CookUnity Review: Chef-Selected Meals Without the Restaurant Bill

I tried CookUnity for a week, and here’s my honest review

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CookUnity Cajin Salmon

Food & Wine / Marisa Olsen

As a mother who now lives in the suburbs, I am often nostalgic when I think back to my earlier days living in New York City. The dining options were endless and exhilarating — from late-night shawarma cart gyros to white linen prix fixe dinner celebrations — and I miss having access to some of the world’s best cuisines at my fingertips. So, as someone who loves dining out and sampling global cuisines, I was excited to learn about CookUnity, a unique meal delivery company that partners with renowned chefs who craft fresh, small-batch, gourmet meals. 

CookUnity works with award-winning chefs such as Einat Admony, Pat LaFrieda, and Esther Choi and puts global influences front and center — think Yemen, Thailand, and Korea — so I was intrigued to see how its food would compare to dining out. Read on to discover how CookUnity holds up to metropolitan dining.

CookUnity prepared meals

Food and Wine / Marisa Olsen

Pros and Cons


  • Restaurant-quality meals crafted by renowned chefs
  • Vast menu options
  • Variety of dietary preferences
  • Detailed macros and ratios
  • Helpful and informative emails


  • Not geared toward families
  • Single-serving sized portions

What Is CookUnity?

CookUnity is a New York–based, chef-to-consumer-driven meal delivery service founded in 2015. The company partners with famous and talented chefs, who craft restaurant-quality heat-and-eat meals, delivered straight to your door. CookUnity features over 70 chefs and hundreds of freshly prepared meals that are ready in minutes and that showcase flavors and recipes inspired by cuisines around the world. 

How Does It Work?

When visiting the CookUnity homepage, I was pleased to see that I could understand at a glance how the service works, and was able to learn about featured chefs and peruse sample menus. (I always appreciate the option to see the menu before signing up for a meal delivery service.) When I was ready to create an account, I began by entering my ZIP code to ensure I lived in a delivery area. CookUnity’s menus are based on location hubs, and the service does not yet deliver nationwide — but luckily, I was within range. Next, I selected my meal plan size of four meals per week (you can order up to 16), and then I was prompted to enter my email to finish setting up my account. 

From there, I could customize my protein options and browse over a whopping 200 menu items before adding my selections to my cart. There was an area on the recipe selection page where I could view my cart in the sidebar, which was helpful when picking meals from such a vast menu. When I finished selecting my meals, I headed over to the checkout page, where I entered my address and payment information and received an email confirmation. I double-checked my order in my account settings, where I could view my orders, preferences, past deliveries, and messages. There was even a countdown indicating how many days/hours I had to make changes to my upcoming delivery. This is a very helpful feature!

I appreciated CookUnity’s communication through the ordering process, sending emails when my order was confirmed, processed, and shipped, as well as the employees’ favorite meal suggestions. When I was ready to cancel my account, it was easy to do so in my account settings without having to contact customer service. I just had to answer one question and that was it.

CookUnity chicken shawarma in pan

Food & Wine / Marisa Olsen


CookUnity offers four, six, eight, 12, and 16 meals per week with a tiered pricing model, so the more meals you order per week, the less the cost is per meal. 

To share a better sense of pricing, at four meals per week, the price is $13.59 per meal; at eight meals per week, the price is $11.69 per meal; and at 16 meals per week, the price is $11.09 per meal. However, as a first-time customer, I was offered a 30% discount for my inaugural order.

Meal Choices

CookUnity features a plentitude of recipes and meals with a vast range of dietary preferences and cuisine options. As a first-time customer, I was prompted to enter my ZIP code as menus are based on four hubs: East Coast, West Coast, Texas, and the Midwest. I was also prompted to select up to three protein sources from a list of meat, poultry, pork, seafood, vegetarian, or vegan. I opted for meat, seafood, and vegetarian, and once my meals were populated, I was presented with over 200 recipes. It was a lot to take in, but CookUnity utilizes plenty of search filter tags, including low carb, low sodium, gluten-free, under 600 calories, keto, and paleo. 

