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KFC Fried Chicken Flavors You Won't Find In The US

KFC bucket of chicken with crab, garlic, peppers
KFC bucket of chicken with crab, garlic, peppers - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

KFC is nothing short of a cultural landmark in America. The fast food super chain has been riding high on Colonel Sanders' top-secret original fried chicken recipe since the first location opened in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1950. Walk into any KFC in the U.S. and you'll get a choice of original, extra crispy, hot and spicy, or grilled chicken. Classics are classic for a reason, but given that there are approximately 27,000 KFCs spread over 145 nations and territories, some locations offer fried chicken flavors that are truly unique.

Depending on where you're placing your KFC order, those flavors can vary dramatically. These unique fried chicken tastes are opportunities for different countries to celebrate national flavors and dream up some unexpected combinations. In some cases, the menu choices are also indicative of unique cultural food practices.

Then again, some countries don't deviate much from the stateside menu. If you grab an order of chicken at a KFC in Brazil, Romania, or Pakistan, for instance, you'll be eating the same original, crispy, or spicy chicken flavors you can get here. So, want to know which KFCs have fried chicken that's one of a kind? These are the KFC chicken flavors you won't find in the U.S.

Read more: Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First

Dunked Wings - South Africa, Namibia

Pieces of sauced fried chicken on white background
Pieces of sauced fried chicken on white background - KFC South Africa / Facebook

Not all African nations that are home to KFC sell dunked wings, but places like South Africa and Namibia do. KFC Dunked wings are unique to Africa — and we wish that American KFCs would give this one a try. True, dunked wings can get a little messy, but if you love KFC chicken (and international travel) this flavor should definitely be on your shortlist.

Considering the international popularity of chicken wings, you might assume they were always a KFC staple. Yet, chicken wings weren't sold at South African KFCs until 1990 — 40 years into its fast food legacy! Moreover, South Africa is one of the largest poultry-consuming nations on earth, so it makes sense that KFC made wings a permanent menu item there in 2007. Meanwhile, chicken wings didn't become a permanent menu item in the U.S. until 2019. They were discontinued in early 2023 and returned several months later.

Dunked wings made their way onto KFC's African menus as far back as 2012. Different varieties have been sold over the years, including the fiery Ghost Pepper Dunked Wings — which sound pretty intense if you ask us. Promotional wing sauce flavors may come and go, but the original dunked wings seem to be here to stay for South Africa and Namibia.

Peri Peri - India, Nepal

Allu Arjun poses with KFC peri peri chicken
Allu Arjun poses with KFC peri peri chicken - KFC India / YouTube

Chicken with pepper sauce is a long-established combination enjoyed all over the globe. The story of peri-peri chicken touches multiple continents and has a lengthy, albeit controversial, history. In the 15th century, Portuguese colonists in Mozambique incorporated African bird's eye chillis into a marinade and named their creation peri-peri from the Swahili "piri-piri", meaning "pepper-pepper." The spicy marinade also caught on in Angola (another African nation colonized by Portugal). Peri-peri has since made its way to the southern regions of Asia as well.

In 2022, peri-peri chicken was at the center of a KFC India ad campaign featuring superstar actor Allu Arjun uttering the slogan, "Chicken Peri Peri, sooper very very." The spicy, crispy fried chicken flavor was more than a promotional fad with a big celebrity name. It's still popular at Indian KFCs and is available at KFC locations in Nepal too.

Yet KFC wasn't the first fast food establishment to offer this flavor to the people of South Asia. Nando's, a South African chain (and one of the largest fast food establishments in its home nation) is famous for PERi-PERi chicken and opened its first five restaurants in India in 2012 — now there are a dozen. We don't doubt that KFC took a cue from Nando's when it got in on the peri-peri craze. So far, it's been working.

