Review: Red Stick Chicken from Popeyes
The latest offering from Popeyes came about from a collaboration with Tabasco to create a spicy new flavor. New Red Stick Chicken aims to please those looking for some extra heat. Let’s review.
Popeyes new Red Stick Chicken features four tenderloin chicken pieces marinated in Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper and accompanied by a new Smok’n Pepper Ranch dipping sauce. Red Stick Chicken comes in a combo box with Cajun fries and a buttermilk biscuit for $3.99.
What is a Red Stick? I wondered the same thing and there was a sign at my local Popeyes with a quick and simple explanation that read, “It’s what TABASCO pepper growers use to tell when the pepper is just perfect, and it’s the secret behind our Red Stick Chicken!” On the Wikipedia page for Tabasco sauce it says, “Following company tradition, peppers are hand picked, and to ensure ripeness they are compared by pickers to a little red stick (le petit bâton rouge).” History lesson complete.
New Red Stick Chicken uses the tenderloin cut of chicken we were introduced to last July when Popeyes came out with Tear’n Tenderloin Chicken. It’s the most tender piece of white meat, not as dry as a standard white meat cut of chicken. The tenderloin is found under the breast area and it’s a muscle that doesn’t get a lot of activity, therefore more tender. The four tenderloin strips were roughly 3-4 inches long and had a fair amount of crunchy breading. The tabasco and cayenne used in the marinade really gave each piece an evenly coated peppery flavor. This was one of the spicier Popeyes offerings I can remember (I’m sure Ghost Pepper Wings were a lot hotter, just never got those). There’s some slightly pungent flavor to go along with a little sharp heat that is likely from the added cayenne. There’s plenty of crunch throughout the chicken pieces without being too dominating over the meaty parts.
The new Smok’n Pepper Ranch sauce was made to complement the Red Stick Chicken. It was decent, but not as pleasing as previous sauce offerings like Cajun Creamy Garlic sauce or Blackened Ranch. The flavor of the Smok’n Pepper Ranch tasted too much like regular ranch dressing at first with a little smoky tomato aftertaste. The more I dipped into it, the more I found its flavor to not have enough contrasting qualities to the peppery chicken crust. It also seemed to be lacking the thickness in the sauces I’ve had in the past. Still a decent sauce, just not exactly as impressive as some others. I miss those mini Tabasco bottle that came with Wicked Chicken so I was disappointed they weren’t available with Red Stick Chicken. You’d think it would be the perfect product to use to bring those back. I’m just being greedy though (and I’m a hot sauce hoarder) because those mini bottles aren’t necessary here since this chicken is spiced enough as it is.
Red Stick Chicken also comes with Cajun fries and a biscuit so in typical Popeyes fashion, it’s an awesome value. Paying $3.99 for this was such an easy buy. This new offering is strong, right up there with most Popeyes LTO’s. It’s got a nice kick of heat and fans of tabasco sauce should be pleased with the results. Red Stick Chicken is available through April 26th while supplies last.
Pros: Decent amount of peppery heat. Meaty chicken tenderloin cut. Awesome value.
Cons: Smok'n Pepper Ranch dipping sauce wasn't a huge standout like previous dipping sauce offerings.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.50/10
Overall GrubGrade: 8.25/10
More Info: popeyes.com