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We Tried KFC's New Saucy Nuggets And They Bring The Flavor

KFC Saucy Nuggets flavors
KFC Saucy Nuggets flavors - Michael Palan / Static Media

In 2023, KFC finally gave into chicken nuggets fans by adding them permanently to its menu. These nuggets, seasoned with the chain's original blend of 11 herbs and spices, came with side dipping sauces. Now, after a year of being brushed to the side, the sauces will be slathering the actual nuggets. KFC's new Saucy Nuggets come in a choice of five different flavors. Two of these are familiar to some KFC fans, as Nashville Hot debuted in 2016, and Georgia Gold just a year later. The other three are brand new to KFC, with Honey Sriracha, Korean BBQ, and Sticky Chicky Sweet 'n Sour joining the parade.

Nick Chavez, chief marketing officer of KFC U.S., said, "One of the big trends that we see, particularly among younger generations of customers, is this desire for sauces and flavors." He added that the limited-time Saucy Nuggets "combine our original taste with new and modern flavor and sauce offerings."

A handful of days before the Saucy Nuggets go live at KFCs nationwide, I was invited to taste-test them all, as fresh as can be, at the chain's headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. So, are these Saucy Nuggets worth getting your hands a bit dirty to try, or are they better off dry, with the sauce on the side? This chew and review is based on taste, texture, flavor, uniqueness, and overall lovability.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of The Best Fried Chicken Chains

What Do KFC's Georgia Gold Saucy Nuggets Taste Like?

KFC Georgia Gold Saucy Nuggets
KFC Georgia Gold Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

Right off the bat, I had an excellent feeling about the Georgia Gold Saucy Nuggets. I'd never had the pleasure of trying this flavor during its previous run at KFC, but by the name alone, it didn't sound like it was going to disappoint. The magic with this one starts with its aroma, which contains an amazing essence of honey mustard that pleases the nostrils. Out of the five new flavors, this sauce has the least goopy look to it. Instead, it has a glittery sheen, like morning dew.

The Georgia Gold sauce's base ingredients are honey, vinegar, and seasoning mixed together in a BBQ sauce. Taking a quick bite confirms the awesomeness that the aroma was foreshadowing, where the sweetness of honey shakes hands firmly with the pungency of mustard. If you've ever had Snyder's Honey Mustard pretzel nuggets, then you'll have a really good idea what's magically going on here with the Georgia Gold Saucy Nuggets. It's a taste that's very unique to begin with, and becomes even more so as one for nuggets to be doused in. No split decision here. This one gets to stand tall at the top of the podium.

What Do KFC's Honey Sriracha Saucy Nuggets Taste Like?

KFC Honey Sriracha Saucy Nuggets
KFC Honey Sriracha Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

Honey is a proven winner for sweetening sauces, and when paired with always-versatile sriracha, it can typically add a good balance to hit that swicy spot all restaurants and brands are aiming for these days. (Seriously, it's a food trend set to dominate 2024.) The Honey Sriracha flavor whipped up by KFC is a sweetly heated sauce that blends the two key ingredients in its name, with garlic punching things up a bit more.

A quick whiff reveals a honey scent, touched up with a light lemon bent. Its exterior certainly has a saucy appearance to it, but not as overly done up like some of its brethren are. This more approachable-looking Saucy Nugget proves it's a lot more fun once it moves into your mouth. It starts with an immediate bit of sweetness before the soft heat takes over. Neither flavor dominates the other, and Honey Sriracha's dual, Jekyll-and-Hyde nature makes it one of the more fun Saucy Nuggets to tackle.

What Do KFC's Korean BBQ Saucy Nuggets Taste Like?

KFC Korean BBQ Saucy Nuggets
KFC Korean BBQ Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

As I stared at all these Saucy Nuggets, trying to differentiate one from the other by sight alone, I zeroed in on the Korean BBQ ones because they reminded me a lot of sesame chicken, minus any actual visible sesame seeds. While perhaps there should have been some seeds present, to stand out even more, the sesame in the sauce blends well with the other principal ingredients — soy sauce, garlic, and sugar.

Soy is the dominant player in the Korean BBQ Saucy Nuggets. It reeks of it, but in a good way, and the soy plays a large role in shaping its taste. Sure, it does have a nice sweetness to it, but its salty bitterness makes for a strikingly dense flavor profile -- one that I am very happy to see and taste atop KFC's nuggets.

What Do KFC's Nashville Hot Saucy Nuggets Taste Like?

