It would be a huge understatement to say that ghost peppers are spicy. They’re not the world’s hottest pepper, sure, but they’re up there. Ghost peppers are certainly hot enough to be painful, hot enough to be the subject of a dare, and hot enough to boil water. Well, maybe not that last one, but believe us when we say that they’re seriously hot.
The spiciness of a pepper is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), so just to give you an idea of how a ghost pepper compares to a jalapeño, ghost peppers are 1,041,427 SHU while the hottest jalapeño is a pathetic 8,000, according to PepperHead. So ghost peppers aren’t just spicy — they’re one of the spiciest peppers in the world.
That said, it might be a bit of a reach for Burger King to call its new product "Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets." Anything with "ghost pepper" right in the name had better be so spicy that you need a six-pack of something close at hand to cool down your mouth after the first bite. If it’s not that spicy, it doesn’t deserve the name.
So, Burger King, a proud American fast food joint famous for a slate of decidedly un-spicy menu items, wouldn’t choose such an ambitious name for its nuggets if they didn’t live up to the ghost pepper reputation, right? So we tried these nuggets with an open mind and, shall we say, certain expectations. Here’s what we found.
What’s in the Burger King Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets?
Burger King’s Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets are made of the same basic stuff as their run-of-the-mill chicken nuggets, which is to say that they’re made up of white meat chicken with a crispy coating. That’s kind of what we expected since it’s not like Burger King is going to go back to the days when most fast food places made their nuggets out of nondescript pressed chicken parts. What’s different about these nuggets is the spice profile, which supposedly comes from actual ghost peppers. Supposedly.
You can get your Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets with any of the usual chicken nugget sauces on offer at Burger King, including BBQ, honey mustard, ranch, sweet & sour, zesty, and Buffalo. That was actually a bit of a disappointing discovery because we had assumed that Burger King might want to elevate their new chicken nuggets with a unique sauce. Consider how a similarly hot Caribbean jerk or curry sauce would compliment the super spicy flavor we’d been prepping for, and you’ll see why we were a bit disappointed on that front. But nope, you just get an ordinary selection of ordinary dipping sauces for this brand-new menu item. Yawn.
Anyway, after we got over our initial disappointment we decided to go with the Buffalo sauce because hey, why not make a spicy thing even spicier?
How much do they cost?
Burger King’s Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets come in packs of either four or eight. Prices vary depending on where you are, but at our local Burger King a four-pack was $1 and the eight pack was a comparative bargain at $1.49. Notably, this is the same price as the eight pack of regular chicken nuggets, so it’s not like you have to be spendy if you decide to choose the ghost pepper version.
Also, depending on where you are, you may have to pay an extra 25 cents for certain dipping sauces. According to commenters on Reddit, asking for extra sauce will potentially set you back a quarter (though that may depend on the manager in charge at a given franchise). All this means that you don’t need to do a sauce taste test or anything similar if you’re trying to be extra thrifty.
If you’re hungry, you can also order your nuggets as part of a meal, which includes the usual fries and a drink in small, medium, or large sizes. For an eight-piece nugget meal, the price we got was $3.99 for a small, $4.49 for a medium, and $4.99 for a large. If you’re in New York you can expect to pay a bit more, as the prices we got for an NYC location were $6.99 for a small, $7.49 for a medium, and $7.99 for a large.
Where and when are they available?
Burger King’s website is being a bit cagey on how long these nuggets will be on the menu. Their chief marketing officer said "for a limited time," which is usually code for "we’ll keep them around if they’re profitable and pull them if they’re not." Now, we do know that Burger King is playing up the whole "ghost" thing with an ad that features a couple of not-very-scary-looking ghosts apparently haunting an eight-piece order of Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets. Given that, we’re guessing that this may be a Halloween feature for the time being.
