The classic burger patty was the first breakaway product to really disrupt the meat industry’s status quo. In 2018, the Beyond Burger was outselling beef-based patties in some supermarkets, and the debut of the Impossible Whopper shot Burger King’s sales through the roof as the financially declining chain reported its best quarter in four years.
While vegan beef stole the spotlight in the late 2010s, vegan chicken is the star of the twenties. Between the explosion of store-bought chicken nuggets to the full vegan revamp of Morningstar Farms, vegan chicken is here to stay. Here are all of the juicy, tender, golden, crispy vegan chicken products you can find at the store and online. But first, what actually is vegan chicken?
What is vegan chicken?
As the name implies, there are no real chickens involved in the making of vegan chicken. Instead, brands use a number of different plant-based ingredients, like soy, pea protein, and even jackfruit, to recreate the same taste and texture as the real thing. They can come in several different forms, including nuggets, strips, shreds, chunks, popcorn, and more. It’s also possible to make vegan chicken at home, using ingredients like seitan, cauliflower, tofu, or tempeh. (If you’re craving vegan chicken, try following these easy nugget recipes, this popcorn chicken recipe, or make this copycat Chipotle chicken burrito bowl.)
Where to buy vegan chicken
If you’re heading out to eat, a few restaurants sell vegan chicken. For example, California and Nevada chain Plant Power Fast Food sells vegan chicken sandwiches, as does Slutty Vegan and Veggie Grill. In the UK, you can even buy Quorn vegan chicken from KFC. (Last year, US locations also offered Beyond Fried Chicken for a limited time.) But the easiest place to grab vegan chicken is at the grocery store. And when you’re there, here are some of the brands you’re likely to find on store shelves.
The best vegan chicken brands
1 Vegan Fried Chick*n (VFC)
KFC’s vegan fried chicken may come and go, but this UK-based company is filling in the gaps. Now available in the US, VFC’s line of tender, crispy vegan chicken products satisfy that itch for this familiar food. The range includes breaded Chick*n Filets, Bites, and Popcorn Chick*n that are available to order online through Vejii and GTFO It’s Vegan.
This long-standing vegetarian brand offers a medley of now-vegan chicken options including kid-friendly dino nuggets (currently only available in the UK). In the US, Quorn carries crispy Meatless Spicy Patties, snackable Buffalo Dippers, breaded Chipotle Cutlets, Pineapple Chipotle Meatless Chiqin Dippers, and grilled Meatless Fillets and Meatless Pieces—all of which are free of all animal products. Note: the Meatless Nuggets are not vegan—they contain egg and milk ingredients.
3 Morningstar Farms/Incogmeato
Jumping on the vegan market trend, this decades-old vegetarian meat company launched a new plant-based meat line to compete in the freezer aisle. The Incogmeato chicken options range from traditional chicken nuggets to fun Mickey Mouse-shaped nuggets. The Incogmeato brand also includes original and Sweet BBQ Chick’n Tenders. The mother brand, Morningstar, also offers a wide range of frozen, vegan-friendly chicken options from patties to nuggets.
In the early-to-mid 2010s, Gardein swept veg fests, leaving vegans and omnivores alike astonished at “how real” its meatless products tasted. While perhaps overshadowed by some of the newer food tech startups, Gardein has remained solid in its widely accessible and vast range of vegan chicken options. Not only does it produce the standard vegan nugget, patty, and grillable fillet, Gardein sells frozen vegan Chick’n Sliders, Chick’n Scallopini, and Chick’n Wings in a variety of flavors from sweet barbecue to buffalo. If you’re craving a specific preparation of chicken, Gardein is likely to have a vegan version of it.
Made by food-tech startup SIMULATE, these golden meaty snacks aim to be the “Tesla of chicken nuggets.” They’re made with a blend of soy and wheat proteins to mimic both taste and texture. The company posits these nuggets as close to real chicken as you can get—minus the cruelty and hazardous environmental impact. Consumers can find NUGGS at some of the nation’s largest retailers including Walmart, Target, and Sam’s Club. The brand also makes vegan chicken wings that are perfect for any game day spread.