KFC Nashville Hot Saucy Nuggets
KFC Nashville Hot Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

For the last decade, Nashville hot chicken has remained a spicy flavor on the tips of many tongues, thanks to restaurants working its smokiness into the golden skin of fried chicken. KFC has already dabbled with this sauce, and it makes perfect sense to bring it back from hibernation for this limited-time Saucy experiment -- although this was a perfect opportunity for the brand to put its own Kentucky stamp on it and call it something like "Louisville Hot."

I'm not sure how these Nashville Hot Saucy Nuggets got char marks on their exterior, while the others bypassed such a fate, but perhaps that's how these smoky little fellers are proving their bona fides. Their super-smoky mesquite barbecue aroma also helps to cement that. The nuggets' taste kicks off with a bit of sweetness before devolving into a delayed spicy kick. For those who welcome the heat wave by way of Nashville, this may be just the ticket, but I thought it needed something to blow out the smoke. A pickle can commonly be found in a hot chicken sandwich, and perhaps a little pickle juice would have been the perfect ally to make this hot one a little cooler.

What Do KFC's Sticky Chicky Sweet 'N Sour Saucy Nuggets Taste Like?

Sticky Chicky Sweet 'n Sour Saucy Nuggets
Sticky Chicky Sweet 'n Sour Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

Before I give you my opinion on Sticky Chicky Sweet 'n Sour, let me tell you what KFC thinks of its new sauce: It's a big fan. The company didn't say as much, but KFC believes in it enough that out of the five Saucy Nugget sauces, this is the only one that has been turned into a side dipping cup, complete with a pretty-in-pink-and-white label with the Colonel's face approvingly smiling on it.

This sauce attempts to achieve its sweet and sour chicken notes by throwing pineapple, garlic, vinegar, chili powder, molasses, onion, garlic, cloves, tamarind, and even anchovies into a whirlwind of flavoring. The nuggets' orange-brown exteriors didn't give a whiff of the adventure that lay within, but there was a BBQ-chip smell that made me wonder how it would all add up. It was actually hard to unravel this one, as it seemed as too much was going on at once. With no final definition of flavor, I couldn't fully embrace it, but then again, it's not an easy sauce to dismiss. What it did have was something not mentioned in its super-fun, and super-long, name — heat.

How To Buy KFC's Saucy Nuggets

KFC Saucy Nuggets being sauced
KFC Saucy Nuggets being sauced - Michael Palan / Static Media

KFC's Saucy Nuggets will be available for a limited time only, and while supplies last, at participating U.S. locations of KFC, starting on April 1. The standard order size is 10 nuggets, which come pre-sauced with one flavor, with the suggested retail price of $5.99. The Saucy Nuggets can also be turned into a combo meal, which comes with a medium drink and Secret Recipe Fries for $9.99. Prices may vary by location and be higher for customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and California, and for those ordering through third-party apps.

Customers who order on KFC's app or website will also have the option to purchase them as eight- or 12-piece sets. Through those same two avenues, there is an introductory offer where a customer can get a free 10-piece Saucy Nuggets with a purchase of $10 or more.

While the Saucy Nuggets do come pre-sauced, KFC allows the option to order them with additional sauce in-store, or to have the sauces on the side for dipping. The Sticky Chicky Sweet 'n Sour Sauce comes in a pre-packaged dip cup, while the other four will be housed in a nondescript plastic cup. A single Saucy Nugget ranges from 45 to 60 calories and contains 4 grams of protein.

The Final Verdict

five orders of Saucy Nuggets
five orders of Saucy Nuggets - Michael Palan / Static Media

Today's generation of eaters is all about the sauces, and KFC is ready to give them all that they want with its new Saucy Nuggets. While any customer might not take to every single flavor in this new venture, as I personally was ready to stamp out the Nashville Heat, there will be at least a few flavors that will satisfy all walks of palates. Personally, I thought the sauces that struck just the right balance between two polar flavor opposites really hit the mark. The Honey Sriracha and Korean BBQ were standouts, and the fantastic Georgia Gold Sauce will certainly be keeping Georgia on my mind.

But what happens if people get attached to these new sauces before Saucy Nuggets go into hibernation after their limited time on Earth? KFC U.S. CMO Nick Chavez said, "We'll certainly be watching closely what are the most popular sauce flavors and what consumers react to ... and reserve the right to bring those particular, most popular sauces back in various forms."

That's music that's certainly sweeter to the ears than it is sour. In fact, the sauces are so darn flavorful and good they deserve to live a life beyond nuggets. Since you can order the sauces on the side with the nuggets, I recommend doing just that so you can lather the nuggets as you please -- and open the sauces up to new delivery mechanisms like KFC's fried chicken, biscuits, and anything else on its wide-ranging menu.

Read the original article on Daily Meal