Gluten-Free Chicken Olympics

Posted: January 5, 2014 in diet, nutrition
Tags: , , , , ,

I love me some fried chicken. So I decided to do a food experiment to see which one of the locally available gluten-free chicken-nugget varieties tasted best and was the best value. I found the following products at Target.

In the arena, we have:

  • Tyson gluten-free chicken strips, 14 oz, $5.99
  • Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets, 18 oz, $5.99
  • Applegate gluten-free chicken nuggets, 16 oz, $8.99
  • Nature Raised Farm gluten-free chicken nuggets, 12 oz, 2 for $10 ($5.00/bag)

Opening the bags, we note that we receive:

  • 5 Tyson strips, $1.19ea, $0.42/oz
  • 24 Tyson nuggets, $0.24ea, $0.33/oz
  • 45 Applegate nuggets, $0.18ea, $0.35/oz
  • 16 Nature Raised nuggets, $0.31ea, $0.41/oz

I should also note that each of these products are packaged in resealable bags, but also contain a separate internal heatsealed plastic bag inside which contains the food. Double packaging. And, in the case of the Tyson strips, all 5 of them, why even have a resealable bag? You’re going to use them all in one cooking session.

I baked them all in a glass dish according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. All came out fully cooked (they are pre-cooked anyways). I served them with a small variety of condiments (mustard, ranch dressing, sriracha, and Cholula hot sauce) taking the time to try them all with each sauce. Seen in the following photo, beginning in upper right, going clockwise: Tyson GF strips, Tyson GF nuggets, Applegate GF nuggets, Nature Raised GF nuggets.

GF Chicken Olympics

GF Chicken Olympics

Regarding value for weight, it’s easy to figure. Gold Medal goes to Tyson nuggets, Silver to Applegate nuggets, Bronze to Nature Raised nuggets, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

At first impression, they all have appealing smell. So all receive Gold Medals for that.

Appearance-wise, the color on the Applegate nuggets wasn’t as vibrant as the others, which colorwise were all equal. So Gold Medal for appearance goes to both Tyson products and NatureRaised. Silver goes to Applegate.

Now taste-wise, all three had that deepfried umami to them, and all were good, however the flavor of the Applegate nuggets fell short, probably because due to their smaller size they have a higher breading-to-chicken ratio, and the chicken got lost under the taste of all the breading. That’s not to say they tasted bad, quite the opposite. Just not as chicken-y as the others. The nuggets from both Tyson and Nature Raised tasted nearly identical, maybe a tiny bit more pepper in the Tyson breading. The taste of the Tyson strips was good but they were heavily breaded, and, like the Applegate nuggets, the taste of the chicken started to get lost under the deepfried flavor of the breading. So… Taste Gold Medal goes to nuggets by Tyson and Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson strips, and Bronze to Applegate.

Texture is where they differentiated themselves and a winner for the whole lot came out. By far the best texture of all is the Nature Raised nuggets, which, defying all history of chicken nuggets in the oven, actually retained a crispy component to the breading. The breading on the Tyson nuggets was a close second but it felt more oily and saturated than the Nature Raised. The overdone breading on the Tyson Strips made them not so enticing after a while, which brought them in worse place than the Applegate nuggets, whose heavy breading wasn’t quite so bad after all compared to the Tyson ones. So… Texture Gold Medal goes to Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson nuggets, Bronze to Applegate, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

And, for overall performance and foodie joy brought to me by these gluten-free chicken products…

Gold Medal: Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets.
Slightly more expensive than the cheapest option, but worth it for the better texture and experience.

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Silver Medal: Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets
Better value but not as good texture.

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Bronze Medal: Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets
Good value, decent product.

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

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