Burger King does say their Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets are available nationwide, so you should be able to order them from your local restaurant. However, we did find it a bit odd that Burger King doesn’t seem to be rolling this thing out with much enthusiasm. When we placed the order at our local drive thru, we asked for the "Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets" and got kind of worried when the Burger King employee seemed confused.
They said, "Oh, you mean spicy nuggets?" as if there is a less-spicy chicken nugget on the menu and they knew nothing about the Ghost Pepper Nuggets. We felt that we had to clarify that we wanted the ghost pepper variety. You could nearly hear the cashier’s eyes roll through the drive-thru machine when they replied, "Yes, the Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets."
How does it compare to other popular items on the Burger King menu?
All told, Burger King’s Ghost Pepper Nuggets don’t really have much that sets them apart from the other chicken-based menu items at Burger King. Our order was packaged in exactly the same way as any other Burger King chicken nugget order. They arrived with no fanfare, no warning labels, or anything you might expect to see on a food item with potentially more than 1 million Scoville units.
The nuggets themselves do look a little redder than a typical Burger King chicken nugget, but we’re pretty sure that’s not because of the ghost peppers. There also seem to be more flecks of spice in the breading but, other than that, they’re obviously made in the same machine as all of the other BK chicken nuggets.
When it came to flavor, they tasted pretty similar to Burger King’s other nuggets, too. That said, for obvious reasons, they were slightly more similar to the patty in the Burger King Spicy Ch’King sandwich, though without so much of the crispy coating. But, to be fair, just about everything at Burger King does have a similar flavor, in the sense that it may have all been cooked in the same oil. That makes it hard to really draw a clear and distinct line between the flavors of any of the BK chicken items.
What’s the nutritional value?
Don’t expect you’re going to blow your diet on the calories with the Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets. According to Burger King, the calorie profile of these chicken nuggets is pretty similar to the calorie profile of the regular chicken nuggets, though a four-piece serving of the ghost pepper nuggets somehow has about 20 fewer calories than a same-size serving of Burger King’s original chicken nuggets. And bizarrely, the eight-piece order of the ghost pepper variety has 64 calories more calories than an eight-piece order of original nuggets.
You won’t be at all surprised to hear that the eight-piece order also packs almost 28 grams of fat and 900 milligrams of sodium. Then again, practically no one eats chicken nuggets for health reasons, right? The eight-piece bag does have 17 grams of protein, so you can at least say you’re getting some of that vital nutrient alongside the salt and fat.
And of course, you can already guess just how much the fat, calories, and sodium count skyrockets if you decide to get these with fries and a sugary soft drink. A small order maxes out at 1,102 calories, a medium at 1,330, and a large is a whopping 1,558.
Did we like Burger King’s ghost pepper chicken nuggets?
Let’s say upfront that we like our food spicy. Maybe not ghost pepper spicy, but we put habanero in jerk chicken and enjoy a London-style vindaloo, so we are not strangers to mouth-on-fire food. So, it’s possible there’s a tolerance issue coming between us and our ability to comment on the spiciness of this product, but we don’t think so.
Truly spicy food requires the presence of liquid or something salty to help cool the fire and add balance. It also makes your lips burn and lingers in your mouth for a long time. With that criteria, the Burger King Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets were not hot. They had a mild kick, but nothing that could be described as lingering painfully or setting one’s lips on fire. In fact, the Buffalo sauce we got alongside the Ghost Pepper Chicken Nuggets was actually spicier than the nuggets themselves.
Ultimately, these nuggets failed the water test. We did not have to drink any liquid to get through the whole bag of nuggets. Don’t misunderstand us, please, as we did like them. It’s even fair to say that we liked these nuggets enough that we would choose them over BK’s original chicken nuggets. But the designation of "Ghost Pepper" is just wrong here. Heck, these wouldn’t even qualify as a "Jalapeno Pepper" chicken nugget. "Spicy Chicken Nuggets," sure. Maybe the eye-rolling drive-thru cashier was onto something.