Kentucky Fried Chicken debuted plant-based chicken nuggets in the US this week — and they’re already earning rave reviews from taste-testers and early customers who describe them as ‘yummy’ and insist they can’t tell the difference from real chicken.
KFC’s plant-based fried chicken, made in partnership with Beyond Meat, rolled out to on US locations on Monday, marking the first time a major chain has offered its own plant-based version of a chicken nugget.
DailyMail.com staffers who’ve tasted the faux-meat were split over the newly-launched nuggets, with some describing them as ‘tasty’ and ‘a surprisingly pleasant alternative’, while others panned the plant-based alternative as ‘horrible’ and ‘rubbery’.
Meanwhile, customers who rushed to try the nuggets on Monday have shared their reviews on Twitter, praising the ‘game-changing’ dish and begging KFC to make the limited-time menu item permanent.
KFC is plant-based chicken at US locations as of Monday, January 10. It will be available for a limited time
The Beyond Fried Chicken, which is being sold as nuggets coated in KFC’s traditional breading seasoned with its recipe of seven herbs and spices, is available for a limited time, while supplies last.
It is available as a 6-piece or 12-piece nugget order or as part of a combo meal with fries and a drink. One serving has 80 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.
KFC also notes that while the nuggets are plant-based, they are not prepared in a vegan or vegetarian manner.
Upon trying the nuggets this week, DailyMail.com staffers had mostly positive reviews.
‘I thought they were great! So yummy,’ Lillian Gissen (US Femail Reporter) said. ‘I honestly wouldn’t have known that they weren’t real meat had I not been told about it before hand. The taste and the consistency was spot on and it was just like a real chicken nugget.’
‘If I hadn’t been told they weren’t real meat before I tried them, I never would have guessed,’ said Carly Stern (US Assistant Femail Editor). ‘The nuggets taste delicious — exactly like real fried chicken — and have the look and texture of genuine white meat, too.’
‘Heavily breaded (which was delicious). Delightfully fake tasting. If it tasted any more real it would be weird. Not dry – and kinda chewy,’ said Matt London (Opinion Pages Editor).
Another taste tester added: ‘Finger lickin’ good. I couldn’t really tell much difference from the real thing. I would not have been able to tell the difference if I hadn’t known.’
Upon trying the nuggets this week, DailyMail.com staffers had mostly positive reviews, with many finding them indistinguishable from real chicken
The chicken comes shaped as nuggets and can be ordered on their own or as part of a meal
However, some reviewers were left ‘horrified’ by the nuggets, with one person describing them as ‘disgusting and rubbery… like an eraser covered in batter’, while Louise Thomas (US Editor) chimed in: ‘The fake meat is tasteless and the batter is over the top, assuming that’s to cover up fact that the “chicken” doesn’t actually taste of anything.
‘Found it very salty, very heavy on seasoning, and quite rubbery.’
Others remained more on the fence, calling out the chewy texture, but noting that the taste was ‘just like’ real chicken.
Hannah Parry (US Assistant News Editor) said: ‘They tasted just like chicken. The texture was a little too firm to be a regular chicken nugget but still tasty!’
‘I thought they were a decent substitute although I did find them a bit chewy/rubbery. The crispy bit was great and really kind of helps mask any fakeness that is there!’ added Jolie Novak (NY Picture Director). ‘I give them a 7 out of 10!’
Said Jenny Stanton (US Assistant Editor): ‘I wouldn’t know they weren’t chicken but they are pretty tough. Still tasty and probably would have eaten a whole box.’
Danielle Ray (Managing Editor) said that while she would assume they were real chicken, she found them ‘tough and chewy,’ while Jen Smith (Chief Reporter) admitted that she didn’t find them to taste exactly like chicken but wasn’t disappointed.
On Twitter, customers have also chimed in with their thoughts, calling the nuggets ‘delicious’ and ‘actually good’ – while begging KFC to make them permanent
‘I don’t agree that they were rubbery,’ she said. ‘At worst, I’d say they’re a tad chewy but I enjoyed them very much. All in all, they’re a surprisingly pleasant alternative to what can often be a heavy and heavily salted meal.’
On Twitter, customers have also chimed in with their thoughts, with one writing: ‘The KFC beyond nuggets are really good and I think it’s a great option to get meat eaters to stop hating on meat alternatives and transition to more plant-based meals in general.’
Added another: ‘I don’t normally eat fast food but I was excited to try these nuggets. Wow! You gotta try them. P.S. I will be buying them again.’
‘I only really eat at chains/fast food when I’m on road trips, but these places having plant based options are a game changer. @kfc I really hope you keep these nuggets around permanently!’ tweeted a third.
Critics of the taste are few and far between, though one Twitter user said the nuggets ‘are not good’ and another calling them ‘tough to chew’
‘Someone tell me why @kfc ‘s new 100% plant-based Beyond Fried Chicken tastes more like chicken than a regular chicken nugget,’ demanded one more, while yet another said: ‘So the new plant based chicken nuggets at kfc are actually good. They taste so much like chicken!!’
Another said they are ‘are delicious and taste like the real thing’ and asked that KFC keep them on the menu.
The only real complaint appears to be coming from vegetarians and vegans, who are disappointed that the nuggets don’t meet those descriptions because they are made in the same fryer as real meat.
