I Tried Every Pack of Frozen Chicken Nuggets I Could Find. And Now This Is the Only One I’ll Buy.
If you have kids, you almost certainly have a bag of chicken nuggets in your freezer right now. Even if you don’t have kids, nuggets likely have a place in your kitchen — or at least in your heart. They’re super-fast, protein-packed, and pretty hard to resist. And there are all sorts of ways you can turn them into an adult-friendly dinner.
But not all nuggets are created equal. Some bake up crisp, while others are gummy. Some are made from actual cuts of chicken breast, while others are mealy mush. So which nuggets offer that perfect blend of crispy breading outside and tasty, identifiable chicken inside? I hit a bunch of grocery stores, gathered every single package I could get my hands on, and fired up the oven for a nugget-fest.
There were several winners that my family, friends, and I would happily eat again — and several losers. In the end, though, there was one overall favorite.
The Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets
Tyson Premium Selects, $7.50 for 20 ounces
Tasters loved the firm breast meat texture of these, and the coating was flavorful and crisp. The only thing we didn’t love was the slight sugary sweetness on the aftertaste. (We checked and sugar was listed in the ingredients list twice.) And because these are irregular-shaped pieces, some of the nuggets end up being tiny balls of mostly breading. Overall, though, these nuggets seemed the most like homemade chunks of breaded chicken, which is why these are now the ones I’ll reach for again and again.
Other Great Frozen Chicken Nugget Options
Tyson 100% Natural, $6 for 32 ounces
If you like your nuggets tender and juicy, this is the brand to get. And the breading baked up perfectly crisp. Tasters also liked that these were the largest nuggets in the group. On the downside, they’re very salty and almost one-note in their chicken-ness. Still, we all agreed this nugget comes closest to what you expect from a fast-food joint.
Banquet 100% Natural, $4 for 32 ounces
Tyson offers a better texture than Banquet, but Banquet wins in the flavor department. These nuggets are both battered and breaded, with prominent specks of seasoning, and tasters really liked how the black pepper and garlic really came through. However, the slightly spongy texture of the chicken was off-putting to some.
The Best Gluten-Free Frozen Chicken Nuggets
Applegate Naturals Gluten Free, $6.50 for 8 ounces
These little yellow guys are like chicken bouillon cubes in nugget form. The flavor of celery and even carrot was obvious from the get-go, which gave the nuggets much more interest than everything else we tried. Personally, I really liked them, but some nugget purists weren’t fans of this untraditional approach. The coating baked up crispy and stayed crispy, with just enough cornmeal to add the right amount of crunch.
A Note About Trader Joe’s Frozen Chicken Nuggets
We tried these with high hopes and were pretty disappointed. But, because I know you guys are going to ask, here’s how they stacked up.
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, $5 for 16 ounces
Flavor-wise these were fine, but people with texture issues take note: These are chunky. I like chicken chunks in my nuggets, but several tasters really did not. And the breading was somehow slightly chewy instead of crisp.
Trader Joe’s Drummellas, $4 for 16 ounces
With mushy meat, mushy breading, and a flat flavor, these were everyone’s least favorite.