- I tried four widely-available brands of frozen chicken nuggets, comparing the breading, consistency of the meat, and overall flavour of each.
- Bell & Evans had the best chicken texture, Perdue had the most nostalgic taste, Tyson had the thickest breading, and Applegate is best if you’re looking for a more snackable treat, in my opinion.
- All four brands can be found online or at grocery stores nationwide; a 12-ounce package of Perdue cost me $US4.76, an 8-ounce box of Applegate cost me $US6.29, and a 12-ounce box of Bell & Evans cost me $US6.29.
- Tyson’s nuggets were not available online, so the company provided Insider with a two-pound bag, which retails at around $US6.49.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When my mum was in a pinch; when I was jealous of a classmate’s cafeteria lunch; every Wednesday at summer camp. These were all the times throughout my childhood that featured the wonderful, glorious, mouth-watering food that is a chicken nugget.
Not to be confused with tenders – which have their own very special place in my heart – nuggets don’t take long to make, and they’re extremely reliable. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad chicken nugget, and that’s still true after doing this taste test.
As I get older, different criteria become more important to me when it comes to what I’m eating. For nuggets, that means I’m more likely to actually look at what’s inside the breading. But when comparing nuggets from Perdue, Tyson, Applegate, and Bell & Evans, I took not only breading, but shape, flavour, and texture into consideration.
And one thing is for sure: Regardless of what it looks like, I will never turn down a chicken nugget.
Perdue and Tyson both had the classic lunchroom chicken nugget shape that I grew up with.
At first glance, Perdue and Tyson looked the most like what I think of when I think chicken nuggets. They had distinct and consistent shapes, and their colouring was already a deep tan right out of the freezer.
Applegate also had a consistent shape to its nuggets, but they were smaller and lighter in colour than the others. Their shape also more closely resembled popcorn chicken than chicken nuggets, in my opinion.
Perdue, Tyson, and Applegate nuggets each come pre-cooked in their packages and require around 14 minutes in the oven.
The Bell & Evans box was filled with nuggets of different shapes and sizes.
While the nuggets here weren’t consistent, I thought they most closely resembled actual pieces of chicken. To me, they were the least processed-looking – my mind equated their irregularity with naturality.
The Bell & Evans nuggets come uncooked in their package and require 20-30 minutes in the oven.
The insides of all four nuggets looked substantially different from one another.
In my opinion, Perdue’s nuggets looked the most solid on the inside. There were no folds or layers of ground-looking chicken they way there were in Tyson’s and Applegate’s, but there was also no stringy sign of pure chicken breast like there was in Bell & Evans’.
Both Tyson and Applegate had a similar mealy look to them, but Tyson had a visibly thinner patty than Applegate. Both closely resembled fast-food nuggets, in my opinion.
Bell & Evans looked like I thought it would – just a plain old chunk of chicken breast. The meat in that one didn’t appear to be a patty at all.
When it came to taste, I thought each nugget brought something different to the table (pun shamelessly intended).
I didn’t think Perdue’s chicken tasted like much, but its breading was noteworthy, clinging to the chicken in a way that highlighted the patty rather than taking the spotlight away from it.
The Bell & Evans breading also complemented the chicken nicely.
Tyson’s breading was almost an entirely separate entity from its chicken patty, but it was tasty. The breading was thick and confident, and it reminded me – in terms of taste and texture – of a mixture between fast-food and cafeteria nuggets. Tyson’s nuggets are a solid option if you’re into a thinner patty.
The Applegate nuggets had a little more of an actual, true chicken flavour than the Perdue and Tyson nuggets, in my opinion. That being said, I didn’t love how small they were – I wasn’t sure if I should bite them or comfortably pop a whole one in my mouth.
Similarly to the flavour of Applegate, Bell & Evans really tasted like chicken. I loved that, but something about it felt more current than nostalgic to me. I thought of it as a more modern take on the chicken nugget. So, if you’re looking for a snack that will bring you back to the lunchroom, this might not be the one for you.
I enlisted the taste buds of a picky 6-year-old to help me out with this one. In a semi-blind taste test, he named Bell & Evans the only one he’d eat.
My nephew has eaten Bell & Evans before, but only the large tenders, not the smaller nuggets. And while he may seem loyal to the brand, he was able to name the Bell & Evans nuggets as his favourite without knowing what brands he was tasting.
He said they looked and tasted the best, followed by Applegate, Perdue, and then Tyson.
Ultimately, I think the best nugget comes down to what you’re looking for in them.
Coming into this tasting, I thought I’d be able to distinguish each brand of nuggets from the rest, but I didn’t think they would be this different. After all, a chicken nugget is a chicken nugget, right? Turns out, it’s not that simple.
If a true chicken texture is important to you, I say go with Bell & Evans.
If you’re in it for the juicy, breadcrumby, nostalgic experience, I think Perdue would be a good one to try.
Are you into the thick layer of breading? Maybe grab Tyson off the shelf.
If you’re not a fan of the dark tan breading and enjoy a smaller, poppable treat, it may be time to give Applegate a try.