15 Genius KFC Hacks You Wish You'd Known Sooner

Apart from the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, and the Louisville Slugger, Kentucky Fried Chicken and its founder turned mascot, Colonel Sanders, is bound to spring to mind as soon as there's the mere mention of Kentucky. From its humble beginnings as a restaurant and motel in Corbin, Kentucky (via Sanders Cafe & Museum), and its perfected-over-time blend of 11 herbs and spices, to the Colonel's signature white suit and first bucket of chicken served on the premises, KFC has delivered yummy, fried goodness to many a happy patron.

With over 25,000 KFC locations across 145 countries in the world (via KFC), it comes as no surprise to learn of seemingly countless items that have been added and removed from its menus over the decades. In the last few years, however, the now not-so-secret menu has been a source of curiosity and adventure, thanks to all the tips and tricks peppered across the internet about how to access it. For those who haven't ventured off into that little corner of the menu or need a bit of a refresh, read on to see which items you should try before your next KFC craving latches on to you.

1. Strip your drumstick and dip

Back in 2018, KFC asked its Facebook followers to divulge their secret menu hacks. Out of 177 replies, the most original by far was that of Jessica Cole, who shared a hack she described as "mind-blowing!"

Facebook user Jessica Cole's brave and ballsy KFC hack involves ordering any version of KFC chicken in which drumsticks are involved, along with fries, mashed potatoes, and gravy. If this sounds pretty humdrum, just wait until you hear what Jessica recommends you do next (which is where it pays to be confident).

Grab the drumstick at the stick end and proceed to peel off the finger-lickin' skin. (In Indonesia, where crispy fried skins are actually on the menu, this step is dispensable.) Then take that crispy coating and wrap it tightly around a fistful of Secret Recipe fries. Use your free hand to douse the mashed potatoes with gravy and then send your fistful of skin-wrapped fries plunging into that mashed gravy goodness.

On Facebook, KFC for one was visibly impressed with Jessica's moxie, declaring: "Now that's a hack, Jessica."

2. Go for the gizzards

While lots of people have heard of gizzards, not too many have tried them. For the uninitiated, a gizzard is a muscle in a chicken's digestive tract. You've undoubtedly watched (and wondered at) chickens pecking around in the dirt. During all that pecking, they swallow some of the grit and gravel, which travels through their digestive tract and ends up in the gizzard. When it's feeding time, this powerful muscle contracts like a fist, squeezing the gravel, which then grinds up food before it heads to the stomach.

Aside from this ingenious digestive function, gizzards are actually rumored to taste pretty divine. Aficionados describe the flavor as similar to a morsel of rich, dark, chicken meat, which when cooked becomes succulent. Gizzards are also one of the most nutritious parts of a chicken. Teeming with protein, they contain abundant amounts of iron, phosphorus, and zinc (that said, they're also high in cholesterol).

Now that you know the truth about gizzards, you'll want to order some. Thankfully, some regional KFCs actually offer them, particularly in the Southeast U.S, where fried gizzards are a beloved Southern delicacy. In fact, after gizzards (and livers) were discontinued from many locations in the late aughts, a wave of discontent led to the creation of the Return Livers, Gizzards to KFC's Menu Facebook page. Ultimately the campaign proved so successful that KFC brought gizzards back to select locations.

3. Bring the Double Down back yourself

When the Double Down was first introduced in 2010, it quickly became one of KFC's most popular and controversial menu items to date. Bun-less burgers were a relatively scarce concept when it was launched, intriguing patrons. Yet, it was controversial because, much like the Famous Bowl, its sodium content was exceptionally high, apart from just being generally unhealthy. With no buns and only two fried chicken filets to hold the bacon, cheese, and sauce between them, the popular franchise nevertheless managed to sell more than 10 million Double Downs within its first month on the menu (via CNN).

As with many secret menu items today, the Double Down was only meant to be offered for a limited time period. However, its popularity lent it to the masses for a while longer. It seems the only thing impeding Double Down sales now is the fact that it's not actually on the menu anymore. The last time the Double Down was featured on KFC menus in the United States was in 2014. More recently, it returned to U.K. menus during 2020, Delish reported, and Italy and Canada in 2021. Yet, it's quite likely that, if you aren't too worried about the health implications and ask KFC employees nicely, you can still get a Double Down off-menu at your local franchise location.

