This week I’m sampling from the new Earth Grown line at Aldi, and first up are the chickenless tenders.
Let’s start with the ingredient list, since I know that’s the main concern for lots of folks. If it isn’t, I strongly encourage you to become one of “those people.” Reading labels is really empowering!
Earth Grown Chickenless Tenders Ingredients
textured soy protein, water, breading (enriched wheat flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], whole grain flour blend [amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff], rice flour, salt, sunflower oil, leavening [cream of tartar, sodium bicarbonate], whole grain rolled oats, oat bran, sugar, dextrose, spices [including celery seed], yeast, paprika extract), expeller pressed canola oil, natural flavors, methyl cellulose, potato starch.
See additional nutrition facts in the image below.
I liked seeing several whole grains listed, but I was bummed (though not surprised) to see sugar and dextrose. I try to avoid added sugars as often as possible, so for me, this alone is enough to make this something I would eat only very occasionally. Now, it’s not a ton of added sugar — not even enough to count in the sugar carbohydrate listing — so that helps.
As you can see from the ingredients, this is not a good product for you if you’re either soy or wheat free.
For those of you who don’t give two flips about the nutrition facts, on to the taste test!
Per the box, there are several different ways to prep these.
I opted for: none of the above! I got an air fryer for Christmas, and these are the perfect food for it. Generally speaking, to convert an “oven” recipe to air fryer, you decrease the temperature by 25-50 degrees Fahrenheit and decrease the cooking time by 20%. As such, I put these in for 12 minutes (shaking halfway through) at 400 degrees.
They ended up nice and crispy on the outside and warm and tender on the inside, just as I’d hoped. My husband, on the other hand, had some qualms with the texture. He felt like the taste was okay and certainly tasted like chicken, but the texture was not what he would expect from chicken tenders which made these disappointing for him. While the texture didn’t bother me at all, I know what he means. They’re really closer to fish sticks.
I have to admit that I was disappointed in the package size. The package had 12 tenders, each about the length of my index finger and maybe double the width of it. Keep in mind that a box is only $2.99, which compared to major brands is quite the deal, but as a non-vegetarian I can’t help but compare it to a big bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I can get for just a couple bucks more. The box says each serving is 3 tenders, but I think the average adult could easily double that since these are so small.
With that said, I was really pleased with how these turned out. They crisped up nicely, and they held together really well, something that can be an issue with meatless products. My husband isn’t wrong about the fish stick-esque texture, but that didn’t bother me at all. I found them to be tender, juicy, and just generally delicious.
I’ll be back Wednesday with Zaghetti and Meatballs. My Aldi was actually completely out of the Earth Grown meatballs, so I’ll be improvising a bit with another product in the line.