Yes, there are many brands of chicken nuggets that are gluten-free. Most major food manufacturers like Tyson, Perdue, and Pilgrim’s Pride offer gluten-free options. Many fast food and casual dining restaurants also serve gluten-free chicken nuggets. When checking labels, look for nuggets made without wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing grains.
What Makes Chicken Nuggets Gluten Free?
Chicken nuggets are gluten free if they do not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing grains. Most gluten-free chicken nuggets are made with ingredients like:
- Chicken breast meat
- Rice flour
- Potato starch
Instead of using wheat flour, gluten-free nuggets use alternate flours and starches like rice flour, potato starch or cornstarch to bind the ingredients together and provide a crispy coating. Making sure the chicken and all coatings/breading are free of gluten containing ingredients is the key.
Popular Brands of Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Here are some popular gluten-free chicken nugget brands:
Tyson Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
Tyson Red Label gluten free chicken nuggets are made with whole muscle chicken breast meat coated in a crisp, gluten-free breading. The nuggets contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Perdue Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
Perdue’s gluten-free breaded chicken breast nuggets use a unique combination of Yellow Cornmeal and Rice Flour to deliver a gluten-free crispy coating. Perdue chicken nuggets contain no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.
Pilgrim’s Pride Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
Pilgrim’s Pride makes gluten-free chicken breast nuggets coated in a crunchy cornflake crumb breading. The nuggets contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Foster Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Foster Farms gluten-free chicken breast nuggets feature a crisp, light and crunchy corn flake style breading. They are made with all natural ingredients and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Kirkland Signature Chicken Nuggets
Kirkland Signature gluten free homestyle chicken breast nuggets are breaded in a gluten-free rice flour blend. They are flash frozen to lock in freshness.
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
Trader Joe’s packs their gluten free chicken breast strips into fun shapes like dinosaurs and hearts. They are coated in a crunchy cornflake style gluten free breading.
Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets at Fast Food Chains
Many popular fast food chains now offer gluten-free chicken nuggets, including:
Chick-fil-A’s gluten-free grilled chicken nuggets are marinated and grilled, then served with your choice of condiment. All Chick-fil-A grilled chicken is prepared separately from breaded items.
Select McDonald’s locations offer gluten-free chicken McNuggets by request. They have a tempura style batter made with rice flour. Always check locally, as offerings vary.
Burger King launched gluten-free chicken nuggets in 2019 at select locations. The breading is made with corn meal rather than wheat. Check ahead to see if your local BK carries them.
Wendy’s offers gluten-free grilled chicken nuggets seasoned with a blend of herbs. Since they are grilled without breading, there is no gluten cross-contamination risk.
Arby’s has gluten-free chicken tenders available upon request at many locations. They are coated in a gluten-free rice flour batter and cooked in dedicated fryers separate from gluten-containing items.
Other Gluten-Free Options Similar to Chicken Nuggets
In addition to traditional breaded chicken nuggets, there are lots of other gluten-free products that can satisfy a nugget craving:
Chicken Fingers and Strips
Many brands like Applegate Farms, Ian’s and Ore-Ida make gluten-free breaded chicken fingers and strips that can be prepared oven baked or air fried.
Breaded Chicken Patties
Gluten free chicken patties like Foster Farms and Perdue offer a bigger, thicker chicken nugget-like option. Some brands are already fully cooked.
Chicken poppers are filled with cheese or other ingredients inside a gluten-free crispy coating. Brands like Van’s and Tyson offer fun flavors.
Nugget Shaped Plant-Based Options
For non-chicken options, brands like MorningStar Farms, Quorn and Beyond Meat make meatless nuggets in fun chicken nugget shapes.
Tips for Cooking Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Here are some quick tips for preparing perfect gluten-free chicken nuggets at home:
- Always read packaging carefully to confirm gluten free status before purchasing.
- Follow oven-baking instructions on packaging to desired level of crispness.
- Can also air-fry for a quick crunchy finish without oil.
- Flipping halfway through cooking prevents soggy spots.
- Brush on sauces or seasonings at the end to maximize crispness.
Can You Make Homemade Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets?
Yes, you can easily make homemade gluten-free chicken nuggets with just a few simple ingredients:
The breading is what makes homemade nuggets gluten-free. Use a blend of:
- Gluten-free flour – Try rice, chickpea or almond flour
- Seasonings – Garlic powder, paprika, pepper
An egg wash or buttermilk dip will help the breading adhere. Make sure all breading ingredients stick.
