Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez
During the pandemic and peak everything-must-be-ordered-online, I realized I love getting mail. But not just any mail. Letters, psh. Those are for bills, adverts, and newspapers I never once subscribed to but still receive. What I’m talking about are packages.
There’s a specific joy in receiving a brown box with your name on it that’s delivered right to your door. For me, from me? Excellent! Arguably, what’s even better are recurring subscription boxes, which promise new delights on a regular basis—be it biweekly, monthly, tri-monthly, or quarterly. However, the amount of subscriptions available out there is arguably nauseating.
If only there was someone (multiple someones?) who loved receiving packages enough that they were willing to test subscription boxes, to tell you which ones were actually worthwhile. You know where this is heading, so I’ll hop to it: My team and I spent the last two months reviewing more than 35 food subscription boxes. We took notes on what the ordering, site, and delivery experience was like and the quality of the products we received.
It’s worth noting that we tested these in peak summer and fall. Some perishables arrived with their ice packs totally melted—their goodness gone and funkiness wafting through the cardboard. We’re aware that our experience with these products might’ve been totally different in another season—however, it also speaks volumes for companies that put a lot of care (and dry ice!) into shipping.
Our Favorite Subscription Boxes, at a Glance
The Best Cheese Subscription: Murray’s Cheese Cheesemonger’s Picks of the Month ClubThe Best Cheese Subscription Box for Date Nights: CurdboxThe Best Subscription Box for General Groceries: Thrive MarketThe Best Meat Subscription: ButcherBoxThe Best Beef Subscription: Vermont Wagyu Subscription BoxThe Best Fish Subscription: Fulton Fish Market Fulton’s Finest Hits BundleThe Best Oyster Subscription: Real Oyster Cult Monthly MembershipAnother Incredible Fish Subscription Box: Wulf’s Fishmonger Favorites BoxThe Best Soup Dumpling Subscription: MìLà VIP Soup Dumpling ClubThe Best Wine Subscription: Wine AccessThe Best Natural Wine Subscription: Mysa Natural Wine ClubThe Best Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Subscription: Raising the Bar Zero Proof Subscription BoxThe Best Beer Subscription: City Brew Tours Beer ClubThe Best Coffee Subscription: Trade SubscriptionThe Best Sparkling Water Subscription (Really!): Aura Bora Flavor of the MonthThe Best Hot Sauce Subscription: Fuego Box Small-Batch Hot Sauce SubscriptionThe Best Olive Oil Subscriptions: The Brightland Subscription and Graza “Drizzle” and “Sizzle” Extra Virgin Olive OilThe Best Large Format Olive Oil Subscription: Club CortoThe Best Spice Subscription: Burlap and Barrel Spice ClubThe Best Pastry Subscription: Les Marais Pastries SubscriptionThe Best Cookie Subscription: Levain Bakery Cookie ClubThe Best Fruit Subscription: Frog Hollow Farm Farm Box MembershipA Subscription Just for…Dates?: Rancho Meladuco The Date Farm The Standing DateThe Best Ice Cream Subscription: Salt & Straw Pints ClubThe Best Japanese Snack Box Subscriptions: Bokksu Snack Subscription Box and Tokyo TreatThe Best Snack Subscription: Mouth Indie State of America Club
What We Learned
When It Came to Ice, More Was More
Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
If something was meant to come frozen or even just thoroughly chilled, it was truly mind-boggling when it arrived with one packet of dry ice. And in the summer heat? That dry ice was long melted and the product was sometimes…spoiled. For example, for weeks in a row, my Daily Harvest subscription arrived with a sole, flabby plastic baggy of no-longer-there dry ice, and our smoothies and flatbreads were entirely thawed. Granted, their customer service was responsive over text and issued me refunds and site credit, but that didn’t stop my frustration when I repeatedly threw out entire boxes of food (yes, this is what Daily Harvest’s customer service instructed me to do).
Conversely, the Vermont Wagyu came loaded with so much dry ice I filled half of my sink with it. The meat was frozen solid even after being shipped in 90-degree heat and the two bottles of NY Shuk sauces it came with were separately wrapped and placed on top of the dry ice, so they were frosty, but not frozen.