4. Take it further with a KFC Triple Down

If the Double Down is already sounding like it's right up your alley, the Triple Down takes things to a whole new level of outrageous. As the name suggests, the Triple Down is a replica of the famous Double Down, except bigger. Rather than two Original Recipe chicken filets, this secret menu item gets an extra chicken filet sandwiched in the middle, with extra sauce, bacon, and cheese, according to #Hackthemenu. The Triple Down is so popular that KFC Singapore actually released a Zinger version, Singapore Foodie reports.

Given how similar it is to the Double Down, you can easily order it by name. But on the chance that a KFC employee squints at you because they're not sure what you're talking about, you can simply tell them that it's just a Double Down with an extra filet. And though it sounds a bit counterintuitive to do this if you're already on your way to order this gigantic sandwich, you can also substitute the fried chicken for grilled chicken. You know, in case you're wanting to curb some of all that cholesterol.

5. Jolt your KFC with some Taco Bell heat

You may or may not know that KFC and Taco Bell are fast food siblings (along with Pizza Hut), whose parent company is Yum! Brands. Like any sibs, there's a bit of rivalry between the two, but also a lot of closeness. In many cases, the proximity between the two is physical; numerous KFC and Taco Bell locations literally share space — not to mention costs and utilities — under the same roof.

While such cohabitation adds benefits to Yum!'s bottom line, it also offers advantages to indecisive diners who might otherwise have a difficult time choosing between Kentucky Fried goodness and Mexican hotness. Then again, why limit yourself to one when you can hack the best of both?

Thrillist has a couple of spicy suggestions, including Nacho Cheese Fries. Start by ordering your fries at KFC and then head over to Taco Bell for a side order of cheese sauce to pour on top of them. Before digging in, bathe the proceedings in all different temperatures of hot sauce from the condiment bar. To turn up the heat even further, consider concocting a Hot Chicken Mexican Pizza. This hack begins at Taco Bell with an order of Mexican pizza (hold the seasoned beef). Then traipse over to KFC for an order of spicy Nashville hot chicken tenders and a side of corn. Arrange the KFC fixings on top of the pizza and enjoy your hybrid hack.

6. Upgrade your KFC biscuit to a slider

White Castle may have invented the slider with their tiny steamed burgers, loaded up diced onions, but these days a slider is basically any edible substance that's topped with condiments and wedged between two tiny buns. 

Some people with lax criteria and/or fertile imaginations claim that KFC's Chicken Littles Sandwich is a slider. However, as Serious Eats points out, while KFC's original, square-shaped Chicken Little — which vanished in the early 1980's — could have passed for a slider "if you were the sort of person who calls small sandwiches sliders," the present-day version, reintroduced in 2012, is little more than a Crispy Strip on a long bun with some pickle chips and a dollop of mayo.  

So if you head to KFC with sliders on the brain, you'll need to get creative. According to BuzzFeed, a favorite KFC hack in Australia is a fancy slider made by slicing a roll in half and then piling it with shredded pieces of Original Recipe chicken, coleslaw, and any sauce your heart desires. Since America's KFCs are bereft of rolls, we recommend going the biscuit route — KFC biscuit sliders actually exist in Bermuda of all places — which has the advantage of warding off any potential sogginess created by slaw seepage.

7. Meet your (moist) maker KFC style

In recent decades, American pop culture has given rise to only a handful of iconic sandwiches. Among the favored (flavored?) few is the Moist Maker.

The alliterative sandwich made its televised debut on Season 5, Episode 9 of the series "Friends." Fresh off his second divorce and evicted from his apartment, Ross is feeling pretty low. Things get worse when his boss demolishes the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich his sister Monica made for him, whose pièce de résistance is a gravy-soaked piece of bread in the middle that Ross refers to as the "moist maker." Before indulging in an epic, sitcom meltdown, he whines that the sandwich is "the only good thing going on" in his life.

As "Friends" went into reruns and syndication, Ross's sandwich went viral as fans tried to recreate the "Moist Maker." Even KFC got in on the act. In 2017, it released a video on how to hack Ross's sandwich.

Order a Crispy Colonel sandwich, a Chicken Littles sandwich, and some gravy. Take the top bun off the Crispy Colonel sandwich and cover the chicken with a layer of gravy. On top place the top bun from the Chicken Littles sandwich and more gravy (this is Monica's "moist maker"). Add the smaller piece of chicken and still more gravy before crowning with the Crispy Colonel sandwich's top bun. Take comfort in the fact that at least one good thing is going on in your life.