Alpha covers all the vegan chicken basics—nuggets, chick’n burgers, and grilled strips. The company’s signature plant-based chicken can also be found featured in its Chik’n Veggie tamales and Chik’n, Basil, & Garlic meatballs. Alpha vegan chicken products can be found in a variety of stores including Costco, Sprouts, Kroger stores, and Albertsons.
7 Whole Foods 365
This better-for-you-grocer is continually adding to its plant-based line of products. The frozen Chicken-Style Plant-Based Nuggets and Chicken-Style Plant-Based Patties join the lineup of vegan ice creams, cheeses, and other meats that now make up the 365 line.
The Baking Fairy
Originally known for its veggie burgers, Boca has branched out to include vegan chicken. Options span from soy-based nuggets to original and spicy vegan chicken burger patties.
9 Dr. Praeger’s
Not all Dr. Praeger’s products are vegan, but the new Perfect line of vegan chicken tenders and nuggets are all a safe bet. All products are gluten- and soy-free and made with Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients. Find the Perfect Chick’n Tenders, Nashville Hot Chick’n, and General Tso’s Chick’n in the freezer aisle.
Check it out
10 Atlas Monroe
You won’t find this vegan fried chicken in stores, but if you’re quick, you can order it online. Founder Deborah Torres gained traction for her company after appearing on ABC hit reality show, Shark Tank. While the Sharks demolished her samples and made a $1 million offer, Torres turned them down to keep ownership of her business. Since then, she’s partnered with the vegan chain Copper Branch, and continues to ship her vegan fried chicken nationwide. Follow @atlas.monroe on Instagram for updates on the next restocking date.
The originator of the iconic vegan Thanksgiving roast has massively expanded its product line to include burgers, deli slices, grounds, and pieces. The Plant-Based Chick’n line encompasses grilled and seasoned vegan chicken pieces you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Flavors include Lightly Seasoned, Thai Basil, Sesame Garlic, and Barbecue.
Sweet Earth Foods
12 Sweet Earth Foods
Prepare to do a double take when you reach for Sweet Earth’s Chick’n Strips and Shreds. While it may look like chunks of chicken, these soy-based pieces are completely animal-free. Use them in stir-frys, salads, curries, grain bowls, and burritos for a delicious protein boost to your meal.
13 Trader Joe’s
This tiki-themed grocer tends to abide by the philosophy of “why have others do it for you if you could do it yourself?” In addition to its name-brand assortment of vegan burgers, mac and cheese, chorizo, and ice cream, TJ’s created its own plant-based chicken. The Chickenless line ranges from savory seasoning to mandarin orange bites to crispy tenders. Stock up.
14 Field Roast
The Fruffalo Wings are no more—well, at least not by name. This vegan meat-and-cheese company rebranded its spicy, wingless frozen chicken appetizer, opting to drop the whimsical name for something more straightforward: Buffalo Wings. While we miss saying “fruffalo,” we don’t miss the taste that hooked us from day one. Prefer a nugget to a wing? Field Roast offers those, too.
In recent years, Daring has established itself as one of the prominent players in the vegan chicken category. Its frozen pieces are both high-protein and low-calorie—we’re talking 90 calories per serving and 14 grams of protein for the Original variety. The four other options include Lemon & Herb, Teriyaki, Cajun, and Breaded. Consumers can find these products at Sprouts, Target, Whole Foods, and Kroger, among other retailers.
For a soy-based vegan chicken you can season and stuff into burritos, check out Lightlife’s Smart Tenders. One serving contains 18 grams of protein and zero saturated fat. They’re fairly plain on their own, but they work wonders with a drenching of vegan alfredo sauce or a coating of taco seasoning. Fajita Friday, anyone?
17 Hungry Planet
Odds are, you may have enjoyed a crispy Chipotle Chicken Patty from Hungry Planet and not realized it. This company is a formidable player in the foodservice market, providing many non-vegan eateries with its plant-based chicken patties and versatile grounds. Smaller, 12-ounce portions of the ground chicken are also available in select grocers across the US with a heavy concentration east of San Antonino, TX. From homemade nuggets to spicy fajitas, the meals you can create with this vegan chicken are infinite.
