CookUnity Meal Kit Review 2024: The Easiest Chef-Made Meals with Zero Cooking

published Jan 10, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A side view of an unrecognizable woman standing in the kitchen and opening the microwave while holding a plastic container of food.
Credit: FreshSplash / Getty Images

While meal kit services offer an easy and convenient way to create delicious dishes at home, CookUnity takes the concept a step further with its chef-developed menu. Much like how they’d do in a restaurant, renowned chefs like Esther Choi and Marc Forgione, and Iron Chef Jose Garces are creating dishes for you — except you’re eating in the comfort of your own home.  

Quick Overview

A Quick Look at CookUnity

  • Meal kit delivery service offering chef-made heat-and-eat meals that you can pop on the stove, or in the microwave or oven.
  • Menu changes weekly and includes dishes for various lifestyles, including vegetarian, pescatarian, and Keto.
  • Prices start at $54.36 per shipment for a four-meal plan, but there are regular deals for first-time subscribers. Currently, there’s a 30% discount on your first order, so four-meal plan would only cost $38.05.

What Is CookUnity?

CookUnity was founded in 2015 to help chefs leverage their skills outside the limits of a standard restaurant job. Chefs develop meals that display their individual creativity and highlight their heritage, then CookUnity takes care of the logistics of packaging and distribution of the meals. 

The list of weekly dishes that are available reads more like a restaurant’s menu than your typical meal kit service, while the flexible subscription model has you covered whether you’re feeding one or a household of eaters with specific palates. From meat-y mains to fancy fish dishes to vegetarian grain bowls, there’s always something different to try, and you just might discover a new favorite chef in the process. 

I tried CookUnity for myself to see if the dishes lived up to the brand’s promise of a gourmet experience at home — here’s how it went.

How Does CookUnity Work?

Before you can start a CookUnity subscription or one-time delivery, you first need to confirm that the service delivers to your zip code. Then once that’s set, answer a few questions to help design your menu: whether you have a specific dietary preference (like Mediterranean or Paleo), favorite proteins, any foods you avoid, and the number of meals you’d like.

In terms of quantity, CookUnity offers delivery of four, six, eight, 12, or 16 meals per week. Each meal is a single-portion heat-and-eat serving that you can drop in the microwave or oven, or on the stovetop. 

In terms of the meals themselves, you can select your own or let CookUnity’s algorithm suggest for you based on your preferences. When choosing meals, you’ll see a photo of the dish alongside the name and headshot of the chef who made it and a brief description of the dish from the chef. You can also check out the ingredients and nutrition panel before stocking up your cart. All of the dishes are meant to be for dinner, but you could easily enjoy them for any meal. Who says you can’t have a chicken burrito for breakfast? 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

How Much Does CookUnity Cost?

Without any discounts, the smallest plan is four meals per week and costs $54.36 for each shipment, so each meal breaks down to $13.59. The largest 16-meal delivery costs $177.44 per week, so each meal costs $11.09. As you can see, there’s a bit of a “bulk discount” — the larger your shipment, the more you’d save per meal. 

Does CookUnity Have Any First-Time Discounts?

Yes, for first-time subscribers, CookUnity regularly offers deals and promotions of varying discounts. Currently, there’s a 30% discount on your first order, which means a four-meal plan would cost $38.05 for your first shipment ($9.51 per serving) and a 16-meal plan would cost $88.72 ($5.55 per serving). If you go with the eight-meal plan or higher, you can take 20% off your next three orders. 

Does CookUnity Offer Variety in the Meals?

Yes, and I was impressed by the sheer diversity of the meals on the menu. Many sound like something you’d find on the menu of a casual, fancy-ish restaurant, such as Pat LaFrieda’s Beef Short Ribs Bourguignon, and Cantonese BBQ Chicken with Scallion Noodles and Sautéed Yu Choy from Chefs Yong Zhao & Wanting Zhang

CookUnity Meals, Reviewed

I tried the following four CookUnity meals:

The meals arrived in a large box and were chilled, not frozen, with reheating instructions and a “Use by” date. The recommended “chef instructions” usually involve the oven or stovetop, but there are also “fast instructions” if you’d rather go the microwave route. 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Chef Einat Admony’s Cauliflower Shawarma Bowl 

The vegetarian-friendly Cauliflower Shawarma Bowl had the earliest “Use by” date, so I made sure to eat it first. The dish looked vibrant and fresh — the baby spinach was bright green and sturdy, the roasted cauliflower was turmeric-stained and crisp, and the pickled onions added a pretty pop of pink to the dish. The only thing I had to do was drizzle on the creamy tahini sauce (there was plenty, which I appreciated as a condiment-lover) and dig in. I ate this one chilled because I didn’t want the spinach to wilt. 

The dish was every bit as tasty as it looked, and very filling. The tahini sauce added a nice nutty richness, and the quinoa was well-cooked, not soggy or gloopy.  

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Chef Aarthi Sampah’s Turmeric and Tamarind Glazed Salmon

Next up, I heated the Turmeric and Tamarind Glazed Salmon. This dish didn’t have quite the same visual intrigue as the cauliflower bowl, with simple white rice and large chunks of roasted zucchini alongside a fillet of salmon. However, I appreciated that the salmon still had its skin on, which locks in flavor and moisture (essential when you’re reheating cooked fish). 

I heated the dish in the oven following the chef’s instructions, which did the job, but it didn’t crisp up the salmon skin. You’d probably have to do that on the stove, but you’d risk over-cooking and drying out the fish. Nevertheless, the salmon was well-seasoned with a nice tangy-tart flavor from the tamarind. I would have loved the rice to be a little more flavorful or perhaps made with coconut milk for extra richness.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Chef Akhtar Nawab’s Spicy Beef Birria Tacos

The tacos were next. These required an extra step to pan-fry the tortillas, but still minimal effort for the meal you get. The birria was incredibly moist and tender, and it retained a nice amount of gravy even after heating. The tortillas softened up nicely and there was plenty of pickled red onions and guacamole to top each taco. The rice felt like more of an afterthought compared to the juicy beef, but was still quite tasty and had a bit of a kick to it.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

Chef John DeLucie’s Pappardelle 

Finally, I tried the pappardelle with pork ragù. I was impressed by how well the noodles held their shape. There were no soggy bits or dried-out edges — even after microwaving the dish (I was crunched for time with this one so I didn’t go with the oven). The savory, umami-rich ragù sauce was great, but as someone who admittedly mostly eats pasta for the sauce, I would have loved even more!  

The Bottom Line

At the end of my week eating CookUnity meals for dinner, I was impressed by the quality of the ingredients, the diversity of flavors, and the convenience of the service. It’s on the pricier side of meal kit options (which means you should definitely take advantage of any promos), but I felt that I was able to sample creative, high-quality dishes from around the world without having to compete for a restaurant reservation or pay takeout delivery fees. 

Buy: CookUnity Meal Delivery Kit, 4-meal plan, $38.05 (normally $54.36)