Missing your favourite restaurant while at home? We put DIY meal kits to the test to see how easy it is to recreate popular dishes in your own kitchen.
If your favourite restaurant is closed or you’re unable to travel, have no fear. The catering industry is devising increasingly inventive ways to achieve top-quality dishes at home. Restaurant recipe kits come with everything you need to cook a professional quality meal in your own kitchen. We tested a range of dishes from pizza and pasta to curries and burgers, in addition to sweet dessert kits such as doughnuts and bake-it-yourself cookies. All kits are available for nationwide delivery.
Tips for choosing a restaurant meal kit
- When deciding on the right kit for you, consider the price, portions, dietary requirements and cooking skills required.
- The amount of prep work varies for every kit – some simply require assembling while others are gourmet, four-course meals.
- We’ve included vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options for specialty diets, so there’s something for everyone.
- Prices may add up for large families but they’re worth the spend for an occasional treat.
- The main pitfall our reviewers encountered was the environmental impact. Many of these boxes contain non-recyclable packaging which should be taken into consideration when ordering.
Special occasion meal kits
Valentine’s Day Feast
Love is… a hamper from Tom Kerridge. Available for delivery on 11 February only, this is a substantial kit that only requires a little assembly rather than full-blown cooking. Cute canapes include delicate lobster tartlets, addictive Tunworth cheese gougères, and four pork belly skewers with black pudding and crackling. Warm sourdough rolls and cultured butter makes a course in itself. A starter of treacle-cured salmon with celeriac remoulade, Avruga caviar and sea salt crackers is light and packed with flavour. Tom’s famous beef Wellington has to be the most impressive centrepiece for the least amount of effort: 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven and the same amount of resting time. A rich onion and truffle purée and caramelised Hispi with Caesar dressing as its accompaniments mean you won’t miss potatoes (though you could always add Tom’s magnificent roasties). Sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream provides a traditional finish with passionfruit spiked fudge as a luscious last mouthful. While it’s naturally portioned for two hungry people, judicious serving could make it stretch to three or even four. An expensive but worth it treat for true restaurant-quality cooking at home. Christine Hayes
Surf and turf for two
A great-value kit from chateaubriand aficionados Chateau-X that comes with a bottle of rich red wine to complement the meal. Instructions are given via a QR code, so watch the video before starting. Flavours are big and the main course is very generous for two. Side dishes of whole carrots cooked in beef fat and new potatoes with a punchy nduja butter accompany the cep-marinated steak and prawns & tarragon butter. The chocolate-orange fondants bake in 12 minutes. The kits change each month, so check which sides and desserts you’ll receive before you order. Christine Hayes
Available from Home X (£75)
Modern Californian cuisine
Californian dreaming is made reality in American-born chef Victor Garvey’s smart, sunny, six-course menu. Choose from omnivore, pescatarian or veggie options which require a little cooking, but nothing too taxing. The kit we tested was given a Sicilian spin, starting with a blood orange and rosemary negroni, little bites of smoked swordfish topped with salsa verde and caviar, and octopus carpaccio with blood orange salad and truffle mayo. Next, a whole scallop to bake in its shell – inside is a parmesan fondue with more truffle and pancetta. Braised lamb neck in a rich, glossy sauce with polenta cake comes with a little serving of caponata, and dehydrated black olives provide a cheffy flourish. A very fancy Manjari chocolate croustillant with honeycomb, rosemary and sea salt, plus homemade chocolates, completes the restaurant at home experience. Christine Hayes
Cocinando con COYA
Pour a margarita, nibble on tortillas, shrimp crackers and guacamole as you read through the instructions for this glamorous meal. Dishes are colour coded so it’s easy to see which dressing works with each one. Truffled hiramasa (yellowtail) is eaten with shiitake mushroom and the citrus hit of tiger’s milk. Seabass and salmon ceviches need a similar tiger’s milk and lime bath. There are two mains, pork belly with pineapple and chicharron (crunchy skin) topping, and seabream with corn and tomatoes, plus spiced roasted potatoes and broccoli to accompany. Pudding is tres leches, a light, vanilla sponge topped with cream. Christine Hayes
