Are chicken nuggets a guilty-pleasure snack for you? Why not try these vegetarian, meat-free alternatives – most of which are easily found at supermarkets! Here’s what we think of these popular plant-based nuggets and fish fingers.
Zawani Abdul Ghani’s Recommendations
- TiNDLE: The texture of this is pretty close to the real thing (i.e. chicken meat). Chicken flesh is distinctively fibrous and has a certain chew – both of which TiNDLE has managed to achieve. It’s a pity they aren’t available in retail right now, but if you want my top place to try them, head to Three Buns.
- Heura (Original Chunks): While Heura’s plant-based chicken doesn’t come packaged as nuggets, you can easily throw on some breading and fry them up. What I enjoy most about these is that the “meat” is really tender and moist, which is a saving grace from previous experiences of eating dried-out chicken breast meat. The Original Chunks do come seasoned already, but it’s a versatile product, so cook them any way you please!
Rebecca Bisset’s Recommendations
- M&S Plant Kitchen No Chicken Nuggets: These came a close second to Quorn but with a nice different flavour – and less batter, which I prefer. This plant-based meat product doesn’t have a meaty texture, but it’s still tasty!
- Quorn Meat Free Crispy Nuggets: I have passed these off to children and adults as normal chicken nuggets for years. I pop them in the air fryer and have them with salad, fries or coleslaw for a quick easy meal. They’re made from mushrooms and are apparently low in cholesterol, with no GMO or other nasties.
- Happiee Plant-Based Soy Chickiee Nuggets: There’s no denying these are tofu or soy; they didn’t taste like chicken to me. But I like them! I made a tofu-style burger with them with coleslaw and it was delicious.
- Meat Zero Plant-Based Chicken Nugget: They’re okay with a bit of tomato sauce. They’re also free from trans fat and easy to prepare in the air fryer.
Dinesh Ajith’s Recommendations
- Quorn Meat Free Southern Fried Bites and Crispy Nuggets: When it comes to meat-free substitutes, I find that chicken is the easiest to imitate well. Quorn’s products feature familiar flavour profiles and spices that work great with “chicken”. My favourite Quorn product is the Meat Free Southern Fried Bites. They come with a good hit of Cajun spice and have a smell and texture that’s almost indistinguishable from fried chicken. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you might not notice it’s a meat-free product! If you prefer a more classic style of nugget, the Meat Free Crispy Nuggets are also a great option – they crisp up nicely in the air fryer and come pretty close to popular fast food options in terms of taste.
- Happiee Plant-Based Konjac Fishiee Sticks: While textured soy and mushroom proteins reign supreme for chicken-style meat substitutes, konjac (a kind of tuber) works just as effectively for plant-based fish sticks. When it comes to choosing plant based meats, the most important factor for me is how closely it resembles the regular meat product. Here’s where Happiee’s fish sticks shine. I actually had these alongside proper fish fingers and they really hit the mark when it comes to smell, texture and taste. Like with Quorn, you might be able to pass this off as the real thing!
- Meat Zero Plant-Based Chicken Nugget: High in protein and free from trans fats, Meat Zero’s nuggets are a welcome alternative to a typically unhealthy snack. While the nuggets have a nice, crispy crust, they fall a little flat taste-wise and it’s quite apparent that it isn’t a meat product. It’s a bit cheaper than a lot of other options so that’s worth considering as well.
Patricea Chow’s Recommendations
- Quorn Meat Free Crispy Nuggets: I did a double take after biting into my first one of these as it looks, smells and tastes like the real deal. However, I’ve had other plant-based nuggets that are juicier. That being said, my mum loves this as a cost-effective and equally yummy alternative to chicken.
- The Vegetarian Butcher Little Peckers: I was excited to see this product at Cold Storage – the teaser adverts were intriguing enough for me to try it. The smell that came out of the convection oven as the nuggets were being heated made my mouth water. They browned nicely too. The texture did resemble chicken but it was too salty for my liking, and that made it hard to discern any chicken taste. They may taste good with sauces but if you’re someone who likes their nuggets as is, you’ll want some fries or rice to accompany this.
This article first appeared in the May 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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