Eating out when you’re on a vegan diet can be challenging. This can be even more complicated when you are a KFC fan. However, there are some options available at the fast food chain, and if you know how to navigate the menu, you can eat vegan at KFC.
KFC vegan options include sides like the BBQ baked beans and secret recipe fries, the house side salad, dairy-free desserts like the apple turnover, and several beverage options. While this isn’t a full meal, it does ensure you’ll have something to munch on while your friends and family grab their food.
If you’re wondering how to navigate the menu of this fast food giant, don’t worry. There’s much more to it than simply fried chicken, and this article will look at all the options available to you.
Is There Anything Vegan at Kentucky Fried Chicken?
As mentioned above, there are vegan options available at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The main options that should be available at most (if not all) stores in the United States are:
Vegan-friendly sides include BBQ baked beans, secret recipe fries, sweet kernel corn, green beans, and corn on the cob. If you’re getting the corn on the cob, make sure to tell the employees not to add any butter – the same goes for the green beans. Try mixing KFC’s green beans, french fries, and baked beans together. Some restaurants also offer potato wedges that are vegan but stay away from the potato salad and macaroni salad.
House Side Salad
The salad contains no cheese, which is the primary ingredient of concern in salads. However, ingredients for the salad differ across locations, so it’s best to check with your local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant to confirm that their version is, indeed, vegan.
There are a few dairy-free desserts offered by Kentucky Fried Chicken. The apple turnover is the primary offering here. However, you can also try Musselman’s Applesauce, which is a good low-calorie alternative. It’s also popular with kids, so if you’re raising your children vegan, there’s no reason they should miss out on dessert.
Sauces and Dressings
There is a range of vegan sauces offered by Kentucky Fried Chicken. These include the ketchup, Summertime BBQ sauce, the lemon juice packet, hot sauce, and Sweet N Tangy sauce. Unfortunately, the KFC sauce is not vegan as it contains mayonnaise. For your salad, Marzetti Light Italian Dressing is the only vegan option. On the sweet side, you can try the grape jelly and strawberry jam. Some dipping sauces like honey bbq and honey mustard are not strictly vegan because of the honey.
There are numerous vegan beverage options available at KFC locations, though your location might not carry all of them. Some options include lemonade, strawberry lemonade, iced tea, Capri Sun, Tropicana beverages, Strobe Lifewater, and Strawbe. The drinks from the Pepsi fountain are also vegan, as are the Lipton Brisk Teas.
Are KFC Fries Vegan? Are KFC potatoes vegan?
The secret recipe fries at KFC are vegan on their own, as are the potatoes in general.
However, this doesn’t mean every potato-based dish is okay for you. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that the fries are okay to order.
For potato-based dishes, you’ll have to confirm whether each option is vegan. For example, the mashed potatoes contain milk, which means they’re not safe for you.
The challenge with the fries is knowing how they’re cooked. KFC claims their fries are not cooked in beef fat, unlike a number of other fast food chains. This would, technically, mean their fries are vegan.
However, we don’t know for sure which oil they use, only that they do not use beef fat. Additionally, there’s always the risk that your local KFC is using beef fat to cook vegan items.
The other issue is the risk of cross-contamination. Most restaurants do not change the oil in fryers between uses and use the same fryers for different dishes. This means that, even if the fries are cooked in vegan oil, they may be fried in a fryer that has been used to make chicken nuggets or another non-vegan dish.
Cross-contamination in general is challenging to avoid in a fast food restaurant, but fries are among the worst offenders. If you’re concerned about this issue, it’s best to avoid the french fries altogether. If not, make sure to check with the staff and confirm they use vegetable oil (or other plant-based oil) when frying before ordering them.
Is the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy at KFC Vegan?
As mentioned above, the challenge with KFC’s potato-based dishes is not the potatoes – it’s the rest of the dish. As with the regular mashed potatoes, the mashed potatoes and gravy at KFC are not vegan.
The issue lies in KFC’s gravy. One of the listed ingredients in the gravy is chicken fat.
Does KFC Have a Beyond Fried Chicken Vegan Burger?
In early 2022, KFC made headlines by announcing that the KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets would be available at all locations in the United States. However, this was a limited-time item that is no longer available. Additionally, the KFC Beyond Fried Chicken was only used for chicken nuggets – there was no Beyond Fried Chicken burger available.
While Beyond Fried Chicken is a plant-based chicken alternative, it may not be vegan (or even vegetarian) friendly. According to Yum Brands, which owns KFC, the nuggets were not “prepared in a vegan or vegetarian way.”
If KFC does bring back the menu item, it’s hoped that they will clarify whether or not the nuggets are vegan food. KFC fans should not lose hope just yet n regards to vegan chicken burgers – KFC vegan options are constantly expanding, and plant-based alternatives and plant-based foods are always improving.
It’s important to keep in mind that the above discussion only covers KFC branches in the United States. KFC has different menu items in other countries, including numerous vegan-friendly and plant-based chicken options. For example, in the UK, KFC has a vegan chicken burger than is part of their permanent menu and is made with Quorn fillets. Similarly, in Canada, KFC has introduced a limited-time vegan plant-based popcorn chicken to their menu. They have also introduced vegan fried chicken as a permanent menu option, and other vegan menu items include a plant-based chicken sandwich (also a permanent item).
Though eating vegan at KFC may seem challenging, you can avoid animal products and take advantage of some plant-based options. KFC restaurants in the United States are relatively vegan-friendly and are definitely better than many other chicken restaurants. Plant-based eating is possible here. There are numerous other vegan KFC menu options (including plant-based chicken products) available in other countries, and there’s hope that KFC will introduce them in the United States as part of their vegan fast food offerings soon.