Discontinued Popeyes Menu Items We're Desperately Missing

popeyes love that chicken illuminated sign
popeyes love that chicken illuminated sign - Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images

Crispy fried chicken, spicy seasonings, and mouth-watering biscuits make it easy to see why people are so enamored with Popeyes. Formed in New Orleans in 1972, this fast food franchise has since expanded to a chain of over 3,000 restaurants across the United States and over 1,000 international locations, too. Popeyes must be doing something right with its menu since it has clearly increased in popularity over the years. But like many other fast food giants, Popeyes has made changes to its abundant menu selections over the years. This includes discontinuing some customer-favorite items that we wish would make a comeback to become a permanent fixture on the chain's menu -- or at least a limited-time offer so we could get a taste once again.

Some agree heartily, going so far as to make petitions agitating for the return of some items while arguing for their comebacks on social media and other platforms. These changes are sometimes surprising, too; even the Chicken Po' Boy, based on a New Orleans staple, got 86ed after over a decade on the menu, disappearing from Popeyes locations back in 2019. Here's why we wish this and some other discontinued Popeyes menu items would come back.

Read more: Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First

Cajun Rice

Popeyes cajun rice
Popeyes cajun rice - Kiss Your Cravings/Facebook

While Popeyes offers a wide variety of side dishes, one used to stand above the rest: Cajun Rice. The rice dish consisted of garlic, celery, bell pepper, and cayenne, along with Cajun and Creole seasonings. People simply could not get enough of it. That's why it was a huge surprise to many when it suddenly disappeared from the menu in 2021 after over a decade there. Popeyes claimed that it was listening to customer feedback and making various changes to its menu, including the removal of a few different sides that apparently included the Cajun Rice.

Fans of the missing side dish clearly disagree. In 2023, one even started a petition on Change.org asking the chain to bring the Cajun Rice back as a permanent menu item. The petition eventually garnered over 2,300 signatures, but it did not work as planned and the Cajun Rice is currently nowhere on the menu. At least the restaurant brought the fan-favorite side back for a limited time while celebrating its 50th anniversary. However, shortly after the promotion, it went missing once again.

Big Easy Chicken Bowl

popeyes storefront
popeyes storefront - Robert Way/Getty Images

Introduced in 2008 for a whopping $3.49, the Big Easy Chicken Bowl was unlike anything else Popeyes then had on its menu. It was effectively a burrito bowl with a Cajun twist, consisting of red beans, rice, shredded cheese, and chicken served in a Cajun-inspired spicy gravy. Sour cream and hot sauce were optional add-ins to top off the meal. As with many other forms of burrito bowls, people could customize their order further to make their tastebuds happy. However, Popeyes discontinued it in 2015 after just a few short years.

Why did the seemingly popular bowl go by the wayside? The powers that be are mum as to why the chain decided to remove the Big Easy Chicken Bowl from the menu. Neither does Popeyes seem to be interested in bringing it back anytime soon, even though it was one of the more interesting items offered at the restaurant.

Chicken Waffle Tenders

Chicken Waffle Tenders
Chicken Waffle Tenders - Popeyes/Facebook

In the summer of 2013, Popeyes took the quintessential Southern dish of chicken and waffles and decided to combine the two items, introducing Chicken Waffle Tenders to its menu. It was a potentially game-changing dish that customers just had to try. The tenders were no ordinary chicken fingers but were instead boneless chicken strips coated in waffle batter and then deep-fried to crispy perfection. The menu item was served with a honey maple dipping sauce. This was one hybrid food that was both sweet and savory and which people could actually get behind.

Sadly, Chicken Waffle Tenders was a limited-time offer that did not last past the summer of 2013, even though a group of vocal customers wanted them to become a permanent fixture on Popeyes' menu. The tenders made a brief celebrity appearance in 2014 before disappearing again. As it stands, it does not look like Popeyes has any plans to bring back this particular discontinued menu item.

Chicken Po' Boy

Chicken Po' Boy
Chicken Po' Boy - Underground Retail/Youtube

Po' boy sandwiches are pretty synonymous with Louisiana, so it only made sense that Popeyes, a New Orleans-founded chain, once had just such a sandwich on its menu. That would be the Chicken Po' Boy, which came on the scene in 2003 and consisted of fried chicken tenders with pickles, lettuce, and mayonnaise piled into rather crunchy baguette. It was a staple menu item for years, but once the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich came into play, the Po' Boy was pushed to the wayside until it was discontinued altogether.

