Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken

What’s not to love about Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken? Honestly, I am probably one of the biggest Popeye’s Spicy Chickens fans out there to date. I adore the taste of that spicy, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken so much that I had to do a copycat recipe for Popeye’s Spicy Chicken to share with y’ all today. Trust me if you enjoy Popeye’s Spicy Chicken you are going to fall in love with this recipe for Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken.

On Popeye’s web page it says, “Over forty years ago in New Orléans, Louisiana, a taste sensation was born. What began with one small restaurant and one big idea turned into a craze that swept the nation and the world”,  I  have to tell you I couldn’t agree more with that statement friends.

What's not to love about Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken? Honestly, I am probably one of the biggest Popeye's Spicy Chickens fans out there to date. I adore the taste of that spicy, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken so much that I had to do a copycat recipe for Popeye's Spicy Chicken to share with y'all today. Trust me if you enjoy Popeye's Spicy Chicken you are going to fall in love with this recipe for Copycat Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken.Popeye’s Mighty Good Fried Chicken was first opened in a suburb of New Orléans in St. Bernard Parish, on June 12, 1972, as “Chicken on the Run”, owned and operated by Mr. Copeland to compete against another well-known restaurant. In the beginning,  Al Copeland sold a more classic-style mild Southern fried chicken, however, the business was a little on the slow side, and he realized he would have to sell a much spicier more kicked up version if they planned to impress the spice-loving locals.

Southerners tend to fry, we will fry almost anything you can think of, okra, tomatoes, pickles, steaks, pork chops, and fried chicken just to name a few of our Southern fried Cuisines. Why do we fry so many foods you might ask? I might have to answer that with another question, have you ever eaten any of those items above fried? Ummm mmmm, then you already answered your own question after thinking about it for a few moments. It’s pretty darn good, isn’t it Y’all?

 

What's not to love about Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken? Honestly, I am probably one of the biggest Popeye's Spicy Chickens fans out there to date. I adore the taste of that spicy, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken so much that I had to do a copycat recipe for Popeye's Spicy Chicken to share with y'all today. Trust me if you enjoy Popeye's Spicy Chicken you are going to fall in love with this recipe for Copycat Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken.Look at this lightly browned, crispy, crunchy on the outside, deliciously juicy and moist on the inside Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Chicken; makes you want to grab a piece from this screen doesn’t it? I mean look at that awesome crispy breading just begging you to take a bite and savor the flavor in your mouth,

Every Southern Belle proudly represents their grannies and mamas in the South when they cook up a batch of fried chicken, it’s a proud moment when it turns out perfect. What is the definition of perfect?  Never greasy tasting, super crispy batter on the outside, juicy and moist on the inside, and seasoned to perfection.

 

Now not all of our grannies and mamas are from the South or maybe a few just didn’t learn how to make fried chicken yet, that’s ok I have a wonderful copycat recipe for y’all today to make your own deliciously good batch of the next best thing, Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Chicken. You better make a double batch because the word is going to get out that you really know your fried chicken after making this Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Chicken.

 

Now before we get started, this isn’t Popeye’s top-secret recipe; this is just my version of their Spicy Fried Chicken; so keep in mind while it tastes pretty close to the Popeye’s Spicy Chicken if you actually follow the instructions we aren’t top-secret spies and that’s probably a darn good thing because I look hideous in prison orange, let alone those jumpsuits they wear.

 

 

Notes:

  1. Only frying chickens should be used for the recipe and need to be double-dipped in the breading to achieve the texture in images above. Popeye’s does not double bread, but I do in my recipe.
  2. Popeye’s Chicken is marinated for over 12 hours before they hand batter it.
  3. Popeye’s Chicken also contains allergens such as milk, eggs, wheat, and MSG.
  4. Annatto Oil is listed in their ingredients and used more as a colorant than a flavor.