8. Donut you want a sandwich?

As the world gets crazier by the minute, KFC has done a great job keeping up. Having finally gotten around in 2018 to experimenting with the traditional soul food/hipster brunch combo of chicken and waffles, in the spring of 2020, KFC went further down the rabbit hole (donut hole?) when it unleashed a fried chicken and donut sandwich.

Baked off-site, the "glazed to order" donuts were fried and doused with vanilla icing before serving as the circular top and bottom to a filling of Extra Crispy fried chicken. Although the limited-time creation ended in mid-March, the fact that KFC invested in all that donut equipment seemingly leaves the door open for a return. Meanwhile, if you missed out, just copy this pair of DIY hackers in Japan who picked up a box of donuts (in the middle of a typhoon!) and constructed a makeshift chicken donut sandwich in the cozy comfort of their car.

For those whose tastes skew more salty than sweet, consider hacking another surreal sandwich pairing from 2019: the KFC Cheetos Sandwich. This crunchy concoction featured a chicken filet topped with mayo, an intensely orange Cheetos sauce, and a generous layer of Cheetos. Hacking this sandwich is a cinch. Just do the prep work of showing up at KFC armed with a bag of Cheetos. While there's no substitute for the Cheetos sauce, you can (over)compensate by ordering a Crispy Colonel Sandwich to up the crunch factor.

9. Put those giant KFC buckets to good use

KFC ignited a small but starchy revolution when it introduced French fries to KFCs nationwide. As of June 2020, potato wedges are out and Secret Recipe Fries are in. Wedge lovers are up in arms; there's even a petition on Change.org to save the iconic potato chunks from extinction. However, it was always weird that while KFCs around the world served fries, they never graced a KFC menu in the country whose population consumes 30 pounds of fries a year.

With this error rectified, it's time to focus on fry hacks such as this one from the Philippines where customers can order a bucket of fries! Although supersized fries are strictly off the menu in America, supposedly you can tell your server that you want a regular bucket — with fries instead of chicken. Since KFC's eager for their fries to supplant lingering vestiges of wedginess, you'll likely be successful.

Speaking of supersizing, another ingenious KFC bucket hack you shouldn't try, but can nonetheless admire, involves filling a bucket with pop. In 2018, "Soda Bucket Man" (as he was baptized by Vice), garnered internet hero status when a tweeted photo of him filling up a KFC bucket from a soda fountain went viral. While noting the bucketed outlaw was flouting restaurant policy, KFC took the hack in stride. "Colonel Sanders once said, 'There are few problems a bucket of chicken can't solve.' We just hope he took the chicken out first."

10. Finger lickin' KFC fun in the sun

One of the most innovative KFC menu hacks you can imagine isn't so much edible as it is lickable. Back in 2016, KFC came up with the stuntiest of all stunts when it released a limited edition KFC Extra Crispy Sunscreen. Conceived with the Colonel's secret recipe, users who slathered it on not only received SPF 30 sun protection, but also ended up giving off the appetizing scent of fried chicken, a sensation that increased exponentially when frying in the sun (and taking on the hue of a well-fried KFC chicken).

Despite popular acclaim for the sunscreen — some 3,000 free tubes advertised by KFCs were snapped up within two hours — KFC ultimately decided not to market the product. However, there's no reason why you can't reproduce it yourself. Simply order a multi-piece snack box or bucket of Extra Crispy chicken (hold the napkins), and then head to the nearest beach, park, or patio. Strip down to your bathing suit and begin eating your chicken, rubbing the grease into your skin until it glows. Keep in mind that since no SPF is involved, using actual sunscreen also is a good idea. Stay too long in the sun and you're going to fry way beyond Extra Crispy. On the upside, while KFC's Sunscreen was emphatically not a food product, this hack is tantalizingly comestible and may help attract a potential date (or a hungry dog).

11. Build your own KFC bowl

If you're already ordering from a secret menu, here's where you get to shine beyond the box — or in this case, beyond the bowl. Previously you could order the Hot Pocket Bowl straight from the menu. It was a delicious blend of a hot piece of biscuit dough filled with chicken, slathered in melted cheese and warm gravy, and topped with corn. The Hot Pocket Bowl featured on the regular KFC menu for quite some time before it was eventually removed. However, #Hackthemenu notes that the build-your-own bowl hack is a good opportunity to resuscitate this retired menu item, at least as long as the restaurant you go to has all the ingredients on hand.

