All menu item photos property of KFC
If you want to find some healthy options at KFC, then you have come to the right place.
And while a fast food restaurant specializing in fried chicken might not seem like a healthy choice, the KFC menu offers a ton of different options to fit virtually any diet.
I never want to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat. That’s not my place. I simply want to help you to be able to decide that for yourself.
So, in this post, I’ll break down the calories & nutrition facts of every KFC menu item, and then we’ll explore what some of the best options are for different goals.
Ultimately, the best choices are the ones that fit your diet, so let’s break it down!
Note: this post is based on the KFC menu as of April 2023, and it is possible that some menu items have changed since posting. Be sure to check the KFC website for the most up-to-date menu.
- KFC Menu Overview: Extremely Reduced in 2023
- KFC Chicken Calories & Nutrition Facts
- How Does The KFC Chicken Sandwich Stack Up?
- KFC Sides & Sauces Calories & Nutrition
- Conclusion: Is KFC healthy?
KFC Menu Overview: Extremely Reduced in 2023
Before we dive into this breakdown, I want to point out that there are a lot of items missing from the current KFC menu.
When I first started putting these nutrition guides together in 2019, the KFC menu looked vastly different.
While items come and go very often (especially seasonally) there are a lot of options you won’t find at KFC today. Here is a list of a lot of the main items you won’t find in this menu breakdown because they have recently been discontinued:
- Grilled Chicken (a huge loss, in my opinion)
- Spicy Crispy Chicken
- Popcorn Chicken
- Spicy Chicken Sandwich
- BBQ Baked Beans
- Cornbread Muffin
- Macaroni Salad
- Potato Salad
- Corn on the Cob
I will periodically revisit this post to make the proper edits when major menu changes take place, but I wanted to bring to your attention the number of items that have recently been discontinued in case you are looking for them.
Here’s hoping that some of these make a comeback!
KFC Double Down Sandwich Nutrition Facts
After a long hiatus, the Double Down Sandwich made a comeback to the KFC menu in March of 2023, but it was short-lived.
In case you’re not familiar, the KFC Double Down is a sandwich that replaces the bread with two fried chicken fillets, then stuffs bacon, cheese, and sauce in between them.
If you’re looking for a healthy option at KFC, surely the Double Down sandwich is not something you’d be turning to. Nonetheless, if you have a curious mind as I do, here are the nutrition facts of the KFC Double Down.
The KFC Double Down contains 950 Calories, 63 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbs, and 67 grams of protein. With nearly 1,000 calories and over 60 grams of fat, it’s surely not the “healthiest” option in most definitions of the word.
But hey, it does contain 67g of protein and is relatively low carb. If you eat a high-protein & low-carb diet, I suppose you could do worse!
KFC Chicken Calories & Nutrition Facts
It’s called Kentucky Fried Chicken for a reason- because the fried chicken is famously delicious!
But when it comes to KFC chicken, there are actually a few different options:
1) Original Recipe Chicken
2) Extra Crispy Chicken
KFC used to offer grilled chicken and spicy crispy chicken, but the menu has been reduced to just offer these two main types of fried chicken.
Original Recipe is the chicken you’ve come to know and love from KFC. This is the KFC classic fried chicken.
Extra Crispy is taking that same original recipe, but laying the breading on extra-thick (and likely frying for longer) to create that extra crispy exterior.
While the idea of extra crispy may sound very appealing to you, if calories are a concern, it’s wise you compare the two to see the differences.
Let’s look at the chicken breast as an example:
Original Recipe Chicken Breast: 390 Calories, 21g Fat, 11g Carbs, & 39g Protein.
Extra Crispy Chicken Breast: 530 Calories, 35g Fat, 18g Carbs, & 35g Protein.
These chicken breasts are the same size, and yet the extra crispy chicken breast contains 140 extra calories and a whopping 14g of fat more than the Original Recipe!
I’m not telling you that you can’t eat the crispy chicken; I mean, it’s delicious. But if you’re watching your calories, be careful of those extra calories sneaking up on you when ordering the extra crispy chicken.
This breakdown also would not be complete if we didn’t look at the Famous KFC Bowl, which is basically the definition of “comfort food.” It contains mashed potatoes, gravy, cheese, corn, and chicken nuggets.
Or you can get wild and order a Mac & Cheese bowl instead, which swaps out the mashed potatoes for creamy mac & cheese.
Now, don’t get me wrong: KFC bowls are absolutely delicious.
But if you’re in search of a low-calorie, low-carb, or high-protein option, the bowl is not your best option.
A KFC Famous Bowl contains 590 calories, while a Mac & Cheese Bowl contains 660 calories. While not horrible, if you’re looking for a diet-friendly option, you may want to pass on the KFC bowls.
KFC Original Recipe Chicken Calories
Original Recipe Chicken Breast: 390 Calories, 21g Fat, 11g Carbs, & 39g Protein
Original Recipe Chicken Thigh: 280 Calories, 19g Fat, 8g Carbs, 19g Protein
Original Recipe Chicken Drum: 130 Calories, 8g Fat, 4g Carbs, 12g Protein
Original Recipe Chicken Wing: 130 Calories, 8g Fat, 3g Carbs, 10g Protein
KFC Extra Crispy Chicken Calories
Extra Crispy Chicken Breast: 530 Calories, 35g Fat, 18g Carbs, & 35g Protein
Extra Crispy Chicken Thigh: 330 Calories, 23g Fat, 9g Carbs, 22g Protein
Extra Crispy Chicken Drum: 170 Calories, 12g Fat, 5g Carbs, 10g Protein
Extra Crispy Chicken Wing: 170 Calories, 13g Fat, 5g Carbs, 10g Protein
Does KFC Have Grilled Chicken?
