HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


Popeyes Fried Chicken - Change of Recipe?

I have been to the renovated Popeyes on Yonge near Steeles twice since they reopened.
There seems to be a lot less breading on the spicy chicken.
It is also a lot less spicy.
Has anyone else made the same observation either at this or another Popeyes?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ummm, you might find that you'll not get an overwhelming response when it comes to opinions regarding fast food on this board. I prefer Popeye's to KFC, myself, but I certainly do not have either often enough to comment on a change of recipe from either franchise.

    12 Replies
    1. re: redearth

      A few fried chicken franchises seem to do well on these boards.. Mary Browns, Chick 'n Joy, and Popeye's. I suppose we have catholic tastes.

      1. re: jayt90

        I doubt that the regular customers at Popeye's have "Catholic tastes" :-)

        1. re: jayt90

          Interesting, I tried Mary Browns (Dufferin location) for the *first* time while the Popeyes at Yonge/Steeles was being renovated and I had the yen for fried chicken.
          It was 'good' but I thought that Popeyes was superior.
          *Now* that Popeyes has reopened, I think that the taste of the chicken there resembles that at Mary Browns (i.e. size of chicken breast, lack of coating/spice).

          1. re: jayt90

            Are there any Chick 'n Joy locations in North York, Thornhill, etc?

            1. re: allanc

              They seem to be located in south eastern GTA and close to the lake or Kingston Road.
              The one I go to for a quick fried chicken fix is at Whites and #2; it is family run and fries are hand cut, somewhat variable. These franchises seem to have some local control, like Popeye's, but less expensive.

              1483 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1E2, CA

              Chick N Joy Restaurant
              4449 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M1E2N7, CA

              Chicken N Joy
              3555 Thickson Rd N, Whitby, ON L1R, CA

              Chick N Joy Restaurant
              705 Kingston Rd, Pickering, ON L1V, CA

              1. re: jayt90

                Thank you.
                Those are the locations that I found when I searched also.
                I was hoping that maybe there was a location that was not in the online phone book.

            2. re: jayt90

              Of the many Mary Browns I've visited, the one at Dufferin is the worst. Really terrible, compared to the ones in Durham region. The best is in Oshawa near the OC.. kinda far, I know. :(

              1. re: jennjen18

                I tried MB on Dufferin and thought it was awful too. Is there a good location in the GTA? Where are people eating MB that they are raving about it?

                1. re: deelicious

                  The MB on Dufferin is the only one that I have tried.
                  Being a Popeyees fan (and the OP), I don't know what to compare it to.

                  1. re: deelicious

                    I tell you ... Durham region! Try Pickering - Hwy 2 and Liverpool!

                    1. re: jennjen18

                      That is kind of out of the way since I live in North York.
                      The farthest east that I travel to on a somewhat regular basis is Finch & Markham road.

            3. I haven't been to any Popeye's recently, but Popeye's spicy chicken was one of my guilty pleasures.

              Over the past few years, many Popeye's items have changed. Not surprisingly, these changes have not been for the better.

              The once wonderful biscuits, at least by Toronto standards, were reduced to less than half of their original size. They are now stingy and are usually dry. The once excellent house made to order onion rings are now frozen. None of the many menu additions ever tasted good, at least to me. There is no longer any "a la carte" option, so meals are too big and fattening for a snack.

              The one thing that stayed constant was the chicken recipe, but the prep has never been consistent from store to store. The spice level, coating quantity, greasiness, juiciness, and cooking has always varied all over the map. The Overlea and Lawrence E outlets were always much better than the outlets on Danforth or at Yonge & Dundas.

              While I don't know whether they recently changed the chicken recipe, the size of a breast piece had shrunk by half the last time I had one. (I think it was some time last summer.)

              7 Replies
              1. re: embee

                I ate at the Overlea location twice when there was only one other customer in the restaurant. Both times they made errors with my order (i.e. mild instead of spicy and/or dark instead of white).

                1. re: allanc

                  I do hope you had them correct the order. I sure would have done that. I don't like dark or mild Popeye's chicken. Service quality has never been a priority :-(

                  1. re: embee

                    Actually, I did not.
                    I just do not have it in me to complain about a $7 meal in a restaurant with only one other customer that cannot get the order right.

                    1. re: allanc

                      If I order something I like and get served something I don't like, it's going back whatever the price. This isn't a flawed prep - it's the wrong food. OTOH, if the chicken came overcooked but still edible, for $7, I'd let it go.

                      1. re: embee

                        You are absolutely right in principle.
                        That (Yonge & Steeles) location brings back fond (and fun) memories of me taking my kids there 20 years ago.
                        I have now been disappointed by that location and the Licks that was nearby.
                        I can't explain the thoughts that are swirling around in my head.

                2. re: embee

                  You mean that you cannot order a chicken breast on its own?
                  It might be available although it is not on the visible menu.

                3. Try a different location. The couple locations I frequent have consistantly amazing chicken.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Crispy skin

                    Maybe you could mention which ones you like so we don't have to try them all to figure out which are the good ones.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      I'm in Mississauga, and I frequent the one in Heartland, at Mavis and Rodeo. They're friendly, service is good.. and I always tell them what I want, and they would always figure out which meal is best for what I need. I've once was advised to get a kids meal and then order a la carte other items so to save on cost.... so, a la carte ordering still exists, despite it not being on the board.

                      1. re: jennjen18

                        At the locations I've been to, you can order à la carte sides. They won't sell a breast or a couple of wings & a biscuit anymore.

                        1. re: embee

                          The one I go to (Heartland in Mississauga) still does though. I've asked them how much one piece is ... they go: depends on which piece you want... breast is $x.xx.. i forget how much it was. I didnt go through with it, 'coz I was buying more, and like how others said, it's just more worth it to get it in a meal..

