What Went Wrong with My Thanksgiving Turkey?

Most of us only make a whole turkey once a year. Cooking an extra-large bird isn’t the easiest kitchen task, and we don’t get a lot of practice! If you’re in charge of the main dish this Thanksgiving, a little preparation can help you pull it off perfectly. These are some of the most common problems with Thanksgiving turkey and how to avoid them 

perfectly cooked thanksgiving turkey

Why is my turkey dry?

This is the most common complaint when it comes to Thanksgiving turkey. If your turkey is dry, it means that the outer portion has overcooked. The size of the bird is what makes this a challenge. It can be difficult to achieve food safe temperatures at the center of the meat before the exterior dries out.

How to prevent it 

Keep your turkey moist by cooking it evenly. Let the turkey sit out of the refrigerator for about an hour before roasting. If you put a cold turkey into the oven it will take longer to cook. The heat works its way from the outside in, and the longer oven time will mean that the exterior has more time to dry out.

How to fix it

If you’re set on a whole turkey, just slather on the gravy! If the turkey is too dry to be enjoyable, dry dicing it up and serve turkey pot pie instead. The moist filling will disguise the dry turkey. 

roasted thanksgiving turkey

Why is my turkey bland?

If your Thanksgiving turkey is bland, it has probably been under-seasoned. Turkeys are big, and it takes a lot of salt and pepper to flavor the entire bird. 

How to prevent it 

Before cooking, season the entire turkey thoroughly with salt and pepper. This can be done the night before Thanksgiving. An overnight brown allows time for the flavors to penetrate deep into the meat. 

How to fix it

Once the turkey is cooked, there’s not much that can be done to correct the seasoning. Yet again, it’s gravy to the rescue. 

My turkey doesn’t have crispy skin 

This is a bummer, but not a disaster. Turkeys are large, and the ratio of meat to skin means that most pieces only include a small strip anyway. 

How to fix it

If you notice this problem before the turkey is completely done, you can turn the heat of the oven way up for the final few minutes. A blast of heat from a 450ºF oven might be enough to crisp up the skin before serving. If your turkey is done but the skin is rubbery and inedible, just take it off of the breast after carving. 

How to prevent it 

Water is the enemy of browning. Before your turkey goes in the oven, make sure that the skin is as dry as possible by patting the entire bird with paper towels. Rubbing the turkey with olive oil or butter before roasting will encourage browning. You can also baste the turkey with fat while it’s in the oven. 

My turkey exploded 

It can happen! If you fry a damp or partially frozen turkey, it can explode. The temperature of frying oil is around 350ºF, well above the boiling point of water. When water droplets or ice fragments are introduced to hot oil, they instantly expand and turn into steam. This rapid transformation generates pressure that can tear the bird apart, sending hot oil flying in the process. 

How to prevent it 

If you’re frying a turkey, be sure to thaw it for at least three days in the refrigerator. Dry the entire bird (including the cavity) thoroughly before setting it in the oil. For safety, stand as far away from the pot as possible when lowering the bird in. Oil can splash out of the pot if even a tiny bit of water remains. 

How to fix it 

There’s no coming back from this—order a pizza.

Looking for a delicious Thanksgiving meal that’s easy to prepare? Try one of Blue Apron’s holiday offerings and get everything you need delivered to your door. Once the holiday is over, try some of our favorite recipes with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Adventure-Inspired Meals Celebrating Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

PIB_1Sht_Sword-P_OV-(1)

Celebrate the release of DreamWorks Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with Spanish-inspired meals that bring everyone together—and add a little adventure to your everyday.

Our recipes feature classic Spanish ingredients like saffron and Romesco sauce, as well as traditional flavor combinations like shrimp and garlic, and fig and chorizo. 

Check out the limited-time menu, and try our tips for getting the whole family in on the action. These recipes will be available in boxes starting December 12th, 2022.

Watch the trailer for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Legendary Garlic Shrimp with Spanish-Style Potatoes, Onion & Pepper

 

Cooking with kids? Ask them to help out by seasoning the potatoes before they go in the oven

Bold Steaks with Romesco Panzanella, Almonds & Parmesan

 

Recruit your littlest helpers to stir the mayo sauce and toss the cooked salad ingredients.

 

Epic Pork Chorizo, Potato & Fig Bake with Almonds & Lemon Mayo

Get your heroes-in-training involved by skipping the knife and having your kids use their hands to tear the parsley leaves for garnish.

 

 A Fearless Hero’s Spanish-Spiced Chicken with Saffron Aioli, Mashed Potatoes & Vegetables

Mashing potatoes is the perfect cooking activity for the smallest members of your family—it’s safe and fun!

