Whether it’s a demanding job, strenuous family obligations, or more errands than hours in the day, plenty of things can stand in the way of preparing meals for yourself at home. And for many people, taking the time to prepare healthy, balanced meals is wholly out of the question.
This feeling of being constantly rushed from one thing to the next leads many to rely on fast food for a quick fill-up when they’re on the go. But most fast food is loaded with unhealthy ingredients and often provides more saturated fats than carbs or protein. Regular fast food consumption has been linked with everything from obesity and heart disease to greater mortality rates overall.1
Fortunately, companies like Huel offer fast, convenient ways to get healthy, balanced meals without putting off important tasks or spending too much money. And Huel takes its offerings further than most competitors, providing you with drinks, bars, and even hot meals.
Huel’s variety of meal replacement options makes it one of the best choices for anyone interested in saving some time and money in their diets. It does a great job balancing nutrients to ensure you get the most out of each serving. Gourmet types aren’t likely to be too impressed by its flavors and textures, but if you’re someone who eats to live rather than someone who lives to eat, you’ll definitely appreciate what it has available.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service or product we review. That includes Huel and several companies similar to it. But we don’t just look at marketing materials and user reviews. We get hands-on with products and, in the case of Huel, taste them for ourselves. Our testing team has tried most of Huel’s offerings, as well as comparable products from top competitors like Soylent, to bring you accurate and helpful information regarding taste and the customer experience as a whole.
To give our review even more heft, we read through more than four dozen scholarly articles on nutrition and the primary ingredients in Huel’s products. Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
To evaluate Huel, we needed to taste the products for ourselves and develop evaluation criteria that could convey to our readers exactly what they need to know to decide if it’s right for them. We applied a similar set of criteria in our review of Huel’s chief competitor, Soylent. Taste and texture are our most important considerations, having more sway over our final ratings than anything else. But nutrition is close behind — these are meal replacements, after all, so they need to provide a meal’s worth of nutrients.
After those two criteria, we considered cost. Huel’s products are generally a bit pricier than others, though its most basic meal powder is a bit cheaper than Soylent’s. The differences are slight, however, so cost wasn’t as weighty a determining factor as taste and nutrition. Finally, we considered convenience, and this comprises things like customer service, website design, shipping logistics, and the actual convenience of interacting with and consuming these products.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each criterion to help you better understand our final rating.
There aren’t many products that you’d be willing to consume regularly if they didn’t taste good. Some medicinal tonics may be an exception, but a meal replacement needs to at least be palatable. Fortunately, Huel’s drinks taste good. They don’t taste great, but they taste good enough to become something certain people will look forward to and other people will be happy to stomach for the time and energy it saves them.
Comparing a staple drink flavor — chocolate — to that of a competitor like Soylent, Huel’s drink delivers a greater chocolatey heft, but it also suffers from its fiber content and oil usage. Our testers felt that even though it has a lower fat content than Soylent, the oils in Huel contribute negatively to its mouthfeel. Its fiber content also makes it a thicker drink than most, which some of our testers found made it difficult to finish a bottle.
Thanks to Huel’s product variety, its taste and texture rating got a bit of a boost, especially thanks to its hot and savory meals. These resemble dehydrated foods you might take camping, which require only hot water to rehydrate and enjoy. Many of those camping foods are incredibly salty, and Huel’s modest sodium content had us worried that the flavor would be lacking. But these were surprisingly tasty options that served our testers well.
Huel’s nutrition is among the best in its class, relying on pea protein instead of soy or whey and delivering a macronutrient balance superior to all major competitors.2 Products from companies like Orgain and OWYN are sufficient as light meals in some circumstances, but they all fall short in their calorie counts. Soylent matches Huel at 400 calories, but the division of macronutrients that get you to that number falls in Huel’s favor. That said, Huel still has more fat than would be present in an ideal macronutrient situation.
Still, Huel’s superior ingredient choices and macro balance combine with vitamin content that edges out Soylent’s to make it our preferred choice for those looking at meal replacements as a nutritious alternative to things like fast food.
