REVIEW: KFC Apple Pie Poppers

One institution of Americana, Kentucky Fried Chicken, has added another icon of Americana, apple pie, to its menu.

These new KFC Apple Pie Poppers feature apple pie filling inside a crust, available in orders of four or ten. They are roughly two inches long, with a seam on one side and slits on the other.

The filling is pretty standard for canned or mass-produced apple pie: small apple chunks in a thick syrup with a noticeable quantity of cinnamon. It’s nowhere near as good as a pie made with fresh apples, but of course, I don’t expect that from a fast food restaurant. I like the way some of the syrupy filling caramelizes as it oozes out of the crust.

And speaking of crust, the pastry is really the star here. It is soft, chewy, and even a little bit stretchy. I know that sounds weird and possibly gross, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It has a wonderful texture! And the flavor is satisfying and buttery.

Taken together, the filling and the crust are similar to apple pies or turnovers from other fast food joints. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably eaten something nearly identical at some point.

There is nothing groundbreaking about these KFC Apple Pie Poppers, and I don’t know if I’ll go out of my way to have them again, especially since Kentucky Fried Chicken is not in my regular fast food rotation. However, they are still a tasty dessert option, and they seem like the kind of thing KFC really ought to have on its menu.

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 4-piece order
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 piece) 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.


Junk food history lesson incoming: the U.S. is just the latest stop on Chizza’s world tour. KFC’s fried chicken/pizza hybrid debuted in the Philippines in 2015 and has appeared in several other countries since. For those of us who are encountering this limited-edition item for the first time, though, it is sure to inspire many questions, such as “How is it pronounced?” (I’ve heard “cheese-uh” but I’m partial to “cheat-za”) and “Isn’t it more similar to chicken parmesan than pizza?” (sure, but “Kentucky Fried Chicken Parmesan” wouldn’t sound as catchy).

Of course, the most important question is, “Is it any good?” My answer: it’s Chizz-amazing.

Unaware that it came in different sizes, I was caught off guard when the employee taking my order asked if I wanted a full or half order, but it all made sense when, after perplexedly opting for the full, I opened the box and was greeted by two massive fillets. An unsatisfying portion is a common reason for me to deduct points, but Chizza is in no danger of getting dinged in that regard. Even from under its dense coating of mozzarella, marinara sauce, and pepperoni, I could tell how plump and juicy the abundance of chicken was. And promisingly, the toppings were applied so generously that, for perhaps the first time in my reviewing career, my meal looked just like the one in the promotional pictures (even down to the barely melted strands of shredded cheese).

As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I’d never usually eat pizza with a fork and knife, but this was a special occasion—and this steamy, saucy behemoth was absolutely not finger food—so I cut right in and was rewarded with a beautiful bite.

Unsurprisingly, the chicken was pitch-perfect, succulent on the inside, and perfectly seasoned and crisped on the outside, but it shared its spotlight with the pizza ingredients quite magnanimously. On their own, they weren’t especially special — the cheese was slightly chalky, the herby flavor of the sauce was more of an aftertaste, and the surprisingly hot pepperoni was otherwise pretty straightforward — but mingling in one mouthful with that charming chicken, they came together to create the perfect proportions of savory, salty, and spicy.

I had been thrilled to try Chizza for the novelty appeal, but I hadn’t expected to genuinely love it. I think it worked so well because of how tender my chicken was. Fast food can be hit or miss, and if you happen to get unlucky with dry chicken, I can see this being a real slog. But since I was blessed with such a solid foundation, the toppings could really only enhance it. At that, they did a wonderful job.

Aside from a lame duck piece of chicken, the only other big complaint I can imagine is the fact that, unlike most other offerings from KFC, this one’s not easily portable. But I think even the most diehard on-the-go-eater would be wise to stop and smell the pepperoni; no matter how you slice it (or pronounce it), Chizza is worth sitting down for.