While we must confess that the Po' Boy was pretty much nothing more than chicken tenders on a baguette with some toppings and condiments, the chain's take on a chicken sandwich is a larger chicken breast served on a brioche bun. That apparently intrigued customers quite a bit more So, after decades on the menu, the Chicken Po' Boy saw its last days at Popeyes in 2019. We can't help but think a revamped version of this could be a more unique entry in the ever-present fast food chicken sandwich wars.

Garlic Butter Shrimp

Guy holding a box of popcorn shrimp
Guy holding a box of popcorn shrimp - RodrickEats/Youtube

Cajun and Creole seasonings are pretty much a given when it comes to the food offered at Popeyes, where customers can expect at least a little spice when they walk away from the counter with a tray of food. Perhaps that's why people were curious (in a good way) when the chain's Garlic Butter Shrimp was introduced in 2011. For a solid $3.99, customers could enjoy deep-fried popcorn shrimp that had been tossed in a garlic butter sauce. It was an entirely different taste, compared to the typical seasoning flair one gets at Popeyes, but what's wrong with a little variation? Of course, it would not have been a Popeyes meal if there had not been some spice included. So, the Garlic Butter Shrimp was typically paired with Cajun fries, lending spice to complement the savory garlic butter sauce.

While this particular shrimp dish was popular amongst customers when it was on the menu, it was only available for a limited time. As such, it was rather quickly discontinued, much to people's disappointment, as it was one of the few non-Cajun items available to order.

Mardi Gras Cheesecake

Popeyes Mardi Gras Cheesecake slice
Popeyes Mardi Gras Cheesecake slice - Bailey Salicos / X

With a fancy title like Mardi Gras Cheesecake, it only makes sense that this dessert from Popeyes looked straight out of an advertisement for a Fat Tuesday parade, complete with green, purple, and yellow sugar sprinkles on top and a graham cracker crust laced with nutmeg and ginger. This cheesecake was once a staple of the Louisiana-inspired fast food chain's menu, but it was discontinued around 2019. One X user went as far as to say that they will be mourning the loss of the Mardi Gras Cheesecake for the next few years. Then again, you may not be mourning if you don't have much of a sweet tooth, as other people found the cheesecake to be overly sweet.

While the dessert is no longer part of the Popeyes menu, one TikTok user hopes that the restaurant will bring it back for a limited-time only special. We are going to embrace the positivity of that statement and wait for that to become a reality.

Green Beans

popeyes green beans in container
popeyes green beans in container - Kickin' it Keto / Facebook

Popeyes delivered a one-two punch in 2021. The chain released a statement on X saying it was discontinuing not only its Cajun Rice but also Green Beans from the menu. The announcement came after Popeyes was put on the spot by emails from food publications, asking why the chain was quietly discontinuing select side dishes. The news that it was all due to customer feedback came as a shock to many since the Green Beans had been a staple side dish for decades, even if it was not as popular as others. Popeyes did not expand on the feedback, only noting that it was making changes to the menu in response.

The thing is, these were no ordinary Green Beans. They were tossed in Cajun seasoning and covered in a thick, creamy bacon and ham gravy, something that is not seen in many restaurants. With many copycat recipes floating around, people can try to replicate Popeyes' Green Beans at home, but it may never be quite the same.

Onion Rings

popeyes onion rings
popeyes onion rings - Andy Fortune / Facebook

When it comes to a side dish, onion rings are a pretty safe bet at most restaurants, including Popeyes -- well, when onion rings were on the menu. While there is no definitive answer as to why the fried chicken chain opted to axe this side years ago, some theories are floating around. One is that Popeyes was changing its menu based on its customers' ever-shifting preferences, while another is that the onion rings were difficult to prepare and typically made to order.

Internet sleuths agreed, with users noting that making onion rings at the chain was pretty labor-intensive, leading some to conclude that the side went away in favor of easier dishes that can be prepped and made ready to serve. Even so, quite a few were upset the chain discontinued its onion rings and wished the restaurant would bring them back as a permanent fixture on its menu.

Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken

Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken
Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken - Big J Reviews/Youtube

With a name like Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken, Popeyes was sticking to its New Orleans roots. The $3.99 meal consisted of strips of juicy chicken prepped in a Buffalo marinade, tossed in Bayou Buffalo sauce, and served with a bleu cheese dip. The meal also included regular French fries and a biscuit.

