Mistakes Everyone Makes When Ordering Food From KFC

There aren't many restaurants that represent America's fast-food culture quite like Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ever since its inception in 1952, KFC has continued its steady domination of the fried chicken market not only in the U.S. but around the world. In fact, it overtook McDonald's as the most popular and highly-searched fast-food brand in the world, according to a 2022 analysis by Business Financing. With almost 27,000 locations in nearly 150 countries, it's safe to say that people everywhere love Colonel Sanders' secret blend of herbs and spices.

But even though Kentucky Fried Chicken is a staple for people all over the world, you might be surprised that most people still make suboptimal decisions when ordering that could be affecting the quality of their food and the amount they pay for a meal. We've put together a list of some of the most common mistakes that people make when they order from KFC, many of which come straight from seasoned employees. Keep reading to make sure you're getting the best possible experience at KFC.

Not adding mashed potatoes and bacon to everything

It's no secret that KFC has some of the best mashed potatoes and gravy around, but not everyone knows that it can be utilized in more ways than just as a side. If you ask nicely, you can actually get your mashed potatoes added to just about any item on the menu. (Of course, you could do it yourself too ... but who wants to do the extra work?) This means you can get mashed potatoes in your chicken sandwich, on top of your chicken pot pie — whatever your heart desires.

The customization doesn't stop there though. There isn't a fast-food item on the planet that can't be enhanced with bacon. Although you won't actually find a ton of bacon in other menu items at KFC, it doesn't mean they don't have it in the kitchen. If you're a bacon lover, it's pretty much a no-brainer to add it to your sandwiches, wraps, bowls, and more.

Ordering ice with your drinks

If you like sipping on a cold drink, it's natural to always order it with ice. As it turns out, you're best off avoiding the frozen cubes altogether. According to a popular TikToker and ex-KFC employee who has gone viral for his series on "KFC Ordering Secrets," his first and boldest piece of advice is to never get your drink with ice. He claims that the ice sits in a small cooler for an outrageously long amount of time, especially on slow days. He explains that it is "out in the open for hours," insinuating that it might not be the freshest or cleanest item to add to your drink.

The gross truth is that it is pretty easy for your ice to get contaminated with foreign bodies. According to an investigation by BBC "Watchdog" in 2017, fecal matter was found in the ice at several different popular chains — including Starbucks. The previous year, BBC's "Rip Off Britain" found similar results at a KFC location. Ice machines can also become a breeding ground for mold, another health hazard. 

There are several other ways that ice machines can become dirty. Dust builds up over time, water might not drain well, and it can be tough to actually clean the parts properly. Bottom line? Just order your drinks without ice, because no one wants dirty ice to water down their drinks. Besides, you'll get more of the drink this way.

Ordering sides or entrees on their own

Picture this: You're driving home after a long day's commute and just want a little snack — maybe a single crispy chicken leg or a side of mashed potatoes. Without thinking about it too much, you pull up to your local KFC and order from the à la carte menu. You may think that ordering a single serving is saving you money, but it's the exact opposite.

Ordering any of the side menu items on their own is a rookie mistake. KFC offers great deals on its meals, but if you just get a side, the price shoots up astronomically. For example, only ordering mashed potatoes and gravy or mac and cheese can cost over $3 depending on the location but drops to less than $2 with a meal. Unless you enjoy tossing your money in the trash, if you're craving some comforting mac or mash, just get it with a meal.

If you want more side dishes with your order, most people don't know that when you order a meal that comes with a drink, you can simply swap it out for another side — a great option if you aren't really into soft drinks.

Not knowing your location-based specialties

As mentioned earlier, KFC isn't just one of the most popular fast-food brands in the world — it is the number one fast-food brand. You can find Colonel Sanders' smiling face on boxes in over a hundred different countries. In fact, KFC was the very first Western chain to break into the Chinese market in 1987.

Although it is the signature blend of herbs and spices that made the chain so popular, KFC has several different specialties depending on the restaurant's location. In some parts of the U.S., you can find fried livers and gizzards (although that might not be the most appetizing option for the average American palate). Still, fans consider them to be some of the tastiest treats on the menu.