 

 

 

 

4.94 from 49 votes
What's not to love about Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken? Honestly, I am probably one of the biggest Popeye's Spicy Chickens fans out there to date. I adore the taste of that spicy, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken so much that I had to do a copycat recipe for Popeye's Spicy Chicken to share with y'all today. Trust me if you enjoy Popeye's Spicy Chicken you are going to fall in love with this recipe for Copycat Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken.
Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Brine
12 hrs
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

What’s not to love about Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken? Honestly, I am probably one of the biggest Popeye’s Spicy Chickens fans out there to date. I adore the taste of that spicy, perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside chicken so much that I had to do a copycat recipe for Popeye’s Spicy Chicken to share with y’all today. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: Copycat, Fried Chicken
Servings: 6 People
Calories: 406 kcal
Author: hmccallum
Ingredients
Chicken Brine
  • 5 pounds Whole fryer chicken cut up into 8 pieces skin on
  • 1 quart Whole Buttermilk to brine chicken
  • 1 cup Tabasco sauce or more
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Annatto Oil
Spice Mixture
  • 2 tablespoons Dry English Mustard Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Dill
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Accent (MSG)
  • 1 tablespoon Black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Celery Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
Batter Mixture
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/2 Spice mixture from above list
Other ingredients
  • 3-4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
  • Beef Tallow + Soybean oil for frying
Instructions
  1. In a large plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, Annatto Oil, and kosher salt with a small whisk. Add the cut-up pieces of a whole chicken to the large plastic bowl making sure to completely submerge the chicken in the brine mixture. Refrigerate overnight or 8- 12 hours for the best results. Pour off the chicken brine, shake off excess buttermilk brine from the chicken. Do not rinse the chicken.

  2. In a small bowl combine all the spices together. Generously season both sides of the cut-up whole chicken. Reserve 1/2 seasoning for the dredge.

  3. Combine all-purpose flour, 1/2 of a cup of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and about 1/2 of the spice mixture from above. Place the flour mixture into a large paper, add the brine seasoned chicken to the paper sack Roll the top of the bag down to close tightly and shake gently to coat the brined chicken. Remove the chicken from the paper sack, then shake off the excess batter. Reserve until ready.

  4. In a medium glass dish, combine the eggs, and water. Dunk each piece of the coated chicken into the egg mixture and then shake off the excess egg mixture. Place chicken back into the paper sack and then shake gently to coat the chicken.

  5. Remove chicken from the paper sack and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to dry the batter, trust me it becomes so much more crispy after doing this.

  6. Add the oil mixture to a preheated cast-iron kettle of about 340-350 degrees.

  7. Add chicken to cast iron kettle and cook until golden brown. Be sure to the chicken is completely covered with oil. Do not overcrowd the cast-iron kettle if need be made in batches. The meat's internal temperature; it should read 165 degrees when done.

  8. Place the fried chicken on the bakers rack to drain excess oil; be sure to place a metal baking sheet under it or paper towels while draining the excess peanut oil off of the chicken.

 

 

© Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch, 2020-2013 unauthorized use and/or duplication of content/ material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch with proper and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

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80 thoughts on “Copycat Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken”

  • I don’t have Tabasco sauce or poultry seasoning or shortening/peanut oil… Is there anything I can do about that?

    • HI, Sofia, do you have vegetable oil or canola oil? You can use either in place of the peanut oil. I prefer peanut oil but the 2nd place would be canola oil. My grandmother used to use Crisco as well. You can either omit the hot sauce or you can make you own.

      4 tablespoons of vinegar
      3 tablespoons of water
      2 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper
      1 tablespoon of salt

      Use this in place of the hot sauce- keep the measurement to the measurement of the recipe though. Recommended for use only in recipes, not as a topping.

      Thanks,
      Heidy

  • After your friends are over with a couple of drinks!!! This is great comfort food. I used Tapatio instead of Tabasco. Dipped in egg back to the batter. This is great. I sided it with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and some dinner rolls with honey,

  • I followed this recipe as written and though it does produce excellent spicy chicken it isn’t exactly like taste and texture of Popeyes. I wish I could find the recipe and process that does taste 100% like it though.

  • I just made this last night and let me tell you after trying 6 recipes on Pinterest for Popeye’s Chicken this is the closest one by far. I don’t expect it to be 100% but this is a good 95% that is for sure. Thanks for one of the better recipes. Our family loved it.

    • Hey there Maggy, I appreciate you sharing that with me. I too tried a ton of recipes that were not even close and this is what we came up with. One of the biggest things is the way they actual fry theirs— hard to replicate pressure frying in a normal household kitchen. That’s why it’s never going to be 100% on but we get closer and closer.

