Real Talk: These Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets Will Blow Your Mind
Quality/Ease of Use: 15/20
We don’t need to tell you that chicken nuggets are freakin’ delicious. And we really don’t need to tell you that it’s totally acceptable for grown-ups to have frozen nuggets for dinner. But did you know that they don’t have to be totally unhealthy—or even made of chicken? Let us explain: Meet NUGGS, a plant-based nugget brand that’s been making believers out of meat-eaters since 2018.
We know what you’re thinking: How the heck do they do it? Instead of chicken, the nuggets are made with textured wheat protein. The batter consists of water, breadcrumbs, corn flour, wheat flour and a bunch of spices, like red pepper and garlic powder. The spicy variety also gets spiked with ancho chili for heat.
While they taste like the real thing (thanks, crispy-fried breading), the nutrition facts are honestly pretty impressive. Five nuggets contain 210 calories, 13 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat (traditional meat nuggets have about 3 fewer grams of protein and 40 percent more fat). NUGGS are also cholesterol-free and only have 1 gram of sugar per serving. PureWow social media strategist and lifelong meat-eater Ali Brown can vouch for their magic: “I especially love the spicy NUGGS. They’re not too spicy, and I of course love dipping them in sauces like sriracha ranch. They’re a great alternative and actually taste good while being better for you, too.”
Alternatively, the limited-edition extra spicy nuggets made with Carolina Reaper peppers were not for the faint of heart. (Seriously, they came with gloves.)
Not only do they taste amazing, but they’re super easy to prepare. First, they’ll arrive to you frozen. When you’re ready to taste them (read: inhale the whole box), you can follow Brown’s lead and bake them in the oven for a few minutes or turn the crisp factor up to 100 and drop them in your air fryer instead.
While they’re as convenient to prepare as the ones you snacked on as a kid, these ain’t your cafeteria’s chicken nuggets. Since they’re made with quality ingredients and are a plant-based alternative, they’re “rather spendy for a frozen food item,” says Brown. “But you get A LOT of nuggets, and they leave me feeling full and energized,” unlike some frozen foods that have us scrounging through the snack drawer a half-hour after mealtime.
The only downside? NUGGS have only just started popping up at select grocery stores nationwide, so the only way of getting your hands on these cuties is by ordering a box online. (If chicken patties are more your style, try newly-released DISCS instead.) But Brown says there are perks: “Their branding is very cool. I love how unique the boxes are, and they often send neat stickers with your order.”
Chicken nuggets and stickers? Our inner child is psyched.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.