Boneless, skinless, individually frozen chicken breasts have become a staple in American cuisine in the past several years. Their easy packaging and ready-to-cook convenience means more and more consumers are buying bagged chicken breasts, along with other frozen chicken products. Truly, they’re easy to cook whether you’re cooking for one or for six. They’re simply quick, easy, and healthy. As promised in my opening article on this series, the first comparison between Target’s exclusive discount brand and that national name brands will involve Market Pantry frozen chicken breasts and Tyson frozen chicken breasts. Market Pantry, being the discount brand, costs quite a bit less than the neighboring Tyson bag in the freezer section. As a savvy customer, I’ve compared various bags of chicken from various stores to see who has the better chicken. These two are the brands I keep returning to but is one really better than the other?
Though both bags list 8-12 breasts inside, the Tyson bag seems to have more individual breasts. The Tyson breasts also seem to have a greater consistency in size while the Market Pantry bag may sometimes contain a few very large or several smaller breasts. Depending on your meal and who will be eating the chicken, this may not be a problem. For example, I usually eat a smaller piece of meat than my significant other and generally, find the size of the Tyson breasts to be too large. This may not be a problem for dishes that use chicken cut into strips or chunks as well. However if you’re hoping to serve everyone the same size breast, you may want to check the Market Pantry bag at the store by looking through the clear plastic to ensure you have similar sizes.
Upon cooking, I’ve found that the Tyson Even-Cook variety of breast is very convenient. It cooks quickly and evenly, and contains a lot of meat. However, I’ve also found that they tend to dry out very quickly and they really don’t bake very well, especially compared to the Market Pantry breasts. Tyson offers a wide variety in chicken breasts, though I’ve found that the regular and even-cook are the most widely found in stores. These tend to be thinner or very thick on one side, while the other side is quite thin. The Market Pantry breasts actually look and feel more like a traditional chicken breast that has been removed from the bone.
After frying each breast in a skillet on medium heat with olive oil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper, they’re both fairly tasty. The Tyson, however, has a slightly over-processed feel and taste. The meat doesn’t pull apart the way white meat usually does and the wide, flat breast takes up most of my plate. The Market Pantry is thicker and more condensed. It tastes more like white-meat that’s been pulled off the bone, but with out the tough skin and layer of fat. The mat is juicier on the inside as well, I would believe because of the all-over thickness of the meat.
In the end, the Tyson breasts cooked much more quickly and offer large, similar-sized breasts in the frozen bag. The Market Pantry bag contained better tasting, juicier chicken. Personally, I would choose the Market Pantry bag if the prices were the same, but it does cost, on average, $1 less than the Tyson bag. Finally, as an extra piece of information, the nutrition facts on the back of the bag make my choice finalized. Frozen chicken breasts such as the kind I’ve been comparing are often frozen in their own broth. This is a preservative and flavor enhancer that also adds a sometimes large amount of sodium to the chicken. While neither brand here adds so much as to make the chicken unhealthy, the Market Pantry bag contains less sodium per serving than the Tyson bag. If you would rather have quickly made chicken with uniform sizes, the Tyson is still a tasty choice. In this case, I prefer the Market Pantry brand.