Nuggets Comparison

vegan month of food 2011

Today, I was making vegan nuggets for Milo’s and my lunch, and I thought to myself: “I wonder how these bad boys stack up nutritionally against their packaged equivalents?” Since nuggets form a significant portion of my family’s diet and are part of our go-to lunch on busy weekdays, I wanted to see the numbers for myself.

Just for the sake of comparison, let’s look at the numbers for the other nuggets first, shall we?

Starting with 6-piece McDonald’s McNuggets:

276 calories; 17g fat; 42mg cholesterol; 600mg sodium; 16g carbohydrates; 14g protein.

No real surprises there. Is anyone who reads this blog taking their kids to McDonald’s? Doubtful. Let’s move on to the healthier options.

Next we have Morningstar Farms:

190 calories; 9g fat;  0mg cholesterol; 600mg sodium; 19g carbohydrates; 12mg protein.

The calories, fat, and cholesterol numbers here are much better than McDonald’s.¬†However, did you happen to notice that their serving size is 4 nuggets? Don’t worry, I’ll be doing a comparison chart here in a second so that you can see how the numbers compare when the serving size is equivalent, and I’ll be comparing serving size by weight for maximum scientific whatever whatever.

The Morningstar Farms Chik’n Nuggets aren’t vegan, so let’s keep this train a-chuggin’ right along to Health is Wealth.

Health is Wealth Chicken Free Nuggets

Health is Wealth Chicken Free Nuggets are vegan! Hip hip hooray!

Let’s look at their nutritional info, shall we?

120 calories; 2g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 450g sodium; 14g carbohydrates; 14g protein.

Based on the nutritional facts alone, Health is Wealth Chicken Free Nuggets are the best option by far. They also have the fewest ingredients, many of which are organic. If you are buying a commercial nugget, this is the clear winner in every category.

But let’s move on to the real star of the show: homemade, in your mouth in under 30 minutes from start to finish, seitan nuggets:

seitan nuggets

I change up the seitan nuggets recipe all the time based on what ingredients I have in my house. That is one of the beautiful things about this recipe. Out of chickpea flour? Use more vital wheat gluten. Don’t have breadcrumbs or panko? No problem, just use all-purpose flour. Did you just find a package of french onion soup mix in the back of your pantry which you had completely forgotten about? Use half the packet to season the dry mix and the other half to season the breading mix! So versatile!

Here’s the current recipe I’ve been using for the last two weeks or so:

makes 28-36 or 4-6 servings

dry mix:

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 T nutritional yeast
1/2 t salt
up to 1 T of dry seasoning

wet mix:

1 cup water
1 T oil
1 T soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids


2 T cornmeal or polenta
2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T nutritional yeast
up to 1 t of dry seasoning
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to stir until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a bowl, combine the breading ingredients.

Break off a small piece of the dough, form it into a nuggety shape, coat it in breading, and transfer it to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You can save any remaining nugget breading for next time.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Using a serving size of 7 nuggets (90g), here is the nutritional info:

177 calories; 3.8g fat; 0g cholesterol; 436g sodium; 15.4g carbohydrates; 24.3g protein.

Let’s see a comparison chart! You know how much I love a good chart for comparing and contrasting. Or maybe you didn’t know that about me. You would if we lived together, or if we’d ever shopped for a car together, or if you’d ever stood in a grocery aisle with me while I picked a new snack to try.

The first thing I need to do is get the serving sizes equal on all of these so that it’s a fair comparison. The serving sizes are pretty similar as is, but for the sake of MAXIMUM FAIRNESS, I multiplied the Health is Wealth data by 1.125, the Morningstar Farms data by 1.1, and my data by 1.05. After doing that, all 4 serving sizes are within 1g of each other.

Yes, you’re reading that right: compared to chicken nuggets, my nuggets have 1.5 times the protein, 100 fewer calories, and 1/4 of the fat content. Holy moly!


Nuggets Comparison — 33 Comments

  1. I love a good comparison chart!! I need to try your nuggets too especially if I can get them in my mouth within 30 minutes!

  2. I was thinking of these the other day.
    Time to make them again.
    I love how quickly they come together.

  3. This is cool but for me PERSONALLY taste is also an important factor and not mentioned here I don’t think.

    • kevin, i don’t think that you’re alone in feeling that taste is an important factor. taste is always important for me. if milo doesn’t eat what i make for him, well then it could be the healthiest food in the entire world and it wouldn’t really matter because he doesn’t like it and won’t eat it.

  4. You are awesome! I always have your nuggets in my freezer. They are always a winner with my 3 year old. I knew they were good for her (us!). Thanks for the chart. Definitely something to share!

  5. Not to mention the vegan box also has more iron. Not sure about seitans iron content but still.

    Great post! Nuggets and Science!

  6. Oh, I totally want to make these. I’ve been vegan for 7 years but have admittedly only made seitan a few times. This looks simple, though! Now, if only I could shape them into cute dinosaurs…

  7. I made these for lunch and they taste great! They were also incredibly simple and easy to throw together. You’re right about the recipe being versatile. I just added Old Bay + onion/garlic powder for seasoning, and I think I’d love these even more with panko bread crumbs or even as a thinner patty to use for sammiches. Yum!

  8. I wouldn’t expect any less of a difference between McD’s and homemade vegan nuggets! Yours look fantastic, and I love that they’re so adaptable.

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  10. i made these tonight! they’re in the oven as i type, along with some waffle fries and brussels sprouts. so excited. i do miss food in nugget form.

  11. Pingback: Make it from Scratch: vegan seitan nuggets | krista and jess

  12. These are great, and very adaptable indeed. Today I took some leftover soup with broccoli and cauliflower in veggie broth, tossed it in a food processor for a minute, and used it for the liquid part of the recipe. As with all the random things I’ve done to modify this recipe the result was delicious (dried mushrooms torn to little pieces and steeped in the liquid part turned out very well also). I don’t always bother to add oil to the mixture, and haven’t noticed any difference in consistency or flavor, which is great!

  13. This was a super easy and yummy recipe! I used chinese 5 spice as my allspice and dipped my nuggets in habanero sauce. it was sooo soo good.

  14. I can’t wait to make these for my kids! So tired of paying for the frozen veggie nuggets! For those who freeze these seitan nuggets, do they go in the freezer before or after baking? I have dreams of stockpiling a whole freezer shelf of healthy and cheap(er) nuggets…

  15. I made these and had a quick question. I love the flavor and the texture of them, but I had extra liquid in my bowl that was never absorbed. Is this normal or should I have added more vital wheat gluten? I used a scale to measure my gluten out by weight so I think I had a pretty accurate amount but wasn’t sure if I should have added more so all the liquid was absorbed. They still tasted fantastic.

  16. Hi!! great page and a wonderful recipe.. loved it!!!! and the proteins is what lured me in.. i just have something i need to ask.. u wrote something about if u dun have garbanzo bean flour, add more vital wheat gluten? so does that mean if i do not have wheat gluten, then i use the same amount of garbanzo beans flour? really appreciate it! thank u!


    • Hi Elly — this recipe cannot be made without vital wheat gluten. It’s the most important ingredient. Thanks.