Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron
Blue Apron and Sunbasket are two popular meal kit delivery services. Blue Apron aims to provide a kind of home-restaurant experience, casting the customer in the role of chef-apprentice with a tightly curated menu of internationally inspired meal kits. Sunbasket is similar, but it offers a larger selection that emphasizes organic ingredients and wholesome, sustainable convenience.
We tested both services, and while both have much to offer, we felt that overall Blue Apron was superior. That said, if healthful nourishment or sticking to a restricted diet like paleo or vegan is your number one concern, then you'll likely prefer Sunbasket. Read on to learn more about our findings and the factors that influenced our verdict.
Sunbasket Pros and Cons
Wide selection of proteins
Broad range of add-ons
Accommodates a range of diets
Simple and quick to prepare
Flavors are inconsistent
Higher price point
Must spend $90 to qualify for free shipping
Blue Apron Pros and Cons
Guest celebrity chefs
Lots of plastic packaging
Frequent use of added sugars, refined carbs
Limited dietary accommodations
Fewer options for 4-serving kits
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Price
First off, let's talk numbers. Blue Apron requires a minimum order of two 2-serving meal kits, which means that—at $9.99 per serving and $7.99 for shipping—you'll spend at least $47.95 per week as a Blue Apron customer. Sunbasket's minimum order is also two meal kits, but at $13.99 per serving, plus $7.99 for shipping, you're looking at a $63.95 minimum spend per week, about 30% more than with Blue Apron. If you order three kits per week, the price gap is about the same on a percentage basis, with Blue Apron coming in at a minimum of $59.94, while the same order from Sunbasket will cost you $79.93.
Many of the protein options with both services carry additional charges, but Sunbasket offers many more tempting add-ons than Blue Apron, a blessing for your palate, but a potential curse for your pocketbook. And then there's shipping. Blue Apron gives you free shipping if you order three or more meals per week. Sunbasket, however, won't cover shipping until your order hits $90, and buying four kits per week only comes to $87.92. Looks like you'll need to buy a drink or a chocolate bar to save on freight. Winner: Blue Apron.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Meal Choices
When it comes to which service has the bigger menu, Sunbasket wins hands down. While primarily focused on lunch and dinner, the company also offers prepared breakfast items in the add-ons category, as well as snacks, sweets, juices, pre-cooked proteins, and much more. Blue Apron concentrates on dinner, although the company's meal prep bundles—grain bowl, salad, and noodle bowl kits—cater to the Tupperware lunch crowd.
Sunbasket's selection is deep as well as broad, with 20 weekly options for both its two-serving kits and its single-serving Fresh & Ready meals. Blue Apron has only 14 weekly options for two-serving kits, half as many for four-serving kits, and no single-serving meals at all. Sunbasket does not have four-serving kits, but, unlike Blue Apron, the company allows you to order multiples of the same kit—up to eight, in fact—a possible total of 16 servings of any one meal. Moreover, Sunbasket lets you order as many boxes as you want in a given week, while Blue Apron limits you to two.
In the meal kit category, Sunbasket also offers a broader spectrum of complexity, with kits labeled according to their level of preparation. Those tagged "pre-prepped" and "speedy" require less work than standard kits. Blue Apron's recipes are only labeled with time estimates, which, in our experience, were usually too short. Preparation often took longer than the company estimated.
Sunbasket is more flexible, too. The company services more types of diets than Blue Apron, with plans that stick to paleo, gluten-free, lean and clean, vegetarian, Mediterranean, pescatarian, and diabetes-friendly meals. Further, a handful of Sunbasket's weekly kits are available with any of about a dozen different protein choices. In contrast, fewer than half of Blue Apron's recipes allow you to make any customizations, and even in those cases, you are limited to one or two alternatives. Blue Apron does support vegetarians, but the selection is limited to only three or four weekly choices. In our opinion, Blue Apron is best for omnivores.