Spicy BBQ, Jalapeño - Mexico

KFC bucket of sauced chicken tenders
KFC bucket of sauced chicken tenders - KFC Oaxaca / Facebook

Ke-Tiras (a name that KFC Mexico has as a registered trademark) refers to the chain's boneless tenders, a prominent menu item at KFC Mexico. "Tiras de pollo" translates to chicken strips or chicken fingers, and if you order them in a Mexican KFC you'll get to choose whether you want them "natural" or with Spicy BBQ or Jalapeño flavor. You won't find these two signature sauces in the U.S., yet they're right at home in Mexico, where the national cuisine goes big on flavor.

Chicken tenders are available at KFCs in the U.S., where they are made with Extra Crispy breading and come with a variety of dipping sauce options. KFC Mexico has comparable dipping sauces (plus regional ones like Furious Mango Dip), but the Spicy BBQ and Jalapeño Ke-Tiras come coated with sauce instead of it being served on the side.

The Ke-Tiras chicken flavors at KFC Mexico are highly popular, with social media hacks dedicated to copying Spicy BBQ Ke-Tiras at home, while food delivery websites in Mexico often rank the Ke Tiras as one of the chain's most-liked menu items.

Taiwanese Scallion - Hong Kong

breaded chicken with scallions
breaded chicken with scallions - kfchk / Instagram

We could go on and on about all the interesting menu items you can get at KFC outside of the U.S. (yes, those are egg tarts with bubble tea pearls and, yes, we want to eat them), but since we're focusing on fried chicken, Hong Kong KFC is also doing its own thing. One of the latest KFC fried chicken flavors to come out of the harbor is Taiwanese Scallion, a play on the cong you bing, a green onion pancake that's a staple of the region's street food scenes.

KFC Hong Kong is known to promote many limited-time-only fried chicken flavors and Taiwanese Scallion is one of the latest to hit menu boards, with plenty of emphasis on its especially crisp texture. This new flavor arrived in KFC Hong Kong locations in mid-January 2024 as part of a menu drop centered around some of Taiwan's best-known food and drinks (bubble tea emerged from Taiwain in the 1980s) and are available while supplies last.

Crab Sauce - Vietnam

KFC fried chicken with crab sauce
KFC fried chicken with crab sauce - kfc_vietnam / Instagram

If the thought of chicken and crab coming together leaves you scratching your head, don't count it out too soon. There are no less than 49 freshwater crab species in Vietnam, 42 of which can't be found anywhere else. Chicken in crab sauce is a relatively new item for KFCs in Vietnam, and although it may not cater to the typical American palette, we're curious to learn more.

Vietnamese fried chicken wings — also known as gà chiên nước mắm — are tossed in a marinade of fish sauce, sugar, and garlic. They are eaten all over the country and feature on Vietnamese restaurant menus in the U.S. as well. The fish sauce gives the chicken a pop of umami flavor that works really well for many diners.

Unlike fish sauce, which has a semi-transparent consistency similar to soy sauce, the crab sauce from KFC Vietnam is a deep red and much thicker — almost ketchup-like. A sprinkling of breading and seasoning is dusted on top of the sauce to give the chicken extra crunch. As it turns out, KFC Vietnam isn't the first region to pair chicken and crab this way. In late 2022, KFCs in Myanmar served Singaporean Chilli Crab Chicken. The limited-edition flavor implemented a similar dark red, flavorful sauce used in a popular Singaporean seafood dish.

Zabb - Thailand

Zabb chicken and fries KFC Thailand
Zabb chicken and fries KFC Thailand - Tapaynak Napbab / Facebook

If there was ever a cult favorite fried chicken flavor you can't find in American KFCs, it's Zabb seasoning from KFC Thailand. Southeast Asian food is known to incorporate complex flavors into standout dishes, and Zabb fried chicken from KFC brings just that. Hints of spicy Thai chili, fragrant lemongrass, and mildly sour lime powder are some of the suspected ingredients (you know KFC never tells) that keep customers coming back for more Zabb fried chicken.

