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Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets for Kids, By a Kids Dietitian

Frozen chicken nuggets are a popular staple in many households with kids (especially with picky eaters). What do they offer nutritionally? I compare 10 of the most popular frozen chicken nugget brands.

Kids love frozen chicken nuggets because they taste good and are easy to hold and to chew! Parents love them because they’re cheap, convenient, and easy to prepare with little time and effort.

Unfortunately, these family-friendly convenience foods may be higher in fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Since 90% of children are eating too much sodium each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this needs to be considered when making choices.

Chicken nuggets are on the list of the 10 most common foods making up more than 40% of the sodium kids eat. While frozen chicken nuggets have grams of protein and are a source of iron (a key nutrient for growth during childhood), they lack other important nutrients like vitamin A and C.

Let’s review the nutrition facts and see which ones are the best nuggets for your family.

The Best Frozen Chicken Nuggets, according to a Kids Dietitian (A top 10 list)

10 Frozen Chicken Nugget Brands

I put the spotlight on three nutrients with potential negative health effects (fat, saturated fat and sodium) for 10 popular frozen chicken nugget brands. (Serving and nugget sizes vary between brands and that may partially explain the difference in nutrient amounts.)

1. Tyson Chicken Nuggets

Tyson chicken nuggets are made from chicken chopped up into small pieces to look like a nugget. Compared to the other brands I reviewed, Tyson is on the high end of fat, saturated fat, and sodium.

A serving of 5 nuggets contains 17 g of fat, 4 g of saturated fat, 14 g of protein, 15 g of carbohydrates and 470 mg sodium.

2. Dino Buddies

Yummy Dino Buddies are pieces of chicken breast and rib meat in the shape of dinosaurs. The box states “100% All Natural” which appeals to health-conscious parents.

According to the FDA, “all natural” means that nothing artificial was added to the food product. But it doesn’t pertain to additives or chemicals that are used during food production. 

One serving of 4 nuggets contains 9 g of fat, 1.5 g of saturated fat, and 360 mg of sodium.

3. Good & Gather Chicken Breast Nuggets

These breaded nuggets are made from chicken breast and rib meat. Good & Gather is Target’s brand that was formerly Archer Farms.

It has the second lowest amount of sodium with 320 g (the next lowest is 70 g) but it’s one of the highest in fat and saturated fat content.

One serving of 4 nuggets provides 14 g of fat and 4 g of saturated fat.

4. Trader Joe’s Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

Trader Joe’s frozen breaded chicken nuggets are gluten-free and made from chicken breast meat (the leanest cut of the chicken). When it comes to saturated fat and protein content, these nuggets are a winner, which is good news.

A 4 oz serving provides 6 g of fat, 1 g of saturated fat, and 16g of protein.

But the sodium content is on the high side, providing 450 mg in one serving.

5. Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets

Applegate chicken is humanely raised, but its selling points don’t stop there. These are made from white chicken meat and are casein and dairy free – a good option to go with for children with a dairy allergy.

One serving of 6 nuggets has 8 g of fat, 1.5 g of saturated fat and 350 mg of sodium, which is lower than some other brands but still has more sodium than recommended.

6. Bell & Evans Chicken Breast Nuggets

Bell & Evans is organic and made from whole white meat chicken breast pieces, not chopped or separated meat shaped into “nuggets”. These are low in saturated fat, but the sodium amount is more than recommended.

A 4 oz serving provides 9 g of fat, 1.5 g of saturated fat and 360 mg, which is comparable to Applegate.

7. Perdue Chicken Breast Nuggets

This brand has one of the most recognizable names. However, the nutrient content doesn’t put this brand at the top of the list.

Based on the ratio of carbohydrate and fat to the protein amount, this breaded frozen chicken nugget is more about the breading than the chicken.

One serving of 4 nuggets provides 13 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat, and 450 mg of sodium.

8. Banquet Chicken Breast Nuggets

Banquet chicken nuggets are made from breast and rib meat. The sodium content is one of the highest of the brands reviewed. The fat content is average compared to other chicken nugget brands, but customer reviews gives this one a thumbs down for taste.

