The Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets, According to Kids at Heart
No need to hit up the drive-thru! We found the best frozen chicken nuggets you can make in minutes. Fill your cart with our Test Kitchen's faves, then break out the barbecue sauce.
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Searching for the Best Chicken Nuggets
Let’s be honest: Almost no one is immune to the charms of a humble chicken nugget. Paired with some salty fries and plenty of dipping sauces, there’s basically no turning these down.
This being said, some frozen chicken nuggets are better than others. After all, if you’re going to indulge in this best-loved childhood snack (or feed the nuggets to actual kids), you want them to satisfy.
So which options are really the best chicken nuggets? Our Test Kitchen had to find out!
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Our Testing Process
That’s why to prep for this test, we did our research! Our shoppers found the most popular chicken nuggets on the market. Most, though not all, chicken nuggets are made with minced chicken. Some are simply small chunks of breaded chicken (sort of like a mini chicken tender). Both are readily available, so our Test Kitchen sourced both to sample here.
For this test, our team prepped each brand according to package directions (being sure to avoid this common chicken nugget mistake) and sampled each nugget blindly. Every nugget was judged according to these categories:
- Breading: It can make or break a chicken nugget. Coatings should bake up crispy and have a good level of seasoning. The exterior should also look appetizing.
- Quality of the chicken: As we said, both minced and whole chicken nuggets were tested. Our team has no preference for one or the other, but the flavor and texture should be satisfying. Anything that’s too dry, mushy or stringy just won’t cut it.
- Overall flavor: Combined, the chicken and coating should taste delicious. It’s that simple!
Best Kid-Friendly Chicken Nuggets
Banquet Chicken Nuggets
If your kiddos are craving a McDonald’s- or Burger King-style nugget, you’ll want Banquet Chicken Nuggets.
These frozen nuggets are thin and uniformly shaped much like fast-food nuggets. The coating is a rich bronze color with flecks of pepper. Our team also noted touches of paprika in the breading, but nothing too strong; these would definitely appeal to kids.
Inside, you’ll find processed chicken, but that didn’t bother our testers. “They are very juicy,” says taster Sarah Tramonte in our Test Kitchen.
- Great umami flavor
- Nice, juicy texture
- If crispy coating is a must, bake or air fry for a few extra minutes
Best Chicken Breast Nuggets
Just Bare Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks
Want a nugget that’s all-white meat and unprocessed chicken? Toss these Just Bare Chicken Breast Chunks in your cart.
So what does that mean, exactly? On the inside, you’ll find real chicken breast that’s tender and juicy. These nuggets are also batter-dipped, as compared to crumb-coated or breaded. When baked, the exterior is crispy and golden brown. Overall, these nuggets have a texture and bite our team can’t resist. (If you have time to make them from scratch, try our copycat Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets. Or, just dunk the store-bought ones in your homemade copycat Chick-fil-A sauce.)
- Made with 100% white meat
- Juicy chicken
- Crunchy, delicious breading
- We could only find these nuggets at Costco—no problem if you have a membership!
Best Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Tyson Naturals Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
Gluten-free eaters, rejoice! You can get a darn good chicken nugget when you prep a bag of Tyson Naturals Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets.
Take a bite and you’ll find ground chicken inside—typical of most nuggets. It tastes as you’d expect with a pinch of salt and not too fine a texture—our team doesn’t want mush!
Where these Tyson frozen chicken nuggets really stand out from the crowd, though, is with their superb breading. Who would have thought that gluten-free breading would be a favorite in a category typically filled with flour?
“I can anticipate the crunch of the breading even before the first bite,” says the head of our Test Kitchen, Sarah Farmer. And when it comes to crunch, these chicken nuggets really do deliver. These chunks are crispy thanks to a panko-like coating, and you’ll get hints of garlic and pepper as well.
- Super crispy breading
- Great seasoning
- The seasoning may be too much for picky eaters
Best Organic Chicken Nuggets
Perdue Simply Smart Organics Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
A gluten-free and organic nugget also came in at the top of our test: Perdue Simply Smart Organics Chicken Nuggets.
Take a bite and you’ll find these nuggets are made with minced chicken—typical of kid-friendly options. However, these bites have appeal that goes beyond the grade school set.
The crisp, golden coating is ultra-satisfying. When you take a bite, you’ll get that sought-after crunch. And, according to taster Josh Rink, “because this nugget is thicker, it definitely has a satisfying bite and chew.” Texture is crucial in a snack food like this, and this offering from Perdue ticks all the right boxes.
- Great texture
- Golden coating
- The flavor is mild for adult palates, but ideal for kids
Best Lightly Breaded Nuggets
Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
If you’re into the nuggets more for the chicken than the breading, try Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets.
These nuggets are made of pieces of real chicken breast—no minced or processed proteins here! They also don’t skimp on size. Typically nuggets are pretty thin and small, but in the words of Sarah Farmer, “these are boulders!” (She means this in the best way.)
The breading here was a bit sparse—more like a thin coating of fine breadcrumbs than the crispy crunching breading you expect from a nugget. This is great for folks that don’t like a thick coating and are craving more chicken flavor.
- Brown up nicely
- Great chicken texture
- These nuggets may be harder to find
- They’re quite mild, so add a dipping sauce for more flavor
Taste of Home
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