Are Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets the New Meatless Burger?

These plant-based packages are taking over the freezer aisle.

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October 03, 2019


Photo by: SweetyMommy/Getty


Plant-based burgers appear to be everywhere now — even fast food joints. They're touted as being better for the environment, as well as a simple way to make living a plant-based lifestyle just a little easier. In the past, we've broken down the pros and cons of following a plant-based diet and the health benefits and risks associated with opting for a plant-based burger instead of springing for the real thing. (For what it's worth, the registered dietitians we talked to think it's OK if you want to eat real meat in moderation.)

But the latest craze in plant-based meat appears to be chicken — more specifically, healthier breaded chicken and meatless chicken stand-ins. Nuggets and tenders made partially or entirely of meatless ingredients are popping up on store shelves everywhere from Walmart to Amazon. And, they're being sold by brands you already know: Perdue, MorningStar and Gardein, to name a few. That said, we've also seem some exciting newcomers to the market like Caulipower (known for its packaged cauliflower pizza crust) and Raised & Rooted (an offshoot of Tyson).

If you're looking for a way to get more veggies into your family's diet without overhauling your grocery cart, these could be worth a try. Read on to find out what bags to look for next time you visit the frozen food section.

Raised & Rooted, $5.99

These nuggets are still very new to the market and are produced under the Tyson brand umbrella. The "chicken" is made using pea protein, but what we like most about these is the breading. If you're a sucker for a McDonald's chicken nugget, this battered option is going to be your slam dunk.

Walmart, $4.98

We have a feeling kids are going to love these dinosaur-shaped nuggets. Perdue didn't make their nuggets plant-based, but added vegetables into the chicken mix so you'll get a 1/4 cup with every serving. These are a good entry-level taste of the plant-based trend, especially for picky eaters.

Walmart, $4.98

These are the same idea: veggie and chicken combo. However, we think they feel more grown-up. You could put these out at a game-day party and guests might not know the difference.

Amazon, $5.59

These tenders are dairy-free and low-fat, according to the label. The chicken is entirely plant-based, with a combination of soy protein, pea protein and grains. While these are vegan, they're not gluten-free, so keep that in mind if you have dietary restrictions.

Walmart, $3.67

MorningStar products have been around for years, so it's no surprise the brand has a nugget of its own. This one is totally vegan and has 12 g of plant-based protein (made up of soy protein, according to the ingredient list).

Caulipower, starting at $8.99

A new kid on the block, these somewhat spicy tenders aren't exactly plant-based, but they swap out traditional breading for cauliflower crumbles. With just 1.5 g of fat per serving, these seem like a reasonable alternative to classic fried chicken tenders.

Caulipower, starting at $8.99

If spice isn't your thing, these original cauliflower-coated tenders might be more up your alley. Try them on a sandwich or even in a taco for a healthier packaged option.

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