Fast Food Review: Popcorn Chicken from Arby’s
When you think Arby’s, chances are you’re thinking roast beef. Likewise, if you’re thinking fast food ‘popcorn chicken,’ I’m guessing you’re either imagining KFC or Popeyes. But did you know Arby’s does fried Popcorn Chicken too?
I didn’t, at least not until I received an ad in a recent paper that came chock full of Arby’s coupons – including one for a free regular size order of Popcorn Chicken with the purchase of a fountain drink. Arby’s has been pushing a number of new menu items and concepts as of late (including a $1 Value Menu) but up until now I’ve never really given the chain much thought outside of their ubiquitous (but tasty) Roast Beef sandwiches. Nevertheless, having been on a chicken finger kick for weeks (and it being a ‘Fried Food Thursday’) I decided to scope out my local Arby’s. Let’s check out the ‘official’ designation’:
What’s better than something bite-sized, cripsy and tasty beyond belief? Popcorn chicken dipped in your choice of tangy BBQ Sauce or Sweet Honey Mustard. They’re ready to be eaten by the handful, so try some today!
I was sure glad I brought my coupon after scanning the menu board, because at $3.49 for a regular order these seemed to be a bit on the pricey side. To be fair, you’re getting significantly more chicken pieces than you would get in an order of Burger King’s Crown Shaped Tenders or McDonald’s McNuggets, and the meat definitely seemed to be of a higher quality than the stuff your getting at McDonald’s (interestingly enough, Arby’s doesn’t tout this product as all ‘white meat’). The ‘popcorn’ pieces themselves contain what I would describe as a home-style breading, which is of moderate thickness and brimming with specks of black pepper. Despite the appearance of the spice I didn’t find these especially peppery, but thought they had a nice balance between the outer crunch and the inner moistness. The meat within the pieces seemed rather plain in terms of flavor, but had a good level of saltiness and a nice hint of the corn oil it was fried in. Other than that, the predominant flavors were garlic and onion powder, which came through more in the breading than in the meat itself.
I really enjoyed the texture of the popcorn pieces, and found the relatively crunchy but not-quite-crispy exterior to have just the right amount of greasiness. Like Burger Kings’ tenders, it’s the kind of greasiness which delivers a clean-tasting flavor but doesn’t overwhelm you with a ‘heaviness.’ While the taste of the pieces is relatively plain in that it falls back on the familiar salt, cornmeal, and black pepper flavor that the breading contains, keep in mind that Arby’s offers a veritable library of sauces that should keep you happy with whatever flavor adaptation you choose. Personally, I experimented with Buffalo Sauce and BBQ, but in the end preferred good old American ketchup, which I happen to think goes well with fried anything.
While I enjoyed the popcorn chicken pieces, I did find some inconsistency as far as the breading was concerned, with one or two pieces seemingly saturated with too much oil. This made the breading a bit soggy – definitely not good eats with anything fried. Likewise, one or two of the pieces seemed to contain bits of that funky fried chicken tender consistency that you only seem to find in fast food places – you know the phenomenon I’m talking about, right? That sort of ‘sliminess’ around the outside of the meat and interior of the breading? It wasn’t enough to make me think twice, however, and for the most part I didn’t have any question as to the fact that I was eating boneless and skinless white meat chicken – even though the Arby’s website doesn’t make mention to that assumption.
At $3.49 for a regular order I probably wouldn’t buy these on a regular basis without a coupon, but they make a decent lunch when paired with another item and are pretty tasty to boot. Given Arby’s strengths in terms of providing different options of sauces, I’d say these are a strong contender in the chicken nugget/tender Pros: Decent portion of 8-12 popcorn “pieces.” Good crunchy breading that isn’t overly crispy or greasy. ‘Home-style’ taste of black pepper and cornmeal. Moist interior appears full of all white meat chicken. Very adaptable to multi-flavor profiles given Arby’s selection of sauces. Couldn’t beat the deal with a coupon. Only 360 calories and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Have more protein than most fast food nuggets and/or tenders. Cons: Some inconsistencies in frying might leave some pieces a little soggy. Interior on one or two of the pieces contained ‘sliminess’ that’s often associated with bad oil and less than impressive meat. Can be somewhat dull and average when eaten on their own. Bring a coupon. Taste: 8.50/10 Nutrition Facts:
Grubbing on-the-go: 9.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
Arby's Popcorn Chicken
Serving Size: 135 grams
Calories from Fat: 150
Total Fat: 16 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
Trans Fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 980 mg
Total Carboydrates: 27 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Protein: 26 grams
Pros: Decent portion of 8-12 popcorn “pieces.” Good crunchy breading that isn’t overly crispy or greasy. ‘Home-style’ taste of black pepper and cornmeal. Moist interior appears full of all white meat chicken. Very adaptable to multi-flavor profiles given Arby’s selection of sauces. Couldn’t beat the deal with a coupon. Only 360 calories and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Have more protein than most fast food nuggets and/or tenders.
Cons: Some inconsistencies in frying might leave some pieces a little soggy. Interior on one or two of the pieces contained ‘sliminess’ that’s often associated with bad oil and less than impressive meat. Can be somewhat dull and average when eaten on their own. Bring a coupon.