When I opened my Popeyes box with the new Sweet & Crunchy Tenders, it smelled as if I opened a box of donuts.
That’s due to the shortbread cookie coating on the all white meat chicken. Yes, I did just type these have a cookie coating and, no, I did not misspell “shortening cooked coating” or “shorthair cat coating.”
From what I could tell, there aren’t shortbread cookie pieces in the coating, but these have a jaw-rattling crunch. If you examine a piece, it looks like the hardened skin of a golden brown Godzilla protecting the perfectly cooked chicken underneath. But after eating all three tenders in the box, I realized it might be too crunchy because I ended up with a mild case of Cap’n Crunch Mouth.
The coating has a noticeable sweetness, but it doesn’t remind me of shortbread cookies or, sadly, donuts. Being shortbread, I was expecting a butteriness, but I didn’t taste any.
I haven’t had other Popeyes products that had a sweet coating, like the Chicken Waffle Tenders and Southern Fair Chicken Tenders, so I also can’t say these remind me of any of their previous limited time offerings. But I can say, if by some chance your Popeyes forgets to include a sauce with your tenders, eating them sans sauce won’t be too bad.
While the sweet and savory tenders are good enough that they could be eaten without sauce, they are wonderful with the Smokin’ Pepper Jam Sauce. When I tasted it by itself with my pinky finger, it instantly reminded me of the sweet chili sauce that comes with the spring rolls from my favorite Thai restaurants. It’s slightly more sweet than peppery and when combined with the tenders it enhances the shortbread coating’s sweetness and adds a nice peppery element as a contrast to the sweetness.
Popeyes Sweet & Crunchy Tenders with Smokin’ Pepper Jam Sauce is a great tasting limited time offering. Even though it gave me Cap’n Crunch Mouth. I’d recommend giving it a try while it’s around.
So now that Popeyes has a coating made from cookies, maybe the chicken chain could try making one with another snack — potato chips.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)
Purchased Price: $7.00* (meal) Size: N/A Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Smells like donuts. Coating is made with frickin’ shortbread cookies. Crunchy. Smokin’ Pepper Jam Sauce is wonderful and reminds me of sweet chili sauces for Thai spring rolls. Cons: Might be too crunchy; gave me a mild case of Cap’n Crunch mouth. Limited time offering.
*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.
Living in New York, I’ve watched firsthand fried chicken get gentrified. Over the last few years yuppies and foodies and rich people have been trying to perfect fried chicken.
It’s akin to making the best mafia movie or writing the consummate coming-of-age novel or creating the perfect sports moment when, in this very world, there already exists The Godfather II, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Mark Sanchez Buttfumble, respectively. Why pay $100 for the Momofuku fried chicken when you could get on the L train and get a bucket of Popeyes, the perfect fried chicken, for one-tenth the price? (For the record, I have tried the Momofuku fried chicken dinner – feel free to skip it.)
I’m glad to see Popeyes is reclaiming the fried chicken media spotlight with a brand new product. Thankfully they’re making no claims on improving their already perfect fried chicken; Popeye’s is clearly just unveiling the new Chicken Waffle Tenders to try and capitalize on the recent chicken & waffles flavor craze. Their chicken breast strips are marinated in the regular mix of spices before being battered and fried in a “waffle-style coating”. I already like the chicken tenders on Popeyes everyday menu, so I was excited to taste their latest limited time item.
A coworker joined me in my recent foray to Popeyes, as I figured his British accent and sensibilities might add additional snark to the already snarky process of review writing. Our combo meals came with three Waffle Tenders, along with a biscuit, small side, fountain drink, and cup of honey maple dipping sauce. A Waffle Tender was noticeably darker in color and oilier in texture compared to the regular tender I bought as a point of comparison, though both had the same delicious, but depressing smell of fast food grease (I’m sure they came out of the same fryer).
As for taste, the Waffle Tenders were really quite good. The meat was moist and well-seasoned, and pieces with concentrated areas of batter had a faint but distinctive sweet, yeasty flavor. While regular Popeyes tenders tend to taper off at each end, resulting in dry and almost too-crunchy parts of chicken, the waffle ones had more uniformity in the width of the meat, so they were consistent in their moistness and crunchiness.
