Review: Both Popeyes' New Boneless And Bone-In Wings Reignite The Chicken Wars

For a company that is world renown for its chicken, it was hard to believe that it took so long for Popeyes to get into the wings game. Popeyes finally made a commitment to chicken wings by saucing up some bone-in ones and permanently adding them to menu in fall of 2023. If you were wondering where the chain would go from there, the next venture now seems like an obvious next step: boneless wings.

In a press release, Jeff Klein, President of Popeyes North America, said "Our new Boneless Wings are a game changer. Our culinary team brought the best flavors from our existing Wing platform to this new Boneless offering to give our guests the best of both worlds."

Boneless wings took flight during the cash-strapped recession, and now, they have created a division in types of wing eaters. Both have a lot of pluses without much drawback, but I wanted to know what the difference was between Popeyes' new boneless wings when compared to its Bone-In Wings. Recently, I dropped into my local Popeyes. First and foremost was the mission to taste test the boneless wings, and then I wanted to see if I had any cluck at figuring out whether it or the bone-in wings ruled the roost. I based my chew and review is on taste, flavor, texture, and overall lovability.

What do Popeyes' new boneless wings taste like?

To test the real strengths of Popeyes' new Boneless Wings, I ordered a 6-piece "Classic" style, which included no sauce drizzled on top. When I opened my box I was kind of shocked by two things: One, they looked more like Popeyes' nuggets than they do standard boneless wings. Two, there were way more than 6-pieces included. 

I was certainly not complaining about the latter, and a store's employee explained that these new boneless wings come in many shapes and sizes. Since some are smaller than others, this employee included a few extra pieces to make up for it.

These boneless wings ranged from little balls to flaky, miniature-looking chicken tenders. Each piece had a pleasant, light tan complexion to its skin. To start, I grabbed one of the plumper pieces. It was lukewarm to the touch. The skin had a thin crispness to it, not overly crunchy, and gave way to the juicy white chicken meat that lies within. 

Before I knew it the wing was gone. None of the pieces had much spice to them — they weren't capsaicin hot — or had much seasoning in general. Beyond salt, I got just a hint of black pepper. After trying a few of them naked, I peeled back my cup of buttermilk ranch sauce and went for a dip. The wings didn't need the sauce, per se, but Popeyes' ridged breading catches it perfectly.

Popeyes' new boneless wings vs its bone-in wings

Technically, the Popeyes menu doesn't have a Classic flavor for Bone-In wings, but to make sure my comparison between the two types of Popeyes wings was done evenly, I ordered a 6-piece bone-in, sans sauce. Side by side, the boneless and the bone-in wings don't appear to be descended from the same fried chicken coop. The boneless are light in hue, a bit fluffier to peer at. The bone-in are darker, grainier, thicker, and more familiar to a fried chicken enthusiast's eye.

You can get a sense that there's more meat on the bone-in wings by appearance, and that turned out to be the case when eating them too. They also required more work to actually eat, which helps to prolong your meal. The boneless wings felt more like a snack, and again, even if they were doled by an appropriate serving size instead of a strict wing count, I was still left wanting ... more. 

The chicken found on the boneless wings was far juicier than the meat surrounding the boned one, but the skin of the latter was more generous in crunch and crumble. Like I said, there are pluses to both types of wings, and basically no real drawbacks. Both proved to be solid options found on Popeyes' menu for whatever kind of wing eater you are.

Nutritional information for Popeyes' new boneless wings

Each of Popeyes' Boneless Wings are made from all-white meat chicken breast, which are hand-battered, breaded, and fried. Like most chicken served at Popeyes, they contain the common allergens of milk, wheat, and egg.

A 6-piece serving of classic boneless wings begs 480 calories with 23 grams of carbs and 27 grams of protein. Although filling, there isn't much fiber (2 grams) nor is there sugar (1 gram). There is also 34 grams of total fat, and a whopping 990 milligrams of sodium.  

Adding one of the five flavors to the wings increases the caloric, fat, sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates intake. The Signature Hot Sauce clocks in at the highest at 1,020 calories and 82 grams of fat. The Garlic Parmesan rings up the most amount of sodium, at 2,440 milligrams. And, the Honey Lemon Pepper ones will fits in 85 grams carbohydrates and 53 grams of sugar.

How to buy Popeyes' new boneless wings

This new item is a permanent addition to the Popeyes menu, at participating locations. They can be found under the wings submenu under "Classic Boneless Wings," and are available to order a la carte as a 6-, 12-, or 24-piece wing group pack. Combos are available for the 6- and 12-piece, which include a side item and drink for an additional cost. 

The wings come in six flavors: Classic, Honey Lemon Pepper, Signature Hot, Honey BBQ, Sweet 'N Spicy, and Roasted Garlic Parmesan. Popeyes allows the option to have the wing flavor placed on the side. Multiple flavors can be selected in orders of 12-pieces or larger. Each order of wings comes with a singular side dipping sauce of your choice. When ordering on the app or website, the default dipping sauce is buttermilk ranch sauce.

The boneless wings can be ordered in-store at the counter, or through the drive-thru, where available. Advanced ordering for pick-up or delivery is available through Popeyes' app and website. Prices may be higher for delivery when orders are placed through third parties. Prices may also vary per location, and how they are ordered. My 12-piece order purchased through the app set me back $11.89, plus tax. Deals are also available through the app, and through July 14, customers can get a free 6-piece wing order after spending $10. The offer isn't valid in Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico.

Is it worth it? Final thoughts on Popeyes' new boneless wings

The Boneless Wings weren't really missing anything, but dipping sauce certainly helped to kick up the enjoyment of them. As a fan of the Garlic Parmesan Bone-In Wings, I knew I had to try that sauce on the new boneless wings. A store employee drizzled it over my wings, closed the black container, and shook it up like a classic margarita. When I sat down to eat them, it looked less like the classic, sauceless boneless wings I just tried.

Seeing this blessed saucy pile before me, it dawned on me that the beauty of the boneless wings are that they are actually less of an actual mess. You can eat them with a fork, and don't have to worry about where to discard the bones. Convenience gives this wing an edge over the bone-in offerings.

Since Popeyes' Boneless Wings looked and tasted more like chicken nuggets to me than traditional boneless wings do, I was curious to compare it with the brand's chicken nuggets. However, they are no longer on the menu, leading one to believe they were removed and retooled as these new options. 

Even if they aren't called nuggets, I'd say that these boneless wings are essentially Popeyes' own take on saucy nuggets. It makes sense; recently, rival KFC released its own Saucy Nuggets. Wendy's has followed suit. Now it looks like Popeyes' menu is in hot pursuit of another chicken fight.