11 Best-tasting Vegan Chicken Nugget Brands
Vegan products that look and taste like chicken have come a long way over the last five to ten years with advances in artificial meat production. National brands, products only available through mail order, and popular regional brands offer consumers more choice than ever.
These vegan chicken nugget brands are the most widely available in traditional grocery stores and places like Walmart Supercenters and Target stores. Some are harder to find but worth the effort for delicious vegan chicken nuggets.
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MorningStar Farms is one of the oldest plant-based food brands. Founded in 1974 as part of Worthington Foods, the brand grew into one of the most famous vegan product lines. The Kellogg Company bought MorningStar Farms in 2021.
Like all early vegan mock meat products, MorningStar Farms foods were soy-based. They incorporated new ingredients over the years to improve the taste and texture.
Veggie Chik’n Nuggets
The Veggie Chik’n Nuggets contain wheat flour, soy protein, and oil as the main ingredients, with seasonings like onion powder, garlic, and paprika creating the flavor. Corn flour, cornstarch, wheat starch, and xanthan gum make the texture close to real chicken nuggets.
Make them in an oven or air fryer to keep the coating crisp. Microwaving or cooking in a closed pan will cause the steam to leave them soggy and gummy.
MorningStar Farms offers two flavored versions of their vegan nuggets: Zesty Ranch and Sweet Mustard. The flavors aren’t as good as the plain nuggets dipped in ranch or sweet mustard, but they’re worth trying.
Incogmeato Plant-Based Chik’n Nuggets
The company recently introduced the Incogmeato line of vegan products. Many MorningStar Farms products like their veggie Chik’n nuggets and patties used to contain dairy products or eggs, and some of their items still do. Incogmeato is their 100% vegan brand.
The Plant-Based Chik’n Nuggets have an almost identical list of ingredients (minus the barley malt) as the Veggie Chik’n Nuggets, so there’s no surprise that the taste seems the same.
This version of the nuggets also comes in fun Mickey Mouse shapes for kids and in BBQ-flavored tenders.
Impossible Chicken Nuggets
Impossible Foods is one of the newest vegan chicken nugget brands. Dr. Patrick Brown, a Stanford University professor, began experimenting with sustainable plant-based meat substitutes in 2009.
The company launched in 2016 with its Impossible Burger, a fake meat product resembling ground beef with a shockingly similar taste and texture. The Impossible Burger even “bleeds” when cooked, thanks to soy-based heme proteins rich in iron that mimic the taste of meat.
Impossible Burger is available at most grocery stores and in many restaurants, including the fast-food chain Burger King which introduced the Impossible Whopper as a trial run in late 2019 and kept it in stores permanently.
Impossible Foods launched other mock-meat products like sausages, with their vegan chicken nuggets rolling out in restaurants and grocery stores in late 2021. The nuggets have been as successful as their Impossible Burger, with the flavor, texture, and bite you expect in a real chicken nugget.
Like many vegan chicken nugget brands, the main ingredients are wheat flour, soy protein, and oil, with other leavenings, seasonings, and starches. The nuggets crisp well in an oven, toaster oven, or air fryer. They also come in animal-shaped Wild Nuggets.
Field Roast Classic Nuggets
The Field Roast Grains Meat Company offered its first deli-case vegan meat products in three flavors–from a local co-op in Seattle, WA, in 1997. By 2005, the company had a separate location and expanded into People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) award-winning vegan sausages and hot dogs.
The company continued to innovate and add products, including frozen foods, plant-based handmade burgers, and cheese (see also ‘Non-dairy Cottage Cheese‘) (see also ‘Non-dairy Cottage Cheese‘) (see also ‘Non-dairy Cottage Cheese‘). Field Roast is one of the vegan chicken nugget brands many vegetarians and vegans recognize from their long history of sustainability.
Though soy-free, these Classic Nuggets have a coating with a nice crumb and a texture reminiscent of real chicken.
