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

Popeye's

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, often just called Popeyes, has been a go-to spot for Southern-style fried chicken, but its menu also includes seafood dishes, sides, and treats inspired by traditional New Orleans cuisine.

Popeyes' menu offers plenty of traditional fare built around fried chicken and seafood, creamy sauces, and starchy side dishes. While these recipes are tasty, they typically use high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sodium ingredients. If you plan on dining out at Popeyes, keep in mind the nutrition content of Popeyes' menu items, and enjoy the dining-out occasion. Let go of any guilt and enjoy the meal with the sides and additions of your choice.

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.

What to Order & Avoid at Popeyes
Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options
BONAFIDE Chicken Leg (Signature Chicken) BONAFIDE Chicken Breast (Signature Chicken)
Blackened Chicken Tenders (Chicken Nuggets & Tenders) Handcrafted Chicken Tenders (Chicken Nuggets & Tenders)
Cajun Fish Filet (Seafood) Catfish Filet (Seafood)
Loaded Chicken Wrap (Sandwiches & Wraps) Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Sandwiches & Wraps)
Green Beans (Sides) Onion Rings (Sides)
Creole Cocktail (Signature Dipping Sauces) Buttermilk Ranch (Signature Dipping Sauces)
Hot Cinnamon Apple Pie (Desserts) Edwards Sliced Pecan Pie (Desserts)
Chicken Nuggets (Kids Meals) Chicken Leg (Kids Meals)
Unsweetened Tea (Beverages) Hawaiian Punch (Beverages)

Most Nutritious Option

If you're dining out at Popeyes and looking for a nutritious option, reach for the BONAFIDE chicken leg. 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.

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.

✓ BONAFIDE Chicken Leg

A single BONAFIDE chicken leg provides 160 calories, 9 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5 g carbohydrate, 14 g protein, and 460 mg sodium. This signature chicken menu item is protein-rich and low in fat per serving.

✗ BONAFIDE Chicken Breast

A single BONAFIDE chicken breast, which is a significantly larger piece of meat, provides 380 calories, 20 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 35 g protein, and 1,230 mg sodium. A thigh, on the other hand, contains 280 calories, 21 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 7 g carbohydrate, 14 g protein, and 640 mg sodium, and makes for an overall healthier option.

Chicken Nuggets & Tenders

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

✓ Blackened Chicken Tenders

A 3-piece portion of the blackened chicken tenders offers 170 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, and 550 mg sodium. These chicken tenders—unlike the handcrafted tenders—have no breading and only blackened seasoning for added flavor and mild spice.

✗ Handcrafted Tenders

Comparatively, the 3-piece spicy or mild handcrafted tenders provides 445 calories, 21 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1 g saturated fat, 29 g carbohydrates, 38 g protein, and 1,821 mg sodium. Size up to the 5-piece and you're in for 740 calories, 34 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat, 48 g carbohydrates, 63 g 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.

✓ Cajun Fish Filet

The 3-piece Cajun fish filet provides 380 calories, 19 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein, 4 g sugar, and 1,650 mg sodium. An order of popcorn shrimp has more calories than a fish filet, but it has much less sodium—just 80 mg per quarter 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.

✗ Catfish Filet

The 2-piece catfish filet comes in at 460 calories, 29 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 21 g protein, and 1,140 mg sodium. This battered and fried fish dish also has 65 mg of cholesterol.

Meanwhile, Popeyes' butterfly shrimp dish, which includes 8 shrimp comes in at 420 calories, 25 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 34 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein, and 1,100 mg sodium.

Sandwiches & Wraps

Popeyes’ offers just three sandwiches and wrap options all of which feature chicken as the main protein.

✓ Loaded Chicken Wrap

The loaded chicken wrap provides 310 calories, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 35. g carbohydrate, 0 g sugar, 14 g of protein, and 790 mg sodium. This sandwich is the lowest in calories of all items in this menu category and also has the lowest amount of fat, sodium, and carbs.

