REVIEW: KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Plated

I am still shocked by how ubiquitous meatless has become, especially at fast food restaurants. As the quality of meatless proteins has improved, the cost has also come down enough to make it more commercially viable. Plus, with the social media popularity of #MeatlessMonday, you’ve got a lot more people seeking out a meatless option when going through the drive-thru. KFC recently rolled out its entry into the meatless market: Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets.

Starting with regional testing in 2019, KFC has taken its time to tweak the nuggets to be uniquely KFC. After trying the Beyond Chicken Tenders last year and being fairly underwhelmed, I was worried these nuggets would be more of the same. Thankfully it seems KFC and Beyond spent three years of research and development to deliver an absolutely delicious product. While these particular items seem to be the most expensive of the fast food meatless options (12 nuggets cost $13.99), considering their special nature, it makes sense. They are a one-of-a-kind product that can’t be found in stores like most other fast food meatless items can.

It has been quite some time since I went to a KFC. With the plethora of fried chicken options available, the chain never seems to fall into our rotation. If these Beyond Chicken nuggets become a standard menu item, that will change.

The first thing I noticed was the strong, familiar smell of KFC while opening the box. This was a promising sign. As I mentioned, I was worried these would be just a deep-fried version of what you can get in the store. Thankfully, they weren’t.

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Closeup

The breading has that unique flavor of 11 herbs and spices, accented with grease that makes these about as authentically KFC as possible. The “meat” was what we’ve come to expect from meatless items: firm and, sometimes, tough. I think your mileage will vary when it comes to these nuggets, and it’ll depend on the location. One of the difficulties with meatless is they are easy to overcook. I know the store employees are doing their best, but just know your nuggets might end up more on the tough side.

For me, these ended up being a home run. I don’t mind the firmer texture of the meatless proteins. The breading is the absolute star and, when paired with the KFC Sauce, it hits all the right notes.

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Split

Much like other meatless fast food products, these aren’t going to fool you into thinking they are real meat. But they are absolutely worth trying if you go in with that expectation. They aren’t a cheap option, but their uniqueness justifies the price tag for me. They are also extremely filling and were easily split between myself and my husband. I’m already planning my next outing to get them and maybe see if I can substitute the popcorn chicken on the Famous Bowls with the Beyond Fried Chicken.

Purchased Price: $13.99
Size: 12 Pieces
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 960 calories, 54 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 2880 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 72 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KFC Chicken Sandwich (2021)

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Wrapper

Here in Kansas City, we don’t get many cool new things.

We got a great—like-once-in-a-lifetime-level-great—quarterback a few years ago, but that was after decades of mistakes, cast-offs, and retreads. We have a few of those places where people throw axes, all paint the same picture, or play golf in a giant net, but we only got them after they’d been elsewhere for years.

So imagine my joy when I learned Kansas City was one of the select cities receiving a sneak-peek of KFC’s new chicken sandwich. We are in, after all, the Golden Age of Chicken Sandwiches, and what better place to unveil a new version of a breaded bird on a bun than the grandfather of fast food fried chicken, KFC.

Then imagine my disappointment when I got my sandwich.

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Whole

KFC describes it as “… (a) quarter-pound, all-white meat, double-breaded, Extra Crispy chicken breast filet… freshly-toasted buttery brioche bun, crispier, thicker pickles, and the perfect amount of the Colonel’s real mayo or spicy sauce.”

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Top

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Split

What I got was a piece of chicken only a smidge bigger than a deck of playing cards. Further disappointingly, it even seemed absent the Colonel’s traditional 11 herbs and spices. I tasted salt and dry, chewy chicken breast. The “double-breading” made no impact whatsoever, though there was plenty of it (sans chicken, mind you). Nor did the pickles, which were limp and thin, much closer to McDonald’s pickles than anything I was expecting.

