“Plant-based” chicken nuggets have been popping up a lot in the grocery stores I go to lately, and it's becoming the next trend in fast food too. This makes sense — chicken nuggets are probably the most processed version of fast food there is, and it seems like it’s pretty easy to make tiny bricks of things that taste like them.
And that is what KFC has done by partnering with Beyond Meat. Starting today, you’ll be able to order Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets from KFC and take part in the next generation of plants (which plants, I do not know) that encourage you to lick your fingers.
My background: I’ve been enjoying Beyond Meat’s products for a while now (my favorite is their spicy breakfast sausages), and as a child, my diet consisted mainly of Weaver chicken nuggets and Pringles, so perhaps I am the exact demographic for this product. I am also an on-and-off vegetarian (I’m trying), so I have had many different versions of both “fake” and “real” chicken nuggets throughout the years.
So how were the KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets? Not bad!
You may notice from the picture that the breading/skin on the chicken looks pretty similar to the breading on the regular fried chicken you get from KFC. It has very much the same taste and spice as well, so if you like KFC’s special recipe, you’ll enjoy these at the literal surface level at least.
I would also like to note how greasy these are — more so than any other chicken nugget I usually have — but that is definitely a signature of KFC’s fried chicken: greasy bucket hands.
The first thing I wrote down in my notebook when I bit down on these nuggets was how chewy and thick they were. Most of the time when I bite into a chicken nugget from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or similar, I expect there to be a smaller/thinner piece of meat on the inside than what I see on the outside, with a bit of air between the meat and the breading. This was not the case with the Beyond Nuggets. Surprisingly, I felt like I was eating a real “chunk” of…something. These are thick pieces! And they have a tough texture. Not too tough, but tougher than real chicken.
KFC has 4 types of sauces to choose from — Honey BBQ, KFC Sauce, Ranch, and Honey Mustard — but I did not know that by ordering in the app, I only got the first two choices, Honey BBQ and KFC Sauce. I actually think these are good enough without dipping sauces, similar to the actual fried chicken you get in a bucket, but both sauces were good. The KFC Sauce is the same kind of chicken nugget sauce you see at various fast food establishments with different names (Signature Sauce at McDonalds, Chick Fil A Sauce at Chick Fil A, S’awesome Sauce at Wendy’s, etc), and it paired well with the nuggets.
The shapes of these are kind of funny to me — there’s no hiding that these are manufactured nuggets. Most of them have straight edges and look like bricks. These chunks are pretty large and fit snugly in the sauce container.
Do they taste like chicken? They do, but mostly because of the KFC recipe breading. If these were fried sea sponges or balled up tortillas prepared the same way, maybe you could get away with calling them plant-based chicken. Perhaps I am being too harsh here, because they do mimic chicken NUGGETS (chicken meat thrown in a blender and re-assembled into shapes) and achieve something impressive here, but they aren’t as close enough to a piece of natural chicken breast.
Also, this combo was a lot of food. Accidentally eating 12 of these nuggets made me FULL. Like, I should not have eaten that many, and typically I have a huge appetite. Six pieces are enough, especially with fries (which were just okay; they were soft and cold, but I’m not reviewing them).
So should you get the KFC Beyond Nuggets? Well, I’m not going to tell you what to do. But here are some thoughts I had:
KFC notes Beyond Nuggets are not prepared in vegan/vegetarian manner, probably meaning they deep fry them in the same place as they deep fry the real chicken. So if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, don’t get them. Also, even if they were prepared in a vegan manner, why would a vegan patronize a restaurant that kills possibly 1 billion chickens per year? I can’t really think of a scenario that a conscious buyer would want these, besides for novelty or if you’re in a food desert road trip carpool. This is something I have wondered about with Impossible Foods too, as a company whose mission it is to eliminate the slaughtering of billions of animals, offering plant-based Whoppers at Burger King. Perhaps plant-based fast food is meant to be a bridge to the future of meat without animals and open the idea up to consumers.
So did it taste good? Yeah. Did I feel good about it? No, in a couple different ways.