REVIEW: KFC Chicken & Waffles

KFC Chicken  Waffles

As I wiped the sticky syrup from my fingers using the convenient wet towelette included with my meal, I have to admit I cracked a deeply disturbing yet wholly satisfied smile. Chicken and waffles seem like such a decades-old bandwagon to jump on. The fact that KFC was actually able to create a seasonal masterwork like this has to be a minor holiday miracle, right?

Having sampled this famed coupling all the way from small local diners to the grandfather of them all, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in L.A., no two recipes are ever the same, with KFC falling completely in line.

KFC Chicken  Waffles 2

Combining two of the Original Recipe varieties of chicken — a drumstick and thigh, if you will — with a very thick and very heavy mini-waffle, KFC has shined its populous light on a rare dining treat that many people are curious about but might not ever a chance to otherwise enjoy.

Of course, we know that KFC’s chicken is usually tops in this mother-clucking business, so we’ll skip all that for now. The real surprise, the real focus here, has got to be the beautifully vanilla-sweet waffle, a delectable pill that tastes more like a pressed piece of sheet-cake than the archetypical breakfast side. All that’s missing is a heavy dollop of whipped cream.

KFC Chicken  Waffles 3

After tearing open my single-serve cup of Mrs. Butterworth’s, I coated back and forth the good-looking eats laid out before me. The runny guzzle of the much-loved pancake topping puddled at the bottom of the black container, letting the chicken and waffles soak in its sugars for a few mouth-teasing minutes.

The thick syrup made the dense waffle into something like a dunked doughnut, soft but sticky and ready to get your fingers dirty. And while that is expected when it comes to waffles, I wasn’t prepared for how the same chemical reaction — both mentally and physically — would work with the Original Recipe chicken. Who could or would have ever guessed just how much the toothsome syrup made a perfect marriage partner with the highly trademarked chicken.

While I ordered the two pieces with one waffle, there was a part of me that wished I had also ordered the delectable looking Hot Honey Chicken Tender Sandwich that uses the brave little waffles as a top and bottom. To Hell with you, Double Down! Leaving the KFC, maybe next time I thought, maybe next time. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 2 pieces with 1 waffle
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable at time of publication.

REVIEW: KFC Hot Honey Chicken

KFC Hot Honey Chicken

With an adorable new Colonel mascot in the form of a sweet ol’ honeybear, the indubitably fine, mostly Southern kinfolk at Kentucky Fried Chicken (or Kitchen Fresh Chicken, if you do so prefer) continue their sauce-filled fried chicken domination of America with the tasty-enough Honey Hot flavor now on the KFC dinner table.

Ordering a three-piece Extra Crispy Tenders Meal complete with mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and one lonesome lil’ pickle slice, the Honey Hot variety is the stickiest mess of a sauce yet, soaking everything in its vicinity with a mouth-watering, eye-stinging clarity. The red-staining bit of generic honey was drenched all over the chicken tenders, seeping to a peppery puddle underneath them, creating a delicious dipping sauce as that famous KFC crust stayed undoubtedly firm and harmonically crunchy.

By the second try, I twirled my chicken tender in the settled sauce to get a little more of that Hot Honey taste. Like a Kentucky Fried shock to the system, the sweetness is almost immediate, cooling your taste buds with the much-loved taste of nothin’ but honey. Give it a few seconds though, because that hot comes rushing down the track like a peppery freight train, doing itself a grand service of providing a nice little burn that goes down easy enough.

But, even better, even with more sauce to soak it in, the extra crunchy skin continues to stay remarkably extra crunchy while the sauce manages to get deep into the tasty sinews and musculature of the beast, making almost an edible massage oil that, greasy bite by greasy bite, holds up with a tightly tangy fervor.

With plenty of the Honey Hot drainage left on my plate — even though the delicious Extra Crispy Tenders were a thing of dusty memory now — I used my remaining biscuit to selfishly sop up the sauce, to great effect. The pepper had made a suspended section unto itself in the sweet goop, giving me a nice headrush as I ate a thick, sticky sliver on my breadstuff. You’ve got to sell this stuff as a dipper, KFC!

Feel free to take a sip or two of water, just in case though, but not because of the heat, mind you. Once the sweet has passed and the hot is long gone, you better prepare to get a mildly weird aftertaste that is best described as taking a shot of soy sauce, swishing it around and swallowing it deep. It’s not a bad thing, just generally surprising and a little off-putting. Though great if you love soy sauce shooters.

Aftertaste aside, this might be KFC’s best chicken experiment yet, finally finding the perfect balance of one thing that people routinely screw up so often and so royally: the sweetness of the honey and the heat of the pepper. Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – 570 calories, 36 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1460 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 30 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 3 Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Perfect balance of sweet and heat. Doesn’t make the chicken crust soggy.
Cons: Alarming “soy sauce” aftertaste.

