Popeye's Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich Is An Interesting, But Underwhelming, Twist

A few years ago, Popeye's was a main contender (and to many, the outright winner) of the fast-food chicken sandwich wars — a marketing battle that seemingly involved every eatery with a drive-thru. Popeye's efforts were popular enough to cause full-blown fistfights at several of the chain's branches, as customers seemingly lost it over the breaded chicken and bun combo. 

Fast forward to 2024. After Popeye's added wings in five flavors to the permanent menu, the Miami-based, Louisiana-founded company is trying to keep things fresh with a number of chicken sandwich variants. This includes establishing the newly indefinite availability of Popeye's blackened chicken sandwich for the batter-averse among you. The latest addition to the Cajun-style chain's menu is the Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich. 

As the title suggests, this is a variant of Popeye's standard chicken sandwich that includes a healthy splash of precious-metal-colored sauce. Said sauce is in the BBQ family and is launching alongside a Popeye's campaign to liven up lunch, involving New Orleans hip-hop duo SaxKixAve creating a Popeye's-themed anthem. But enough about music for now — it's time to take a look at Popeye's new take on the chicken sandwich. 

What is Popeye's Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich?

The bulk of the sandwich is Popeye's chicken filet. It's the same thing you get in the chain's regular chicken sandwich, and it's the reason Popeye's triumphed in the sandwich wars we all witnessed a while back. The filet can either come standard, or you can order the Popeye's blackened chicken sandwich version — with the latter being an unbreaded, well-seasoned, and intensely grilled piece of chicken breast. The version I tried was battered before it is fried, giving it that distinct crispy coating Popeye's chicken is known for. Whichever style you order, the chicken is marinated in seasonings for at least 12 hours, which gives it that distinct texture, moisture, and depth of flavor.  

If you want to mix things up a lot more, you can make some customizations to the sandwich. This includes adding a slice of Havarti cheese — one of the best picks for a grilled cheese sandwich — and some pieces of Applewood smoked bacon. This isn't anything too distinct from the options you get with Popeye's other sandwiches, but increased customization is always welcome. 

Popeye's famous filet isn't the only thing the Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich has in common with the standard variant. You'll get the same brioche bun as the regular version and a few pickles are in place to help mix up the texture and add a touch of tang.

Where to find Popeye's Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Popeye's is launching its Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich on May 7 at participating restaurants from coast to coast, so your neighborhood location could have it available now or before long. If you want to try this debut, Popeye's is running a promotion to celebrate the launch of the Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich. 

Joining the sandwich premiere, New Orleans hip-hop duo SaxKixAve — consisting of Alfred Banks and Grammy-nominated saxophonist Albert Allenback — created a Popeye's-themed anthem aiming to "Bring Back Lunch" that can be found on YouTube. And the connected "Lunch Money FUNds" campaign involves Popeye's dropping enough "lunch money" into a user's rewards account to cover the cost of a chicken sandwich. You don't have to use the credit to purchase a Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich, as it will also cover the original version, but this seems like a golden opportunity to try it for yourself.

Taste test: Popeye's Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich

So what's the difference? Well, it's all down to the Golden BBQ sauce, which Popeye's describes as sweet and tangy. As for what difference that makes to the flavor, we tried one to find out for ourselves. 

While the sauce did have a distinct tang and noticeable sweetness on its own, it didn't really stand out against the sandwich itself. It was a bit of a background flavor that you needed to specifically look for, instead of a burst of flavor that makes the sandwich distinct. The batter surrounding the filet might be to blame here. While it's thick, crunchy, and delicious — and may actually be the reason people pick Popeye's — it is quite absorbent and overpowering to a degree. So you'll need a lot more sauce, or something intensely flavored, to make that sauce stand out. This may lead to a swimming-in-sauce situation, as both sides of the bun were hit with the condiment.

The sauce may be a lot more noticeable if you order the blackened chicken version, as that has no batter or breading — but I didn't try this variety, so I can't say for sure. A cheese layer may have also allowed some sauce to pool, which may have given it more of a chance.

Beyond the sauce, the rest of the sandwich is what you'd expect. The bun is soft and sweet, the chicken is thick and juicy, and the pickles are a nice touch.

Is Popeye's Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich worth it?

The price of this sandwich will vary depending on location, but the amount is reported to be about $5 or so, roughly on par with what you will pay for a plain Popeye's chicken sandwich. I'm hesitant to call a Popeye's sandwich dry; the chain's chicken is very moist and can be eaten on its own without issue. However, the touch of extra moisture this sauce provides may be enough to make it a go-to, even if the flavor was less intense than I would have liked.

As with other limited-edition sandwiches, there is that sense of "well, I tried it" that comes along with eating the Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich. So if you're a fan of Popeye's, you should probably have at least one. It's very much in the same vein as a close competitor's honey pepper pimento chicken sandwich, though said competitor may have done a better job with its offer.