Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh

A direct comparison between these two meal delivery services

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HelloFresh meal on plate

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

HelloFresh and Blue Apron are fierce competitors in the meal kit subscription space. Blue Apron's brand is built on an idea of apprenticeship. In the French kitchen hierarchy, the apprentices wore Blue Aprons to signify their status. Blue Apron isn't just promising to deliver delicious meals; it intends to do so in a way that teaches you something you don't already know, thereby keeping things interesting. HelloFresh is more about de-stressing your life. With HelloFresh, it's not about ambition; it's about welcoming renewal as its name implies.

We tried both services to see how these differing ideas played out in the real life of our kitchen. We analyzed our experience across multiple aspects to help you make a decision about which company is a better fit for you. Read on to learn more about our experience.

HelloFresh Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for families with kids

  • Simple preparations

  • Large selection

  • Consistently tasty

  • Nice selection of add-ons

Cons
  • Limited dietary accommodations

  • No free shipping

  • Few vegetarian options

Blue Apron Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Yummy

  • Well-balanced

  • Eclectic flavors

  • Learn techniques

  • Guest celebrity chefs

Cons
  • Lots of plastic packaging

  • Frequent use of added sugars and refined carbs

  • Limited dietary accommodations

  • Fewer options for 4-serving kits

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Price

The minimum spend for HelloFresh is $54.95 per week. That gets you two, two-serving meals at $11.49 per serving plus $8.99 shipping. The maximum you can order is eight, four-serving meals. If you avoid premium meals with their extra charges, those meals will cost you $7.49 per serving, totaling $239.68. Add $5.99 shipping, and you get a grand total of $245.67. There's no free shipping with HelloFresh, but you do get a better rate on larger orders. As with most meal kit services, the more you order, the lower your cost per serving will be.

The minimum spend with Blue Apron is $47.95 per week. That will get you two, two-serving meal kits (again, excluding premium meals) at $9.99 per serving, plus $7.99 shipping. That is less than the minimum spend with HelloFresh. The maximum you can order from Blue Apron is two boxes, each of which holds four, four-serving meal kits. At that level, you get the lowest price per serving—$7.49—equal to HelloFresh, plus you get free shipping, which kicks in once you subscribe to three recipes per week, whether it's for two- or four-serving kits. The grand total for that order—32 servings, the same as the maximum order from HelloFresh—is $239.68. Again, that's less than with HelloFresh.

To summarize, Blue Apron costs less, both on the high end and the low end of potential order volume. This excludes potential extra charges for premium meals, but such charges also tend to be lower with Blue Apron. Blue Apron, therefore, comes out ahead on price.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Meal Choices

Blue Apron two meals on plates

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Both services offer similar types of meal kits: a blend of domestic and international flavors applied to the full range of vegetables and proteins. In a given week you're just as likely to encounter a burger as a bibimbap bowl. It's modern, moderately wholesome, upscale-casual fare.

Neither company delves too deeply into structured diets like keto, paleo, vegan, and the like. Both offer vegetarian/pescatarian meals, but the choices are not plentiful. Both have a smattering of "health-conscious" selections. Blue Apron has "WW approved" and "Wellness" meals, while HelloFresh has "Calorie Smart." Bottom line: These services are best for omnivores seeking variety and balance.

The HelloFresh menu has 25 weekly choices, plus a selection of add-ons. Blue Apron's menu is more limited, with 16 selections for two-serving meal kits, eight options for four-serving kits, and only a handful of add-ons. While Blue Apron has fewer four-serving choices, HelloFresh's two- and four-serving menus are exactly the same.

Neither service sells fully-prepped or heat-and-serve meals. However, HelloFresh has a category that Blue Apron does not: kits labeled "easy prep" and "easy cleanup." These one-pot or sheet-pan-type meals are a little easier than the standard kits, but you'll still have to do a bit of knife work. Blue Apron doesn't categorize its recipes in this manner, but it does give time estimates for all its recipes. The quickest is 25 minutes. The time estimates from HelloFresh are comparable. Many recipes are labeled as being ready between 30 and 40 minutes, but there are a few kits with 15- or 20-minute timeframes.

Blue Apron gives you alternative protein options in a handful of its kits. This choice usually takes the form, for example, of ground beef instead of ground turkey in the stuffed peppers, or scallops instead of shrimp with the rice and vegetables. There's usually a price difference as well. HelloFresh does not offer this type of customization. All HelloFresh kits are as-is, no substitutions allowed.

