My Family Taste-Tested 8 Vegan Chicken Nuggets—Here Are Our Top Picks

From Beyond to Impossible to Whole Foods, will our chicken nugget-loving family convert to any of these plant-based alternatives?

Vegan chicken nugget taste test

Simply Recipes / Wanda Abraham

I recently noticed a more common player in the frozen foods section right next to my kids’ favorite chicken nuggets: vegan “chicken” nuggets. Some are made by recognizable brands like Impossible and Beyond, but most come from niche producers I've never heard of, specializing in frozen plant-based foods. It’s a rapidly growing space that just caught my attention. They seem to be competing against the classic chicken nuggets and strips my family loves and find nostalgic. Are these plant-based versions actually any good? We needed to find out, so we set off on a taste test. 

My family is a chicken nugget family and my kids—ages six and eight—are expert nugget eaters. So I figured I would put some of these new plant-based nuggets to the test and see if there were any we would enjoy and eat going forward. 

How I Chose the Vegan Chicken Nuggets

To be honest, I chose the vegan chicken nuggets to taste test by going to every grocery store in town and buying every brand I could find. I wasn’t picky and had no real qualifiers other than being able to find it in a store freezer. I found eight different brands in a variety of styles—strips, nuggets, popcorn, and tenders—all of them claiming to be just like chicken. While most didn’t say chicken nuggets on the package, you could tell by the design or illustrations that they are trying to be direct competitors to chicken nuggets, but appealing to vegans or families, like mine, that are trying to eat less meat.  

The 8 Vegan Chicken Nuggets We Tested

Our family taste tested eight different plant-based nuggets from eight different brands. Here’s the list of vegan nuggets we tested:

How I Cooked the Vegan Chicken Nuggets

When it came to preparing the giant spread of vegan nuggets, I tried to create an equal playing field by baking all of them in a 450°F oven. This is what the vast majority of the packaging instructions called for. Some ended up needing little more time than what the instructions said, like the larger Beyond brand tenders. Ultimately, I went for visual cues: the nuggets had to be nicely browned and crispy.

Nick Evans family vegan chicken nugget taste test

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

My Kids’ Top Picks

I served each of my kids a big plate with one nugget from each brand, numbered one through eight so that I could keep them straight. I served the nuggets with honey and ketchup—their favorites—for dipping. My kids were excited to try all of them, and while they didn’t enjoy the vegan nuggets as much as chicken nuggets, they did have clear favorites.

My son preferred the Alpha Plant-Based Original Chick’n Nuggets. He was the only one in the group that liked this brand—I found it a bit chewy. Of note: he didn’t elaborate much on why he liked these other than saying, “It tastes the best!” and then going back for more. If a kid will eat it and go back for more, that’s enough evidence that they’re worth it. 

My daughter preferred the Beyond Plant-Based Breaded Tenders, which she dipped mostly in honey. These were the largest in size of the eight we taste tested. I was surprised by this as she generally prefers smaller chicken nuggets, but I suspect it was because the breading is quite crunchy. 

The Adults’ Favorites

My wife and I have decades of traditional chicken nugget experience to lean on and so we were a little more critical than our kids. Nostalgia, afterall, is hard to compete with. The perfect chicken-like texture, the ideal breading-to-vegan-chicken ratio, and taste—we considered all of these factors when determining our favorites.

My wife liked the MorningStar Farms Veggitizers Veggie Popcorn Chik’n best. It has a wonderfully crispy texture and a nice ratio of breading to “chicken.” These were the tiniest of the nuggets we tested and got very crispy. You almost couldn’t taste the filling at all, reminding me of a crunchy chip! 

I preferred Beyond Plant-Based Breaded Tenders for the same reasons my daughter liked them best: they were the largest, had the meatiest texture, and had great flavor. I dipped them in BBQ sauce—they were so good!

My wife and I didn’t love any of the brands. It’s clearly hard to match the texture and flavor of real chicken nuggets, and it was impossible to not compare them to the real stuff. None were terrible, but also none of them really stood out to us as outstanding.

I’m glad to know which vegan nugget I’ll buy for when we are entertaining any kid that eats vegan food—most likely Beyond Plant-Based Breaded Tenders. For my family, I’m not sure any of these brands will fully take the place of traditional nuggets, but we did narrow down a few favorites that we might try on occasion. 

Chicken Nugget Taste Test

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

Tips For Cooking and Serving Vegan Chicken Nuggets

I have a few recommendations for how to cook and serve vegan nuggets at home.

  • The crispier you can get the nuggets, the better they will taste. I would recommend busting out the air fryer for maximum crispiness all around, if you have one. Otherwise, bake them in the oven at 450°F. (I did this even if the package recommended a lower temperature, to get the crispiest nuggets.)
  • While some package instructions recommend reheating the nuggets in the microwave, do not do this unless you want soggy, squishy nuggets.
  • Get creative with the dips. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and ranch are all standard options. What about an easy homemade honey mustard, sweet and sour sauce, chipotle mayo, and blue cheese dressing? Just make sure they are truly plant-based if serving it to a vegan guest.