Best Vegan Chicken Options: 11 Brands for Meatless Nuggets and Tenders
Vegan meat has come a long way, and it’s easier than ever to find meat substitutes that will please the most committed plant-based and meat-eaters alike. But where should you start your search?
We thought we’d lend a hand with our list featuring some of the best vegan chicken options to consider. Keep in mind that the "best vegan chicken" doesn't always mean the same thing to everyone. Taste and texture are certainly important, but quality and ingredients are an essential part of the equation. With these plant-based chicken brands, we’ll point out what makes them appealing and what’s less than ideal so you know what to shop for. Let’s jump in!
What Are the Best Vegan Chicken Options? Here are 11 Brands to Consider
Yes, it’s possible to skip KFC, the golden arches, and other fast-food joints in favor of your home kitchen when a nugget craving hits. And it doesn’t just have to be about wanting to feast on a plate of nuggets. Sometimes you need meatless chicken tenders and other plant-based chicken products on hand to recreate a meal in a more plant-forward way. Or maybe you simply want something to nosh on after school or work. (BBQ sauce and nuggets, anyone?)
Let’s be honest, we love homemade meals, but we don’t love being in the kitchen every evening. Save the elaborate seitan chicken nugget recipe for the weekend and check out our list featuring some of the best vegan chicken options.
1. Nowadays Chicken Nuggets
We think choosing the best vegan chicken nuggets should be easy, and it’s hard to beat Nowadays original nuggets, especially when you see how they stack up to the competition. Made with organic, non-GMO pea protein, these crispy nuggets are a high-protein option (13g per serving) with a flavor even the pickiest eaters will love. You get to enjoy a delicious, meat-free meal made from just 7 easy-to-recognize ingredients — with absolutely no artificial ingredients, questionable additives, or saturated fat.
Why People Like It: Seven simple ingredients create a juicy and tender plant-based chicken nugget with an addictively crispy breading. Plus, Nowadays nuggets have 250mg of sodium per serving, which is lower than other popular brands. Check out the customer reviews to see how people are enjoying them, including in recreations of favorite recipes like fried chicken and waffles. Yum!
Why You Might Not Like It: Deciding on a recipe is tricky. Should you begin with loaded queso nugget potatoes or the nugget pot pie? Or maybe they’d be best right out of the oven with your choice of sauce? Hmm … how to nugget, that is the question.
2. Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets
Gardein’s Ultimate plant-based chicken nuggets are a high-protein option made with vital wheat gluten. With a crispy breading, these chickenless nuggets offer an alternative to the drive-through when a craving hits.
Why People Like It: These vegan nuggets are high in protein.
Why You Might Not Like It: Gardein’s chicken nuggets are loaded with additives like methylcellulose, titanium dioxide, and 30 other ingredients. Yikes! Pass on these if you have soy or wheat allergies.
3. Quorn Chicken Nuggets
Quorn meatless chicken nuggets are a soy-free and non-GMO option that changes tack from the typical soy protein-based nuggets you see in the grocery store. Instead, these nuggets are made from "mycoprotein.” (Say what?) This soil-based fungus is fermented, making it a sustainable plant protein.
Why People Like It: A unique and sustainable protein source, Quorn’s mycoprotein provides 13g of protein per serving.
Why You Might Not Like It: These nuggets contain milk and egg ingredients, so if you’re trying to go strictly plant-based (or are sensitive to lactose), these won't work for you.
4. MorningStar Farms Veggie Chik’n Nuggets
MorningStar Farm's meat alternatives are a staple in the freezer section of most supermarkets, so it should be pretty easy to find these chik’n nuggets. These plant-based nuggets are made with soy protein and offer 13g of protein per serving.
Why People Like It: These chick’n nuggets are easy to cook, whether you opt for an air fryer, oven, or microwave.
Why You Might Not Like It: Made with 40 ingredients (!), including genetically modified ingredients, there’s nary a veggie in sight with this meat-free option. There are also additives like methylcellulose.
5. Beyond Chicken Tenders
More than just Beyond Meat patties, Beyond has its own version of chicken tenders, which are said to please meat-eaters and veggie aficionados alike. Each serving provides 13g of plant-based protein made from faba beans (you might know them as broad or fava beans).
