I Tried All of Those Ready-to-Eat Packs of Grilled Chicken. This Is the Best One.

updated Jan 25, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

You’ve got just enough time to throw some salad greens in a lunch container before your next Zoom meeting, but you know a bowl of lettuce isn’t going to hit the spot for long. You need protein — fast. That’s where bags of pre-grilled chicken breasts come in.

Pre-cooked chicken breast is a fantastically fast way to add quick protein to things like salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Sure, you can add them to soups and stir-fries too, but they’re really ideal for dishes that don’t already require you to turn on the oven or stove. We’ve been spotting these bags in freezer cases everywhere, and now companies are expanding their offerings, with flavors like spicy fajita, teriyaki, and Italian herb, and formats like cubed or shredded chicken instead of just strips. With so many options out there, I couldn’t help but wonder which brands were best. Clearly I’d have to give them a try.

To keep the playing field level, I rounded up all the plain versions I could find, then microwaved them according to the package instructions. Even though they were all made with boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, there were clear differences. Here’s the winner (plus a more budget-friendly runner up:)

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Grilled Chicken Breast Strips: Nature Raised Farms Organic Gluten-Free Grilled Chicken Breast Strips

These strips were tender and juicy without being mushy, well-seasoned without being salty, and had no weird flavor notes or artificial ingredients. They’d go great in any salad or wrap you want to toss them in. Plus, they’re from cage-free chickens raised on organic feed.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Budget-Friendly Grilled Chicken Breast Strips: Foster Farms Premium Chicken Breast Grilled Strips

That being said, the above pick was a small package for a high price. If you’re feeding a bigger family or looking to save some cash, my second favorite offers more than twice the chicken for just a dollar more. These strips tasted very much like the Nature Raised chicken — tender and juicy with a simple well-seasoned but not overly salty flavor that would go with anything. These had a lot more preservatives and additives than the Nature Raised, though, which is why they came in second in my book.

Buy: Foster Farms Premium Chicken Breast Grilled Strips, $8.79 for 20 ounces at Instacart

Have you tried any of these grilled chicken strips? Do you have a favorite?