Importing Recipes to Pepperplate

I was looking at cloud based recipe sites with a good iPad app recently and decided on Pepperplate. The iPad app looks great and they have really good options for importing recipes from over 20 cooking related sites. There’s also a great browser bookmarklet to make the importing of web based recipes simple.

July 2013 Update – After hosting the PepperIn utility for over a year for free on CloudFoundry, VMware ended the free beta period on June 30, 2013. Thanks to VMware for the free use of their great service. I found a new home for the service and with AppFog. The original URL for PepperIn,, should now redirect you to the new AppFog host,

However, I have a library of over 300 recipes in a Word document that I’d like to import and they don’t have the ability to import from a text or XML file so I’ve written a web tool called PepperIn to do bulk import of recipes to Pepperplate.

Warning: I expect PepperIn will stop working at some point in the future for a couple of reasons: (1) It is dependent upon the layout of the Pepperplate website and I’m sure at some point they’ll make changes to this for one reason or another that will stop PepperIn from being able to add recipes; and (2) PepperIn is being hosted on VMware’s CloudFoundry service which is currently in beta and even better – it’s free! At some point I’m sure VMware will start charging for this service and I’m not sure I want to pay to keep this site up.

Another Warning: I’ve used CloudFoundry to host several other apps (for Grails and Java apps it’s great) and they provided limited resources to these apps during their beta.  As a result, I’ve noticed that if you browse to a site that hasn’t been accessed for a while, you can get connection errors. If this happens, wait a minute or so and re-try.  I suspect that they are spinning apps up and down based upon demand.

Formatting Recipes for Importing

Pepperplate provides about nine fields of information for each recipe and Title is the only required field. In addition to Title, this import tool also supports  Ingredients, Instructions and Categories (although Pepperplate allows multiple categories per recipe, I currently only support one category). To import your recipes, you’ll have to do some reformatting on your Word or text file. I used the Microsoft Word Macro feature to record macros that would make the formatting changes required to do the import.

Here’s an example a single recipe in the required format:

<title>POTATO SOUP</title>
<ingredients>5# white potatoes
1 cube butter
2 lg. onions
salt and pepper
2 cans evaporated milk
Johnnie’s Garlic Spread and Seasoning</ingredients>
<instructions>Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces. Place potatoes and chopped onions in large pot and cover with water to 1/2″ above vegetables. Add milk, butter and seasoning and bring to boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add instant potatoes, if necessary, to thicken.</instructions>

You can .

Import Steps Summary:

1. Format your recipes as described above

2. If the document is in Word format, save it as a txt file and make sure you check the Allow Character Substitution option in the save as dialog box.

3. Open the PepperIn web page in your browser and choose the Import Recipes link.

4. Enter your Pepperplate login email and password and the cut and paste your recipes into the Recipe field.

5. Select Import in the lower left and your recipes should start showing up in Pepperplate.

Please add a comment below if you have a question.


Thanks to CloudFoundry for hosting the PepperIn tool for free and to Pepperplate for developing a great app. This project was written in Grails 2.0 using HTMLUnit.

15 thoughts on “Importing Recipes to Pepperplate

  1. Hmm. I was trying to use the site, but i am getting a file not found error. I know that you posted this a couple of days ago, but have they already taken the link or service down??

    • Yes, I found a few bugs and will try to have it back up in the next couple of days. Will post anupdate here when it’s back online. -Greg

  2. Greg,
    Has this app been removed or is there now an alternative? I’d really like to get my wife’s huge MC recipes into pepperplate. Thanks for any help.

  3. This sounds fantastic. I am anxious to give it a try. However, the cloudfoundry link posted here in the comments is no longer working…any updates?


      • Greg,
        Thanks so much for this…it works really great! I finally managed to give it a test run on a small import and it was beautiful.

        I am managing cocktail recipes with it and use the notes filed to document the tools, glass and garnish for each drink. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to add the functionality to the script to also import the “notes” field with the recipes too.

        Fingers crossed that adding this function would be as simple as adding a “” and “” line of code to the hosted script..

        Could I ask you to add this functionality to the importing script? It would be a HUGE help.


  4. So excited to try this but the URL does not work. Then I found the post above from a few months ago in 5/2013 and saw a new link….but it no longer works either? Is there an update? would love to be able to switch my over 700 recipes to use Pepper Plate…..Thanks so much!!!

    • I’ve been hosting this on the VMware CloudFoundry service which has been free for the past two years. On June 30, 2013, VMware stopped offering the service for free and I am looking for alternatives. I hope to have an alternative in the coming weeks.

  5. Hi Greg – is your import tool currently functional? I just get the blinking icon and no recipes imported. I tried your sample potato soup recipe as a test case and got the same result. Thanks!

  6. Sadly, the service seems to no longer be available. I have several hundred recipes in a structured format I’d love to import. Is there any chance you could post the code so I could hack something together for a one off exercise?

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