  • We made this recipe 2 x, the first time I didn’t follow it to a T, examples were did not brine overnight and cut the spice mix. It was a flop. I decided to do the right thing and I brine the chicken exactly as you said for over night, used the right amount of spice, breaded it, placed in refrigerator as directed and HOLY shit it was pretty damn close for sure of tasting like you said, It’s really good and we will continue to make this recipe.

  • Holy cow, I made this last night and man it was off the chain! I know it’s not exactly like theirs but I was pretty surprised at how close it was. We will be doing this more often! Thanks for a great new dinner item to add to our rotation.

  • I was reading the comment that the idiot “Eric” left, you should just delete that comment because he apparently has no clue. Popeye’s Chicken contains eggs, they list it right on their food allergens list along with milk and wheat.I almost died laughing at the comment you could have killed me if I hadn’t read the ingredients myself. My question is *HOW* is he allergic to eggs and eating Popeye’s Chicken? Maybe it’s just Natural selection. I tried the recipe and really it was outstanding. Now was it 100% exactly like theirs? No, but I have to hand it to you it was fairly close to the taste of their Spicy Chicken.

    • Patricia, you just made my day as I was reading that I was just shaking my head. I think I will take your advice and do just that as it didn’t even make sense to me. lol, Thank you for sharing with us today.

  • My husband LOVES Popeye’s Chicken and he thought your Copycat recipe was really good. We tried a few others and they didn’t come close.

  • I was thrilled this turned out so well and we followefollowedfollowefollowed your directions to the last letter. My family gave it a 10!

  • What do you mean by double dip? Out of the buttermilk, in the flour, then egg, in flour, in egg, then flour again or…? Just wanted to clarify.

  • What happens if you brine it too long? Is it better to brine it longer or shorter? If I put it in the fridge this morning can I make it tomorrow night? Or should I make it tonight having it brine less than 12 hours?

  • Hey there, I know this post is a little older and it will get you pretty dang close to Popeys addictive, delectable, and to die for chicken. The question I have for ANYONE reading this, what are the ingredients and/or recipe for Popeyes Southern Sweet Heat dipping sauce?? I’ve searched online and irl for YEARS now but alas its not to be. Ladies and gentleman this is my white whale, and every tactic to acquire their recipe or one that’ll get me close has failed. I’ve even considered going to their headquarters with a pantyhose mask and toy gun and demanding the recipe…insane I know but it is THAT GOOD. Of course I really wouldn’t do that but this is my life’s work, and I have failed miserably…ill do anything for anyone that can get me a recipe that is at least close to their Sweet Heat sauce. Then and only then can I die a happy woman/man(don’t assume my gender, that’s just wrong).

    Please, don’t let my soul languish any longer chicken Gods, send me a sauce saviour or a supply truck full of that amazing Sweet Heat sauce, its truly the nectar of the Gods. Send word quick, reply to this as I will check it periodically with slim hope. A mere mortal I need not, but a he-man of a by gone era, where Sweet Heat was every mans bestest of friends.

  • I use to be a fry cook for popeyes when i was younger. The way we prepared the chicken was washing it, pulling most of the fat off the chicken. Then the chicken is tossed with the seasons until its pretty much uniform. Then the chicken is stored in the cooler overnight. I dont remember double battering the chicken and it needs to be deep fried fully submerged in the oil.

    • Hi Jerry,thanks, however, the chicken is brined 12 hours beforehand. Then I would say seasoned . Double breading is optional in the recipe. Thank you for sharing your experience. Have a fabulous day.

  • Hey there! I’m pretty sure you can use Thai chili sauce in any Asian market. That’s what the taste most reminds me of as it has a nice sweet heat to it

  • Ever since popeyes management bought the original recipe from the Copeland estate, they don’t even come close to the long standing wonderful flavor that Copeland used to define the great flavor of spicy chicken. It is now almost flavorless in my opinion.

  • Omg, Jim I’ve been so several Copeland restaurants in LA and MS and there food was amazing. Everything I ate there was good! I thing they may be closed now. Too bad. You made me remember amazing food memories.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Remember though Popeye’s is everywhere not just LA lol. I sure hope you have a fabulous day. I really enjoyed reading your sweet comment.

