REVIEW: Popeyes Homestyle Mac & Cheese

Popeyes Homestyle Mac  Cheese Bowl

Popeyes, widely regarded as the champion of fast food fried chicken, has a new and improved Homestyle Mac & Cheese.

Did you know it had an old and un-improved Homestyle Mac & Cheese? I sure didn’t. See, the thing is, I’ve never been able to bring myself to order anything other than the red beans and rice or the mashed potatoes with cajun gravy. And this is odd because, as a human person, I love macaroni and cheese. I even love macaroni and cheese from other fast-food chicken places. It is one of my go-to sides when I end up at KFC, where I gladly consume it despite the fact that it tastes inexplicably chlorinated.

But Popeyes nails it on chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, biscuits, and the aforementioned sides, so why WOULDN’T it make a magnificent mac & cheese, too?

Well, they do.

Popeyes website boasts that its new noodle dish is “made with real butter and cream and topped with shredded cheddar cheese,” and this story checks out. The noodles themselves are perfectly cooked — soft and tender but not mushy. And there is plenty of cheese — a mild, creamy cheese that lovingly coats each noodle and the sharper, chewy cheddar that hides in pockets throughout the bowl.

Popeyes Homestyle Mac  Cheese Spoon

It is a rich dish — likely owing to the real butter and cream — but not so rich that you won’t be able to eat the whole thing in like, 90 seconds and then go, “Dammit, Brandon, why did you eat the whole thing? Can’t you exercise more restraint than that?”

Despite the adulation, I do have two quibbles with this delectable side.

The first is that the texture is very one-note. And I get it, I do, this is mac & cheese, which is, by and large, a creamy, soft dish. But you know what elevates a very good mac & cheese to a great mac & cheese? A crunchy top. You know, breadcrumbs or what have you. You get a bit of textural differentiation because of the melted shredded cheddar, but it’s not enough to break up the monotony in your mouth. (Which again, I assure you, isn’t enough to keep you from wanting to consume an industrial barrel’s worth of this stuff.)

Second, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now when I get a meal and have to choose two sides. My gut says to alternate between the red beans and rice, mashed potatoes, and the new mac & cheese like a responsible adult. However, the fat kid who lives in my brain says, “GET ‘EM ALL, BUDDY. IT’S THE FUTURE. YOU CAN JUST 3D-PRINT SOME NEW ARTERIES.”

God bless technology, and god bless this macaroni and cheese.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Regular
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 22 grams of fat, 13.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.6 grams of trans fat, 609 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce

Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce Container 1

Much like its quick service brethren, Popeyes has hopped on the celebrity endorsement train with its new Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce.

But this isn’t just a launch it and leave it situation. Megan Thee Stallion has apparently been heavily involved in the development of the sauce, a co-branded line of merchandise, a philanthropic commitment to donate to Houston Random Acts of Kindness, and a franchise agreement with the intent to open as many as five new Popeyes restaurants. Now that’s a partnership. I hope they give her some artistic freedom to make her franchise locations road-trip worthy because I would definitely go to a Megan Thee Stallion Popeyes.

Alright, on to the sauce.

Popeyes offers the Hottie sauce on either its new(ish) chicken nuggets or its infamous chicken sandwich. I opted for the 8-piece nuggets because I wanted to be able to focus on the sauce. The order came with two dip cups, which I think is standard for an 8 piece, so that’s a strategic bonus if you’re looking to try the sauce and save one for later.

Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce Container

At first glance, this sauce looks an awful lot like Popeyes’ Sweet Heat sauce, a well-established sauce that’s basically diluted honey and hot sauce. Noting visual differences, the Hottie sauce is richer in color and has flakes of red pepper throughout, which made me hopeful it would live up to its “Hottie” name.

Still, there’s a lot of internet speculation going around saying that the two sauces are the same. Let me just Poindexter that one real quick by clarifying that, technically/legally they have different ingredient lines, which means that by definition they are NOT the exact same sauce. But, yeah, they are similar.

