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Beyond Fried Chicken – what you need to know

KFC - Beyond Fried Chicken box

A coupe of the years in the making and testing, KFC’s new Beyond Fried Chicken is finally here. Today (January 10th 2022) sees the chain release its all new “Miracle Fried Chicken” (as they’re branding it) across the United States. As of today that means you should be able to find this plant-based treat at more than 4,000 locations. The launch follows hot on the heels of a 2019 Atlanta test that sold out in a massively hyped five hours. That in turn was followed by a revised recipe and much bigger SoCal test in 2021; this larger experiment feature fifty locations and sold in a mere week. Which leads us to today…

Expect to pay a premium to enjoy the meat-free experience – at least for now. KFC have clearly priced this new menu item in the premium bracket, and no doubt expect the combination of novelty and exclusivity (this is a time limited only release) to drive big sales (remember the fuss these made in 2020?). Who knows, maybe this becomes the next McRib – fleeting in and out of existence, ready to capitalize on pent up demand.

Back to the prices then. The new BFC comes in six and twelve pieces, both ala carte and combo as follows:

  • 6 pc. Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets, $6.99
  • 6 pc. Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Combo, $7.99
  • 12 pc. Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Combo, $13.99
  • 12 pc. Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Combo, $14.99

The prices above are from the closest KFC to us in Salt Lake City, Utah. Expect higher prices still if you order them for delivery by one of the popular apps.

First impressions are good, KFC are clearly taking this launch serious, with the nuggets coming in their own Beyond Fried Chicken packaging. It’s a nice touch, especially when that veggie friend wants to try one and asks, “is it really not chicken, are you sure?” Beyond the neatly designed boxes, the second giveaway are the almost geometric square shapes the Beyond Chicken comes in. So how does this taste, is this the “Miracle” that the colonel is proudly boasting about?

KFC – Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets

The highlight of the new BFC is undoubtedly the batter. It’s certainly not as thick as the recent slew of thickly finished chicken sandwiches out there, but nor is it underwhelming thin. For me it hit the perfect balance between those two extremes. And for what its worth, I found a six portion serving of these *felt* far more substantial than a comparable serving of regular chicken nuggets.

Theres an appreciably crisp coating here, one that yields plenty of rewarding ooze and grease – in all the best ways. It has that magical X factor from sharing the deep fryer with KFC’s other finger lickin’ food products too; side note – that makes this technically not 100% vegan friendly. Many will ding KFC for this, but it’s impractical to imagine the brand would retool their kitchen setup just for dish. And one that is a limited time rollout at that.

Inside that stellar shell is a surprisingly firm faux-chicken meat, much denser than the real thing. While there’s an enjoyable meatiness, it’s instantly obvious in its processed nature. Where the Beyond Burger can easily fool a casual diner, these don’t hit those same heights. Not even close. The Beyond Chicken doesn’t try in the slightest to ape the chew and tear of real chicken; that said, you could argue, neither does a spongey chicken based nugget.

KFC - Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets interior
KFC – Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets interior

The biggest surprise for me was the surprisingly bland flavor, almost completely void of any notability – good or bad. Clearly the kitchen and laboratory team at KFC/Beyond team reckon that peppery exterior batter ill be enough to wow nugget fans, and failing that, certainly with the help of one of KFC’s dipping sauces (KFC Sauce, Ranch, Honey BBQ, Honey Mustard) .

On that last point, it’s hard to disagree. Broken down into the constituent pieces, it’s easy to pick flaws and point out short comings. Hot from the fryer, to sauce, to mouth – well – that’s a different story, these are pretty damned good.

The dish is certainly an interesting experiment in plant-based dining for the chicken chain. It’s hard to see it becoming a menu favorite mind you. Vegans will skip this one entirely, sharing the fryer with real chicken as it does. Meat eaters will likely skip it too, favoring the colonel’s core menu, like their excellent classic chicken sandwich. That leaves a weirdly odd mid ground, people who wouldn’t mind switching out a few meaty meals for something more karmic here and there. They’ll try it, they’ll muse its certainly better than they imagined, but will they order it again? Time will tell.

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