The Healthiest Menu Item At Popeyes Might Surprise You

Wait – can we even say "Popeyes" and "healthy" in the same sentence? Of course Popeyes' food is delicious. Hardly anyone would debate that point. But Popeyes' most popular menu item (via Fast Food Nutrition), the new-ish chicken sandwich introduced in 2019, isn't going to score many points with the health-conscious. The sandwich has 699 calories, 42 grams of fat (including 14 grams of saturated fat and 1.5 grams of the dreaded trans fat), and 1,443 mg of sodium. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. People watching their salt consumption should know that one Popeyes chicken sandwich gives you 63 percent of the FDA's recommended daily intake of 2,300 mg.

If you have your heart set on a sandwich with breaded chicken breast and pickle slices, the healthier option would be Chick-fil-A. Some people say Popeyes tastes better than Chick-fil-A, but to Chick-fil-A's credit, you're only getting 440 calories and 17 grams of fat in their sandwich, according to their nutrition guide. How big of a difference is that? It's actually healthier to eat three Chick-fil-A sandwiches than it is to eat two of the Popeyes version (if you don't count the sodium).

But let's say you're fiercely loyal to Popeyes, or it happens to be a Sunday, and Chick-fil-A is closed. Is there anything you can order off the Popeyes menu that's at least a little bit good for you? What is the healthiest menu item at Popeyes?

Popeyes' healthiest item doesn't have breading

Women's Health magazine talked to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to get the scoop on 10 healthy menu options at Popeyes. To get the healthiest beverage, for example, you'd want to order the unsweetened ice tea. No surprise there. For a healthy side, Jennifer McDaniel, RDN, recommended the corn on the cob – just go light on the butter. If you're going to insist on a sandwich, steer way clear of the beloved chicken sandwich and order a loaded chicken wrap.

The nutritionist who spoke to Women's Health also came up with an overall healthiest choice at Popeyes: the handcrafted blackened chicken tenders. Popeyes sticks to its Louisiana roots with this item, which has a coating of calorie-free cajun seasoning. The chicken pieces are still fried (via Brand Eating), but dispensing with the batter and breading makes a big difference to the item's nutrition statistics. The tenders have a total of 170 calories for the three-piece order, or 283 for the five-piece. The total fat is 2 or 3 grams, depending on the size of your order. And even the five-piece stays under 1,000 mg of sodium (via Popeyes). And if you like spicy, the blackened chicken tenders deliver a serious kick, too.

The chicken tenders are less filling but still pack plenty of flavor, so the chicken chain's healthiest option is a valid choice no matter what you're going for at Popeyes.