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I Tried Popeyes' New Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich & It Fell Short on Flavor

The new Golden BBQ sandwich is a saucy alternative to the classic.

Popeyes' fried chicken sandwich is still widely lauded as the best in the fast-food industry, years after its 2019 launch and after scores of rival chains have tried to replicate its success with their own premium chicken sandwiches. So it should come as no surprise that a new chicken sandwich from Popeyes immediately began garnering major buzz when it hit the menu this week.

The new Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich features a buttermilk-battered chicken breast, a sweet and tangy Golden BBQ sauce, and barrel-cured pickles on a buttery, toasted brioche bun. The Golden BBQ sauce is the only element that sets the new sandwich apart from the original, which comes with classic mayo instead. A Popeyes near me in central New Jersey is currently selling the new item for $5.99, but prices could vary by location.

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Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Chef Amy Alarcon, vice president of culinary innovation at Popeyes, said they had the lunch crowd in mind when crafting the new offering.

"We wanted to create something that reminds our guests why they should love lunchtime," Alarcon said in a statement. "The Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich brings a rich combination of sweet and tangy with every bite, perfect for those looking to zest up their midday meal. It's about bringing a little joy, a little excitement, and a lot of flavor to the table—or the desk, as it may be."

I've adored Popeyes' classic chicken sandwich from the moment I took my first bite a few years ago. The chicken is always juicy, crispy, and well-seasoned. The bun is always soft and buttery. The pickles are always tangy and crunchy, and the mayo provides a pop of creamy richness.

All in all, I consider it to be one of the absolute best fast-food items on the market right now. So when the new Golden BBQ version debuted this week, I jumped at the opportunity to give it a try and see how it measures up to the original. Read on for my full review!

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Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Zoe Strozewski for Eat This, Not That!
Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich (Per Serving)
Calories: 620
Fat: 32 g (Saturated Fat: 12 g, Trans Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 1,550 mg
Carbs: 54 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 28 g

The look: When I first pulled this sandwich out of the bag, it looked so similar to Popeyes' original chicken sandwich that I wondered if they'd given me the wrong order. But upon further inspection, I discovered a decent layer of the new Golden BBQ sauce on both the top and bottom bun. The condiment had a slightly creamy consistency and a light golden tint, which made it look closer to a spicy mayo or honey mustard than classic barbecue sauce.

Meanwhile, the bun was soft and toasted, the pickle slices were thick and plentiful, and the chicken was an attractive golden brown color with tons of craggly, crispy breading bits.

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Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich cross section
Zoe Strozewski for Eat This, Not That!

The taste: Surprisingly lacking in "Golden BBQ" flavor. The new sauce was decently tangy and slightly sweet when I tried it on its own. But when I bit into the sandwich, it was almost completely overwhelmed by the strong flavors of the seasoned chicken and those zingy pickles.

For that reason, the new sandwich tasted remarkably similar to the original. That's not necessarily a bad thing because I still love Popeyes' original chicken sandwich—and this one was particularly tasty thanks to a super crispy layer of breading and those thick, crunchy pickles.

However, I don't quite see the point of adding a new chicken sandwich that's not super distinct from the classic, especially when the original is so darn good. The sandwich would be much deserving of a spot on the Popeyes menu if there was significantly more Golden BBQ sauce, or if the sauce recipe was reworked to make it more flavorful.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe