Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service. Every week, they send seasonal recipes created by their culinary team with the pre-measured ingredients needed to make them at home.
This is a review of the 2-person, 2-meal subscription plan ($9.99 per serving + $7.99 shipping, or $47.95 per week).
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Blue Apron
The Subscription Box: Blue Apron
The Cost: You can choose from a 2-serving plan or a four-serving plan.
For the 2-serving plan (Signature, Weight Watchers Freestyle, or Vegetarian):
- $47.95 ($9.99 per serving + $7.99 shipping) for 2 meals per week, or
- $59.94 ($9.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for the 3 meals per week.
For the 4-serving plan (for families, get-togethers, or meal-prep):
- Starts at $71.92 ($8.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for 2 meals per week,
- $95.88 ($7.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for 3 meals per week,
- $119.84 ($7.49 per serving + FREE shipping) for 4 meals per week.
The Products: Fresh ingredients and recipes for delicious, chef-inspired meals at home.
Ships to: The U.S. only.
November 2019 Blue Apron Review
My July delivery featured a pretty cool box redesign, but for the months following (including this one), things are back to business as usual. I'd really like to see the updated design make another appearance, but who knows what the future holds.
It's back to the big silver cooler bag we go, which seals shut at the top with a little bit of adhesive. The top flaps are easy enough to pull apart. Inside, we find this month's ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, a lot of them come labeled in bags, but you have to check out the recipe cards to know which meal they go to. Smaller items like butter or sauces come in a “knick knack” bag so they don’t get lost in the shuffle, and those bags are also labeled with the coordinating recipe title. Those plastic bags are the same as the ones larger ingredients come in, and they are also recyclable. A cardboard divider separates the ingredients from a nest of ice packs at the bottom of the box where the proteins (and this month, rice cakes) rest, which is how they typically arrive.
Meal #1: Korean-Style Fire Chicken with Rice Cakes & Bok Choy
Calories per serving (as prepared): 630
Total cook time according to Blue Apron: 35 minutes
Actual time: 57 minutes
A tip from me to you: before storing everything in the fridge, I recommend taking a minute to gather all the ingredients and place them in individual grocery bags per recipe so everything stays together and nothing gets lost.
My Blue Apron experience last month wasn't the best, so this was more than just a normal delivery—this was redemption! I am wild about Korean food, particularly anything with rice cakes and gochujang, so I'll admit, my hopes were already high:
To get started, I rinsed and dried the bok choy and scallions. The prep work is where I tacked on all the extra minutes due to how tediously I peeled and minced the ginger and garlic. It didn't help that in my typical fashion, I included 5 cloves of garlic instead of two. Clockwise, you can see my mound of garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions in a bowl together, the hollow ends of the scallions in another bowl, the sugar, soy sauce, 1 cup of water, and all of the gochujang combined, and the bok choy roughly chopped and separated as well. Was it ambitious to include all of the gochujang? Absolutely. I both admire and fear the stuff, but what's life without a little spice?
The recipe said to heat a medium-sized non-stick pan with a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high heat until hot, but my gut told me to go with a large pan instead. There was much to be mixed together in this dish! I dried both sides of the chicken with a paper towel, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and let it cook in the pan for close to 10 minutes rather than the suggested 3-4 because my stove is moody and often needs extra time to ensure meats reach a safe cooking temperature. Once finished, I transferred the chicken to a plate.
To the same pan with all the beautiful fond that formed, I drizzled in a bit more olive oil before adding the aromatics and nearly the entire provided packet of red pepper flakes. This is a mistake I make often—my spice tolerance is about average, but I get risky with the RPF and it almost always ends in pain for me. Anyway, this blend heated through for about 2 minutes, culminating in a spicy, bright fragrance. To that mixture, I added the tomato paste for another 2 minutes, followed by the sauce I whisked up earlier.
At this point, I tossed in the rice cakes and bok choy stems with some salt and pepper. It didn't take long for everything to get tender and for the sauce to thicken; about 4 minutes covered on medium-high heat. Rice cakes are one of my favorite things to eat and I've never cooked them at home before, so by this time, I could tell this was going to be a pretty special meal. For the last step, I added the cooked chicken and chopped bok choy leaves and let everything heat through for another 2 until the leaves had wilted. I killed the heat and stirred in the creme fraiche, which I barely noticed while photographing all the ingredients, and was surprised to see it at the end.
Oh, my goodness. This could quite possibly be the best Blue Apron meal I've had to date. Though the recipe is modeled after buldak, it reminded me a lot of tteok-bokki—my absolute favorite Korean dish! Firstly, the creme fraiche was the sleeper ingredient of this whole recipe. It had an excellent tang that paired well with the gochujang sauce, and it worked as a brilliant fail-safe for the ambitious amount of spice I poured into the meal. Without its understated magic, I probably would have ruined the end result with all those red pepper flakes. The rice cakes were gummy, tender, and slippery (the way rice cakes should be), the bok choy lent a nice crunch and some color, and the chicken made everything filling and satisfying. My dish came out much saucier than the photo on the recipe card, which turned out to be a great thing. I pretty much licked the bowl clean. Plus, the hits don't stop there—because I didn't have a dinner partner the night I made this, I was able to enjoy the leftovers the next day for lunch, and they reheated beautifully. Five stars! I haven't stopped thinking about this recipe since I made it, and I'm dying to make it again.
