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Popeyes chicken nuggets
Photograph: Courtesy Popeyes

Are Popeyes’ new chicken nuggets worth the hype?

Spoiler alert: We're sticking with the sandwich for now

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Written by
Morgan Olsen
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Two weeks ago – upon finding out that Popeyes was rolling out new chicken nuggets modeled after its fan-favorite chicken sandwich – I wondered aloud whether the move would elicit a full-on chicken nugget war. Today, I was finally able to put my theory to the test when I got my hands on the new menu item. (Psst! Some delivery apps don't have the new nuggets listed just yet, but you'll find them at your nearest Popeyes location in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico as of July 27.)

So, how do Popeyes' new chicken nuggets stack up? At first glance, they look incredibly encouraging – the breading is craggy, thick and golden, just like the promotional images promise. You can get 'em in orders of eight, 12, 24, 36 and 48 (!!) or opt for a smaller serving by ordering a kids meal (four or six pieces).

For reference, here's what a box of 12 looks like IRL; not pictured: two sauces, a biscuit, fries and a soda – all of which is included in the small combo, priced at $8.89.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets
Photograph: Morgan Olsen

Unfortunately, my first bite was a total miss – the chicken was thick and rubbery, and the breading felt inexplicably flimsy. Things only got better from there, with the second and third nuggets revealing tender, juicier white meat. But even then, the hand-battered buttermilk breading felt loose, peeling away from the meat and crumbling in my hands with every bite.

Do Popeyes' chicken nuggets taste just like the brand's fan-favorite fried chicken sandwich? While I have no doubt that the kitchen is using the same breading technique on these poppable bites, the real beauty of the sandwich is in the sum of its parts – the pillowy brioche bun, craggy fried chicken, zippy pickles and creamy sauce. Nuggets are a different beast, even when they're dunked in loads of sauce and served with fries.

If you've impatiently scrolled to the bottom of this article for my final verdict, here it is: Popeyes' new chicken nuggets are decent (good even!), especially if you like seeing real white breast meat in your fast food. Are they revolutionary? Eh. Will they start a chicken nugget war? Only time will tell.

If you find yourself cruising through the Popeyes drive-thru this week, try the chicken nuggets in the kids meal – then, toss in what you really came for: the unbeatable fried chicken sandwich.

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