6 Celebrity Chef Frozen Meal Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

There's nothing better than a home-cooked meal. But on a busy weeknight, it's tough to find that extra hour to whip up some fantastic pasta or meatloaf, let alone beef Wellington or fried chicken. Thankfully a trip down the frozen food aisle reveals a plethora of quick and easy frozen dinner options from pizza to pot pie, and all of them can go from the microwave to the table in a matter of minutes.

While we've all heard of classic brands like Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine, those aren't your only options. It turns out that plenty of celebrity chefs have gotten in on the frozen food action, as well. While Rick Bayless has had his Frontera line since the late '90s, other chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Zimmern have only recently joined the frozen food ranks. But each of the chefs' meals represents the chef and their cooking style which means you no longer need to take a trip to their restaurant to try their food. Now you only have to go as far as your favorite grocery store.

As with all things though, sometimes fresh is better than frozen, and the same can be said with these meals. Some tasted like I'd ordered it directly from the chef, while others left me so cold I wondered if the chef was involved, or simply put their name on the box. Read on to see which celebrity deserves to come home with you and which should remain on ice.

6. Kardea Brown

I love Southern food. So when I learned that Kardea Brown, a chef from South Carolina specializing in those types of dishes, had a line of frozen foods, I couldn't wait to try them. And then I did. I couldn't have been more disappointed. These meals either had too much spice or not enough. How can fried chicken and mashed potatoes be a plate of super spicy mush while a bowl of grits and sausage is so bland, that it's hard to know what I'm even eating? I don't have an answer, all I know after tasting these meals is that it's possible.

While each dish is a healthy portion with plenty of meat, I just couldn't get past the flavor or lack thereof. Sure, the chicken and sausages in the meals were tender and tasty, but those qualities simply don't make up for the lack of flavor in the rest of the dish.

But the worst thing about these meals is the texture. Fried chicken should be crispy, pasta should be al dente, and grits should have... well grit. Unfortunately, none of that was true. The coating on the chicken was soggy, the pasta was overcooked, and the grits reminded me more of stale porridge than that classic Southern dish I adore. 

5. Frontera

I love a good burrito. All those hearty black beans and rice smothered in tongue-tickling spices, and add some chicken or carne asada, and you have a meal that's guaranteed to fill you up. While I love those ingredients wrapped up in a tortilla, I'm also a big fan of the deconstructed version that's just tossed together in a bowl. That's what you get when you grab any of the boxes from Frontera.

Rick Bayless created Frontera back in the late '90s so families could enjoy rich Mexican dishes right in their own homes. With several take-home options including a variety of cooking sauces, salsas, and dips, it's the line of frozen taco and burrito bowls that make dinner a cinch on a busy weeknight. After sampling a few of the bowls, I can tell you that while satisfying, they aren't as good as an actual taco or burrito.

Don't misunderstand, there's plenty of flavor and each bowl is enough to satisfy, but it's the texture that bothered me. Taking these bowls straight from the freezer, to the microwave, and to the table created an almost stew-like consistency. It was still flavorful and smacked of everything I love about Mexican food, from the chili spice to the tender meat. But the water from the frozen peppers not only made all the ingredients a little mushier than I would have liked, and it made it difficult to discern one ingredient from the next.

4. Guy Fieri's Flavortown

If you like pepperoni on your classic lasagna or sloppy joes mixed into your mac and cheese, then Guy Fieri's frozen food line might be the one for you. These may sound like odd combinations, but considering they come from Guy Fieri, a chef who loves to mix things up and is known for having unique dishes on his many Flavortown restaurant menus, they make perfect sense.

Although there are only four recipes currently available in the line, each of them fits the Flavortown moniker because each is packed with so much flavor, I found myself enjoying bite after bite, especially the gooey cheesiness in both the lasagna and mac & cheese. While the meat was plentiful in Fieri's lasagna, it seemed to be lacking in the mac. But if you're not in the mood for Italian food, that's okay. There's a cheesy chicken enchilada bowl and a sweet & sour pork bowl as well, and both are definitely worthy of the Flavortown moniker.

In fact, the only reason these meals aren't higher on the list is because of texture — each one was slightly off. The pasta in both the lasagna and mac was somewhat overdone, as was the rice in the sweet & sour pork bowl. I still enjoyed each of the meals, they just weren't my favorites.

3. Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern has been all over the country and tasted everything from animal brains to pig's head stew. While the award-winning chef enjoys testing the boundaries of his palate, he knows not everyone is that adventurous. So, while his frozen food line has an unusual meal or two, none of them include intestines or eyeballs. They do, however, include things like meatloaf and mac & cheese, comfort foods that all of us grew up with and crave on a chilly night.

Rich and hearty, each of Zimmern's meals makes us feel all warm and cozy from the first bite to the last. While the meatballs and mac aren't much to look at, they both have plenty of flavor. And even though the sauces appear soupy and seem to separate while microwaving, a quick stir mixes them up into a creamy lusciousness that adequately coats the pasta and our throat.

But out of all four options, the real winners are the two proteins. Both the meatloaf and turkey breast are pretty moist and tender, which I'm sure is due in no small part to the tomato sauce and gravy smothering each of their respective proteins. Both sauces are thick and complement the meat over which they're ladled. While I love a classic dish that makes me think of home, there just isn't enough consistency throughout these four meals to give Zimmern the top spot.

2. Gordon Ramsay

Ever since I started watching "Hell's Kitchen," I've been dying to taste Gordon Ramsay's famous beef Wellington. Well, now, thanks to his frozen food line, I finally get the chance. Granted, they're not the nice dinner-sized portions I was hoping for, but these little bites are still a great peek inside one of the award-winning chef's most famous dishes. The crust was light and buttery and the meat was so tender, I couldn't believe they came out of a box. The only issue I found was that these bites were a little too salty for my taste.

All that salt worried us that I'd encounter the same issue with the rest of Ramsay's meals. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Every other dish I tried was seasoned perfectly, from the chicken pot pie to the lasagna, and each dish was full of all that flavor you expect when you think of Gordon Ramsay. The crusts were so buttery they melted in my mouth, the pasta had the perfect amount of chew, and the sauces were filled with so much flavor, that I couldn't help but clean my plate. Even though each box only serves one person, the size of each portion is more than enough to satisfy even the hungriest diner.

1. Mings Bings

When I first saw the Mings Bings, I thought they were little hand pies that would be a perfect on-the-go breakfast or lunch. I wasn't wrong. According to the website, a bing is "a traditional Chinese flatbread that originated during the Ming dynasty of China." They're essentially crispy crepes filled with a variety of ingredients and folded into squares small enough to pick up and eat with your hands, which is why they're such a popular street food in China. Award-winning chef Ming Tsai has taken that traditional Chinese dish and turned it into something families can toss in the oven and enjoy in about 10 minutes.

What I loved about these little hand pies was not just the ease with which they're made, but the flavor and crunch in each of them. With options for breakfast and dinner, as well as both meat and plant-based versions, no matter what your dietary restrictions are, there's a bing for you. I tried several of them, from the meaty cheeseburger (which was my favorite) to the plant-based egg and cheese, and they were all delicious.

I'll admit that I was nervous to sample the plant-based options because, in my experience, gluten-free and vegan dishes tend to fall short in texture and flavor. But after sampling several of both the meat and plant-based options, I can tell you there's absolutely no difference. The vegan egg & cheese was just as scrumptious as the meat-based ham & cheese.

Our methodology

When it comes to celebrity chefs, I definitely have my favorites — those who are either fun to watch or create such interesting meals, that I just want to reach through the screen to eat whatever the chef is making. So, with that in mind, I scoured stores and the internet to pick out the meals by the chefs I love. But since there are a few here I didn't know about, I also picked meals that aren't specifically one type of food. After all, there are some nights I'm in the mood for Mexican, and other nights all I want is some cozy comfort food that my mother used to make.

Then, I ranked them based on ease of cooking (most can be thrown in the microwave or the oven, while only Mings Bings has to be baked on a sheet pan), and, of course, taste. Based on my past experiences with similar meals, I could choose my favorites to see how close to the real thing they came and rank them accordingly.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.