✗ Spicy Chicken Sandwich

The spicy chicken sandwich comes in at 700 calories, 42 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 50 g carbohydrate, 28 g protein, 7.5 g sugar, and 1,473 mg sodium. Even though the spicy chicken sandwich and the classic chicken sandwich have the same amount of calories, fat, and carbohydrates, the classic has slightly less sodium.

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 side on the menu, at around 200 calories and 20 g carbs per biscuit, they’re also not the most nutritious choice. 

✓ Green Beans

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

✗ Onion Rings

A regular side of onion rings comes in at 278 calories, 19 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g sugar, and 438 mg sodium. Make that a large order and you're at 555 calories, 38 g fat, 17 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat, 50 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 3 g sugar, and 915 mg sodium. High in both calories and sodium, whether you order the regular or large, this dish is best shared.

Signature Dipping Sauces

Popeyes offers a variety of dipping sauces for every taste, but you’ll want to select carefully as 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 Sauce

The Creole cocktail sauce (1 oz) provides 30 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 4 g sugar, and 320 mg sodium. While high in sodium and sugar, this is the lowest-calorie dipping sauce currently available on the menu.

✗ Buttermilk Ranch

The buttermilk ranch (1 oz) comes in at 150 calories, 15 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 1 g sugar, and 230 mg 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 2,492 mg of sodium per ounce and the Sweet Heat sauce has 15 g 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). The dessert menu is only available at participating Popeyes locations.

✓ Hot Cinnamon Apple Pie

The hot cinnamon apple pie comes in at 236 calories, 16 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 12 g sugar, and 260 mg sodium. These sweet and crispy apple pie turnovers come in single-portion sizes and can be a sweet treat or finale to your meal.

✗ Edwards Sliced Pecan Pie

The Edwards sliced pecan pie offers up 410 calories, 21 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 52 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 22 g sugar, and 220 mg sodium. It is the highest in cholesterol, fat, and carbs out of any dessert.

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

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

Kids Meals

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.

✓ Chicken Nuggets

A kid’s order of 4-piece chicken nuggets has 150 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 10 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 7 g of protein, and 230 mg sodium. In terms of carbs, it’s right in the middle of the three options with 10 g per serving. However, the nuggets are also the only kid’s menu option with trans fat with 1 g per serving.

✗ Chicken Leg

A single handcrafted mild chicken leg has between 160 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein, and 460 mg sodium. Legs are higher in fat but also pack more protein and fewer carbs and sodium compared to the handcrafted tender option.

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.

✓ Unsweetened Tea

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

✗ Hawaiian Punch

A 22-ounce serving of Hawaiian Punch comes in at 310 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 83 g carbohydrate, 82 g sugar, 0 g protein, and 100 mg sodium. The sugar-packed drink is the highest in calories of all available drink options.

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-FODMAP or low-sodium diet.

Gluten-Free

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

Create your own gluten-free meal at Popeyes by ordering off the sides menu. Choose the red beans and rice and corn on the cob combination for a full meal.

Low-Carb

  • Blackened chicken tenders (2 g carbs)
  • Kid’s menu chicken leg (5 g carbs)
  • Jalapeños (1 g carbs)
  • Tartar sauce (1 g carbs)
  • Blackened ranch sauce (2 g carbs)

For a low-carb meal at Popeyes, order the 3-piece blackened chicken tenders meal for only 2 g carbohydrates.

Diabetes-Friendly

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

Stick with a diabetes-friendly dish by pairing the chicken leg or chicken wing with a side of green beans.

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)

While Popeyes does not offer many low-fat options, you can create your own meal by ordering the green beans alongside the blackened chicken tenders, which will provide only 34 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 topped with gravy (however, you can ask for your potatoes plain).

Corn on the cob and coleslaw are 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 while vegetarian-friendly, 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, storage, or preparation process.

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.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Steenhuis I, Poelman M. Portion size: Latest developments and interventions. Curr Obes Rep. 2017 Mar;6(1):10-17. doi:10.10007/s13679-017-0239-x