The menu options are displayed in a tiled grid format with photos, and each tile illustrates the recipe title, chef name, customer star review rating, and calories. When I clicked on an image, I was taken to a recipe page that includes customer ratings, a link to access customer reviews, the chef’s name and photograph, as well as allergens, ingredients, nutrition facts, macronutrient ratios, and heating instructions. 

The menu is filled with endless options of enticing dishes that cover all areas of the globe: Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, South American, Yemeni, Moroccan, and Creole, among others. The company places emphasis on international spices and herbs and diverse meal setups. Seafood options are pretty salmon-heavy, but there are shrimp and other fish dishes, as well as numerous vegetable-forward meals and pork, chicken, and beef options.

Foodies will have a ball perusing the vast and diverse menu, which includes quiches, noodle and rice bowls, chilis, pastas, flatbreads, tacos, stir-fries, proteins paired with vegetables, and much more. A few specific meals are highlighted, and they are listed with a slight price surcharge. I narrowed down my selection to include a vegetarian bibimbap dish, a beef short rib entrée, chicken shawarma, and a Cajun salmon dish.

What We Tasted

  • Pat’s beef short ribs bourguignon, chef’s special by Pat LaFrieda
  • Marinated chicken shawarma over Israeli couscous with caramelized onions and pickled red cabbage by Einat Admony 
  • Crispy pan-fried Cajun salmon with fresh avocado sauce and cucumber salsa by Andres Mendez
  • Wild mushroom bibimbap with steamed rice and cucumber kimchi by Esther Choi
CookUnity meals inside box with ClimaCell packaging

Food & Wine / Marisa Olsen


My CookUnity meals arrived in a large, colorful cardboard box with the signature “crafted by chefs” tagline. My meals were packaged in individual trays and were cushioned inside a recyclable ClimaCell paper insert. At the bottom of the ClimaCell lining was one large Fidelity Freeze ice pack. (The gel contents of the ice pack can be emptied into the trash, and the outer plastic film can be recycled at a specific facility.)

Each meal tray was packaged in a recyclable colorful paper sleeve made of bleached fibers from hard and soft wood. These sleeves feature the name and photo of the chef, the recipe title, heating instructions, an ingredient list, a packaged and use-by date, a QR code, and macros, including fat, calories, protein, and carbohydrates. The QR code directed me to the full recipe page, which included a larger snapshot of allergens, macros, recipe customer ratings, and a chef profile. The bottom of the paper meal sleeve had another QR code that directed me to CookUnity’s recycling page.

Inside the sleeve was a meal tray made out of bagasse or sugar cane fiber pulp that is industrially compostable, and a plastic film that had to be thrown out. The sauce cups inside the meal trays were made of polypropylene and are recyclable or reusable. CookUnity has also launched a returnable packaging program in the Los Angeles and New York City areas.

The Cooking Process

Every CookUnity recipe meal tray includes two ways to heat the meals: the chef way and the fast way. The chef’s instructions usually include preheating your oven, removing the plastic film, placing the ingredients in an oven-safe vessel, and heating for the recommended time. The fast instructions outline microwave heating, in which the contents of the meal are placed in a microwave-safe dish and heated for two to three minutes.

I used the chef instructions for three of the dishes and the microwave for one. The oven instructions were straightforward; I followed the preheating and cooking times, and the dishes came out well-heated. Some recipes called for eight to 10 minutes of reheating, while others called for 18-20 minutes. For microwave cooking, I followed the minimum suggestions, which worked well. 

I did come across one cooking instruction question for the chicken shawarma. The chef’s preparation notes said to remove the sauce cup and the pickled cabbage from the chicken and Israeli couscous during the heating process, but the cabbage was already mixed in with the chicken. (Perhaps this was a packaging error.) Additionally, due to the hue of the purple cabbage, a few pieces of chicken had purple marks from the cabbage’s natural dye. I think separating the cabbage from the chicken and Israeli couscous would have worked a little better for this particular dish.