The brioche bun seemed like it had the potential to be the best part of the sandwich — which, let’s just let that sink in for a moment — but half of the bottom half was stale. How do you get half of a half of a stale bun, you ask? So do I. Let me know if you have an answer. The mayo was tangy and good — quintessentially KFC mayo — but the best mayo in the world couldn’t save this wreck of a sandwich.

Look, I like KFC. I like its original chicken and the Extra Crispy variety. I love its Nashville Hot Chicken tenders. If I could only choose Popeyes or KFC for the rest of my life, I’d have a hard time deciding; it’d be a tossup, honestly. But not when it comes to their signature sandwiches, oh no.

If Popeyes’ sandwich is a Picasso, KFC’s offering is a 3rd grader writing a swear word in the dirt on the back window of his mom’s minivan. This chicken sandwich isn’t even in the same league as Church’s, frankly. It’s seriously weird that KFC is proud of this.

In 2018, KFC unveiled a new chicken sandwich called “The Crispy Colonel.” For the life of me, I cannot figure out how this sandwich differs. In fact, the couple of Crispy Colonel’s I’ve had have been considerably better than whatever this abomination was. Back to the test kitchen, KFC.

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Take 2 Split

Due to the sandwich’s abysmal initial showing, my esteemed editor kindly asked that I try another, you know, to assure that the first one wasn’t an aberration. And the verdict? It wasn’t. While the chicken breast on this one was meatier than the first, it was no juicer or more flavorful. (In fact, the extra size maybe gave it more of a chance to be drier while also amplifying how bland it is.)

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Take 2 PIckles

The pickles still weren’t crispy, and the bun on this one — while fresher — certainly wasn’t “buttery” as the copy proclaims. This sandwich is still a huge disappointment, and you’d do better to stick with Popeyes. Or Chick-fil-A. Or Wendy’s. Or Church’s. Or Sonic. (Hey, I think McDonald’s has a new chicken sandwich coming out soon, too!)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 650 calories, 35 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of total sugars, and 34 grams of protein.

Click here for our previous fast food reviews.

REVIEW: KFC Sauce

KFC Sauce Container

What is KFC Sauce

It’s KFC’s new and improved special sauce.

How is it?

KFC Sauce Closeup

Apparently, chicken places are becoming my schtick. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate a crispy chicken tender, so it’s all good. As I mentioned in my last review, there just so happens to be a KFC along my normal route home. When I heard about the new sauce, I was definitely interested, as sauces really make the meal when it comes to chicken-based finger foods.

KFC Sauce on Chicken

Traditionally, I’m a honey mustard type of girl. Something about that perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and subtly spicy just makes me happy. I’ve been known to slather it on everything from burgers to salads. I even got some as back up just in case I wasn’t a fan of the new KFC Signature Sauce and was left with an abundance of tenders to finish unadorned. I am still somewhat surprised to report that it went entirely untouched. The new KFC Sauce is so good that it made me forsake my beloved honey mustard without even realizing it. Yep.

In terms of flavor, it’s reminiscent of barbecue sauce. A little sweet, a little tangy, a little sharp. But it differs distinctly from your standard barbecue sauce in that it’s also creamy.

I think I’ve finally figured out why I love dipping my fries and onion rings in Thousand Island dressing. That creaminess factor just rounds out the flavor profile and adds that subtle silky mouthfeel that you didn’t know what you were missing.

KFC Sauce on Fries

The generous employees at KFC gifted me with two little sauce cups, so I used the other one to test out how well various things went with it. Pretzels, potato chips, and corn chips are all a resounding thumbs up.

In comparison to the previous incarnation of the sauce, it’s literally as if they turned the flavor dial up juuuuust enough. It’s sweeter, it’s tangier, it’s all around kicked up a solid notch.

Anything else you need to know?

The new KFC Signature Sauce replaces KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good Sauce.

Conclusion:

The new sauce is a total upgrade.