Once you venture outside of the country, you'll start finding some truly unique items that might make you want to buy a plane ticket. In China, shrimp burgers are a popular option, whereas in Japan, you can snag a deep-fried corn soup. Cheese lovers should head to the Philippines for a cheese-topped burger. Other interesting KFC bites found around the world include egg tarts, shrimp donuts, and porridge. One of the most famous (or infamous) products to come out of KFC Asia is the Chizza. The dish involves two fried chicken fillets topped with cheese, pepperoni, and pineapple, all drowned in pizza sauce. Don't tell your doctor about this one.

Not knowing how to hack your orders

Sure, most of us settle for fast food when we're feeling lazy and want a quick, convenient meal. But if you're open to playing with your food (just like your mother told you not to), you can create some of the most delicious KFC hacks ever.

A lot of these tricks are products of mere curiosity by KFC enthusiasts like yourself. One popular hack involves drumsticks, french fries, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Strip the skin off of the drumstick, wrap it around a handful of french fries, then dip the bundle into the creamy mashed potatoes and gravy.

Another hack is to build the infamous Double Down on your own. If you're out of the loop, the Double Down is a popular (yet controversial) menu item that replaces sandwich buns with two deep-fried chicken patties to contain bacon, cheese, and sauce. The problem for fans is that it is a seasonal menu item that comes and goes. However, you can simply order the ingredients and build it yourself if it's not available.

Lastly, if you're a fan of "Friends," you've probably heard of (and tried to make) the Moist Maker. This famous sitcom dish involves adding a gravy-soaked piece of bread in the middle of a sandwich made from Thanksgiving leftovers. KFC got in on the trend by releasing a video describing how to make the Moist Maker with the fillet burger.

Not taking advantage of combination KFC/Taco Bell Restaurants

If you are one of the incredibly lucky people who live near combination KFC/Taco Bell restaurant, this might be the most important point on the list. Yes, these restaurants might look like nothing special from the outside — it might even be a bit weird to see them under one roof. But inside, these buildings offer an entirely new world of possibilities for your KFC orders.

Why? Because you have two entirely delicious menus at your disposal to upgrade your food. For example, you can order a side of sour cream from Taco Bell and throw it on top of some potato wedges or mashed potatoes from KFC. Try adding shredded cheese from Taco Bell on top of fried chicken, biscuits, chicken pot pie, the famous bowl, or anything else on KFC's menu. Or else, sprinkle KFC coleslaw into a shredded chicken burrito. The combinations are endless. Ultimately, have fun experimenting with mixing ingredients until you find a winning concoction. 

Not utilizing the secret menu

Nothing quite gets fast-food fans going like a secret menu. It's often a marketing tactic to create some curiosity and buzz for customers by having items that aren't openly on the menu for the public to peruse. Let's be honest — ordering something from the secret menu can feel like an exclusive experience. 

Probably the most popular item on KFC's secret menu is poutine. You may know this Canadian classic of french fries doused in gravy and cheese. The crispiness of the fries harmonizes perfectly with the richness of the cheese curds and gravy to make an incredibly satisfying snack.

Another popular option is a build-your-own-bowl. No surprises here — you get to create your dish with any ingredients KFC offers. You can add layers of mashed potatoes, french fries, and fried chicken, and top them off with gravy, cheese, corn, and more. While the Double Down is a hearty meal in itself, you have the option of making your heart work overtime with the Triple Down. That's right, you can add a third fried chicken patty along with more bacon, cheese, and sauce.

Not taking advantage of the KFC app

In today's digital world, it's necessary for just about every big organization to offer a mobile app for its customers. However, most people that eat at KFC don't bother to look up the app, especially when they can just hop in the car and go through the drive-thru. But the truth is that the app offers huge benefits for its users, especially if you eat there often.

