At long last, after months of internet speculation, KFC is adding white meat chicken nuggets to its permanent menu on March 27. While the chain is known for its bone-in chicken, Famous Bowls, and the (recently returned) Double Down, it’s never had a permanent nugget offering. This might seem odd, but then again, Popeyes never sold nuggets until a few years ago, either. When a restaurant specializes in chicken, nuggets aren’t always the first thought, but they’re likely to be pretty popular whenever they hit the menu.
KFC’s new chicken nuggets, explained
The new nuggets are made of chunks of white meat chicken and are hand-breaded with KFC’s Original Recipe coating (you know, the 11 secret herbs and spices). Unlike with KFC’s fried chicken, you don’t get a choice between Original Recipe and Extra Crispy nuggets—it’s just the original breading that’s being offered at the moment. You’ll be able to pick them up in five-piece, eight-piece, 12-piece, and 36-piece boxes.
Are the new KFC chicken nuggets any good?
I had a chance to visit KFC’s corporate headquarters back in February, including the KFC test kitchen. On that trip I was able to preview the new nuggets and even prepare a batch myself. Since I tried out the manual process for myself, I can attest to the fact that the nuggets are indeed hand-breaded at the restaurant. They’re not a frozen prepackaged product that gets shipped to each location.
“Each juicy nugget is bursting with so much flavor it doesn’t require dipping, though that doesn’t mean you can’t!” KFC’s press release joyously proclaims.
I usually take press releases with a grain of salt (as should you all), but from my experience, that info is correct. The nuggets really are quite flavorful, and though I am a huge fan of fast food condiments and sauces, a KFC nugget is almost better by itself.
The reason these things can stand on their own is that they’re uniformly juicy all the way through. I tend to ignore nuggets in favor of bone-in chicken at fried chicken restaurants, because the nuggets are usually either dry as shit or unappetizingly spongy and emulsified. KFC’s new nuggets are definitely an upgrade from most fast food versions I’ve tasted; I’d go so far as to say they’re excellent.
Obviously, my experience was different from the typical fast food order: One of KFC’s corporate chefs prepared my nuggets personally, plus I tasted them fresh from the fryer during the demonstration. I’m not sure how they’d handle after sitting in a warming area for a while, so your results may vary.
What do nuggets mean for KFC’s Famous Bowls?
The new nuggets will be featured in KFC’s Famous Bowls, too. While I didn’t try them in a Famous Bowl, on their own the nuggets beat the plain popcorn chicken and so I can only assume they’d be a protein upgrade in the bowl as well. Still, fast food loyalty being what it is, I’m sure some people will object to the change, however slight.
Speaking of bowls, KFC is also showcasing its new nuggets in the re-released Mac Bowl, a bowl of mac and cheese with the new nuggets and shredded cheese on top. There are two versions, regular and spicy, the latter topped with Nashville hot sauce; both will be available starting April 3 for a limited time.
The new nuggets are sticking around for good, so if you’re in a rush to try something gonzo on your upcoming KFC visit, nuggets will be waiting for you next time. This new addition to the menu is probably welcome news for families with small children, too—it’s a universal truth that kids love nuggets. It’s good to see that KFC is finally playing catchup after all these years of nuggetlessness. I wonder what Colonel Sanders would think of them.