When you’re craving the ease of a frozen dinner but you’re looking to limit your intake of calories, Lean Cuisine has been a trusted option in America for 40 years. Since the beginning, these frozen dinners have been marketed to people who are watching their weight. Though Lean Cuisine has rebranded itself many times over the decades, their basic motto has remained the same: All the flavor of other frozen dinners but without all the calories.
Are Lean Cuisine frozen dinners actually a healthy choice? While that’s debatable, they do unquestionably fulfill their promise about keeping the calorie count low.
That said, not all of the frozen dinners by Lean Cuisine are worth your money. Some of them are so off-putting that you should not even consider bringing the frozen dinner home to your freezer. To help you avoid the worst of the bunch, we’ve ranked Lean Cuisine frozen dinners — with the best ones at the end of the ranking.
15. Lean Cuisine Macaroni & Cheese
The bad taste of Lean Cuisine’s Macaroni & Cheese is impossible to overstate. This stuff is simply wretched and is a total waste of money. It’s not only the worst mac and cheese frozen dinner, it’s the worst store-bought mac and cheese that you will find anywhere.
This disaster begins with the texture of the macaroni. Once you heat up the frozen dinner, you’ll be met with macaroni that is so soft and so mushy that you’ll want to spit it out. To make matters worse, the cheese doesn’t taste like cheese at all. Instead, it has the initial flavor of plastic and a chemical aftertaste. Combine the texture and the taste, and that’s a combination that only deserves a ride to the nearest garbage can.
If you really want a mac and cheese product made by Lean Cuisine, go with their Vermont White Cheddar version. The cheese is actually tasty, and the texture is much improved.
14. Lean Cuisine Chicken Pad Thai
You’ll know you’ve made a terrible error even before you introduce this frozen dinner to your taste buds. While it’s heating up in the microwave, the smell of dead fish will invade your kitchen. Why does it smell like fish? Although fish isn’t listed on the front of the box, anchovies are listed in the ingredient list on the back. That must be the source of the sadness.
If you put a clothespin on your nose and take a bite, you’ll be sorry you did. The noodles are too limp, the carrots are too hard, the snap peas are too chewy, and the chicken is too sparse. Do yourself a favor, and pass on Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Pad Thai.
13. Lean Cuisine Buffalo Style Chicken
The picture on the box makes Lean Cuisine’s Buffalo Style Chicken look like heaven. It will give you hope that it will taste like the buffalo wings you know and love but without as much fat or calories. Unfortunately, the reality won’t match your expectations, as this meal doesn’t look anything like it does on the box.
Beyond its disappointing appearance, this frozen dinner is also a struggle to eat due to its spiciness. Even if you like spicy food, the spiciness of Lean Cuisine’s Buffalo Style Chicken is so extreme that it ruins the experience. You’ll need a large glass of milk to handle eating all of the chicken that has been drenched with an ocean of hot sauce.
Tip: Don’t let the super-spicy buffalo sauce invade the red skin mashed potatoes. Lean Cuisine has good mashed potatoes that are satisfyingly creamy, but the spicy sauce would completely ruin the potatoes.
12. Lean Cuisine Chicken Fried Rice
While Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Fried Rice isn’t as horrendous as the three frozen dinners listed above, it’s still a major letdown. If you’re hoping that this fried rice tastes like that yummy fried rice available at your favorite Chinese restaurant, you’re in for a rude awakening.
The best fried rice is popping with flavor and has a texture that titillates your mouth. Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Fried Rice is basically the opposite of that. The texture is too squishy and spongy. Even worse, the flavor is nonexistent. It’d be an understatement to call this fried rice bland. It tastes like it has taken a bath in scorching water until all the taste was forcibly removed. This fried rice is supposed to have chicken, scrambled eggs, peas, and carrots in it, but it somehow manages to taste like nothingness. If you’re hungry, you’ll be just as hungry after you finish eating this frozen dinner. Skip this one.
11. Lean Cuisine Parmesan Crusted Fish
You had to know you were taking a risk when you bought a Lean Cuisine with fish as the star of the show. Sadly, your gamble didn’t pay off. Lean Cuisine’s Parmesan Crusted Fish is edible — but that’s about as glowing of a review as it deserves. The truth is that you won’t buy this frozen dinner more than once.
