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Low Carb Options at Popeyes: What to Order and Avoid on Keto Diet!

Latest updates by: Janella Diaz

Is there a space for a keto diet in a fast food restaurant that’s packed with breaded and deep-fried chicken dishes like Popeyes?

Oh, and let’s also not forget that their menu is limited only to seafood and chicken—no red meat like pork and beef, so it can be pretty difficult for you to boost your fat consumption!

Should you give up now?

Don’t lose hope just yet!

This simple guide is designed to help you navigate through the Popeyes menu on a keto diet.

We’ve also shared some valuable hacks below so you can make the most out of your Popeyes visit so let’s get started!

What You Need to Know Before Ordering Low Carb at Popeyes (plus some useful Popeyes Hacks)

Since their menu is filled with breaded chicken and starchy sides, ordering low carb at Popeyes can be tricky. Without any knowledge on which to order, you may mess up your macros, leaving you with high-carb and low-fat meals—the total opposite of what you need to consume when on keto.

To help you avoid this pitfall, we’ve shared some of the Keto Popeyes hacks below:

Make sure to add in a fat source.

Since it’s lean meat, chicken is low in fat (1). This is most especially true with the breast part. 

If you consume their chicken dishes alone, you may not get enough fat you need to sustain your energy on keto. (2)

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to resolve this. If you order any of their chicken meals, the best that you can do is order it with a low-carb dipping sauce.

We’ll share with you what these are in the next few sections.

Be patient.

One of the best low-carb options that you can order at Popeyes is their blackened chicken tenders. Unfortunately, the blackened chicken tenders aren’t readily available since it has shorter shelf life than their other chicken items.

Because of this, you will have to wait for a few minutes is you’ll order the blackened tenders—usually around 10-15 minutes.

This is why you should never head to Popeyes when you’re already starving!

Add extra flavor to your chicken dish by ordering a low-carb dipping sauce.

Let’s face it—no matter how delicious the fried chicken is, there are still some people who will find it bland and boring. If you’re one of those people, we have a trick to share with you—get a dipping sauce!

While it’s true that most of the dipping sauces at Popeyes are high in carbs, you’ll be happy to know that they offer a few low-carb sauces too!

Continue reading to find out what these are!

Say no to side dishes.

Browse their menu, and you can easily figure out why we don’t recommend getting any of their sides. In addition to offering breaded fried chicken, their sides options are made up of high-carb food items like mashed potatoes, Cajun fries, and bean and rice. In short, there’s no Popeyes low-carb side dish.

There used to be one side dish that people on keto diet can consume—their Green Beans. Unfortunately, they decided to remove their green beans (and Cajun rice) last January. (3)

You can order an extra meal and heat it in the air fryer.

If you have no time to cook or you’re a fan of Popeyes, we have a hack to share with you—order an extra meal, put it in the ref, and heat it in the air fryer at home.

Aside from being delicious, we like Popeyes meals because they can be easily reheated at home.

All that you need to do is throw them in the air fryer for a few minutes, and you can achieve almost the same crisp that you enjoy at the restaurant.

Which Dishes are Low Carb at Popeyes?

To be honest, Popeyes is not the best fast food restaurant out there. They only have a few low carbs and keto-friendly options on their menu. The good news is we’ve rounded up all of your best options below:

Popeyes Low Carb Chicken Options

Since you don’t have any side dish options, we’ll go straight to the chicken options. Here they are:

Naked Chicken Tenders

You already know this: any breaded or crispy dish is not recommended for keto dieters. This is because these breaded items contain either flour or breadcrumbs that contain high amounts of carbs.

If that’s the case, does that mean that you can’t eat anything at Popeyes?

Well, that’s where this trick would come in—order their baked chicken tenders! These tenders don’t have any breading, so they’re perfectly low carb.

How to order: Choose from any number of chicken tender—3, 5, or 8 pieces. Ask them to hold off the biscuits, sauces, or any sides that come with it. You can order this with the ranch sauce if you want something to dip it in.

Nutrition Facts: Unfortunately, there’s no detailed information about the macros that the tenders have. But the website claims that these are gluten-free, so we can safely assume that it’s not breaded and, therefore, low carb.

Handcrafted Blackened Chicken Tenders

The handcrafted blackened chicken tenders are a big hit to many keto dieters as it offers bolder flavors without the carbs!

At first look, the blackened chicken tenders may seem as if it’s fried in batter. Upon close inspection, you’ll see that it’s batter-free!

It is, however, flavored with Cajun seasoning, which gives it its darker color and infuses it with a remarkable flavor that you can’t find in any of their chicken dishes.

How to order: Same with the Chicken Tenders, this comes in 3-, 5-, 8-piece set. If you’re nearing your allowed carbohydrate consumption for the day, we suggest going with the 3-piece set. But if you’re hungry and want a full meal, a 5-piece set is recommended.

Nutrition Facts: The 3-piece set contains 170 calories, 2 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein, and 2 grams of carbs. On the other hand, the 5-piece set has 283 calories, 3 grams of fat, 43 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs.

Spicy Fried Chicken Thighs

Yes, Popeyes Spicy fried chicken thighs are covered with batter. Nevertheless, we included it in this list since you always can remove the breading/ batter before eating it. This may seem a bit messy, but it’s the most favorite trick that keto dieters use, and it works!

How to order: Order it without the biscuit.