REVIEW: KFC Pickle Fried Chicken

KFC Pickle Fried Chicken

KFC’s Pickle Fried Chicken is the latest addition to their lineup of southern-inspired sauced chicken options. Described as “crunchy fried chicken covered in a delicious dill pickle sauce,” at first glance KFC’s Pickle Fried Chicken appears to veer closer to a Double Down-style stunt offering than the Nashville Hot, Georgia Gold, or BBQ Smoky Mountain varieties.

As a Yankee from the Midwest who’s only occasionally traveled below the Mason-Dixon line, even I’m aware that the South can do some pretty creative things with pickles. Don’t misunderstand me, as a fan of all things salty, sour, sweet, and weird in various combinations, I wholeheartedly approve.

I’ll try your Kool-Aid pickles, pickled watermelon rind, and pickled pig’s feet. I can’t guarantee I’ll try them twice, but I’ll certainly give them the benefit of the doubt. It turns out Kool-Aid pickles don’t deserve that benefit, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

KFC Pickle Fried Chicken 2

So, if I’ll eat a koolickle, why am I skeptical of this chicken? It must be because my only experience with the chicken+pickle flavor combination is Chick-fil-A’s namesake sandwich, whose only adornment is dill pickle slices. It’s always left me a bit underwhelmed with its plainness.

I know. Boo! Hiss! Thrown Tomato! But pickles don’t seem like a substantial enough addition to elevate a fast food item.

I ordered a Pickle Fried Chicken Tender Basket, which comes with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a biscuit. I also got a Pickle Fried Chicken Little. (The mashed potatoes and gravy is school cafeteria-level, but the biscuit is fantastic.)

KFC Pickle Fried Chicken 3

Despite my skepticism, these tenders are very impressive. They’re juicy, and I’m pleased that the extra crispy chicken remained so after the 20-minute drive home. These aren’t heavily sauced, but the dill pickle flavor asserts itself well. It’s not a novelty flavor like I initially suspected.

Instead, the dill compliments the chicken and a slight vinegar tang cuts through the grease. Make no mistake, these are greasy, but when it comes to fried chicken, I consider that a feature and not a bug. Taking a bite with the accompanying pickles is peak-dill, and good enough that I wish KFC had given me more of them.

KFC Pickle Fried Chicken 4

The Chicken Little is good, but a bit less impressive. The addition of bread and mayonnaise serves to mute the dill pickle flavor of which I’m a newly converted fan. By the way, why doesn’t KFC serve sandwiches on their biscuits? Their current biscuit would be perfect for a slider, and a more massive biscuit sandwich would be a real winner. I’ll take my royalty fee in coleslaw, Colonel.

After tasting KFC’s Pickle Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Little, the problem with Chick-fil-A’s sandwich becomes clear: not enough pickle. This is a limited time offer, so I recommend trying it before it’s gone.

(Nutrition Facts – Unavailable on KFC’s website.)

Purchased Price: $5.59 (Chicken Tenders Basket/$1.39 Chicken Little Sandwich
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chicken Littles Sandwich)
Pros: Well balanced dill pickle flavor. Crisp coating with juicy chicken.
Cons: Perhaps too greasy for some. Pickle flavor can get overwhelmed by bun and mayo.

REVIEW: KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich

KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich

I’ve often wondered why KFC doesn’t join the 21st century and put a regular chicken sandwich on its menu. And no, I’m not talking rectangular-ish chicken sliders or carbless heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen, I’m talking about a regular-sized bun with a decently-sized fried, all-white chicken breast in the middle.

The introduction of the new Crispy Colonel Sandwich ends my hypothetical smatterings when it comes to this question; available in variations featuring KFC’s various chicken flavors (Nashville Hot; Georgia Gold; Smokey Mountain) it’s also available in a regular extra crispy version with mayo and pickles, the seemingly now standard fare when someone decides to put fried chicken between a bun.

KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich 4

The good news is that the chicken steals the show and lives up to its crispy billing. Actually, I was blown away by how good the all-white meat chicken patty was. Granted, calling it a patty is a bit of a misnomer -— think a supersized extra crispy tender, or perhaps a boneless, skinless chicken breast. But the balance of crispy breading and moist interior meat nailed the texture element, while KFC’s much-beloved herbs and spices provided more than enough flavor.

KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich 3

The problem is that it’s a rather kindergarten-ish attempt at sandwich construction, at least as far my local KFC is concerned. The bun – already ridiculously thin, tasteless, and crumbly – was absolutely murdered with mayo, which both drowned out the pickles and failed to enhance the flavor of those famous 11 herbs and spices.

