Is Kentucky Fried Chicken completely off-limits on Keto? – luckily, that’s not the case as some fast food can be keto-friendly!
Did you know that it’s normal to think that once you start your low-carb, keto diet journey, all those fast-food franchises like KFC are a no-go for keto dieters.
You can in fact order keto KFC meals the next time you swing by the popular fast food joint.
With a little research into the nutrition facts, we’ve rounded up some great options that are satisfying but also fit your dietary requirements and low carb goals at the same time. Now that’s truly 'finger-lickin' good! 😉
What Foods to Avoid At KFC
Although there are a few keto KFC menu options available, there are also several food items that you’ll definitely want to stay clear of when following a keto diet. If you are new to keto and the low carb weight loss plan, check out our post: A Beginner’s Guide To The Keto Diet.
Here’s what NOT to order at KFC:
- Popcorn nuggets
- Mac and cheese
- Baked beans
- Potato sides (mashed, wedges, potato salad)
- Macaroni salad
- Coleslaw (there are 10 grams of sugar in here, which makes it off-limits at KFC)
Though these foods are staples of KFC’s empire, according to the corporate nutrition information, they all have 10 or more grams of net carbs each – making them a no-go for your low carb lifestyle.
Keto-Friendly Menu Items at KFC
The food options below were sourced directly from the nutritional information on KFC’s website. Each of these has a low enough carb content appropriate for maintaining your keto lifestyle. Of course, keep in mind that KFC may change recipes and ingredients at any time, so it’s always wise to check out the nutrition information yourself prior to ordering.
For purposes of this post, I have only listed single food items that contain 5g net carbs or lower.
1. Grilled Chicken – All Varieties
Grilled chicken is by far the best food option as far as carb count at KFC. It has zero carbs, tastes delicious, and can be ordered in the form of thighs, breasts, drumsticks and wings.
Here is the nutritional information for each of these grilled chicken pieces:
- Whole Wing (70 cals, 3g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 9g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Drumstick (80 cals, 4g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 11g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Breast (210 cals, 7g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 38g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Thigh (150 cals, 9g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 17g protein) 0g Net Carbs
2. Original Recipe Chicken – Wing or Drumstick
Wait a second – ordering breaded chicken on a keto diet?! Is this allowed?!
Some of you might pop over to the ingredients list and think I’ve gone off the rails. After all, the original recipe chicken breading includes both wheat flour and potato starch.
But according to my wife (a nutritionist), the amount of breading used on the wing or the drumstick is quite low to result in only 3 grams of net carbs each. Her take is that the most important factor for those following a keto diet is staying at a carb count that allows your body to stay in ketosis. In general, this will fall around 20 grams of net carbs per day – give or take.
As such, she doesn’t believe that there is any food 100% not allowed on the keto diet; it’s really more of a “dose makes the poison” type of situation. With that, she gives the OK to include the original recipe chicken below on our low carb KFC menu item list since the net carbs are low.
Of course, I know some people will say that’s not the case, and some of you may strictly avoid all flour or starch ingredients. If that’s the case, that’s completely fine. Just skip over this, along with the extra crispy and Nashville hot spicy wings, and stick with only the grilled chicken.
- Whole Wing (130 calories, 8g fat, 3g carbs, 0g fiber, 10g protein) 3g Net Carbs
- Drumstick (130 calories, 8g fat, 4g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein) 3g Net Carbs
Helpful tip: stay away from the breast or thigh pieces, as they have more breading and thus clock in at 9 and 7 grams of net carbs, respectively.
3. Extra Crispy Chicken – Wing or Drumstick
I wouldn’t recommend the extra crispy chicken regularly as it does have more net carbs than the grilled chicken or original recipe chicken. However, if you’re craving a piece, just know that one piece of either the wing OR drumstick can fit into your keto diet:
- Whole Wing (170 calories, 13g fat, 5g carbs, 0g fiber, 10g protein) 5g Net Carbs
- Drumstick (170 calories, 12g fat, 5g carbs, 0g fiber, 10g protein) 5g Net Carbs
Helpful tip: stay away from the extra crispy chicken breast at 18 g net carbs and the thigh at 9 g net carbs.
4. Nashville Hot Spicy Crispy Chicken – Wing or Drumstick
Same as above – not ideal with the extra breading but one piece should be able to fit into your diet fine. As always, monitor how this affects your own body.
- Whole Wing (180 calories, 15g fat, 5g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8g protein) 4g Net Carbs
- Drumstick (190 calories, 14g fat, 6g carbs, 1g fiber, 9g protein) 5g Net Carbs
Helpful tip: stay away from the Nashville Hot spicy chicken breast at 12 g net carbs and the thigh at 10 g net carbs. Also keep in mind the Nashville Hot “extra crispy” items are higher in net carbs than the “spicy crispy” items – so stick with the latter.
