I tried the new Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets from KFC and think they’re worth the splurge if you’re a fan of plant-based meats

KFC beyond chicken
I went to go see what the hype around Beyond Meat’s chicken is all about. Rachel Askinasi/Insider
  • After KFC launched its Beyond Fried Chicken nationwide, I went to go try them myself. 
  • I’m not vegan and I do eat animal meats.
  • While I wouldn’t order them again, I think it’s great for anyone who enjoys plant-based chicken.

KFC launched Beyond Fried Chicken as a nationwide menu item on January 10 after testing them in Atlanta in 2019. The product comes from a partnership between the chain and the Beyond Meat brand, which has already teamed up with other chains for a variety of products. 

I eat animal proteins and do enjoy real chicken nuggets, but I’m always tempted to try plant-based replacements. I’ve tried and liked some of the make-at-home, plant-based options, and I wanted to see how these measured up. So, I bundled up and headed out to pick up my lunch.

The Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets are currently available as a six-piece serving for $6.99 or a 12-piece serving for $13.99 (prices vary by location and you can also order them as a part of several combo meals). 

Beyond fried chicken kfc
They smelled like chicken nuggets, but were much larger than I expected. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Right away, I thought the smell was on point, but that may say more about the way they were fried than the imitation “chicken” or ingredients in the breading. As I opened the plastic bag and placed the bright-green box on my table, I got an immediate whiff of the familiar fried-chicken scent.

I was a little shocked by the size and shape of these nuggets. The 1 1/2-by-2-inch rectangles were much larger than the fast-food nuggets I’m used to at other chains. 

Before I bit into one of these colossal nuggets, I took a minute to think about what I was hoping to find. 

First, I was wondering what the insides would look like. There are some chains where the chicken itself is more ground up in texture, while others keep the meat in chunks, which gives it that stringy look and feel. Both are solid, in my opinion, and I assumed the plant-based substance would look more like the former. 

Beyond fried chicken kfc
The plant-based ‘meat’ was stringy when ripped, but spongy when cut. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

When I ripped one nugget in half, I saw that the engineers of this product went for the stringy look. I was impressed with the aesthetics, but the flavor and texture of the bite missed the mark for me. I could see the stringy, real-chicken look, but I couldn’t feel it once I started eating. Instead, I thought it was more solid and squishy.

In terms of flavor, that mostly came from the seasoned breading. The flavors reminded me of the chain’s fried-chicken sandwich: salt-forward with hints of pepper. The plant-based substance itself had minimal taste, but I did get somewhat of a briny flavor from it, though it was faint. 

There are a lot of things that make fast-food nuggets unique, but I think the most prominent is their moisture. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dry chicken nugget from a national fast-food chain. So I also knew I was looking for that juiciness in these Beyond bites.

They delivered on the moisture, but not in the same way other nuggets do, in my opinion. Instead of oozing with hot juices and filling my mouth with flavor, I was only able to feel the moisture when I bit down on the nuggets. It felt spongy between my teeth and I didn’t get that same explosion that I do with nuggets from other chains.

Beyond fried chicken kfc
I was disappointed that the binding didn’t hold the breading in place. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Something I personally don’t love is when breading separates from the object being breaded. It’s a pet peeve that even happens with some animal-meat chicken I’ve tried. Unfortunately, the breading fell off, making these less enjoyable for me.

Ultimately, I won’t be ordering these again for myself. They didn’t taste identical to the real thing, and I’d prefer actual chicken. However, I think the flavor and texture are fine enough that people who eat plant-based and are used to imitation meats may enjoy them.