Consider the Frequency
Some subscriptions (especially if they were pricier) had a set frequency (i.e. quarterly). Others allow you to toggle between every month, three months, or six months. And even more—particularly if they were ingredient-focused, like coffee—had selections for weekly and biweekly shipments. How often you want a subscription is up to you. But no matter what, we looked for subscriptions that allowed you to easily choose and select your delivery schedule, with an intuitive website design.
Printouts, QR Codes, and More
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
Some subscriptions need no further explanation (like a box of dates), but others didn’t include any printouts. Some, however, had entire booklets, detailing each item in the box. Others came with QR codes, which you scanned to take you to a website with information on the items.
What we didn’t like? When there were no instructions or printouts included so you had to navigate to the brand’s website and try to piece together how to use everything yourself. Subscription boxes are often pricey, so we were looking to have fun, and not be befuddled.
The Criteria: What to Look for in a Subscription Box
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
The best subscription boxes should be packaged with care: They shouldn’t arrive broken or otherwise damaged because of a lack of padding. If the item is chilled or frozen, it should come to your doorstep that way, too. The subscription site’s website should be easy to navigate and allow you to intuitively toggle between delivery frequencies, if applicable. We also enjoyed reading and interacting with some sort of printout or interface that told us more about the box and items.
The Best Cheese Subscription Boxes
What we liked: Murray’s offers a variety of subscription options (including a mac and cheese of the month club). We got the Cheesemonger’s Picks option, which came with three to four cheeses and is available via 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions. The cheese arrived in pristine condition (that’s saying a lot given the heat), with each one wrapped in Murray’s emblazoned paper. “When I say the 2 Sisters Isabella Gouda was one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had, that’s saying a lot (I eat a lot of cheese, okay?),” associate commerce editor Grace Kelly says. “It was nutty and caramelized, with little crystalline bits and a surprisingly creamy texture.”
What we didn’t like: We wish there was the option for a single month’s subscription. The price breaks down to $17 to $22.77 per cheese, which is moderate for Murray’s prices, but still pricey for the general cheese fan.
Price at time of publish: $68.33/month.
Box includes: 3 to 4 cheeseFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: There are five cheese clubs to choose from, ranging from $56.67 to $98.33 a month Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: Instead of buying the ingredients for a date night cheeseboard, you could subscribe to Curdbox. “This subscription service provides a cheeseboard setup that includes three kinds of cheese, three food pairings, and fun extras, like a Spotify playlist to listen to as you munch (cute!),” Grace says. “Our box featured a variety of cheddars: one from Canada, one from Australia, and one from Ireland, along with some crackers, dried fruit, and marinated green beans. All in all, a tasty setup that my husband and I ate in one go.”
What we didn’t like: Shipping isn’t included and while we like the curated selection, $50 can get you a nice dinner out, too.
Price at time of publish: $50.
Box includes: 3 artisan cheeses (~.75lbs) and 3 specialty food pairingsFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: You pay monthly or in 3-month subscription installments; you can also buy a 3-month gift subscription for $143Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
The Best Subscription Box for Groceries
What we liked: Thrive Market costs $60 a year and, with it, you get access to a pleasantly dizzying array of groceries. Depending on where you live (like me in Western Massachusetts), Thrive might well be the easiest way to buy your favorite, more niche goods—like Tache pistachio milk and Canyon Coffee. The website carries everything from snacks to soaps to sunscreen—and even sells frozen items, though their shipping availability depends on the season and your location. It’s the kind of thing that’s like, “Hey, we can’t guarantee this won’t melt in inferno temperatures, so we’re not going to bother trying and potentially waste food.” Which, to be clear, I appreciated! You can buy groceries as one-offs or set up recurring subscriptions of your favorites to auto-deliver every four, eight, or twelve weeks. Shipping was also wicked fast (the goods I ordered arrived in about two days) and free over $50.
What we didn’t like: I could see, especially for families, wanting recurring subscriptions for snacks, household staples, and the like to auto-deliver more regularly. It would be nice if there was a two-week option.
Price at time of publish: $60 (for a one-year membership).