The Hottie sauce has a sweet flavor up front, reminiscent of honey or sweet and sour sauce, and then builds a bit of heat in a nice balanced “oh this has hot sauce in it” gradual manner. I really enjoy spicy things, and I think the Hottie sauce falls into the same heat realm as the Popeyes “spicy” chicken tenders. That is, this could be hotter and I wouldn’t be mad.

Maybe Megan Thee Stallion was using the word “hottie” a la hot girl summer more so than an indication that the sauce was spicy. Oh well, a heat level to appease the masses isn’t entirely surprising from a major food chain. It definitely has a bit more kick than the Sweet Heat sauce.

Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce Closeup

I also thought the consistency of the sauce was spot on. I could dip a nugget or a chicken strip into this sauce and get a hefty amount of cling with limited drippage. Technical terms.

Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce One Sauce

Overall I’d say this sauce is delicious. It falls a bit short in the innovation space since it’s very similar to the Sweet Heat sauce, and with the word “hottie” in the name, I had expected it to be a touch spicier, but it’s certainly not bad. I don’t know if I’ll ask for this sauce again, but I hope to visit a Stallion franchise location someday.

Purchased Price: $4.99 for 8 Nuggets and 2 Sauce Packets
Size: 0.90 oz.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available online for the Hottie sauce.

REVIEW: Popeyes Chicken Nuggets (2021)

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets 12 Count

Popeyes has always been in a class of its own and, since the splashy debut of its chicken sandwiches in 2019, it’s been awesome to see it get the recognition it deserves. Those chicken sandwiches also got people through the door who had never tried Popeyes before. Now, hoping to continue to entice folks to its stores, the chain is taking on another fast food chicken staple: nuggets.

It’s currently offering nugget meals for one (8 or 12 count) that include a side, biscuit, and drink or à la carte nuggets (24, 36, or 48 count) that are shareable. Despite my desire to dive headfirst into 24 of them, I opted to go with 12.

Oh, I’d just like to take a moment to praise our digital overlords for giving us apps in which we can mobile order items with ease. Popeyes’ app was easy to use, and it has recently started a rewards program.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Coating

The average Popeyes nugget is larger than Chick-fil-A’s in both amount of meat and level of breading. The crispy, crunchy coating we’ve become accustomed to with Popeyes’ other chicken is present and delicious.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Meat

What immediately puts this ahead of the tenders for me was a more preferable, almost equal ratio of breading to meat. Currently only being offered in mild, the flavor is that familiar Popeyes taste that is peppery strong, but not painfully spicy. Within the breading, the white meat chicken breast is juicy and tender, which is exactly what I’ve come to expect.

I could select two dipping sauces with my order, but honestly, I found myself mostly enjoying the nuggets on their own. That said, the Blackened Ranch was better than expected, and the BoldBQ reminded me of what Wendy’s BBQ used to be like.

If I had to offer any real negatives, it was some of the inconsistency in sizing when it came to the nuggets. Out of the 12, four were comparable to Chick-fil-A nuggets in size. Chances are it might just be a kitchen crew getting used to preparing a new item, and I think it will get more even as time goes on.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Box

I so very much enjoyed these and hope they will be successful enough to stick around for a bit. Heck, maybe we can even get a spicy version if they prove to be popular enough. While I doubt we’ll see the same fervor surrounding these as we did in 2019 with the sandwiches, they are worth the try and a tasty addition to an already stellar lineup of offerings from Popeyes.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 12 count
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (12 nuggets) 450 calories, 28 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 76 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich

Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich Pouch

At a quick glance, the Popeyes Cajun Flounder Sandwich looks like a Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. But a closer inspection shows the breading doesn’t look as jaw-rattling as the coating on the popular poultry sandwich.

Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich Full

Within that not-as-crunchy-looking breading, which the chain calls a crispy southern coating, is the new flounder fish fillet that’s seasoned in a blend of mild and spicy Cajun seasoning. The rest of the ingredients include crisp barrel cured pickles and tartar sauce on a warm and toasted buttery brioche bun.

Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich Split

The fillet is one of the meatiest I’ve ever seen in a fast food fish sandwich. It’s kind of fish-shaped, but it also reminds me of a chicken breast. Oh, I feel as if I’m going to go down a Jessica Simpson rabbit hole here. The meat is flaky and tender, and the seasonings give it a mild peppery flavor with a slight spiciness. Also, it tastes less fishy than sandwiches from other chains.

Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich Fillet

I wish the employee who squirted the tartar sauce on my order offered a bit more Southern hospitality with the condiment. Although, I’m not sure it would’ve made a difference because the topping doesn’t have the same punch as tartar sauce from other fast food chains. But at the same time, I wonder if having too much of it would overwhelm the fish’s Cajun seasonings.

Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich Pickles

Okay, the pickles, um, you know what, you can tell me they’re “barrel cured,” but that’s as impressive as that time Wendy’s bragged about having hand-torn lettuce. Is curing them in a barrel supposed to give them a woodsy oak flavor or make them tangier? To be honest, they don’t taste that different from other fast food pickles.

With all that said, the Popeyes Cajun Flounder Fish Sandwich has a unique flavor. It’s definitely different from other chains because of the seasonings. Overall, it’s a fine tasting sandwich, and I’d order it again. But, I wouldn’t consider it to be the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich of fish sandwiches.

Purchased Price: $6.50*
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 670 calories. Other nutrition facts are unavailable on Popeyes’ website.

*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.

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REVIEW: Popeyes Twisty Wicked Shrimp

Popeyes Twisty Wicked Shrimp Closeup

What are Popeyes Twisty Wicked Shrimp and Smoky Garlic Tartar Sauce

According to the webs, this takes the Cajun chicken chain’s shrimp (seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and jazzes things up by marinating the little buggers in sriracha. You know, for the promised wickedness. These caustic crustaceans are paired with a new Smoky Garlic Tartar Sauce, which is, well, smokier and more garlicky than any tartar sauce that came before it.

How is it?

NOT HOT. If you’re an avid capsaicinophile hoping that this new offering will set your mouth on fire, you’ll likely be let down. I can handle (and enjoy) a decent amount of heat, but perhaps more importantly to this review, I am sensitive to spice, and I can tell you, without fear of killing the weakest among you, that you will be able to eat this shrimp comfortably.

I was disappointed with the lack of heat, but not with the shrimp itself. The pieces were large, the seasoning familiar in its Popeyesicity (not sure I can detect the bay leaf buried deep in there, though), and the breading added the perfect amount of crunch.

Popeyes Twisty Wicked Shrimp Sauce

The real revelation was the Smoky Garlic Tartar sauce, which, oddly enough, seemed to pack a heat the shrimp did not. The dip was nuanced —- a light sweetness contrasted with a heavy dill-ness, imbued with the aforementioned punch that was… maybe the smokiness? I’m not sure. But in short, it provided a nice compliment to the straight-forward, not-that-wicked shrimp.

Anything else you need to know?

As you can see in the picture above, my sauce didn’t come in one of the pre-packaged sauce containers as shown in promo pics, and the first time I went, they didn’t have the sauce at all. So, I guess what I’m saying is: if you live far away from a Popeyes and you’re interested in this, maybe call ahead. Because, while the shrimp is decent, it’s the sauce that really completes the experience.

Conclusion:

If you’re an avid Popeye’s connoisseur, check it out. If you don’t get to Popeye’s all that often, get the chicken sandwich instead. Or the chicken. But seriously, the sandwich. Have you had that thing? Like Uncle Jesse always said, “have mercy.”

Purchased Price: $6.30
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable on Popeyes’ website