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Blue Apron Review


Blue Apron is one of the largest and most popular meal-kit delivery subscription services. We tested three of Blue Apron’s recipes and compared them to the other meal kit subscriptions we’ve reviewed. Blue Apron has delicious, high-quality food that is easy to prepare, even for a beginner cook. However, Blue Apron has been plagued by delivery delays and unavailability of food items, and due to the company’s popularity, you’ll need to wait six or seven weeks before your first delivery.

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Blue Apron is one of the largest and most popular meal-kit delivery subscription services. We tested three of Blue Apron’s recipes and compared them to the other meal kit subscriptions we’ve reviewed. Blue Apron has delicious, high-quality food that is easy to prepare, even for a beginner cook. However, Blue Apron has been plagued by delivery delays and unavailability of food items, and due to the company’s popularity, you’ll need to wait six or seven weeks before your first delivery.

Table of contents

Blue Apron is a U.S.-based company incorporated in 2012 by Matt Salzberg, Ilia Papas and Matt Wadiak in New York City. Originally Blue Apron (under a different name) was a mail-order company for upscale kitchen utensils and wine (which they still sell on their website). When the company began to have requests for meal delivery, the founders cooked them in a commercial kitchen and delivered the meals themselves.

Realizing this was a fast-growing business, they raised the needed capital and modeled their company off of Hello Fresh, which we also tested and reviewed. Blue Apron opened fulfillment centers in New Jersey, Texas and California, launched Blue Apron Wine (a direct-to-consumer delivery service), and in 2017, went public, being the first meal-kit subscription service to do so.

However, poor earnings resulted in Wall Street cutting Blue Apron’s stock price in half. Blue Apron continues to attempt to expand its business (selling meal kits at Costco, for example), but the company loses 25% of subscribers each year, due to its problems with fulfilling the high demand, which has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Website and ordering meals

Blue Apron has a fuss-free website with simple graphics for signing up and choosing plans. We were surprised at how limited their plans are: two or three meals for two people or two, three or four meals for four people. Blue Apron plan offerings are on par with Hello Fresh but fewer than Martha & Marley Spoon and the low-budget Dinnerly. There’s also a vegetarian plan for two people with two or three recipes per week.

We signed up for the three-recipe plan for two people, priced at $59.94 per week. But we found an online coupon for $30 — of the four services we tested, Blue Apron was the only one that had an introductory offer. As it is with all meal-kit subscriptions, you need to pay up front before you can choose your weekly recipes.

Once you’ve paid, you’re brought to several screens for choosing a protein, your level of cooking competence, whether you enjoy cooking — or just want to get it over with quickly — and taste preferences (adventurous, traditional), including international cuisines, such as Vietnamese, Thai, Mediterranean and Korean.

Based on your responses, Blue Apron selects three meals for you. We weren’t crazy about the choices — too much rice and pasta — so we checked out the other recipes for the week. There were 12 in total (less than other services), but four of them were discontinued or sold out. This is a problem that seems to plague only Blue Apron. We researched online critiques, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, discontinued and sold-out items were frequently reported, which contributed to Blue Apron’s loss of subscriptions.

We found three recipes we preferred over the pre-chosen recipes, but it was difficult to go back and actually make the changes. After a couple of attempts, the system automatically skipped the shipment that had been scheduled in 10 days’ time. We tried choosing meals for the following week, and each time the system automatically skipped that week. In the end, we had to settle for four weeks before the first delivery, the longest wait of any meal-kit subscription.

We contacted customer service about what we experienced and were told that skipping shipments wasn’t allowed, even though it’s clearly stated on Blue Apron’s website that it actually is. We received a confirmation email that the subscription had begun, but we never received a receipt for the purchase. Over the next four weeks, we got a couple of emails letting us know that certain items had been discontinued.

Bar none, Blue Apron had the most frustrating website and meal-ordering system.

What’s in the box?

Packaging

In keeping with the poor email communications, we heard nothing from Blue Apron until the day before delivery, when we were informed that our box was packed and shipped from its San Francisco-area fulfillment center. It was delivered the next evening at 6:45 pm (the other subscriptions were delivered in the morning), and we were concerned about perishable items. Blue Apron had the smallest box — a good thing, since there is so much packaging wastefulness with all other subscription services — and it was well-insulated with foil-lined bubble wrap.

One of the best elements of Hello Fresh and Martha & Marley Spoon is that each recipe is packaged in a separate paper bag that’s labeled. You simply pull out each bag and refrigerate or cook. We were surprised to find that Blue Apron only separated each recipe’s spices and sauces (called Knick Knacks); produce had been haphazardly packed with no organization. This was exactly how we received our box from the much-cheaper Dinnerly, but since Blue Apron is the same price as Hello Fresh and Martha & Marley Spoon, we were expecting packaged recipes.

Once we pawed through the vegetables, the meats were sandwiched between two large recyclable gel packs. Everything looked fresh and appetizing, although we noticed a few pits and bruises on a couple of the vegetables. We organized the meats and produce into individual meals and refrigerated them until we were ready to cook.

Recipe cards

As with most meal-kit delivery subscriptions, an 8.5”x11” recipe card is included for each recipe. Blue Apron’s cards are sturdy and attractive with photos of the ingredients and the completed dish on the front and four-to-six photos of important steps in the recipe’s preparation. We actually found the photos to be helpful and illustrative for prepping the ingredients and for how they should appear when cooked.