Box includes: It depends!Frequency: Whenever you want, or every 4, 8, or 12 weeks for recurring subscriptionsGood to know: You can edit your recurring subscriptions at any timeSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Best Meat, Fish & Seafood Subscription Boxes
What we liked: With ButcherBox, you can choose between a beef and chicken box, beef and pork, mixed box, or custom box—containing nine to 14 pounds of meat, depending on which you select. You can also choose the delivery frequency, which is great because it really is a ton of meat. “Everything arrived frozen (the box was ultra-insulated), with a smattering of meaty delights: Italian sausages, various cuts of Australian beef, burgers, pork chops, chicken thighs, and a big bag of chicken tenders that I’ve been enjoying all too frequently,” Grace says. “And one box will last you a while—I’ve been going through mine for over a month and still have more steaks, burgers, and sausages in my freezer.”
What we didn’t like: Not much! Besides the fact, you may need a chest freezer to store everything.
Price at time of publish: $146 to $169/month.
Box includes: 9 to 14 pounds of meatFrequency: Every month (or less, depending on what you select)Good to know: Shipping is free and you can cancel at any timeSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: Man, does this subscription have their delivery figured out. The meat arrived frozen solid, while the two glass bottles of sauces were separately wrapped and placed towards the top of the box, so they were frosty, but not in danger of shattering. The package I got included a ribeye, two, 1-pound blocks of ground meat, flank steak, beef teres major, and a package of chorizo, plus two bottles of NY Shuk sauces. The box came with printouts explaining where all of the cuts of meat came from and cooking suggestions/temperatures.
What we didn’t like: The subscription arrives quarterly (good given its price!), though it would be nice if there were an option for a less expensive box that is delivered more regularly.
Price at time of publish: $225/shipment.
Box includes: 3 to 4 cuts of meat, ground meat and/or sausage, and guest products like sauces, coffee, or maple syrupFrequency: QuarterlyGood to know: New subscribers must subscribe one week in advance of the next shipment date to receive itSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: Our subscription included Atlantic salmon, wild Atlantic halibut, wild Ahi tuna steaks, and a pound of scallops. You can choose between getting your seafood delivered fresh or frozen, and you can buy a one-off box or an auto-delivery of one, two, four, or eight weeks (options–we like ’em!). “Everything is shipped frozen (and very well insulated), ensuring no fishy smells when you do decide to sear up some salmon for dinner,” Grace says. “You can customize your box, or choose from their other two offerings (which can include live specimens—think soft shell crabs or oysters).”
What we didn’t like: While seafood is expensive, this box is undeniably pricey.
Price at time of publish: $152.
Box includes: 2x 5-7-ounce salmon fillets; 2x 5-7-ounce halibut portions; 2x 7-9-ounce Wild Ahi tuna sSteaks; 1 pound scallopsFrequency: Every 1, 2, 4, or 8 weeksGood to know: You can build your own subscription box or shop from their curated bundlesSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: A family-owned business located in Duxbury, Massachusetts, Real Oyster Cult has and sources some of the freshest bivalves around. The price ranges from $49 to $128 and scales up depending on the amount of oysters you want (20 to 70). There’s a three-month subscription minimum, but you get freebies in your first, 2nd, and 3rd boxes (like a branded shucking glove, oyster knife, and discounts on their caviar). The oysters arrived ice cold and in separate mesh bags. I also found their Mignon-Nips to be wonderful accompaniments. Plus, if you live in New England, shipping is free.
What we didn’t like: Nothin’—these are some great oysters.
Price at time of publish: $49 to $128 (20 to 70 oysters).
Box includes: 20 to 70 oysters (1 to 3 types) Frequency: Once a monthGood to know: Real Oyster Cult’s caviar is also exceptionalSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: A Boston-based company, Wulf’s sells some of the best seafood I’ve tried. The Fishmonger’s Favorites Box gives you a whole lot for its price: sustainably farmed Norwegian salmon, Arctic char, cod, haddock, grey sole, and two pounds of peeled, deveined Mexican Blue Shrimp. The fish fillets all come vacuum-sealed and everything arrived frozen solid. The company also offers a pricier, large box (called their Greatest Hits).
What we didn’t like: Nothing—this is a great subscription.
Price at time of publish: $150.
Box includes: 16 ounces salmon, 16 ounces Artic char, 16 ounces cod, 16 ounces haddock, 16 ounces grey sole, 32 ounces shrimpFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: You can buy the box once to try it or set up a recurring subscription Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: These small soup dumplings are so delicious and take just 10 minutes to steam. I loved that each bag included perforated paper liners for a bamboo steamer. For me, the black vinegar was the perfect way to enjoy the pork soup dumplings. You can choose to have two-plus bags of dumplings (plus one to three of the company’s sauces) delivered monthly or every two months.