Ready for more family fun? Head to the theater to see DreamWorks Puss in Boots: The Last Wish in theaters December 21, 2022.

A Guide to Cooking with Bacon

This guide to oven cooking with bacon was contributed by Jonathan Bender. Jonathan is a food writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s the author of a pair of cookbooks: Stock, Broth & Bowl and Cookies & Beer.

types of bacon

Crispy. Fatty. Smoky. The sizzle is real. Let’s talk about bacon—the glorious strips on a B.L.T. and the crispy bits that make dish extra special. 

We’ve put together a guide that helps you learn about the different types of bacon, including the difference between bacon and pork belly. We’ll walk you through how to defrost and cook bacon, as well as what to do with bacon grease and (the unlikely event of) leftover bacon. 

Discover exactly what cookware you need and the right temperature, along with a few tips and tricks, for beautifully crispy bacon. Read on for a collection of recipes to let you enjoy your newfound bacon knowledge. 

Getting started: Choosing the right bacon 

The variety of bacon terminology can get confusing; but it’s also a helpful clue about what part of the pig was used to make the bacon. 

Bacon slices, sometimes called “streaky bacon” for the white runs of fat, are most commonly made from pork belly. Here, we’re talking crackling strips for BLTs, bacon-wrapped figs and backyard cheeseburgers. 

Canadian bacon or back bacon (loin),cottage bacon (shoulder), jowl bacon (cheek meat) and slab bacon (sides) are all different cuts you may encounter. The wide slices of back bacon and thin slices of lean cottage bacon can both anchor a breakfast sandwich, while fatty jowl bacon adds smokiness and depth to greens. 

Chop thick slices of slab bacon (cubed or sticks of slab bacon are often called lardons) and tuck them inside tortillas for tacos, sprinkle atop pasta, or sneak some pieces in a gooey grilled cheese. 

Try this recipe: Skate Wing with Crispy Lardons and Frisée

What’s the difference between bacon and pork belly? 

This is a bit of a square vs. rectangle situation. Bacon is usually (but not always) made from pork belly; but pork belly isn’t bacon unless it’s been cured. 

Bacon is typically cured (salt and seasoning is added to draw out moisture) and/or smoked before it’s packaged. Pork belly (named for the butcher’s cut, it comes from the belly of a pig) is sold fresh and often has a band of fat at the top, as well as fat marbled throughout the meat. Pork belly can be served in thick slices, crispy cubes, or thin strips.

What’s the difference between pancetta and bacon?

Pancetta is also made from pork belly. Unlike bacon, pancetta is not cured or smoked before it is packaged. It’s generally ok to substitute chopped bacon for pancetta in most recipes, though it may add an additional smoky flavor. You can also substitute pancetta in recipes that use small pieces of bacon, or lardons.

A note on cooking cured versus uncured bacon 

Uncured bacon or pork belly is best when it can be cooked for a long time at a low temperature in order to let the fat slowly render down, transforming your slice into tender bites. Braising and smoking pork belly are popular choices. Overcooked pork belly—either at too high a temperature or for too long—can make your meat tough or rubbery in texture. 

Methods for defrosting bacon 

You have several options when it comes to thawing frozen bacon. If you know you’re making brunch on the weekend, place frozen bacon in the refrigerator on a plate or defrosting tray the day before you want to cook. 

Need bacon to thaw faster? Put your unopened package of frozen bacon on a wire rack in your sink. Then, run a slow, steady stream of cool water over the bacon. It should thaw in roughly 30 minutes. Once you’re able to separate the slices, cook them immediately. 

How to cook bacon on the stovetop 

There are lots of effective ways to cook bacon. The one you choose will likely depend on your available cookware, the amount of people you’re feeding, and your tolerance for cleaning up grease. Let’s work our way from the top of the stove to your oven.

A skillet that stretches over two burners is best if you’re trying to cook a whole package of bacon strips. Cooking for two people? You can fit six strips of bacon (a little less than half of a one-pound package) in a 12-inch nonstick pan or cast iron pan. 

Lay your bacon flat, making sure there’s a bit of space between each slice, on a cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium. When your bacon begins to curl at the edges, flip it to the other side. Flip your bacon frequently to ensure even cooking. 

Pro tip: If you want extra crispy bacon, add enough cold water to cover the bottom of the pan while the skillet is still cold. The water will boil off, but before it does, it helps render the fat and reduces splatter. Your bacon will take a little longer to cook; but will be beautifully browned and add a nice bit of crunch to a salad or sandwich. 

cooking with bacon for sandwiches
Classic B.L.T. Sandwiches with Tomato, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

How to cook bacon in the oven 

If you dread making bacon because of the mess and effort, you’ll want to try using a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Remember the rimmed part—grease will spill over the edges of a flat cookie sheet onto your oven floor.  

cooking bacon in the oven
Cooking with bacon in the oven

For fewer dishes, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, which will help trap some of the grease and make clean-up easier. Crinkle your foil lightly before you use it so your slices sit slightly above the foil and crisp up without being saturated in grease. 

