Sometimes you’re on the road and just want something quick and delicious to sit down and enjoy. There are plenty of fast food options to choose from, but Popeyes is definitely a flavorful one! This fried chicken joint does have a few low carb options so you can get your chicken and enjoy it on the go!
When you think of Popeyes you probably think of fried chicken. That is their main and best selling point, however they do have a secret keto friendly item you may not know about. The blackened chicken tenders at Popeyes are a real low carb treat!
For more keto fast food ordering guides read our comprehensive post.
Keto Meal Options at Popeyes
Popeyes doesn’t have many keto options, but the ones the do have are pretty tasty! We’ll discuss the low carb options from sauces and meat, to sides and drinks.
Low Carb Blackened Chicken Tenders
These low carb blackened tenders are a great keto option for those wanting a hefty serving of meat. Their blackened chicken tenders are high in protein and lower in fat so you can add in the fat macros with your favorite sauces. They are coated in their signature blackened chicken seasoning and then fried to crispy perfection. Don’t let the word fried scare you though. These blackened tenders are a breading free low carb option perfect for your ketogenic diet.
What are the Macros?
Macros will always vary a bit based on the size of blackened tenders you get, but for a basic measurement:
A 3 Piece Blackened Tenders Has: 170 calories, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 26 grams of protein.
A 5 Piece Blackened Tenders Has: 283 calories, 3 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and 43 grams of protein.
A 10 Piece Blackened Tenders Has: 566 calories, 6 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, and 86 grams of protein.
To note these are the total carbs and net carbs. Even without breading these blackened chicken tenders have 2-6 grams of carbs. That is because all the spices in the blackened seasoning add up to create the carb count. We recommend if you are eating carnivore to get the 5 piece or 10 piece blackened chicken tenders option as a meal. If not, you may want to get the smaller order of chicken tenders and pair it with another low carb option.
Low Carb Sides at Popeyes
Sadly there are not too many low carb options at this fried chicken joint. They are known for biscuits and mashed potatoes with gravy, two things that are definitely not keto. There is a hidden gem in the chicken sandwich world that is Popeyes though, green beans. Popeyes is known for their flavorful slow cooked green beans and turkey bacon. While it might not be the most exciting low carb side ever, keto at Popeyes is still possible.
Most fried chicken fast food restaurants will have some kind of green bean side dishes. To make a solid keto meal pair a regular side of green beans with a 3 piece of the blackened chicken tenders.
Per Regular Order of Green Bean and Bacon: 40 Calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of NET CARBS, and 2 grams of protein.
Keto Meal of 3 Blackened Chicken Tenders + Bacon Green Beans: 210 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs, 6 grams of NET CARBS, and 28 grams of protein.
They may not have a ton of side dishes, but their minimal grams of carbs in the green beans and chicken work well for a keto dieter. Stay strong and say no to the chicken sandwich and a biscuit 😆.
Keto Drink Options
You will definitely want to avoid sugary sodas and drinks on a keto diet which begs the question, “What can I drink at Popeyes on keto?” Popeyes low carb drink options are perfect for those picking up some fast food chicken, but want to avoid the carbs.
Soda and Bubbles
For those looking to get their sweet carbonated fix on a low carb keto diet, Popeyes has you covered. Popeyes carries both diet Coke and diet Pepsi. No matter which team you’re on you’ll have both options on their menu.
Regular Drink Menu
Obviously they will have water, but they also have the addition of iced tea. Iced tea can be bought sweetened or unsweetened there, however the keto menu option is unsweetened. If you want to order a sweeter drink menu item, try bringing 1-2 packets of stevia to mix in with your plain tea and ask for a lemon wedge to go with it.
The Sauce Menu
Menu is not an exaggeration. This fast food chicken restaurant has a whole menu just for sauces. Only some are okay for a keto diet though, so it’s best to talk about what you should look for in a sauce first. The menu ranges from sweet and spicy options, to creamy traditional ones. Whatever you prefer with your chicken, we’re going to break down the overall best sauces for keto at Popeyes.
Picking a Sauce
None of the sauces at fast food restaurants will be ideal. Most have lots of added sugars and cheap oils. Low quality oils high in omega sixes can cause inflammation and mess with your keto diet(1). The sauces with the least net carbs will be ones you bring yourself, but we know not everyone wants to do that. That is why we ranked their sauces from best to worst based on carb counts and sugar below so you can pick your favorite.
From Best Sauce to Worst…
We’ll show carb counts as well as net carbs so you can breakdown what’s really going into each packet of sauce. Each of these sauces come in 1 oz packets:
The Best Sauces
Blackened Ranch- The blackened ranch is a flavorful take on traditional ranch. It’s low in carbs and high in fat perfect for a low carb diet: 118 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs, 2 grams of net carbs, and 1 gram of protein.
Buttermilk Ranch- This is the standard low carb sauce we all know and love. It pairs great with chicken and even better with your strict keto diet 😉 : 150 calories, 15 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, 3 grams of net carbs, and 0 grams of protein.
