Quick and easy
Custom meals available
Lacking in flavor
No sourcing information
Based just outside of Dallas, Texas, Icon Meals appears to cater to the frequent gym-goer with an assortment of signature and custom meals available for home meal delivery or pickup at various locations. Icon meals are designed for the macro-counting protein-seeker who wants their food fast.
We gave Icon a go to find out if it can deliver on flavor and experience as well as nutrition profiles. Here's how this meal delivery service stacks up and compares to the competition.
How It Works: A La Carte
Icon Meals is not a subscription service. In fact, you don’t even have to create a profile in order to purchase these meals. You can simply head to the website, pick out what you want, and check out in a snap.
Meals, sides, and other add-ons are all purchased individually, but there are some themed boxes of meals that you can choose from if you want to make even fewer food decisions. Menus change weekly, and there is also the option to create custom meals that meet your specific needs, plus you can purchase proteins and sides a la carte.
Its range of diet accommodations really only includes calories and carbohydrates, with some options if you want to “bulk,” others if you want “lean,” and some low carb/keto choices. While you can’t customize the signature meals, you can take matters into your own hands, but mainly with portions and macronutrient counts and not as much with ingredients, so this may not make sense for those with food allergies or other restrictions.
Meals cost between $10 and $15 each, and shipping costs extra, which can add up. We paid around $50 just for shipping on top of the cost of meals.
Meals arrive fully prepared and vacuum-sealed for extended shelf life. They can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat, and then they heat up in the microwave in a matter of minutes.
Choosing Meals: Simple but Boring
Icon’s meal selection process is simple and straightforward, as everything is a la carte. While the signature menu changes weekly, some items seem to stay in the rotation, for a total of about 25 entrees at any given time. In addition to that, there are five breakfast options as well as individually purchased proteins, sides, and snacks.
While this quantity of food might leave you with the impression that there’s a lot of variety, it doesn’t feel that way. The meals all pull from three or four very simple flavor profiles and mimic a meat + carb + maybe a vegetable structure, emphasizing the quantity of meat. This might make sense for those who are less interested in the culinary experience, but we found it a bit uninteresting.
If you’re choosing from the weekly menu, you can click on each item and see the full nutrient breakdown, some ingredient information (though a bit vague at times), and allergen declarations. Meals themselves are not customizable, but they do have a way to build fully custom meals though these are even more basic than their signature menu.
Icon’s custom meal builder allows you to choose from a drop-down for your protein and two sides. You can select the serving size for each individual component and as you build there is a nutrient calculator that works along with you. While all of these custom options seem extremely simple, like “chicken + rice + green beans,” there is no allergen or ingredient information on them which might be helpful for those with other dietary restrictions, but we don’t think this is who Icon is targeting ith its meals.
What We Made
We chose a few of the highest-rated and customer favorite items from their signature menu, including the breakfast burrito, which we couldn’t pass up.
- Titan breakfast burrito
- Low carb shrimp stir fry
- Enchilada chicken bake
- Beef stir fry, kyoto blend vegetables & rice
- Chopped beef brisket & cheesy cauliflower
Support Materials: None
Meals come with heating instructions on the packaging and nothing more. The service does not have an app or any additional instructions or recommendations for preparation, but we didn’t need any.
Packaging: Mostly Recyclable
Icon Meals arrive in a recyclable cardboard box as is standard, but keep an eye out for it because this company does not have a branded box exterior like most meal delivery services. Within the box is an insulated liner and cooling element, both also standard for meal deliveries and both recyclable, according to Icon’s website.
Aside from these pieces, all that’s inside are the meals themselves. Meals are individually packed in plastic trays with a vacuum-sealed plastic film. For us, the only part that ended up in the trash was the film itself.
All in all, the minimalist packaging approach works and results in few items being tossed in the garbage, which we thought was a plus.
The Cooking Process: Microwave Only
These are as quick as it gets; just make sure your meals are thawed (they can be held in the freezer) and pop them in the microwave. Do read the packaging for instructions as they can vary between items—some you’ll cook with the top film on, while others require the film to be off. Don’t be alarmed if the plastic film balloons a bit in cooking, as this is by design. The package will sometimes state that as well.
Meals heated evenly for us, which is often an issue with microwaveable components, and we felt the times and instructions recommended worked quite well. This is frequently an issue with microwave meals and the consistency that Icon achieves indicated to us that it does, in fact, test the instructions it sends to customers, which we liked. All in all, you’ll have your meal in under five minutes with no prep or cooking required.
Flavor, Freshness, and Quality: Bland Overall
Not only is there a lack of flavor diversity in terms of dishes to choose from, but the meals themselves were quite bland across the board. While we expected this somewhat given the lower sodium in certain dishes, even the dishes with a higher sodium level tasted unseasoned. In most cases, they needed salt and condiments but there’s only so much work that ketchup can do after a dish is fully cooked.