I also enjoyed the Honey Maple dipping sauce. For some reason I had expected something with a mustard base, but the sauce was thick with the consistency and color of actual honey. The dipping sauce was sweet without approaching saccharine and even added a touch of tanginess to the proceedings.
What about the opinion of my cheeky coworker? He claimed, “It was like eating a sponge filled with grease, but in a very good way.” He had a point – the Waffle Tenders were clearly greasier than the regular ones, and I felt a little sick after eating all three.
Still, it’s something of a silly complaint since no one goes to Popeyes expecting to down a healthy meal that soothes an upset stomach. If that’s what you’re expecting us to review, maybe you should go start your own quasi-review website. (FYI, thedeliberateandsensiblebuy.com is available for $10.99 on GoDaddy.) Stay away from the gentrified fried chicken places, get down to your local Popeyes, and try the Chicken Waffle Tenders as soon as you can.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Popeyes’ website.)
Item: Popeyes Chicken Waffle Tenders Purchased Price: $5.99 (for 3 piece combo) Size: N/A Purchased at: Popeyes Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Meat was tasty and well-seasoned, with consistent moistness and crunchiness. Sweet, yeasty flavor occasionally shone through. Honey Maple dipping sauce was sweet and tangy. Waffle Tenders combo meal is a great deal. Mark Sanchez jokes. British snarkiness. Everything at Momofuku except for the fried chicken. Cons: Really greasy. You’ll probably get a stomachache. Gentrification of fried chicken. Being a Jets fan. Forcing your coworkers to go to Popeyes. Thedeliberateandsensiblebuy.com.
This week, Popeyes, a place most of you have probably never eaten at, launched their new Dip’n Chick’n for a limited time. The new menu item is made up of chicken breast medallions marinated in Louisiana herbs, breaded, and fried.
Dip’n Chick’n follows Popeyes’ August limited time offer menu item, Rip’n Chick’n, which were partially cut chicken breasts marinated in a blend of chilies and peppers and served with a ranch dipping sauce. If Dip’n Chick’n becomes successful, we might see other boneless chicken breast variations with dipping sauces later this year or next year.
Using my rhyming ability, which I gained from reading a lot of Dr. Seuss and listening to my favorite hip-hop group of all time, A Tribe Called Quest, I going to guess future variations could be Chip’n Chick’n, Drip’n Chick’n, Strip’n Chick’n, Trip’n Chick’n, Grip’n Chick’n, Clip’n Chick’n, Flip’n Chick’n, or Tip’n Chick’n.
Popeyes’ Dip’n Chick’n also comes with a double-sized portion of blackened ranch dipping sauce, Cajun fries and a biscuit. It has a suggested price of $3.99.
The Popeyes Red Hot Popcorn Chicken combo meal kicked my ass.
I eat fast food once a month, maybe less. Until this most recent adventure, I had never even been to a Popeyes. This probably makes me a terrible American. Having publicly admitted to these failings, I doubt theyâ€™ll let me back into the Midwest unless I overcompensate with an NRA card and at least two prominent Jesus-themed accessories.
It wasnâ€™t the heat that got me. In fact, I fear my Sriracha sauce addiction is beginning to screw with my heat sensors. Itâ€™s just so delicious on everything! Today, I think I may have some on chocolate. Maybe a Sriracha s’more. This wonâ€™t even be a new low for me, assuming it doesnâ€™t taste worse than canned Chinese water bugs or KC Masterpiece on a Twinkie.
Based on my damaged sensibilities, I felt that while the popcorn chicken offered a nice kick, the heat didnâ€™t ever seem to build, likely thanks in part to the biscuit and ranch dip, both of which offer up tongue relief in addition to scary quantities of buttermilk (more on those supporting characters in a few paragraphs).
In the end, it was the sheer amount of greasy carb-loaded things that brought me down. The meal itself comes in a box roughly the same size and shape as a brick, which is exactly how it felt once it hit my stomach.
No one warned me that combo meals are a thing one needs to train for. I shouldâ€™ve started on this months ago with a small order of Cajun fries every few days, maybe a sweet potato pie on the weekends. But I like my new jeans and wish to continue fitting into them, so itâ€™s probably better that I didnâ€™t make that much of a commitment.