Field Roast uses fava bean and pea protein with wheat gluten, tapioca starch, and methylcellulose, plant fiber often used in digestive enzymes and laxatives, to create the familiar taste and texture of chicken nuggets.
Beyond Chicken Plant-Based Breaded Tenders
Beyond Meat is the biggest direct competitor for Impossible Foods with their Beyond Burger, a vegan burger that tastes similar to beef, and products that match Impossible Foods’ offerings, including vegan chicken.
This company launched in 2012 with vegan chicken strips sold only at Whole Foods stores and became popular enough to expand nationally in 2013. Their first vegan beef product followed in 2014, with vegan pork and sausage products soon after.
The Beyond Chicken Plant-Based Breaded Tenders are longer, tender-shaped pieces but the same as a vegan chicken nugget. These contain wheat gluten and soy, but the main ingredient is fava bean protein, and the breading contains pea protein with flour and seasonings.
These tenders have many similar ingredients as other nugget brands with a slightly less meat-like texture. The flavor is close enough to chicken nuggets to fool some people if they don’t smell the tenders too closely before cooking.
Like their Beyond Burger, the aroma is different and a little strange, but the finished product is delicious.
Gardein is one of the most popular, recognizable names in vegan foods. The company started selling vegan products in 2003. Yves Potvin founded the company, and though the brand switched hands to Pinnacle Foods in 2014 and later became part of Conagra, he remains the CEO.
Gardein earned several awards over many years from organizations like PETA, Mercy for Animals (MFA), and Natural Health Magazine.
The brand sells both vegan and gluten-free products, including two types of meatless chicken nuggets.
7-Grain Chicken Tenders
Gardein 7-Grain Crispy Tenders are delicious as a basic frozen tender, with a chicken-like texture and taste. They’re good plain and even better with a dip.
The base meat comes from soy protein and wheat gluten like many tender recipes. But these contain ingredients not often found in other brands, including flour made from ancient grains like amaranth, millet, quinoa, and Kamut Khorasan wheat.
The tenders also contain pea protein, but with the tasteful additions of carrot and beetroot fiber. You don’t taste the vegetables in the tender, but they add a depth of flavor that mimics chicken.
Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’n Nuggets
Gardein’s latest vegan chicken nuggets fall under the Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’N label, offering nuggets, tenders, and patties from the same ingredients.
These nuggets look like popcorn chicken instead of flat nuggets. All the chicken products under this name are juicier and crispier than the original tenders. The similarity to real chicken is astonishing, and the taste is good enough to satisfy meat-eaters.
The ancient grains are gone, with ingredients like wheat flour, wheat gluten, soy and pea protein, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and methylcellulose.
SIMULATE is one of the newer faces in the vegan crowd. Originally founded as NUGGS in 2018, the name changed to SIMULATE, while NUGGS remained the name of their signature vegan chicken nuggets, launched in 2019.
Most grocery stores, Walmart Supercenters, Targets, and other major retailers carry these nuggets, including SPICY NUGGS, DINO NUGGS in fun dinosaur shapes for kids, WINGS with a crispy batter, and TENDERS.
SIMULATE uses a computer-code model for their website with a minimalist design featuring function over form, with mottos like “Kills You Slower” about their healthier plant-based chicken.
The product embraces the fact that it’s simulated meat rather than trying to convince anyone it’s chicken, despite the photo of a rooster on the product’s box. The coating is well-seasoned, crispy, and has a pleasant bite and mouthfeel.
They list the ingredients on their site under the heading SECRET FORMULA, in case there’s any question. The list is similar to other vegan chicken nugget brands, with wheat and soy protein, oil, tapioca dextrin, methylcellulose, and seasonings.
Jack & Annie's Crispy Jack Nuggets
Jack & Annie’s vegan nuggets have a crunchy coating that’s close to McDonald’s McNuggets, which is a boost for getting people to give up the chicken and choose a cruelty-free product instead.
