Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More) Review

Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More)

Lean Cuisine has been doing a little experiment where they dial back the “Lean” part of their title and offer bigger serving sizes. It seems like a good strategy for getting those people onboard who prioritize a full belly over a lean one (which we admit we do far too often!) With this size upgrade comes a fresh chance at changing up old recipes to freshen them up a bit and maybe fix what wasn’t working.

We reviewed the Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken way back in 2017, and we were unimpressed. In fact, we said that eating it felt a bit like “eating a budget sweet and sour chicken dish while plugging your nose.” Ouch.

So we saw the Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More) as Lean Cuisine’s chance at sweet and sour redemption. This version of the dish might have more calories than its smaller counterpart, but we went into it hoping there would be more flavor as well.

This is simple enough to heat. Simply pop it into the microwave for three minutes, give it a quick stir, and pop it back in for another two minutes and 15 seconds. If you’ve ever nuked a Lean Cuisine frozen meal before, you know what to expect here. (If you insist on reading the full cooking instructions straight off the box, check out our package scans at the bottom of this review.)

Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More)

Now, quite a few details of this meal have been altered, and you can tell just by looking at it. The old version came out of the microwave looking like a swampy mess; this version looks more like a semi-respectable dish of food (though it’s maybe still a bit swampy).

Unfortunately, the sauce might have more flavor than before, but it is more peanutty and citrusy than sweet or sour. In fact, if we didn’t know what this was supposed to be before eating it, we’d have guessed that it was either a peanut sauce or an orange sauce rather than a sweet and sour sauce (it does contain both orange juice concentrate and pineapple juice concentrate, but we’re not sure where that nutty flavor comes from).

A panko breadcrumb breading was added to the chicken, and we think this was a good touch. It tastes quite good, though it has a weird consistency that turns to mush the second it hits your mouth.

There’s a blend of veggies in the mix, which includes carrots, onions, and red and green bell peppers. None of this tastes fresh, though, so the veggies aren’t doing the dish any favors. We actually think baby corn would have been a wonderful addition to this meal, but there is none here.

This meal has 400 calories and 810 mg of sodium, which is up from the 300 calories and 600 mg of sodium of the older version of this dish. This is a little bit more than we would expect from a 20% size upgrade alone, but, as we mentioned above, this is a vastly tweaked recipe.

The Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More) makes several improvements over the previous version of the dish, but it’s not enough to elevate this above mediocrity. It’s a step above the old version, but it’s still lagging behind the competition over at Marie Callender’s (who managed to put out a surprisingly good sweet and sour dish).

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

Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More)
Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More)
Lean Cuisine Sweet & Sour Chicken Bowl (20% More)
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