Gluten-Free Alternatives Prove Not So Bad After All

Chicken nuggets equally delicious

Anna Tao, Staff Writer

What I worried about most was being able to eat the same food as my friends and family, the same food I had in my childhood, and the wonderful nostalgia that came with it. 

Food is so much more than nutrition. It is tradition, culture, and an overall shared experience with loved ones. Restricting those can feel frustrating, but with a little help, navigating a dietary restrictive diet can be simpler and more reminiscent of past times than previously thought. As more products of all dietary restrictions make their way onto the shelves of accessible grocers, so have gluten-free options due to their recent surge in popularity and more people become aware of and diagnosed with gluten intolerances, sensitivities, and celiac disease.

As someone who must avoid gluten clinically, discovering the world of gluten-free chicken nuggets felt like a massive revelation. They are so loved by all. Through months of testing, two nuggets particularly stood out as especially palatable: The Perdue Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders and the Applegate Chicken Nuggets. Both products are popular within my household because they are easy to find in common stores. Gluten-free products can also be frustrating as they can be overpriced; however, both products are priced the same as the equivalent gluten-filled products, with Perdue sitting at $10.59 for a 22 oz bag and Applegate for $12.69 in a 16 oz bag. 

The Perdue product was a true surprise in the product’s crunch and juice factor. While still remaining juicy, it is perfectly crisp within the recommended bake time. An almost popcorn chicken-like coating surrounds the chicken within, providing a diverse set of textures in tandem with the juicy interior. A common problem many seem to find within chicken tenders is the issue of tough, grisly bits finding their way into it, however, I, nor any of my family members, have encountered this issue. The product can also perfectly pair with any preferred condiment. My choice of honey mustard particularly shines with this pairing, combining a sweet tang within the sauce with the salty crunch of the breading and juice within the tender.

The Applegate product had promising factors within it upon the first bite. The chicken filling was spread thinner than some chicken nuggets, however, that provided the ability of the nugget to also be crunchy. An additional surprising perk is, the size of the nugget, with the Purdue tender being the size of a normal nugget and the Applegate being smaller. The size of the nugget, allows a single nugget to be easily consumed within one crunch-filled bite. The nugget filling is not dry either, still being perfectly juicy within. The most interesting thing about this nugget was the pairing of condiments, specifically the Chick-Fil-A honey mustard sauce. Initially, I didn’t expect much of it, but the first bite immediately reminded me of the flavors and crunch of a Mcdonald’s chicken nugget paired with a Sweet and Sour sauce packet. As one can imagine, this combination was truly remarkable for me since Mcdonald’s became inedible to me, and low and behold, this became a staple within my household.

Gluten-free products can be frustrating because of the constant amounts of trial and error to find a delicious product, but this review hopefully has led you to the discovery of a staple food, maybe even for those who do eat gluten.