Even though I technically have more time to cook during quarantine, there are some days when my motivation to scrounge up a meal is exactly zero. On those days, I turn to my freezer — frozen burritos, pre-made meals, and ravioli are always ready to go when I need them. Now I have a new staple to add to my freezer: plant-based chicken nuggets from Rebellyous Foods.
If you’re not familiar, Rebellyous is a plant-based meat company that’s reinventing manufacturing technology to make meat alternatives more scalable. After launching in 2017, the Seattle-based startup began selling its first product, a plant-based chicken nugget, to hospital and office cafeterias.
But with COVID-19 essentially closing down their marketplace, Rebellyous quickly pivoted to begin offering its nuggets on retail shelves. Last week the vegan nuggets hit the freezer sections of several small retailers in the Seattle area. A pack of 30 nuggets costs $5.99. The plant-based nuggets have a protein content comparable to regular chicken nuggets and are meant to be just as easy to prepare — whether in a corporate dining hall or a home kitchen.
This week I was able to put that assertion to the test when I received a sample of Rebellyous’ frozen nuggets. I reached for the nuggets when I was feeling especially hangry, hoping that they wouldn’t take forever to cook. The package suggests three cooking methods: Bake, Pan Fry, or Deep Fry. It explicitly notes not to consume the nuggets raw or microwave them, which I assume would be bad for their texture.
I decided to bake my nuggets. I preheated the oven to 425°F, shook out a some nuggets onto a bare baking sheet, and popped them into the oven. Eight minutes and one flip later, and the nuggets were ready. They did stick to the baking sheet a little bit, so next time I would line the pan with parchment paper.
I’ve tasted Rebellyous’ nuggets before, so I knew what to expect. But in the past they’ve always been prepared by an air fryer; I was skeptical that my oven would provide the same crunchy exterior.
Happily I was wrong. The nuggets had a crisp, crunchy coating and a juicy interior that almost exactly mimics the nuggets I grew up eating in my elementary school cafeteria. It’s almost uncanny. The nuggets were tasty enough that I didn’t even feel the need to use a dipping sauce, though a side of barbecue would have been delicious.
I just enjoyed one serving, which is six Rebellyous nuggets. One serving has 160 calories, 7 grams of fat and 14 grams of protein (Rebellyous uses wheat protein). The serving didn’t look like a whole lot on my plate, but they actually filled me up quite nicely. Since they have a relatively low calorie and fat count, you could double the serving size or just eat them as a snack.
Rebellyous is certainly heading to retail at an opportune time. Sales of plant-based meats have increased dramatically during the pandemic, as meat prices spike and people search for healthier foods. A handful of plant-based companies have also raised funding over the past few weeks, including Rebellyous itself.
Rebellyous is actually cashing in on three food trends right now: plant-based meat, comfort food, and frozen food. Consumers are looking for food that keeps well, prepares easily, and satisfies. Rebellyous ticks all of those boxes, and has the bonus that it’s kid-friendly (a boon for parents working from home).
I may not be a kid, but after trying them I’m a fan of Rebellyous’ nuggets. The fact that they cook in ten minutes, require no prep, taste satisfying and provide a hearty serving of protein means that they’ve definitely earned a spot in my freezer rotation.
Rebellyous’ nuggets are only available in the Seattle area for now. If you buy a pack, please leave us a comment and let us know what you thought!