18 Jack & Annie’s
Jack & Annie’s takes a unique approach to its vegan chicken. In lieu of using the typical soy, seitan, or pea-based proteins, the company relies on jackfruit to replicate chicken’s tender, meaty chew. While a number of vegan meats are made under this brand (meatballs, sausages, beefy crumbles, etc), the chicken options are outstanding. Find the buffalo wings and crispy chicken nuggets in the frozen aisle of your local Target, Sprouts, or Wegmans.
19 Sol Cuisine
Not a nugget and not quite popcorn chicken, these juicy plant-based Crispy Chik’n Bites are addictively snackable. The package comes with barbecue sauce, but these bites work well with any number of dips from buffalo to vegan honey mustard. Bake up a batch for a hoard of hungry kids or a board game night—no matter what the occasion, they’ll go fast!
For something meant to mimic junk food, these tender nuggets are surprisingly free of junk. Nowadays only uses seven ingredients that are transformed into incredibly tasty vegan chicken nuggets. Who knew organic pea protein, whole wheat flour, yeast extract, mushroom extract, maple fiber, sunflower oil, and water could be so good?
21 Beyond Meat
From the brand that revolutionized “bleeding” vegan burgers comes Beyond Chicken. After giving us iconic collaborations with KFC and Panda Express, Beyond Meat is satisfying our cravings with its newest product. The breaded plant-based tenders were initially available at 400 restaurants, but have now expanded into 8,000 stores. Today, the brand also boasts nuggets and popcorn chicken. Vegan chicken for all!
22 Impossible Foods
This vegan food tech giant won’t be left behind. Since perfecting its meaty vegan burgers, Impossible Foods has churned out a bevy of plant-based beef and pork products, and now, it’s launched vegan chicken. Choose between nuggets and patties now available in original and spicy flavors.
23 Meatless Farm
Meatless Farm is on a mission to help the planet, and they’re banking on vegan food to help them do it. While the brand offers a selection of plant-based meats ranging from breakfast patties to meatballs and grounds, it’s the Chik’n Cutlet that can’t be missed. The seitan- and pea-based protein features a cornflake breading for added crispyness.
24 Rebellyous Foods
These golden, juicy, crispy bites are available at select retailers and restaurants across Oregon, Washington, and California. Not on the West Coast? Don’t fret—Rebellyous Foods’ plant-based tenders, nuggets, and patties are available for nationwide shipping through online retailer GTFO It’s Vegan.
25 Abbot’s Butcher
It’s not a nugget nor a patty, but Abbot’s Butcher’s Chopped Chick’n is extremely versatile because of this fact. Beyond its addictive taste and spot-on texture, this is the only vegan chicken that is free of soy, gluten, preservatives, and natural flavors. It’s also Whole30-approved, which you can’t say for any other patty or nugget on the market.
It hasn’t made it to the US yet, but British brand THIS offers its vegan chicken pieces in most UK supermarkets. Plus, you can even find its realistic chicken-style strips in its Thai Green Curry ready meal, and if you’re in WH Smith, there’s also a small selection of vegan chicken grab-and-go sandwiches, like This Isn’t Chicken & Sweetcorn and This Isn’t Chicken Coronation.
Based in Barcelona, Spain, Heura is committed to transitioning the Mediterranean region to plant-based food. Its tasty products include Spiced Chik’n Pieces, Chik’n Fillet Burgers, Mediterranean Chunks, Breaded Chick’n Fillets, and much more.
28 Future Farm
Brazilian brand Future Farm has gained a reputation for being able to mimic animal meat so well, it’ll leave you asking “Did I actually just eat meat?” But don’t worry, all of its products are 100 percent plant-based. The brand offers a wide range of products, including Future Chick’n chunks.
29 The Vegetarian Butcher
When it comes to plant-based meat, the Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher is a European favorite. (You can even find its products on the menu at Burger King locations across Europe!) One of its most popular offerings is its What The Cluck vegan chicken-style chunks, which are perfect for pastas, curries, stir-fries, and more.