Both companies have add-ons, but each structures these offerings differently. HelloFresh calls them "Extras" and breaks them down into five categories: quick meals, quick breakfasts, sides and complements, proteins, and desserts and treats. Each category hosts a handful of items. Examples include ready-to-bake pizza, a variety of proteins (two to six servings), egg bites, heat-and-serve mac and cheese, and single-serve chocolate lava cakes. Blue Apron has no breakfast items, but it does have extra proteins—butcher bundles, all with 12 servings—and lunch kits called "meal prep bundles" (all eight servings). There are also two sides and one dessert available as add-ons to your meal kit order each week.

In sum, with a larger menu that encompasses both two- and four-serving kits, plus an array of add-ons, HelloFresh has more options for more types of customers across the board. Balancing this, Blue Apron's two sides are more sophisticated and interesting than the options from HelloFresh, the ability to choose alternative proteins on some of the kits is nice, and the butcher and meal-prep bundles are items that HelloFresh doesn't have. It's a tough call, but since the number of menu choices is probably the important metric for most people, we'll give the win in this area to HelloFresh.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Creativity of Dishes

In our experience, cooking methods across most meal kit services are very similar. For the most part, techniques are limited to slicing, dicing, baking, sautéing, and simmering. Sauces are pre-made for the most part or easily assembled from just a few pre-portioned components. In this regard, Blue Apron and HelloFresh are closely comparable, but Blue Apron demands slightly more. For instance, a couple of the HelloFresh meals we tried required little more than putting a sheet pan in the oven, a simple approach that Blue Apron never utilized in the kits we tried.

The dishes we tried from both services were interesting. The adults found Blue Apron slightly more intriguing, but the young child in our tasting group preferred HelloFresh. Both companies give simple dishes small tweaks that make them seem slightly more imaginative than what we might put together on our own. For instance, one of our HelloFresh meals was panko-breaded chicken breast with roasted carrots and Israeli couscous. That doesn't sound like an especially imaginative combination, but ingredients like lemon zest, smoked paprika, herb butter, and a light coating of sour cream under the panko gave this pedestrian dish substantial brightness and depth.

Blue Apron costs less, both on the high end and the low end of potential order volume.

Blue Apron's baseline is a bit more elevated, but the results can be equally easy and enjoyable. For example, our Veracruz-style shrimp and lemon quinoa worked its magic with a combination of poblano pepper, pickled jalapeno, golden raisins, and capers—novel to even the most international palate on our panel. These two dishes are a good illustration of the overall difference between the two services.

The difference between the two companies in this area is not large. If you are undecided, all things considered, we'd recommend trying each service for a week or two and making up your own mind. You're unlikely to be disappointed.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality

HelloFresh food on plate

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

In terms of flavor, this contest is a dead heat. Both offer excellent flavor diversity, leaning most heavily on regional American, Mediterranean, Mexican, and Asian flavors, though Blue Apron did seem to include Indian and Middle Eastern dishes a bit more frequently than HelloFresh.

Our experience of freshness and quality was equally top-notch with both companies. Both sent vibrant meat and seafood, beautiful vegetables, aromatic spices, and lively sauces. We simply had no issues with either service in this area. All the dishes from both companies were simply delicious and both have well-balanced yet assertive flavors.

In general, the adults slightly preferred Blue Apron and the child preferred HelloFresh. Still, everyone enjoyed both services very much. In this area, we honestly couldn't make up our minds about which company was better.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty

Both services' recipes posed zero challenges for us. Sure, beginners may be slower on tasks like chopping vegetables or multitasking across elements, but in terms of technique, both services don't require much more than the basics.

If you are a beginner, the pattern in both company's recipes will become apparent to you over time. It's almost always the same: Organize and prepare your ingredients, begin cooking the separate components—starting with whichever takes the longest—cook the protein, make the sauce, and plate.

We found HelloFresh to be a little bit easier, for reasons mentioned like sheet pan utilization and slightly simpler dishes, but it was a minor difference. Blue Apron makes up for this, perhaps, with recipe-specific videos that walk you through specific techniques.

One final note: If you go with HelloFresh, you'll need a zester as the company's recipes make frequent use of citrus zest. Besides that, all you'll need are a couple of knives, a cutting board, a large saute pan, a medium saucepan, and a sheet pan.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Supporting Material

Blue Apron recipe cards

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Like in other areas, we found these two companies neck-and-neck in terms of supporting material. Both services furnish you with recipe cards of large, full-color glossy card stock with photos, and clear, easy-to-follow instructions. Blue Apron has recipe-specific videos both on its site and in its mobile app. HelloFresh has videos on its YouTube channel, but the videos may not be relevant to what you're preparing that week. Both companies present the recipes as step-by-step cook-alongs in their mobile apps. The HelloFresh app includes timers for each step, while Blue Apron's app has interactive checklists so you can see your progress. Both services make it easy to find and access this information.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Types of Diets Served