The first and most obvious benefit of the KFC app is its convenience. You can easily create a profile to order your favorite items with a single click. You can choose to pick your order up ASAP or schedule it for a later time to ensure maximum freshness. After you order, you can track the cooking process and get updates so you know when to pick it up. The best part? You can skip the line and go straight to the pick-up zone past other hungry, jealous customers.

The other (arguably more important) benefit of using the app is it lets you stay up-to-date with the best specials, coupons, and even free food. Once you sign up, you'll get exclusive coupons, like a free chicken sandwich with an order of $12 or more, a free order of fries with meals, or 50% off a KFC famous bowl. These coupons are likely to change over time, so download the app and see what deals are available to you.

Ordering KFC at peak delivery times

This mistake isn't exclusive to KFC, but it might affect KFC's food more than other places. Just like most other fast-food restaurants, you can get your crispy, fried chicken goodness delivered straight to your door through apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Deliveroo. However, you should avoid using these services during the busiest periods. 

Not only will it take your food much longer to get to you, but it probably won't be as fresh. It could end up sitting on the counter of your local KFC for 10 minutes or even longer. Although this goes for just about any restaurant that you order from, this affects fried chicken even more than other foods because the prized crispiness will quickly disappear if the food is left in the box too long — and no one wants soggy, lukewarm fried chicken.

If you need your fried chicken fix during peak hours, it's best to get off the couch, get in your car, and head to your nearest KFC to pick up your food instead. It might take a little extra energy, but that extra juicy crunch you get from your first bite will definitely make it worth it.

Tossing out your receipt

If you're someone who never keeps receipts after a purchase, it's time to start new habits. When it comes to KFC, throwing your receipts in the trash could mean throwing away free money.

Many KFC receipts come with a special survey at the bottom. Once you fill out the survey, you'll get savings coupons and even free food with your next order. Some people have reported getting 15% off their order, coupons for free sides, or even buy-one-get-one-free deals for chicken sandwiches. But the deals don't last forever. Make sure you fill out the survey within 48 hours to take advantage.

The offers will probably vary depending on the location and period of time, but it's definitely worth checking and saving those receipts if you like free money and food. The best part is there isn't really a limit. You can fill out the survey, get a coupon, buy a meal, get another receipt, fill out the survey, and so on. A neverending cycle of savings.

Not knowing how to get the most bang for your buck

Listen, we all know KFC is finger-lickin' good — but not everything on the menu is made fo you to get the best deal (in fact, it can be quite the opposite). We've mentioned that ordering sides on their own might be the worst deal on the menu, and there are several other ways you can save your dough when ordering from KFC.

First off, no matter how old you are, you can always order from the kids' menu. You can usually find better deals, especially if you don't need a large portion. However, if you do have a big appetite, KFC's chicken buckets come in three sizes — 8-piece, 12-piece, and 16-piece. Getting the 16-piece bucket is always the best deal. 

It's also worth noting the delivery fees associated with whichever third-party service you use to order KFC. Each platform has different rates, so it's a good idea to keep your eye on all of them because they commonly offer temporary coupons and deals. KFC even offered free deliveries through its app for a short time in 2020.

Not replacing your combo drink with an extra side

Plenty of KFC hacks might seem more niche, but this might be the easiest and most useful for even the most casual KFC-goers. If you ever find yourself getting a combo meal (which gives you the best bang for your buck), there's another neat little trick you need to remember. 

According to an ex-KFC worker who went viral on TikTok for his behind-the-scenes videos, you can always swap your drink for another side when you purchase a combo. As obvious as this strategy may seem, "literally no one knew this" among the customers who came to his location of the Colonel's restaurant. Absolute game changer, right? This means you don't have to make that gut-wrenching decision between creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, heartwarming mac and cheese, fresh coleslaw, or crispy fries. You can even snag more biscuits if that's what your heart desires. Just drop that empty-calorie soda and add way more sustenance to your meal — with no extra cost.

Apparently, KFC is not the only place that does this either. The TikToker goes on to say that he pretty much tries to do this at every fast-food restaurant he goes to because "lots of places do it and they don't tell you about it."