  • Thanks for your recipe! I have just stumbled on it and not yet tried it, but, I can tell it will be close. I’m from the New Orleans area and thought I would share the unofficial story for you and your readers. The story goes, Al Copeland spent every night for a month, some say 2, fine tuning his spicy recipe. I don’t know what the original recipe was, but, I’m pretty sure he tweaked it when he went from his privately owned stores to selling franchises. I think this because I had a few relatives, mostly high school kids then, that worked at Al’s stores in the early days. They were not interested in cooking then, but, they all said if they got the liquid batter on their hands, it would burn them even after they washed them. To me, this is classic of either cayenne pepper and/or Crystal hot sauce (cayenne base), and/ or Tabasco. This makes sense as the original Popeyes spicy chicken in New Orleans was MUCH hotter the the franchised version. One rumor was this was intentional to sell larger drinks. With Al’s business philosophy, this makes total sense to me. Anyway, just thought you might enjoy some of the local lore. True? Who knows, other than my first hand knowledge of the original “heat” of the spicy chicken from Al’s personally owned stores in the early days!

  • Ok, am I missing something here? When do you add the reserved spices?! I’m chilling my chicken now so too late to add, but in case I want to do this again it would be good to know

    • The recipe completely changes by omitting it, however, if you are ok with that being said, I would say omit it. This also contains Cayenne pepper, Powdered mustard, and Cajun seasoning… all which are spicy. I might suggest you have a plainer fried chicken. Go to the search bar on the blog to the right and input Southern Fried Chicken. There are a few more suitable for your tastes. Thanks for dropping by. Have a great day.

  • Where in the recipe does it say what to do with the other half of the spices? Specifically what step? I’ve read it a dozen times and I don’t see it.

  • I was so excited about this copy cat recipe! I make a pretty good fried chicken already, but this is a little different from Popeye’s, which is my favorite.

    I followed this recipe to the T, making absolutely no changes. Unfortunately, I did not get the exact results I had hoped for. The buttermilk and tobacco brining did make flavorful and juicy meat, but the skin was not quite what I had hoped it would be in texture or flavor. My husband said he preferred my fried chicken, but I am determined to find the perfect Popeye’s spicy fried chicken recipe.

    That being said, I am going to try this recipe one more time next week. I’d be happy if it comes even a little more close to Popeye’s. My first crack at it didn’t really cut it, but I’m hoping maybe I screwed it up somewhere along the way. I will be back with results! Thank you for posting this recipe!

    • Dear Olivia,
      Thank you so much for coming back to share your results. I will begin by saying, as, with any Copycat recipe listed on the net, it’s never 100% close to the real deal. You and I will never have complete access to their secrets or methods of doing their signature recipes. That’s equivalent to chasing a unicorn. With that being said let’s talk a bit about the ingredients, sometimes different results can occur by using different brands of food. I have actually had that happen with recipes I have tried in the past.

      Also if your dried spices are not fresh and have been sitting for a period of time it will possibly affect the results. Flour can also be a culprit for an off batch of chicken.

      I use peanut oil in this recipe, but Popeye’s uses in a combination of beef tallow, partially hydrogenated beef tallow, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil to fry in which change the flavor.

      I hope this helps, I have had several people tell me it does taste similar and some say it tastes more like their Spicy chicken strips. I hope you have better luck on your next try. If not I would just stick to making that super amazing chicken you mentioned earlier.

      Have a wonderful day and Thanks again!
      Heidy

  • Directly from their ingredient statement. I’ve heard it is 2 parts beef tallow to 1 part soybean oil.

    Shortening (All of Popeyes fried items are prepared in the following shortening. This product contains
    some naturally occurring trans fats.)

    BEEF TALLOW, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED BEEF
    TALLOW, BHT ADDED TO HELP PROTECT FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, AND
    DIMETHYLPOLYSILOXANE, AN ANTIFOAMING AGENT

    • That is correct. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to Soybean anything and don’t promote the ingredient.
      Thank you so much for sharing though! Have a fantastic day!