Zabb (sometimes spelled Zaab) is Thai for "spicy and delicious" and is commonly used to describe Thai chicken dishes, Thai seasoning blends, or even Thai restaurants themselves. Reviews for international KFC locations aren't always glowing, but reviews for KFC Thailand — specifically the Zabb fried chicken — are consistently favorable. In a Reddit thread on the subject of KFC Thailand, many commenters gathered to express their love of Zabb chicken, with some wishing that it was available in their own

Veggie Strips - Sweden, Finland, Austria, Spain, Slovakia

basket of veggie strips with sauce KFC Austria
basket of veggie strips with sauce KFC Austria - kfc_austria / Instagram

In many places, KFC has gotten serious about expanding its vegetarian options beyond starchy sides -- though it's worth noting that some critics say KFC's plant-based options may not be strictly vegan thanks to cross-contamination during the cooking process. KFC veggie patties can be ordered in countries that include Ghana, Denmark, England, and France, while a few European nations have launched a full-scale meatless menu that includes veggie strip mimicking boneless fried chicken.

KFCs in Sweden, Finland, Austria, Spain, and Slovakia all sell veggie strips, while Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands offer a very similar version called veggie tenders. Veggie strips and tenders are made from mycoprotein, a meat-free food derived from mushrooms, but they contain milk and egg so they aren't vegan. Both the veggie strips and veggie tenders are typically seasoned with the chain's classic 11 herbs and spices. Side sauces vary depending on where you are; there's mayonnaise with pepper at KFC Spain, truffle dip in Slovakia, and curry mango sauce in Finland.

Garlic Pepper - Japan

Garlic and pepper chicken pieces KFC Japan
Garlic and pepper chicken pieces KFC Japan - IW / Twitter

Japanese culinary innovations have been in high demand in the U.S. for years, so we're always keeping an eye on what American fast food chains there are producing. In Japan, one KFC flavor that's enjoying top billing on the menu is the garlic pepper chicken.

This menu item boasts some seriously crispy breading that is topped with a healthy sprinkling of ground black pepper. The new flavor comes fresh off the heels of two garlic-forward flavors KFC Japan released during the 2023 holiday season: spicy miso garlic fried chicken, inspired by the Korean hotpot dish jjigae, and Ninniku Crispy, which are breaded boneless pieces coated in soy sauce and garlic oil and intended to be paired with alcoholic beverages. Though both of these holiday fried chicken flavors are no longer available as of this writing, KFC Japan continues to ride the garlic wave into 2024 with the garlic pepper chicken leading the charge.

Green Peppercorn Sesame, Italian Herb Paper Wrapped Chicken - Taiwan

Peppercorn chicken sandwich and pieces kfc taiwan
Peppercorn chicken sandwich and pieces kfc taiwan - kfctaiwan / Instagram

KFC has been masterful at pulling cultural flavors into its specialty fried chicken. Take KFC Taiwan's green peppercorn sesame karaage drumsticks, which combine green Sichuan peppercorns native to China with karaage-style fried chicken, a soy sauce-marinated delight that is often considered to be synonymous with Japan. A coating of sesame sauce enhances the aroma and makes for a fried chicken flavor that's spicy, savory, and crispy all at once. Green peppercorn sesame fried chicken isn't in American KFCs as of now, but we'd love to try it given the chance.

You can also order Italian Herb Paper Wrapped Chicken in KFC Taiwan, a menu item that marries classic European seasonings with Asian cooking methods. Each piece of Italian herb chicken is marinated and then wrapped in baking paper before being fried in hot oil, which keeps the chicken juicy and fragrant. Paper-wrapped chicken (also known as chee pow kai) has its origins in Chinese cooking, but in the mid-20th century, it had gained serious popularity in Singapore and other parts of Asia. In the past, paper-wrapped chicken has made appearances on KFC menus in places outside of Taiwan, such as KFC Malaysia.

