The Truth About Popeyes' Cajun Sparkle Spice Blend

Everyone loves perfect fried chicken, and no one has mastered it quite like Popeyes. After all, what other chicken chain can count some of the best chefs in the U.S. among their biggest fans? Restaurateurs Danny Meyer and David Chang love it. James Beard Award winner Wylie Dufresne served it at his wedding, First We Feast reports. His wedding! Even the late great Anthony Bourdain loved that chicken from Popeyes.

In Spring of 2019, the New Orleans-based chain debuted a new menu item: Cajun Sparkle Boneless Wings and Tots (via Brand Eating). They took a basket of marinated, battered, and deep-fried chicken breast pieces and a side of tater tots and finished it with a few shakes of Popeyes' Cajun Sparkle seasoning.

Never heard of Cajun Sparkle? You're not alone. The aforementioned Boneless Wings and Tots was the first menu item to feature it. Although Popeye's has nearly 700,000 fans on Twitter and Instagram combined, many don't know about this semi-secret spice blend that comes in packets and is available upon request at the counter or the drive-thru. Elite Daily points out that the little packets (each containing about ¼ teaspoon of Sparkle, per Top Secret Recipes) are a cult favorite among serious Popeyes fans. Cajun Sparkle, which includes garlic powder, onion powder, and red and black pepper, tastes savory and spicy. Fans of Cajun Sparkle think the peppery seasoning takes already-delicious Popeye's chicken to a new level of flavor.

Fans ask for extra packets

Don't be mad at yourself if you've been missing out on Cajun Sparkle. Lots of Popeyes customers don't know about it, but according to Secret Menu Items, it's becoming more popular. It's not just for chicken — true Cajun Sparkle fans add it to fries and biscuits, too. The website recommends asking for extra to add to your home cooking, because it's not available in stores.

You can also create a reasonable facsimile at home, thanks to Top Secret Recipes. Just combine 1 tablespoon of salt with ½ teaspoon of each of the following: ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried sage; ¼ teaspoon each of paprika and MSG; and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

If you don't believe Cajun Sparkle makes almost anything taste better, consider what social media has to say. One Twitter user says a friend introduced them to the spice and their "life has been better ever since."

One Redditor warned that copycat recipes don't measure up to the real thing, adding "This stuff is insane...I would even put it in my soda if I could." Another opined: "If you know about Cajun sparkle then you're a true popeyes fan. They always have a stash of it, they get stingy about giving it away at times."

One Twitter user summed up this devotion: "Don't mind me," they wrote. "I'm just eating Popeyes Cajun Sparkle seasoning straight out the pack."