KFC Chizza Review: Enjoy It While It's Hot

If you're a fan of KFC, you might have heard about the Chizza, but you may not have eaten one, at least not on U.S. soil. This fried chicken pizza hybrid was first sold in 2015 and quickly gained a cult following. The only drawback was that at the time, Chizzas were only available at KFCs in the Philippines. As years went by, it became a more widespread commodity, with KFCs in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and India getting in on the action. Outside of Asia, countries like Germany, Spain, and Mexico were offering Chizzas at their local KFCs, but it still hadn't caught on in the U.S. ... until now. 

To celebrate Chizza's long-awaited American debut, KFC set its sights on New York City, home to the first pizzeria in the nation, creating a never-before-seen pop-up Chizzeria at its East 14th Street location in Manhattan's East Village. A few days ahead of Chizza's official launch, we headed to the pop-up event and took a sneak peek at all things Chizza-related. Best of all, we got to try our first Chizza ever.

The promotional menu item hits KFCs nationwide on February 26, 2024. If you're hoping for an inside scoop on what a Chizza looks like — and most importantly what it tastes like — we've got you covered. Check out our full review here, complete with photos from NYC's premier Chizzeria. And don't forget, it's not pizza, it's Chizza.

Thoughtful packaging makes a good first impression

We love seeing the Colonel cozy up to Italian cooking. The miniature pizza box and the cheerful caricature of Colonel Sanders serving up a piping hot Chizza makes us smile. Walking into the Chizzeria itself was a step back in time in the best possible way. The retro influences abounded; red and white checkered tablecloths, wood-paneled walls, and an old-school plastic menu board with interchangeable letters made us feel like we'd walked into a pizza parlor from simpler times. All of these well-considered touches made us feel like the anticipation behind the Chizza was worth it.

One good look at the Chizza box and you know that KFC is committed to spreading the product's slogan. "It's not pizza, it's Chizza" is new to the American KFC vernacular, but something tells us that people will remember the catchy line. The pizza box isn't all for show. The sturdy cardboard enclosure helps keep the Chizza warm until it's time to eat. It also helps contain the appetizing aroma so that when you open it, the food smells freshly cooked and delicious. It definitely smells more like fried chicken than pizza, but either way, we couldn't wait to take a bite.

Chizza tastes like Chicken Parmesan

In the purest sense, a Chizza is a mini pizza with two boneless fried chicken filets standing in for dough. KFC uses 100% white meat filets with the chain's signature Extra Crispy breading. The filets are topped with marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and six slices of warm pepperoni, curling at the edges just as they would on a traditional pizza. 

The marinara sauce is Chizza's standout ingredient. The tomato and herb flavor pairs really well with the Extra Crispy chicken. In a way, the marinara does for the chicken what a dipping sauce would — it provides an extra level of flavor while adding some moisture. Not that the chicken tastes dry, it's more about the fact that eating two fried chicken filets can start to feel one-note. Fried chicken is a food that deserves the accompaniment of a zesty sauce to round out the taste and make it more complete.

As we continued digging into our Chizza, we realized that it's basically KFC's take on chicken parmesan. We're not mad about it — (who doesn't like chicken parm?), however, looking at a Chizza in this way does take away from the pizza-ness of it all. Our mild epiphany did not detract from the impressiveness of eating a Chizza inside the NYC Chizzeria (because it was great). Simply, with each bite its similarity to chicken parm became increasingly obvious.

Hands or utensils?

To hold, or not to hold, that is the question. At first, we used our fork and knife to cut into the Chizza like the chicken that it is. The pepperoni was easy to cut through so the layers of chicken, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni all stayed on the fork and made for a nice bite. We know that in some parts of the world people eat pizza with utensils, but the American norm is to pick up a slice with your hands. Was the Chizza supposed to be eaten the same way? 