Another thoughtful feature is that the instructions have a checklist for each step, so you can mark off what you’ve completed. Oddly, Blue Apron does not list what ingredients you need to provide, like olive oil, egg or butter. So we appreciated the checklist to refer to when we had to grab something from the refrigerator or pantry that wasn’t included in the box.

We also liked that the recipe cards had helpful hints for converting the meal to be diabetes-friendly and using a digital meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is properly cooked. Some recipes have Weight Watcher Smart Points and a barcode for the Smart Points app.

Recipe results

Crispy Curry-Roasted Salmon

This recipe was the most successful and delicious of the three we cooked. The two generous portions of very fresh salmon were slathered with mayonnaise mixed with a spicy and savory Thai yellow curry paste. After pressing Panko bread crumbs on top, we roasted the salmon until golden brown.

The side dish for this recipe was diced sweet potatoes roasted with sugar snap peas and then finished with a ponzu dressing. The recipe left out peeling the sweet potatoes before dicing them, even though the recipe photo clearly shows it. We also felt that 1 tablespoon of sugar was too much to add to the ponzu dressing, so we simply sprinkled in about ½ teaspoon, which gave the dressing a slightly sweet tang.

This was a very easy recipe to make, and though roasting the fish and vegetables totaled about 30 minutes, prep was only about 10 minutes. The mayo-curry topping on the fish browned beautifully and tasted like something you’d enjoy in a restaurant. We would definitely order this recipe again.

Garlic-Caper Chicken

The chicken was the star of this Italian-style recipe. Blue Apron has its own meat distribution division called Tradesman Premium Cuts, and the two chicken breasts we were sent were fresh, firm and evenly trimmed. This was another easy recipe with the chicken sauteed with salt, pepper and oregano, and the topping made from capers, garlic and lemon juice added brininess and bright flavor.

The side dish is Creamy Calabrian Zucchini and Orzo, and it was tasty, but it lacked zing. The preparation of the zucchini — a simple saute with garlic and chili paste — is excellent, and we’ll be trying it with other vegetables. The orzo, though, was bland, even with the addition of creme fraiche, and in mixing the zucchini and orzo together, as the recipe instructs, the orzo actually took away from the zucchini’s flavor.

But a hefty sprinkle of the provided grated romano cheese pulled the whole dish together, and in the end, we were pleased with the results.

Tahini-Balsamic Chicken Bowls

There was nothing wrong with this Weight-Watchers-approved recipe, other than it was a bit dull. For some reason, the portion of chicken tenders was half the amount of chicken in the Garlic-Caper Chicken recipe. This recipe gets bulked up with barley; roasted fennel and red onion are tasty additions, but they don’t do enough to elevate the barley past bland.

The plentiful salad consists of crisp arugula and sliced green pear with a tahini-based dressing. From the photo, you’ll see we had some trouble in presenting this recipe in an appetizing way. Other than the bright green salad, it’s all just too brown, especially when, as instructed, the dressing is drizzled on top. We think this recipe could be improved by adding more chicken and decreasing the barley so the roasted fennel and red onion have more impact.

Subscription cost and value

Blue Apron is one of the only meal-kit delivery subscriptions that has free shipping, except for the two person-two meal option, which has $7.99 added for shipping. At $11.98 per portion, the two person-two meal plan is one of the more expensive plans of the subscriptions we tested. But the other plans — with free shipping — are comparable to Hello Fresh and Martha & Marley Spoon. As with those plans, the cost decreases with the number of people and recipes.

Although a few of the vegetables had a couple of bumps and bruises, we were impressed by the quality of both produce and meats. We’d like to have more plan options and recipe choices, but overall, at less than $10 per serving, Blue Apron is a good value for what’s delivered.

Weekly OrderPrice Per PortionShippingTotal WeeklyPrice Per Portion With Shipping
2 people/2 meals$9.99$7.99$47.95$11.98
2 people/3 meals$9.99Free$59.94$9.99
4 people/2 meals$8.99Free$71.92$8.99
4 people/3 meals$7.99Free$95.88$7.99
4 people/4 meals$7.49Free$119.84$7.49

Continue with subscription?

Blue Apron allows you to skip a week if you don’t find the recipes appealing or you don’t have the time to cook. If you do choose to skip, you have one day after delivery to make the change to your subscription; otherwise, you’ll be charged, and the box will be shipped to you.

Another frustrating factor is that if you choose to cancel — and you are supposed to be able to cancel at any time — you cannot cancel manually from your account page; you need to actually email Blue Apron and request instructions for cancellation. This is the only meal-kit-delivery subscription that adds this additional step. Considering their terrible communication during our subscription period, we were annoyed we had to wait for a reply.

Blue Apron’s product is very good, and the recipes are easy enough that a beginner cook could learn to be a master chef. But the website is challenging, recipe selection is minimal, their account setup and first delivery are glacially paced, and the haphazard packaging is too inconvenient. Their competitors, Hello Fresh and Martha & Marley Spoon, do a much better job, so we can understand why Blue Apron continues to lose subscribers at a fast rate.

Gene Gerrard, Writer

Gene Gerrard was recently voted as one of the top five personal chefs in Los Angeles. He created About.com's Meat and Wild Game Cooking website and published hundreds of recipes, interviews, cookbook reviews and blog posts about food trends. Gene is also a professional magician, and when he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing at the World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.