This Is Why Popeyes' Chicken Sandwich Is So Delicious

Make no mistake about it, Popeyes' chicken sandwich has already achieved cult status and seems to be the biggest fast food news story of 2019. An all-out fast food war has broken out between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, with both McDonald's and Wendy's trying to get in on the action. Stores were forced to turn customers away when they ran out of the popular sandwich upon its initial release in August, which lead one unhappy customer to file a lawsuit for "deceptive business practices." (via NBC News).

With it's re-release on November 3, the hype hasn't died down. In fact, the fervor around the sandwich even led to a stabbing death at a Maryland Popeyes. If you haven't tried one yet, you may be thinking, "What makes this chicken sandwich so much better than all the rest?" Well, Popeyes has taken a few steps to make their chicken sandwich a standout from the competition, and judging from all the buzz, their efforts are most definitely paying off.

It's all about the bun and the bird for the Popeyes chicken sandwich

The chicken on this sandwich is definitely the star of the show, but more on that in a second. Let's discuss the bun that cradles this lovely bird. Popeyes uses a "buttery brioche bun" for its sandwich, according to Reader's Digest. This goes against the standard bun of most fast food chicken sandwiches and helps to give the bread a slightly sweeter flavor. Some fast food restaurants will charge extra for using a brioche bun, and while Chick-fil-A butters their bun, neither their sandwich or Wendy's chicken sandwich mention any use of a brioche bun. Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference. 

Alright, now for that chicken between those buns. For starters, the piece of chicken itself is larger than most other chicken sandwiches — or at least it used to be, there's some concern it may have shrunk upon its return, though Popeyes denies this (via Business Insider). The chicken cutlet is also, according to numerous reviews, juicer than its biggest competition, Chick-fil-A (via The Washington Post). Perhaps because Popeyes' chicken sandwich has a crispier breading that helps seal in the chicken's juices?

The sauce and pickles add an extra level of flavor to Popeyes' chicken sandwich

So we've pointed out that the bun and that big, crunchy, juicy chicken breast really help this chicken sandwich stand out, but that's not all the flavor magic at play here. The biggest criticism in a taste test of Chick-fil-A's sandwich compared to Popeyes' seems to be that the CFA version is too dry due to its lack of sauce (via Vice). Popeyes avoided that mistake right out of the gate.

Their chicken sandwich comes with a spicy mayo that complements the chicken cutlet's moisture without overpowering the sandwich so much that it's soggy. Popeyes also reportedly uses thicker pickles than the competition. Chick-fil-A is known for always including pickles on their chicken sandwich, but reviewers seem to think that the pickles are a little too thin and don't deliver "briny goodness into each bite" the way that Popeyes does. The number of pickles also could be a factor. The Kitchn reports that Popeyes' chicken sandwich includes three pickle slices. As for Chick-fil-A? Well, they only put two slices of pickle on a sandwich (via Reader's Digest). Well played, Popeyes. 

Popeyes used what they already had to make their chicken sandwich so good

What's particularly interesting about this chicken sandwich is that Popeyes didn't uncover some secret mystery to making the ultimate chicken sandwich — at least not that they've let on. Upon the sandwich's return, they had a press conference for it — no, we're not joking — and a lot of what makes it so good has already been at play in their kitchen. 

Head Chef, Amy Alarcon told Thrillist that the butter on the bun is the same butter they use on their biscuits. Okay, nothing new there. The spices in the mayo sauce are the same spices that are used in their spicy fried chicken. Again, nothing new. And the seasoning in the fried chicken on the sandwich is the same seasoning mixture used for the fried chicken that they've been serving in buckets for years.

None of these things may seem revolutionary, but all the ingredients together clearly made all the difference in the world. Considering how popular the sandwich is, it's no surprise that recipes abound on the internet for people who want to try to recreate their own version of this chicken sandwich at home. For the real deal, though, buying one from Popeyes is your best bet... assuming you can get your hands on one.