Blue Apron Review: See How the Popular Service Holds Up in 2023
With great steak and seafood recipes for as little as $8 or $9 a serving, Blue Apron hits the spot for meal kits. Read our Blue Apron review and decide for yourself.
Updated June 5, 2023 2:35 p.m. PT
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David WatskySenior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's logged more than a decade writing about all things edible, including meal kits and meal delivery subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gear and commerce. Since earning a BA in English from Northeastern in Boston, he's toiled in nearly every aspect of the eats business from slicing and dicing as a sous-chef in Rhode Island to leading complex marketing campaigns for major food brands in Manhattan. These days, he's likely somewhere trying the latest this or tasting the latest that - and reporting back, of course. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
ExpertiseKitchen tech, cookware, small appliances, food innovation, meal delivery and meal kits.
Some meal kit services go for broke with high-end cuisine, pricey all-organic ingredients and sophisticated recipes. Others try to keep you from going broke with budget-friendly meal kits that cost as little as $5 a serving but keep the recipes and ingredients simple. If you're looking for a meal kit service that splits the difference, it's Blue Apron.
Blue Apron is one of the original meal kit services and has learned a thing or two in its decade-plus in business. The handy meal delivery service has weekly menus of meal kit recipes that feel special without busting your food budget. Meal kit options include tender steak and fresh seafood dinners -- both of which are offered in a basic Blue Apron meal plan -- along with super quick oven-ready meals that rival your favorite restaurant takeout.
And Blue Apron makes a tempting offer to new customers with a full $110 off your first five weeks of meals. (For more discounts, see the best meal delivery deals happening now.) For more on Blue Apron, read on to see why this category trailblazer remains the best meal kit service in 2023.
How Blue Apron works
If you've used any meal kit service, Blue Apron operates quite similarly to most others in the category -- a category it kicked off, I might add. You'll start by plugging in your email and selecting a plan. Blue Apron meal plans are simple and straightforward: You can choose meals for two or four people and either two, three or four recipes per week. Meals get cheaper the more you order.
Meal kits include everything you need to make dinner (besides salt, pepper and cooking oil) and are then delivered on a day of your choosing, other than Sunday. Remember, this is a subscription, so if you don't pause or cancel, meals will come every week and you'll be charged for them. If you don't select the recipes manually through the website or app, Blue Apron will choose meals for you based on your initial plan.
Ordering and changing orders through the app is easy
You can do just about anything you need through the Blue Apron app, including changing and canceling orders, tracking your shipments and logging points if you're using the integrated Weight Watchers program. Between the website interface and mobile app, Blue Apron makes it easy to skip weeks, change out recipes or pause your subscription. Any changes must be made six days before the next delivery date.
Choosing meals with Blue Apron
There are roughly 16 meal kits to choose from per week if you select the Signature Meal Plan, which encompasses all recipes. Of those 16, one or two are premium meals and feature a higher-end cut of steak, premium seafood or duck breast, and will incur an added cost. Roughly three of the 15 meals are plant-based, so if you choose the Vegetarian Plan, those will be your only options. Four or five of the 16 meals fall under the Wellness category.
How much does Blue Apron cost?
If you're a couple looking for two, three or four recipes per week, Blue Apron meals break down to $10 or $12 a serving. Choose recipes for four people -- good for families and those looking for leftovers to eat throughout the week -- and the price per serving starts at $8 a serving for four meal kits. Order three or two meal kit recipes for four people and it'll be more like $9 a serving. Shipping is another $10 per box, no matter which plan you choose.
Blue Apron pricing
Recipes per week
Meals for 2*
Meals for 4*
*price per serving
What Blue Apron meals are like
Most Blue Apron meals are fairly healthy, with lean proteins, fresh vegetables and healthy grains. If you want to splurge a little, there's always a pasta dish or two, along with comfort foods such as meatloaf with mashed potatoes or French bread pizza.
Blue Apron's standard weekly menu includes recipes that other meal kit services would classify as premium. There is often a steak recipe or some fish like trout, salmon or tilapia. Of all the services I've tested, Blue Apron also had the most interesting steak and seafood recipes available in the standard plan. I cooked an excellent bavette steak and a memorable garlic shrimp dish, both of which cost less through Blue Apron than they would have if I bought the ingredients myself.
Blue Apron incorporates interesting spice mixes, sauces and side dishes that you might not find with other meal kit services. Photogenic Romanesco broccoli is paired with tofu Banh Mi sandwiches, for instance, or a pan-seared steak dish is served with crispy gnocchi instead of been-there-done-that mashed potatoes.
How easy are Blue Apron meals to prepare?
Blue Apron meals are mostly easy to prepare and don't require any fancy cooking training or prolonged kitchen experience. Some more involved recipes like the mushroom risotto take up to 45 minutes, but most are between 25 and 35 minutes from start to finish.
Oven-ready meals require about 5-10 minutes of work
The oven-ready meals are the fastest to prepare and usually require only combining ingredients into a baking tray and sticking the whole thing in the oven to cook. My Thai coconut curry chicken meal with rice and green beans took no more than five minutes of actual labor, and then another 45 to cook.
In a previous round of testing, I tried Blue Apron's Super Bowl meal kit recipes, which were meant for a group, so some of those took a bit longer, such as the chicken bacon ranch flatbread pizza. Others from the Super Bowl spread, including the spinach and artichoke dip and steak lettuce wraps, took less than 25 minutes to whip up.