The main issue with this meal is the fish. Even if you enjoy flaky fish, this fish is just too flaky. It falls apart on your fork and turns into a crumbling mess before it even reaches your lips. Furthermore, you won’t be thrilled that the breading lacks any crunchiness and that there is only a limited amount of Parmesan cheese on the fish.
Hiding beneath the fish is some pasta that is covered with a tomato sauce. The pasta is actually pretty tasty, but there’s just not enough of it to help you forget about the fish failure.
10. Lean Cuisine Chicken Enchilada Suiza
Enchiladas of all shapes and sizes are reliably scrumptious. If you go to a Mexican restaurant and order the enchiladas, you are almost guaranteed to be happy with your selection. That said, Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Enchilada Suiza will leave you feeling unfulfilled. You won’t hate it, but you also won’t be too impressed with this frozen dinner.
The first problem with this meal is the fact that it doesn’t have very much chicken in it. The picture on the box makes it look like the enchilada is overflowing with shredded chicken. But if you open the tortilla and take a look for yourself, you’ll see that it’s an underwhelming amount of poultry.
The second problem is the white sour cream sauce that’s on top of the enchilada. Considering that this frozen meal needs to be put in the microwave for nine minutes, the fact that the sour cream sauce loses its flavor shouldn’t be too much of a shock.
9. Lean Cuisine Lasagna with Meat Sauce
When it comes to frozen dinners, lasagna is typically a safe choice. For example, Stouffer’s lasagna is legitimately one of the best frozen dinners on the market. Since Stouffer’s and Lean Cuisine are owned by the same parent company, that means Lean Cuisine’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce has to be just as good, right? That’s not the case, unfortunately.
Lasagna made by Stouffer’s is a lot more flavorful, and each layer brings its own deliciousness to the table. Conversely, Lean Cuisine’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce has a mild taste, and it’s impossible to differentiate between the layers when you’re eating it.
The good news is that Lean Cuisine uses enough yummy ingredients to salvage this frozen dinner. In the lasagna, you’ll find seasoned beef, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce. As long as you don’t compare it to the lasagna that Stouffer’s makes, you’ll be content with this Lean Cuisine pick.
8. Lean Cuisine Chicken Marsala
Flavor-wise, Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Marsala is nothing to write home about. The flavor is best described as unimaginative. What makes this frozen dinner a better than average selection is the fact that it’s extremely hearty and yet it only has 200 calories. If you’re looking for a filling dinner that is low in calories, high in protein (it has 14 grams of protein), and will fill you up to the brim, you can’t do much better.
Lean Cuisine’s Chicken Marsala features strips of white chicken, hunks of roasted potatoes, a generous amount of mushrooms, and plenty of green beans. All that heartiness is drowned in a deluge of marsala wine sauce. Though the marsala wine sauce doesn’t add much flavor to the mix, it’s tasty enough that you won’t actively avoid it when eating this frozen dinner. All in all, there’s no denying that buying this Lean Cuisine offering is money well spent.
7. Lean Cuisine Steak Portabella
Generally speaking, Lean Cuisine doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to steak. If you want steak frozen dinners, you’re probably better off going with another brand. The one exception to that rule is Lean Cuisine’s Steak Portabella. This option is genuinely quite tasty.
As the name suggests, the two main attractions are the strips of steak and the portabello mushrooms. The steak is extra tender. Without much effort, the beef will seemingly melt in your mouth. The portabello mushroom pieces are just as big as the steak strips and just as tender. There’s also a healthy amount of broccoli in this frozen dinner.
What really makes Lean Cuisine’s Steak Portabella stand out from the pack is the brown beef sauce that is liberally applied on top of everything. The sauce is amazingly savory. You’ll be using your fingers to scoop it up and make sure that every last drop of it is gone.
6. Lean Cuisine Apple Cranberry Chicken
If you want to wake up your taste buds and give them a roller coaster ride to remember, consider Lean Cuisine’s Apple Cranberry Chicken. This frozen dinner isn’t the best of the best, but it has so many competing flavors that it’s a journey you will remember.
First of all, this might be the sweetest meal that Lean Cuisine produces. Everything has an apple-flavored sweetness that is sure to make your sweet tooth applaud with joy. There’s also enough savoriness at play to allow you to fully enjoy the grilled chicken, carrots, and green beans. Next, the tartness the cranberries provide each mouthful is glorious, and that ensures this frozen dinner is never boring. Finally, the orzo pasta made with whole wheat gives this Lean Cuisine meal a bonus amount of heartiness.