Hector Munoz, then the Vice President of Marketing at Popeyes, told Restaurant News Release in 2014 that the Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken "out-buffaloed the buffalo wing," a statement that was bound to get people interested in ordering what was marketed as a limited-time only menu item.

Sadly, it was just that, a limited-time offer that people only had the chance to enjoy in January 2014. Since then, the Bayou Buffalo Wicked Chicken has not returned to the Popeyes menu, leaving customers with fond memories and a wish that these spicy wings would make a speedy return.

Rip'n Chick'n

man holds Rip'n Chick'n
man holds Rip'n Chick'n - RodrickEats/YouTube

In 2011, Popeyes took a chicken breast and cut it into strips. Sounds simply, but the twist is that employees left a little piece attached to the base so customer could rip off portions and dunk them in sauce. Thus, the Rip'n Chick'n was born. This limited-time fried chicken meal was a stellar selling point for those of us who cannot seem to come to a decision on whether or not we should order chicken tenders or a fried chicken breast. The Rip'n Chick'n represented a solid middle ground between two otherwise popular meals.

While this particular item was a limited-time deal, it's made a few surprise reappearances on the menu throughout the years. The most recent occasion happened back in 2021, when Popeyes re-introduced the Rip'N Chick'n as part of a $6 Big Box Combo deal, which came complete with two sides and a biscuit.

Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp

Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp meal
Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp meal - BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

What happens when Popeyes partners with a leading maker of New Orleans-style food? Delicious cuisine, that's what. In this case, Popeyes partnered with Zatarain's in 2012, a company that sells spices, seasonings, and a wide variety of frozen meals. The partnership between the New Orleans-based company and the fried chicken chain led to the creation of a limited-time Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp menu item featuring Zatarin's spices on fried butterfly shrimp. The meal came with eight shrimp and served with french fries, a biscuit, and a tangy garlic dipping sauce to round it all out. Unsurprisingly, it became a popular choice for those customers who did not want fried chicken.

According to Hector Munoz, Popeyes' Vice President of Marketing, Zatarain's Butterfly Shrimp was so popular that even Popeyes franchises were asking them to bring it back, if only for a limited time (via Nation's Restaurant News). Popeyes once again partnered with Zatarain's to create the popular fried butterfly shrimp dish, bringing it back in 2013 for a brief return.

[Featured image by BrokenSphere via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0]

Loaded Chicken Wrap

Loaded Chicken Wrapw
Loaded Chicken Wrapw - Popeyes Cayman Islands / Facebook

There is nothing quite like the rivalry that happens between fast food joints. In response to a chicken wrap war that was allegedly brought on by fast food giants McDonald's and Burger King, Popeyes responded in 2009. Its entry: a Loaded Chicken Wrap that included chicken strips, red beans, and rice wrapped in a tortilla. Sounds pretty accessible, but the menu item was silently booted from the Popeyes menu. Customers were less than impressed when it happened and some rather loudly argued that this was a menu item that surely deserved being brought back from the dead.

Some even enacted a protest of sorts, as when one commenter on Reddit said they stopped going to Popeyes after learning the Loaded Chicken Wrap got the boot. Some started a petition on Change.org to bring the wrap back, though it hasn't gathered much interest, with less than 500 signers.

Sweet & Crunchy Tenders

Sweet & Crunchy Tenders
Sweet & Crunchy Tenders - Daym Drops/Youtube

In what is surely one of its more inventive strategies, Popeyes added Sweet & Crunchy Tenders to its menu for a limited time in 2017. These tenders were unlike anything Popeyes served before (or likely what was on the menu of any fast food restaurant, for that matter). That's because the chicken tenders were breaded in shortbread cookie dough instead of Popeyes' typical chicken breading. They were then paired with a Smokin' Pepper Jam. It represented an interesting proposition for those who wanted a bit of sweetness in their lunch or dinner -- because who said you can't have dessert for dinner?

However, reviewers and customers alike noted that the shortbread seasoning was pretty lackluster and didn't contain the sweetness or unique kick that some diners may have wanted. Then again, Popeyes is not exactly known for its healthy food options. Certainly, this 2017 gimmick demonstrates that it's not in the market for a healthier menu anytime soon. Still, we wouldn't mind seeing a revamped version of this bold meal hit the menu again.

Read the original article on Mashed