It’s not always easy to craft a tasty home-cooked keto meal.
For one, the stress of day-to-day life may conflict with your meal-planning habits. It is also possible that you are tired of your usual “chicken breast and broccoli” for lunch, and you want to eat something new. Another reason could be that you will be traveling and fast food is your only option.
Luckily, fast food chains, like KFC, now offer low carb options.
Sure, KFC is known for the Colonel’s crispy fried chicken. But its batter has 8 – 11 grams of net carbs.
That said, we will be sharing keto-friendly options that you can order at KFC.
What to Order at KFC
The list of low-carb friendly options at KFC is not that long. Nonetheless, you have at least one good option—a bucket of grilled chicken.
KFC suggests a few different alternatives for their buckets of chicken. You can get an eight-piece, 12 pieces or 16 piece bucket. We don’t think you’ll need more than an eight-piece bucket unless you’re feeding the whole office.
Always get the original recipe and ask for grilled chicken instead of crispy. And as always, hold the sauce.
According to the KFC website, one grilled drumstick contains 90 calories, 0 grams of carbs, and 4 grams of fat. A few pieces should be enough to tide you over as a snack until you can get to a real ketogenic meal.
These bucket meals come with biscuits, desserts, drinks, and side dishes, so save yourself the temptation and ask them to hold these. You can also take them back to the office with you and distribute them to your co-workers before you become tempted to eat them yourself.
The only food you can get to go with your bucket of chicken is a side salad without dressing or croutons.
Original Recipe Chicken: Wing or Drumstick
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 some nutritionists, the amount of breading used on the wing or the drumstick is relatively low to result in only 3 grams of net carbs each.
The most important factor for those following a keto diet is staying at a carb count that allows your body to remain in ketosis. In general, this will fall around 20 grams of net carbs per day – give or take.
With that, it’s OK to include the original recipe chicken below on our low carb KFC menu item list since the net carbs are low.
Some people will say that’s not the case, and some of you may strictly avoid all flour or starch ingredients, but 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.
Please 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.
- 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
Grilled Chicken: All Varieties
Grilled chicken is by far the best food choice 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 cal, 3g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 9g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Drumstick (80 cal, 4g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 11g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Breast (210 cal, 7g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 38g protein) 0g Net Carbs
- Thigh (150 cal, 9g fat, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 17g protein) 0g Net Carbs
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.
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 later.
- 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
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
Extra Crispy Chicken: Wing or Drumstick
It is not recommended to have the extra crispy chicken. That’s because it has more net carbs than the grilled chicken or original recipe chicken. But if you’re craving a piece, know that one piece of either the wing or drumstick can fit into your keto diet:
Stay away from the extra crispy chicken breast at 18 g net carbs and the thigh at 9 g net carbs.
- 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
Although not as flavorful as coleslaw or mashed potatoes, green beans are an excellent choice for a side dish. 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
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 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
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.
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 not the same in KCF.
The ranch dressing they use is a fat-free version, and as such, has 8 grams of net carbs per serving. Hence, you can opt for the following on your salad:
- 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
Water or unsweetened tea are the 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 Best Practices
Here are some best practices that you can follow to ensure that you are ordering keto-friendly food in a fast-food restaurant:
Stick to meat, cheese, and vegetables.
Most fast food and restaurant places put too much sugar and carbs in their ingredients. It’s worth sticking with the simplest ingredients you can find.
Avoid the bun.
Whether you’re requesting a burger from a drive-thru or a table menu, you can opt-out of the bun. You can also add in extra sides like avocado, bacon, and sauces if you request it.
Choose your sides wisely.
Some sides 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.
Sticking with the grilled options will make it more likely to fall within your daily net carb counts. Just be careful when adding a side or dipping sauce, as it can bump up your carbohydrate count.
If you get a salad, read the ingredients.
Many salads have leafy greens and berries that are very high in carbs. It’s better to stick with more straightforward salads that include meat and ask for dressing on the side.
Many Greek places suggest low-carb gyro salads (as long as their meat does not contain filler). Avoid croutons where possible and pick out excess items that are carby from the salads.
If it’s breaded, try to avoid it.
Usually, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and other fried items will have a wheat flour-based breading.
If you have no other choice, try to peel off as much of the breading as you possibly can. Match the now naked meat with a fatty sauce.
If you can, try to order your food with no breading. Many chicken wing restaurants typically serve naked (traditional) chicken wings as a choice, as an example.
Be careful of condiments.
While sauces and dressings are an excellent way to get both fat and flavor into your food – they usually are filled with sugar.
Be very careful with any sweet-tasting sauces, and choose fattier salad dressings as much as possible. Some examples are ranch, caesar, and bleu cheese.
If you can choose your sauce, you can opt for an extra side of butter.
While some people don’t like to ask for different food, you can certainly do so at higher quality restaurants. The menu will generally do an excellent job of breaking down what each dish has. You can ask the waiter that the meal is prepared in a certain way, too.
If you’re not sure, skip it.
In case you are stalling on your weight loss goals, the most common reason is that you are not tracking.
There are so many hidden carbs and hidden sugars in the foods we eat that we have to be careful with what we order. A few teaspoons of a sweet sauce can be 15-20g carbohydrates – almost all of your daily allowance.
Many food establishments put their nutritional information online. Some even offer a “build your own” style app where you can see the ingredients of the food you’re eating.
This is a perfect way to see how many carbs are in the meats and extra side dishes.
You can indeed order a keto meal at KFC. The fast-food chain’s menu has evolved, and they now have an online nutrition guide.
This shows that they want their customers to be better informed of what they are consuming.
While there is quite a bit of variety in chicken types, you are still quite limited on your side dish choices, though. Either way, it’s helpful to know that there are keto-friendly KFC options you can get while following a low carb diet!