KFC Vs Popeyes: How Far Will $10 Go?

When you have a craving for fried chicken but only want to spend $10, it can be a challenge to decide where to go. In the end, you want to get the most food for your money, but you also want to get food that tastes good. KFC has restaurants around the world and has been in the chicken business for over seven decades, making it a clear option. However, Popeyes has become ever more popular in recent years, with long lines of people waiting to eat the chain's chicken. We decided we'd embark on a journey of discovery to both KFC and Popeyes to determine which one you should go to with your $10.

It made the most sense for us to order similar items from both Popeyes and KFC to see how far our $10 would go in each restaurant. While Popeyes has recently become famous for its chicken sandwich, the most iconic menu items for both restaurants are their bone-in fried chicken, biscuits, and sides. So, we visited the restaurants on different days during the noon lunch rush hour and made similar orders to get a fair idea of how they compared to each other. There was a clear winner, and the results surprised us.

What we were able to order with $10 at Popeyes

When we first started our quest to determine how far $10 would go at KFC and Popeyes, we encountered an online ad from Popeyes offering five pieces of dark meat chicken, two sides, and two biscuits for only $9.99. However, once we checked the app, it became apparent that this offer wasn't available locally and would require a 40-mile trip to acquire. If you end up having to spend valuable time and extra money on gas to get a good deal, it's no longer a good deal.

Instead of being able to spend $10 to feed two people, we were left with Popeyes' 3-Piece Chicken Combo. It costs $8.59 and includes three pieces of dark meat chicken (two legs and a thigh), one side order, a biscuit, and a small soft drink. We decided on spicy chicken since it's a Popeyes specialty and mashed potatoes with Cajun gravy so we could compare it to KFC's mashed potatoes. Since Popeyes offers Coke products, we got a Sprite. The only other item we could purchase with our remaining funds was another biscuit for $1.29. In total, we spent $9.88.

With Popeyes being extremely popular, we had to wait seven minutes to get to the cashier during the noon hour rush. However, our order was ready 24 seconds from the moment the cashier told us our total, which was pretty impressive. We weren't even finished paying yet before it was waiting for us.

What we were able to order with $10 at KFC

The Popeyes and KFC we visited are only about a third of a mile from each other, so their prices are extremely competitive. The 3-Piece Chicken Combo was the KFC menu item most similar in price and content to the 3-piece combo from Popeyes. We spent a total of $9.78, which was a mere $0.10 less than what we spent at Popeyes. However, there were some significant differences.

Like Popeyes, the $8.59 combo included three pieces of dark-meat fried chicken, one side, a biscuit, and a small soft drink. However, instead of getting two legs and a thigh like at Popeyes, we got two thighs and a leg, which gave us slightly more meat. KFC's famous mashed potatoes and gravy was the obvious choice for the side. As a carrier of Pepsi products, the closest choice to the Sprite we ordered at Popeyes was Sierra Mist. As at Popeyes, the only other menu item we could afford with our $10 was an extra biscuit for $1.19. So, for $0.10 less than at Popeyes ($9.78), we could get mainly the same items but slightly more meat.

We found nobody standing in line and nobody at the drive-through when we got to KFC during the noon rush hour, so we had no wait to make our order with the cashier. However, the wait for the food was a minute and 12 seconds.

The nutritional information for our Popeyes order

A fried chicken dinner is a hard hitter when it comes to calories, fat, cholesterol, carbs, and sodium. There's just no getting around it. When you have the three-piece chicken meal with mashed potatoes and Sprite at Popeyes, you can expect to consume 1390 calories, 69 grams of fat, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 3455 milligrams of sodium, 146 grams of carbs, and 77 grams of sugar. Unfortunately, if you eat everything in this chicken dinner, you will have consumed more fat and sodium than the recommended daily amount (via the Food and Drug Administration). So it may be a good idea to share the meal or save some for tomorrow's leftovers.

Despite the pieces of chicken being smaller at Popeyes and containing two legs and a thigh (instead of two thighs and a leg), Popeyes' meal is higher in calories and fat. The main differences seem to come from the calorie and fat content of the chicken and biscuits. The Sprite also has more sugar in it than the Sierra Mist we got at KFC.