What we didn’t like: It would be nice if there was an option to get just one bag of soup dumplings delivered every month, for solo diners.
Price at time of publish: $84.
Box includes: 2+ bags of soup dumplings, 1+ jar of sauceFrequency: Once a month (or every other month)Good to know: You can buy the soup dumplings without setting up a recurring subscriptionSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Best Drinks Subscription Boxes
What we liked: Wine Access has nine clubs, but I tried the Discovery Club. It came with six bottles, YouTube videos detailing tasting notes and stories on the winemakers and vineyards, and sheets for each bottle for you to write down tasting and olfactory notes. If you’re just getting into wine (or looking to give a subscription to someone who is), this is a truly excellent place to start.
What we didn’t like: I would’ve appreciated pairing suggestions for each bottle.
Price at time of publish: $150 (for the Discovery Club).
Box includes: 6 bottlesFrequency: Quarterly Good to know: Shipping is free over $150Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: For natural wine lovers, Mysa will be a haven. Its wine club has several options (including mixed and orange wines) and they feature wine from small producers, so you’re sure to try something new each time. The website has a classic-to-funky meter for each bottle and the subscription includes a small card with a QR code that you can use to bring up the wines’ information. For those with sustainability in mind, the lack of printouts will be appreciated. (Fun fact: My friends own Mysa wine, and they really are the most delightful people!)
What we didn’t like: Nothing much: if you like natural wines, you’ll enjoy Mysa.
Price at time of publish: $84 to $274.
Box includes: 3, 6, or 12 bottlesFrequency: Monthly, every other month, or quarterly Good to know: Mysa also sells bottles a la carteSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: A non-alcoholic box with a theme? Sign us up (literally). The box we tried was “Siren’s Song.” “I love a good cocktail, but I also have a sensitive stomach and alcohol can make things worse. Enter Raising the Bar, a zero-proof subscription box that provides all the ingredients (and a recipe) for tasty tipples—minus the ABV. Every month you’ll get a new cocktail to make, which serves up to 10 people (!!),” Grace says. “I really loved the Bittersweet Symphony cocktail, a non-alcoholic, tropical riff on the gin and Aperol aperitivo classic. This version uses rooibos tea, Wilderton’s herbal bitter non-alcoholic botanical spirit, and a spiced mango and passionfruit elixir, with the final mocktail garnished with a sliver of candied ginger.”
What we didn’t like: The subscription ships around the 15th of every month, so you’ll have to plan accordingly if you have, uh, plans for the box.
Price at time of publish: $58.
Box includes: Ingredients to make 10 drinksFrequency: You can choose a 1-, 3-, 6-, or 12-month planGood to know: The box may include tools you’ll need for the drinksSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: Every month, City Brews will send you beers from a different city (highlighting four breweries). “We got the Portland, Oregon box, which featured eight beers from four different breweries, along with a leaflet that notes the flavor profiles and a bit about the breweries,” Grace says. “And the variety! This was no mere box of IPAs—there was a grisette, an oatmeal pilsner, a stout, and a few lagers (along with some IPAs because, well, West Coast IPAs are the OG). This would be a fantastic gift for a beer nerd, like my husband (I’m seriously thinking of gifting it to him for Christmas!).”
What we didn’t like: Well, the price per box ($80) can buy you a lot of beer at a liquor store, but that’s far less fun, isn’t it? The price per beer is equivalent to getting a pour at a brewery, but far more than buying a 6-pack at a store.
Price at time of publish: $80.
Box includes: 8 beersFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: You can select between buying just one box or setting up a subscription for 3 or 6 monthsSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: This is the coffee subscription of choice for Serious Eats commerce writer Jesse Raub, aka our in-house coffee expert (he spent 15 years in the specialty coffee industry). Trade’s subscription can be set up to auto-deliver at various intervals and you can even swap out coffees depending on your preferences. When you first sign up from Trade, it uses an algorithm quiz to choose coffee for you based on your answers. The quiz includes your preferred brewing method (i.e. pourover, automatic drip, espresso machine), coffee knowledge level, roast preferences, and more.
