Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Blue Apron

An in-depth look at the wildly popular meal kit service, how it works, what it costs, and whether it's a good fit for you.

Courtesy of Blue Apron
Courtesy of Blue Apron
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Gourmands can enjoy meal kits, too! That’s what we learned after trying Blue Apron, one of the first meal kit delivery services to hit the scene nearly 10 years ago. Dozens of similar companies have sprung up since then, touting low-effort recipes or diet-conscious meals, but Blue Apron stands out for prioritizing your growth as a home cook. The service feels like the clear solution for curious eaters who like to try new ingredients and techniques but don’t want to mess with the meal-planning or shopping process.

What, exactly, is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron sends everything you need—pre-measured ingredients, recipe cards, and even wine pairings, if you like—to make restaurant-quality meals at home. Each weekly menu has about 16 chef-developed recipes that are designed for beginner to experienced home cooks and take 20 to 55 minutes to prepare. They feature flavors from around the world and employ techniques that might stick with you even after you stop using the service, like making herb oil, searing fish, and putting together a flavorful pan sauce.

How much does Blue Apron cost (per person)?

The cost of Blue Apron depends on the plan you choose—there are four—and the number of meals you want to receive each week (between two and four). The service’s signature, vegetarian, and wellness plans for two people start at $8.99 per serving, and the signature plan for four people starts at $7.49 per serving. Shipping always costs $9.99. If you choose a two-person signature plan with three meals per week, for example, you’re looking at spending around $64 per order.

Courtesy of Blue Apron

What do Blue Apron reviewers say?

Positive reviews about Blue Apron cite just the kinds of things the service seems to be striving for: People feel “inspired” by its recipes, are excited to learn about new techniques and ingredients, and are happy to try food combinations they don’t normally think of on their own. Many use the word “delicious” when describing the end product and say the service is simple to use both online and in the kitchen. They also give stars for the kits’ high-quality produce and variety of spices and starches.

As is the case with many meal delivery services, most negative reviews are about delays in shipping that result in damaged packaging and/or spoiled food. Several people write that they were able to get these issues addressed quickly by the company, but there are also complaints about slow customer service response. Other users warn that cooking times may be underestimated for those with little kitchen experience. Check out complete reviews on sites like Influenster, Trustpilot, and ConsumerAffairs.

Is Blue Apron easy to use?

We’ve tried Blue Apron and can confirm that it’s foolproof. Ingredients arrive in tip-top shape and are clearly labeled and pre-portioned. Recipe cards come with easy-to-read instructions and photos of every step that help keep you on track. The only supplies you need to have on hand are olive oil, salt, and pepper, and all you have to do from there is read and cook. (And really, do read the entire recipe before expertly chopping all of your ingredients only to realize that you were supposed to preheat the oven 20 minutes ago.)

What are the standout features of Blue Apron?

  • Online marketplace: The subscription-averse can still try Blue Apron’s meal kits—no commitment required—à la carte through the service’s market. Bundles containing two servings each of three recipes start at $71, a few bucks more than the same-sized order would cost for a subscriber. The market also has spices and kitchen supplies recommended by the culinary team, such as knives, pans, and, yes, blue aprons.
  • Wine program: Blue Apron’s beverage team collaborates with winemakers to make custom red, white, and rosé wines in 500-millileter bottles, just the size for you and your dining partner to sample a glass and a half of wine with your weeknight meal. Bottles come with tasting notes and pairing recommendations so you can choose them based on your recipes. Try them on a subscription basis (six bottles for $70 a month, including shipping) or grab them à la carte through Blue Apron’s marketplace.
  • Emphasis on learning: Meal kit services inherently remove most of the thinking from the cooking process: They take care of the planning, shopping, and even some of the food prep. Blue Apron’s recipes, however, still feel thoughtfully developed with the subscriber’s culinary knowledge in mind. You’ll experiment with a variety of cooking methods using seasonal produce you may not have tried before.
Courtesy of Blue Apron

Who should sign up for Blue Apron?

  • Curious cooks: If your love language is cooking special meals for others (or yourself), you’ll appreciate the opportunity to taste and share food through Blue Apron. It’s an excuse to roast kohlrabi and cook with verjus for the first time, and it just might help you discover some of your new favorite tricks in the kitchen.
  • Wine lovers: Blue Apron’s wine program might not impress your friend who’s on their second round of sommelier courses, but it should do the trick for anyone who would enjoy tasting new varietals and saving time on picking them out. Plus, it’s an easy way to decide what pinot grigio goes with Vadouvan chicken.
  • Those with certain dietary needs: Blue Apron has at least three vegetarian meals on the menu each week, develops certain recipes around Beyond Meat products, and allows vegetarian customizations on some of its meat-centric recipes. And for those on Weight Watchers or a low-carb diet, Blue Apron has three to five compliant options per week; just look for the symbols on the menu.

Who should avoid Blue Apron?