A serving of 5 nuggets contains 12 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat, and 490 mg of sodium.

9. Great Value Chicken Nuggets

Great Value is Walmart’s store brand. The fat and sodium content is comparable to Target’s brand Good & Gather and Perdue, but Great Value tops the list with the most sodium.

One serving of 5 nuggets provides 15 g of fat, 3 g of saturated fat, and a whopping 560 mg of sodium.

10. Earth’s Best Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

The manufacturer’s serving size of 3 nuggets is smaller than the other brands. However, even if you eat two servings, Earth’s Best would still be at the top of the list when it comes to low sodium and saturated fat.

One serving of 3 nuggets provides 0 g of saturated fat and 70 g of sodium.

Compare the 10 brands at a glance (per serving).

BrandServing SizeCaloriesFat (g)Saturated Fat (g)Protein (g)Carbs (g)Sodium (mg)
Tyson527017 g4 g14 g15 g470 mg
Dino41809 g1.5 g9 g15 g360 mg
Good & Gather (Target)422014 g4 g10 g13 g320 mg
Trader Joe’s4 oz2006 g1 g16 g20 g450 mg
Applegate Naturals61908 g1.5 g12 g14 g350 mg
Bell & Evans4 oz2009 g1.5 g10 g21 g360 mg
Perdue423013 g2.5 g9 g19 g450 mg
Banquet522012 g2.5 g12 g16 g490 mg
Great Value524015 g3 g9 g17 g560 mg
Earth’s Best31005 g0 g5 g7 g70 mg

How to Make Your Own Chicken Nuggets

Not only are frozen chicken nuggets a source of fat and sodium, they can be pricey. Making your own is one way to keep the cost down and know what’s going into the food your family eats.

How to Bake Your Own Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients: 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flour, eggs (beaten), and bread crumbs. Add whatever seasonings you’d like, such as some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley.

Breading is a simple cooking activity for kids to help with. You’ll need three bowls.

  1. Bowl #1: combine 2-3 eggs and ¼ cup of milk
  2. Bowl #2: white whole wheat flour or regular flour combined with seasonings
  3. Bowl #3: bread crumbs
  4. Cut nuggets shape and sizes.
  5. Dunk nuggets in egg wash (bowl #1)
  6. Dredge the nuggets in the flour (bowl #2)
  7. Fully cover nuggets in bread crumb (bowl #3)

You can either pan fry the nuggets in 1 inch of oil or bake on a lightly oiled sheet pan at 400 F for 15 minutes. This recipe offers a healthier and lower fat option.

Tip: Try cooking the nuggets in an air fryer to get that crispy outer layer without adding fat.

Are Chicken Nuggets Good or Bad for You?

My general advice is to keep frozen chicken nuggets as a once in a while food, not as a staple in your little one’s daily diet. They offer more sodium and saturated fat than is recommended. And look for brands that contain no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and lower fat choices.

In my comparison, the best chicken nuggets were Earth’s Best and Trader Joe’s, as they topped the chart in the lower fat category.

The winner for lowest sodium was Earth’s Best.

Many of these brands contain allergens such as milk, wheat or soy, so look for allergen free alternatives from reputable brands instead if your child has food allergies.

When feeding your family, it’s all about the food balance and less about the good food – bad food trade-off. You can always lower the overall fat and sodium content of a family meal by adding more fruit and vegetables to the plate!

Frequently Asked Questions

I get a lot of questions about this topic, so here you go!

Are Tyson Chicken Nuggets Healthy?

Although they might be the most popular brand of chicken nuggets, they are also higher in fat, saturated fat and salt. There are other brands that I would consider “healthier.”

What are Some Healthy Chicken Nuggets for Toddlers?

When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers, I made homemade nuggets. I had the time to do so as a SAHM. If that’s not you, my current favorite commercial nuggets would be Earth’s Best and Trader Joe’s.

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Avanti Kumar Singh on The Nourished Child podcast

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