Nutrition Facts: One serving of spicy thighs will give you 260 calories, 18 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 8 grams of carbs.

Original Drumsticks

If you don’t like your chicken spicy, you can always go for the classic. Popeyes Original Drumsticks is as crispy and flavorful as their spicy chicken thighs without the spice!

But same with their fried chicken thighs, this is breaded too, so you need to remove the breading before eating.

How to Order: Ask for the original drumstick without any of the sides.

Nutrition Facts: One chicken drumstick will give you 160 calories, 9 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 5 grams of carbs.

Bonafide Chicken Wing

For people who want their chicken to be a bit spicy but not too spicy, you can order their Bonafide Chicken wing as it comes with two options—mild or spicy. Again, you need to pull off the breading from the chicken to keep the dish low-carb.

How to Order: Ask for the bonafide chicken wing and choose your desired level of spiciness—mild or spicy. Hold the sides.

Nutrition Fact: A whole chicken wing has 210 calories, 14 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 8 grams of carb, and 1 gram of fiber.

Breakfast Biscuits

If you’re wondering if Popeyes has something in store for you for breakfast, the answer is yes. They have breakfast biscuits like egg and sausage biscuit or sausage or bacon biscuit.

But while their biscuit is one of the best items they have on their menu, you should remember that this one is not keto-friendly.

How to order: So how do you make it keto-friendly? Simple. Order the breakfast biscuit of your choice and ask them to hold the biscuit. You’ll be left with either sausage and egg or bacon—which are all low carb.

Nutrition Fact: The nutritional content of your order will vary depending on what type of breakfast biscuit you choose.

Just search the nutritional content of the breakfast biscuit on the Popeyes website and subtract the macros of the Popeyes biscuit, which is 207 calories, 13 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber.

Popeyes Low Carb Dipping Sauces

Even if you’re one keto, you can still take advantage of Popeyes dipping sauces. However, please take note that not all of them are suitable for your diet. For keto, these are the top picks:

Blackened Ranch

This is ranch made more flavorful. Based on how the blackened chicken tenders were prepared, our guess is this is ranch dressing with Cajun powder/ sauce. This is one of the best options in boosting the fat content of your Popeyes meal.

Nutrition Facts: One serving of blackened ranch contains 118 calories, 13 grams of fats, 1 gram of protein, and only 2 grams of carbs.

Buttermilk Ranch

All keto dieters know that this is one of the safest sauce to consume on keto. Even if this one’s creamy and tasty, it doesn’t contain as much sugar or carbs that you may find in other sauces.

It’s usually used on salads and as vegetable sticks dip, but it works well with chicken as well.

Nutrition Facts: A serving of buttermilk ranch will give you 150 calories, 15 grams of fats, 0 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs.

Mardi Gras Mustard

Last but not least, we have the Mardi Gras Mustard, which gives a new depth of flavor than the first two ranch dressings. It’s also commonly used for chicken sandwich.

Nutrition Facts: In a single serving, you’ll get 75 calories, 9 grams of fats, 1 gram of protein, and 5 grams of carbs.

Which Dishes Should You Avoid When Eating Low Carb at Popeyes?

As mentioned, most Popeyes items are not recommended for the keto diet. To stay in ketosis, you should never order the following food items:

Side Dishes:

  • Coleslaw (11g net carbs)
  • Red Beans and Rice (16g net carbs)
  • Biscuits (19g net carbs)
  • Mashed Potatoes and Cajun Gravy (16g net carbs)
  • Cajun Fries (30g net carbs)
  • Cajun Rice (22g net carbs)

Chicken Dishes:

  • Handcrafted Crispy Chicken Tenders (27g net carbs)
  • Handcrafted Nuggets (13g net carbs)
  • Classic Chicken Sandwich (48 net carbs)
  • Spicy Chicken Sandwich (48.04 net carbs)
  • Loaded Chicken Wrap (32 net carbs)

Seafood Dishes:

  • Popcorn Shrimp (25g net carbs)
  • Cajun Fish Filet (35g net carbs)
  • Butterfly Shrimp (30g net carbs)
  • Catfish Fillet (26g net carbs)

Dipping Sauces:

  • Sweet Heat Sauce (19g net carbs)
  • Bold BBQ (10g net carbs)
  • Bayou Buffalo (16g net carbs)
  • Creole Cocktail (7g net carbs)

Drinks and Dessert:

  • Mardi Gras Cheesecake (31g net carbs)
  • Apple Cinnamon Pie (34g net carbs)
  • Mississippi Mud Cake (48g net carbs)
  • Edwards Sliced Pecan Pie (51g net carbs)
  • Sweet Potato Pie (41g net carbs)
  • All sweetened drinks and beverage

Final Words

If we’re honest, we’ll say that eating keto at Popeyes is not as easy as ordering keto in other fast-food restaurants.

But even though finding keto-friendly menu items at Popeyes is not a piece of cake, it’s still possible for you to stick with your keto diet when you’re at Popeyes.

All you need to do is pay attention not just to the carbohydrate content of the meals but also their fat content!

Janella Diaz

Janella Diaz is a pharmacist-turned-freelance-writer who loves to read medical and health books and exploring various fitness sites during her downtime. She struggled with high blood sugar levels a few years back, and that’s when she discovered the beauty and benefits of the ketogenic diet. Now, she has made it her life’s mission to help people further understand what a keto diet and assist keto dieters in making the most out of their diet.

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