God Seasoning - South Korea

Basket of fried chicken with God sauce KFC Korea
Basket of fried chicken with God sauce KFC Korea - Mike Chen / YouTube

Venture down the Google rabbit hole of "KFC" and you'll find that the acronym is no longer synonymous with just Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are countless blog posts, recipes, and videos profiling Korean fried chicken — because it's really that good. Kentucky Fried Chicken is well aware that KFC of the Korean variety has a place in many people's hearts, which is perhaps why KFC locations in South Korea offer a version of the saucy, glazed wing style featuring God seasoning.

Maybe you've never heard of God seasoning, but you have likely come across the spicy fermented paste known as gochujang in the grocery store. God seasoning is spicy and a little sweet, thanks to an ingredients list that often includes gochujang, hot sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and a sweet counterbalancing element such as strawberry jam or honey. Tourists in South Korea have had good things to say about KFC's god seasoning, noting that even though it's messy (it is often served with plastic gloves), the chicken is juicy, the skin is crunchy, and the sauce is tangy and delicious.

Sweet Chilli - United Kingdom

Box of Sticky Sweet Chilli chicken KFC UK
Box of Sticky Sweet Chilli chicken KFC UK - KFC UK / Twitter

KFCs in Asia especially are known to highlight pepper sauces that pair with fried chicken in a way that feels both culturally nuanced and delightfully un-American. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom isn't known for having a lot of spicy foods in its traditional repertoire, but the Sweet Chilli Dipped Bites and Kansas BBQ Dipped Bites sold at British KFCs might convince us otherwise.

The most well-known sweet chilli sauce is the Thai variety, which is popular for dipping. Sweet and spicy pepper sauces have also made their mark in various Asian cuisines and enjoy a widespread presence at non-American KFC locations today. Perhaps most oddly, U.S. KFCs have also yet to ride the Kansas City BBQ wave that customers in the U.K. are privy to.

The smoky, sweet, thick sauce served in Kansas City BBQ joints compliments the char of the meat and is typically served with baked beans — which many Brits adore. And wouldn't you know it, but baked beans with a touch of Kansas City-style sauce are sold as a side dish at KFC's U.K. locations.

Chicken Bak Kwa - Singapore

Chicken Bak Kwa and burger KFC Singapore
Chicken Bak Kwa and burger KFC Singapore - KFC Singapore / YouTube

Never heard of bak kwa? It's a national treat in Singapore that's similar to jerky. The thin, square-cut slices of seasoned dried meat (typically pork) hail from the Fujian province of China and are especially popular during Chinese New Year. In that vein, KFC Singapore treats its Chicken Bak Kwa as a seasonal fried chicken flavor. It's only available in late January and most of February, coinciding with Lunar New Year festivities.

The Singaporean and Malaysian versions of bak kwa are known to have a smokier, sweeter barbecue flavor because the dried meat is grilled over charcoal. Bak kwa has made its way into all sorts of decadent foods ranging from mooncakes and scones to spring rolls and, now, KFC fried chicken. In the KFC version, chopped pieces of bak kwa are studded throughout the chicken breading, while a smoky bak kwa powder is incorporated in the recipe to bring in char-grilled flavor.

Smoky Red Chicken - Bangladesh, India, Nepal

Bucket of KFC grilled smoky red chicken
Bucket of KFC grilled smoky red chicken - KFC Nepal / Facebook

When KFC debuted Smoky Red Chicken at its Indian locations in 2016, customers were eager to try a flavor reminiscent of tandoori chicken, a dish that was reportedly created in Delhi, India in the late 1940s. KFC India's smoky red chicken gets its color from red chili powder and definitely brings the spice, though it misses out on the quintessential char flavor tandoori chickens gets from roasting in a traditional tandoor clay oven.

Something else that sets Smoky Red Chicken apart from other KFC flavors is that it is grilled instead of fried. It also uses only leg pieces. Since its debut, KFC Smoky Red Chicken has been sold in other South Asian nations including Bangladesh and Nepal. While some have called out the Smoky Red Chicken for being undercooked, others have been very favorable, with some reviewers noting that it is flavorful and very, very spicy.

Read the original article on Mashed.