The nutritional information for our KFC order

Just like Popeyes' 3-piece chicken meal, KFC's is definitely on the unhealthy side. It contains 1290 calories, 68.8 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of cholesterol, 3475 milligrams of sodium, 157 milligrams of carbs, and 70 grams of sugar. So, eating the whole 3-piece meal in one sitting will max out your fat and sodium for the day and then some. If you're watching your fat and sodium, you may want to be mindful of eating this full meal. It's certainly enough food to share or save for leftovers.

Despite featuring two thighs and a leg rather than two legs and a thigh, The KFC 3-piece meal has fewer calories and less fat than the Popeyes meal. However, it comes out higher in cholesterol, sodium, and carbs. So, depending on your health-related dietary requirements, KFC's nutritional content may be the worse dietary choice of the two. And if the cooks get happy with the salt shaker (like it appeared they did the day we visited), you may be getting even more sodium than listed in the nutritional stats.

What we thought about our Popeyes order

We ordered the spicy chicken since Popeyes is known for its spicy Cajun food, having originated in Louisiana. It was crispy and delectably juicy. The spice level was just right without being too fiery for those unaccustomed to spicy food. The chicken pieces were on the small side compared to KFC, but they were still in the ordinary range as far as bone-in chicken goes.

In the past, we've found Popeyes' oil to taste odd. Redditors who have worked at Popeye's say that it's a solid shortening, and an announcement from Popeyes indicates that it contains palm oil or palm kernel oil. While the oil still had that specific Popeyes oil flavor, it seemed far fresher than usual.

The buttermilk biscuits were the star. They were flakey outside and soft inside. The butter wasn't real, but it seemed to add to the overall biscuit taste. The mashed potatoes with Cajun gravy were better than we remembered. The gravy was tasty and contained meat, green peppers, and pepper, but the potatoes themselves were the fakest of fake. Even the Sprite was good. It wasn't as fizzy as we would have liked it, but it was also not immensely sweet. Overall, we were impressed with the quality and flavor of what we ate at Popeye's. It was more food than we could eat for $10, and we left pretty happy.

What we thought about our KFC order

Our feelings about our KFC order weren't as nice as our feelings about our Popeyes order. While they didn't have spicy chicken available, they did have extra crispy chicken. The pieces were also much bigger at KFC than at Popeyes. The chicken was nice and juicy, but the crust tasted like nothing but an overwhelming amount of salt. If there were 11 herbs and spices mixed in with the salt, we couldn't detect them. There also was more fat on the chicken than at Popeyes. Oh, and we found a chicken feather sticking up from the chicken skin, which wasn't terribly appetizing.

In the past, the mashed potatoes and gravy have been one of the best things about eating at KFC. The potatoes aren't made from scratch, but they have a nice tang. Unfortunately, this time around, the gravy tasted oddly bitter. Likewise, the biscuits weren't good. While they were golden with fake butter on the outside, they were doughy on the inside. The Sierra Mist wasn't very fizzy, and it was also sweeter than the Sprite from Popeyes.

Overall, we weren't impressed with the quality or flavor of the meal at KFC. Something has happened to KFC in the last few years, and it's not a good change. We had far more than we could (or wanted to) eat for $10, and we left feeling dissatisfied with our meal.

Our verdict on which restaurant is the better choice for $10

Speaking from a fried chicken connoisseur point of view, neither KFC nor Popeyes were pinnacles of fried chicken wonder. However, Popeyes was the clear winner when it came to food quality. With only a $0.10 difference in price between the two, you want to eat where the food tastes better. In this case, the better combo is available at Popeyes. And we're surprised because, at one time, most people would easily have said that KFC had the best-tasting chicken.

The fact that there was nobody in the drive-through or order line when we got to KFC while everyone was at Popeyes should have been a hint about which fried chicken restaurant had the best food. If you're ever in doubt, go to the busier restaurant when they're practically next door to each other. The locals know. Sure, KFC was $0.10 less and had more meat for the money, but the food was far inferior. Redditors, too, have found KFC's chicken to be in deep decline over the past few years.

If your KFC and Popeyes are located close to each other, chances are that you'll see very similar price points since they're in such close competition. $10 gets you enough food for leftovers or to share in both restaurants. Of course, there's always the possibility of one having a special deal allowing you to make your $10 go further. But, in the end, quality may make you happier than quantity.