Review: Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders from KFC

Nothing says Kentucky Fried Chicken quite like a Canadian dressed up like Colonel Sanders.  The same sentiment might be given to KFC borrowing a taste of Nashville with the new Nashville Hot Chicken.  We’ve had plenty of Norm Macdonald over the last six months and not much in terms of new products so it’s nice to see a promising KFC test market item get a wide release.
Nashville Hot ChickenKFC says, “The Colonel went all the way to Nashville to bring you the spicy, smoky, crispy flavor of authentic Nashville Hot Chicken.”  I opted for the three-piece Nashville Hot Tenders meal which was priced at $5.49 and includes a side of coleslaw and a biscuit.  I’m not sure how important those two pickle pieces were supposed to be, but I didn’t have any with my meal.KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

The chicken and biscuit come in a handy, durable plastic container which was nice considering there was a noticeable pool of oil at the bottom.  On the lid of the container there’s a warning that says “You are about to taste the best spicy chicken you’ve ever had”.  Very bold statement indeed.  While it didn’t turn out to be the best spicy chicken I’ve ever had, it was a unique enough flavor to be memorable.

Nashville Hot Chicken

The spicy kick of cayenne isn’t overdone and it allowed me to enjoy this chicken without burnings lips.  There wasn’t enough sweetness to balance with the smoky pepper spices for my tastes, but its flavor doesn’t remind me of typical KFC recipe of herbs and spices so I’d say it was an interesting change from the norm. I found the promo pictures to be a little more unappetizing than the actual product, which is pretty rare for fast food.  I was expecting this shiny, wet sloppy glaze of sauce, but in reality it has a nice burnt orange color, crispy breading with more of an oily, soaked-in sauce.  That’s not to say you won’t have some mess on your hands, it’s just not as bad as saucy buffalo wings or a rack of ribs.  The pool of sauce and oil residue pools at the bottom of the container and it turned the underside of my biscuit orange.

Nashville Hot Chicken

The three tenders were all fairly moist and meaty.  The size of the tenders seemed to be well-balanced against the impact of the flavorful breading.  There’s definitely no shortage of flavor with Nashville Hot Chicken.  Having the biscuit and side of coleslaw provides a nice complement to the chicken for sopping up the sauce oils and some sweet, cooling relief.  For the price of $5.49 we are in the premium price range, but it’s a decent amount of food.  With that said, I would have called this a great deal if it was priced at $4.99 or under (Popeyes would have pulled it off).KFC Hot Chicken

My main takeaway with KFC’s new Nashville Hot Chicken would be that it offers an unfamiliar flavor with a decent amount of tasty heat.  I’m glad KFC didn’t try too hard to blend their original recipe with this in order to leave their mark.  It’s OK to extend yourself beyond the traditional eleven herbs and spices.

Pros: Unique flavor profile that mixes some heat without sacrificing the taste. Extra crispy breading crunch. Packaging.

Cons: Over 5 bucks. Missing pickles. Greasy/oily. KFC's nutrition calculator was last updated 12/18/15 so Nashville Hot Tenders are missing.

Taste: 7.00/10
Value: 5.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 4.00/10
Price: $5.49

Overall GrubGrade: 6.50/10

More Info: kfc.com

46 comments on “Review: Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders from KFC

  1. borkus says:

    You’ve become so mean with your ratings. I read this review and you kept saying nice things about the product and then you finish giving it a lackluster 6.5/10 rating. It seems that hardly anything gets over a 7 anymore. You seem to be holding fast food to wayyy too high of a standard

    • CulinaryZerg says:

      I’m confused too, after reading the review it looked like a good score was pending. But this chicken is apparently worse than any product Popeye’s has re-released in the last few years?

    • JF says:

      And why should fast food not be held to a high standard? Just because it’s fast food doesn’t mean that it has to be crap food. Ryan can only speak for himself, but he has been very fond (as am I) of Popeyes, so perhaps that is the standard he is comparing them too.

      I agree with his comment that they could have provided this product at a lower price point and price does factor into the overall rating.

