“I’ve never eaten a Hot Pocket and then afterwards been like ‘I’m glad I ate that'” -Jim Gaffigan
It’s been years since I’ve had a Hot Pocket…or a croissant pocket, or a lean pocket or whatever new version has hit the market recently. I remember the meat and cheese filled pastries more for Jim Gaffigan’s comedy routine than I do for their taste and appeal. But when you break it down, these hot pockets aren’t much different than empanadas or hand pies both of which I have recently eaten and enjoyed. So could my homemade “hot pockets” outshine the frozen staple, or would they too be the target of Jim’s jokes…
Taste: I’m always a bit amazed when pastry or crust manages to make it out of the microwave in decent form. The manufactures will have you believe it’s the packaged sleeves, but I’m sure it’s the product of some weird sort of magic. With Hot Pockets, the magically flaky crust is complimented by their variety of fillings. The one I remember the most was the broccoli, chicken, and cheese version. As with most frozen options, the taste isn’t so bad, and arguably better than you’d expect. The problem is, the food doesn’t taste fresh, it doesn’t taste healthy, and it certainly doesn’t look all that appealing.
To keep the comparison fair, I decided to make a chicken, broccoli, and cheddar hot pocket of my own. Using chicken breast, fresh broccoli, and sharp cheddar I was able to make a filling that was beyond enjoyable. Along with the homemade crust I made, my offerings, despite lacking a bit of uniformed structure were full of flavor. Most importantly however, I was able to eat them without feeling ill. The fresh bite of the broccoli along with the big cubes of organic chicken breast and the creaminess from the cheese balanced with the flaky crust perfectly. I even made a eggplant parmigiana version for extra variety which was also delicious but I’ll get back to the head to head…
Cost: The Hot Pockets have always been one of the cheaper frozen options. A package of two will run you at most $3.49. Although Fresh Direct doesn’t sell them, I did a bit of research and found the average price to be around this figure. That clocks in at $1.75 per pocket. That’s pretty reasonable. So did my homemade versions, with fresh ingredients and organic chicken break the bank. Of course not! At $7.54* for four hot pockets, I was able to come in just $.14 higher per pocket once again proving that the deals we think we are getting by buying from our supermarkets freezer section are awfully misleading.
Time: The instructions on the box tell us that all it takes is two minutes in the microwave for our golden brown hot pocket to be perfect for consumption. Based off of microwave inconsistencies I think this time can extend towards the four minute mark but either way, this is fast food to the core. How can I compete with that? From start to finish, including the preparing and resting of the dough, my hot pockets were ready in about an hour and a half. That isn’t so bad especially considering the majority of that time was devoted to the dough resting in the refrigerator. Plus I didn’t use any magic and nothing competes with homemade crust.
The decisions we are making come back to two factors; time and money. But once again, with comparable spending, I was able to produce a much tastier and certainly much healthier version of a popular frozen food! And despite having spent substantially more time in the kitchen, I spent less time on the couch, more time conversing with friends, and ultimately didn’t regret an ounce of my dining experience. Can’t say the same for Jim and his Hot Pockets.
- 1 organic chicken breast $2.12
- 1 1/2 cups flour $.35
- 1/2 stick organic butter $.69
- 1/2 lb cheddar cheese $2.99
- 1 head broccoli $.99
- 1 jalapeno $.40
- Total (4 Hot Pockets) = $7.54
- Price per pocket = $1.89