You can also lay the bacon strips on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet. The strips can be snug; but try to keep them from touching. While the strips cook, grease will drip through the rack (and be caught by the baking sheet) so your bacon is crispier. 

Start your baking sheet in a cold oven. Heat to 400℉ and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. If you prefer your bacon well-done, opt for 450℉ and roughly 20 minutes. Cook until the bacon is evenly browned. 

As for the microwave oven, save it for popcorn (with a bit of bacon grease). Bacon will brown and crisp up slightly—tuck slices between paper towels on top of a microwave safe plate—in your microwave; but it lacks crunch and char. 

What to do with bacon grease

Keep in mind that hot bacon grease can melt a garbage bag, and bacon grease poured down the drain can solidify and cause a back up in your pipes. You have to be a bit intentional with bacon grease. 

Let the grease cool slightly before you do anything else. If you’re not keeping your grease, pour it into a yogurt cup or empty metal can while it’s still warm. The grease will solidify as it cools. After it’s cooled, it can be safely tossed in the trash.

Before you head for the trash, consider saving bacon grease to reap the delicious dividends. Pour warm bacon grease into a heat-resistant container with an airtight lid. Use a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter to catch some of the solid bacon pieces. This will improve its shelf life in your fridge. 

Refrigerated bacon grease should last at least three months (frozen grease will keep much longer). Your nose will let you know when it’s time to make a new batch. 

Bacon grease is handy in the kitchen. It adds a bit of umami to roasted vegetables, fried chicken, or scrambled eggs. We love the depth that bacon grease, swapped for butter, lends to cookies and shortbreads. 

A note on splatter: Once splatter has cooled slightly, spray an all-purpose cleaner on your stovetop or counter. Wait a minute, then wipe it up with paper towels or a sponge. If you’re cooking bacon often, consider getting a splatter screen which will keep the grease contained. 

Can bacon be saved? 

It sounds impossible; but sometimes there is leftover bacon. Cooked slices in a sealed container or bag will keep for five days in the fridge. Freezing bacon? Place slices individually on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet for several hours (or overnight) before transferring to a bag you can seal to avoid large frozen clumps of bacon. Bacon will keep for at least a month in the freezer. 

Recipes we love with bacon 

Pancetta & Onion Jam Cheeseburger with Smoky Fingerlings

Pan-Seared Chicken Legs with Purple Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Vinaigrette

Triple Pork Mazeman with Roasted Garlic & Pea Tips

For more cooking tips and tricks, click here.

Recipe for Blue Apron Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics

If you’ve ordered dishes like Korean Pork & Rice Cakes with Bok Choy or One-Pan Udon Noodle & Spicy Peanut Stir-Fry then you’ve cooked with Blue Apron’s Asian-style sautéed aromatics. 

It might seem like this prepackaged blend is a magical substance that makes every meal delicious, but it’s actually just a mix of common ingredients found in many Asian-inspired meals. We pre-package the mixture to save you cooking time, but if you want to recreate any of these recipes at home, it’s easy to make your own version with a few ingredients and a good knife. 

Chef Lili shows us how to make Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics

Recipe for Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics 

  • 3 Tbsps finely chopped peeled ginger, about one 3” piece 
  • 3 Tbsps finely chopped scallions 
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbsps neutral oil  

Prep and finely chop the ginger, scallions, and garlic. Use both the white and the green portions of the scallions.  

In a small sauce pot, heat the oil. Add the chopped aromatics, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened.

Use as a base for flavorful stir frys, noodle dishes, and more! 

Here are some of our favorite dishes using Asian-Style sautéed aromatics 

General Tso’s Chicken with Bok Choy & Jasmine Rice

General Tso's Chicken with Asian-Style Sautéed Aromatics 

Try making this classic takeout dish at home. Our recipe features a sweet and tangy sauce, bok choy, and soft jasmine rice. 

Chicken & Wonton Noodle Stir-Fry with Peas, Carrots & Cabbage

Chicken & Wonton Noodle Stir-Fry with asian-style sauteed aromatics

For this comforting stir-fry, we’re making a sweet and savory sauce to coat fresh wonton noodles, tender chicken, and crisp veggies—first cooked with our fragrant blend of sautéed aromatics for a boost of bright flavor.