Mardi Gras Mustard- A mustard based sauce great for those who want a more flavorful dipping companion: 75 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of net carbs, and 1 gram of protein
The Worst Sauces
Here’s where it starts to go south (no pun intended), avoid these sauces:
Bayou Buffalo: 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, 16 grams of net carbs, and 2 grams of protein
BoldBQ: 220 calories, 15 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 10 grams of net carbs, 1 gram of protein
Sweet Heat: 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbs, 19 grams of net carbs, and 0 grams of protein
Creole Cocktail: 30 calories, 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, 7 grams of net carbs, 0 grams of protein
The dipping sauces menu can be a tricky one to navigate, but don’t worry. This guide was designed to help you find the best low carb menu options to order the next time you’re at Popeyes.
What to Avoid at Popeyes
Run forest run, these are some of the worst menu items at Popeyes that you will want to avoid at all costs. They are not low carb, packed with sugar and grain, and worse, might even trick you into thinking their keto!
Meal Options NOT to Order
If we listed specific items to not order it would practically be their whole menu. So instead we’ll talk about some of the most popular menu items, and WHY to skip them.
- Fried Chicken Sandwich- It is best to not order anything on the menu with breading. This item specifically though will not only have breading on the chicken, but also breading on top of their original chicken’s breading by adding a bun.
- Fried Chicken Leg, Wings, ect.- These once again have breading that you will not want to eat. While the wings may be lower carb 7-8 grams, that’s per piece. Most people will eat 3-5 chicken wings a piece. Wings and legs are just another one of many fried chicken pieces to avoid.
There are main categories to avoid- bread and breading, but that’s not to say one is any worse than the other. Both are always going to be bad for a keto diet, so don’t be afraid to ask the workers if you are concerned about any item having breading.
If you are transitioning to keto a good first step would be to ask the Popeyes for a chicken sandwich without the bun, or just order blackened tenders and only one piece of regular chicken. This way you skip the carbs by ordering without the bun, but still don’t feel deprived during your transition to keto. Breading even without the bun is NOT KETO, but it’s a step in the right direction and that’s a good way to begin.
Sides NOT to Order
Just like the bun above you’ll want to skip that oh so delicious complementary biscuit. Most of the sides at Popeyes will not work for keto. The best keto side is the green beans and bacon. Everything else is wheat, potatoes, and sugar. In summary you’ll want to pass on the:
- Red beans and rice
- Cajun fries
- Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
- Cajun Rice
All these menu item sides are definitely not okay on a keto diet. There is one menu item missing from our list though, and that’s coleslaw…
A Sneaky Side
Now that you know the only okay side is green beans i’m sure you’re wondering why you can’t have coleslaw too. A regular sized serving of coleslaw at Popeyes has a whopping 220 calories, 19 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of sugar! Coleslaw may seem keto but at Popeyes it’s anything but.
Final Menu Items to Skip
It’s obvious you’ll need to avoid the desserts and sugary sodas at all costs. Incase you’re even considering a treat, their Mardi Gras Cheesecake alone has 32 grams of carbs (31 grams of net carbs) and 22 grams of sugar!
You’ll also want to pass on some of their not so low carb chicken dipping sauces. Avoid the Creole Cocktail, Bayou Buffalo, Sweet Heat, and BoldBQ.
Tips for Ordering at Popeyes
If you’re ready to place your order at Popeyes, here are a few tips to make it go smoothly:
- Go in with confidence. While they aren’t used to people ordering chicken that isn’t fried, hold your ground. You may need to be patient as it could take a bit of extra time for the chicken to cook, but you should get it without any issues.
- Patience is key. Again their blackened chicken isn’t the norm so it isn’t always readily available. They may need to cook some up as the shelf time is shorter on this fresh chicken product.
- Speak clearly and be sure to clarify. If you are someone who knows you’ll eat a biscuit if they put it in the box, clearly say “please leave out the biscuit I avoid gluten.” This way they will simply leave it out entirely and you can enjoy your chicken and green beans in peace.
- Get in a fat source. Whether that be a low carb sauce with your chicken, or to add butter in your green beans. Make sure the meal you order has plenty of fat to keep your keto macros strong.
Popeyes low carb menu options aren’t difficult to order, just stick to your ground and don’t let them give you the biscuit, or it may just disappear into your stomach…
More Ways to Order Keto
Are you a fast food fanatic who just loves the on the go connivence, but is looking to eat a little healthier? Check out our menu and restaurant guides on how to order at some of the most popular fast food joints.
- Order Low Carb at Starbucks: If you love your mid day pick me ups check out our order guide for some of the best keto drinks at Starbucks!
- Keto at Taco Bell: If you don’t know what to order off the menu at taco bell check out our comprehensive guide all about the best low carb options at Taco Bell.
- Chick- Fil- A: If you read this Popeyes post you’re probably a chicken fanatic like us. Chicken never tastes as good as the fresh cut nuggets from Chick- Fil- A. Get your chicken order fix with the help of this menu guide.
- Keto at Dairy Queen: Dairy Queen has a variety of food items on the menu these days, and even some decent keto options.
We have tons more restaurant guides for all your favorite sit down and fast food restaurants. Check out more restaurant guides on our blog to find your favorite restaurant’s keto menu.