Before you hit the download plugin button, learn what exactly a plugin does for a website, then learn which are the Top WordPress Plugins for Food Bloggers!
It is so easy to enhance your food blog by using plugins to add extra functionality to your website. But there are *literally* thousands of WordPress plugins out there, so how do you even being to choose?
Before we jump right into the list of top plugins, you might be wondering what you need a plugin for. If you’ve never fully understood what a plugin does for a WordPress website, let me break it down for you.
What is a plugin?
A plugin essentially adds extra functionality or features to a WordPress website without having to manually code those same features into the theme.
The list of features that can be added to a WordPress website are endless, but some general functions that plugins help many site owners (including food bloggers, business owners, etc.) achieve are things like:
- social icons for sharing and following
- e-commerce capabilities to sell both physical and digital products
- track and display analytics through Google Analytics
- create contact forms
- add recipe cards
- display an Instagram feed
The list goes on and on!
What You Need to Know About Plugins
Here’s the deal. Remember that quote from Spiderman about power and responsibility? If you’re going to use plugins, there are a few things you need to know (and be responsible for!)
Plugins have to be updated
That little circle with the number 27 next to it next to your Plugins menu on your WordPress dashboard is actually not just a suggestion.
Not updating plugins can cause huge issues. When a plugin update goes out, that tells potential hackers where there is a vulnerability in that old version of the plugin and they can use that as a way to take your entire site down.
Recently this happened to a past client of mine. Luckily it was caught before they did permanent damage. But when I saw how many plugins weren’t up to date and her WordPress version was outdated, I was pretty certain that was the cause!
Moral of the story: keep your plugins updated!
Sometimes waiting a day or two before a plugin is updated is a good idea in case there are issues with the update — however I know a lot of people tend to ignore this notification for far too long.
Search for reputable plugins that are compatible with the most recent version of WordPress
When looking for a plugin, look for one that has been updated recently (meaning, it hasn’t been 1+ years since it was updated), compatible with your version of WordPress, and has relatively good reviews. Take these reviews with a grain of salt because people are definitely salty on the internet.
Pro tip: When I’m searching for a plugin, I love looking at the screenshots of the plugin to see what the interface will be like!
Top WordPress Plugins for Food Bloggers
Here is a list of top plugins for food bloggers, including which I use for my own food blog and my clients’ websites!
Each of these plugins are ones I have personally used and can vouch for! Some of these links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase one of these plugins, I’ll receive a commission – at no extra cost to you!
Top Recipe Card Plugins
On the list of non-negotiable plugins for food bloggers, a recipe card is one of them. Having a recipe card not only helps your recipe content to stand out within your blog post, it also adds functionality like being able to print the recipe, rate it, and see nutrition information. It also provides vital information to Google and Pinterest about your content, sharing that it is a recipe and allowing Google or Pinterest to mark it up as such.
There are three recipe card plugins that I highly recommend and either personally use or have managed on my food blogger client’s websites.
Create by Mediavine
Create by Mediavine is the latest player in the recipe card world and it’s quite amazing! This free recipe card plugin from Mediavine (an advertising network) has all the bells and whistles of other premium plugins but it’s completely free.
Even though it’s a free plugin, it’s maintained and run like a premium plugin would be because it’s managed through a larger company that has the resources to provide ongoing support and maintenance to the plugin.
- Free (but still with all the bells and whistles!)
- Lightweight plugin optimized for speed
- Optimized for SEO with Full Google Rich Snippet support
- Integrates well with ads
- 5 design template options available
- Nutrition calculator built in
- Schema mark up for other types of content like how-to crafts, list round ups, etc.
- Facebook group for support as well as dedicated support team
- Start Ratings are separate from blog post comments– I say this as a pro AND con because the pro is that people who are not a fan of leaving comments can rate your recipe still
- Video integration
- Recommended products (with affiliate links) can be linked directly in the recipe card
- Nutrition info is auto calculated and cannot be changed to specify ingredients. This has been an issue sometimes for my own recipes, where actual calculations are wildly different!
- Start Ratings are separate from blog post comments — I say this as a con because it is not in as obvious of a place as it is within the actual comment box.
- Does not have recipe scaling
- Jump to recipe buttons are not featured (would require advanced development to add them)
Even with its small quirks, this is the recipe card of choice when I’m setting up a new recipe plugin for a client.
WP Recipe Maker
The WP Recipe Maker plugin has been around for much longer than Create. I personally haven’t used it on my own site, but have managed it for many clients and done many customizations to it. It’s a fairly easy to use plugin, although I’ve found my clients have struggled with customizing it or understanding some of the settings and features on it, since it is a pretty robust plugin.
There is a free version of this plugin but most of my clients have opted for the premium version. The premium version displays a nutrition label, which has been important to my clients for SEO purposes. I personally wouldn’t recommend the free version because it lacks some top priority features. If you like this plugin, I would definitely recommend upgrading!
