Trying to eat less meat? KFC's latest offering might help you achieve that goal — in a crispy, crunchy, finger lickin' way.
The iconic fried chicken chain it putting its secret spices to work by testing out a new recipe using a plant-based protein product instead of poultry wings, breasts or thighs.
Of course, there is a major catch: the new dish will only be tested in Atlanta this Tuesday, for one day and one day only. But it probably won't be last time consumers see KFC try out an un-chicken chicken.
"They [KFC executives] wanted to do the smaller test to gauge this area's feedback to see if it sells out, if it doesn't sell out," a company spokesperson told TODAY Food.
Depending on how the test period goes Tuesday, KFC will determine whether to move forward with more test phases in other parts of the country. Or they may simply extend the test period in Atlanta.
So what's really in the new fried dish?
While many animal protein alternatives have mimicked the taste and texture of chicken, KFC is using Beyond Meat's chicken substitute designed specifically for the brand. The base is a plant-based wheat protein that free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics and hormones. It's then coated in KFC breadcrumbs, which a spokesperson confirmed is similar to (but not exactly) its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.
Beyond Fried Chicken will be available as nuggets and boneless wings tossed in Nashville Hot, Buffalo or Honey BBQ sauce. Customers will be able to try the nuggets in six or 12-piece combos with a side and a medium drink for $6.50 or $8.50, respectively. Individual orders sans sides start at just $2.
"KFC Beyond Fried Chicken is so delicious, our customers will find it difficult to tell that it's plant-based," said Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer for KFC U.S. "I think we've all heard 'it tastes like chicken' — well, our customers are going to be amazed and say, 'it tastes like Kentucky Fried Chicken!'"
Hochman first held meetings with alternative meat producing companies in May, but was initially opposed to swapping out any poultry products.
"If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have said no, to be completely honest with you," Hochman told Business Insider. "Because we're about fried chicken."
Plenty of people on social media are pretty skeptical about the idea of a vegetarian KFC meal, especially given the fact that this new fried dish isn't exactly a plate of healthy fruits and veggies.
Still, the company spokesperson told TODAY the alternative has 1/3 less calories, 50% less sodium and is lower in total fat and cholesterol than KFC's traditional popcorn chicken nuggets, plus equal amounts (5 grams) of protein.
Plenty more are totally on board, which isn't surprising, given the recent meteoric rise of plant-based proteins.
Plant-based "meats" from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have become increasingly popular in grocery stores, restaurants and quick-service chains. Burger King adapted the Impossible Burger as a new Whopper patty earlier this month and chicken tycoon Tyson recently launched vegetarian "chicken" nuggets made with pea protein isolate, golden flaxseed, bamboo and egg whites.
Anyone hankering for some finger lickin' good "chicken," can stop by the Cobb Parkway KFC in Atlanta on Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. And if you don't feel like splurging on vegetarian fried chicken, customers who order any product in store will also receive a free sample of KFC's Beyond Fried Chicken.