      I may be mistaken, but it appears they offer their standard 3 tenders in a $5 fill up box. So why are these at a higher price point without the drink?

      Not a question of you to answer, but something to think about when it comes to the overall rating. I know Ryan has explained how he comes up with in the past as it has been questioned before.

      Ryan, a suggestion for you, provide a quick info link/blurb that explains how overall grades are determined.

      I am not a fan of KFC but I am intrigued by these and most likely will give them a try, despite the “mean” rating.

    • Leykis says:

      Glad I’m not the only one seeing this. The reviewer should stop reviewing fast food and get into fine dining reviews.

      • sandy says:

        Seriously???? Don’t like Ryan’s reviews…STFU and don’t read them.

        • Alex says:

          @Sandy, anger issues perhaps?

          Anyway, it’s the grub on the grow grade that really hurt this product. I realize some people irresponsibly eat while driving but I couldn’t care less about that score. At least it’s weighted less, but really shouldn’t be included. Most people just want value and taste out of FF.

      • Bubbsy says:

        I like Ryan’s reviews. And while some scoring may sometimes seem counter-intuitive at times, the reviews are descriptive and thoughtful, fun to read, designed well for the type of people who like fast food blogs.
        I like that instead of being apathetic about fast food, he evaluates it for what it tries to be. Works for me. Keep up the good work Ryan!

  2. wmjindsm says:

    I really liked these, never having Nashville Chicken before. I thought the flavor is more like hot smoked paprika. I was expecting more oil on the bottom but didn’t get too much. I did get pickle slices (only 2 or 3), but would have liked more (wonder if they charge extra?). The KFC I was at offered the Nashville Chicken with tenders or with regular bone-in pieces, I went with the tenders.

    • Jay Melo says:

      I expect the reason you have never had “Nashville Chicken” before is because KFC made up that name on the spot. Kind of like Little Caesers and their “Detroit Deep Dish” pizza. “Chicago Deep Dish” is already trademarked so they just made up a similar name.

      • Raiders757 says:

        Actually, Jay, you might want to Google, or Bing “Nashville Chicken”. It is indeed a “thing” that is very popular in that region of the country. You can also bet that KFC’s version doesn’t even come close to the real deal.

        …and yes, there is also a Detroit style of deep dish pizza, and it kicks that casserole invented by a man from Texas who happened to move to Chicago in the crotch.

      • mike says:

        Detroit Deep Dish is a real thing, I remember it well from when I lived there, it’s rectangular, like Little Caesar’s. I had never heard of Nashville Hot Chicken before, but my co-worker had, and a quick google search shows that it’s been around for quite some time there. Also, I don’t think Chicago Deep Dish is trademarked, at least a google search turns up plenty of different restaurant’s advertising it.

      • KJ says:

        Seriously? “KFC made up that name on the spot.”??? Ever heard of Google? Nashville Hot Chicken has been famous for decades.

      • Jonathan Wayne says:

        Detroit Deep Dish is real homey:)

      • Mandy says:

        Yeah I’m not that smart and I know Nashville is a real thing lol :’))

    • Alta Vista says:

      I wish the original poster had included valid photos of this food. I am eating an order right now, and although quite spicy which I love, it is swimming in grease in the container, and the biscuit soaked up about half the grease making it inedible. The slaw is excellent. I took the chicken tenders and placed them on napkins outside the container and now the napkins are soaked. Great taste but WAY too much grease!

  3. PT says:

    I tried this last night and ordered the same combo for $5.50, but swapped for fries instead of the coleslaw. After I ordered and paid I realized I could have order the $5 three tenders fill-up and also gotten a cookie and a drink for less money than just the tenders, slaw, and biscuit. I’ll definitely be ordering it again. They tasted very good. They will make you pretty thirsty, but more in a salty way than a spicy way. Overall, it was a decent deal, but asking for them as the $5 fill-up would make them an excellent deal for surprisingly good chicken (I thought it was going to be dried-out or less than the promos, as well.)