Meal #2: Cheesy Brussels Sprout Canneloni with Rosemary Breadcrumbs
Calories per serving (as prepared): 780
Total cook time according to Blue Apron: 40 minutes
Actual time: 52 minutes
This recipe is part of a 4-week collaboration Blue Apron had with celebrity chef, Christian Petroni. I can't believe I've made it this far in life without ever cooking Brussels sprouts and was intrigued when I saw this option offered. Bait taken!
To kick off this recipe, I set the oven to 450 degrees, began boiling a pot of salted water, and chopped off the stems from the sprouts which had been washed and dried. The spouts were thinly sliced, the fontina was grated, and the rosemary was stemmed, then roughly chopped. I love working with rosemary—my hands always smell so good.
Off to the side, I had a medium non-stick pan heating to medium-high with a little bit of olive oil, to which I added the sliced sprouts with salt and pepper. They cooked for 5 minutes until softened. The recipe said to only include half of the chopped rosemary, but this dish was moving so quickly (and I was so excited to eat the finished result) that I included all of the rosemary. Mistake, or creative liberty? You decide. Also, I threw in all of the red pepper flakes thinking the impending cheese sauce would forgive this choice, like the creme fraiche in the last recipe. Everything cooked together for 3 minutes before being transferred to a bowl with the ricotta, half the parmesan, and some more salt and pepper.
To the same pan, I toasted the breadcrumbs with a little bit of olive oil. There was supposed to be some rosemary included here in addition to the salt and pepper but we've already been over that creative choice. It took about 3 minutes for the breadcrumbs to get to my desired level of toasted. From there, they were transferred to a bowl. Off to the side, I boiled the pasta sheets for 3 minutes. It was fun to pull them apart with my hands before adding them to the salted water. They had an interesting grit and softness to them. It was also fun to hear the weird flapping sounds they made as the water bubbled around their edges before emerging to the surface. This meal was a whole sensory experience.
Once the pan was free from the breadcrumbs, I then made the cheese sauce by heating a bit more olive oil, slowly adding the flour with a whisk, and stirring in the milk with 1/2 cup of water and some salt and pepper. Of course my flour was clumpy and took a long time to even out, but I've made enough sauces to know that patience is key and it usually all works out in the end. It took me about 8-10 minutes to get the sauce smoothed out, and once nice and velvety, I mixed in the fontina. Then, I snuck a taste. It was divine. Also, no photo of this step because as I previously mentioned, this dish moved fast and had a lot of moving parts to keep up with!
Assembly was super easy and pretty fun. Can you believe I only managed to slightly tear just one of the pasta sheets? I figured the damage would be much worse while trying to pry them apart from the strainer! In order to make sure the filling portions were equal, I spooned out the sprouts and cheese mixture onto each laid-out sheet before rolling them and placing them seam-side down in a 9x13" baking dish that was sprayed with canola oil.
I smothered everything in that dreamy fontina sauce before baking it all for 10 minutes. While the cannelloni baked, I used that time to wash my bowls and pans so there wouldn't be any clean-up to worry about after I was full of rolled pasta bliss. For the final step, I sprinkled the toasted breadcrumbs on top.
These were so good! As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I usually let my emotions dictate my pasta portions, so I had some concerns that this cannelloni trio wouldn't be enough for dinner, but the portion size was perfect. The pasta sheets didn't dry out in the oven and neither did the sauce. The sprouts were cooked to perfection, the sauce spared me any regrets from the sheer volume of red pepper flakes I included, and the breadcrumbs were the perfect textural contrast. I was really impressed with this recipe. As for my dinner partner's favorite aspect of the dish? It was the breadcrumbs, though he does have a bit of a bread bias. Christian Petroni knows what he's doing, and after making this masterpiece, I guess I do, too!
Verdict: Blue Apron ruled this month, plain and simple. I created two unique, incredible meals that left me delighted, satisfied, and thinking, "wow, I made that?" after finishing them. To me, that's what the Blue Apron experience is all about. There's a certain level of creativity to be expected from their recipes, plus a kind of sophistication inherent to their brand, and I found both of those aspects were captured perfectly in this experience. Last month was the first true low I've had since reviewing this meal kit, but the cool thing about lows is that there's nowhere to go but up, and man, did this delivery shoot for the stars! Of course, Blue Apron isn't less expensive than going out and purchasing the groceries yourself, but considering it's wildly convenient, there's no food waste, and the recipes are outstanding—not to mention it's far less than takeout for similar meals at $11.99/serving (including shipping)—I think it's totally worth it, at least as a monthly supplement to your regular meal rotation.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Recipes change every week, so these are gone for now, but popular ones always come back in the future. Sign up today to choose from a whole new crop of meals. And, if you see the Korean fire chicken offered in the future, add that to your order ASAP!
Value Breakdown: At $47.95 ($9.99 per serving + $7.99 shipping), you’re paying $11.99 per serving.
Check out all of our Blue Apron reviews and find the best meal delivery kits of 2019!
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