- Free version
- Optimized for SEO with Full Google Rich Snippet support
- Semi-customizable templates for recipe card
- Recipe card ad support (this is dependent on the ad network and its ad placement settings)
- Recipe scaling
- Support replies within 24 hours
- With the paid version ($99/yr), you can show extra fields like Weight Watcher Points, add a call to action button below the recipe card to share on Instagram and more.
- Video integration
- Build in jump to recipe buttons that can be toggled on
- Free version does not include nutrition label – only allows you to show calories.
- Templates can be difficult to update and manage (I’ve managed this for many clients who have found it to be overwhleming to DIY)
- Paid version is a yearly subscription which can be a negative for those just getting started.
When Tasty Recipes came out it made a big splash in the food blog world because it was designed by the team of Food Blogger Pro/Pinch of Yum. The plugin was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Pinch of Yum blog, so it really does check all the boxes.
- Easy to import from previous recipe cards
- JSON-LD structured data for SEO (supported by both Pinterest and Google)
- Recipe scaling
- Video integration
- Star ratings
- Complete nutrition info
- 5 themes to choose from
- The Bold and Fresh Recipe Card themes have a call to action to share on Instagram built into the template.
- Paid plugin ($79/yr)
- To use an advanced nutrition label, a separate monthly subscription to Nutrifox is required. Without this, the nutrition information has to be calculated and inputted manually.
- At one point the plugin required you to upload a separate CSS file in order to use certain styles of recipe cards. It appears they no longer do this, but at one point it was a headache!
As you can see, my preference definitely leans towards Create as it has the most features and is totally free. However, Tasty Recipes would be my second pick!
WordPress Plugins for Social Media
There used to be a few competitors in this arena, but after a fairly big scandal with Social Warfare a few months back, Social Pug is really the most used plugin for social sharing.
There is a free version of Social Pug as well as paid. I personally think the paid version is well worth it, because it allows you to customize the colors of your social sharing to make it on brand. Which of course, I love as a designer 🙂
The paid version also allows you to set a specific image and description for social media and Pinterest which is invaluable!
Tasty Pins is a favorite for setting a specific Pinterest image, hiding a Pinterest image within your blog post and setting a specific alt text for SEO and Pinterest description.
While this is a fave plugin and one that is fairly affordable ($29/yr), it is just not something I ever felt I needed because I already had most of the settings within Social Pug.
Simple Social Icons
Simple Social Icons by Studiopress is my favorite lightweight plugin for social following. It works with the Genesis framework and allows you to easily add social follow buttons to different widget areas on your site.
Email Marketing Plugins
Once I switched from Mailchimp to Convertkit, I pretty much switched to using their plugin for managing my opt in forms. This plugin is super easy to use and allows you to easily control which form is displayed within every blog post, directly through the blog post editor.
If you’re using Convertkit, this Popups plugin wouldn’t be necessary, but if you are looking to create popups for a different email provider or without using the Convertkit plugin, this one is easy to use!
Genesis eNews Extended
The Genesis eNews Extended plugin is great for those who are using the Genesis framework. This plugin allows you to connect pretty much any email list provider and is easy to style with a few lines of CSS.
SEO & Site Optimization
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
I love this plugin because it allows you to install your Google Analytics tracking code to your website easily plus you can see your analytics directly on your dashboard. This has been super helpful during traffic spikes or when traffic dips to see that on my blog and then head to Google Analytics to see what’s going on.
A VERY important note here about this plugin or any plugin for Google Analytics. Make sure that you do not have your analytics tracking code installed twice on your site when using a plugin like this.
The Yoast plugin for SEO really is the top dog in SEO plugins for bloggers. I know there is at least one other that is used, but the number of people using Yoast completely blows that number out of the water.
This plugin is super easy to use and helps you to make sure your on page SEO is strong for individual blog posts.
The premium version of the plugin also has amazing features like internal linking tracking and orphaned post tracking (posts that haven’t been linked to from other content on your blog).
This plugin has a handful of tools for site performance and optimization. If you’re interested in reducing your page load speed and optimizing your blog, WP Rocket is a must!
One thing all food bloggers have is lots and lots of images! These images, when they aren’t properly optimized, can weigh down your site speed like crazy. Short Pixel optimized images without reducing quality and allows your blog posts to load quickly!
If you update old content regularly to republish it, this plugin is a game changer! Revisionize allows you to revise blog content in a draft without disturbing the live content, then allows you to override the old draft and republish the new version of the content!
Broken Links Checker
I absolutely love this plugin for looking through old content for broken links. If you’ve ever done a round up, I can almost guarantee you’ll have at least one broken link on your website. Chances are you’ll have many more than this though! The Broken Links Checker plugin does the hard work of looking at your broken links and allowing you to easily replace the links with the corrected link.
This plugin significantly cuts down on your spam comments on your blog. Highly recommend setting this one up!
I love the Content Views plugin for creating grids of blog posts. It’s also a great one for creating a visual recipe index or popular posts page.
Instagram Feed by Smashballoon
This is my favorite for showcasing your Instagram feed on your blog.
WP Editorial Calendar
Personally I’ve always just used Google Calendar, but many food blogger friends of mine love this plugin!
Food bloggers, what are YOUR must have plugins? Leave them in the comments!
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