Otherwise, critics of the taste are few and far between, though one Twitter user said the nuggets ‘are not good.’
‘KFC Beyond Meat (vegan chicken nuggets review): texture is getting there, but the nugs are TOUGH to chew and the breading tastes bad,’ tweeted another, giving them a 3/10.
The rollout includes a new campaign with Liza Koshy (pictured). KFC also notes that while the nuggets are plant-based, they are not prepared in a vegan or vegetarian manner
KFC announced the new menu item last week, along with a campaign starring Liza Koshy.
‘The mission from day one was simple — make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,’ KFC US president Kevin Hochman said in a press release. ‘And now over two years later we can say, “mission accomplished.”‘
‘We couldn’t be prouder to partner with KFC to offer a best-in-class product that not only delivers the delicious experience consumers expect from this iconic chain, but also provides the added benefits of plant-based meat,’ Beyond Meat CEO and founder Ethan Brown added. ‘We are truly thrilled to make it available to consumers nationwide.’
KFC first tested the plant-based fried chicken at a single restaurant in Atlanta in the summer of 2019. It then tested it once again in about 66 KFC locations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and the surrounding areas in 2020.
‘There is nothing else on the market like it,’ Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown told Yahoo in 2020.
Ingredients listed on KFC’s website include water, enriched wheat flour, soy protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, wheat gluten, salt, breadcrumbs, yeast extract, spices, potato starch, leavening, rice flour, pea fiber, and citric acid.
The nuggets have a sinewy texture designed to feel like chicken. Creating a muscle-like, fibrous texture is very important when imitating chicken, because that’s what humans have come to expect when they bite into a piece of meat, Brown said.
KFC has been testing the plant-based chicken since 2019 with limited runs in Atlanta, North Carolina, and Nashville
‘There is nothing else on the market like it,’ Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown said (pictured: a test run in Atlanta in August 2019)
Beyond Meat’s ‘chicken’ is already sold in several Asian countries, and the company is eyeing entry into China, where KFC is the number one fast-food chain.
A growing number of restaurant chains added plant-based meat options to menus in the past few years.
Burger King kicked off the craze with its Impossible Whopper, which hit US stores in August 2019 after a popular test run the year before.
Dunkin’ also made headlines with its Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, which was added to menus across the US in October 2019.
White Castle, Subway, and Qdoba have added plant-based options as well, while McDonald’s has announced testing for a McPlant burger.
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Burger King’s Impossible Whopper
Dunkin’s Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
White Castle’s Impossible Slider
Burger King’s Impossible Whopper hit stores across the US in August 2019 after a popular test run the year before. In 2020, it began testing an Impossible Croissan’wich made with a plant-based sausage patty.
McDonald’s announced in November 2020 that it had developed the McPlant, its own plant-based meat substitute in partnership with Beyond Meat, and that it would begin testing in 2021.
Dunkin’ added the Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich to menus across the US in October 2019.
Little Caesars’ Impossible sausage pizza
Subway’s Beyond Meatball Marinara
Nestlé’s bacon cheeseburger, with plant-based beef, bacon, and cheese
Little Caesars tested Impossible sausage on pizzas in 2019. Though it has not made it to stores nationwide, the chain also offered plant-based pepperoni by Greenleaf Foods Field Roast brand in the summer of 2021.
White Castle debuted the Impossible Slider in April 2018, and added the BBQ Impossible Slider in 2019.
Subway began selling the Beyond Meatball Marinara in the US and Canada in September 2019.
A&W added the Beyond Burger to its US and Canada menus in July 2018. In March 2019, they also added a Beyond Meat Sausage & Egger.
Qdoba started selling Impossible tacos and bowls across the US in May 2019. In October 2018, they also introduced Impossible fajita bowls and burritos.
Red Robin added Impossible Burgers in April 2019.
Carl’s Jr. has been offering the Beyond Famous Star burger since January 2019, and later added the Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger.
Hardee’s began testing a Beyond Sausage Biscuit and an Original Beyond Thickburger in two markets in October 2019.
The Cheesecake Factory added the Impossible Burger to US menus in August 2018.
Hard Rock Cafe added the Impossible Burger to US menus in December 2018.
TGI Fridays has had the Beyond Burger on menus since January 2018.
Del Taco started selling Beyond Meat as a filling for tacos, burritos, nachos, and fries in April 2019.
Blaze Pizza added Spicy Chorizo protein as a topping in 2019.
Fatburger is offering Impossible Fatburgers with vegan Daiya cheese.
Dave & Buster’s announced in October 2019 that it’s serving Lightlife Burgers — which replaced the Impossible Burgers it began selling in September 2018.
Pizza Hut tested a a pizza with a plant-based Italian sausage topping, onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers for one day only at a single location in Phoenix, Arizona.
Domino’s has launched a vegan pizza range including plant-based Hawaiian, pepperoni, ham and cheese, and supreme pizzas — but only in Australia.
Kroger introduced several plant-based foods included burger patties, Bolognese sauce, and sour cream in 2019.
Hormel Foods launched Happy Little Plants launched in September 2019, which has a ground meat alternative.
Kellogg’s Morningstar Farms will launch the Incogmeato brand with meat alternatives in 2020.
Nestlé began rolling out a plant-based Awesome Burger in grocery stores in October 2019, and has announced the creation of plant-based cheese and bacon for use in professional kitchens.