Blue Apron and HelloFresh are both best for omnivores. Neither service offers much in the way of dietary accommodation. There are vegetarian and health-conscious options, but you'll lose out on most of the variety the companies offer if you restrict yourself to these choices. HelloFresh has a "carb smart" tag, but it's not clear what it means; a search for the term in the FAQ came up empty, and one meal with the tag had more grams of carbs than another without it. All that said, HelloFresh is a bit better for vegetarians and pescatarians than Blue Apron, simply by virtue of its larger menu.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Nutritional Value

HelloFresh packaging

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Blue Apron meals range from around 500 to 1,200 calories per serving. Carbohydrates tend to be refined, with things like white-flour pasta, hamburger buns, and white rice. Some meals have 100% or more of the daily values of nutrients like saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. The "Wellness" and "WW Approved" recipes are more conservative in this regard, but they represent only about one-third of Blue Apron's menu. In short, Blue Apron is a little on the indulgent side, but you'll still get your vegetables.

The kits from HelloFresh have a similar calorie range, but they seem to top out around 1,000. We could not find Daily Value percentages listed on the HelloFresh site or in the mobile app, which can make it hard to judge the meaning of the nutritional information at a glance. Like Blue Apron, HelloFresh makes frequent use of refined carbs, and occasionally includes honey and sweetened sauces as well.

In the final analysis, HelloFresh has a slight edge in the nutrition competition, again by virtue of its larger menu with more space for veggie, calorie-conscious, and carb-conscious choices.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Customer Service

Blue Apron provides customer service via email, phone, and web and mobile app-based chat. Phone support is available seven days a week, and chat support is open every day but Sunday. We reached out to Blue Apron in its web chat to ask a handful of general questions. An agent joined the chat right away but then wanted us to confirm our account information before they'd answer a general question. This was annoying since we signed up through Apple and didn't have our private relay email address immediately at hand. The agent disconnected without answering our question and we had to try again. Overall, we had no issues with our order.

HelloFresh furnishes customer support via phone and web/app chat. We had no issues with our HelloFresh order either, so we reached out over chat with a few basic questions. Your initial encounter with HelloFresh's chat function will be with a bot called "Brie," which can resolve basic issues like reporting a missing ingredient or provide general guidance for using the service. We wanted a live agent, and the bot connected us with one in a minute or two who answered all our questions. The chat and phone support are both available seven days a week. HelloFresh provided us with a slightly better customer service experience.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Making Changes and Canceling

Blue Apron rice and vegetables

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

HelloFresh and Blue Apron are virtually identical in terms of making changes and canceling. You can manage all aspects of your account—delivery address, delivery day, plan settings, and your payment method—from the account settings of both services.

Blue Apron does have one helpful feature that HelloFresh lacks—the ability to temporarily change your delivery address. If you go out of town and would still like to receive your Blue Apron box, you don't have to change your address in the account settings and then change it back when you get home. You can just click "manage delivery" for the week in question and make the necessary changes. Subsequent deliveries will revert automatically to the address in your account settings.

Skipping weeks is easy with both companies. Just click "edit delivery" or "manage delivery" for the week you want to skip and then click "skip delivery." All such changes must, of course, be made within the proper window. Both services give you about the same amount of time—six days prior to your next scheduled delivery.

You can cancel both services from the site and app, without contacting customer service. It only takes a couple of clicks. Blue Apron's cancelation button is more difficult to find, though, as it's buried deeper in your account settings. With HelloFresh, the cancel button is right at the bottom of your plan settings.

Although the features in this area are pretty much identical, Blue Apron gets the win for making temporary address changes a little easier.

Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh: Additional Features

HelloFresh has more add-ons than Blue Apron does, but Blue Apron has a wine pairing subscription and a marketplace that we haven't yet mentioned. The wine subscription is a separate but integrated service that delivers six, 500ml bottles of wine paired with your menu selections every month for around $66. The marketplace features a selection of kitchenware, wine bundles, seasoning blends, and occasional special limited edition meal kits.

Final Verdict

Overall, we were unable to discern a clear winner. HelloFresh is probably better for larger families, and/or people with young children, but both services are excellent. With generous first-time customer discounts available from both companies, it pays to try both and see which you prefer. You may find yourself ordering from one service one week, and the other the next.

Methodology

We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.

The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:

  • The ordering process
  • Meal selection
  • Packaging and support materials
  • Recyclability
  • The cooking process
  • The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
  • Nutritional information
  • Customer service
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