Overall, Sunbasket is wide-ranging and flexible, while Blue Apron is more focused. Yet, because both services offer a diverse, well-built menu of globally-inspired dishes, it's hard to say which service is the ultimate winner in terms of meal choices. If sheer quantity was the crucial metric, Sunbasket would prevail. In terms of quality, however, we felt Blue Apron had the edge.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Creativity of Dishes
We felt that Blue Apron was the clear winner here. Our Blue Apron box simply contained a more diverse and creative menu than we'd likely generate ourselves. Despite having the necessary skills, we wouldn't (barring some special occasion) go to the trouble to make a weekly meal plan with dishes like Calabrian shrimp & pancetta pasta with asparagus & lemon ricotta, followed by Veracruz-style shrimp & lemon quinoa with vegetables, followed by togarashi scallops with beurre blanc, soy mustard & sushi rice. Such a menu would take too much effort, and shopping for too many things like verjus blanc, Calabrian chili paste, and so on. And if your pantry is teeming with such items, you probably don't need a meal kit delivery service to begin with.
Sunbasket, on the other hand, felt more like typical home cooking. It was varied, but not especially creative or inspired. We felt we could easily have made all our Sunbasket dishes for half the cost.
There's a price to pay, however, for Blue Apron's creativity. The recipes took longer to execute on average than Sunbasket's did. If wholesomeness, convenience, and ease are your priorities, you'll likely prefer Sunbasket.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality
Our tasting group preferred Blue Apron overall (although the child in the group was more or less indifferent to both), and found its meals to be more memorable and/or worth revisiting. There was nothing objectionable about Sunbasket's meals, but Blue Apron's were generally more flavorful, complex, and interesting. Our tasters did, however, appreciate the clean wholesomeness of Sunbasket. Our sugar-avoider, for instance, raised an eyebrow at Blue Apron's frequent use of honey.
In terms of freshness and quality, neither service had any issues, but we felt Blue Apron had a slight edge, particularly with seafood.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty
Neither service's recipes presented much of a challenge. Blue Apron's had more steps on average, but no technique was especially complex. Beginner cooks will likely tackle both services with ease. Both supply easy-to-follow recipe cards, and both have apps with digital versions of the recipes.
Both companies require nothing more from your pantry than salt, pepper, and oil. In terms of cookware, the basics will suffice: a couple of knives, a cutting board, a small and large pot with lids, a large frying pan, and an oven.
Sunbasket's selection is deep as well as broad, with 20 weekly options for both its two-serving kits and its single-serving Fresh & Ready meals.
Though it was a close contest, we felt Blue Apron was the winner here. The company's recipe cards are larger, easier to read, and more attractive than Sunbasket's. Furthermore, Blue Apron provides high-quality video content—linked to each recipe—both online and in the app.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Supporting Material
Recipe cards for each kit are included for both services. Blue Apron's recipes are on large, double-sided, glossy card stock. Sunbasket's are small folding pamphlets. Blue Apron's recipe cards are a little easier on the eyes, but Sunbasket's are serviceable.
Blue Apron has recipe-specific video content on its site and app. Sunbasket has some video content, but it's not integrated and recipe-specific the way Blue Apron's is. This gives Blue Apron the edge in this arena.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Types of Diets Served
Sunbasket takes this one. Blue Apron does have three or four vegetarian options every week, but that's about it. Sunbasket has plans that are vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, lean & clean, carb-conscious, pescatarian, diabetes-friendly, and Mediterranean. Although not available as an official plan, Sunbasket also has vegan meal kits.
Not only does Sunbasket have more options than Blue Apron, but the company helpfully tags its meals with dietary keywords so you can easily sort the weekly options. One caveat, if you switch your plan after signing up, you may see this message: "Changing your selections will only impact future unpublished weeks. Switch back any time." Apparently, this means that the system takes time to catch up to your changes. We switched our plan to vegetarian, but the published menus for the next couple of weeks still included shrimp and chicken dishes in our automatic selections.
