What the bloody hell was Gordon Ramsay thinking when he released a line of frozen dinners in August 2023? Seriously — why would the famously fickle chef who's publicly voiced his disdain for frozen food in the past agree to lend his name (and well-established brand) to an octet of single-serve frozen meals? And, how did the Scottish-born culinary artisan decide his newly-released product should be sold exclusively in freezer aisles at Walmart (of all places)?
We're not sure we can satisfactorily answer those questions. After all, despite resembling some far-fetched fever dream concocted by a desperate marketing exec, the Chef Ramsay frozen dinners are an actual, real-life item and, as of September 11, 2023, available for purchase at participating Walmart locations for $5.94 each (or near that price, depending on location). Of course, considering the man himself told People each of his newly-released frozen meals "represent a special part of (his) personal culinary journey," perhaps the most pressing question is simply this: Are Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners any good?
Given the sheer lunacy of these frozen dinners' very existence, we simply had to try these new products. After taste-testing all eight varieties, we decided to put our love for wholly subjective rankings to good use. Without further ado, here are our rankings of Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners.
Read more: What Gordon Ramsay Really Eats
Four Cheese Macaroni
Since certain meals and dishes are perfectly suited for long-term freezing, we have to admit we had high hopes for Chef Ramsay's take on frozen mac and cheese. Unfortunately, the actual experience of ingesting this four cheese macaroni was utterly unbearable. In fact, we're fairly certain our Gran could make a better macaroni and cheese than the one offered under the Chef Ramsay banner — and she's dead!
Sorry to borrow one of Ramsay's harshest insults, but there's simply no way to describe this disastrous frozen meal in positive terms. Hands down, this was the least enjoyable Chef Ramsay frozen dinner we tried. In fact, the four cheese macaroni — which contains mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, and provolone — may have been the worst pre-made frozen macaroni and cheese we've ever encountered.
More than anything, the bizarrely uneven distribution of cheese (and cheesy sauce) over the macaroni was this frozen dinner's downfall. The uncovered pieces of pasta became stiff and leathery during the cooking process, though it's difficult to imagine any scenario where the stunningly bland cheese foursome could have saved the dish. In that sense, if you're eager to see for yourself how Gordon Ramsay's foray into the frozen dinner has gone? Skip the four cheese macaroni entirely and consider one of the following varieties instead.
Fish And Chips
Any potential critique of Walmart's Chef Ramsay frozen dinners is contingent on one's general expectations for the product. If you expect the TV dinner–like frozen meals to morph into a dish akin to one personally prepared by the man himself, you're set for a bigger letdown than Jess (Zooey Deschanel) was after Ramsay destroyed a plate of scallops while calling her a liar during a "New Girl" cameo appearance (Season 6, Episode 16).
To be fair, the beer-battered-and-fried pollock pieces were essentially fine. In fact, we may go so far as to describe the fish as both fairly tasty and essentially indistinguishable from a frozen fish product made by, say, Gorton's. But, that leads us back to our initial point — namely, is creating a dish one step above a well-known frozen fish purveyor what a chef of Ramsay's caliber should be striving for?
Of course, while the fish component of the fish and chips meal kept it from pulling up the rear in our rankings, the mind-bogglingly bland, thick-cut potatoes ensured that it rose no higher than second to last. We were deeply disappointed by the lack of seemingly any seasoning whatsoever on this dish's spuds component. Between its nigh-inedible potatoes and aggressively average fish, the fish and chips meal comes in seventh place among Gordon Ramsay frozen dinners.
Given Gordon Ramsay's aversion to consuming overcooked food, it makes perfect sense why he was so hesitant to throw his hat into the frozen food ring before his titular brand was released. Of course, as evidenced by the excessively mushy mushroom risotto offered among his frozen dinner line, perhaps he'd have been best served sticking solely to filming a new season of "Kitchen Nightmares" rather than spearheading this product.
Actually, in all honesty? The flavors were more or less fine in this dish, as the notably rich presence of portabella mushrooms came through like gangbusters. Our quibbles, then, came from its discomfiting mouthfeel and eyesore appearance, both of which were simply too much to overcome to rank it higher than sixth place.
While the box presents a fresh and vibrant-looking bowl of food, the final product left us wishing our eyes played no part in the eating process. Additionally, there's a fine line between superlatively smooth and inedibly glob-like. Chef Ramsay's mushroom risotto fell squarely (and frustratingly) in the latter camp. Considering risotto is supposed to be creamy but not literal mush, we're compelled to keep this frozen dinner in the bottom half of our rankings.
Slow Roasted Beef
We haven't exactly been shy about our overall displeasure with the Gordon Ramsay frozen dinners ranked in the bottom half of this list. While we wish that we could say the slow-roasted beef piqued our enthusiasm and finally offered a Chef Ramsay frozen dinner we'd be satisfied to eat more than once, we can only offer the unvarnished truth. In other words, the streak of supremely lackluster meals remains unbroken (for now) with the fourth-worst dish of slow roasted beef.
