Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Does KFC have vegan options? The fast food eatery might be known for its chicken above all else (ahem, the clue is in the name), but in 2023, it’s unsurprising they cater for the plant-based amongst us, too.
Just like fellow fast food chains, like McDonald’s and Burger King, KFC has been focusing on expanding its offering globally in recent years to include the likes of plant-based chicken and Beyond nuggets.
But what are their vegan options in the UK? Are KFC’s fries vegan? And what about their mashed potatoes?
Don’t worry, we’ve done some digging into KFC’s vegan options to give you the lowdown…
Does KFC have vegan options?
Currently, KFC UK has one vegan main, meaning its a little behind the likes of some other fast food joints.
However, the KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger is pretty well loved, so we’ll give the Colonel credit where its due.
Here’s what we know about that menu item…
KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger
KFC says its Original Recipe Vegan Burger is a “burger the Colonel would be proud to put his name to.”
What’s it made of? “Our new Original Recipe Vegan Burger is made in partnership with Quorn, using KFC’s iconic Original Recipe coating,” they add.
“The burger includes a vegan Quorn fillet, with iceberg lettuce and vegan mayonnaise.”
Oh, and if you’re thinking, ‘I swear KFC used to have a plant-based patty named The Vegan Imposter Burger?’, then you’d be right!
The Vegan Imposter Burger was trialled in 2019 and was such a big hit that it was launched nationwide a year later – renamed the Original Recipe Vegan Burger.
You can now get it in over 900 KFC branches across the UK and Ireland, as well as via Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats.
Is the KFC vegan burger actually vegan?
KFC says that its Original Recipe Vegan Burger is “never cooked in the same oil as [its] chicken,” and given there are no animal products in the recipe itself, this means it is indeed fully plant-based.
“Our Team Members are trained to use separate utensils and storage units to make sure vegetarian and vegan ingredients don’t come into contact with meat products,” KFC UK assures customers.
“We’ve also trained our teams on how to cook and prepare the Original Recipe Vegan Burger to reduce the risk of cross contamination.”
If you wanted more reassurance it’s the real deal, PETA even awarded this product the UK’s ‘best vegan chicken burger’. If it’s good enough for PETA, you can rest assured its ticking the vegan boxes.
Are KFC fries vegan?
In the UK, KFC still cooks its fries in the same oil as its Popcorn Chicken, which means technically, they can’t be certified vegan.
It goes without saying that they aren’t officially made with any animal products, so whether or not you would choose to eat them is totally up to you.
“We don’t offer the Vegan Burger as a meal because our fries aren’t suitable for vegetarians or vegans, due to being cooked in the same oil as our Popcorn Chicken,” KFC UK says in a statement.
They add that whilst this is disappointing, they have other sides that are vegan-friendly (keep reading for details on them).
What KFC sides are vegan?
There are a couple of vegan sides at KFC UK, so you don’t have to miss out if you are forgoing the fries.
“Baked beans with a hint of Kentucky BBQ sauce,” these are not only delicious but vegan. Yay!
It won’t come as any surprise that the Corn on the Cob is vegan. We mean, it’s just corn. Still, win, win, ey?
Are KFC mashed potatoes vegan?
KFC’s creamy mash is unfortunately not vegan in the UK, because it is made with milk, according to the chain’s nutritional chart, updated in March 2023.
If you’re vegetarian, you can opt for the mash, as it doesn’t have any meat stock in it.
However, be wary that the ingredients lists vary around the world, and in some countries the mash has chicken stock in it, so it’s always worth checking the ingredients if you’re out of the UK.
Is KFC gravy vegan?
No real surprises here, but KFC gravy isn’t vegan.
Whilst the gravy’s exact recipe hasn’t been revealed it has been confirmed that the popular item either contains or has risk of contamination from egg and milk, meaning its not an option for plant-based diners.
During TV show, Inside KFC At Christmas, we got more insight into how gravy at KFC was made – and it further reiterates just how non-vegan it is.
Anne Walker, who works at KFC in Chorley, Lancashire, revealed that in her store, the gravy was made with “crackling,” which was basically the juices and scraps at the bottom of the chicken fryer.
KFC hasn’t confirmed if this is the case across all stores, but it’s safe to say that either way this is a vegan no-go.
What KFC sauces are vegan?
KFC has a load of different sauces you can order with your food, but which are vegan?
The fast food eatery has indicated that it offers four sauces that are appropriate to dunk in if you’re fully plant-based.
- Real Tomato Sauce Dip Pot
- Kentucky Smoky BBQ Sauce Dip Pot
- Heinz Vinegar Sachet
- Heinz Tomato Ketchup Sachet
Whilst the KFC vegan burger features a vegan mayo, the chain doesn’t actually offer vegan mayo as a dip (however, you might be able to ask for some!)
Is KFC Sauce vegan?
KFC sauce isn’t available in the UK, but if you’re ordering it overseas, be warned that it contains egg and so isn’t vegan.
The following KFC sauces are also not vegan friendly:
- Honey BBQ
- Honey Mustard
- Heinz Mayonnaise
- Heinz Brown Sauce
- Heinz HP BBQ Sauce
- Spicy Supercharger
- Sticky Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Garlic Buttermilk Dip
Does KFC have vegan chicken?
KFC UK is yet to release a vegan fried chicken alternative other than its Original Recipe Vegan Burger, but rumblings over seas mean we might not have to wait that long.
In 2022, KFC released plant-based chicken nuggets – known as Beyond Fried Chicken – across select locations in the USA, and so far they’ve proved a hit, expanding into several more locations due to demand.
There is no word on whether the ‘nugs are coming to the UK yet, but you can be sure there’s demand.
“Why not trial it here in the UK @kfc?,” wrote one person on Twitter, eagerly.
Whilst another wrote, at the time the ‘nugs dropped: “I heard that KFC are looking at launching vegan chicken nuggets bc of the success of their burger and if they don’t launch in the UK I will sue.”
I heard that kfc are looking at launching vegan chicken nuggets bc of the success of their burger and if they don’t launch in the UK i will sue
— 𝒶𝒾𝓇𝓎 𝒻𝒶𝒾𝓇𝓎 🧚♂️ (@twilightpisces) August 28, 2019
No doubt, bosses will be looking at what’s worked abroad, so here’s hoping.
Is KFC Beyond chicken vegan?
Whilst the ingredients in KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken are 100 percent plant-based, there has been some controversy around the fact that it is fried in the same fryers the chicken, so by definition isn’t vegan friendly.
Of course, as with the fries, it’s a personal choice if this is a deal breaker for you.
As we mentioned, KFC Beyond Fried Chicken is only available in the US ATM anyway, but we’ll keep you in the loop.
Is anything at KFC vegetarian?
In the UK, there are two other vegetarian main options, apart from the KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger.
These aren’t suitable for those who are fully plant-based due to potential contamination from eggs and milk, but if you are veggie they provide you with a few more options on the rather meagre menu.
The KFC UK vegetarian options are:
- Veggie Rice Box
- Veggie Salad