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Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Ingredients Exposed (See what’s in those Cajun Fries & Biscuits too!)

When Popeyes came out with their Spicy Chicken Sandwich a couple years ago, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Lines were around the block and the demand was so insane that they sold out of these sandwiches for weeks. (1) My first thought was, “What in the world is in those things that people can’t seem to get enough?”

I had to know what was in them!

Popeyes doesn’t publish their ingredients on their website like other major fast places do (KFC and McDonald’s) and they generally keep their ingredients under tight wraps. There are some old Popeyes ingredient lists floating around online – but these are outdated and don’t include the Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

I contacted Popeyes and asked for their ingredients list – but they gave me their “nutrition facts” instead, which is just the calories, fat grams, etc… and really doesn’t tell you anything about what you’re actually eating.

I contacted them again… and got the same canned response. Womp Womp!

I have to admit, I’ve never eaten a Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich. I don’t eat at places who refuse to disclose their ingredients. It’s totally shady to hide what the actual ingredients are in your food, and I knew that if Popeyes wasn’t willing to share what’s in their food, I wouldn’t eat there. 

Refusing to give up, I recently contacted Popeyes AGAIN for their ingredients and to my surprise they sent me the full list of ingredients in their Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Cajun Fries, and Biscuits. YEAH!!

This has been a long time coming, so I can’t wait to share Popeyes ingredients with you. 

Now I know why Popeyes doesn’t publish their ingredients online for everyone to see… TAKE A LOOK AT THIS:

This is a far cry from how it’s marketed to us:

“Popeyes’ Spicy Chicken Sandwich features a chicken breast filet marinated in Louisiana seasonings, then battered and breaded in a new buttermilk coating. The filet is served with barrel-cured pickles and Spicy Mayonnaise on a toasted buttery brioche bun.”

Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich is spiked with MSG three times.

  1. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is injected into the chicken…
  2. It’s added to the spicy seasoning…
  3. And it’s added to the batter in the form of “Yeast Extract”, which is essentially MSG disguised by another name. Yeast Extract contains free glutamic acid, the main component of MSG.

Here’s why you don’t want MSG in your food:

MSG is purely used to make you crave their food and eat more than you should. There is simply no other reason to use MSG. Now it’s no surprise how Popeyes has hooked you on their Spicy Chicken Sandwiches and keeps you coming back for more and more. 

MSG can also help you gain weight, despite how many calories you eat…

A study from researchers at the University of North Carolina looked at the diets of 752 men and women and found those who ate MSG were more likely to be overweight or obese even with the same amount of physical activity and calorie intake. So even if you’re NOT overeating, MSG could be silently packing on pounds. (2)

MSG is also an excitotoxin that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases, so there are other health risks associated with it as well. (3)

Popeyes spikes their famous Cajun Fries with MSG too.

Popeyes food contains several controversial ingredients:

Artificial Colors (Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Red #3): Derived from petroleum, may cause hyperactivity in children (4) & can disrupt the immune system. (5) Red #3 was banned by the FDA from cosmetics due to its link to cancer, so it is especially concerning. (6)

Powdered Cellulose and Methylcellulose: This thickener is usually made from wood, because it’s cheap. Research links consumption of this additive (not naturally occurring when found in whole food) to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems. (7)

Sodium Aluminum Phosphate: Contains aluminum (a neurotoxin) which can build up in your body over time. (8)

Soybean Oil: This unhealthy oil is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. (9)

BHT: Risky preservative linked to cancer. Unnecessary and not permitted in Europe or Australia. (10)

Dimethylpolysiloxane: Main ingredient in Silly Putty. Was commonly used as a filler fluid in breast implants, however this substance was phased out due to safety concerns. (11) If this substance is considered to be a hazardous ingredient when it’s placed inside our bodies, doesn’t it make you wonder why the FDA says we can eat it?

And let’s talk about Popeyes Biscuits…


Popeyes Biscuits aren’t like grandma used to make! They may contain buttermilk…but they also contain artificial flavors, carrageenan (linked to intestinal inflammation), Potassium Sorbate (linked to DNA damage), and Aluminum (a neurotoxin). No thanks! 

Popeyes says they’re banning 120 artificial ingredients by 2025:

At Popeyes US, we’re working towards banning 120 artificial ingredients and offering a menu that is free from colors, flavors, and preservatives from artificial sources by 2025, wherever possible.” – Popeyes Website, June 2022 (12)

I’m not buying this. Here’s why:

Popeyes is owned by Restaurant Brands International (who also owns Burger King). Burger King recently “Blacklisted” 120 artificial ingredients from their food… but when I looked into this I found that this was a bunch of B.S. (13) Many of the ingredients they banned from their food are not approved by the FDA anyway, and their food is still riddled with controversial ingredients. Will Popeyes ban the same 120 ingredients? This is likely. That’s why it’s a pretty safe bet that Popeyes commitment to serving real food without artificial ingredients is B.S. too and just a shady marketing ploy. 

What about the chicken itself? Is Popeyes chicken from a factory farm?

Our chicken is free of added hormones and steroids. In the US, our chicken is now also raised without the use of antibiotics important to human medicine, as defined by the World Health Organization.” – Popeyes Website, June 2022 (12)

Popeyes claims their chicken is “free of added hormones”, but this actually means nothing. All chicken in the U.S. is free from added hormones because it’s been banned since the 1950’s. (14)

They also claim their chicken is “raised without the use of antibiotics important to human medicine”, which means they aren’t using antibiotics that are also used on humans. They may routinely use OTHER antibiotics when raising chicken, which is concerning. (15) That’s because the overuse of any antibiotic in animal agriculture has the ability to contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is a huge threat to our health – meaning that in the future if you get an infection, you won’t be able to treat it with antibiotics anymore because they don’t work. (15)

“Eliminating medically important antibiotics for growth purposes is now the standard in the meat and poultry industry, so restaurants or meat producers that have this policy aren’t doing anything beyond what they’re already supposed to be doing.”Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist at Consumer Reports. (15)

Thanks to the work and a petition by Compassion in World Farming asking Popeyes to stop factory farming practices (16), Popeyes has agreed to some changes. By 2024, Popeyes committed to transitioning their breeds, providing more space and enhanced living environments (litter quality, lighting, etc) for their chickens per GAP standards. (17) While this is good, I don’t personally believe it’s enough.

This is why I rarely eat chicken from restaurants.

When I’m craving a chicken sandwich, there is nothing better than making one at home with pastured chicken and organic ingredients. I perfected the perfect “fried” chicken sandwich (which is actually baked) that tastes like a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and even better actually.

You’ll find the recipe in my New York Times best selling cookbook, Food Babe Kitchen. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can give the recipe a try here

Please share the truth about Popeyes ingredients with your friends by hitting the share buttons on this page. 

Isn’t it time that everyone knows what they are REALLY eating at Popeyes?

Xo,

Vani

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