Each of Sunbasket's dietary categories has roughly thereto eight weekly options, and some kits can be easily adjusted. For example, Burmese chickpea-tomato soup with lemongrass can be made vegan, by simply leaving out the greek yogurt garnish. A handful of Sunbasket's weekly options are tagged "customize" meaning they have the widest array of available protein substitutions, often including two or three plant-based choices.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Nutritional Value
Of the meals we ordered from both services, Blue Apron's had higher calorie counts on average, more added sugars, and more refined carbohydrates. In general, Blue Apron makes more liberal use of white rice, pasta, and white-flour-based bread, while Sunbasket's meals tend to be constructed from protein and vegetables. When Sunbasket does make use of grains, they tend to be whole grains or whole-grain flours.
A side-by-side comparison of two specific dishes illustrates the broader theme: Sunbasket's seared wild sea scallops with rainbow chard, pancetta, and gremolata; and Blue Apron's togarashi scallops with beurre blanc, soy mustard & sushi rice by chef Roy Yamaguchi. Both recipes are considered "premium," with extra fancy ingredients that cost a little more, and a celebrity-chef veneer. The Sunbasket scallop meal has 540 calories, 23g of protein, 38g of fat, 28g of carbohydrates, and no added sugars. The Blue Apron scallop dish has 890 calories, 27g of protein, 49g of fat, and 83g of carbohydrate, including 8g of added sugars.
Both services publish full nutritional information for all meals on their website and in their apps. Sunbasket's recipe cards also include full nutritional information, but Blue Apron's do not. For all these reasons, and because Sunbasket services more types of diets, Sunbasket beats Blue Apron in this area.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Customer Service
Blue Apron wins this category. The company's FAQ is easier to find, and its live chat feature connected us with a customer service agent right away. Sunbasket's FAQ is oddly difficult to find, and there's no chat feature. Sunbasket does enable you to text customer service, but when we reached out it took nearly 40 minutes for an agent to respond. That's not bad, but it wasn't as fast as Blue Apron.
We did have a minor issue with our Sunbasket delivery: The box arrived wet and torn. Sunbasket's customer service bot offered to refund the cost of the whole box, but because none of the ingredients were compromised, we declined. We had no issues with our Blue Apron orders. Sunbasket's phone support keeps longer hours than Blue Apron's, but we think most people would prefer a quick web chat.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Making Changes and Canceling
As explained above, if you change your Sunbasket preferences from, for example, Chef's Choice to Vegetarian, you'll see this message: "Changing your selections will only impact future unpublished weeks. Switch back any time." This means that you'll have to manually choose vegetarian dishes until Sunbasket's menu catches up to your preferences four or five weeks later. Making the same adjustment with Blue Apron, on the other hand, has an immediate effect, and you can count on future deliveries reflecting your preferences, whether or not you make custom selections.
Apart from this key difference, the services function in very similar ways, allowing you to change your address for a single week, skip a week, alter your plan settings, or cancel your service easily from the desktop sites and apps. And both services offer a similar level of flexibility, locking your choices within five or six days of delivery. In sum, both services make it easy to make delivery changes, customizations, and cancellations, but we found Blue Apron's interface to be a bit more intuitive and responsive. Overall, therefore, Blue Apron has a slight edge here.
Sunbasket vs. Blue Apron: Additional Features
The final major difference between the two services lies in the add-ons that are available. As mentioned above, Sunbasket aims to fill the gaps in your pantry with an impressive variety of other foods—things like egg bites, breakfast bars, pizzas, salads, raw and cooked proteins, pasta and sauce, snacks, sweets, and more. Blue Apron's edible add-ons are much more limited, but, in keeping with the company's restaurant-at-home theme, it has two features Sunbasket doesn't, which we haven't yet mentioned: the market, which is stocked with kitchen tools and spice blends, and wine, a separate subscription that integrates 500ml wine pairings with your meal kits.
Since the set of features you prefer obviously depends on your situation and what sort of experience you're looking for, we'll leave it to you to decide who wins this category.
It was a tough call, but in the final analysis, we found ourselves favoring Blue Apron. We felt Blue Apron provided more overall value. The price is lower; the interface is sleeker; and the recipes more flavorful and interesting. However, if nutrition, organics, or special diets like vegan or paleo are your priorities, then Sunbasket is the clear choice.
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