Unfortunately, the grilled chicken at KFC has been discontinued.
Previously, you had the option to order a bucket of grilled chicken, which was very appealing for those looking for a healthier option at KFC.
Apparently, the grilled chicken did not sell well enough for it to stick around as a permanent menu item, which is really a shame. I’ll be hoping it makes a comeback because it was a great healthy fast food option.
If you’re curious about the nutritional information of the KFC grilled chicken, here is how each item looked (as of 2021).
Grilled Chicken Breast: 210 Calories, 7g Fat, 0g Carbs, 38g Protein
Grilled Drum: 80 Calories, 4g Fat, 0g Carbs, 11g Protein
Grilled Thigh: 150 Calories, 9g Fat, 0g Carbs, 17g Protein
Grilled Wing: 70 Calories, 3g Fat, 0g Carbs, 9g Protein
KFC Popcorn Chicken vs KFC Nuggets
In 2023, KFC got rid of their famous Popcorn Chicken in favor of new chicken nuggets.
Popcorn chicken used to be a go-to for me as a kid, but when I compare the nutrition facts of popcorn chicken vs chicken nuggets, I don’t mind the switch.
A large order of popcorn chicken from KFC contained 620 calories, 39g fat, 39g carbs, and 27g protein. A 12-piece order of KFC nuggets contains 420 calories, 18g fat, 24g carbs, and 36g protein.
Since the chicken nuggets are larger and made from 100% white meat chicken, you end up getting more protein in each serving.
While the popcorn chicken was very fun, the larger chicken nuggets are definitely more appealing from a nutrition standpoint. Which less fat, fewer carbs, and more protein, the chicken nuggets definitely win here.
How Does The KFC Chicken Sandwich Stack Up?
How does the KFC Chicken Sandwich stack up against the other chicken sandwiches out there?
Why, I’m glad you asked!
At 650 calories, 35g of Fat, 49g of Carbs, and 34g of Protein, it’s relatively well-balanced, but the calories are on the higher side for a chicken sandwich.
Popeyes famous fried chicken sandwich contains slightly more calories with 700, but most of the other fast food fried chicken sandwiches out there contain fewer calories than KFC.
Of course, if you want a healthy chicken sandwich, it’s super easy to make your own at home.
This air fryer crispy chicken sandwich contains just 485 calories and an impressive 45 grams of protein! It comes out as crispy and juicy as any fast food chicken sandwich you’ve had, but with a healthy spin.
KFC Sides & Sauces Calories & Nutrition
If you’re going to enjoy a bucket of chicken, you’re going to want to pair it with some sides, and KFC has no shortage of ’em!
Calorie-wise, I was surprised to see how low in calories many of these options are. I expected something like Mac & Cheese to be extremely high calories, but a small side is only 140 calories!
If you were to order a large Mac & Cheese, that bumps up to 540 calories, although that is a side that’s technically meant to feed a family. Assuming you stick with the individual size, it’s really not bad at all.
When watching your calories, it’s important to be mindful of which dipping sauces you use. Whether you’re ordering a bucket of chicken, tenders, or nuggets, you’re likely going to want to pair that chicken with some sauce.
And while it’s easy to dismiss that dipping sauce as nothing more than a condiment, the sauce you choose can make a world of difference.
For example: hot sauce or ketchup will only add 30 calories at most to your meal, while ranch or honey mustard will add over 100 calories. It’s not unlikely that you’ll use more than one side of sauce, too.
If you are using a higher-calorie sauce, you can end up adding over 200 calories of unwanted extra calories.
If you absolutely love a particularly sauce, you do not need to avoid it! Rather just be mindful of how much you are using so those extra calories don’t sneak up on you.
KFC Secret Recipe Fries vs Potato Wedges
My go-to order used to be popcorn chicken with potato wedges, so I am obviously very bummed by the current KFC menu which lacks both of these.
I have yet to try the KFC Secret Recipe Fries, but I’ve heard that they are actually am improvement over the potato wedges.
How do the KFC fries compare to the wedges? Nutritionally, they are quite similar, with an order of fries containing just 50 calories more than the potato wedges.
Luckily, you end up getting more bang for your back with the fries; potato wedges would always feel like a tease because you would end up with fewer than 10 wedges in total. The secret recipe fries are on par with most servings of fast food French fries.
Conclusion: Is KFC healthy?
As with any menu breakdown, there is really no definitive answer here, because “healthy” is whatever you make it out to be,
Unfortunately, KFC only offers fried chicken, so if your goal is to eat low-calorie or low-fat, KFC may not be a great option overall for you. In that case, I recommend Chick-fil-A or Wendy’s, both of which offer grilled chicken options.
With all of the chicken options being fried, it limits the amount of protein you’ll get overall (compared to grilled chicken) but there are still some decent options. A 12-piece chicken nugget order offers 36 grams of protein with 420 calories, which is not a bad protein source.
Overall, the “healthiest” options will depend entirely on your lifestyle and goals. While it’s clear that other fast-food restaurants offer a wider variety of healthy options and substitutions, you can absolutely still enjoy KFC as part of your diet.