Beyond building your own replica of the Hot Pocket Bowl, you can add a creative mix of any other items on KFC's menu to your own customized bowl. There's no shame in layering up on fries, warm gravy, mashed potatoes, and mounds of cheese, at least not on occasion. But for a fast food chain that's notorious for its less-than-healthy food, there's also a bit of room here to feed your craving while still incorporating healthy options like grilled chicken, green beans, and a side salad. You really could run with your imagination as far as you like.

12. Take it a step further with a custom Famous Bowl

The Famous Bowl was first introduced to the regular KFC menu in 2006 and proved to be immensely popular, according to QSR Web. It's the perfect dish for those people who like to mix up their favorite food in order to get a taste of each ingredient in every bite. It features a creamy mashed potato base, topped with corn, bite-sized chicken chunks, gravy, and melted cheese. The Custom Famous Bowl further allows you to play around by removing or adding any other menu items to your dish.

The Famous Bowl is so popular that in the Philippines, KFC has even created a much bigger version called the Famous Bowl Super Platter (via Yummy.ph). Yet, while there might be a lot more to go around, this bowl is not without its share of controversy. Beyond the Colonel's long-standing and rather searing critique of some of the regular items incorporated into this secret menu dish, the Famous Bowl has had some grave concerns specifically aimed at it. The Center for Science in the Public Interest even brought a lawsuit against the fast food chain, citing the menu item's unhealthy nature given that its menu items were then fried in oil full of trans fats (via NPR).

13. Don't be afraid to ask for poutine

Now here's a prolific merger between American and Canadian food culture. Traditionally made with french fries smothered in cheese curds and hot gravy, poutine is a Canadian delicacy that arrived on the Québécois scene during the 1950s. Per The Canadian Encyclopedia, it's unclear exactly where poutine originated, though numerous families within the Centre-du-Québec area have laid claim to its creation. It's believed that the word poutine is derived from the English "pudding," or the French "pouding," and loosely translates to "mess."

In the ensuing decades, poutine reached the United States, was sold in a chain restaurant for the first time, and was further popularized when it was offered in restaurant chains across Canada. Today you can find poutine in fine dining restaurants, fast food chains, and dedicated poutine restaurants in Canada and beyond. Beyond North American shores, poutine can be found in several other countries including South Korea, the Czech Republic, Germany, and the United Kingdom, per Eat North. And, if you've got a poutine craving, it's also the subject of a secret menu hack at KFC. if employees are really stumped by your request, you can simply build it yourself — provided they have cheese curds at the ready.

14. Add mashed potatoes to your sandwich

It's safe to say that KFC's mashed potatoes and gravy are nearly as beloved as its fried chicken. You may have always assumed that the potatoes are boiled and then mashed to give you all that creamy goodness. However, one of the lesser-known truths about the chain's signature mashed potatoes is they're made from a powdered potato mix. Another is that the gravy is actually an adaptation of Colonel Sanders' original recipe. Though Sanders was unhappy about the decision to scrap his recipe for a simpler version, he no longer had a say as he'd already sold the company when the decision was made.

Now, you may rightfully be wondering why mashed potatoes and gravy would feature as a secret menu item when it's right there on the menu. The secret here is in the "added" detail. If you've ever wanted to try licking residual mash and gravy off your hands after a bite of your favorite chicken sandwich, you can skip the middleman. Simply ask to have the mashed potatoes loaded onto your filet and then smothered in a generous serving of gravy. Rather than the usual side order of mashed potatoes in their customary round containers, you can have a little more fun and ladle this directly onto whatever item you choose.

15. Add bacon to your KFC meal

Oh, how we love the power of bacon! What else has the ability to divide people so strongly with squabbles about its greasy, crispy, porky goodness? What other food can elicits such vehement debates about foregoing vegetarianism if it means never eating bacon again? Can other meats inspire eaters from far and wide to allow time for the attendance of a camp that's literally all about bacon? That pork would even make it into a restaurant centered entirely around chicken says it all, doesn't it?

Similar to added mashed potatoes, you can now add bacon to any entrée of your choice. Prices may differ depending on location and it may not be available at every KFC franchise. Nevertheless, so beloved is this secret menu item that KFC in the United Kingdom went as far as to create the I Love You Bacon Burger, a towering fusion atop one chicken filet that's clad with copious amounts of bacon (via Mirror). Thankfully, you don't need to be in the U.K. to get in on all that bacon action, assuming you ask nicely and your local KFC has bacon in its kitchen.