Sweet & Savory Sesame Chicken with Vegetables & Jasmine Rice

Sweet & Savory Sesame Chicken asian-style sautéed aromatics

Tender chicken, bok choy, and carrots come together in the pan with a simple, flavorful sauce of tahini (a nutty paste made from sesame seeds), sweet hoisin, and ponzu. The fluffy rice soaks up any extra sauce. 

Korean-Style Beef Bowls with Bok Choy & Gochujang Mayo

Korean-Style Beef Bowls with Bok Choy & Gochujang Mayo

A simple drizzle of mayo mixed with gochujang—a savory paste made from chiles and fermented soybeans—deliciously brings together contrasting textures of tender beef, crisp bok choy, and crunchy marinated radishes.

Soy-Glazed Wonton Noodles with Red Cabbage & Soft-Boiled Eggs

Soy-Glazed Wonton Noodles with Red Cabbage & Soft-Boiled Eggs

In this quick-cooking dish, delightfully chewy wonton noodles and a duo of vibrant veggies are tossed with an umami-filled combination of black bean sauce, sweet chili sauce, and soy glaze. A rich soft-boiled egg served on top lends even more savory flavor to the noodles.

Hoisin Pork & Gochujang Rice Bowls with Mushrooms, Radishes & Marinated Cucumbers

Hoisin Pork & Gochujang Rice Bowls with Mushrooms, Radishes & Marinated Cucumbers

For these bowls, we’re mixing fluffy white rice with spicy gochujang, then topping it off with pork cooked with lightly sweet hoisin sauce. Crispy marinated radishes and cucumbers provide delightful cooling contrast.

Find more recipes like these with the online Blue Apron Cookbook.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: 3 Tips for a Hearty Dinner

vegetarian thanksgiving

Let’s be honest: Turkey has never been the star of the holiday table. You can create a satisfying vegetarian Thanksgiving meal that’s bursting with fall flavors without a bird in sight. Follow these tips for a plant-based special occasion meal that everyone will love. 

Tip 1: Start with quality produce 

If you start out with delicious produce and flavorful extras, you’ll end up with a meal to be thankful for. Lean into the flavors of fall with hearty vegetables like delicata squash and Brussels sprouts. Add a pop of brightness with seasonal citrus. Nuts and seeds, like pepitas and almonds, add texture and richness that enhance roasted flavors. 

salad and pie

Tip 2: Embrace indulgence 

Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean that you only eat vegetables. Thanksgiving is the time to bring in comfort food. We’re talking carbs, cheese, and everything rich. Our favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving main is essentially a dressed-up mac and cheese. This year we’re serving a Three-Cheese Cascatelli Pasta Bake with Mushrooms, Spinach & Truffle Breadcrumbs. A decadent mix of cheeses makes this dish a little indulgent—perfect for a holiday meal. 

vegetarian thanksgiving main

Tip 3: Bring on the umami 

Savory, rich umami flavor can be a little hard to find in a vegetarian diet. It’s naturally present in meats and fish, but you have to look a little harder in the plant-based world. Mushrooms, including truffle zest, are a natural umami bomb. We’re using truffle zest to add a punch of flavor to our vegetarian main dish. Roasting vegetables is also a great way to enhance their savory flavor. A little dark brown caramelization will bring rich complexity to any dish. 

fall vegetables

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

Wondering what to serve instead of a turkey? Here’s what’s on our table this year. 

  • Three-Cheese Cascatelli Pasta Bake with Mushrooms, Spinach & Truffle Breadcrumbs
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Calabrian Brown Butter Vinaigrette & Walnuts
  • Arugula & Orange Salad with Pistachios & Creamy Date Dressing
  • Smoky Delicata Squash with Pepitas & Almonds
  • Chocolate Mousse Pie with Whipped Cream & Candied Peanuts

The Blue Apron vegetarian holiday box will be available to ship starting November 7th. Stay up to date here.

Yes, You Can Make Pasta in the Oven

Most of your favorite pasta dishes start out the same way: by bringing a large pot of salted water to boil. Of course, we stand by this tried and true method, but for busy nights when you’re craving a hands-off meal, there’s another way. You can make pasta oven by baking it in a pan with water. The best part is that all of your other ingredients cook at the same. You’ll end up with a flavorful pasta bake and minimal cleanup.

How to make pasta in the oven 

Choose the right pan 

Put your half sheets away! To make pasta in the oven you need a deep baking dish. The pasta will bubble as it bakes, and you don’t want any sauce to overflow in your oven. You’ll also need space to reach into the dish with a spoon and mix things around, so a little extra room is good. We recommend a 9x 15-inch baking pan. Our Blue Apron ready-to-cook meals come with a recyclable aluminum tray for baking. 

