Looking for the best frozen chicken nuggets to choose for your family? Here are some healthy chicken nugget brands recommended by a Registered Dietitian.
*Originally published 9/2022. Updated 6/2023*
It’s time for the next post in our best store-bought options series. So far we’ve covered:
- Best Healthy Store Bought Bread
- Best Boxed Mac and Cheese
- Healthy Store Bought Granola Bars for Kids
- Low Sugar Cereals for Kids
- Best Low Sugar Yogurt
- Healthy Crackers For Kids & Adults
Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets
Today we’re talking about the healthiest chicken nuggets available right now. Because who doesn’t have a bag of frozen chicken nuggets in their freezer for a quick dinner every couple of weeks? I know I do. Even with all of my food prep, there are still nights that get busy during the week with 3 kids and freezer staples like this have saved my sanity more than once!
Are frozen chicken nuggets healthy?
I get this question a lot as a dietitian so let’s talk about it. Are chicken nuggets something I recommend giving to your kids every single night? No. Because variety is important and ideally we don’t want nuggets to be the only kind of chicken your kids will eat. But they can be a good starting point for introducing meat to a lot of kids, especially more selective eaters. They can contain some unnecessary fillers and be high in sodium so it is something I suggest spending some time on to find a brand that’s a good fit for your family.
How to make chicken nuggets healthy for toddlers?
Remember to think about the meal as a whole when you’re serving chicken nuggets. Instead of serving with a side of fries, which can also be high in sodium, can you add some sliced fruit to the plate or a side smoothie made with frozen fruit? What about a side of roasted sweet potatoes or some steamed veggies? By adding things like fruits and vegetables you can definitely make frozen chicken nuggets part of a balanced meal!
How to choose the best frozen chicken nuggets
Here are a few things to look for:
- Look for chicken BREAST as the first ingredient. These varieties tend to be less processed that brands that say “white chicken meat”.
- Veggie-filled isn’t always better. It might sound good to have veggies added but a lot of times the amount added isn’t even a full serving of vegetables so it doesn’t need to be your deciding factor.
- Watch sodium levels. I tell people to aim for 450mg or less per serving but we also need to consider the frequency. If you’re eating frozen chicken nuggets once a month I’m less concerned with the amount of sodium than if you’re eating them twice a week.
- Look for protein. Try to find brands that have at least 12 grams of protein per serving.
- Look for light breading if possible. Sometimes nuggets are mostly breading with very little meat which makes them higher in carbs and lower in protein.
- Consider the amount of fat but especially saturated fat. If i’m not serving nuggets all the time, I don’t worry a ton about the amount of fat, but I do look for brands low in saturated fat.
- Note the serving size. Know how many nuggets are in a serving and serve that, along with some fruits and veggies for a balanced meal!
I’m going to share some of the brands i liked best IN STORES AROUND ME. I recognize that there are other brands available and also that the brands listed below might not be available to you. My hope is you can use some of the things I pointed out above to look at what’s available to you and make the best choice for you and your family.
If you’d prefer to see this content in video form, along with a taste test I did with my kids of 5 of the brands I recommend, check out the video below!
Best Chicken Nugget Brands
So here are some of my favorite chicken nugget brands that are available in stores around me. This is not a comprehensive list. I’m sure there are other options out there
- Serving size: 3 ounces
- Nutrition info: 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 16g protein, 540mg sodium
- Ingredients: Boneless skinless chicken breast, water, seasoning (sugar, salt, spices including paprika and celery, chicken fat, spice extractive, canola oil, soybean oil), rice starch. Breaded with: wheat flour, sugar, salt, nonfat dry milk, dried egg whites, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate), spice, paprika. Breading set in vegetable oil.
These are available at Costco and this is what I buy for my kids. It’s a little higher in sodium but still a good option for occasional dinners.
- Serving size: 5 nuggets
- Nutrition info: 4g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 12g protein, 250mg sodium
- Ingredients: Chicken Breast Meat, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Pureed Cauliflower, Pureed Onions, Unbleached Wheat Flour, Salt, Corn Starch, Yellow Corn Flour, Rice Starch, Yeast, Flavors, Molasses, Leavening (Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda), Whole Grain Millet Flour, Sea Salt. Browned in expeller pressed Canola Oil.
- Serving size: 3 ounces
- Nutrition info: 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 15g protein, 400mg sodium
- Ingredients: Boneless skinless chicken breast with rib meat, water, wheat flour. Contains 2% or less of salt, dried garlic, sugar, wheat gluten, brown sugar, yeast, yeast extract, spice, paprika extract, onion powder, garlic powder.
Perdue has a lot of options. I like their lightly breaded options best.
