VasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock

The Ultimate Frozen Chicken Finger Taste Test (Slideshow)

Not all chicken fingers are created equal. Not by a long shot.
VasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock

10) Al Safa Chicken Strips

Jane Bruce

Far and away the least appetizing item we sampled, Al Safa’s halal offering was grayish-brown, mushy, and had a prominent, weird chemical flavor. More than one taster wondered if it was actually chicken, and a look at the ingredients reveals that while the first ingredient is in fact chicken, it’s quickly followed by textured soy protein concentrate and soy protein isolate. The breading is basically just flour and chemicals, and to top it off, it’s absolutely loaded with fat, calories, and sodium. Avoid.

Serving Size: Four strips (4.3 ounces)
Fat: 12 grams
Calories: 271
Sodium: 778 milligrams
Price: $7.99/24 ounces

9) Weaver Chicken Breast Tenders

Jane Bruce

"Breaded tender-shaped chicken breast patties with rib meat," this product claims on the packaging, but the ingredient list reveals that this also contains textured soy protein concentrate, and it had most of our tasters fully convinced that there was no real chicken in here whatsoever. The breading was the predominant flavor (along with oil), and it was "more crispy than chewy," according to one taster. It was puffy, spongy, and overly processed. It didn’t have the odd chemical flavor of Al Safa, however, and the highest compliment bestowed upon it was, "Not good, but edible."

Serving Size: Five pieces (85 grams)
Fat: 10 grams
Calories: 190
Sodium: 470 milligrams
Price: $7.49/26 ounces

8) Tyson Batter-Dipped Chicken Breast Tenders

Jane Bruce

These smallish chicken fingers, which are "batter-dipped" for a "new, crispier breading," just didn’t really work out. We can see what they’re going for, trying out a liquid batter instead of the standard dry breading, but they came out looking more like fried fish, and, oddly enough, tasting like it, too. "Tastes and looks fake and weird," said one taster, and others felt that it was "rubbery," and with a strange aftertaste. The batter had a tough time sticking to the chicken (which thankfully contained no soy protein; we’re past that now), but at least it was crunchy.

Serving Size: Four pieces (80 grams)
Fat: 15 grams
Calories: 210
Sodium: 430 milligrams
Price: $7.99/25.5 ounces

7) Tyson Chicken Breast Fillets

Jane Bruce

These fillets are wider and flatter than your usual chicken finger, possibly intended for sandwiches, and even though the packaging boasts "crispier breading!," we were left with one of the mushier samples we tried. "It’s giant and looks more like a fish fillet," said one taster, and contained too much breading for the thin patty. It was also lacking in seasoning. Not terrible, but nothing special.

Serving Size: One piece (129 grams)
Fat: 12 grams
Calories: 280
Sodium: 570 milligrams
Price: $9.99/25 ounces

6) Applegate Organic Chicken Strips

Jane Bruce

These were mushy with no crunch, and it’s clear from the grayish coloring that no chicken breast was used. The coating had a nice spice mix, but it couldn’t mask chicken that we were surprised to learn was organic. "Looks like something that was poured out and baked," said one taster.

Serving Size: Three strips (84 grams)
Fat: 8 grams
Calories: 170
Sodium: 350 milligrams
Price: $7.99/8 ounces

5) Applegate Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders

Jane Bruce

These are made with real chicken breast tenders, and are breaded with rice flour, tapioca dextrin, and cornstarch instead of wheat flour. They’re also antibiotic-free. The tasters found the breading to be mushy and the whole product to be overly soft with no crunch (seems to be a trend with Applegate), but the "real chicken" was a pleasant surprise and the overall flavor was good, with hints of onion and garlic and a nice hit of black pepper. Organic and gluten-free costs more, though, and these provided the least amount of product for the highest price.

Serving Size: Two tenders (84 grams)
Fat: 4.5 grams
Calories: 130
Sodium: 350 milligrams
Price: $9.49/8 ounces

4) Perdue Whole-Grain Chicken Breast Strips

Jane Bruce

These large, meaty strips of chicken are made with whole-wheat flour, and are impressive to look at. They were also quite tasty. There was a lot of breading (almost too much), but the flavor was just salty enough and nicely spicy. More than one taster thought that there was a "weird aftertaste," though, and that it could have been crispier.

Serving Size: 3 ounces
Fat: 6 grams
Calories: 160
Sodium: 490 milligrams
Price: $11.99/25 ounces

3) Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders

Jane Bruce

These chicken fingers were the only ones we tried that contained only chicken breast tenders, with no rib meat or soy protein. The chicken is also raised without antibiotics, and the quality of the product came through in the flavor. With only seven ingredients (chicken, water, salt, flour, cane juice, yeast, and spices) these were also the most minimally processed. But our tasters didn’t know that going into it. While they found the appearance to be a little wan and not much in the way of crispiness, they were impressed by the high quality of the chicken, as well as the "surprisingly tasty" breading.

Serving Size: 4 ounces (113 grams)
Fat: 10 grams
Calories: 210
Sodium: 490 milligrams
Price: $8.49/12 ounces

2) Perdue Crispy Chicken Strips

Jane Bruce

As the package advertised, these all-natural chicken strips were super-crunchy, and tasted like they’d come right out of the deep-fryer. It was obvious that there were big strips of real white meat chicken used; dinky these were not. The breading was just salty enough and full of good fried chicken flavor, but the chicken on the inside was a little bit mushy.

Serving Size: Two pieces (90 grams)
Fat: 7 grams
Calories: 180
Sodium: 480 milligrams
Price: $11.99/26 ounces

1) Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips

Jane Bruce

A clear winner. These big chicken strips (or "fritters," as they’re called on the bag), were "the most realistic looking," according to one taster, and the ratio of chicken to breading was spot on, as well as the saltiness, seasoning, and crunch factor. Most tasters compared the flavor of the chicken to real roast chicken without any mushiness, and the breading, which contains a little brown sugar, stayed put and was super-crispy. When it comes to frozen chicken fingers, it’s clear that "crispy" is the route to take, and when they say so on the bag, they’re not lying. When given the option, you won’t be let down by Tyson’s. And better yet, they cost a full $2 less than Perdue’s offering.

Serving Size: 3 ounces
Fat: 9 grams
Calories: 190
Sodium: 480 milligrams
Price: $9.99/25 ounces