Purchased Price: $10.88
Size: Regular
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 820 calories, 47 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 2250 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 66 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KFC Smash’d Potato Bowl

If you’re a fan of KFC’s Famous Bowls, get ready to be bowled over (heh) by the chicken chain’s newest offering, the similarly-themed-but-even-more-tater-filled Smash’d Potato Bowl. I get the line of thinking: fried chicken is often eaten with sides, which are often potato-based, and said potato-based sides often come with toppings, so why not give customers a meal that “smashes” all of these favorites together in one forkful (or, in the case of the utensil my local KFC provided, sporkful)?

This bowl begins with a base of mashed potatoes, which are then covered in a layer of fries, doused with cheese sauce, and then sprinkled with bacon bits. (The press release says there’s a three-cheese blend thrown in as well, but my meal gave no indication of that, so it was either really well-hidden or just not important enough to be remembered). You’ll notice that I didn’t actually mention chicken because it’s optional. If you opt for it, it comes in the form of five nuggets. Vegetarians, though they may not be KFC’s target audience, rejoice! … Oh, wait, there is still bacon even in the nugget-less variant, so vegetarians, stop rejoicing! Anyway, KFC’s nuggets are too “finger lickin’ good” for me to resist, so of course I had to add them.

All of these ingredients sound pretty promising, but unfortunately, throwing them together didn’t really wow me. In fact, what the haphazard mishmash made me think of more than anything was a school cafeteria lunch. The mashed potatoes were silky, pleasantly avoiding the grittiness and graininess that can sometimes creep in, but they had an odd aftertaste that made me want to focus on the other ingredients as much as possible. The fries were more delicious than I’d thought they’d be, crispy and savory on the outside but surprisingly and appealingly soft on the inside, but something about eating fries and mashed potatoes together did feel a bit ridiculous, even for an admittedly whimsical eater like me.

The thin, slightly tangy cheese sauce, to be frank, was gas-station quality. And while the bacon bits actually did impress me with how chewy and not-stringy they were, they were so concentrated in the center that the excess kept falling from my spork and getting lodged in the nooks and crannies of the bowl, so while they appeared pretty plentiful, most of them didn’t make it to my mouth. It didn’t shock me that KFC’s famous chicken, so juicy and zesty, was my favorite part by far, but it’s sad to think that the best bit of this is the one that’s optional.

KFC’s Smash’d Potato Bowl does deliver on the starch-stuffed combo it promises, but your mileage may vary: the more noticeable thing it delivered for me was a hankering for a plain old order of chicken and fries — hold the elusive bacon, synthetic-tasting mash, and underwhelming cheese, please.

Purchased Price: $7.61
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 760 calories. Other nutritional information was unavailable at the time of review.

REVIEW: KFC Mac & Cheese Wrap

In retrospect, the amount of KFC mac and cheese I consumed in my childhood was not advisable, but it did prime me perfectly to review the chain’s new Mac & Cheese Wrap, which includes three of my favorite things —- fried chicken, mac and cheese, and wacky combos. The new KFC Wrap variety accompanies the returning Spicy Chicken Wrap and Classic Chicken Wrap. But that’s all I have to say about those cheeseless bores, though!

Before ordering, I didn’t realize the combo comes with two wraps, so I went ahead and got the meal, which also includes a medium drink and a side of fries. The two wraps don’t have to be the same flavor, but you can bet your $8.49 that I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to choose double the mac.

When my order was called, I instantly realized why two is the magic number: these wraps are fun-sized, to put it politely. My go-to tortilla-based fast food is a Chipotle burrito, but portion-wise, a better comparison here is a Taco Bell burrito. Inside each teeny, toasted tortilla is one chicken tender, a sprinkling of mac and cheese, and, for good measure, some shredded three-cheese blend as well.

