What to Eat at Popeyes: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Popeyes nutrition facts
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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, often just called Popeyes, has been a go-to spot for southern style fried chicken since the early 1970s. In addition to chicken, Popeyes' menu also includes seafood dishes, sides, and treats inspired by traditional New Orleans cuisine.

The fast-food restaurant focuses on southern style food preparation. Its menu offers plenty of traditional fare built around fried chicken and seafood, creamy sauces, and starchy side dishes. Popeyes’ branded "BONAFIDE" chicken is marinated, battered, and breaded before it gets fried.

While these recipes are tasty, they typically use high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sodium ingredients. If you have specific dietary needs and goals, here's what you need to know about the nutrition content of Popeyes' menu items.

What Experts Say

"Popeyes offers mix and match selections that can be paired with vegetable sides. However, many of the menu options are high in sodium (some containing more than a day’s worth of sodium) and low in fiber, so if eating here on a regular basis, opt for more balanced options for the rest of the day."

— Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

With a little knowledge of the menu and attention to portion sizes, you can dine out and still stay in line with your eating plan. Here’s a guide to making the most informed and healthy choices to suit your tastes and needs when eating at Popeyes.

Most Nutritious Options
  • BONAFIDE chicken leg (Signature Chicken)

  • Blackened chicken tenders (Chicken Nuggets & Tenders)

  • Cajun fish filet (Seafood)

  • Loaded chicken wrap (Sandwiches & Wraps)

  • Green beans (Sides)

  • Creole cocktail (Signature Dipping Sauces)

  • Hot cinnamon apple pie (Desserts)

  • Unsweetened tea (Beverages)

Least Nutritious Options
  • BONAFIDE chicken breast (Signature Chicken)

  • Handcrafted chicken tenders (Chicken Nuggets & Tenders)

  • Catfish filet (Seafood)

  • Cajun fish Po’Boy (Sandwiches & Wraps)

  • Onion rings (Sides)

  • Buttermilk ranch (Signature Dipping Sauces)

  • Edwards sliced pecan pie (Desserts)

  • Hawaiian Punch (Beverages)

Signature Chicken

Popeyes’ claim to fame is its BONAFIDE Chicken. The meat is hand-battered and breaded, marinated for 12 hours, then fried. You can order anywhere along the spectrum of spiciness from mild to bold.

Popeyes chicken is available in combo or family-size meals as well as individual orders. It's important to note that with larger orders, it's more difficult to estimate the nutritional content of individual portions.

Ultimately, selecting a cut of Popeyes BONAFIDE chicken comes down to portion size. You can get a single leg, thigh, breast, or wing, all of which vary in size.

Most Nutritious Option

A single BONAFIDE chicken leg provides 160 calories, 9g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 5g carbohydrate, 14g protein, and 460mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

A single BONAFIDE chicken breast, which is a significantly larger piece of meat, provides 380 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 16g carbohydrate, 35g protein, and 1,230mg sodium.

If you want to simplify your choices, focus on the "Live Well" section of Popeyes menu. While the items are prepared the same as any other, each choice is portioned to be under 350 calories.

Chicken Nuggets & Tenders

Popeyes also offers bite-sized cuts of chicken, either nuggets or handcrafted tenders, which come in portions of three, five, six, or nine pieces.

Most Nutritious Option

A 3-piece blackened chicken tenders offers 170 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 2g carbohydrates, 26g protein, and 550mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

Comparatively, the 3-piece spicy or mild handcrafted tenders provides 445 calories, 21g fat, 9g saturated fat, 1g saturated fat, 29g carbohydrates, 38g protein, and 1,821mg sodium.

Size up to the 5-piece and you're in for 740 calories, 34g fat, 14g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 48g carbohydrates, 63g protein, 3,040 mg sodium.

Small servings of Popeyes’ nuggets and tenders are similar in calorie, fat, and sodium content, but due to the small size, nuggets offer less protein.

