A lot of fast food joints within the last couple of years have released various versions of “beyond” or “impossible” options that are made from plant-based protein. The most notable of these include Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, which is made out of an ingredient known as soy leghemoglobin, a type of soy protein concentrate. However, KFC has recently taken a stab at plant-based meat through their release of Beyond Nuggets. These nuggets are also made out of soy and wheat proteins. However, fair warning to all vegetarians and vegans out there who are reading this: These nuggets are not vegetarian or vegan friendly whatsoever, as they are fried in the exact same oil as regular fried chicken! We are not getting into the real opinion-y part of this article yet, but I can’t help myself: What is KFC thinking? I feel like, in America, this sort of false advertisement is just waiting for a lawsuit.
The nuggets come in a green box, as opposed to KFC’s regular red packaging. They come in six pieces or 12 pieces and can be a part of a combo, which is a side and a drink. They cost $8.49, $15.99, $9.99 and $17.49 plus tax for the six piece, 12 piece, six piece combo and 12 piece combo, respectively.
Before the food even arrived, let’s talk about the price. We decided to get the six-piece combo with fries, so it was $9.99 for both six chicken nuggets and a side of fries. Listen, I know that the inflation rate has been crazy the last couple of years, but would anybody ever seriously consider paying 10 dollars for this little amount of food? Needless to say, I expected these nuggets to be huge to account for the price. Opening up the box, which is in a bright green container in contrast to their usual red box so you just know that you’re being environmentally friendly by ordering Beyond Meat, you’re greeted by six regular-sized chicken nuggets and a very regular-looking KFC fries… all for $9.99. Certainly not a value deal.
Putting my pricing quarrels aside, the first few bites of the Beyond Nuggets were actually quite decent! The taste was great, the texture was a little off, but it did not bother me too much, and the breading was just the same as their meat-based chicken nuggets (I think they might literally be identical). Unfortunately, I did find the nuggets to be a little greasy in my case, which was a bit surprising, but this could be personal preference since I do not typically have a very high tolerance for grease and oil in my foods.
However, I think my first couple of bites may have been particularly good pieces of Beyond Nugget. The breading of the third bite was as hard as a rock, and this was the same for many of my other subsequent nuggets. I am not exaggerating when I say I could not rip out a piece of Beyond Nugget from the rest of it! Although I eventually did get it off, I have never experienced this with their normal chicken nuggets. This begs the question: Could it possibly be a different breading recipe than the rest of their fried chicken? Or perhaps the plant-based meat did not provide enough moisture and the result was a tougher breading? Although we do not know the cause, we can certainly say that there was an unpleasant result.
Overall, just strictly in terms of flavor, taste and texture, I would have to give these nuggets a five out of 10. They certainly need some work, and they should not be approached as a chicken nugget replacement, but perhaps as a novelty item that you should give a try once just to say that you’ve tried it, and in our case review it.
However, I alluded to this in the introduction, but I find myself scratching my head at what KFC’s target audience is with this item. I do not think that it is meat eaters, they would likely just pick the meat-based chicken nuggets, which are both cheaper, have similar taste and are more reasonably priced. It’s certainly not vegetarians and vegans, for two main reasons. The first reason is that I doubt many vegetarians or vegans would eat at KFC in the first place because they would be supporting an establishment that is based on serving fried chicken. The second reason, and this is the big one, is that it’s literally fried in the same oil as their regular fried chicken. Excuse me, WHAT? Are they freaking crazy? I understand that this is likely done because they do not have the money or space to afford alternative fryers, but if that’s the case, then why release an item like this at all? All this is likely to do is force unknowing vegetarians and vegans to try this “Beyond” item, and I just hope that many of them do their research beforehand.
I do not have much of a relationship with Beyond Meat, so I was unsure what to expect coming into this. I was definitely surprised by these nuggets. The taste was not bad at all, though I think all I tasted was the breading (which was good). I definitely would not mistake it for chicken, largely because I couldn’t taste the chicken. But that really isn’t a bad thing, since I was not approaching this as a plant-based nugget, not a chicken nugget replacement. In the future, I hope KFC expands the ways they make these nuggets; I would love to try the Beyond Nuggets in their other breadings (such as the Nashville Hot).
My issue with these was the texture. I am not someone who has too much beef with food because of texture; I usually do not care about the texture of the food. But these were ridiculous. It was like chewing actual rubber; my mouth was not strong enough to comfortably chew the nuggets. There were some nuggets where I actually had to struggle to bite off a piece of the nugget. When I eat something, I do not want to be at war with my food.
The final blow against these nuggets is the price point. For $9.99, you get a soda, fries and six nuggets. They are slightly bigger than their competitors’ chicken nuggets; however that is still quite little for what you get. You can get a six-piece McNugget combo for $5.79 in McDonalds or a 10-piece Nuggets combo from Wendy’s for $6.49. Hey you can even get 40 McNuggets for $16.99! (Our regular order at KFC is a spicy chicken sandwich box for $9.99, which comes with a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, three sides and a soda, and an additional Spicy Chicken Sandwich for $4.99. This is much more food per person for a smaller price).
I really do not understand who KFC is trying to appeal to (probably food reviewers like us); the nuggets are cooked in the same oil as the regular chicken, so they are not actually vegetarian. So it’s not the vegetarians. If they are trying to appeal to meat eaters who are interested in getting into meat alternatives, well why would anyone go to Kentucky Fried CHICKEN for it, and even if they do, the high price point for these is likely not going to appeal to people. This really smells like virtue signaling with nothing to back it up; basically, it’s irony all around.
I don’t even know how to rate these nuggets; it’s not fair to compare them to chicken, but I also have not had any other fast food Beyond Meat nuggets, so I can’t benchmark either. So I will just say that I would not get these nuggets again. I would be willing to try them again if KFC changed the texture. If these improved nuggets were priced at a comparable price point to other nuggets, I would even eat them. But right now, I will continue eating my KFC Spicy Chicken Sandwich.