Meatless Chicken Nuggets: A Closer Look at 7 Popular Brands
Whether you’re going fully plant-based or just want to reduce meat in your diet, choosing meatless chicken nuggets is a great place to start. Not only are plant-based nuggets a tasty way to satisfy your cravings, but they also simplify mealtime for you and your family.
That said, not all meatless chicken nuggets are necessarily better for you. To help you sort through the ever-growing list of options, we’re sharing some of the most popular vegan chicken nuggets—or perhaps more accurately stated, chik’n nuggets—along with their nutritional details. That way, you can make an informed decision before picking up your next batch.
What Makes a Good Chik’n Nugget?
There’s no shortage of meatless chicken nuggets on the market. And we couldn't be happier about it. Why? Because it shows the growing trend toward reducing meat consumption, and that can only mean good things for the planet.
But rather than listing all of the meatless chicken nugget brands out there, we chose a sampling of what the internet has deemed to be the most popular.
When reviewing these brands, we looked for a few key factors:
- Ingredients: What are the ingredients? Are there fillers and other additives?
- Nutritional Profile: How much cholesterol and saturated fat is there? What is the total fat count per serving size? What about sodium?
- Protein Source: Is it made from pea protein, wheat protein, soy protein isolate, or something else? How much protein is there per serving size?
7 Meatless Chicken Nugget Brands: What You Need to Know
Now that you know our criteria for reviewing this list of meat-free nuggets, let’s see how the competition stacks up.
Gardein: Ultimate Plant-Based Chik’n Nuggets
Gardein boasts its chik’n nuggets are a throwback to real chicken nuggets, with crispy breading and 14 grams of protein per serving. With a total fat count of 8 grams per serving — 0.5 grams saturated fat — and no cholesterol, these are a pretty good bet. They contain about 16 grams of carbohydrates per 94g serving, along with 580mg of sodium.
The ingredient list is a bit too long for our liking, with a total of 36 (!) ingredients, including yellow corn and wheat starch . Our general rule of thumb is the more ingredients, the further away you move from it being ideal. While we love the use of some pea protein (our favorite plant-based protein source), these nugs also contain vital wheat gluten and soy protein isolate, which doesn’t work for every diet.
Morningstar Farms Veggie Chik’n Nuggets
These chik’n nuggets have crispy breading with protein primarily coming from soy protein isolate. Made with 32 ingredients, these nuggets contain about 13 grams of protein per 86g serving, along with 8 grams of total fat (one gram of saturated fat) and no cholesterol. These nuggets come in around 18 grams of carbohydrates, with 300mg of sodium, 200mg of potassium, and 30 grams of calcium per serving.
This company boasts its Nuggs meatless chicken nuggets are the most advanced on the planet. Of course, we beg to differ, but let’s see how their nutritional profile stacks up.
With 13 grams of protein per 85g serving size, these nuggets also come with 10 grams of total fat — 1.5g of which are saturated. They have no cholesterol, which is great, but they contain 26 ingredients. Their main source of protein is wheat protein concentrate, soy protein concentrate, and wheat protein isolate. Each serving contains 17 grams of carbohydrates and 400mg of sodium.
Quorn Meatless Chicken Nuggets
These soy-free chicken-free nuggets are coated with a crispy breading to mimic real chicken nuggets. They contain 11 grams of protein per 112g serving. With a total fat content of 11 grams per serving (2 grams saturated fat), they do contain some cholesterol (less than 5 mg). They also contain 360mg of sodium and 23 grams of carbohydrates, along with some 26 ingredients.
If you’re looking for a fully plant-based nugget, note that these nuggets contain egg whites and therefore are not considered vegan.
Jack & Annie’s Crispy Jack Nuggets
This is one of the only brands on the market that uses jackfruit — a fruit native to tropical Asia — as the base for its nuggets. Jackfruit has long been used in the plant-based community as a substitute for pulled pork and shredded chicken because of its remarkable similarity in texture to meat. That said, it doesn’t come with much protein, so these nuggets only offer 7 grams of protein per 82g serving.
Made with 16 ingredients, each serving has 9 grams of total fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat), no cholesterol, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 300 grams of potassium, and 400mg of sodium. The crispy breading is tasty thanks to paprika, turmeric, onion powder, and garlic powder. But if you’re looking for a higher protein nugget, this one probably isn’t it. (Don’t worry. We know one that would be better. Keep reading).
Trader Joe’s Chickenless Crispy Tenders
Though it’s true that you can now get Impossible chik’n nuggets at Trader Joe’s, the popular store chain still has its own in-house meatless chicken nuggets. Unfortunately, they come with over 37 ingredients, including low fat soy flour, dextrose, expeller pressed canola oil, methylcellulose, just to name a few.
With 11 grams of protein per 85g, these crispy chickenless tenders also come with a total fat count of 9 grams, (one gram saturated fat). They contain no cholesterol, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 50mg of calcium, and 370mg of sodium.
Yes, we saved the best for last. But you don’t have to just take our word for it. As you can see, many brands touted as being the “best vegan chicken nuggets” contain ingredients like dextrose, cornstarch, yellow corn flour, and wheat starch, and vegetable oils like canola that we purposely didn’t include in Nowadays nuggets.
What’s more, most brands are high in sodium. While some of the brands we mentioned contain potassium, an important mineral that can actually help balance out the effects of eating too much sodium, most do not.
That’s why we couldn’t very well write a roundup of some of the most popular brands of meatless chicken nuggets on the market without talking about Nowadays nuggets, now could we? And you won’t be surprised to learn that we think they are the best vegan chicken nuggets you can get.
Not only are our nuggets crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, but they also only contain only 7 wholesome ingredients:
- Filtered water
- Pea protein (organic, non-GMO peas sustainably grown)
- Whole wheat flour (higher in fiber, iron, calcium, and protein than white flour)
- Sunflower oil (one of the best oils for frying food)
- Yeast extract (for a meaty, umami flavor)
- Maple fiber (a sustainable source of healthy fiber and egg replacer)
- Mushroom extract (natural flavors extracted from cordyceps mushrooms)
Nowadays nuggets are made with organic pea protein that delivers an impressive 13 grams of protein per 85g serving. As compared with the other brands, Nowadays nuggets only contain 3.5 grams of fat — even though it’s breaded.
There are no saturated fats or cholesterol. Each serving contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, 456mg of potassium, and only 250mg of sodium per serving. That’s considerably less than most of the other brands on this list.
The Best Meatless Chicken Nuggets Are an Online Order Away
We encourage you to do your own research and your own taste testing (yum!) to find your favorite meatless chicken nuggets — and we highly recommend including Nowadays in your research.
Made with just a handful of simple ingredients that you actually recognize (and can pronounce), Nowadays nuggets have yet another upside: you can conveniently order them directly to your front door.
Take a gander at some of the amazing recipes we have crafted (this nugget pot pie is a true show stopper, and don’t even get us started on these stuffed squash boats). And don’t forget to jazz up your chick’n nuggets with your favorite dipping sauces. Ketchup will do it, but don’t miss out on some of our favorite dipping sauces for our meatless chicken wonders.