Copycat Popeye's Chicken Sandwich

popeye's chicken sandwich

The Spruce / Leah Maroney 

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Chill and Rest: 70 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
804 Calories
48g Fat
65g Carbs
29g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 804
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g 61%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 1919mg 83%
Total Carbohydrate 65g 24%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 5mg 26%
Calcium 153mg 12%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 563mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If back in 2019 you were in line trying to get your hands on a crispy, warm, and deliciously spicy Popeye's chicken sandwich, and failed, fear no more. We have the ultimate copycat recipe for you to make at home, without the wait—or the infamous fights—that people had to endure to be able to get a bite of the now-famous sandwich. Our recipe doesn't disappoint, as the buttermilk-marinated chicken is so incredibly juicy that it could become your new go-to fried chicken. The spicy, crunchy coating makes this sandwich irresistible, plus an easy spicy mayo binds the chicken and buns with creaminess and tang.

It's said that the brioche buns used in the original sandwich are what set this one apart from similar fast-food offerings. We agree—the slightly sweet touch and eggy texture, plus the pretty sheen on top make the recipe all the better. Serve with thick, crunchy garlic dill pickles.

Because Popeye’s chicken sandwich has a very large chicken breast as the main focus, be on the lookout for chicken breasts on the thicker side when you shop for the ingredients.

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For Breading and Frying:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 4 cups canola oil, for frying

For the Spicy Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

For Assembling:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 4 brioche buns

  • 1/2 cup garlic dill pickles, sliced

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this chicken sandwich is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Marinate the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for breaded chicken

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  2. Pound the chicken breasts with a mallet between two pieces of parchment paper until they are just under 1 inch in thickness. 

    chicken breast pounded with a mallet

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  3. Cut the chicken breasts in half to fit the size of the bun. Poke the chicken breasts with the sharp end of a knife to make 4 to 5 punctures per side. 

    chicken breast cut in half

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  4. In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Whisk until completely combined. 

    buttermilk and spices whisked in a bowl

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  5. Add the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for at least one hour, or up to overnight. 

    chicken breasts marinating in buttermilk and spices

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Bread and Fry the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for chicken breading in small bowls

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney 

  2. in a shallow baking dish, whisk together the flour with all the dry spices and cayenne, if using. Add a 1/4 cup of the chicken marinade into the flour and whisk to combine. 

    flour and spices in a dish for breading

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  3. Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade and dip it into the flour mixture. Dredge both sides to coat completely. Dip it back into the buttermilk mixture and then back into the flour mixture, pressing the flour to help it coat the chicken. Repeat the process with all pieces and place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet to refrigerate for 10 minutes. This helps the batter stick to the chicken—if you don't have time, simply fry it right away. Add the oil to a cast-iron skillet, or another heavy-bottomed pan, until it reaches 350 F. 

    chicken dredged in flour and spices

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  4. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and fry for 3 to 5 minutes per side. The outside should be crispy and golden brown and the internal temperature should be 165 F. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a cooling rack over a baking sheet or on a paper-towel-lined plate. 

    breaded chicken frying in oil

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Make the Spicy Mayo

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for spicy mayonnaise in small bowls

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  2. Whisk together the mayo with the dry spices in a small bowl. Reserve.

    spicy mayo whisked in a bowl

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Assemble the Sandwich

  1. Gather the butter, buns, pickles, and spicy mayo.

    chicken sandwich buns and ingredients on a marble board

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  2. Add 1/4 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet and heat on medium to high heat. Halve the buns and place each half bun cut-side down onto the pan and toast until golden brown. Keep adding 1/4 tablespoon of butter per half and toast all halves.

    bun toasting in a pan

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  3. Spread a tablespoon of the mayo onto both sides of the buns. Add 3 to 4 sliced pickles to the bottom side of the bun. Place the chicken on the bottom and close with the top slice.

    mayonnaise and pickles on a toasted bun

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  4. Enjoy hot!

    popeye's chicken sandwich
    Finished Copycat Popeye's Sandwich.

    The Spruce/ Leah Maroney 

No Butter Milk, No Problem!

If you don’t have access to buttermilk:

  • Add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to whole milk and allow it to sit for a few minutes. This will make the milk curdle and become similar to buttermilk.