"Yes, you can!" advised the Chizzeria workers. We looked around and sure enough, plenty of people were gingerly holding their Chizzas by the edges where the sauce didn't touch. True, fried chicken is also widely regarded as a finger food, but between the breading and the pepperoni, we assumed the Chizza would be pretty greasy and cutting it would be better. Since we weren't quite through the second chicken filet, it only made sense to grab the end and give it a try.  

Lo and behold, the Chizza was easy to eat as a hand-held. The toppings mostly stayed put and our hands weren't messy afterward. For the Chizza, using utensils (or not) is a matter of preference, although we did rely on the box to catch any toppings that might slip off. That makes eating it on the run a little tricky; this meal is probably best enjoyed sitting down.

Chizza pros

The marinara sauce was the ingredient that came through most on our first bite of the Chizza and it wound up being our favorite part. It doesn't try to do more than it should, yet its presence is vital. The sauce brings out the best in the fried chicken filets, which we also really liked. The breading was well-seasoned, smelled great, and provided a nice crunch to the dish. The filet wasn't overly thick or greasy, making it easy to handle. A lot of fast food fried chicken tends to taste very salty, but the Chizza did not.

This is by no means a healthy food — it's a tried and true fast food novelty — but it doesn't eat as heavy as you might think. It's not super greasy and the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni don't load the filets down. The Chizza is filling (if we had eaten any KFC sides and a whole Chizza it may have been too much), but it didn't sit in our stomachs like a hockey puck the way some fried chicken-based indulgences tend to do.

Another one of our favorite aspects was the packaging. The pizza box was well-proportioned to the size of the food and a charming way to tie the Chizza into the KFC brand, especially considering it is rather different from the other fried chicken meals on the Colonel's menu.

Chizza cons

Our experience dining in the KFC Chizzeria was quaint and comfortable, but we do have some Chizza critiques. As we worked through the first chicken filet, we noticed that the zest we expected from the pepperoni didn't quite come through — it was all about the chicken and marinara. Before we started eating, one look at the six pepperoni slices dotting the chicken filets had us thinking they would bring a lot of flavor (and grease) to the Chizza, but this didn't happen. We were relieved that the Chizza wasn't an oily mess, however, the lack of bite we'd expected from the pepperoni was a letdown. Ultimately, its inclusion seemed almost decorative.

We weren't anticipating the mozzarella on the Chizza to have a Ninja Turtles level of stretch, but it could have been way meltier. Instead, the shredded cheese bits kind of stuck together without fully melding, which took away from the overall appearance and taste. Even so, the mozzarella had a creamy mildness to it that we found pleasant.

Another potential drawback is the Chizza's propensity toward sogginess. Ours was hot and freshly made, yet by the last couple of forkfuls the sauced breading was losing its Extra Crispy-ness. This is bound to happen when tomato-based sauce, cheese, and pepperoni are the toppings at hand, so it's best not to let the Chizza sit. For this reason, we have doubts about how well a Chizza would travel in a to-go order.

Final impressions

The Chizza is brand new to the U.S. so it will be interesting to see how it fares with the public upon its release. KFC is promoting Chizza as a limited-time-only menu addition, but if the demand is substantial, there's a good chance this won't be the only time it's available stateside.

The East Village Chizzeria was a unique, idyllic little slice of Americana. It was successful in what it set out to do: generate some buzz around the Chizza's debut and get us excited about it too. We know that KFCs nationwide won't be adopting this sweet retro look when the Chizza drops on February 26, but if they did, we think customers would be into it.

All in all, did the Chizza blow our minds? Not exactly, but KFC riffing on Italian ingredients is a diversion that we think could work in the restaurant's favor. Diehard KFC fans might not give up their go-to order in favor of a Chizza, but for those who want to try something new, the Chizza is a good choice. The fried chicken and marinara sauce are a tasty combination, and the mozzarella cheese and pepperoni don't overpower or over-salt the ensemble. This is a worthwhile fast food treat, although to enjoy Chizza to its fullest, we recommend eating it in-house.