  • Well I carefully followed the recipe. I marinated the organic chickens actually for 24 hours in buttermilk, salt and Tobasco. I carefully mixed up the spice mixture, spiced flour mixture (Pillsbury Unbleached All purpose) and the egg bath. I let all of the coated pieces rest in the refrigerator for an hour. I cooked my chicken in a deep fryer at 350 degrees using canola oil. What came out was tender, juicy and moist. But Popeye’s? No. No. No. First of all, the breading/coating browned way too quickly at 350 degrees and I was forced t dial back to 340 degrees to cook for 10 minutes per piece. Secondly, the coating was much more of a breading that was not nearly as crunchy or crispy as Popeye’s. Now for the flavor. Where’s the spice? Spicy, hardly not not. Much more like the mild to me. Overall, for all of the labor and promises of this chicken, while it was good, it was far from my best fried chicken and in no way came close except in appearance to tasting like Popeye’s. Sorry, that’s my opinion and I don’t think it has to do with not using peanut oil. I strongly recommend the author go back to the drawing board.

    • LOL, you seriously crack me up. Look at the spice list— plenty of spice. As far as canola oil— nowhere do I mention the use of canola oil. As far as your comment I will chalk it up to angry spammer. Have a lovely day and please learn to read the instructions properly before coming on my blog to rant, rave, and spam.

      Thank you,
      The author

  • OMG! I made this tonight and my entire family when nuts! This was the best chicken we have had in years! I followed your recipe to almost a T and let me tell you this was the shiz! I hope to see more copycat recipes from your blog!

  • What a great recipe for fried chicken. The texture was amazing! So crisp yet juicy it was unreal. The flavor was seriously very close to Popeye’s too. I am saving this recipe for another occasion, we all loved the chicken so much.

  • Very delicious made as, however my second time I made one minor change. Now visualize with your nose if you will that characteristic tang in the breading and on the chicken itself. To me it reminds me of seafood (Think tarter sauce), what your smelling/tasting is ground dill seed- Add a tablespoon to the spice mixture stir well and taste. Add more ground dill seed if you feel it needs more and voila youve achieved Popeyes magic. Give it a try

    • You know Will, I think you may be on to something! One time I added packets of Ranch powdered dressing which has heavy dill and I thought the same. We might just have to tweak this again my friend. Thank you for sharing this idea!

  • I didn’t have all of the ingredients at the house, but I made it last minute so some steps were a little cut short or discarded and were STILL BOMB! My husband said this is the BEST home fried chicken he’s ever had. Thanks for your hard work; I’ll be back for more recipes!

  • Hey Heidy, I have been on a quest to make the perfect, spicy (HOT) friend chicken over the last 15 or so years, and have yet to find the perfect way. On a local radio show for a few years, they would have the owner of the local Popeyes franchise in the studio. As an avid listener and caller, I emailed the shows producer and asked if they could get me his email. They did and I asked him point blank about their recipe. He said he couldn’t divulge company secrets but the stuff they use has to be handled with gloves. Anyway, what they use must be pretty potent..

    Looking forward to trying

  • Hey Heidy, I have been on a quest to make the perfect, spicy (HOT) friend chicken over the last 15 or so years, and have yet to find the perfect way. On a local radio show for a few years, they would have the owner of the local Popeyes franchise in our area in the studio. As an avid listener, I emailed the shows producer and asked if they could get me his email. They did and I asked him point blank about their recipe. He said he couldn’t divulge company secrets but the stuff they use has to be handled with gloves. Anyway, what they use must be pretty potent..

    Looking forward to trying

    • Hello, Mark, Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I have to say, this was very interesting and even useful! I am thinking it is the mixture of maybe ground spicy peppers or the hot sauce and ground peppers? I am hoping one day to get a little closer to the recipe myself. This one has changed a few times after reviewing and trying other ideas. I have to tell you this recipe is almost “Rocket Science” and very much so like “Chasing a Unicorn” I appreciate you taking the time to add useful info!

      Look forward to hearing from you again!
      Heidy

  • Yes ma’am and sorry for multiple replies (I didnt know it took to pos, so I tried again- markhooton2015 is me). Funny you say Rocket science because I live in Hunstvile AL and work in the rocket industry here in the Rocket City. I have bought some toxic spices from web sites and still don’t get as hot as Church’s (my favorite). A friend reminded me that it cant be too hard considering teenage labor is the primary sauce of employees making it (no offense to teenagers but I worked at McD in high school over 30 years ago).

    • Hey there, Mark, no worries! Huntsville huh? I have family in Alabama love the Huntsville area! I haven’t had Churches chicken in years. I used to really like it. Sorry to hear about those crazy spices! Just had a good chuckle thinking about what you shared.

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