Add enough liquid 

Even though we’re not boiling a pot, our pasta still needs liquid to cook. In your baking dish, combine your noodles with all of your other ingredients and around ½ a cup of water. The noodles will absorb the water as they cook. The final dish will be saucy and moist, but not watery. 

Don’t forget the seasoning 

When you cook pasta on the stovetop, you add salt to season the inside of the noodles. The same principle applies when you’re making pasta in the oven. Create a flavorful base for the noodles with seasoning. Don’t skimp on the salt. The great thing about making pasta in the oven is that the noodles absorb flavors from your other ingredients too. The entire dish will bake up into a saucy, creamy, delight. 

Recipes for baking noodles in the oven

Oven-Baked Three Cheese Lasagna with Pesto & Spinach

pasta in the oven

This crowd-pleasing lasagna features layers of ricotta and fontina, fresh pasta sheets, tomato sauce, and mirepoix—a classic mixture of carrots, celery, and onion. It’s finished off with melty mozzarella and a drizzle of our herbaceous basil pesto.

Oven-Baked Hoisin Turkey Meatballs & Udon with Green Beans

udon noodles baked in the oven

Delightfully chewy udon noodles and green beans are coated in a spicy-sweet combination of soy glaze and sambal oelek before being baked in the oven with togarashi turkey meatballs. A drizzle of slightly sweet hoisin sauce and garnish of crispy onions round out the dish.

Oven-Baked Salsa Verde Orzo & Eggs with Feta, Tomatoes & Spinach

orzo pasta baked in the oven

Rich eggs are nestled in a bed of orzo, juicy tomatoes, and spinach all coated in our herbaceous salsa verde. You’ll top the dish off with tangy feta and bright pickled peppers.

Oven-Baked Romesco Beef & Ditali Pasta with Spinach & Tomatoes

Bake tender beef, ditali pasta, and vegetables in a bold tomato and romesco sauce—a smoky, Spanish-style sauce made with almonds, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. You’ll finish the dish off by stirring in tangy crème fraîche before topping with crunchy almonds.

Oven-Baked Sweet Chili Udon & Vegetables with Coconut Chips & Sesame Seeds

For this dish, you’ll coat tender udon noodles, broccoli, and green beans in a sweet and spicy combination of soy glaze, sweet chili sauce, sambal oelek, and more.

Oven-Baked Pesto Chicken & Orzo with Spinach, Tomatoes & Ricotta

Cook tender bites of Italian-seasoned chicken over a bed of orzo pasta, spinach, and juicy tomatoes, before finishing the dish with a dollop of creamy ricotta.

Try this method at home with Blue Apron. Our ready-to-cook meals include everything you need to make pasta in the oven, including the pan.

7 Magical Quesadilla Recipes for Dinner

A quesadilla doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s delicious even in its simplest form—gooey cheese that’s been melted inside of a crispy tortilla. Any additional ingredients are strictly optional, but bulking up a quesadilla with vegetables, protein, and a topping or side dish is a great way to turn this beloved snack into a satisfying meal. Try some of our favorite quesadilla recipes for a dinner that everyone will love. 

Loaded Quesadilla Recipes 

Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas with Butter Lettuce & Pickled Pepper Salad

chicken quesadilla

These zesty Tex-Mex quesadillas are loaded with bites of spiced chicken and two kinds of melty cheese. Tender butter lettuce tossed with pickled peppers, peanuts, and creamy dressing rounds out the dish.

Spicy Mushroom & Onion Quesadillas with Guacamole

mushroom quesadilla

In these crispy quesadillas, mild monterey jack cheese delightfully melts around a rich filling of tender cremini mushrooms and onion—sautéed in chipotle chile paste (a specialty condiment made from dried, smoked jalapeños) for a kick of heat. In traditional style, we’re serving them with a topping of zesty guacamole.

Spicy Zucchini Quesadillas with Poblano Pepper & Fried Eggs

vegetable quesadilla

To top these zesty shredded zucchini and cheddar quesadillas, we’re making an easy take on rajas con crema, a comforting Mexican dish of smoky roasted poblano strips coated with smooth crema or sour cream. The rich yolks from our crispy fried eggs provide the perfect finishing touch

Cheesy Chipotle Black Bean Quesadillas with Caramelized Shallot

black bean quesadilla

These crispy quesadillas are loaded with melty cheese and a duo of saucy black beans and caramelized onion, which get deliciously smoky heat from chipotle chile paste.