The biggest downside to Huel’s product lineup is likely its cost. Its most basic powder costs a little less than Soylent’s at a similar quantity, but Huel is more expensive in just about every other category. Here’s a quick look at how Huel’s premade chocolate drink stacks up against the competition:
There are also some purchasing minimums Huel employs that raise the barrier to entry for anyone with limited capital. For example, its powders require a purchase of two bags to be eligible for checkout. And product pricing is often tied to specific flavors, so there might be a flavor you love that’s too much more expensive than another for you to spring for it.
We would seriously consider raising this rating if Huel would drop its purchasing minimums and flatten out costs across flavors.
Convenience is one of Huel’s strong points. The company’s product variety lends to several options for curious customers who need help replacing unhealthy meals with healthier ones that don’t become time sinks. Its impressive hot and savory lineup goes a long way toward boosting the company’s total convenience profile, but there are other elements that help, as well.
One such helpful element is the company’s live chat feature, something its competitors often lack. Soylent, for example, has a chat module, but you’ll never speak to a human on the other end. If the module can’t answer your question with information from the site’s FAQ page, it’ll generate an email to the company’s reps that will be addressed in a day or so. Being able to talk to someone quickly and get nuanced questions answered is much more convenient.
Little things work against this rating, like the fact that the company’s drink powders don’t mix well in the provided shaker cup, leaving some clumps that might have you reaching for the blender. And the purchasing minimums we mentioned in the cost section also mean that you’ll need to store larger quantities of product than you may have space to accommodate.
Still, these are small complaints in the face of what is an overwhelmingly convenient customer experience.
Photo by Innerbody Research
Huel is a nutrition company whose primary products are meal replacements. Founded in 2014 by Julian Heam, its goal was to create a meal replacement that could provide the nutrients recommended by the European Food Safety Authority in a vegan and environmentally sustainable product.
Huel has expanded since to include gluten-free products, bulk powders, hot meals, and even apparel for men, women, and children. Today, Huel offers products in the following categories:
The cornerstone protein of its products comes from peas, providing you with a sustainable and nourishing protein that doesn’t suffer from the same pitfalls as soy or whey, such as potential estrogen dysregulation or the introduction of hormones and antibiotics used in dairy farming.3 It also includes a blend of 27 essential vitamins and minerals in nearly everything it makes.
Huel products are best suited for people without a lot of time or the ability to cook for themselves. Busy professionals, vegans and vegetarians in need of more protein, those with certain disabilities, and athletes are just some of the people for whom Huel is a great fit.
Huel products might be less suitable for people who are strict about consuming organic ingredients and for people whose refined palates might not appreciate Huel’s flavors. They also contain too many carbs for those adhering to ketogenic diets.
Huel’s product lineup is extensive, and prices vary by flavor for some of its offerings. There is no simple price list; you have to add a single flavor to your cart to see its price. That can make comparing one flavor to the next a little tedious, so we’ve gathered prices together for each of Huel’s product categories.
Some products and flavors on Huel’s website include version numbers that appear as “v3.0” or “v3.1.” Huel regularly updates both its flavor options and formulas to continuously give you the best product. When these designations refer to flavor releases, you’ll find multiple version numbers available for a given product. When they refer to updates to a product’s formula, the most recent version will be the only one available.
Subscriptions to Huel products come with a 20% discount, which is up from the company’s previous 10% discount. But that doesn’t mean you’re paying less than you used to when you subscribe. Huel raised the prices of its one-time purchases, making the discount for subscribers seem greater despite those prices remaining the same.
Meanwhile, Soylent — Huel’s top competitor — provides varying discounts from one product to the next. That makes figuring out what a Soylent subscription could save more challenging, but the starting prices and ultimate costs with and without subscriptions are typically lower with Soylent.
One of the most frustrating things about Huel’s system is that you have to purchase multiple items for the site to let you check out. You can’t just go on the website and buy a single bag of meal replacement powder. There’s a two-bag minimum order. The hot and savory meals are even worse, with a three-bag minimum order. Only Huel’s Ready-to-drink cases and Daily Greens are eligible for purchase with just one unit in your cart.