5. KFC Fried Wings
While it may be tempting to order wings, they are usually high in carbs for a single wing and let’s be honest, who is going to be satisfied eating only one wing?! With that in mind and if you are still set on wings, stay away from the Honey BBQ which packs a hefty 8 grams of net carbs per wing. Instead, try these options:
- Unsauced Wing (80 calories, 6g fat, 3g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g protein) 3g Net Carbs
- Buffalo Wing (100 calories, 7g fat, 3g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g protein) 3g Net Carbs
- Nashville Hot Wing (130 calories, 11g fat, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g protein) 4g Net Carbs
Instead of ordering wings at KFC, be sure to make our homemade keto chicken wings – the most popular recipe on our site!
6. Green Beans
Green beans, although not as appetizing as coleslaw or mashed potatoes, are an excellent choice for a side dish. In fact, it’s the only homestyle side dish (excluding salads) that is within the 5g net carb limit. All other 12 side dish options range from 10 – 31g net carbs per serving.
- Green Beans – Individual Side Dish (25 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g protein) 2g Net Carbs
7. Salads and Dressings
Salad is always a good standby to pair with your chicken, provided you can find a decent dressing – and at KFC, there are a few options that fit your diet.
For salads, you have your choice of:
- Caesar Side Salad – no croutons/dressing (40 calories, 2g fat, 2g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g protein) 1g Net Carb
- House Side Salad – no croutons/dressing (15 calories, 0g fat, 3g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein) 1g Net Carb
For dressings, you can choose from:
- Heinz Buttermilk Dressing (160 calories, 17g fat, 1g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein) 1g Net Carb
- Marzetti Light Italian Dressing (15 calories, 0.5g fat, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein) 2g Net Carbs
- Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing (260 calories, 26g fat, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 2g protein) 4g Net Carbs
Helpful tips: Avoid the croutons on any salad option; they add 8 grams of net carbs alone. And while ranch is generally a safe option in most cases, it’s actually not here – the ranch dressing they use is a fat free version, and as such has 8 grams of net carbs per serving!
8. Dipping Sauce and Condiments
One of the best condiments you can grab is the butter spread, which you can add to your green bean side dish in order to boost the fat content!
- Colonel’s Buttery Spread (35 calories, 4g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein) 0g Net Carbs
If you’re looking for dipping sauces for your chicken, you can also choose from one of these two options:
- Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce (100 calories, 10g fat, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein) 2g Net Carbs
- Creamy Buffalo Dipping Sauce (70 calories, 7g fat, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein) 2g Net Carbs
Water or unsweetened tea are your best choices for beverages. If you feel comfortable with artificial sweeteners, you can also choose a diet soda or a lite lemonade. Unfortunately, most other beverages will kick you out of ketosis.
Keto KFC Meal Ideas
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what you can eat at KFC while staying on track with your keto diet, here are some helpful ideas of meals that can be ordered while keeping carbs in check. I’m including a screenshot from the nutrition calculator on KFC’s website for each of these meal ideas:
Low Carb KFC – Keto Meal Idea #1:
- 1 original recipe drumstick
- 1 grilled chicken breast
- 1 individual side of green beans
- 2 butter packets to spread on green beans
Nutrition analysis: 440 calories, 23 g fat, 9 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 51 g protein, 5 g net carbs
Low Carb KFC – Keto Meal Idea #2:
- 2 grilled chicken thighs
- Caesar side salad with creamy Parmesan Caesar dressing
Nutrition analysis: 600 calories, 46 g fat, 6 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 39 g protein, 5 g net carbs
Low Carb KFC – Keto Meal Idea #3:
*This would obviously be a bit more indulgent than the other two meals; be sure this can fit into your overall day’s carb count
- 2 original recipe wings
- 1 creamy buffalo dipping sauce
- 1 side salad with buttermilk dressing
Nutrition analysis: 500 calories, 40 g fat, 12 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 21 g protein, 10 g net carbs
Final Tips For Staying Keto At KFC
- Be informed before ordering– Not sure of the carb count for a certain meal or food item at KFC? Not a problem! Be sure to always have a read of their very useful nutrition guide or calculator, or make a note of some of the suggestions that I’ve made in this post.
- Choose your sides wisely. Some sides as mentioned can immediately kick you out of ketosis and are no longer your friend when going keto. Despite this, there are a few options available that fit your needs.
- Have a glass of water before ordering out. Sometimes thirst can mask itself as hunger. You might be amazed at how your hunger can tame itself a notch when you’re properly hydrated!
- Veer towards the grilled chicken options as much as possible, but know that it IS possible to include some of the breaded chicken within your net carb counts. Sticking with the grilled options though will make it more likely to fall within daily net carb counts — especially since it is likely that you will be adding a side or dipping sauce with your chicken, further adding to the carbohydrate count.
Eating Keto At KFC? The Final Verdict
It’s definitely possible to order a keto meal at KFC. The menu has evolved and the fact that KFC now has an online nutrition guide is proof that the franchise is actively evolving to meet the needs of its customers who want to be better informed of what they are consuming. While there is quite a bit of variety in the types of chicken, you are still quite limited on your side dish choices though. Either way, it’s helpful to know that there are in fact safe keto KFC options you can get while following a low carb diet!
PS – Looking for more fast food options? Be sure to check out the low-carb keto options for keto Taco Bell meals!
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