What I cooked and how it went
I tried nine Blue Apron recipes in total. Three were from the current Signature Meal and three are from a previous test of standard recipes in 2022. I also tested three of Blue Apron's special Super Bowl menus from January 2022.
In all three deliveries, my Blue Apron box arrived undamaged with everything neatly packaged. Produce, fish, meat and other ingredients all seemed fresh, except for one red pepper that had some signs that it was past its prime -- but was still very much usable. Nothing was missing, although Blue Apron had made one replacement swapping flank steaks for bistro steaks to ensure a timely delivery. The customer service team even notified me of the change beforehand via email. Spoiler alert: The flank steaks were superb.
The Super Bowl recipes included some added information from the beer cosponsor Stella Artois. Other than that, everything appeared as it should be and I was ready to get the cooking underway.
Bavette steak with caper aioli, potatoes and kale: This dish turned out wonderfully and felt like such a bargain for the per-serving price. The steak, which I must modestly admit I cooked perfectly, was restaurant quality: tender, flavorful and not the least bit tough or stringy.
Chicken thighs in Thai peanut curry with rice and greens beans (oven-ready meal): This meal required about five minutes of prep -- mostly putting all the ingredients in the aluminum tray -- and then baking for 45 minutes. I feared the green beans would be mushy, but they weren't. The rice, however, was a tad softer than I like it so I would probably pull back the cooking time on this one to about 40 minutes.
Garlic shrimp over Spanish-style potatoes: This was the fastest meal to make, and also one of my favorites. It wasn't overly heavy but plenty filling. It was full of fresh garlic and toasty spice.
Gochujang steak lettuce cups: This one was also tasty and easy as heck. The steak was tender and the Gochujang (a sweet and spicy Korean barbecue sauce) was a total smash. It took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.
Shawarma cauliflower grain bowls: I liked this recipe. Any time a recipe can make me forget I'm eating something healthy, I call it a big success and that's what happened here. It did take a solid 35 minutes to prepare, but well worth it and the portions were plentiful.
Pan-seared scallops with capers, pickled peppers and orange salsa (premium meal): If this recipe sounds like a chaotic mess of competing flavors all jousting for dominance, that's because it was. It's a clear-cut example of one of Blue Apron's big swings but it was a swing and a miss for me. On the bright side, the scallops were fresh. On the flip side, I ruined fresh scallops.
Super Bowl recipes
Chicken, bacon and ranch pizza: This recipe took a little longer to prepare since you had to cook the chicken and bacon first, assemble the pizza and cook it again, but it was worth it. The result was like something you'd get at a gastropub or upscale sports bar. Perfect game-day food.
Spinach and artichoke dip with pita bread: I'm a sucker for "spin dip" and this version delivered, plus it was simple to make, creamy and tangy with a nice balance of ingredients. I liked that I could add salt to taste because sometimes premade or restaurant dips are too salty for me.
Chorizo quesadillas: Another crowd favorite, but certainly not WW-approved. I liked this game-day dish, although it was a tad greasy and heavy in the end.
Who should try Blue Apron?
Blue Apron meal kits are great for families since the price per serving drops to $8 a portion if you choose four recipes for four. With a Weight Watchers integration built into the menus and app, it's a good choice for someone following that plan (but not for most other diets). It's also generally a good meal kit service for anyone looking to cut corners at dinner or improve their cooking skills. The recipes are elevated, yet easy to prepare and offer good value.
There are probably better meal kits available for someone who eats vegetarian. Purple Carrot is one obvious option since it offers 100% plant-based (and delicious) meal kits. But even non-vegan kit services such as Sunbasket and Green Chef have more and better options for meat-free dishes in their weekly menus.
Blue Apron Market
Blue Apron also has a gourmet market where you can purchase cooking supplies including spice mixes, cookware, gadgets, wine bundles and gear. Prices from the market are fairly reasonable. And yes, you can definitely buy a blue Blue Apron apron.
For an extra $66 a month (includes shipping), you can score six bottles of wine that are chosen to pair with your Blue Apron recipes. You can select red, white or a mix of both depending on your existing preferences. I have yet to try Blue Apron's wine selections.
Packaging and environmental friendliness
In my initial review of Blue Apron, I thought there was room for improvement when it came to single-use plastic and overall waste. In this latest test, I found a marked improvement with not nearly as much superfluous plastic wrapping.
The final verdict
The 2023 version of Blue Apron is the best so far. Not only is the weekly menu full of easy and interesting recipes, but it has the most options for steak and fresh seafood without having to pay a premium. I liked nearly all of the nine recipes I made, though some were better than others, and only one felt like a dud.
Blue Apron offers some of the most sophisticated recipes you can get at a budget-friendly price. Outside of premium meals, the most you'll pay is $10 or $12 a serving and if you order enough servings for a family of four, it's more like $8 per serving. There are cheaper meal kit services out there, like Dinnerly and EveryPlate, but neither have recipes as interesting or refined as Blue Apron.
The ordering process was simple and the ingredients arrived on time and in good condition. If you're a Blue Apron subscriber, it's also comforting to know that you're using the most environmentally friendly of the major meal kit services. If you're looking to try meal kits to switch from your current service, Blue Apron makes it easy and cheap, with a deal good for $110 total off your first few deliveries.
In the end, the original meal kit service proved itself anything but stale. I say give this old dog a shot.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.