What we didn’t like: “I received a bag of Brazil from Anodyne,” Jesse says. “[It’s] not my favorite coffee, but I could see why it would have been popular based on the decisions I made with the algorithm quiz. I think it probably works much better for someone who isn’t a coffee pro and needs help picking out what they want.”
Price at time of publish: $15.75/bag.
Box includes: 1 bag of coffeeFrequency: Once a month or more frequently (depending on what you want)Good to know: Shipping is freeSerious Eats / Jesse Raub
What we liked: If you told me I’d be recommending a sparkling water subscription, I’d tell you I own a soda maker. However, this sparkling water is truly phenomenal and offers some of the most unsuspecting yet wonderful flavors. Peach honeysuckle? Mango chili? Blueberry wildflower? Each subscription includes 24 cans of what-will-they-come-up-with-next. It’s just…delightful! My husband now gets visibly excited when a case of Aura Bora arrives at our doorstep.
What we didn’t like: Upfront, $60 for sparkling water may seem steep. It breaks down to $2.50 a can (the price of many a beverage at the grocery store).
Price at time of publish: $60.
Box includes: 24 cans of sparkling waterFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: The subscription ships on the second Tuesday of every monthSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Best Pantry Subscription Boxes
What we liked: Hot, hot, hot! This subscription is straight-forward: For $130 you get 12 bottles of hot sauce over 12 months, with three bottles delivered quarterly. “My box featured a roasted jalapeno hot sauce (which was fairly mild but nicely green and smoky), ‘Death by Garlic’ hot sauce (combining two of my favorite things—garlic and hot sauce), and a ‘super hot’ Taco Cat Sauce (spicy! but not TOO spicy),” Grace says. “The box also comes with a very cute ‘hot sauce log’ to write down your thoughts on each one.”
What we didn’t like: Shipping isn’t included.
Price at time of publish: $130.
Box includes: 3, 5-ounce of small-batch hot sauceFrequency: Quarterly (for a year)Good to know: You can’t set your spice preferences or anything, so you get what you getSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: It’s easy to go through olive oil like water, which makes an olive oil subscription convenient. And Brightland and Graza make two of our favorites. Brightland is pricier, but comes with two distinct olive oils: Awake is super peppery, while Alive is mellow and fruity. Graza has some of our favorite packaging, with the squeeze bottle making it super easy to dispense oil into a measuring cup or directly into a pan. The subscription duo comes with Drizzle (for finishing) and Sizzle (for cooking).
What we didn’t like: Brightland is pricey ($65), but you choose whether you want your subscription to auto-deliver every month, two months, or three months. Graza has the same auto-delivery selection, though Drizzle is a bit one-note flavor-wise.
Price at time of publish: $65 (Brightland) and $33.30 (Graza).
Box includes: 2 bottles of olive oilFrequency: Once a month, every 2 months, or every 3 monthsGood to know: Before subscribing, you can buy single bottles from either company, to make sure you like itSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
What we liked: A supremely nice gift to give someone (or yourself) is to always have olive oil on hand. Club Corto will give you exactly that. Each shipment comes with two 500-milliliter bottles and one supremely large 3-liter box. The box has a spout, though—perfect for decanting the olive oil into a dispenser. Corto’s olive oil is fresh and incredibly delicious, be it soaked up with bread or drizzled on top of pasta. If the Club’s pricing doesn’t appeal to you, Corto offers subscriptions on just their bottles or boxes (you can choose between recurring delivery every one, two, three, or six months).
What we didn’t like: We fully acknowledge that $220 upfront may seem like a lot for olive oil,
Price at time of publish: $220.
Box includes: 2 bottles of olive oil; 1 3-liter boxFrequency: Twice a yearGood to know: Before subscribing, you can buy single bottles from the company, to make sure you like itSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: This spice subscription has long been a favorite of Serious Eats staffers. The quarterly subscription includes four jars of spices (including ones that haven’t been released yet) and a collaboration food product, like a box of Sfoglini x Burlap and Barrel pasta. You can sign up for a subscription for yourself ($45, charged quarterly) or buy a whole year’s subscription as a gift ($180). Don’t underestimate how wonderful it is to have incredibly fresh spices delivered right to your door.
What we didn’t like: Nothing: This is a great subscription box.
Price at time of publish: $45 (quarterly).
