In a world dominated by heated debate over who sells the best chicken tenders, fast food options like Chick-Fil-A, Sonic, and Raising Cane’s are frequent contenders. I’ll concede the point that they all bring something delicious to the table but don’t stand a chance when compared to a Popeyes spicy tender.
From the flaky, golden batter to the visible red line of spice that trails through the juicy, white meat interior, these gorgeous little beauties are the standard that all other fast food chicken should strive for.
What truly sets them apart, though, is the selection of Popeyes sauces available for dipping them in. Like red beans and rice or catfish and hush puppies, these delicious condiments are a natural pairing for the chicken’s delta-inspired spice blend.
Next time you pull around to the second window to pick up your buttery, flaky biscuit, life-changing tenders, and crispy seasoned fries, skip the ketchup in favor of one of Popeyes sauces.
Check out our favorite Popeye’s sauces to pair with their famous chicken sandwich, tenders, and more.
Blackened Ranch Sauce
Not to be dramatic, but this mix of ranch dressing and black pepper is what dreams are made of.
It’s creamy and rich, with a spicy kick that accentuates the cajun seasoning in the restaurant’s chicken tenders.
I’m such a fan that I’m considering petitioning Hammerstein to change the lyrics in “My Favorite Things” from “Brown paper packages tied up with string” to “Black Pepper Ranch on a hot Popeyes wing.”
If you have a relative or friend passionate about throwing down on the grill and concocting their own signature sauce blends, BoldBQ won’t be anything new.
It’s pretty par for the course, with artificial smoke flavoring, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, and molasses that make for a decent dip I’d rank as equal to higher-end supermarket options.
If you’re a fan of barbecue sauce, this is a great choice to pair with some of Popeye’s best items.
Sweet Heat Sauce
In the catastrophic event that the powers that be removed Blackened Ranch from the Popeyes menu, Sweet Heat would become my new go-to.
I’m a big fan of eye-watering spicy foods, and this sauce brings plenty of heat tempered by a healthy ratio of golden honey.
Cracking open into this sauce packet will unleash an intense chili aroma that might leave more sensitive palettes sweating in nervous anticipation. Still, it’s well-balanced and by no means overwhelming.
It offers an excellent compromise between the sweet and the heat in all of its amber-colored, translucent glory.
Tartar sauce is one of the most popular condiments to pair with seafood.
This sauce is typically a mix of mayo, relish, and onion as a delicious accompaniment to seafood.
I’m not a huge tartar sauce fan, but if you’re getting the shrimp options at Popeye’s it’s a great choice! Popeye’s version is smooth and mild.
Wild Honey Mustard Sauce
I’m a fan of honey mustard, and Popeye’s Wild Honey Mustard is an exciting addition to the lineup that other condiment fans are sure to appreciate.
It’s very mustard-forward, so it starts earthy and complex with a punch of pungent tang.
Once your tongue has processed the intense vinegar flavor, honey comes through like a soothing balm and is a welcome guest to the party.
I’d recommend it to anyone who prefers dijon-based honey mustard over yellow mustard but be prepared for an unctuous and unique experience.
Buttermilk Ranch Sauce
Buttermilk ranch is ubiquitous at chicken tender restaurants, offering tang and creaminess that’s hard to get wrong.
Of all the Popeyes sauces, this one’s the safest bet for Cajun food newbies who want something familiar to anchor the experience.
Another couple of points in its favor is that it has a pleasant, garlicky taste and avoids the sad mistake of being overly thick, like some ranch dressing.
It’s thin enough to grip the batter without globbing up but not so thin that it soaks in and ruins the crispiness.
Creole Cocktail Sauce
Any menu with shrimp will naturally feature cocktail sauce, the universally-accepted dip for this tasty little shellfish.
Most standard recipes consist of horseradish, vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a ketchup base, and the Popeyes version is no different.
Despite the name implying that it would bring an extra dose of New Orleans flavor, it’s the same stuff you probably already have in your fridge door.
Maybe it’s because the rest of the lineup spoils me, but even the most ho-hum of Popeyes sauces are slightly different from the norm.
Creole Cocktail Sauce is still great for those who like cocktail sauce, but it doesn’t add much Creole flaovr.
I have a hot tip that lets you satisfy your sweet tooth at no extra cost: try a Popeyes biscuit dipped in honey.
The honey at Popeye’s isn’t unique. In fact, you might not even know it’s on the menu because it’s not offered or advertised.
But for those who know to ask for it, you’re in for a rare treat when you drizzle a little bit of that heavenly nectar over a hot biscuit.
There’s something transcendent about the insanely salty, buttery, soft-textured biscuit soaked in honey that makes you want to sit under a magnolia tree and speak with a southern drawl.
If you’ve never tried it, I eagerly encourage you to do so.
Mardi Gras Mustard Sauce
Full disclosure: I’m just not a fan of horseradish.
Mardi Gras Mustard does a decent enough job of masking the sinus-clearing aroma with cracked black pepper and high-quality mustard.
Folks who like complexity and heat would likely have a field day dunking everything from Cajun Fries to tenders in this sauce.
Remember when I mentioned Popeyes does an excellent job of elevating classic fast food sauces to something new and exciting?
Bayou Buffalo is a prime example. It’s cayenne-based with an extra dose of Cajun spices that goes perfectly with the buttery undertones.
If I had to pick a comparable bottled sauce, it’s similar to Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, with more depth and kick.
It’s tasty on just about everything, from bone-in wings to popcorn shrimp, but it’s definitely at its peak when drizzled over a tender.
Popeyes sauces offer something few other fast food chicken chains are brave enough to try: taking classic favorites and adding a signature kick. Something as simple as a little black pepper and cayenne in ranch dip is enough to keep dedicated fans going back for more.
While my personal opinions on horseradish and tartar sauce get in the way of enjoying every condiment Popeyes offers, I’d gladly choose BoldBQ, Bayou Buffalo, or even a simple packet of honey over most fast food restaurant sauce selections.
Before you head out to pick up a five-piece tender and fries, let us know in the comments below which Popeyes sauces you prefer.