The holy matrimony of chicken and waffles has arrived at KFC and this union is particularly hot, thanks to the addition of spicy Nashville-style chicken. I love chicken, I love waffles, and I love the pair together -- but would I love KFC's hot and peppery rendition?
The only way to find out was to taste it in all the ways KFC serves it, which is exactly what I did. I ate a Nashville hot tender, a drumstick, a waffle, and the sandwich to find out which is the best combination to order. Here are my extremely scientific findings:
I love a good chicken tender, especially one dunked in ranch and honey mustard. KFC's Nashville hot version, however, wasn't the hot and heavenly tender I was hoping for. Because the tenders aren't particularly large and meaty, the spicy seasoning coated the breading in a way that felt suffocating. I couldn't taste the white meat under the overwhelming sea of salt and smoky paprika. I drank several glasses of water to follow.
The bone-in chicken
The bone-in chicken works way better than the tender because there's a more equitable balance between actual chicken, batter, and seasoning. I guess it's not entirely surprising; classic fried chicken is how KFC made its mark on the world to begin with. The flavors of cayenne and paprika worked in tandem on the crispy batter while the chicken was sufficiently juicy internally. I ate a drumstick, which is my favorite piece of chicken, and didn't feel the need to rinse my tongue of salt after. A win!
I had some hesitations about KFC mass-producing a liege waffle. How would the fast food chain capture that crispy outside while maintaining a dreamy, plush inside? The answer: they won't. But it is a good attempt! The waffle is chewy and the flavor of butter is detectable throughout. I found myself searching for the signature studs of pearl sugar, and though I did come across a couple, they were too sparse for my liking. The waffle is entirely sweet on its own, so while it's served with syrup, I would recommend skipping it -- otherwise you'll be a tad overwhelmed by the cloying flavors of butter and sugar. I guarantee that your stomach will protest.
The waffle chicken sandwich
Here is where it all comes together. Here is the win that KFC was looking for. The waffle chicken sandwich contains a boneless chicken breast patty, so it has the convenience of eating a chicken tender without the flat, overly salty coating. The waffles paired with the chicken delivered spicy and sweet, salty and buttery, crispy and chewy, all in a single bite. I'm all about food being multi-dimensional, and chicken and waffles has always felt that way to me. This captures that same spirit in a handheld form. It's not a Popeyes chicken sandwich, but it's different -- and good.
Now it's time for KFC to unleash that chicken and donuts basket nationwide.