Box includes: 4 full-size jars of spices and one food productFrequency: QuarterlyGood to know: The boxes ship in February, May, August, and NovemberSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Best Sweet Subscription Boxes
What we liked: Three months of…croissants? Yep! The croissants ship frozen from Les Marais bakery in San Francisco, with each month being a new croissant. (The first month is almond, the second is au beurre, and the third is chocolate croissants.) I tried the au beurre croissant box, which arrived with 12 perfectly frozen croissants. The box included clear, illustrated instructions for storing, thawing, proofing, and baking the croissants and the resulting pastries were incredible: uber-buttery (they use two types of butter: French Isigny and Vermont Plugrá) and flakey.
What we didn’t like: At $215, it’s definitely pricey. However, between the three months, you get 34 pastries, which breaks down to about $6 a pastry. Still expensive? Surely, but there’s the convenience of not having to leave your house for baked goods (and not having to make them from scratch).
Price at time of publish: $215.
Box includes: Each box includes 10 to 12 croissantsFrequency: Once a month for 3 monthsGood to know: The croissants will keep in the freezer for 90 daysSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: If you haven’t tried cookies from this iconic New York City bakery, you’re in for a treat: They are super thick, giant, and loaded with mix-ins. (Check out Stella’s Levain Bakery-style cookie recipe.) The company recently launched a Levain Cookie Club, which includes eight cookies a month. You can choose a mystery cookie flavor (sometimes it’ll be ones that haven’t been released yet) or your favorite flavor to auto-deliver. I’m partial to their Chocolate Chip Walnut.
What we didn’t like: It would be nice if you could customize your delivery schedule, like selecting bimonthly instead of monthly.
Price at time of publish: $44.10.
Box includes: 8 cookiesFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: Shipping is freeSerious Eats / RIddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: Frog Hollow is a certified organic farm located in California—and they ship out some of the most perfect fruit. My box (which I received in July) had organic yellow peaches and apricots (both from Contra Costa County). The fruits were all ripe and so beautifully packaged: each individual fruit was wrapped in red and gold Frog Hollow tissue paper. The fruit was incredible, too—both eaten by themselves and cubed with a bit of granola, heavy cream, and maple syrup on top. The delivery was communicative as well and I received several emails about the package’s shipping and arrival.
What we didn’t like: Some customers reported that the fruit arrived bruised, but my box was in pristine condition. The delivery schedule is unclear from the product page.
Price at time of publish: $35 (for 3 pounds).
Box includes: 3 to 10 pounds of fruitFrequency: Weekly shipment, but you can skip, pause or cancel at any point, the company saysGood to know: “We sometimes include fruits from organic partner farms in California to give you the best year-round variety,” the company notes
What we liked: This subscription is a 2-pound box of the best dates you’ve ever tried. They’re so soft and sweet. You might be thinking, “Do I need that many dates?” Maybe not, but with fruit this good, I’ve been finding reasons to use them with abandon: In smoothies, on yogurt, as a snack, or as a dessert stuffed with peanut butter and squares of chocolate.
What we didn’t like: For those who won’t go through dates as fast, a biweekly monthly option could be appealing.
Price at time of publish: $23.
Box includes: 2 pounds of organic, jumbo Medjool datesFrequency: Once a month (or every two weeks)Good to know: The company also offers subscriptions for 2 pounds of mixed size Medjool dates (cheaper) and 5 pounds of “grinder” (drier dates that are better for baking and blending)Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: Without delivery, I wouldn’t be able to get Portland-based Salt & Straw where I live in Western Massachusetts. Which is a shame…because it’s some of the best ice cream I’ve tried. Their Pints Club ships monthly and you can choose between getting a mix of seasonal flavors, their best-sellers, or dairy-free pints. I did the first one and got a range of fall-flavored ice creams, including one with actual chunks of pumpkin bread in it and another with caramel, peanut butter, and feuilletine. The ice cream arrived rock solid—with nary a pint even sweating.
What we didn’t like: The price is prohibitive and three months of ice cream delivery translates to about $15/a pint (but does include shipping).
Price at time of publish: $229 (for three months).