The one thing you do need to keep in mind is that this frozen dinner has 19 grams of added sugar. If you’re trying to limit your sugar intake, you’d be better off picking another Lean Cuisine frozen dinner.
5. Lean Cuisine Spaghetti with Meatballs
When you’re shopping for spaghetti made by Lean Cuisine, you need to be careful. They have two very different offerings that are easy to confuse. Lean Cuisine’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce is the one that should be avoided. The spaghetti is gooey, the meat is oily, and the acidic tomato sauce dominates the flavor. Don’t purchase this version.
On the other hand, there’s Lean Cuisine’s Spaghetti with Meatballs. It has a similar name, but the difference between the two is night and day. This version has spaghetti that is much superior due to being blessed with a firmer texture. The meatballs are big and so flavorful that you’ll be convinced that they came from the kitchen of an Italian restaurant. Even the tomato sauce is better, as it isn’t as acidic and doesn’t rely so heavily on basil for its flavor.
As long as you know which one to buy, purchasing spaghetti made by Lean Cuisine is a fine idea.
4. Lean Cuisine Glazed Turkey Tenderloins
Lean Cuisine has a ton of chicken-centric frozen dinners. However, chicken isn’t the only poultry they know how to handle. Put in an effort to find Lean Cuisine’s Glazed Turkey Tenderloins, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Eat this frozen dinner, and you can make any day of the year feel like Thanksgiving at grandma’s house.
The praise for this meal should begin with the turkey. While turkey can get dry easily, especially when it’s microwaved, this turkey is surprisingly juicy. The sweet potatoes in this frozen dinner will also win you over. They’re whipped to give them an optimal texture, and each spoonful is packed with flavor. Last but certainly not least is the stuffing. Loaded with dried cranberries, celery, onion, and honey, this stuffing is not for the faint of heart and refuses to take a back seat. Though it may sound like the stuffing is too rich, once you give it a try, you’re sure to love it.
3. Lean Cuisine Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
If you want a light but immensely flavorful frozen dinner, you can’t beat Lean Cuisine’s Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli. While many frozen dinners taste like they were just thrown together at the last second, this Lean Cuisine favorite tastes like it was expertly crafted by hand. All the flavors and textures are perfectly balanced, which makes this a meal that any person of any age will enjoy.
The two main aspects of this frozen dinner are the rigatoni and the chicken. The rigatoni has the perfect level of firmness, while the chicken is perfectly tender. Each meal also features the perfect amount of broccoli, as it’s enough to add diversity but not so much that it overwhelms the rigatoni and the chicken.
While all that is good, your favorite part of this frozen dinner will be the Alfredo sauce. It’s extra creamy, extra scrumptious, and makes everything it touches so much better.
2. Lean Cuisine Cheese Ravioli
When it comes to naming the best meatless frozen dinner that Lean Cuisine sells, there is one meal that rises above them all. Lean Cuisine’s Cheese Ravioli is the runaway meatless winner. It’s so delicious that it could win over a self-avowed carnivore.
The key to culinary victory for this frozen meal is, you guessed it, the cheese. To the surprise of no one, it contains ricotta cheese. The ricotta is both plentiful and delectable. But what is a bit surprising is that Lean Cuisine’s Cheese Ravioli also has Romano cheese in it that’s made from authentic sheep’s milk. That’s the type of cheese you’d expect to find at an expensive Italian restaurant, not inside of an inexpensive frozen dinner.
The tomato sauce on this ravioli is another reason you’ll adore this meal. It’s chunky and adds just the right amount of acidic kick to each bite to perfectly complement the cheese and the pasta.
1. Lean Cuisine Mango Chicken with Coconut Rice
If you want to taste the best option of them all, try Lean Cuisine’s Mango Chicken with Coconut Rice. This frozen dinner is an absolute treat. You will cherish every last morsel, and you’ll make it a habit to keep a box of this stuff in your freezer at all times. After only four and a half minutes in your microwave, you’ll have a fabulous meal at your fingertips.
Narrowing down the best part of this Lean Cuisine masterpiece is difficult to do because it all just tastes so wonderful. From the coconut rice to the juicy strips of white meat chicken and from the mangos to the edamame, you’ll be hard-pressed to pick your favorite. There’s also a yummy sauce at play that is simultaneously spicy and sweet. Instead of spending time trying to select your favorite part, your best bet is to mix it all together, dig in, and prepare for your taste buds to experience magnificence.