  4. Chuy Vega says:

    I also tried this out today. Got the 3 tenders, slaw, and biscuit combo. I had the option to add a drink for $1, but didn’t go for it.

    There was a considerable amount of red oil at the bottom of my container too, which didn’t bother be but may put some people off. The actual tenders I got were larger than normal ones, which is a plus considering the price.

    They taste was slightly spicy (with some hints of bitterness), and slightly sweet. The spice level wan’t very high, but i have a high tolerance for heat.

    I love Nashville hot chicken, but I probably would not order this again, because the taste doesn’t really compare to real Nashville hot chicken, but it is not bad. I just would much rather get the regular tenders with hot sauce.

    At the end of the day, i don’t really go to KFC, because I have two Popeye’s locations AND a church’s chicken nearby 🙂

  5. SPM79 says:

    Is it really that difficult for them to add the pickles as advertised? This is my problem with this place, if you are going to charge $5.49 for this thing at least make it look like the commercial.

  6. Shane says:

    From everything I read it’s supposed to be greasy,and that’s part of the charm. Traditionally it’s served on bread to soak up the grease.

  7. Snackeroo says:

    Definitely gotta try this, love spicy fried chicken.

  8. James says:

    Yours was packaged differently than what I get here near Chicago, The biscuit should be separate from the chicken, not laying in with the chicken and oil. Also, try the whole chicken pieces instead of the tenders, IMO, much better tasting as the breading is different than their bland tenders. I think that this is one of the best products KFC has offered in a long long time. I hope it becomes a permanent menu item. As with my experience with KFC lately, some locations are better than others so, YMMV!

  9. Bubbsy says:

    When looking at the pics, it seems that these are not really breaded all over but rather have a few crunchies on what is otherwise just a light dusting of flour before frying…. Doesn’t seem to be much of a breading (not that it’s a bad thing)

  10. Mike M says:

    I like this for what it is. It pulled me into a KFC for the first time in forever, and now I want to go back to eat this again soon. I had the thigh/leg meal. Mine was packaged with the biscuit in the container like your order. I used it to soak up the spiced oil at the bottom of the container since they don’t have it on white bread. That is when it felt slightly spicy. It could have been hotter in my opinion.

  11. Evan says:

    I really enjoyed mine, I got the 3 piece tender and swapped out the coleslaw for the wedges so this was still a pretty good deal for me. Mine pretty much came exactly as advertised, I’d probably say no pickles next time as I’m not a huge fan and it didn’t really add much. Overall I really enjoyed the taste of the sauce, mine definitely was a tad spicy, nothing crazy but definitely spicier than other fast food spicy products. I also got a coupon for a free medium drink when I purchase nashville hot again so I can pretty much get a full combo at 5.69 which aint bad! I also thought the biscuit was a good touch, I usually hate on KFC biscuits because they dont hold a candle to popeyes but dipping it in the sauce was pretty good.

  12. JJJ says:

    I Haven’t been to KFC for something like 3 years but had to try these. The heat comes from the oil and cayenne pepper paste, most of which runs off and forms a pool in the container, since there’s no bread to soak it up. The sauce is pretty neutral, having no particular salty or sweet flavor, but you can sort of adjust the heat level by sopping more of it up with the chicken. All in all, I’m not totally hooked on it but it wasn’t bad and I will probably try it again.

  13. Pat Mackles says:

    I really, really enjoyed the spicy KFC tenders… Look out Popeye’s, you’ve got some competition! Hope they stay on the menu!

  14. Jonathan H says:

    Mightve just been my local KFC but they just tasted like Cayenne pepper and grease.

  15. TB Junkie says:

    I saw them ‘make’ this through the drive through window today. I ordered a breast and it was an original recipe breast placed in the pictured trey and then covered (partially in my case) in sauce that came out of a squirt bottle. So no special breading et al as implied in earlier comments and this explains the amount of ‘oil’ (sauce) that pools on the bottom of the trey.

    I suppose this means you could get it on an extra crispy piece.. which could be an interesting mess.

