Review: TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders from Popeyes
Earlier this year Popeyes teamed up with TABASCO to bring us Red Stick Chicken. The latest LTO brings those iconic Louisiana flavors back together again with new TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders.New TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders are made of all-white-meat chicken breast strips and marinated in a special blend of white oak–aged TABASCO® spices. They’re hand-battered, breaded Southern style and fried. There are three Handcrafted Tenders in the box and they’re served with Cajun Fries, a Buttermilk Biscuit and Smok’n Pepper Ranch Dipping Sauce for $4.99.
Here is some background info on the process behind the TABASCO marinade:
The TABASCO production process begins by harvesting the pepper when it is absolutely perfect. The peppers are placed in white-oak barrels, sealed and covered with salt cap from Avery Island, where red peppers used in TABASCO Sauce are grown. The barrels are set in the aging warehouse for three years. The final result of the meticulous aging process becomes the key ingredient for Popeyes TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders, ensuring that the TABASCO flavor people love will come through in every delicious bite.
New TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders focus their flavor on the aged pepper mash which is then used in the 12-hour marinade process on the chicken itself. Even with the obvious influence of Tabasco, the classic Popeyes Louisiana flavor still shines through. I was impressed with the balance of flavors that had me easily identifying both the traditional Popeyes Louisiana spice and the Tabasco pepper influence. Each of the three tenders were roughly 5-7 inches in length with a small portion of that made up of residual breading. All three tenders were pretty meaty and tender with a surprising amount of moisture retention which was nice considering on looks alone they appear to be dominated by the crispy breading. I wouldn’t go so far to call them hot and spicy, but there’s a medium peppery heat kick that is accompanied by an overload of bold flavor. I love the ratio of crunch to meaty chicken morsel and felt that the three tenders were big enough to be a solid entrée portion.You might be wondering what the differences between Red Stick Chicken and new TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders are. Red Stick Chicken featured tenderloins with a marinade made up of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper. There also seemed to be more emphasis on cayenne with Red Stick Chicken. Red Stick Chicken was $3.99 and new TABASCO Spiced Pepper Barrel Tenders are $4.99. Both come with Smok’n Pepper Ranch Dipping Sauce which was new with Red Stick and not so new with this new one. Both products aren’t too far apart from one another so in the end, the new product didn’t feel like too much of a stretch beyond what I’ve had already. It’s a great product and at a familiar great value, but not different enough to stand out. I’m wondering how much that opinion would have been swayed by not repeating the same dipping sauce. I don’t feel it helped much to enhance the product by pairing a tangy, peppery sauce with an already peppery chicken.
This new offering is a decent buy, but I think already being familiar with Red Stick Chicken hurt my overall impression. If you missed out on Red Stick Chicken, there’s plenty of new flavors here for you so I’d give it a strong recommendation if that’s the case. If you’ve had Red Stick Chicken before, this new stuff isn’t a far enough stretch away from that to feel very new. In the end, if you’re a fan peppery chicken with tons of flavor, I think you’ll be satisfied.
Pros: Great balance of traditional Popeyes Louisiana seasonings and TABASCO flavor. Meaty tenders. Good value.
Cons: Smok'n Pepper Ranch Sauce has been used before in Red Stick Chicken. Not a huge difference between this and Red Stick Chicken available earlier in the year.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.75/10
More Info: popeyes.com