The oh-so-convenient brick box is supposedly designed to be easy to eat on the go. I ate a good portion of it on the way home without incident, only to spill ranch all over my coffee table ten seconds after getting home. To my roommates: I am sorry if the Swiss army knife on the shelf smells like rancid buttermilk forever. Just try not to get it near your faces. Itâ€™s not my fault that those things have so many strange, hidden crevices. Point being, dip will always be the downfall of on-the-go meals.
Oh â€“ and sorry everybody else. I never properly introduced the cast of todayâ€™s lunch. The meal includes Cajun fries, the new Red Hot Popcorn Chicken, a signature biscuit, and ranch dip (the nameless character actor visible in the background of so many of chickenâ€™s greatest appearances). The ranch felt like an afterthought, at worst the lazy answer to an otherwise one-note tub â€˜o carbohydrates, at best a beacon of salvation for the stereotypically wimpy American palate. When the girl at the counter lovingly flung my ranch dip into the bag as she handed it over the counter, even the best five star service was put to shame, and my mounting ranch doubts were all but confirmed. Thatâ€™s not to say the goop didnâ€™t function as a delightful contrast to the spices in the chicken. Thereâ€™s a reason ranch has earned its place of high acclaim alongside chicken bites and wings from sea to shining sea. I just wish Popeyeâ€™s had used this opportunity to shine by offering up some sort of creative twist harkening back to the bayou, perhaps gator sauce or fresh, warm oil.
The Popeyeâ€™s website describes the Red Hot Popcorn Chicken as being marinated in a “unique four pepper blend of Cayenne, white, black, and Habanero peppers.” Right. Okay then. For starters, black and white pepper are technically the same thing: shriveled almost-berries on a vine. For real. I found this out when I moved to California. Habaneros and Cayenne, like all other chili peppers, grow as flowering plants and are part of the nightshade family. Those guys also offer capsaicin, which makes them hot, unlike black peppercorns, which just sit there looking like a cluster of sun-baked BBs. So really weâ€™re dealing with two heat-producing peppers and two standard, under-achieving spices in this red hot popcorn chicken. Color me unimpressed and pour me another shot of Sriracha. This concludes your horticulture lesson for today, kids.
What else have we got here in this box of wonders? Oh yes, the biscuit. I kind of love the extraneous biscuit thing Popeyeâ€™s does. Itâ€™s like a little acknowledgement that there is no hope in your meal choice. At this point, the most they can do is go ahead and throw the buttery behemoth in the box from the get-go to save you the shame of ordering it separately. So thank you, Popeyeâ€™s, for understanding me so well and reacting with discretion.
Everything inside the box was flavorful, providing the illusion of variety. The combo even seemed to hit all three of the main fast food groups: meat, starch, and sugar.
Iâ€™d declare this box my food of choice for bad days if the nearest Popeyeâ€™s wasnâ€™t inconveniently far away, in the opposite direction of my workplace, nestled back into that one strip mall out by San Diego State where everyone goes for the good FroYo.
If youâ€™re looking for nutritional sustenance or the five-star treatment, look elsewhere, but if youâ€™re feeling rebellious, either toward your digestive tract or to the world at large, this is your winner. Remember to allow for the standard post-fast food bathroom time the next morning, and to bring along an extra dollar on your Popeyeâ€™s trip for some sweet potato pie. The unassuming little sign at the register burrows into oneâ€™s heart like a sad puppy and does not let go. Mmmâ€¦ pie.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ conspicuously impossible to track down, which is probably ultimately for the best)
Item: Popeyes Red Hot Popcorn Chicken Price: $2.99 with chicken, fries, biscuit, and ranch dip ($3.99 with drink) Size: N/A Purchased at: Popeyes Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Excellent crunchy/meaty ratio amongst all the popcorn chicken bites. Good baseline spice level. Sriracha. Black pepper vines. Chicken is juicy. Cajun fries-based training regimen. Biscuit! Cons: Sad puppies. Barbequed Twinkies. Bringing shame to my Midwestern relatives. Sriracha not already present in this meal. Half the featured peppers not actually the hot kind. Buttermilk funk permeating certain areas of my living room. Oil spill joke too late to be topical, yet not outdated enough to no longer be in bad taste.