Why People Like It: Beyond's chicken tenders make it easy to add extra protein to a meal or enjoy as an afternoon snack.
Why You Might Not Like It: These crispy tenders are high in sodium (450mg per serving) and have a lengthy ingredient list with additives you may not want on your plate (like methylcellulose and titanium dioxide).
6. Daring Breaded Plant Chicken Pieces
Daring’s soy protein-based chicken pieces are gluten-free and come in four flavors: breaded, cajun, lemon herb, and original.
Why People Like It: With several flavors to choose from, you can use Daring in various dishes.
Why You Might Not Like It: These chicken pieces are soy-protein based, so they’re not the best option if you’re trying to avoid soy or have an allergy. They aren’t exactly low in sodium either. Each serving of breaded chicken pieces packs in 340mg of sodium.
7. Alpha Foods Original Chick’n Nuggets
Another meatless nugget option is the original chick'n nuggets by Alpha Foods. Made with wheat and soy-based ingredients, these chicken nuggets are palm oil-free and entirely plant-based.
Why People Like It: The non-GMO Project certification makes it easy to see you’re avoiding genetically modified ingredients if that’s a priority.
Why You Might Not Like It: Alpha Food's nuggets are made with soy protein and canola oil, both highly processed. These won't cut it if you're looking for a meatless nugget with a minimal ingredient profile.
8. Tofurky Chick’n
Made from vital wheat gluten, canola oil, and tofu, Tofurky chick’n bites contain 19g of protein per serving. There are also several flavors to choose from — lightly seasoned, sesame, Thai basil, and barbeque.
Why People Like It: With different flavor profiles, these chickenless bites make it easier to experiment with your favorite vegan food recipes.
Why You Might Not Like It: Long ingredient lists and additives like titanium dioxide can be a turn-off. If you’re looking for a high-quality protein source, these may not be the best fit as the first few ingredients are highly processed.
9. Impossible Chicken Nuggets
While the Impossible burger patties are the most well-known products from the brand, there are also now chicken nuggets. Folks seem to appreciate the meaty taste (made from soy protein) and crispy breading.
Why People Like It: These chicken bites are cholesterol-free and cook up in the microwave, oven, or air fryer.
Why You Might Not Like It: There’s a long list of ingredients. (Yep, it's definitely a theme even when it comes to the “best vegan chicken” out there.) Questionable additives also make this plant-based nugget hard to embrace, especially since it's made with bioengineered ingredients.
10. Jack & Annie’s Jackfruit Nuggets
Jack & Annie's jackfruit nuggets are a unique, meatless nugget option on our list of best vegan chicken options as they're the only ones made from jackfruit. The fruit has a meaty texture similar to pork or beef and is native to Southeast Asia.
Why People Like It: The meaty texture of the jackfruit seems to be popular. The nuggets are also made with non-GMO ingredients and have a slightly shorter ingredient list compared to some other brands.
Why You Might Not Like It: Made with methylcellulose and soybean or canola oil, these may not be the best fit if you have wheat or soy allergies or want to minimize the number of food additives you're consuming. They're also low in protein compared to other plant-based nuggets with only 7 grams per serving.
11. Simulate Nuggs
Simulate nuggs are made with textured wheat protein and a soy protein concentrate. While they claim to be certified plant-based with no animal byproducts, they have a lengthy ingredient list. You can choose from regular or spicy nuggets or chicken tenders.
Why People Like It: Word on the street is that these nuggets give fast-food outlets a run for their money and make for an animal-free alternative.
Why You Might Not Like It: Simulate's Nuggs use corn, soy, wheat, and wheat-derived ingredients, with no mention of whether or not anything on the ingredient list is genetically modified (they likely are if it's not labeled otherwise).
Decide on the Best Vegan Chicken Option For You and Your Family
Phew, that was a lot of plant-based nugget info! When it comes to choosing the best vegan chicken option, the choice is yours. While every household is different, we encourage you to choose a brand that keeps it simple and delicious. Nowadays prides itself on a 100% plant-based ingredient list that's easy to recognize and additive-free. After all, better for you and better for the planet is something we take to heart. For more tips on plant-based living and cooking, take a peek at our Crave Better Blog!