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

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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 and ingredients of Popeyes' menu.

Navigating the Menu

Most Nutritious Options

  • BONAFIDE Chicken Leg

  • Blackened Chicken Tenders

  • Cajun Fish Filet

  • Loaded Chicken Wrap

  • Green Beans 

  • Hot Cinnamon Apple Pie

  • Unsweetened Tea

  • Creole Cocktail 

Least Nutritious Options

  • BONAFIDE Chicken Breast

  • Handcrafted Chicken Tenders

  • Catfish Filet

  • Cajun Fish Po’Boy

  • Cajun Fries 

  • Buttermilk Ranch

  • Edwards Sliced Pecan Pie

  • Hawaiian Punch

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.

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

BONAFIDE 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.

Most Nutritious Option

Single BONAFIDE Chicken Leg

160 calories, 9g fat, 4g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate, and 14g protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Single BONAFIDE Chicken Breast

380 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, 1230 mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, and 35g protein.

Selecting a cut of Popeyes BONAFIDE chicken comes down to portion size. You can get a single leg, thigh, breast, or wing.

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

Blackened Chicken Tenders (3)

170 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 550 mg sodium, 2g carbohydrates, and 26 grams protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Handcrafted Tenders—Spicy or Mild (5)

741 calories, 34g fat, 14g saturated fat, 3035 mg sodium, 48g carbohydrates, and 63g protein.

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

Cajun Fish Filet (3)

380 calories, 19g fat, 5g saturated fat, 1650 mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, and 16g protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Catfish Filet (2)

460 calories, 29g fat, 12g saturated fat, 1140 mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, and 21g protein.

An order of popcorn shrimp has more calories than a fish filet, it has much less sodium—just 80 mg 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.

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 several sandwiches and wraps.

Most Nutritious Option

Loaded Chicken Wrap

310 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, 790 mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 14g of protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Cajun Fish Po’Boy

750 calories, 52g fat, 17g saturated fat, 2140 mg sodium, 75g carbohydrate, 7g sugar, and 23g protein.

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

Most Nutritious Option

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

Green Beans (regular size)

55 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 676 mg sodium, 7g carbohydrates, 2g sugar, and 3g protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Cajun Fries (large order)

804 calories, 42g fat, 15g saturated fat, 1761 mg sodium, 97g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 10g protein.

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.

Signature Dipping Sauces

Most Nutritious Option

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.

Creole Cocktail (1 oz)

30 calories, 1g fat, 0g saturated fat, 320 mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 0g protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Buttermilk Ranch (1 oz)

150 calories, 15g fat, 3g saturated fat, 230 mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, and 0 g protein.

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

The Bayou Buffalo sauce has 2492 mg 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

Most Nutritious Option

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.

Hot Cinnamon Apple Pie

236 calories, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 260 mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 12g sugar, and 3g protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Edwards Sliced Pecan Pie

410 calories, 21g fat, 6g saturated fat, 220 mg sodium, 52g carbohydrate, 22g sugar, and 4g protein.

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 calories than the other options, but has less sugar and carbs, as well as a little more protein.

Kids' Menu

Most Nutritious Option

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.

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 chicken nuggets (4) has 150 calories, 9g of fat, 230 mg of sodium, and 7g of protein. 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

Unsweetened Tea

0 calories, 0g fat, 0g trans fat, 10 mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0 sugar, and 0 protein.

Least Nutritious Option

Hawaiian Punch

310 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 100 mg sodium, 83g carbohydrate, 82g sugar, and 0g protein.

Diet-Specific Options

Gluten-free

  • Corn on the cob
  • Cole slaw
  • Cajun rice
  • Jalapeños
  • Red beans and rice

Low-carb

  • Handcrafted chicken tenders (Blackened)
  • Kid’s menu chicken leg (mild)
  • Jalapeños
  • Tartar sauce
  • Ranch sauce

Diabetes-friendly

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

Low-fat

  • Blackened chicken tenders
  • Single chicken leg
  • Corn on the cob (single order)
  • Green beans (regular)
  • Jalapeños
  • Bold BBQ, Sweet Heat, and Creole Cocktail sauce

Low-sodium

  • Popcorn shrimp
  • Chicken nuggets (4 or 6 piece)
  • Biscuit 
  • Cole slaw (regular)
  • Corn on the cob (single)
  • Mississippi Mud Cake
  • Tartar, Ranch, and Mardi Gras Mustard sauce

Vegetarian & Vegan

Popeyes’ selection of vegetable sides are vegetarian, but other items that may seem vegetarian or vegan are made with meat. Popeyes’ rice and beans 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 2019, corn on the cob without butter is the only vegan option on Popeyes' menu.

At locations that offer them, a side order of baguette bread would also vegetarian and vegan friendly as long as it was without butter.

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 or 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 has not 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 recipe for fried chicken, seafood dishes and sides all inspired by traditional New Orleans’ cuisine.

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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