The best way around Huel’s minimum ordering system is also one of the company’s better offerings: bundles. Huel offers its Bestseller Bundle for $95 when you subscribe or $112.20 for a one-time purchase. It includes:
You can also put your own bundles together as a way to save money and avoid minimum orders on certain products. Prices will vary significantly based on how you assemble your bundle.
Huel offers a 10% discount for people in specific professions or situations. You can stack these discounts with the 20% subscription savings to knock extra money off your orders. That discount is available for:
Unlike much of the competition, such as Soylent, Huel doesn’t offer any discounts to teachers at this time.
Huel also has a refer-a-friend program. When you refer someone to the company, and they spend $50 or more, you and your friend both get $15 off any order.
If you’re interested in getting started, Huel gives our Innerbody readers $15 off your first order.
Huel Ready-to-drink meal replacement beverages are the fastest and easiest way to get a meal’s worth of calories and nutrients from Huel. Their macronutrient split provides a good balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. That extra fiber results in a thicker drink compared to some of the competition. Some people will appreciate that thickness, as it can make the drink feel more like a meal. Others may find the drinks too thick. Our testers mostly landed in the latter camp, finding the drinks hard to finish.
Here’s a look at the flavors and pricing for Huel Ready-to-drink meal replacements, sold in boxes of 12. Note that the designations for versions 1 or 2 are not references to evolutions in individual flavors (there was never an Iced Coffee Caramel V1) but rather represent the flavor group to which a given drink belongs. These correspond to the flavors available in a given variety pack:
Variety boxes contain three bottles of each version 1.0 or version 2.0 flavor. In addition to the flavors and prices, there are some key differences in nutrients between versions 1.0 and 2.0:
|Version 1.0||Version 2.0|
Huel Powders contain similar formulas as the company’s Ready-to-drink meal replacements, but you choose how much to mix into a given liquid and what that liquid will be (such as water or milk). You must order a minimum of two bags on the Huel website unless you create a custom bundle with other products.
There are four versions of Huel Powder:
Our testers found Huel powders to be less enjoyable than its ready-to-drink options, both because you have to work to make them and because they don’t mix to as smooth a texture as you get in the bottle. Huel provides new customers with free shaker bottles that have an innovative design we appreciate, removing the need for the physical shaker ball. But in its provided shaker bottle and other shaker bottles we tried, we couldn’t get the mixes to be perfectly smooth. The flavors are similar, with the exception of Huel Black Edition, which had an unpleasant, almost bitter aftertaste.
For unknown reasons, Huel has eliminated its peanut butter flavor as an option for its various powders. It has also done away with its flavor boosts, which were powdered products you could add to increase the intensity or complexity of a given powder’s flavor.
The company says this is due to an expanding range of available pre-blended flavors, but when we last reviewed Huel, there were actually more flavors to choose from (like the now-discontinued peanut butter options) and flavor boosts were still available. It’s possible more flavors are coming down the pike, but for now, you’re limited to the pre-blended catalog. For the record, Soylent still sells its flavor boosts.
Huel Powder v3.0 is the third formula released for Huel Powder. It contains 29-31g of protein (mostly from peas), depending on which flavor you get. Each bag contains 17 meals.
Huel Powder v3.0 in the Cinnamon Roll flavor costs $52 per bag without a subscription and $41.50 per bag with a subscription.
All other flavors cost $47 per bag without a subscription and $37.50 per bag with a subscription.
Those other flavors are:
Huel’s gluten-free powders have identical ingredient lists as the non-gluten-free powders. No Huel powder contains glutenous ingredients, but oats and other ingredients can suffer cross-contamination that prevents the company from calling a product gluten-free.8 Huel Powder Gluten-free v3.0 is manufactured in a gluten-free facility with ingredients that have been shielded from cross-contamination.
Huel’s gluten-free powders contain 29-30g of protein per serving.