Now, like the previously mentioned mushroom risotto and fried pollock pieces, the slow roasted beef wasn't necessarily unpleasant tasting. Yet, we find ourselves channeling Guy Fieri on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" after consuming a food item he didn't entirely enjoy, attempting to offer a non-complimentary (but not exactly insulting) description of the item rather than giving genuine praise.
What can we say about this frozen meal, then, but that it contained moderately tender beef served in a red wine sauce alongside some well-cooked potatoes and veggies? Nothing, actually. That may not be the type of feedback a world-renowned chef like Ramsay is accustomed to receiving. If he's displeased with our assessment, perhaps there's some solace to be found knowing his slow roasted beef tasted better than the three frozen dinners ranked lower.
Lemon Caper Chicken
As we head into the top half of our list of Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners (ranked, of course), we're pleased to announce that we've nearly reached the point of genuine diner satisfaction — we just haven't arrived quite yet. After all, while we can say the surprisingly tender and toothsome chicken component of the lemon caper chicken dish (as in, the poultry portion itself) was a treat, we still took issue with the terribly soggy and terrible-tasting outer layer of the meal's main item.
To be honest, we're not entirely sure how this issue could be resolved given the way this frozen dinner is currently presented. It's difficult enough to re-crisp a breadcrumb-crusted frozen protein during the reheating process, let alone doing that when that seemingly flash-frozen meal is drenched in some sort of sauce like this dish's white wine sauce.
Seeing as there's hope for the future of Chef Ramsay's lemon caper chicken frozen dinner — a simple repackaging strategy would work wonders — we're inclined to give it the first slot in our final four. Throw in the fact that the roasted potatoes appeared genuinely seasoned, too (unlike the fish and chips' thick-cut potatoes), and, well ... we can almost say we'd like to amend our earlier statement about the lemon caper chicken's ability to satisfy.
Lasagna With Bolognese Meat Sauce
As we enter the top three of our Gordon Ramsay frozen dinner rankings, we're thrilled to say that the lasagna was a legitimate success. In fact, while we held a similar set of preconceived notions for this frozen lasagna as we had with the frozen mac and cheese, the Italian dinner actually delivered what we expected. Or, at the very least, it provided a much closer approximation of how a delectable, non-frozen lasagna should taste.
For starters, the tender pasta sheets advertised on the box actually remained (gasp!) tender and firm during the cooking process. This could easily be attributable to the frozen dinner's properly dispersed Bolognese sauce, which kept the pasta from drying out (as occurred with the four cheese macaroni). More than that, the ricotta-based filling provided exactly what we know and love from the classic lasagna interior component, resulting in a rich amalgamation of cheese, herbs, sauce, and pasta while dining.
Now, the general lack of noticeable meat in the Bolognese meat sauce was enough to knock this frozen lasagna out of our top two. When you consider that this meal delivered a much more desirable and consistent flavor profile than the vast majority of Chef Ramsay's frozen dinners? There's clearly no shame in winning the bronze.
Can a Scotsman like Ramsay take pride in presenting a shepherd's pie made with ground beef instead of the (much more) traditional minced lamb? Well, if the product in question is his frozen dinner version of this classic comfort food, the answer is a resounding yes.
Now, while the chef has previously described "the mince" as the most crucial component for successfully preparing shepherd's pie, the clear star of this frozen meal was the top layer of decadent and cheesy mashed potatoes. We don't mean to imply that the well-seasoned medley of succulent beef mixed with peas and carrots was a dud by any means. But, we also can't pretend that the mashed potatoes weren't stupendously delicious and the number one reason we couldn't stop eating the finished product.
Between the smattering of shredded white cheddar (which melded perfectly with the underlying ingredients while cooking) and an undoubtedly hefty amount of butter, the flavors found in the mashed potatoes easily elevated the shepherd's pie to second place among Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners. Nelly may claim two is not a winner, but the shepherd's pie still bested six other competitors, and there's something to be said for that.
Chicken Pot Pie
After expending an exorbitant amount of energy preparing, eating, and analyzing each of Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners (sold exclusively at Walmart, remember), two things became crystal clear: We'd be content with never again consuming a Chef Ramsay-branded frozen meal ... and the chicken pot pie was head-and-shoulders above the other seven options.
After sampling each variety, it's unlikely that any meal or dish could've feasibly salvaged our overall opinion of the Chef Ramsay frozen dinner line. The chicken pot pie came awfully close. Its logic-defying puff pastry crust — which somehow remained delightfully crunchy on top during and after cooking — offered a perfect textural contrast to the luscious mixture underneath. Its mouth-watering, superbly creamy gravy provided an excellent balance of flavorful chicken and vegetables (with potatoes, carrots, peas, mushrooms, celery, and onion listed among its ingredients).
Perhaps there's a rational reason why the chicken pot pie was the only bonafide top-drawer dish among Gordon Ramsay's frozen dinners (an honorary title we'd actually bestow upon the shepherd's pie, as well, upon further reflection). Whatever explanation may exist, though, the bottom line is that the frozen chicken pot pie was number one with a bullet and should be any prospective customer's first choice when considering a Chef Ramsay frozen meal purchase.
Read the original article on Mashed.