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I Tried Every Costco Frozen Chicken Nugget & There's Only One I'd Buy Again

If you're going to buy the kid dinner staple in bulk, you might as well buy the one you'd actually eat.
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Ah, chicken nuggets—that staple of childhood cuisine. The small, frozen pieces of meat require very little effort to cook and are an easy form of protein. Like many parents, I see chicken nuggets as being "kid food," so they're not a regular part of my diet, but my kids eat them, as do a lot of other people's kids—and food manufacturers have noticed.

You can buy huge bags of frozen nuggets rather cheaply at Costco. They're terrific to have on hand for those nights when I don't have time to cook and when my now tween-aged twins want to eat them—which is pretty often!

It got me wondering: Which frozen chicken nuggets or chunks at Costco taste the best and provide the most protein for your buck? To find out, I purchased all of the frozen nuggets and chunks available in my local store. I cooked them according to the directions using a conventional oven. I rated each nugget or chunk on looks and taste, with no ketchup or other dips used to enhance the flavor.

I expected my old standby to come in first but was surprised to find a different brand that was far superior. Now that I know I can purchase these in bulk and at such a great value, I'll be stocking up. Read on to see Costco's frozen chicken nuggets and chunks ranked from worst to best.

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Dino Buddies Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Breast Nuggets

dino buddies nuggets box next to nugget on a plate.
Photo: Ronnie Koenig, Design: Jené Sena, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 4 Nuggets):
Calories: 180
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 9 g

This huge, brightly colored five-pound box of dino-shaped nuggets jumped right out at me from the freezer case. The box noted that these are breaded chicken breast patties with rib meat. They have 25% less sodium than the brand's regular dino-shaped nuggets. At $14.49, this seemed like a prehistoric price for kid-friendly protein.

The look: These nuggets came in some fun dinosaur shapes that would have Peppa's little brother George going wild at dinnertime. There was a nice variety of dinosaurs here, though one looked more like a rabbit. When baked, these nuggets were golden brown but a little on the thin side.

The taste: Biting in, I felt like I was eating toddler food. The nuggets were processed-tasting and had a vague chicken flavor. They also had a strange aftertaste. Unless you're serving preschoolers, I'd pass on these.

Rating: 2/10

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Just Bare Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks

just bare nuggets in a bag next to a plate with a nugget.
Photo: Ronnie Koenig, Design: Jené Sena, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Serving):
Calories: 160
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 540 mg
Carbs: 9 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 16 g

I had never seen the Just Bare brand before, but this big 4-pound bag of nuggets gave off a healthy vibe with its bright green packaging. At 16 grams of protein per serving, these were among the highest in the protein of the chicken on my list. Priced at $17.99, they were also the most expensive ones on my list.

The look: Just Bare's chunks are touted as lightly breaded, but the breading looked more like flour batter. They baked to a nice golden brown, and their varied shapes and sizes made them seem less processed than the other very uniform-looking nuggets I tried.

The taste: These chunks had a bit of a grizzled taste, and the insides were strangely chewy. They are not made of rib meat like some other brands, so that may have accounted for the difference in taste. With some fries and a good dipping sauce, these would be passable.

Rating: 4/10

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Perdue Panko Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

perdue nuggets bag next to a plate with a nugget.
Photo: Ronnie Koenig, Design: Jené Sena, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per 4 Nuggets):
Calories: 210
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 450 mg
Carbs: 15 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 12 g

My kids were raised on Perdue nuggets from the time they cut their teeth. Seeing this huge five-pound bag made me wish I'd become a Costco member sooner, and at just $13.89, they were the cheapest I tried.

The look: These nuggets are advertised as "breaded nugget shaped chicken breast patties with rib meat." The very uniform and recognizable shape of these nuggets immediately says Perdue to me, and since their products are of high quality, that's a good thing!

The taste: These nuggets tasted OK. I could confidently eat them, knowing I was getting real chicken. Although they are a bit bland, it's nothing that some ketchup or hot sauce couldn't fix. Perdue says these nuggets are "ideal for kids' meals" or a "quick snack." I don't see myself ever snacking on these, but now that I know what my kids have been eating, I feel OK about it.

Rating: 6/10

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Kirkland Signature Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks

kirkland nuggets bag next to nugget on a plate.
Photo: Ronnie Koenig, Design: Jené Sena, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Serving):
Calories: 140
Fat: 5 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 530 mg
Carbs: 9 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 16 g

I was excited to try these chicken chunks from Costco's store brand, Kirkland Signature, which people have been comparing to Chick-fil-A's nuggets. Could they be as good? This four-pound bag, priced at $13.99, gave me a lot of chicken for the money.

The look: These chicken chunks were all different shapes and sizes (not uniform like nuggets). They turned a nice golden-brown color when heated up in the oven. I was getting hungry just looking at them.

The taste: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would eat Kirkland chicken chunks as an adult meal. Yes, they were that good. These chunks tasted like real, savory white meat. There was just the right amount of flavoring so that they were anything but bland. When I served them up to my husband later that night, he looked skeptical but finished his plate. This is one chicken chunk you shouldn't pass up.

Rating: 9/10

Ronnie Koenig
Ronnie Koenig has written about food, drink, travel and culture for The New York Times, TODAY, The Atlantic and many others. Read more about Ronnie
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