Purchased Price: Included with my chicken tenders combo meal
Size: 1 cup (28g)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28g) 130 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: KFC Secret Recipe Fries

KFC Secret Recipe Fries

As I ordered the Secret Recipe Fries from my area Kentucky Fried Chicken, there was a debate going on in the kitchen regarding these new test items: the server, who took my order, declared loudly how much she absolutely adored this new item and couldn’t wait to eat some when she got off her shift, while the guy in the back making them, on the other hand, said in a gruff voice that he liked the potato wedges better and these weren’t “flavorful” enough for him.

Listening to this fierce debate kind of got me pumped to sample this individual-sized order, waiting with small gasps of seasoned breath as I quietly wondered how the kitchen-fresh geniuses in Kentucky gently mixed their famed secret herbs and spices with their not-so-famous French fried potato offerings.

Order up, I sat down at the nearest plastic table and spilled the overflowing box all across the brown bag, the secretive spices and affirmative grease staining the area. Taking a bite out of the plump starch stick, I have to agree with the server on this one; good job, Col. Sanders!

KFC Secret Recipe Fries 2

With that crunchy twice-fried heavy coating that I really enjoy on fries from the local, independent chicken places around town, the secret herbs and spices — seemingly fried right on the potato — are a salty Kentucky song of twangy finesse that is quite comparable to Taco Bell’s recent French fried output, give or take a small hurting of cheese.

The unknown spices that coat the fries are deeply Southern in their affectation — I’m sorry, but even with a detective’s delineation I couldn’t tell you what those spices are or were — but offered a saliferous smile of that famous moderately spicy KFC zing, with a slight bit of down-home sass that is definitely on par with its original recipe style of fried chicken.

KFC Secret Recipe Fries 3

And while I can’t say that it compliments KFC’s chicken per se, I can say that, as a light snack — of which these tubers definitely work best as — it’s a decently delightful soiree of Kentucky fried tastes and French fried goodness, one that should be sampled soon. And if you can bring a cup of nacho cheese from Taco Bell — these are all Yum Brands, right? — all the better.

Editor’s Note: KFC is currently testing these Secret Recipe Fries in select test regions, like Oklahoma, Virginia, and Indiana.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: Individual
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable.

REVIEW: KFC Nashville Hot Chicken & Waffles

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken  Waffles Sign

Combining two of its regional rip-offs in one entrée – the tempting Nashville Hot Chicken and those doughy delectable waffles — KFC is determined to end the year on a high note and, for the most part, it succeeds.

The Nashville Hot Chicken has seemingly gotten better over the past year, this batch with very little skin uncovered in that smoking red sauce, allowing every bite to predictably burn. It’s something you really want and crave in any chicken, from Nashville or not, especially with the word “hot” in the header.

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken  Waffles Sans Syrup

The waffles are still a well-crafted confection, thick and bready as ever, with a taste that’s more suited to a carnival midway than a KFC. But, here, its unapologetic sweetness almost makes up for a slight wish I’ve had for years that KFC would get off their behinds and make a breakfast menu, with this as their first item.

Regardless, the noble marketing geniuses, Southern gentlemen all, have decided to put these two rebel yells together in the fast food battlefield, brothers-in-arms fighting a common enemy: hunger.

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken  Waffles Syrup

Thankfully, the doubled-up aggression towards your ever-lovin’ tastebuds are far more than a tasty skirmish. The spicy heat that envelops the Nashville Hot charges right onto the waffles, already a sweet treat that becomes an absolute tooth-terror with the heady addition of Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup drizzling over every inch of red and white.

The hot meat and the cakey sweet do a well-timed promenade in your mouth, both tastes mixing swell and working well with each other. It’s nice to have these here chicken and waffles perfectly complement each other and, while they’re not the best I’ve ever had, still, for KFC, they do a darn good job that I can highly recommend.

The only real war-wounds here? The $6.49 price for a basket as well as the outrageous count of 1000+ calories.

Purchased Price: $6.49
Size: One waffle/leg and thigh
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Numbers are for the sandwich version, basket nutrition numbers are not available on website) 1010 calories, 61 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1510 milligrams of sodium, 83 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.