The price difference between regular v3.0 powder and gluten-free v3.0 powder is negligible — usually pennies per bag — so if you’re sensitive to gluten in any way, it’s well worth the additional cost.
Huel’s gluten-free powders also used to have the same flavor options as its glutenous counterparts, but the company has scaled those options back to vanilla, chocolate, and salted caramel only.
Each bag costs $53 for a one-time purchase or $42.50 with a subscription.
Huel Black Edition is one of the company’s most protein-rich products, with 39-41g per serving. These powders also have fewer carbs than either v3.0 powder. That makes Black Edition ideal for those trying to build or preserve muscle and those trying to lose weight.7
Every flavor of Huel Black Edition is gluten-free, and the pricing lines up between the two nearly identically.
The Black Edition Cookies & Cream and Cinnamon Roll flavors cost $58 per bag without a subscription and $46.50 per bag with a subscription. All other gluten-free flavors cost $53 per bag without a subscription and $42.50 per bag with a subscription.
Those other flavors are:
Huel Essential is the powder closest in ingredient makeup to the company’s ready-to-drink meals, but it has a macronutrient balance that removes some of the bottled product’s fat in favor of more carbohydrates. Its vitamin and mineral profile is also richer than the original drink’s, making this a slightly healthier choice, so long as you don’t mind the added carb content.
Essential is, by far, Huel’s most affordable meal replacement product, with its price per meal as low as $1.49 when you subscribe. A single bag costs $42 for a one-time purchase or $33.50 with a subscription, and each contains 22 meals (compared to the 17 found in all other Huel meal powders.
One sacrifice you make with Huel Essential is flavor variety, as you can only get it in chocolate or vanilla.
Huel Bars are not complete meal replacements in the same way that its pre-mixed drinks are. They still contain the company’s blend of 27 essential vitamins and minerals in slightly smaller quantities. However, they only offer 200 calories per bar with 11-12g of protein. It’s better to think of Huel Bars as healthy snacks when you’re in a pinch.
Huel Bars come in six flavors, all of which are gluten-free:
A box of any one flavor costs $39.50 without a subscription or $31.50 with a subscription. Boxes contain 15 bars each, and there’s a two-box minimum order.
A variety box is also available that provides three bars of each flavor for $47.50 without a subscription or $38 with a subscription. These bars are far superior to the company’s Complete Protein Bars when it comes to flavor, which we’ll get into below. They aren’t as pleasant as Soylent’s snack bars, however, though it’s worth noting Soylent’s bars are only 100 calories each, making them less filling snacks.
While Huel Black Edition boasts the highest protein content among its meal replacements, the company’s Complete Protein is a way to get complete, plant-based protein into your diet with far fewer calories than you’ll find in Huel’s meal replacements. This protein content can be crucial for vegans and vegetarians.4 The bars and powder are also significantly lower in fat and carbs, two macros typically hard to avoid when eating a plant-based diet.
If you’re trying to lose weight or looking for a way to supplement an otherwise complete diet with added protein, this is a good way to do it.
Huel Complete Protein Powder comes in five flavors:
It also used to be available unsweetened and unflavored, but the company has removed that option.
It’s important to remember that this powder is not a meal replacement as the company’s other powders are. This is a more traditional protein powder without the macronutrient balance or calorie content needed to replace a meal. One bottle has 26 servings and costs $40.50 without a subscription or $32.50 per bottle with a subscription. Note that there is a two-bottle minimum.
Huel’s Complete Protein Bars provide 18g of protein in 200 calories. They’re similar to the company’s other bars, but the macronutrient balance is flatter across the board and less like a typical meal replacement.
Complete Protein Bars come in four flavors:
One box contains 12 bars and costs $47 without a subscription and $37.50 with a subscription. There is also a variety box available at the same price. As with Huel’s other bars, there is a two-box minimum.
