10 KFC Menu Hacks That Would Make the Colonel Proud

kfc hacks
Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Here's a Colonel of truth we've learned in researching this article: There are many cheaper or tastier ways to eat at KFC that you're not taking advantage of. Ever since the brand starting doling out Double Downs and Nashville hot chicken, KFC has definitely become more exciting to eat at. But it's a rookie move to order items straight from the menu, especially if you don't want to get ripped off on flavor or price. 

We'll show you how to get the most bang for your buck at the register, how to combine certain menu items to get the tastiest eats in the restaurant, and teach you about menu items you probably didn't even know existed. Here are the KFC hacks you should be using. Put on your best white suit and get ready to up your Kentucky fried game.

mashed potatoes
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Add mashed potatoes to anything...

You know what makes every single chicken sandwich on the planet better? Mashed potatoes. They're like two peas in a pod, but contain much more chicken and fewer peas. And even though KFC doesn't advertise it, you can ask to add mashed potatoes to any sandwich. Now, I've definitely been told "no" before, but often they'll grant you your wish. 

... but never, ever, ever, ever, ever order them on their own (or any other side!)

When you go to KFC, do not get hypnotized by its delicious sides and just order them with every meal. Make sure to only order mac & cheese and mashed potatoes as part of a $5 Fill Up. Ordering everything as a side is a rookie mistake, like trying to do a Friday New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen. Yeah, we can like KFC and still be highbrow!

Here's some boring math: One side is usually around $2.50 on its own (depending on where you live). But for around $5 total, you can get that same side with a drink, a cookie, and a main item! And how do you do that? You order a meal called a $5 Fill Up, of course!

You can also add bacon to anything

Bacon is a staple menu item at basically every fast-food chain. KFC has it too, despite not having a ton of bacon-filled dishes. But it's there! Next time you go, add bacon to whatever you'd like, whether it be a Famous Bowl or a Chicken Littles sandwich. Congrats on making your meal at least 45% better, according to a fact we just invented that we definitely can't back up with empirical evidence.

You can order livers and gizzards at KFC

Yes, you can order those tasty (mostly unloved) parts of the chicken deep-fried at KFC. Here's the catch: The offal are not available in every region. In the regions where they're available, they're on the menu and beloved. But not elsewhere. You'd think they'd be available in all the Southern states, as fried gizzards are a traditional Southern food, but that's not true either! We spoke to a store in Tennessee that had 'em, but one in Mississippi didn't! The only way to find out is to ask. And once you do, maybe you'll soon be enjoying some deep-fried chicken parts.

Bring back the Double Down (but just for you personally)

Back in 2014, everyone and their momma was eating the KFC Double Down, which is two fried chicken filets instead of bread, plus bacon, two different kinds of cheese, and a drizzle of Colonel's Special Sauce. It's no longer on KFC menus. But that doesn't mean you can't order it! KFC still has all the ingredients other than the Colonel's sauce, which is a mayo- and ketchup-based condiment. Note that this is different from the chain's Finger Lickin' Good Sauce, which is more of a honey mustard-ish condiment. And most locations still have the sammy in their system, so they can ring you up no problem. Order it and enjoy a (deep-fried, cheese-covered) slice of American fast-food history!

taco bell hacks
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

You can combine KFC and Taco Bell to create brand-new dishes

Das Racist, a former rap group your cool cousin who went to Vassar used to like, once found themselves in a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, but the combination KFC and Taco Bell is where we'd want to eat. See, if you're clever (and you are!) you can combine a few items together from each fast-food joint to create a unique concoction. Here are three you need to try right now:

1) Nacho cheese fries
First, order the KFC seasoned potato wedges. Then walk over to Taco Bell and ask for a side of nacho cheese sauce. Head to the condiments bar and take your favorite hot sauce. Voila! Nothing's better than fries and cheese. Other than maybe chips and cheese. But you don't have to take our word for it: This meal was created by a KFC/Taco Bell employee!

2) Hot chicken Mexican pizza
KFC's Nashville hot chicken has been blowing up (people's mouths) for about a year now. And since Mexican food also kind of has a rep for being spicy, it makes sense to combine the two. First, order a Mexican pizza from TB but ask for it without seasoned beef. Then head over to KFC and get those Nashville hot chicken tenders. Grab a side of corn too, and sprinkle it over the pizza. In the words of failed NBC sitcom star Emeril (and he's a chef too, maybe?), "Bam!"

3) Sanders poutine
The internet has coined this dish the "Sanders poutine," and it's not what Bernie orders for dinner while he's in Canada. First, order the tasty wedges and gravy at KFC. Next, get a side of cheese sauce from Taco Bell. Cover the wedges in gravy and cheese sauce, and you have a knockoff version of the Canuck favorite.

Order off the kids menu

It doesn't matter how old you are, you can still order off the kids menu. There's no shame in that! It's often cheaper, and the food's basically the same… only in smaller portions. The move at KFC is the Popcorn Nugget meal, which is around $4.35, and comes with mac & cheese (or any other side!) and a gosh darn Capri Sun. Even though the meal is cheap, you can't put a price on that feeling of eating a boss school lunch again. If you could, it'd be worth a billion dollars.

bbq sauce
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

BBQ sauce is free

Well, sorta. BBQ sauce is one of those dipping options people absolutely go nuts for at KFC, but unless you get the chicken tenders, your meal doesn't come with it. Which sucks. But don't fret! Plenty of KFC locations will gift you the BBQ sauce even if you don't get tenders, but you have to be nice about it. So if you flash a smile and ask kindly if they could spare a container of BBQ sauce, they'll likely shove it in your bag. We encourage you to take that act of kindness and pay it forward by putting BBQ sauce in someone else's bag. Metaphorically, of course.

Never order an entree on its own

Just like how you should never order a side on its own, you should never order an entree on its own, either. Unless you're the kind of person who enjoys setting money on fire and watching it burn. If you do, you have strange hobbies. Also, it's illegal to burn money. But we digress! Here's an example of why you should always order an entree as part of a meal deal. If you're hungry for a Famous Bowl (a mix of mashed potatoes, corn, cheese, gravy, and crispy chicken chunks), spend an extra 40 cents and get it as part of a combo. For four extra dimes you get a side of wedges and a drink. Spending a little more on a Fill Up or a combo always gives you more food, and usually it doesn't require you to fork over more than an extra buck or two!

Mac and cheese
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Upgrade your mac & cheese

We're huge fans of KFC's mac & cheese, but since you're an adult now, you deserve to eat your mac with more than just macaroni noodles and dairy. So next time you order the cheese pasta dish, ask for some Nashville hot chicken tenders, too. Use your hands to rip up the tenders and shove 'em in your mac & cheese. And feel free to add bacon to this too, if you want a super-filling meal. We won't tell a cardiologist about what you've been doing. Now you've got a new take on the mac & cheese that's got a nice little kick to it. Your taste buds will thank you.

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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and needs more KFC mac in his life. Follow him to cheesy goodness @LeeBreslouer.