Box includes: 5 pints of ice creamFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: You can always try a delivery of their bestsellers first before committing to a subscriptionSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
The Best Snack Subscription Boxes
What we liked: Both of these snack boxes are delightful and come with printout booklets detailing each item in the box. The Bokksu box had some wonderful delicate-tasting treats, including Earl Grey bread, a matcha-chocolate stick, pear and fromage biscuits, and mochi. Tokyo Treat was more snack- and candy-oriented and included chestnut KitKats, a can of super-sweet orange juice, and what can be best described as Japanese Pop Rocks. With each box, I loved going through it, picking out something random, and looking up what it was in the booklet as I munched.
What we didn’t like: Both of the leaflets were a little hard to navigate. It took a lot of page flipping to find a certain treat.
Price at time of publish: $50/month (Bokksu) and $37.50/month (Tokyo Treat).
Box includes: An assortment of snacks and treatsFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: Bokksu offers free shippingSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
What we liked: “This was such a fun box! Each month Mouth sends a new package replete with goodies from a different corner of the country,” Grace says. “The July box, which I received, highlighted snacks and items from the Southeast: Spicy cheddar shortbread coins from Tennessee, tangy barbecue sauce from Kentucky, granola from Virginia, an Alfajor from Mississippi, and sweet pickles from Atlanta. It’s a really fun way to try small brands and regional specialties, and let’s just say I inhaled Willa’s Nashville Hot Cheddar Shortbread Coins and will likely order another box and tuck it away for a rainy day.”
What we didn’t like: We wish there was a bimonthly subscription option, too.
Price at time of publish: $65/month.
Box includes: A variety of regional snacksFrequency: Once a monthGood to know: Shipping is included; Mouth also offers pickles and cheese subscriptionsSerious Eats / Grace Kelly
Daily Harvest: This box repeatedly arrived with its dry ice entirely melted and its content thawed. Jasper Hill Cheese Club: We are the biggest fans of Jasper Hill cheese. (Bayley Hazen blue on a burger? Incredible.) The subscription just arrived at room temperature, its ice pack long melted and cheese aroma wafting from the box. That being said, we’ve had the pleasure of getting this box during the colder months and it was a totally different experience (the cheese was well-chilled). So we do recommend it—just maybe not during a heatwave.Sfoglini Pasta of the Month Club: While this pasta was fantastic, the company overhauled their subscription after we tried it, so we will have to re-evaluate it.Andres Confiserie Suisse Subscription: We loved this subscription, but it appears to no longer be available.Shaker & Spoon: This was a fun subscription (it even included housemade bitters!), but it’s pricey considering it doesn’t include alcohol. We also wish that the box had printouts with cocktail instructions, rather than having you navigate to their website.Olympia Provisions: Olympia Provisions makes incredible salami. But some of our salami arrived un-chilled, which was confusing since the packaging says it should be refrigerated. Beanz Coffee Subscription: This is a great coffee subscription! It’s just pricier than Trade and delivers with a minimum of two bags. (Perhaps this makes this the better choice for you though!)Blue Bottle Subscription: If you’re a Blue Bottle loyalist, we highly recommend this subscription. If not, you might prefer a subscription that allows you to try coffee from different roasters (like Trade or Beanz).iGourmet International Cheese Subscription Box: There’s nothing wrong with this subscription. It’s the same price as Murray’s, which we slightly favored, but it’s still a great option.
What is a subscription box?
A subscription box is a box (usually devoted to a single subject, be it snacks, cheese, or wine) that delivers on a recurring basis. Usually, subscription boxes deliver once a month, but there are also bimonthly and quarterly options (and some that are even weekly and biweekly).
Are subscription boxes worth it?
The answer is: It depends! Our favorite subscription boxes are definitely great, but almost all of them are pricey. You often pay a premium for a curated selection of products that are delivered right to your door. For some, this may be worth it—for others, not so much.
Why We’re the Experts
For this review, we spent months evaluating more than 35 subscription boxes. We looked at the ease of ordering and evaluated the delivery and products themselves to land on our favorites. Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm is the senior commerce editor at Serious Eats. She’s been reviewing kitchen equipment professionally for the past five years and has previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen, Food52, and more. Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor at Serious Eats. She previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen and as a line cook, bartender, and reporter. For this review, she helped to test subscription boxes. Jesse Raub is the commerce writer at Serious Eats. He worked in the specialty coffee industry for 15 years and helped to try subscription boxes for this review.