These wraps didn’t escape my pet peeve of all the fillings being packed towards the open end, leaving the other end sadly flat and dry, but I can’t even judge them too harshly because, boy, were they tasty. I’m more accustomed to seeing chopped chicken in wraps, but the length and width of a single tender made for a surprisingly good fit. I’ve previously sworn my allegiance to KFC in the fast food chicken wars, and these tenders only affirmed my loyalty, plump and juicy with an addictive crispy coating. And while this chain might not be as known for its noodles (it’s not called Kentucky Mac and Cheese, after all), I find them insanely craveable. The sauce is creamy, the macaroni is so soft and tender that it practically melts in your mouth, and the overall effect is so mild and comforting that I could eat a vat of it without even noticing. Luckily for my stomach, the wrap doesn’t contain a vat’s worth — more like a couple spoonfuls. The portion of shredded cheese is similar, though it tastes sharper, and is (or was in my order, anyway) notably unmelted. But the majority of the flavor definitely comes from the chicken and mac.

I could gripe that this wrap could use even more mac and cheese, but I’ve struggled so many times to cleanly fold an over-stuffed tortilla that I’m willing to give some grace. Plus, I’m in a charitable mood after such a delicious dinner! If you’re a fellow mac and cheesehead, I highly suggest you get yourself wrapped up in this new offering too.

Purchased Price: $8.47 for the combo (just the two wraps is $5)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 400 calories. Other numbers are not available on KFC’s website.

REVIEW: KFC Ultimate BBQ Fried Chicken Sandwich

I confess that I can sometimes be stubborn about changing my mind; luckily, that’s not required here because KFC has always been my favorite fast food chicken chain, and its new, limited time only Ultimate BBQ Fried Chicken Sandwich just makes me even more confident in that choice.

The first thing I noticed about this sandwich was an extremely pungent (and promising) barbecue smell, followed closely by an observation of just how pretty it looked. A pristine golden bun with a plump fried chicken filet peeking out, nestled among glimpses of ruddy sauce, vibrant pickles, well-cooked bacon strips, crispy fried onions, and a dense layer of cheese…. befitting of the “Ultimate” moniker indeed! (I should note that I had to order this twice, though, as my first go-round was missing the onions, so you might want to check before leaving the store to confirm that no sections of your sandwich are MIA.)

Fortunately, KFC’s latest creation tastes just as good as it looks. Individually, each element sparkled. The fluffy, shiny bun tasted wonderfully light and buttery! The bacon hit the sweet — or should I say smoky — spot right between too lean and too fatty! The just-barely-melted blanket of cheese provided a comfortingly Velveeta-esque creaminess without being runny enough to leave a mess! The fried onions were earthy and savory with a frizzled feel that perfectly backed up the crispy fried breading practically dripping from the chicken! The pickles were snappy and sour (I must admit I don’t usually eat pickles on sandwiches, so I don’t have a ton to say about them, but I’d like to think I could at least tell if they were terrible, and they definitely weren’t terrible)!

The barbecue sauce was nicely sweet but had a subtle spicy aftertaste that left my tastebuds buzzing for more, and its presence was much more powerful than I expected, so thick and sticky it almost reminded me of jam! And the chicken would make Colonel Sanders proud, with the meat providing tender, juicy nourishment and the breading throwing in a zesty crunch that even managed the rare feat of not flaking off immediately the second I bit in!

When taken in all together, a few components stepped out of the spotlight — the flavors of fried chicken, barbecue sauce, and pickle dominated, with the cheese, onions, and bacon more noticeable in terms of texture than taste — but I didn’t find that to be a problem. As I begrudgingly learned in my high school marching band, not everyone can play the fun parts all the time, but even if some bits aren’t as exciting, they’re just as important for a harmonious whole. I truly can’t imagine the Ultimate BBQ Fried Chicken Sandwich without any of these ingredients.

The biggest potential criticism I could predict some having is a desire for more barbecue sauce; mine was merely glopped timidly onto the top and bottom buns rather than boldly oozing out as it does in promotional images, and while that was just enough for me as someone who eats my pancakes without syrup, my fries without ketchup, etc., I can see others finding it a little dry. Ultimately, though, I’d suggest this sandwich for even the sauciest shopper.

I’ll also mention that KFC suggests pairing this with another newbie for the summer menu, its Blackberry Lemonade. It was unfortunately sold out at my local store. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck — but then again, anyone who has this sandwich as an option is already pretty dang lucky.

Purchased Price: $8.37
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 650 calories (other nutritional info not available at time of publication).