With the laws of physics working against me, I abandoned the soggy underside, which had already marred the underneath crispiness of the chicken. While I realize mayo can be more divisive than cilantro (which I decline to comment on at this time), I do try to keep an open mind to such things. But I have to say the addition and amount of the globby mayo brought the sandwich down a few notches.

KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich 2

And yes, for the record, a simpler treatment, such as Chick-fil-A’s buttered bun, would have been preferable. As for the comparison, everyone seems to want when it comes to these chicken sandwich faceoffs? It’s hard to say; Chick-fil-a cooks their chicken differently, in different oil, and with different spices. In some ways, it’s an apples to oranges comparison. I will say, though, that from a chicken element alone, I like KFC’s Crispy Colonel more than similar offerings from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.

All in all, KFC’s rather pathetic treatment of everything outside of the chicken in its long-awaited chicken sandwich answers a lot of questions for me. Namely, why KFC hasn’t committed to a regular sandwich in the past. That said, the execution of a nearly perfect chicken patty — crispy outside, juicy inside, plenty of flavor in the breading — makes me wonder if the colonel just needs to plan a different line of attack — one that pairs his famous chicken with a bun and condiments that enhance and don’t detract from the sandwich.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 25 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 1170 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 24 gram2 of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99 (sandwich); $5 (Fill-up Box)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Excellent balance of extra crispy breading and juicy, moist interior chicken. All white meat. 11 herbs and spices. Good value as a $5 Fill-up Box.
Cons: Bun is a complete afterthought. Mayo detracts from flavor of the sandwich and reduces underside crispiness. Expensive as just a sandwich. A bit small. Not being able to give a 7.5 rating.

REVIEW: KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

What I know about Nashville: Mrs. Coach from Friday Night Lights has a show about it and something called “hot chicken” was invented there.

A handful of Food Network shows have signal-boosted the wet-looking fried bird in the past decade and, based on the various hosts’ reactions, it’s amazing. If my hazy memory is correct, most of the purveyors of the Music City specialty are tight lipped about the recipe, but a cursory bit of internet sleuthing reveals some sort of cayenne pepper paste mix as the secret.

Enter KFC. Never mind that Nashville is in Tennessee and the “K” in KFC stands for a state that geographically stifles Tennessee like a big brother sitting on top of you trying to squeeze out a fart.

The Yum! Brands conglomerate will have your local delicacy and good luck trying to trademark something with two words as simple as “hot” and “chicken.” They have the balls to put an exclamation point in the name of their company. They have the balls to do anything. Anyway, KFC serves Nashville Hot Chicken. And it’s okay, if not for the typical KFC pitfalls.

The advertisements for Nashville Hot Chicken promise a good amount of heat, one that builds, based on a “secret” recipe that includes cayenne and smoked paprika. On this, it delivers. I had the two-piece basket, which includes a biscuit, a sprinkling of pickles and a side of cole slaw.

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken 2

The breading on the chicken was nice and chunky, crispy. The initial heat factor was low but as the meal went on it chugged into a nice hum. It’s a dull, pleasant spice that is never overwhelming and contrasts well with the smoother tastes of the buttermilk breading and dark meat.

Since it’s being sold with sides as a package, I’ll go into those. The cole slaw is KFC cole slaw. It’s a bit too sweet but the coolness really acts well against the chicken, and basically serves as a palate cleanser whenever you need a respite from the spice.

The flimsy pickles, which are thrown onto the chicken, are an afterthought and do not possess any value whatsoever. They have no bite or any flavor and have wilted onto the greasy bird.

The biscuit touches the chicken and, through magical biscuit powers, absorbs some of the hot chicken oil, which makes an awesome hot oil-dipped biscuit, improving the already-great side.

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken 3

This does, however, bring up the oil situation. KFC calls the entire thing a “two-piece basket” but it came in a plastic container. It traps in all the oil that was on the chicken, KFC-style, but this is hella oil. Hot chicken already looks wet and saturated, but this is for real the most oily chicken I have ever had. Two dozen napkins later, I had dripped the red-colored oil on my sleeves and my notepad, which was on an adjacent table.

Sure, chalk it up to me being a disaster, but this stuff got everywhere. I quit eating the thigh three-fourths the way through because it got too gross. The breading was slipping off like a cummerbund after prom and it was making a gigantic mess.

I had hot chicken once before (in Los Angeles, go figure). It was served on a slice of white bread, to soak up all the oil. Nothing was done like this here, and it was unbearable. The previous experience also had nice homemade vinegar to go along with the chicken, which made me lament the pickle situation even more.

The taste is fine, but the oil is harsh. Yum! Brands, what hast thou wrought?

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Item: KFC Nashville Hot Chicken
Purchased Price: $5.49 (includes cole slaw and biscuit)
Size: 2 pieces basket
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice amount of heat, a low simmer of spice. Good breading.
Cons: Unbearably oily. Pickles were flimsy, not bright.