Seasonal ingredients with thoughtful extras
Highly seasonal boxes from the Richmond restaurant and kitchen garden packed with some ingredients you might never have cooked before. In the Feb box, England meets Italy and Sicily’s Tema artichokes are the central dish in a pasta sauce to accompany a tagliatelle starter, along with anchovy, chilli and garlic. Main course is a wonderful porchetta served with rustic lentils with a herb and mustard dressing; braised endive and radicchio with sultana, capers and olives; and cavolo nero. Winslade, a camembert-style cheese with Petersham’s own honey and a steamed date pudding make for a very British finish. Candles for the dinner table are thoughtfully provided. Christine Hayes
Traditional Japanese food with luxury ingredients
This steak and sushi restaurant specialises in ‘omakase’ – let the chef choose the menu for you. A second branch opens in Fitzrovia, London, after lockdown ends. In the meantime, this is as near as you can get to watching master chef Padam Raj Rai at work. The 24-piece omakase box comes with traditional Japanese furoshiki cloth and includes nigiri with luxury ingredients such as scallop or fatty tuna with truffle and caviar; and sushi rolls with wagyu, tuna and salmon. Five-year-aged soy sauce and fresh wasabi make it very special. Other add-ons include Nepalese dishes such as alu dum, a spiced potato dish; and sweet yomari, steamed rice dough filled with molasses and sesame.
Add cocktails such as a lychee martini or sake old fashioned to your order and make sure you have plenty of ice on the go. Christine Hayes
Upmarket Japanese food, no experience required
This upmarket Japanese restaurant’s kit requires very little skill to create an exquisite treat. Read the instructions in advance as a couple of dishes will benefit from being brought to room temperature first. You’ll need a few small side plates and chopsticks are provided: photos show you how to arrange each dish but nothing is tricky. The first of five courses is seabass ceviche with a piquant yuzu sauce, with tiny, skinned heritage tomatoes and a little ikura roe. Next is wagyu carpaccio with ponzu jelly, truffle salsa and a truffle ponzu sauce you will want to drink on its own! Lobster sliders add a little bulk: steam or microwave the little buns, and stuff with lobster cocktail and pickled chard. The main course is the only cooking required: sear in a pan then briefly roast (four minutes) salmon; heat the chard and add a moromi miso dressing and a teriyaki sauce. Dessert are two mochi per person: salted caramel, and matcha and white chocolate ganache, though you might save one for tomorrow’s breakfast. Check out Dinings SW3 chef Masaki Sugisaki’s recipe for cold soba noodles. Christine Hayes
The Wild Rabbit at Home
Three courses of seasonal dishes featuring best of British produce
As you’d expect from the Cotswolds restaurant with rooms in the chic Daylesford group, The Wild Rabbit kit is beautifully presented. Inside the sustainable packaging is a pristine menu and illustrated instructions, so you can plate up perfectly. Sauces come in neat piping bags for a cheffy flourish – Loch Douart salmon can be dressed with dots of both beetroot purée and wasabi and beetroot discs. Other dishes are on the hearty and rustic side. We tried the cheddar and onion tartlet; supplied as separate components and easy to assemble (warm up the onion mix and cheese sauce separately before filling the pastry case and adding walnut purée, candied walnuts, chervil and chives). Wootton Estate venison wellington is a cute individual portion (£15 supplement), as is braised lamb shoulder – both easy to finish in the oven and served with carrots, cavolo nero and a luscious potato dauphinoise. Pudding is a generous prune and almond tartlet with crème anglaise. Mix and match courses to your taste. The kit includes focaccia and a bottle of red, white or rosé from Daylesford’s Provencal estate Léoube. Christine Hayes
10 Greek Street
Two courses of hearty goodness