Spinach & Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Queso Oaxaca & Guacamole

sweet potato quesadilla

These quesadillas pack plenty of cheesy, zesty flavor, thanks to queso Oaxaca (a delightfully stringy Mexican cheese) and a blend of cumin, paprika, cayenne and more. We’re also layering in a couple of seasonal additions: sautéed spinach and roasted sweet potato. Fresh guacamole and cooling sour cream, served on the side, make for tasty dipping or dolloping.

Spicy Pepper & Onion Quesadillas with Roasted Broccoli Salad

In this zesty Tex-Mex dish, quesadillas are loaded with melty Monterey Jack cheese and sweet peppers and onion—sautéed with chipotle chile paste for a kick of heat. A mashed avocado dipper provides cooling contrast for the spicy quesadillas, while creamy dressed broccoli tossed with roasted peanuts makes for a unique side.

Chicken Korma Quesadillas with Pickled Mustard Seed Veggies & Lime Sour Cream

We’re filling these flavorful quesadillas with monterey jack cheese and chicken cooked in our korma sauce––an Indian cuisine staple made from a blend of aromatics, coconut cream, cashew butter, and traditional spices like garam masala. For hearty complement, we’re serving it all alongside roasted carrots and poblano tossed in lime juice and pickled mustard seeds.

Missing a few ingredients? Just get creative! If you have tortillas, you can use just about anything to make dinner. 

How to host a wine-tasting party

wine for wine-tasting

Fans of the beloved documentary/buddy comedy Somm know—wine professionals aren’t born knowing the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux. They study. A lot. If you want to learn about wine, the best way to do it is by tasting. The good news is that you don’t have to do your homework alone. Trying a few bottles with friends is a great way to practice and have fun doing here. Here’s how to host a wine-tasting party at home.

How to host a wine-tasting party

Blue Apron wine-tasting bundle

Choose the wines

Opening and tasting several bottles of wine at the same will allow you to observe their differences. 

There are a lot of options for creating a fun wine-tasting experience. Try choosing two bottles made from the same grape, but produced in different areas of the world. You might be surprised by the difference between a subtle French Sancerre (made from Sauvignon Blanc) and an aromatic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. 

If you’re tasting any bold red wines, uncork them about 30 minutes before pouring them. This will give them a chance to open up and show the full expression of their aromas. 

Blue Apron offers wine bundles that deliver an assortment of different wines to your home. It’s an easy way to assemble a collection of bottles with different attributes. 

Do some research 

Have some information about the wines ready so you can learn as you sip. This will help you understand what you’re tasting and how the winemaking process creates flavors. Collect information about the grape composition and the region. If it’s available, it’s helpful to know some basic information about how the wine was made. Factors like oak aging, whole cluster fermentation, and malolactic fermentation will have a noticeable impact on the wine’s flavor. 

If you’re hosting a wine-tasting party with Blue Apron bottles, all of this information is available on the wine’s product page

white wine for wine-tasting

Consider your glassware

Wine glasses are designed to enhance the aromas of wine. If you don’t have enough glasses for all of your guests, just choose any glass or tumbler with a large enough opening to stick your nose in. This will help you when it’s time to smell the wine. 

It’s ok to reuse the same glass for multiple wines without rising. If you’re switching to a very different wine, like from white to red or dry to sweet, you can give the glass a little rinse. Using water to rinse may dilute the wine. The best way to rinse between tasting is the ‘prime’ your glass with wine. Just pour small amount of the new wine, swish it vigorously around your glass, and dump it. 

wine-tasting snacks

Offer some wine-tasting snacks

Food enhances and alters the flavor of wine. A few snacks will help you understand what foods the wine will pair with. Plus, it’s always a good idea to have a little something in your stomach if you’ll be having a glass or two. 

Plan to serve a few salty and rich snacks. A cheese board with crackers is a great choice. For a simpler option, try serving buttery bread, Marcona almonds, and tortilla chips. Taste a tart wine like sauvignon blanc, then take a bite of tortilla chips and taste it again. Notice how the acid in the wine refreshes the palate, making the salty chip less overwhelming. Try a rich, full chardonnay with a Marcona almond— the buttery wine will enhance the lush, fatty nut. Take a bite of buttery bread and then a sip of bold Cabernet sauvignon. The tannins in the wine will cut through the fat of the butter, cleansing your palate. 

Spitting during a wine-tasting: yes or no?

In the world of wine, spitting isn’t considered rude. Professionals may taste dozens of wines a day and then keep working. Master sommelier Madeleine Puckett says she frequently tastes up to 40 wines at events. Spitting is a way to keep working without clouding the mind with alcohol and falling asleep before lunch. If you’ve been to a tasting at a vineyard or winery, you’ve probably noticed silver buckets lining the tasting counter. These are known as spitoons and yes, they’re filled with wine spit. 