Founded in Boulder, CO, Jack & Annie’s started with Annie Ryu’s trip to India and the discovery of a fruit (see also ‘The 14 Tastiest Asian Fruits for a Vegan Diet‘) she’d never tried before. Unripe jackfruit is a common meat substitute because of its texture and ability to absorb flavors.
Ten years later, in 2020, Annie founded the company named for the fruit and began selling vegan meats.
The ingredients set these nuggets apart, with jackfruit (see also ‘Durian vs. Jackfruit: Weighing the Differences‘) as the main ingredient instead of pea or soy proteins. Wheat and soy flour, oils, methylcellulose, and seasonings help give these nuggets a taste close to chicken.
Raised & Rooted Plant-Based Nuggets
These nuggets have a coating texture like McNuggets with a slightly sweeter aftertaste. Citrus, carrot, and oat fiber combine with wheat gluten, pea protein, and omega-rich flaxseed to create nuggets with a meaty texture.
Tyson’s Raised & Rooted Brand appeared in 2019, so it’s one of the market’s newest vegan chicken nugget brands. They’re one of the soy-free options for vegans and people who want to reduce their meat consumption. Meat-eaters won’t miss the flavor of real chicken nuggets.
The brand also offers burger patties, ground plant-based meat, Italian sausages, and bratwurst.
Alpha Original Chik'n Nuggets
lpha Foods did something few food companies do. In 2021, with the price of chicken climbing and putting a pinch on grocery shoppers, Alpha Foods lowered the price of its vegan nuggets to encourage more people to try them and to help offset skyrocketing inflation.
In 2015, Alpha Foods offered many products on the West Coast in stores and online, including burritos, breakfast burritos and sandwiches, original and spicy nuggets, strips, crumbles, patties, bowls, and more.
Soy protein and wheat gluten are the heavy hitters in the ingredients list, but the proprietary ratios and cooking methods make these nuggets stand out as one of the best-tasting vegan chicken nugget brands.
The spicy nuggets are hotter than expected but with a pleasing peppery flavor.
Daring Breaded Plant Chicken Pieces
Ross Mackay founded Daring Foods in 2018 to help reduce people’s consumption of chicken. The company sells original and breaded plant-based chicken pieces, allowing consumers to use the product instead of cooked chicken in recipes.
The nuggets include soy protein, breading, oils, and a spice blend that includes nutmeg, mace, ginger, and cardamom, which aren’t common ingredients in other brands. These spices give Daring’s chicken pieces a distinctive flavor that keeps them from tasting like a copy of what’s out there.
The unbreaded pieces cook like chicken when stir-fried or sauteed and have a more natural cooked chicken taste and texture than the unbreaded vegan chicken strips sold by other brands like Gardein.
Daring’s nuggets also come in their Cajun and Lemon & Herb varieties.
Like Meat Chick'n Nuggets
Like Meat started in Germany in 2013, then sold to LIVEKINDLY in 2020 with plans to expand from Like Chicken products to make bratwursts and burgers from plants.
Like Meat nuggets stand out because of the corn flakes used in the breading, which gives them a slightly sweeter crunch. Soy protein creates the base texture with potato starch, xanthan gum, oil, oat fiber, and seasonings.
Like Meat Nuggets is one of the brands that’s suitable for people who eat soy-free. The texture isn’t as advanced as some other brands, but the delicious coating and savory vegan chicken made these nuggets worth trying.
The company offers vegan wings, pieces, nuggets, a BBQ flavor, and a vegan grilled Chick’n option. Shoppers can find the products at stores like Target, Sprouts, and ShopRite.
Many more vegan chicken nugget brands are in stores in small local areas or mail-order only, and some retailers have store brands like Trader Joe’s and Target’s Good and Gather line.
All the companies who started making these plant-based nuggets did so to help animals and create more sustainable food sources to benefit people and the environment. Almost all are non-GMO, and some have gluten and soy-free options.
If you try one brand and don’t like it, try another with different ingredients. You’ll eventually find a brand that appeals to your palate so you can enjoy cruelty-free chicken nuggets.
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