Fans of Kentucky Fried Chicken who may have been salivating for a healthier option are about to take their excitement to infinity and… beyond! KFC and meat substitutes company Beyond Meat launched an exclusive plant-based fried chicken option called Beyond Fried Chicken for a limited time at nationwide KFC restaurants on January 10th.
Here’s how it happened.
The start of 2022 granted KFC and Beyond Meat the opportunity to celebrate their partnership together with what they’re calling a Kentucky Fired Miracle in the plant-based offering.
KFC became the first U.S. quick-service chain to test limited runs of a plant-based chicken option in Atlanta, Georgia in 2019 and then in Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee in 2020. The limited runs sold out in record time. So, 2-plus years later, KFC is giving the people what they want!
“The mission from day one was simple — make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,” Kevin Hochman, president, KFC U.S., said in a statement. “And now more than 2 years later we can say, ‘mission accomplished.'”
Ethan Brown, founder and CEO, Beyond Meat expressed his enthusiasm as well, saying, “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.”
What can plant-based meats do for you?
While taste preferences will vary, in a nutshell, the overall health benefits depend on how it’s made. If it’s made from whole-food ingredients like beans, legumes, or grains, it can be a pretty healthy option. However, many plant-based meats do tend to be highly processed with added saturated fat and sodium. And they may lack nutrients found in animal meat.
With the rise in popularity of a number of meat substitutes, it seems like this limited addition to the KFC menu is coming at just the right time.
Beyond Fried Chicken is KFC’s first ever plant-based combo meal that comes with fries and a medium drink, or a la carte in six- or 12-piece orders with your choice of dipping sauce.
Customers can also skip the drive-thru line by ordering Beyond Fried chicken via the KFC app or the KFC website while supplies last.
So, how do they taste???
We were fortunate enough to get our hands on some of the Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets and can confirm that they are pretty tasty. The immediate words that come to mind when you bite into one are “fresh” and “crispy”.
Our particular batch was fried to perfection and they went down really well with a number of the KFC sauces. There is a slight “not quite chicken” texture to them, but the adjustment time is short. And it would probably be tough to tell that it’s a meat sub if you didn’t know it ahead of time.
If you’re wondering if there’s a downside to all this, it looks like there may be a tiny one. A KFC rep confirmed with Nexstar Media Group that while their “finger-licking-good” taste standards will be met with this product, it is not “prepared in a vegan or vegetarian manner,” however.
What does this mean? Well, if you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet with little to no flexibility, you’ll want to know that the Beyond Fried Chicken is being cooked in shared fryers in KFC kitchens, upping the possibility of cross contamination with meat products.
This can be a pretty big deal, as another popular chain, Burger King, ran into issues when customers found out that its plant-based Impossible Whoppers are cooked alongside regular beef patties.
For now, customers can’t request that their Beyond Fried Chicken be made in a separate fryer, but if KFC decides to re-up this run, that could change. And with the way demand can make things move quickly, who’s to say that won’t be an option sooner rather than later?