Seafood

Seafood is another staple of southern cuisine, and Popeyes offers a few options in the form of popcorn shrimp and fish filets. Fish can be ordered as a meal, in a sandwich, or as part of a combo with chicken.

Most Nutritious Option

The 3-piece Cajun fish filet provides 380 calories, 19g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 37g carbohydrate, 16g protein, 4g sugar, and 1,650mg sodium.

An order of popcorn shrimp has more calories than a fish filet, but it has much less sodium—just 80mg per ¼ pound—making it a better choice if you’re trying to limit your salt intake. 

The Cajun fish filet is the lowest-calorie seafood option and is also the only fish choice without any trans fat. However, it is also the highest in sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The 2-piece catfish filet comes in at 460 calories, 29g fat, 12g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 27g carbohydrate, 21g protein, and 1,140 mg sodium.

Sandwiches & Wraps

One of the most well-loved items on Popeyes’ menu is the Po’ Boy sandwich—a classic southern favorite. The fast-food restaurant also offers a couple other sandwiches and wraps.

Most Nutritious Option

The loaded chicken wrap provides 310 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0, trans fat, 35g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, 14g of protein, and 790mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The Cajun fish po’boy comes in at 750 calories, 52g fat, 17g saturated fat, 75g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 7g sugar, and 2,140 mg sodium.

Even though the catfish po’boy is higher in calories, it has less sodium and fat than the Cajun-style sandwich, no trans fat, and more protein.

Sides

Popeyes offers a number of sides, all of which are available in two sizes: regular and large. The sides range widely in nutritional value, but most are still rather high in sodium.

One of the menu items Popeyes is most well-known for is its buttermilk biscuits. While they aren’t the least nutritious item on the menu, at around 200 calories and 20g carbs per biscuit, they’re also not the most nutritious choice. 

Most Nutritious Option

The regular green bean side offers 60 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 7g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 2g sugar, and 680mg sodium.

A single side order of corn on the cob is another vegetable option. While it’s a little higher in calories, fat, and sugar, it has very little sodium.

A regular order of red beans and rice is higher in calories and carbohydrates than a side of vegetables, but it also has less sodium and a little more protein.

Least Nutritious Option

A regular side of onion rings comes in at 278 calories, 19g fat, 9g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 25g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 2g sugar, and 438g sodium.

Make that a large order and you're at 555 calories, 38g fat, 17g saturated fat, 3g trans fat, 50g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 3g sugar, and 915g sodium.

Signature Dipping Sauces

Popeyes offers a variety of dipping sauces for every taste, but you’ll want to select carefully—some are very high in calories, sodium, and added sugar. Nutrition info for sauces is calculated per 1 ounce serving, so it’s also important to keep portion sizes in check.

Most Nutritious Option

The Creole cocktail sauce (1 oz) provides 30 calories, 1g fat, 0g saturated fat, 7g carbohydrate, 0g protein, 4g sugar, and 320mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The buttermilk ranch (1 oz) comes in at 150 calories, 15g fat, 3g saturated fat, 3g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 1g sugar, and 230mg sodium.

Popeyes’ trademarked Bayou Buffalo and Sweet Heat sauces are also popular choices, and while they have fewer calories than the ranch, they are the highest in sodium and sugar.

The Bayou Buffalo sauce has 2,492mg of sodium per ounce and the Sweet Heat sauce has 15g of sugar and 19 carbs per ounce.

Skipping dipping sauce altogether is the easiest way to reduce the calories and fat of your meal.

Desserts

Popeyes menu doesn’t cater to sweets, but most locations offer at least one or two dessert items (including limited-time special items like Deep Fried Oreo Bites). A dessert menu is only available at participating Popeyes locations.

Most Nutritious Option

The hot cinnamon apple pie comes in at 236 calories, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 35g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 12g sugar, and 260mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The Edwards sliced pecan pie offers up 410 calories, 21g fat, 6g saturated fat, 52g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 22g sugar, and 220mg sodium.