There’s no need to stock your home with spit buckets for your wine-tasting party, but it’s a good idea to have some opaque spitting cups available for guests who don’t wish to consume too much. White paper cups or ceramic mugs will work well. 

Don’t be shy! The key to discreet spitting is to spit with confidence. Just pucker up, use a little force, and spit a clean stream into your cup. Now you’re tasting like a pro!

Set the mood

If you love a theme, it’s time to go crazy. Play some french music, put some wine movies on for background, or wear an entirely burgundy outfit. Just avoid lighting scented candles, they’ll interfere with your ability to smell the wine.

 
Looking for the best way to kick off the evening? You can’t go wrong with a glass of festive sparkling wine.

Our Favorite (Slightly Spicy) Michelada Recipe

spicy michelada recipe

Keep things casual with a tasty beer cocktail that everyone will love. Our chefs developed this riff on a Michelada recipe for all of your game-day viewing needs. Because it’s based on beer, it’s lighter in alcohol than most classic cocktails, which makes it perfect for enjoying during an afternoon event. It’s the perfect alternative to a simple beer and an ideal pairing with salty snacks. 

Michelada recipes differ based on region and preference. Many variations include tomato juice or clamato. Our version is slightly lighter—a chilled beer gets a kick from lime juice, spices, and savory Worcestershire sauce.  If you’re not a fan of spice, you can adjust the amount of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper depending on your preferred spice level.  

The best beer for a michelada 

A michelada is a classic Mexican cocktail. To respect its origins, the best choice of beer is a Mexican lager like Corona, Pacifico, or Tecate. If these aren’t available, any light lager will do. The key is to choose a simple beer that lets the other ingredients shine. Avoid bitter or floral options like IPAs, which will clash with the savory ingredients. 

Michelada Recipe 

Makes 1 michelada 

  • 2 Lime Wedges
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper 
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 2 drops Tabasco Sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Celery Salt
  • 12 oz Chilled Beer 
rim glass for michelada recipe

Combine the cayenne and salt in a shallow dish. Rub 1 lime wedge along the rim of a pint glass and roll the outside rim of the glass in the cayenne-salt mixture. This way you’ll get a little bit of spicy salt with each sip, but the mixture won’t all fall into your drink. Add the lime juice, tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and celery salt to the glass. Top with the beer and garnish with the remaining lime wedge. Enjoy!

Pair this cocktail with the Blue Apron Tailgating Box for an easy fall party.

Recipe: Succulent Coconut Shrimp & Sweet Chili Sauce 

coconut shrimp recipe

We’re celebrating a new ingredient arriving on the Blue Apron menu with this recipe for sweet & savory coconut shrimp. 

Unsweetened shredded coconut flakes are made from the meat of coconuts. The coconut is split, peeled, shaved into small pieces, and then dried. The coconut strips retain some natural moisture, giving them a pleasant, chewy texture. No sugar is added during this process, which makes these flakes a perfect addition to baked goods or savory recipes. 

Look for unsweetened shredded coconut flakes appearing on the Blue Apron menu, and get excited by making this classic Polynesian-inspired dish at home. 

coconut shrimp ingredients

Coconut shrimp ingredients

  • 1 lb Tail-On Shrimp (31 to 40 count), peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup Cornstarch
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Eggs
  • Sweet Chili Sauce (optional, for serving)

Coat the shrimp

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Place the flour and cornstarch on a plate or in a shallow bowl and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Place the coconut and breadcrumbs on a separate plate or shallow bowl and stir to combine. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper and beat until smooth. Working one piece at a time, thoroughly coat the seasoned shrimp in the flour mixture (shaking off any excess), then in the beaten egg (letting the excess drip off), then in the coconut breadcrumbs (pressing to adhere). Transfer to a plate. 

Air-fry the shrimp:

Turn the air-fryer to 400°F. Working in batches if necessary, arrange the coated shrimp in an even layer in the basket. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook 3 minutes, or until starting to brown. Flip the shrimp. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with nonstick spray. Cook 3 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and season with salt. Repeat with any remaining shrimp. Serve the finished shrimp with sweet chili sauce, if desired. Enjoy!

New to the Menu: Vanilla Powder

vanilla powder

Vanilla is the subtle note that makes ice cream, cookies, and cakes sing. Even though the term “vanilla” is often associated with being plain, true vanilla flavor is anything but. Vanilla products are packed with unique flavors that adds complexity and delicacy to everything they touch. Vanilla powder also plays nicely with other flavors—it’s often even the secret ingredient in chocolate, coffee, or caramel desserts. 