Texture in the meat was also a challenge, with most being dry or chewy. This is somewhat to be expected with microwave reheating, but it was unfortunate as the bulk of the meals is often the meat component.
We were pleasantly surprised by the vegetables, however; they tasted fresh for a microwaveable meal and weren’t overcooked by the time the rest of the dish was heated through. Again, likely a testament to Icon's recipe testing process.
Overall, this was the most disappointing part of the experience with Icon Meals, though it’s not entirely surprising as flavor is often sacrificed in the name of hitting nutrition targets—but we don’t think it has to be one or the other.
Nutritional Value: Macro-Count Oriented
Nutrient profiles are obviously the main driving force behind the menus from Icon Meals. Aimed at the protein-seeking, macro-counting crowd, the meals are heavy on animal products, which makes them high in protein while other nutrients vary.
While protein remains high, well above 30g per meal, calories for meals range all the way from below 200, which left us quite hungry, to above 600, which felt more filling. It was nice there was some variety in this area and you aren’t tied to a particular calorie level.
There are quite a few lower-carb options if that’s your goal, and the fat quantity fluctuates a lot between items depending on the protein and other ingredients. Some items are advertised as keto, but that’s the only specific diet that is represented.
In addition to this, with so much meat present, we felt a distinct lack of any plant-based or vegetarian options. The only place we saw this was in some of the breakfasts, a single option in the custom meals under “proteins,” or the high protein PB&J, all of which felt like they were meatless by coincidence.
Icon Meals Is Good For
Icon meals are ideal for the protein-seeker and the macro-counter if you’re willing to place those needs above the eating experience.
Icon Meals Is Not Good For
Icon wouldn’t be a fit for those who want a lot of variety, expect high flavor, or are looking to reduce or eliminate their meat consumption, as Icon’s meals are all meat-based and with very few flavor profiles to choose from.
Add-ons: Protein Everything
Aside from the meals on offer, there’s an assortment of snacks and pantry add-ons to choose from. Snacks include several options from bars to popcorn and rice crisps. Icon also sells its own bread and coffee and for better or for worse, every single item down to the popcorn is infused with extra protein.
Icon also has a selection of house-made seasonings, which include some unique blends like “vodka lemon pepper” and “coconut cream pie.” We didn’t taste any of the extras and the idea of a blueberry cheesecake protein popcorn was not exactly appealing, though if you’re on the hunt for protein and enjoy flavored protein powders, they may be worth a try.
Icon also sells its own bread and coffee and for better or for worse, every single item down to the popcorn is infused with extra protein.
Customer Service: Email or Call
Customer service is readily available by phone and email, and it's easy to connect both ways. If you prefer to email, we experienced a reasonable turnaround time of two hours and got all the information we needed in a warm and friendly email. We didn’t have the need to call, but there is availability during the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT or on the weekends from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.
Making Changes and Canceling: No Turning Back
Once you place your order, you're unable to make changes to it. However, there might be more flexibility for in-person pickups than with home deliveries, so if you’re local to the Dallas area, we recommend exploring that option.
The Competition: Icon Meals vs. MealPro
MealPro and Icon Meals are comparably priced, in the range of $10 to 15 per meal, and provide single serving, vacuum-sealed options that microwave in under 5 minutes.
While both companies offer a similar quantity and type of meals, one of the main distinctions between the two is that MealPro has a very high delivery minimum of 18 meals, while Icon Meals lets you buy as many or as few as you like.
In terms of customizability, Icon doesn’t allow any changes to its signature meals, but you can create fully custom meals (with the help of the service's useful nutrition calculator) or purchase a lot of items a la carte. MealPro, on the other hand, does allow customers to make changes to meals such as increasing protein portions, adding extra carbs, replacing them with vegetable servings, etc. MealPro also sells a select few items a la carte like proteins and a few vegetables, but less than what Icon has to offer.
Icon’s menu also changes more frequently, weekly, in fact, while the menu from MealPro seems to remain stagnant. With both companies offering a similar selection of meals, Icon ultimately has more variety. Both companies draw on the same flavor profiles, basic ingredients, and a heavy quantity of meat proteins, but MealPro might have a slight edge on flavor, even if only because it uses a bit more teriyaki sauce.
If you’re a busy gym enthusiast who is tired of eating your own meal-prepped ground turkey, rice, and asparagus, Icon can meet you where you’re at and make life a bit easier. However, if you’re looking for more from your food than just a specific blend of macros, or if you have more mouths to feed, Icon Meals likely won’t be a fit.
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
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service
- Product Name Icon Meals
- Lowest Price per Serving $10
- Number of Diets Served 1
- Number of Recipes 30
- Delivery Area 48 states
- Serving Sizes Available 1