Any cake or pie slice on the Popeyes menu is going to be high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. A slice of Mississippi mud cake has 38g of sugar—the highest of the options—and 50g of carbohydrate. However, it’s also the lowest in fat (just 7g per serving—less than the hot cinnamon apple pie).

The Mardi Gras Cheesecake is higher in fat (and includes 1g trans fat) and calories than the other options, but has less sugar and carbs, as well as a little more protein.

Kids' Menu

The kids' menu at Popeyes is limited and all three options are very close in nutritional content. The choice between a chicken leg, nuggets, or tenders may be more down to taste preference than nutrition. For grown-ups, all three options make for lighter fare compared to the offerings of the regular menu.

Most Nutritious Option

A single handcrafted mild chicken tender or leg has between 153–160 calories. Legs are higher in fat but also pack more protein and fewer carbs and sodium.

A kid’s order of 4-piece chicken nuggets has 150 calories, 9g fat, 4g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 7g of protein, and 230mg sodium. In terms of carbs, it’s right in the middle of the three options with 10g per serving. However, the nuggets are also the only kid’s menu option with trans fat—1g per serving.

Beverages

Popeyes offers a typical range of Coca-Cola and Pepsi fountain drinks. The nutrition info below is for the standard 22-ounce size. You can also get gallon jugs of fruit punch, lemonade, or sweet tea to go when you buy family-size or combo meals.

Most Nutritious Option

After plain water, unsweetened tea is the next best option with 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0 protein, 0g sugar, and 10mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The Hawaiian Punch comes in at 310 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 83g carbohydrate, 0g protein, 82g sugar, and 100mg sodium.

Diet-Specific Options

Popeyes offers very limited choices for gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, and vegan diets, and does not offer choices for people following a low-sodium diet.

Gluten-Free

  • Corn on the cob
  • Coleslaw
  • Cajun rice
  • Jalapeños
  • Red beans and rice

Low-Carb

  • 3-piece handcrafted chicken tenders (blackened) (2g net carbs)
  • Green beans (regular) (5g net carbs)
  • Kid’s menu chicken leg (4g net carbs)
  • Jalapeños (0g net carbs)
  • Tartar sauce (1g net carbs)
  • Blackened ranch sauce (2g net carbs)

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Blackened chicken tenders (kid’s menu or 3–5 piece)
  • Green beans
  • Jalapeños
  • Single chicken leg
  • Single chicken wing

Low-Fat

  • 3-piece blackened chicken tenders (18 calories from fat)
  • 1-piece corn on the cob (50 calories from fat)
  • Regular green beans (16 calories from fat)
  • Jalapeños (0 calories from fat)
  • BBQ chicken po' boy sandwich (60 calories from fat)

Vegetarian & Vegan

Popeyes’ selection of vegetable sides are vegetarian, but other items that may first appear to be vegetarian or vegan are often made with animal products. Popeyes’ rice and beans, for example, are made with pork fat, and the mashed potatoes come slathered in gravy (however, you can ask for your potatoes plain).

Corn on the cob and coleslaw, are indeed, vegetarian-friendly, but the green beans are made with turkey bacon. Popeyes’ biscuits and mac and cheese are made without meat but do use dairy, so they aren’t vegan.

As of 2020, corn on the cob without butter is the only vegan option on Popeyes' menu.

Food Allergies and Safety

The nutrition info on Popeyes’ website can be viewed with attention to particular food allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk, wheat, soy, and fish (including shellfish).

If you’re sensitive to or avoiding monosodium glutamate (MSG), the website also shows which menu items are prepared with the seasoning.

It’s important to remember that even if an allergen is not an ingredient in a menu item, it doesn’t mean the food hasn't come into contact with the allergen at another point in the production process, through storage, or preparation.

A Word From Verywell

Popeyes offers a variety of southern-style favorites, including its own signature recipe for fried chicken. You can view Popeyes’ menu online before you go, which will help avoid becoming overwhelmed by your options and empowering you to make an informed choice.

Once you’re aware of the nutrition content of each menu offering, as well as how they are portioned, you can make a choice that best suits your dietary needs and preferences.

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