Pan fry in olive oil or avocado oil for a quick stove-top method. Oven baking is also an option.
Ranch, BBQ sauce, honey mustard all make great gluten-free dipping sauces.
Are Frozen Chicken Nuggets Gluten-Free?
Many brands of frozen chicken nuggets are gluten-free, but always check labels carefully. Some frozen nuggets contain wheat flour or wheat-based batter. Your best bet is to look for brands that are certified gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination. Some gluten-free frozen options include:
- Tyson Red Label Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- Pilgrim’s Pride Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets
- Foster Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Nuggets
- Perdue Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
The gluten-free designation should be clearly marked on certified gluten-free frozen chicken nugget packaging. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to confirm their nuggets are safe for gluten-free diets.
Are McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Gluten-Free?
Most standard McDonald’s chicken McNuggets contain wheat and are not gluten-free. However, some locations offer gluten-free chicken McNuggets by request. These feature a rice flour breading and are cooked in dedicated fryers. Availability varies by location, so always check with your local McDonald’s. Do not make assumptions, as the cooking procedures can differ by restaurant.
How to Order Gluten-Free Nuggets at McDonald’s
To order gluten-free chicken McNuggets:
- Ask if they have gluten-free nuggets available.
- Specify you need a gluten-free order due to an allergy.
- Request new gloves to prevent cross-contamination.
- Ask for fresh fry oil to ensure no contaminated crumbs.
- Verify staff understands proper gluten-free protocols.
With the popularity of gluten-free diets, more McDonald’s locations are offering gluten-free options. Reach out to customer service to provide feedback requesting gluten-free nuggets at your local restaurants.
Where to Buy Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Here are some places to find gluten-free chicken nuggets near you:
Check the frozen food aisle at grocery chains like Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Winn-Dixie, etc. National brands like Tyson and Foster Farms are commonly available.
Natural Food Stores
Health food grocers like Sprouts, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, etc have lots of gluten-free options from alternative brands.
Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s all carry gluten-free chicken nuggets in bigger bulk sizes for savings. Great for families.
Order gluten-free nuggets online from retailers like Amazon, Thrive Market, Walmart Grocery, or direct from brands.
Fast Food Chains
As mentioned above, check availability at Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Arby’s. More options are being added.
Nutrition Facts for Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Here is a sample nutrition label for frozen gluten-free chicken nuggets (4 oz serving, about 8 nuggets):
As you can see, gluten-free chicken nuggets contain considerable protein. They are slightly higher in fat content due to the necessary oils and batter used in preparation. Calories and carbs are on par with traditional nuggets.
Of course, these numbers may vary between brands and recipes. Prior to any diet change, you should consult your doctor or registered dietitian. Those with celiac disease need close medical supervision.
Healthiest Ways to Prepare Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
To lighten up gluten-free chicken nuggets, try these healthy cooking tips:
- Oven Bake – Skip frying and bake nuggets in the oven to reduce fat and calories.
- Air Fry – Air frying is a great way to make gluten-free nuggets crispy without oil.
- Brush with Oil – Lightly brush nuggets with olive oil instead of drowning in grease for cooking.
- Rinse First – Rinsing bottled sauces removes excess sugars and sodium.
- Dip in Greek Yogurt – Substitute Greek yogurt for fatty salad dressings or condiments.
- Add Veggies – Pair nuggets with fresh vegetables like carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, etc.
Following basic healthy cooking guidelines will help keep gluten-free nuggets nutritionally balanced. Focus on lean protein, smart carbs, and fresh produce.
Are Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets Healthy?
Gluten-free chicken nuggets can be a good option for those who must follow a gluten-free diet, especially children who may be picky eaters. However, nuggets should still be consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy eating plan. Consider the following:
- Provide protein
- Are fortified with vitamins/minerals
- Offer gluten-free convenience
- Higher in fat, sodium, fillers
- Heavily processed
- Lack nutrients found in whole foods
Following proper portion sizes of nuggets along with plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and lean proteins promotes good health on a gluten-free diet. Moderating frequency is key to prevent excessive calories, fat, sodium and preservatives.
Chicken nuggets can be part of a healthy gluten-free diet when chosen wisely and consumed in moderation. Fortunately, all major food manufacturers offer gluten-free nuggets widely available both frozen and at fast food restaurants. With improved awareness and product labeling, gluten-free options continue expanding. Just be sure to thoroughly check labels and cooking protocols to ensure safety of gluten-free items. With some adjustments, chicken nuggets can still be enjoyed on a gluten-free diet.