One thing to note about Huel’s Complete Protein bars: they don’t taste good. They taste bad. This doesn’t even seem like a subjective judgment to us at this point, as our testers uniformly decried a blandness that gave way to an unbearable bitterness in these bars. No one finished the bars they tried. Given how similar these bars are to the company’s Huel Bar v3.1, we’d steer you toward those unless the specific macro balance in these is a must-have for your diet.
One of Huel’s newest products, Daily Greens contains 91 ingredients, including many dehydrated greens like kale, chlorella, and broccoli sprouts, as well as fruit and mushroom ingredients. While not an unusual product in the landscape, especially among protein powder manufacturers like Orgain and general wellness companies like Garden of Life, it’s not something that Soylent, Huel’s chief competitor, carries.
Daily Greens are vegan and gluten-free, and a 30-serving package costs $56.50 without a subscription or $45 on a subscription basis.
Daily Greens are a very new product and are currently out of stock from high demand. Our testing team looks forward to incorporating our experience with the product in future updates.
One downside to most meal replacement drinks is that they tend to be sweet. For many, the idea of drinking a sweet beverage for dinner doesn’t sit quite right. To account for this, Huel put together a lineup of Hot & Savory meals. When it comes time to eat, you’ll combine a measured amount of these dehydrated ingredients with hot water and have a meal ready to eat in a few minutes.
Insider Tip: Rehydrating these foods isn’t an exact science, especially when you get different microwaves involved with varying wattages. We experimented with boiling water instead, and we recommend you do the same. We also found it necessary to add about ¼-½ cup more water than what the bag recommends to ensure complete rehydration.
Dehydrated meals like these often contain multiple preservatives and almost an entire day’s worth of sodium. But Huel’s meals land between 400mg and 640mg of sodium per serving, which is significantly lower than other options. These also boast the best macro balance of any Huel product.
Several of our testers found that the Hot & Savory meals took a little getting used to. The first few bites were strange, but not unappealing. By the end of their first servings, they seemed to like what they’d gotten. Testers who had had dehydrated foods when camping or hiking were better prepared for the potential textures and flavor profiles, and they liked their meals straight away.
All flavors of Huel Hot & Savory meals cost $33 per bag without a subscription and $26.30 with a subscription. That comes out to just $3.76 per meal. However, there’s a three-bag minimum unless you’re bundling these with other products.
Here are the available flavors of Huel Hot & Savory, all of which are vegan and most of which are gluten-free:
Many nutrition companies offer their own merchandise to customers, but Huel is one of the few with a commitment to sustainability. Its gear isn’t just about getting the company’s name out there; it’s also about giving its customers access to comfortable shirts, pants, and hats that are made sustainably. Each garment is made from 100% recycled materials, and the company is working on creating a circular system that will allow you to recycle the clothes when you’re done with them.
Huelwear items include:
Prices for these goods are a little high. For example, a baseball cap costs $35, and a zip-up men’s hoodie costs $99. But if you share Huel’s commitment to sustainability, you’ll find those prices align with the rest of the sustainable clothing market.
In our testing experience, the clothes are well-made and soft to the touch, but the fit isn’t always as advertised. One tester who typically wears medium and large shirts ordered a large T-shirt, and it did not fit. Not because it was too large or small, per se, but because the cut seemed faulty.
Huel accepts payments from major credit cards, Apple Pay and PayPal. It also partners with Klarna to create installment payments if you need to split the cost over a payment plan.
Shipping from Huel is usually pretty fast (around five business days for our testers). It’s also free for most orders over $59 to the lower 48 states in the U.S. Orders under $59 receive a nominal $9 shipping charge. Soylent’s shipping threshold is a little lower, at just $50, but its cost for shipments that don’t meet that threshold is a bit higher at $9.95.
You can return unopened food products within 30 days for a full refund. Any opened food products are not eligible for a refund. The same applies to clothing items, but there’s more flexibility in item packaging if you merely need to exchange a clothing item for a different size or color.
This is a much more generous policy than Soylent offers, where any food products are considered a final sale the day they leave the warehouse. And if there’s a defect or an incorrect shipment with Soylent products, you only have five days to report it and initiate a refund.
Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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