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    Beyond Meat Just Launched New Chicken Tenders, And We Got To Try Them First

    First of all, I was surprised at how realistic they were.

    Today, Beyond Meat is launching a line of brand-new chicken tenders.

    chicken tenders being dipped in barbecue sauce
    Courtesy Beyond Meat

    To start, the vegan nuggs will launch in over 400 restaurants across the US, including Epic Burger, Melt Bar, Nuno's Tacos, and Next Level Burger. (If you're looking for something near you, click here to find a local establishment.)

    We don't know yet if these nuggets are slated to be sold in grocery stores, like most of Beyond's other offerings. But, to help manage expectations, it's worth noting that the Beyond Fried Chicken launched with KFC didn't show up anywhere outside of KFC.

    To celebrate the new release, Beyond Meat sent me an early taste of their new offering.

    chicken nuggets in a basket with fries and dipping sauce
    Courtesy Beyond Meat

    Needless to say, the odds were in my favor that day. (Major job perk!)

    Before I begin, I should note that I'm generally a fan of Beyond Meat's plant-based foods.

    Their faux editions of breakfast sausages, ground meat, and "meatballs" have each expanded the range of plant-based meals I've been able to make at home. And given how much I've been at home in the past year, it's been a big win.

    However, I'm not so biased that I won't know when something' So, I promise to give you an honest review!

    three nashville chicken sandwiches
    Courtesy Beyond Meat

    When Beyond took their original formula of chicken strips off the market, I wasn't sad to see them go. Their first attempt at chicken was more like strips you'd use in a salad, and they just didn't do it for me. They were fairly bland tasting and were pretty dry — not really very chicken-like in taste, despite looking the part. And yes, I used spices to make them a bit more ~zesty~, but they just didn't hold up next to Beyond's other products. 

    But that was then and this is now — and in 2021, they're trying chicken again!

    So, now that you have some background, let's get into the taste test.

    I feel like the first thing I should note is that the food was delivered in a Beyond Meat truck.

    a green truck that says "beyond meat"
    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    That oversized green van was probably the most exciting thing I'd seen all month. Once I got over my excitement over seeing the actual truck, I focused on what it was here for: the food. 

    I wasn't sure what I'd be trying out exactly — or if I'd be making the chicken tenders on my own — but what arrived were two sandwiches: one was a "chicken and waffles" type situation, and the other was a spicy Buffalo slider.

    a chicken and waffle sandwich and a buffalo slider
    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    Overall, they looked and smelled great. They also arrived hot, so it was an optimal condition for tasting.

    However, because I wanted to experience the taste of the actual nugget, I nixed the waffles and bread to focus on the nugget itself.

    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    Deepest apologies to the bread, waffle, and all of the fixings — but this taste test simply wasn't about them.

    Now that I'd separated a nugget away from the rest of the layers, it was time to dive in. And, drumroll please...I absolutely loved it!

    a chicken tender on a plate
    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    Right off the bat, I noticed that they look a lot more like chicken than I expected. The outside is very golden and crisped to perfection. It's been a while, but from what I remember (lol), it really looked like something you'd order in a restaurant. I can easily imagine it in a basket or platter next to some fries and dipping sauces.

    If you look closely, you can see the spices and seasoning that have been used for the coating for the tenders. That was one of my main complaints about their original chicken strips — the lack of flavor. In my scientific opinion, these taste and look approximately 10 million times more like chicken than their first foray into faux fowl, for sure.

    I'd even go so far as to say these tenders were actually ~juicy~.

    a chicken tender with one bite taken out of it
    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    I know it sounds wrong, but somehow it was juicy! I don't know how it can be moist like that, but the fact that it is makes this 100% the most chicken-like plant-based offering I've tried. In fact, the last bite had almost a gristle about it — which felt incredibly chicken-like to me. I was really surprised!

    The inside of the chicken tender looks like something you'd see made with jackfruit due to the many "threads" of "meat" everywhere.

    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    There's a definite springy, sproingy texture when you're chewing it that feels like you could actually be biting into the flesh of an animal with all of the stringy, tendon-like consistency. The feel was almost too much like chicken, you know what I mean? But I knew that Beyond wasn't in the business of anything but plant-based meats, so I reassured myself and moved on from thinking too much about it.

    Even though I didn't try them alongside a bun or in a sandwich, I could tell that they'd be good in that setting (as well as on their own).

    A chicken and waffle sandwich
    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    During the test, I found myself dreaming of the ultimate "chicken Parmesan" I could make one day if they end up selling these in grocery stores. I'm imagining it now, and yeah, it looks absolutely drool-worthy inside my own head.

    Personally, though, I think I'd buy these to make as regular ol' chicken tenders without a bun and dip them in sauce instead. 

    Overall, the Beyond Meat chicken tenders tasted more like real chicken than any other plant-based offering I've ever tried — and it tasted delicious.

    If we're ranking out of 10, I'd give these babies a 8/10

    Why didn't these get the perfect 10? I think the tenders could be just slightly more flavorful — or even offered in different varieties of flavors/spices if they decide to go that route. And, as someone who's still not fully back to going to restaurants all the time, I would have loved it if these were available to purchase in grocery stories for at-home cooking. 

    Update: I also deducted a point after learning the tenders aren't gluten-free, like most of Beyond's other offerings. 

    Have you tried the new Beyond Meat chicken tenders yet? Let me know in the comments!