with my husband and two dogs. 

Best Dinner Recipe Apps for Special Occasions 2021



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