    PS it was tasty.

  16. Jonathan Wayne says:

    I bought the 3 piece tenders today and I am quite happy with it despite not being a fan of KFC or spicy food in general. You definitely need the coleslaw to cut down on the heat, I also had a smoothie from McDonald’s to help. The pieces are very large, I still have a whole huge tender left in the fridge. They need more pickles and more substantial pickles though, these thin cheap ones don’t cut it. My biscuit was also in the same box as the chicken and the bottom soaked up a lot of the sauce and gave it a super spicy concentrated taste which you may or may not like. I might try dipping the last piece in ranch, that might be pretty good.

  17. Scram says:

    Got a breast/wing combo. I LOVED it. It was so flavorful. I’ve had it twice in the past three days. Definitely a winner for KFC. 10/10

  18. Jay says:

    Had this today. Order of strips and a breast. They didn’t have legs and thighs ready and I didn;t have time to wait.

    Overall, pretty good tasting piece of chicken. It’s not “Nashville Hot Chicken” by any stretch of the imagination but it is a nice slightly spicy piece of chicken so I will be having this again.

    I have been taking occasional trips to Nashville just for Hot Chicken since I first had Prince’s back in 2003. Worth the drive and worth the wait since it often takes an hour or more to get your order. Try Boltons if you’re in a hurry though. Good stuff.

  19. Wayne B says:

    I had the tender combo. I subbed potatoes and gravy for the slaw. I was very impressed with the chicken. I’d give the chicken a 10/10 as there was nothing I would change about it. I do wish they would serve real butter and honey for the biscuit, but that is another topic…

  20. Blousey says:

    Since this is an LTO I think it would have made more sense to spend an extra couple pennies on a slice of white sandwich bread on the bottom to soak up the sauce rather to create “authenticity” but also in the case of the bread be a genuine improvement on different levels. Would happily do without the pickles in exchange for a slice of bread.

  21. M-Logan says:

    I have had these 3 or 4 times now, and LOVE them. Strips only for me, I don’t do meat on the bone. My biggest complaint is only offering them as a 3 piece – I wanted to order 5 the last time, but they could not figure out how to do that so I just added one Chicken Little baby sandwich ($1.19 IIRC) and had them season it w/ the Nashville seasoning – delicious. Mine have always had the pickle slices, which are a nice small accent. I really REALLY hope these stay on the menu!

  22. wulfdog says:

    Finally something fully cooked that actually tastes good from KFC. I almost gave up eating at KFC because of th3 amount of undercooked chicken I get from there. When chicken is bloody and rubbery like their thighs, drum and wing drumbetts its not done even if it was cooked to temperature. I was pleasantly happy with the Nashville tenders I hope they keep selling them.

  23. Samantha says:

    Man this chicken taste like straight up cayenne pepper . Thats alll i taste and hot oil. Not really spicy . Just overwhelming cayenn. I like the crunchiness but thats about it . I just thrrew away one piece because it was too much. You need the slaw for balance. Taste unpleasant without slaw

  24. johnh says:

    too crispy to eat

  25. Vponti02 says:

    I wanted to try these but didn’t want to order a full meal…1-don’t want to waste food and 2-there are no beverages on the menu I can drink. (Need sugar free and caffeine free). When I ordered the tenders I was told there would be a slight up charge for not ordering the basket and that I should pull forward. I said it was fine. Since WHEN. Is $2.00 a small up charge??? The 3-tender basket is 5.49. My 3 tenders were $7.56! WHAT?! I will NOT be going back to this or ANY kfc unless these tenders are plated in gold (which…they are not. The flavor is average at best.).

  26. kerry gellert says:

    What a rip off . The TV ad
    is way out of whack and a fraud. We got 3 small crappy overcooked pieces with no pickel and defiantly not what was advertized. Save your money don’t buy.

  27. ninjadude says:

    I finally tried these (subbed in fries). So hot. So good. I have my new fave hot fast food. Of course, it is an LTO so now that I like it, they’ll discontinue it. Must have more.

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