- Serving size: 4 nuggets
- Nutrition info: 9g fat, 1g saturated fat, 6g protein, 160mg sodium
- Ingredients: Chicken Breast Meat, Breading (Whole Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Garlic Powder, Leavening [Baking Soda, Cream of Tartar], Yeast, Onion Powder, Spices, Sunflower Oil), Canola Oil, Batter (Whole Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Sea Salt, Corn Starch, Leavening [Baking Soda, Cream of Tartar], Garlic Powder, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Onion Powder, Spice, Sunflower Oil, Extractives of Turmeric), Wheat Flour, Rice Starch, Water, Garlic and Onion Powders, Sea Salt, Spice.
Because of the small serving size, these might be better for/geared more towards toddlers and younger kids.
- Serving size: 6 nuggets
- Nutrition Info: 9g fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 12g protein, 350mg sodium
- Ingredients: White Meat Chicken, Wheat Flour, Water, Rice Flour. Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Corn Starch, Rice Starch, Cane Sugar, Leavening (Cream of Tartar, Sodium Bicarbonate), Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Yeast, Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Breading Set in Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
They also have gluten-free and organic varieties that are good options if that’s what you’re looking for. I’ve personally eaten the gluten-free version and they taste just like the regular ones!
If you’re looking for gluten-free options, here are a few:
Best Store-Bought Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
In addition, there are a lot of gluten-free options out there. In many cases, the gluten-free versions taste just like regular and the main swap is just rice flour for wheat flour in the breading so I still recommend focusing on the nutrition info I pointed out at the beginning of this post. And you don’t need to follow a gluten-free diet to enjoy these brands. My youngest prefers the Golden Platter brand shown below over many other options out there and he does not follow a gluten-free diet.
- Serving size: 3oz (approx 2 tenders)
- Nutrition info: 1.5g fat, 14g protein, 370mg sodium
- Ingredients: Chicken Breast, Water, Rice Flour, Dried Cauliflower, Brown Rice Flour. Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Tapioca Starch, Salt, Seasoning (Chicken Broth, Natural Flavor), Organic Corn Starch, Rice Starch, Organic Yellow Corn Flour, Sea Salt, Garlic Powder, Leavening (Cream of Tartar, Sodium Bicarbonate), Onion Powder, Spices, Paprika, Lactic Acid Powder, Calcium Lactate, Torula Yeast, Extractives Of Paprika.
- Serving size: 4 nuggets
- Nutrition info: 8g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 15g protein, 350mg sodium
- Ingredients: Chicken breast meat, water, rice starch, sea salt. Breaded with: Yellow corn flour, rice flour, water, yellow corn meal, rice starch, corn starch, sea salt, dextrose, garlic powder, onion powder, spice, yeast extract, breading set in non-hydrogenated soybean oil.
These are also available at Costco.
Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets
I’m not going to dive into plant-based options in this post but there are certainly a lot of them out there. Based on reading a few reviews, you could try:
- Impossible Foods Chicken Nuggets Made From Plants – you can find these at Walmart
- Beyond Chicken Plant-Based Chicken Tenders
- Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’n Nuggets
Chicken Nugget FAQs
Which Chicken Nuggets Are The Healthiest? (Healthiest Chicken Nuggets)
So which are the healthiest chicken nuggets? There’s not one brand that I would recommend 100% over others because I think there are several good options out there. All in all, I think the biggest things to consider are frequency of eating, amount of sodium and saturated fat and paying attention to the serving size so that you can be aware of whether you’re actually eating more than one serving. More than one serving is fine but it also means you’d be consuming more than what’s listed in one serving on the label for sodium, fat etc. so it’s important to be aware of.
Are chicken breasts healthier than chicken nuggets?
Yes. Plain chicken breasts are less processed and typically have less added ingredients, are lower in fat and sodium, etc. But both can have a place in a healthy diet.
How To Make Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets/ Healthy Homemade Chicken Nuggets
If you’re looking for some homemade chicken nugget recipes to try, here are a few:
- Best Easy Chicken Finger Recipe
- The Best Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
Can homemade chicken nuggets be frozen?
Yes! You can actually freeze them before or after baking. When I make my Freezer Chicken Tenders, I like to prep the tenders and freeze them before baking. Then all I have to do when I want them is pull them out and bake them straight from frozen.
Healthy air fryer chicken nuggets
Want to try making nuggets at home in the air fryer? Here are a some recipe ideas:
Do frozen chicken nuggets work in the air fryer?
Yep. I set the temperature to 400 and air fry for about 8 minutes, shaking half way through. Be sure to not crowd the basket. If feeding several people you may need to do two batches.
How much time do chicken nuggets need in the oven?
Cooking time will vary by brand as well as by oven but typically you can place frozen chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes or so.
How do I reheat chicken nuggets?
You can reheat nuggets a variety of ways. Stick them in the air fryer or toaster oven for a few minutes, pop them in the microwave, or even put them in a pan with a little bit of oil over medium heat to crisp them back up again!
Which is healthier chicken nuggets or pizza?
Both are fine to eat occasionally. Chicken nuggets are typically higher in protein. Both can be high in sodium and fat, especially if the chicken is fried vs baked. Both can be paired with fruits and vegetables for a more balanced meal.
Best Chicken Nuggets for Kids
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