CookUnity Cajun pan-fried salmon closeup

Food & Wine / Marisa Olsen


I thoroughly enjoyed all of the CookUnity meals I tasted. My favorite dish was Andres Mendez’s crispy pan-fried Cajun salmon. I was skeptical of reheating fish and plating the protein with cold cucumber salad, but it all came together. The salmon’s spicy Cajun seasoning was spot on, and the salmon was perfectly cooked, despite my initial hesitation about precooked fish. The flavors were balanced and appropriately salted, and the crunch of the cucumber and savory avocado sauce made this meal memorable. 

I found Pat LaFrieda’s short ribs entrée to be perfectly tender. The meat pulled apart beautifully, the potatoes were creamy and fluffy, and the carrots and string beans held their own with a nice bite. My only criticism was that the dish was a tad salty, and I also found a few large herb stems in the sauce. However, the flavor was restaurant-quality, and this dish would be wonderful for a cozy wintry evening. 

The wild mushroom bibimbap meal packed a punch. The recipe instructions didn’t indicate how much of the gochujang sauce to add, so I added most of it, and the first bite was certainly heat-forward. (If I were to order again, I would add the sauce in smaller batches.) But afterward, the heat mellowed out with the spinach, umami mushrooms, and kimchi cucumbers. I enjoyed how fluffy the rice was after microwaving and found the textures of the kimchi cucumbers and daikon radish complementary to the other components of the dish. 

The chicken shawarma was a win as well. The meal was a hefty portion of fragrant, spiced chicken, chewy pearls of Israeli couscous, and tangy pickled cabbage. The components worked well with the caramelized onions and sweetness of the Middle Eastern mango Amba sauce, and hints of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and black pepper presented nicely. My only criticism would be to add more pickled cabbage for a brighter acidity. 

All in all, the dishes I tasted from CookUnity were diverse, interesting, and thoughtfully flavored and seasoned.

Who Should Use CookUnity?

CookUnity is a great meal delivery service for busy adults who appreciate restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of their home. When dining out or traveling seems untenable, having CookUnity at your fingertips is a welcome option, especially for adventurous eaters and epicureans. 

CookUnity prepared meals outside of shipping box

Food & Wine / Marisa Olsen

Final Thoughts

My experience with CookUnity was positive and delicious. I enjoyed perusing the vast menu of culinary global reaches almost as much as I enjoyed consuming the meals. The freshness and flavor profiles of the four meals I sampled were exciting and excellently executed. Additionally, the platform is user-friendly and the communication and resources were engaging — especially the recipe pages and chef profiles. 

I would certainly consider adding CookUnity to the mix for evenings when I am craving a convenient and gourmet-forward dinner without the coordination of a night out. Plus, with meals costing a fraction of what dining out costs, CookUnity fits the “dining-in bill.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Freeze CookUnity Meals?

Yes, CookUnity meals are freezer-friendly — however, the chefs always recommend enjoying your meals fresh. If you’d like to freeze your CookUnity meals, make sure to place them in the freezer by the use-by date. Additionally, meals need to be thawed in the fridge before cooking.

How Much Does CookUnity Cost per Meal? 

CookUnity meals range in cost. Subscribers can order as few as four meals and as many as 16 meals per week. For four meals, the price per meal is $13.59, and for 16 meals, the price per meal is $11.09, so the more meals you order, the less the cost is per meal. CookUnity also tends to offer first-time promotions, so there are cost savings for new subscribers. 

Are CookUnity Meals Fully Cooked?

Yes, CookUnity meals are fully prepared and cooked. Each meal tray arrives with a sleeve that outlines two ways to reheat meals: the chef’s way, which involves heating the meal in the oven for a few minutes, and the quick way, which is microwave-friendly.

How Long Do CookUnity Meals Last?

Each meal sleeve tray conveniently outlines a pack date and a use-by date so the customer can easily keep track of freshness and shelf life. Thanks to CookUnity’s packaging technology, meals stay fresh for a range of four to seven days, depending on the meal and ingredients. 

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