In 2021, Add-ons brought desserts and appetizers to the Blue Apron menu. Now we’re unlocking even more dessert potential by adding powdered vanilla to the Blue Apron pantry. Vanilla products can be expensive. Now infrequent bakers don’t have to invest in an entire bottle of vanilla extract or powder. Blue Apron will send everything you need to bake flavorful desserts at home

What is vanilla powder? 

Vanilla powder is a fine powder made from dried, ground, and processed vanilla beans. Some products may also contain dextrose or cornstarch to keep the powder from clumping. Vanilla powder is a great alternative to vanilla extract if you’re looking for a dry or alcohol-free ingredient. 

vanilla powder vs. vanilla extract

What is a vanilla extract? 

Vanilla extract is the most common source of vanilla flavor in the U.S. It’s available at your local supermarket, and it may even be in your cabinet right now. Vanilla extract is made by soaking whole cured vanilla beans in a solution to extract their flavors. Most vanilla extract contains alcohol, but the alcohol remaining in a finished product after cooking or baking will be negligible. You can make your own vanilla extract at home by soaking whole vanilla beans and vodka in a sealed jar for around 8 weeks.  

Can you substitute vanilla powder for vanilla extract?

Yes! You can substitute vanilla powder for vanilla extract (or vice versa) in any recipe. Use a 1:1 ratio when making this substitution. If a recipe calls for one teaspoon of vanilla extract, just use one teaspoon of powder. Easy!

Ready to start baking? Try these pumpkin spice snickerdoodles.

A Guide to Your First Blue Apron Box

what you need to make a blue apron box

Congratulations on your first Blue Apron order! When you see that blue cardboard box on your doorstep, you’ll know that a delicious meal is in your future. Making the most of your delivery is easy. All the instructions you need are in the box and on the app. We’re making things even easier with this guide to your first order. To learn what you need to make a Blue Apron meal, let’s start at the very beginning. 

Unpacking a Blue Apron Box 

After the box arrives at your door, it’s time to get everything into your refrigerator. Keep your protein and produce chilled before cooking. For best practices, store protein below produce or prepared foods. This will prevent any cross contamination in the case of unwanted drips. We recommend preparing all of your Blue Apron meals within a week of delivery.

After you unpack, recycle your box. The included ice pack is filled drain-safe gel. After it thaws, cut it open, drain the contents, and dispose of the lining. 

Store your recipe cards for safe keeping. Don’t give up on dinner if they go missing. You can always find directions online in the cookbook or with the Blue Apron app. 

What’s in a Blue Apron meal kit?

We supply the produce, protein, and all of the delicious condiments that you’ll need to make a special meal. The only things you’ll need to stock in your kitchen are salt, pepper, and olive oil. 

What cookware do I need for Blue Apron? 

The world of kitchen gadgets is thrilling. There’s always a new tool that promises exciting results, but to prepare a Blue Apron box you’ll just need the essentials. Don’t worry if you’re missing a few items, you can always stock up with the Blue Apron market. These are the tools that we recommend having on hand. 

Knives

A chef’s knife is a must for every kitchen. A few other knives, like a small paring knife, can make tasks like peeling garlic easier.

Pots 

We recommend a small pot for cooking grains, a medium saucepan, and a large pot for pasta. 

Frying pans

For tasks like sautéing vegetables or searing chicken breasts, you’ll need a good frying pan. We stock our kitchens with a trusty nonstick and a heavy-duty cast iron. 

Baking pans

A sheet pan is the best way to roast vegetables or bake cookies. We love lining ours with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. For dishes like enchiladas, we recommend a baking dish with sides approximately 2.5 inches tall. 

A strainer 

To strain noodles or steamed vegetables you’ll need a colander or wire mesh strainer. 

Wooden spoons 

Stir sauces or sauté vegetables with a wooden spoon. The soft edges won’t scratch your pan, and the handle is non-conductive, so it won’t get too hot to handle. 

Cutting boards 

We use wooden cutting boards for fruits and vegetables and silicone or plastic boards for protein. 

A Spatula 

Use a silicone or metal spatula for lifting, scooting, or flipping everything from fish to pancakes. 

Mixing bowls

Use a set of mixing bowls to keep ingredients organized, mix batters, or assemble salads. 

A ladle 

A ladle is a simple way to transfer liquid from one vessel to another. You’ll use your ladle for serving dishes like soup or chili. 

A whisk 

A whisk is an essential tool for beating eggs and mixing salad dressing. Whisks mix ingredients thoroughly and incorporate air for a fluffy texture. 

A Microplane or box grater

We love using a microplane to make garlic paste or zest citrus. A box grater is useful for shredding cheese, or taking the place of a microplane in a pinch. 

Still waiting for your delivery? Get excited with our top 10 Blue Apron recipes of all time.