Marie Callender’s North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl Review

Marie Callender's North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl

While we have spent some time in the South, we Freezer Meal Frenzy staffers are very much midwestern folk at heart. We’re not authorities on southern cuisine, so you should take anything we say about southern comfort food with a grain of salt.

That said, today we’re checking out the Marie Callender’s North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl. How will the northerners on our staff react to this dish from down south? Let’s find out!

This is a simple meal to prepare, though the cook time is a bit longer than you might expect. In the microwave, this will take 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 minutes, while the oven will take 40 to 50. We opted for the microwave here, as we figured it’s the method most people will go for. We gave it 6 1/2 minutes, and that seemed to do the trick. (If you want to read the full cooking instructions for this frozen meal, check out our package scans at the bottom of this review.)

Marie Callender's North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl

When this comes out of the microwave, it’s a little bit confusing to look at. The sauce is this sort of gelatinous mess, and everything seems to be sorted oddly. It is colorful, certainly, so we’ll give it credit for that at least.

We gave this a good stir to see if that helped, but it really didn’t . Stirring this only revealed that the vast majority of the dish is grits, and everything else, which seemed to have reasonable portion sizes, disappears into the goop once this is stirred. As you can see in the image below, this doesn’t look nearly as appetizing in real life as it does in the picture on the box.

Marie Callender's North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl

It also smells kind of weird. The smell, we believe, comes from a combination of the cheesy grits and the sweet BBQ sauce. Now, the sauce is actually really lovely, but it doesn’t seem to mix well with the grits. The flavor combination seems strange to us (and it does taste a lot like it smells: weird).

As northerners who aren’t used to eating grits, this just feels wrong to us. We don’t like the gravelly consistency, and we don’t care for the flavor much either.

The chicken is pretty low in quality. It’s tough and gristly, though it has a better flavor than the grits. The black-eyed peas are crunchy, and we’re not sure they’re supposed to be. Maybe people are into that, but we are certainly not.

Unfortunately, we can’t really compare this with the home-cooked stuff, because we’re not all that familiar with grits. It’s possible the Marie Callender’s version gets everything wrong. However, this might just be what a BBQ grits bowl is supposed to taste like. If that’s the case, we can say with quite a bit of certainty that it’s not for us.

The calories aren’t bad here — just 330 calories per dish. That’s not quite in the range of a diet food, but it’s pretty darn close. This is a relatively low-guilt meal as far as calories are concerned. Of course, the sodium levels are through the roof, at 1,200 mg. That’s almost twice the sodium content of your average frozen meal, and your average frozen meal is already really high in sodium. You should definitely be careful if you’re trying to keep your sodium intake low. (Of course, if you’re anything like us, you won’t finish the meal at all, which reduces those numbers a bit.)

As northerners, we can’t say how authentic the Marie Callender’s North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl tastes, but we can say that we don’t like it. The flavor is strange, and we hate the texture. The sauce is great, but it doesn’t seem like it goes with the rest of the meal at all, and the combination is off-putting. We apologize to grits-lovers for our ignorance, but we really don’t like this meal. We haven’t had a lot of Marie Callender’s meals that have really impressed us (besides their sweet & sour chicken, which is fantastic), but the North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl might be our least favorite thing we’ve tried by them.

To learn more about the nutrition content, ingredients, or cooking instructions for this frozen meal, check out our package scans below.

Marie Callender's North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl
Marie Callender's North Carolina Style Chicken & Grits Bowl