  • People with kids or picky eaters: While Blue Apron’s noodles, pasta dishes, and stir-fries might appeal to most kids, its range of non-plain spices and sauces makes it skew more into adult territory. If you have choosy eaters in the family but still want to give it a try, choose the recipes democratically and serve some elements on the side.
  • Non-cooks: As long as you’re relatively comfortable following a recipe, Blue Apron’s meals are not hard to prepare. They’re definitely more involved than popping a sheet tray of chicken and broccoli in the oven, though, so if that’s more in line with your cooking style, you may want to consider a different service.
Courtesy of Blue Apron

How does Blue Apron actually work?

When you’re ready to sign up for Blue Apron, you’ll select a plan—signature for two or four people, vegetarian for two, or wellness (Weight Watchers-approved, carb-conscious, and 600 calories or fewer per serving) for two—and whether you want to be sent two, three, or four recipes per week.

You’ll create an account with your email address and password, fill in your delivery and billing information, and pick your desired delivery date before choosing your meals for the next one to four weeks ahead.

Your menu reflects the plan of your choosing: The signature plan has around 16 recipes per week with everything from tofu and tomato curry to shrimp and pancetta cavatelli. If you’re on the vegetarian or wellness plans, you’ll see the relevant recipes from the signature menu. Each dish has symbols for the cooking time and category, including Weight Watchers-friendly, easy prep and cleanup, craft (bistro-style), or premium (featuring special proteins like duck or scallops).

Click on each item for more information, including the full written recipe and a description of the flavor profile and key ingredients. Some include videos about cooking techniques used for the dish, from rendering duck fat to safely chopping hardy vegetables like squash. You’ll also see a dropdown menu of customization options when available; you may be able to replace a Beyond Burger with ground beef or add sausage to a vegetarian pasta dish.

Don’t want a traditional meal kit? Blue Apron also offers two meal prep bundles each week starting at $72. They have the supplies for you to prep eight servings of your chosen recipe in about 90 minutes. The service also recently launched ready-made meals that can be heated and served within five minutes. Mix each of these in with your Blue Apron subscription or try them à la carte through the market.

After choosing your recipes, you’ll see your total order cost and check out. Your subscription will auto-renew each week, so be sure to make changes to your order by the “changeable before” date shown in your upcoming deliveries. Once you’re a subscriber, you’ll be able to change your delivery day, switch to a different plan, choose new recipes, and skip or cancel your plan at any time. Consider using Blue Apron’s mobile app to get reminders about your weekly cutoff date and notifications about shipping. When your order ships, you’ll get an email with the tracking number. You won’t have to be home to receive the box, which is packed with thermal liners and refrigerants, but you’ll need to unpack and properly store all of the ingredients as soon as you can using the instructions provided in the delivery or online. At mealtime, simply follow the recipe card.

Other questions? Find answers to most inquiries in the help center. You can also get in touch with customer service via message, email, and phone using the information and hours listed here.

Are there alternative Blue Apron meal kit services out there?

Blue Apron is a safe bet for the confident home cook, but if your needs are more specific, check out these other options for…

Cheaper meals: Dinnerly and EveryPlate

Starting at $4.69 and $4.99 per serving, respectively, Dinnerly and EveryPlate are roughly half the cost of Blue Apron. They may be a more affordable option for families on a household budget.

More health-focused menu: Snap Kitchen and The Good Kitchen

Weight Watchers participants can feel at home on Blue Apron’s wellness plan. If you want to use a service that’s free of temptations like pork schnitzel or cheesy flautas, though, look into diet-centric options like Snap Kitchen or The Good Kitchen. These have plans for people on keto, Whole30, paleo, and other lifestyles.

Fully organic or fully vegan: Sunbasket or Purple Carrot

Blue Apron’s ingredients are not always organic, and most of its vegetarian options contain dairy products. Those prioritizing sustainability may want to try Sunbasket’s 99% organic omnivorous offerings or Purple Carrot’s 100% plant-based meals.

Courtesy of Blue Apron

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Blue Apron’s delivery area?

Blue Apron delivers to the contiguous United States. Check the availability of your zip code when creating an account. Due to varying laws, only certain states are eligible for wine deliveries; view them here.

When will I receive my deliveries?

Your available delivery dates depend on your zip code. You’ll see your options when signing up and in your account settings.

What dietary needs does Blue Apron meet?

Blue Apron has vegetarian, Weight Watchers-compliant, diabetic-friendly, and carb-conscious menu options. It can also accommodate replacements for proteins in certain meals. Those with severe allergies may want to avoid Blue Apron because ingredients are packaged in the same facility as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy. Otherwise, allergen information is provided in each recipe.

What are Blue Apron’s standards for animal products?

Blue Apron sources its meat from animals that are not fed any antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products, and its seafood is certified “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Read about the animal welfare policy here.

What about its produce?

Blue Apron works with several family-run farms using sustainable practices to source ingredients that are always non-GMO and sometimes certified organic.

Can I recycle the packaging?

Most Blue Apron packaging can be recycled. Find instructions for recycling, composting, and disposing of packing materials and food scraps here.

Are there discounts or rewards?

Blue Apron offers $110 off the first four boxes for doctors, nurses, hospital employees, first responders, military, those ages 55 and older, students, teachers, alumni, and government workers. If you fit into one of these categories, head here for your discount.

Sara Cagle is a Thrillist contributor.
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