Finger-lickin’ chicken and fast, soul-style comfort food is probably what comes to mind when you think of Popeyes. If you’re a fan of this popular fast-food restaurant but you’re also trying to follow a ketogenic diet, you might be curious if those two could ever coexist in the same universe. Low-carb options are most certainly limited at Popeyes, but there are some keto options to be had if you know where to look. Let’s look at the Popeyes menu and explore how to stay keto at this tasty food joint.
Ditch the Breading and Go Bunless
Traditional breaded fried chicken isn’t usually keto-friendly. This includes the fried chicken breast from Popeyes, which has 14 grams of net carbs. There are 4 grams of net carbs in one Popeyes fried chicken leg. The 6-piece ghost pepper wings have 19 grams of net carbs. This especially high number of carbs is likely because it’s hand-battered and breaded.  If you ditch the breading and go for the Popeyes chicken thigh, you’re clocking in at 6 grams of net carbs.
Depending on their carb limit, goals, and metabolism, some keto dieters might be able to have a minor amount of fried chicken and stay in ketosis, especially if you watch your other carbs that day.
You can always remove the breading from the original or spicy fried chicken to lower the carb count, but many keto advocates advise against ordering any breaded fried chicken because bread and refined grains and grain flour, in general, aren’t keto-friendly and have a high glycemic index. It’s also likely you’re going to want more than just one chicken leg or thigh, so the carb count could climb quickly.
Of course, this also means fried chicken sandwiches are off the keto menu due to the bread. A classic chicken sandwich has a whopping 48 grams of net carbs, which includes the bread, of course. Some keto dieters remove the bread on the sandwiches and choose a low-carb sauce to significantly lower the carb count.
Go for the Blackened Chicken Tenders
The naked or blackened chicken tenders or ‘bunless’ naked chicken sandwiches are the best keto meal options available at some locations because they’re not breaded. Instead, they’re fried unbreaded and seasoned with the delicious Popeyes seasoning blend. If you’re unsure whether your Popeyes carries this item, you could always call ahead and ask. Order double and reheat them in the air fryer later. The juicy little tenders provide:
3 pieces: 2 grams of carbs
5 pieces: 3 grams of carbs
10 pieces: 6 grams of carbs
Be sure to order a low-carb side and dipping sauce to go with your tenders.
Popeyes Keto Side Dishes
We’re sorry to report that there really aren’t any Popeyes side dishes that are keto-approved. Unfortunately, Popeyes discontinued the popular green beans side, which had a low net carb count. Other Popeyes sides, like the onion rings and Cajun fries, are starchy or have added sugars.
Even the cole slaw has around 10 grams of net carbs, which is too high for most keto dieters.
Popeyes Keto Sauces
Sauces are one of the main places where those sneaky sugars and syrups creep in and ruin ketosis. Watch the net carb count and ask for the following keto-approved, low-carb Popeyes sauces:
Tartar sauce: 1 gram of net carbs, 0 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat
Mardi Gras mustard: 4 grams of net carbs, 1 gram of protein, 9 grams of fat
Blackened ranch dressing: 2 grams of net carbs, 1 gram of protein, 13 grams of fat
Buttermilk ranch: 3 grams of net carbs, 0 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat
The buttermilk ranch and tartar sauce are excellent keto choices that are high in fat and low in carbs. In addition to the sauces, you could ask for more butter to add to your meal and butter up those tenders!
Popeyes Keto Beverages
Sugary drinks are another way to halt ketosis, but there are keto-friendly beverages to choose from Popeyes, including:
It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated and drink good old-fashioned water with your meal, but you do have other selections if you’d like.
What to Avoid At Popeyes
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably realized that there are plenty of menu items at Popeyes that you’ll need to avoid. Here are some of the biggest ones.
Avoid high-carb sauces, including the sweet heat sauce, Bayou buffalo, and the Creole cocktail.
Stay away from the breaded fried chicken items and the sandwiches or remove the breading and go bunless. Most Popeyes meals come with a biscuit so ask them to remove the biscuit, so you aren’t tempted.
Starchy Side Dishes
You’ll also need to say no to the starchy side dishes, including:
To give you an idea, the mashed potatoes clock in at around 16 grams of net carbs, and the biscuits at 19 grams of net carbs. The popcorn shrimp has 25 grams of net carbs.
You probably already know that regular desserts aren’t keto-friendly because they contain way lots of sugar. This includes the apple pie and strawberry biscuits at Popeyes. However, you can peruse our selection of delectable dessert recipes here at Ketogenic.com. Step into your keto kitchen and sink your teeth into this creamy no-bake keto cheesecake or indulge in these low-carb chocolate fat bombs or our sweet keto apple pie.
Staying Keto at Popeyes
Popeyes isn’t the best place to go for keto dieters because there are limited options (and lots of temptations if you’re a fried chicken lover). However, it’s not a lost cause if you are willing to remove the breading and bun or order the blackened tenders or bunless blackened chicken sandwich with a low-carb sauce and beverage.
Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.
Popeyes. Popeyes USA Nutrition Guide February 2023. Nutrition FEBRUARY 2023 (rbictg.com)
Popeyes. Popeyes Nutrition Information Online. 24Pc Wings - Popeyes
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