This lively Soho restaurant is known for its imaginative wine list, seasonal cooking and daily changing menus. As such, the kits are different each month, too. In winter, expect hearty comfort food such as lamb shanks, borlotti beans and cavolo nero. Our kit featured two rustic courses: slow-cooked short rib in glossy rosemary and red wine sauce, with garlicky kale, confit potatoes, carrots and parsnips and a punchy horseradish sauce. Cooking is minimal because chef Cam Emrali has done all the hard work for you; all can be briefly heated on your stove top. Poached quince, polenta and almond cake with crème fraîche is an equally satisfying pudding. The stuff of Sunday lunch heaven. Christine Hayes
Antona at Home
An Easter-themed feast
A very intuitive kit from the Birmingham-based restaurateur. Start with warmed-through bread and Jersey butter and a silky mushroom soup spiked with pickled Japanese mushrooms, wild garlic and croutons (there will be a bowl or two leftover for tomorrow’s lunch). Roast rump of Cornish lamb should be quickly fried then popped in the oven on top of braised lettuce while you reheat tiny lamb fat potatoes, and peas and asparagus à la Française (a microwave is advised but a pan on the stove works, if you prefer). Warm, individual treacle tarts with lemon crème fraîche makes a satisfying finish. Two small artisan Easter eggs are an extra treat. Christine Hayes
Adam Reid’s Great British Menu
High-end restaurant food for cooking aficionados
If you love a challenge and are looking for a two-person menu to really impress, this luxury restaurant kit from chef Adam Reid is an absolute showstopper. It offers fans of Great British Menu the chance to recreate Adam’s four-course meal in their own kitchen – featuring tatar’ash, almond poached cod with smoked roe sauce, a garlic and herb roasted chicken main course and a treacle tart to finish. Each dish is assembled from pre-prepared ingredients of the finest quality and the results – if you follow the detailed instructions correctly – will make you feel like you’re dining in a high-end restaurant. The ingredients for each course are clearly divided into boxes, although it’s worth noting that you’ll need to separate the chilled ingredients on arrival and the individual packets aren’t labelled. You’ll need some existing foodie knowledge and kitchen experience, too, as the techniques include deep-frying fritters and cooking several components at the same time. Deliveries are on Fridays for use by the following day. Rachel Beckwith
Hawksmoor at Home
Super-luxe steak including all the trimmings plus cookbook, martini and wine
While £125 might seem expensive for dinner for two, we shared this between three and had leftovers. The book and quality of the meat justify the price, too. Hawksmoor restaurant group is known for its impeccable sourcing, so no surprise that the porterhouse, a T-shaped cut, was butter-soft. Everything about the meal was big on flavour, from the martini aperitif (stick the bottle in the freezer for an hour before pouring) to the gentleman’s relish butter to dress the broccoli, and bone marrow to scoop into the pouch of rich Madeira-laced gravy supplied. Three Koffmann potatoes cut into smallish wedges and cooked in goose fat were reminiscent of the restaurant’s famous chips. Assembling the meal is very easy – about the same effort as a small Sunday roast. Considering there’s a bottle of Argentinian malbec and two lagers thrown in, this would make a perfect special occasion dinner or gift for a steak lover. Christine Hayes
HAME by Adam Handling
Luxurious, restaurant-style meals that require minimal effort
When award-winning chef and restauranteur Adam Handling was faced with lockdown and the temporary closure of his five restaurants, he wasted no time in launching HAME, a sophisticated delivery service of exquisite starters, mains and desserts that can be cooked at home. The food is cleverly coordinated with colour coded ingredients. He’s recorded videos for each of the recipes, which were incredibly helpful, giving it the feeling of a cook along experience.
We particularly loved the fresh crab, grapefruit and radish starter – an excellent flavour combination that took two minutes to throw together. The beef wellington main with clotted cream mash, spring greens and roast carrots was beautifully prepared and very generous. We were responsible for the fun part of decorating the wellington with additional pastry shapes and heating the food, but everything else was assembled in advance. This would be perfect for a birthday or anniversary, as everything from the delivery of the items, to the finished meal, feels very special. Lily Barclay
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