KFC Smash'd Potato Bowls Review: The Nacho Cheese Sauce Is Disappointing

New to the KFC family in 2024 are two types of Smash'd Potato Bowls. If you enjoyed the Famous Bowl or like the combination of potatoes and nacho cheese sauce, you're probably intrigued by what this bowl has to offer. You're also probably wondering whether it will be another "sadness bowl" as Patton Oswalt calls KFC's Famous Bowls. Of course, it's plenty popular despite its nickname. Only time will tell if the new bowls will become as popular as its predecessor.

KFC's ads promise that these new bowls will "smash your hunger." But will you want to "smash that like button" on the ads after you give them a taste? To decide whether or not you'd like to try one of these bowls, we'll explain what comes in them, how much they cost, and how many calories are in each bowl. You probably also want to know how they taste, what the texture is like, and how they compare to Famous Bowls. So, we went to KFC and ordered one of each of the new bowls and gave them a try so we could give you an idea of what to expect. We've tried to explain it from all angles so that you can decide for yourself if you might like them.

What comes in KFC's Smash'd Potato Bowls

There are two types of Smash'd Potato Bowls available at KFC: The Smash'd Potato Bowl and the Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets. The only difference between the two is that one comes with chicken nuggets and the other comes without them. You can also get a Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets Combo, which contains the bowl plus a medium fountain drink.

A standard Smash'd Potato Bowl starts with a layer of Secret Recipe Fries around the bottom of the dish and along the sides. Then, the middle of the bowl is filled with Mashed Potatoes. Instead of the mashed potatoes being covered with gravy, they're covered in nacho cheese sauce, a sprinkling of crumbled bacon, and a shredded three-cheese blend. The Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets has all that the standard bowl has — fries, mashed potatoes, bacon, and cheese sauce. Plus, it contains five chicken nuggets.

How much you can expect to pay for KFC's Smash'd Potato Bowls

Considering how filling they are, the Smash'd Potato Bowls are a good deal, with a price that's hard to beat at a fast food restaurant for a full meal anymore. Of course, the one with chicken nuggets has a higher price tag than the one without. We were able to pick up a standard Smash'd Potato Bowl for $3.49 before tax. Meanwhile, a Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets costs $6.79. If you order it as a combo with a fountain drink, the price increases to $7.29. However, you'll spend more if you're trying them in Alaska or Hawaii. They will also likely cost more if you're ordering through an app other than KFC's app.

It pays to order wisely when it comes to the bowls. You save $0.20 ordering the Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets than ordering a bowl and nuggets separately. However, the big savings come when you order it as a combo. Getting the combo rather than a bowl and medium drink separately saves you $2.39. KFC will also have a special deal starting February 5 that allows you to order two bowls for the price of one on the KFC app or website. One will ring up as being free.

How long KFC's Smash'd Potato Bowls will be available

KFC released its Smash'd Potato Bowls on January 29, 2024. So, you can go out and get one right now as long as they're still on the menu. Currently, there's no indication of how long KFC plans to keep them on the menu. Nothing in its promotional material and news releases about this new bowl indicates that it is only available for a limited time. 

When KFC contacted us about these bowls, it said that it did a test drive of these bowls in Pittsburgh in 2023. A Mashed writer tried them in 2023, but they looked a lot different than the current version. They were popular enough for a nationwide release, so the chain clearly expects them to be a hit. However, we noticed that there was a standing display in the store to announce their existence rather than having them on the main menu, so the company may be feeling out these new bowls' nationwide reception to decide how long they are available. You can probably feel more confident that they're here to stay once they make it to the main menu inside the restaurant.

How it compares to KFC's Famous Bowls and Mac & Cheese Bowls

The first bowls KFC tried were Famous Bowls, which first hit menus in 2006. Then, Mac & Cheese Bowls briefly joined the KFC Bowls family in 2019 before disappearing into the night. Now, a third type of bowl is here. All the bowls have similarities and differences with the new Smash'd Potato Bowls.

Like the Smash'd Potato Bowl With Chicken, the Famous Bowl contains mashed potatoes, nuggets, and a three-cheese blend. Instead of the gravy and corn kernels on top of the Famous Bowl, the Smash'd Bowl With Chicken has nacho cheese and bacon crumbles on top. There are also no fries in the Famous Bowl like in the Smash'd Potato Bowls.

The Mac & Cheese bowls were just nuggets thrown into a bowl of mac and cheese with a shredded three-cheese blend on top. So, the Smash'd Potato Bowls have a lot more going for them content-wise. However, we can see how the cheesy sauce in the Mac & Cheese Bowls might have helped to inspire the new Smash'd Potato Bowls.

Nutrition information

When you order a Smash'd Potato Bowl at KFC without the nuggets, you'll be ordering a meal with 590 calories. Upgrade to a Smashed Potato Bowl With Nuggets, and you'll be enjoying a menu item with 760 calories. The Smash'd Potato Bowl With Nuggets Combo adds a drink and brings the calorie count up between 820 and 1,110 calories, depending on which drink you order. Choosing a Mountain Dew or Sweet Tea as your beverage at 280 calories each would be more calorific than if you ordered Mountain Dew Sweet Lightning at 160 calories.

KFC currently doesn't list the new Smash'd Potato Bowls on its nutrition menu. Based on what we experienced with our taste buds and the fact that the bowls have added salty fries, salty cheese sauce, and salty bacon, we're betting that the sodium count is far higher than the 2,160 milligrams of sodium you find in a KFC Famous Bowl. Those ingredients are likely to bring the fat content much higher than the Famous Bowl's 23 grams of fat, too. The sodium and fat content in the Famous Bowl is the real reason you should never order one, especially since the American Heart Association suggests that an adult should aim to consume about 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. So, if you have medical conditions that might have you heading to the emergency room after such a high-salt meal, you might think twice about trying one of these bowls.

Our verdict: Lots of flavor, but overly salty

The idea behind the Smash'd Potato Bowls is intriguing. While it has a few pluses, it also has some minuses as well. Overall, it has lots of flavor. We especially liked the flavor of the Secret Recipe Fries and the Nuggets. The Nuggets are perfectly peppery and are some of the best we've tried from anywhere. However, all the ingredients were salty, which we noticed more as we got to the bottom of the bowl. The fries we got weren't fresh, and we hurried to grab some of the ones that looked more crisp before they all went to mush.

The cheese sauce is what makes Smash'd Potato Bowls so different from the Famous Bowls. We especially like that you can order the basic Smash'd bowl without bacon crumbles to make it vegetarian, and get a more filling meal with more protein from the cheese sauce than if you just ordered a side of fries and mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, the nacho sauce tasted more like chemicals than real cheese. The shredded cheese didn't help the flavor since there was so little of it. By the time we got to the end of the bowl, we found ourselves picking around the bowl looking for fries and mashed potatoes that weren't covered in nacho cheese sauce because it overwhelmed the dish. While Smashed Potato Bowls won't be a repeat purchase for us, those who like KFC's style of nacho cheese sauce might enjoy it.