Brownies on Allrecipes
By Cole Stryker and Tess Lynch

Welcome to Urlesque's guide to community-based cooking websites. We'll kick things off with my four favorite sites and then a field guide to the kind of annoying users you'll meet on them, in the vein of Monday's field guide to Yelp.
Cooking With the Social Web
  • Allrecipes, which you may have seen in a recent Google Chrome ad, is currently the biggest of community-based recipe sites and a good starting point.
  • (my personal favorite), is basically the same thing as Allrecipes. It's a smaller community, but the interface is much slicker, with big shiny buttons and pages that don't bombard you with a ton of copy.

    (Editor's Note: Literally while I typed this, Recipezaar started redirecting to, a Food Channel affiliate, with a subhead reading, "Formerly Recipezaar." You heard it here first!)
  • Epicurious isn't nearly as big, but it is carefully curated with content from Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines, meaning that you're getting recipes from professional chefs, not just someone's grandma.
  • Nibbledish has lots of beautiful photos and a more minimalist design. It's also refreshingly free of long lists of stupid SEO keywords, which make it stand out among every other cooking site.
A Letter from Tess Lynch to the Recipe Reviewers
I enlisted the help of Tess Lynch, noted California gurl and food blogger, to help me come up with a field guide to 15 people you'll meet while browsing social recipe sites. Take it away Tess, with an open letter to these Julia Child wannabes:

You were right when you said that thing about there being too much sauce. And you were definitely right when you called that flax-seed bake "too textural" or when you guided us via your five-star rating to the best boeuf bourguignon on the world wide web.

But when you shared your thoughts on how this recipe negatively affected your insanely strict diet, or when you spared nary a word on what this chili did to your husband's stomach, you crossed a line: you are now mistaking a recipe for an invitation to a campfire chat.

Don't misunderstand, I too split the bottle of Pinot between the stock and my gullet! The problem comes when you start canoeing the murky chasm between a review and an op-ed piece on your dinner.

And now, a rogues gallery of the home chefs you'll run into on these community-based recipe sites, followed by a handy guide to the best places to find them.
The Foodie
Every inconvenient recipe contains truffle oil
Be sure the label says "100% Fertilized With Peruvian Calf Manure." Trust me, it's worth it!
The Unrealistic Dieter
Calls spray butter "I Can't Believe"
Normally most people use sour cream, but I've found non-fat yogurt tastes just as good.
The Allergic Annie
Can't eat anything worth eating
My Vegan Fair Trade Flourless Gluten-Free Lactose-Free Nut-Free Fat-Free Peanut Butter Bites are anything but Fun-Free!
The Guilty Glutton
Snack-loathing while self-loathing
Cookies are my thighs' worst nightmare! Of course I lack the emotional courage to stop at five, so I ate the whole baker's dozen...once the divorce goes through, I'm throwing in caramel chips and doubling the recipe! LOL!
The Sweetened Condensed Milk Enthusiast
Only uses things "found in your pantry" to create entrees out of white goop
The best thing about this chipped beef and cream casserole is, you don't have to leave the house. Just venture into your basement stash of dried milk and dehydrated jerky that you've been keeping for the apocalypse, microwave while you watch in your bathrobe and eat in a dark room with the blinds drawn. Don't forget the cream of mushroom soup...or else.
The Jokester
Peppers each recipe with non-jokes
1. Pour 1 cup red wine 2. Drink rest of wine while you watch General Hospital 4. Add tomato sauce
The Depressed Housewife
Everything is about MommyofFive's beloved Dear Hubby and brood
The last time I made this recipe my DH actually thanked me for dinner. Even my kids finished dinner with clean plates all around. Imagine that!
The Ingredient Switcher
Pans recipes after she's switched up every ingredient
I hated this recipe! I followed the instructions to a 'T' but instead of white flour I used corn starch and I swapped the honey for chili powder. It was terrible!
The Drumroll
You won't believe the secret ingredient!
It's always ketchup. I KNOW RIGHT!!!
The Crestfallen
Eating a bad dinner can be a lot like dying of consumption
I think I have recovered enough to tell you about the crawfish. My wife was the first to taste it: a strange metallic undertone. My daughter pushed her plate away and ran to her room, slamming the door behind her. I looked at my hands, ripped to shreds by all of those wretched exoskeletons. There was blood everywhere. My daughter won't speak to me. It hurts to type. Do not try this recipe, it's also kind of bland.
The Simpleton
Can't decode the directions for pasta
This recipe is SO confusing. First of all, how big is a medium-sized pot? The ingredients didn't list water. When they say a pound of chicken, do they mean the food or the animal? I had to give up and eat sour cream from the carton :(
The Empty Nest
When the kids moved out, so did the will to live
The best thing about this recipe is that when it says it makes two portions, it really means two! Since the kids left to begin their busy lives which keep them unable to visit or talk on the phone, the hub and I have been eating cottage cheese and not talking to each other while we stand in the kitchen. It's much better to not talk over a small, home-cooked meal while seated at a table.
The Life-Changing Scone
Was it the candlelight? That waiter? Or could it have been the life-changing scones?
WOW. I'm sitting here speechless at what miracles I performed at dinner tonight. WHERE has this recipe been? The asparagus was a revelation. I tasted the minnows that had once flicked around this wild, reckless rice as it grew through crystal-clear waters. You have to try this recipe! Oh God, if you don't try this recipe, I'm not even sure what I'll do.
The Party Planner
Only cooks in a crock pot
These pulled pork sammies will have your little sports fans hungry for more. Contains my secret ingredient: A full can of Dr. Pepper!
The Speedy Gonzalez
Feels personally responsible for the unfair passage of time spent cooking
Why waste time chopping lettuce? Put it in the blender. Who can wait for an egg to cook? Crank your car's vents up and poach while you drive. The worst thing about this marinade? I couldn't sleep because I was busy marinating!