The soy- and wheat-based NUGGS are giving actual chicken nuggets a run for their money.
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Regular and Spicy NUGGS by Simulate
Credit: Simulate/yuanyuan yan/Getty

Two years after converting from a meat-loving Midwesterner to a tempeh-obsessed vegetarian to reduce my environmental impact, I’ve come to think of myself as a plant-based Food Network chef in the kitchen. Weeknight meals are a quick hodgepodge of roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, and legumes that somehow come together deliciously, while Sunday dinners feature homemade veggie burgers, mini lentil pot pies, or brothy pasta topped with chickpeas.

Even though my body and mind are both perfectly satisfied with my eating style, every once in a blue moon, I just want to sit at my kitchen table and wolf down some chicken nuggets.

The craving was pushed to the front of my mind shortly after “chicky nuggies” memes (you know, the ones with Baby Yoda), took over my social media feeds earlier this year. I started remembering the Tyson dinosaur chicken nuggets I ate as a tween when I was home alone for dinner and didn’t yet know how to prepare anything more laborious than a frozen or boxed meal. I thought of the comforting tenders I ordered at restaurants when I was too picky to order anything else on the menu. (Thankfully, I’m well past this phase.)

But now, as a 22-year-old dedicated to eating plant-based, OG chicken nuggets are clearly out of the question, and I came to accept the fact that I’d have to ignore those cravings for eternity. But then I was introduced to the SIMULATE’s NUGGS. These vegetarian chicken nuggets are a mashup of soy and wheat proteins made to look, taste, and feel *exactly* like a real chicken nugget.

At first bite, I knew this would be the end of my days blowing off my stomach’s cries for golden, deep-fried bites of chicken — because NUGGS' plant-based chicken nuggets could easily be mistaken for the real deal. Just as with every other processed chicken nugget you can get at the grocery store, NUGGS come frozen and take a little more than 10 minutes to bake. Upon first glance, the vegetarian chicken nuggets have the same crispy batter and bite-sized shape as those you’d get in your McDonald’s kids meal, but they actually taste 1,000-times more like chicken than the anything from the fast-food chain. The protein inside strikes the perfect balance between melt-in-your-mouth and ever-so-slightly chewy and hits all the right salty and savory notes. Plus, there’s even a clear, flavorful burst of ~juices~ with every bite. (Related: 10 High-Protein Plant-Based Foods That Are Easy to Digest)

Even though I dipped most of my NUGGS in ketchup to create an authentic chicken nugget-eating experience, the chicken flavor was so pronounced, they still shined through smears of the sweet condiment. And with NUGGS’ brand-new SPICY vegetarian nuggets, toppings are honestly unnecessary, IMO. Rolled in ancho chili pepper, black pepper, red pepper, dehydrated red bell pepper, paprika, and other spices, these plant-based chicken nuggets hit your taste buds just like Hot Cheetos: deliciously mild while you chew, fiery after you swallow. 

But NUGGS don’t only succeed in mimicking the flavor of meat-made rivals — these vegetarian chicken nuggets also earn a spot on the podium for their nutritional qualities. A five-nugget serving of NUGGS packs 13 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat. That's the same amount of protein and six fewer grams of fat than you'd find in an equal portion of Tyson chicken nuggets. Plus, a serving of these vegetarian chicken nuggets contains 45 fewer calories than the real-meat version. Did someone say “better-for-you hangover food?” 

I’m not the only one who’s singing the praises of these plant-based chicken nuggets either. One reviewer went as far as saying that NUGGS changed their outlook on spirituality. “I'm not a religious man by any means, but I think NUGGS made me question that,” wrote the reviewer. “What you all have cooked up at SIMULATE is God’s work. I've eaten these NUGGS at some point every day since I got them.” Even celebrities can’t get enough of the vegetarian chicken nuggets. Back in August, Bella Hadid shared on her Instagram Story that she “found NUGGS on Instagram a while ago, and I'm f***ing addicted."

The only thing that might make you hit pause is that NUGGS will run you a hefty $35 for a box of 50, a serious drawback if you're looking to develop the same level of obsession as Hadid. But if you think of NUGGS as a "treat yo self" indulgence à la fancy coffee drinks and save them for certain occasions, then the spot-on cloning of ~real~ chicken nuggets' texture and flavor — all without the environmental impact of meat production — make it well worth the price tag.

Regular and Spicy NUGGS by Simulate
Credit: Simulate