                          So, I didnt go through with it, but it seems like they still are able to do that at the one I go to...

                          1. re: jennjen18

                            My companion is a small eater so a single breast is perfect for her.
                            Or, you can order a 2 or 3 piece combo and upgrade one of the pieces to a breast.
                            I forget the upcharge ... maybe about $1.50?

                      2. re: foodyDudey

                        I went back to my old nemesis location (Overlea) the other day.
                        Previously, they have *always* messed up my order (see other posts).
                        Well, they finally served it right.
                        Unfortunately, they are serving the new style of less batter and not even close to being as spicy.
                        That's three locations that I have tried now with the same 'issue'.

                      3. re: Crispy skin

                        I have tried the location in Richmond Hill (north on Yonge/11) and it was good.
                        I thought the chicken pieces were smaller than what I remembered from the Yonge/Steeles location which was being renovated.

                      4. When did it reopen...I thought they closed the location for good.

                        I go to the Don Mills Peanut Plaza location...last time I went it was good as usual.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                          Not sure exactly - I would say around February.
                          They did some major renovations and the restaurant is now a lot smaller.
                          A video store is now located between the corner of the building and Popeyes.

                        2. The one here in Brampton is AWFUL... They don't even change their oil, they just strain it through some machine and keep re-using it forever.. Very greasy

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: duckdown

                            That location should be audited by the Popeyes head office.
                            Actually, with the inconsistency that we are all talking about, *all* the franchises should be audited.

                          2. Yeah as long as we have this thread going, can we narrow down some good locations? I am craving some Popeye's spicy. For me, the new one around Queen and Sherbourne and the one on the Danforth around Vic Park would probably be convenient. But I WILL drive completely out of my way for what I want the way I want it.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: childofthestorm

                              Caveat: no recent visits! (The North Yonge outlet would have been on my list of good ones).

                              Danforth: reliably poor
                              Lawrence/Midland: reliably good
                              Overlea: good when the chicken is fresh, but it dries out at off hours
                              Yonge/Dundas: reliably poor and often unfriendly

                              I've never been to Queen/Sherbourne, and I'd be uncomfortable at that location - given it's long and interesting history - if they don't have an onsite security guard.

                              1. re: embee

                                I've had no complaints at Lawrence/Midland or Spadina/College. The latter is in such a high-traffic location that the turnover rate is pretty good, even at off hours.

                                1. re: Wahooty

                                  i haven't had issues with the spadina/college one but i haven't ordered anything from there in the past... two months?

                                  i will say this though about the single piece order.... the frugal side of me just wants the bigger order because a piece of chicken shouldn't cost that much! so in the freezer the rest goes and it of course heats up perfectly fine with all that fat infused into it. i only ever get take out and eat it at home because the sides are so gosh darned disgusting... though i'm not one upping them much when i'm feeling particularly fast foodish and reach for the kraft dinner instead. it's a treat when i can get someone to make mac and cheese from scratch from our leftover nubs in the cheese drawer.

                            2. Shiver me timbers, matey! This post has garnered more responses than I thought it would!! Consider my first response null and void, if you please!! Also, I'm craving chicken wings tonight - has anybody had any fast food wings recently that are worth mentioning?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: redearth

                                Wasn't that in another thread :)?

                                1. re: allanc

                                  Umm, if I could reply to the wings comment - I like wings from Pizza Nova, actually. They're baked, so a tad more healthy. :)

                                2. re: redearth

                                  There are NO fast food wings worth mentioning. You have to find a pub to find good wings. and lots of rec's on the board. Good luck.

                                3. Just went to popeyes over the weekend (across from Markville Mall). It definitely wasn't as crispy as before (my chicken strips came out a bit soggy actually) and NOT Spicy. I thought they might have given me mild...but they said spicy. As well, the menu does not allow ordering pieces only. Does anyone know which popeyes still have spicy and crispy chicken?

                                  19 Replies
                                  1. re: spoonandsoup

                                    No offense to the Popeye chicken lovers here, but personally I like the KFC Spicy better, but ONLY from a franchise that does it well. For some reason the KFC on Mount Pleasant near Davisville does an excellent job on the spicy version... nice and crispy and spicy , where other locations have been disappointing.

                                    1. re: LovelyAsia

                                      I have not tried KFCs spicy.
                                      If there was a *good* location in North York or a little north I would definitely give it a try.

                                    2. re: spoonandsoup

                                      I logged onto the Popeyes WEB site this morning and filled in a customer service request form.
                                      I mentioned my findings re the crispy and spicy.
                                      It will be interesting to see if I receive a response.

                                      1. re: allanc

                                        allanc, it would be interesting to see what they say. I haven't tried KFC's spicy; hopefully it would be crispy as well.

                                        1. re: spoonandsoup

                                          If you have a KFC nearby you could try it on a Tuesday for 2.79 (2 dark pcs + fries) and see if it is spicy and crispy enough for you as a cheap test...

                                          I find the Spicy at KFC much crispier than the original, if that is any indication.

                                          1. re: LovelyAsia

                                            I tried earlier this week (not a Tuesday) at about 10:00 pm and it was too late to buy the crispy chicken.

                                            1. re: LovelyAsia

                                              I *finally* managed to try KFCs spicy/crispy.
                                              It was good ... maybe 6.5 out of 10.
                                              Many thanks to those who suggested it.

                                            2. re: spoonandsoup

                                              It is over a month since I posted a message on their WEB site and I never received a reply.
                                              I am disappointed, but not surprised.
                                              Awful service!

                                              1. re: allanc

                                                What happened to Churches Chicken.. This was IMO the best fast food Fried Chicken???

                                                1. re: Connoisseur

                                                  Actually, I have never heard of them.
                                                  I did a search at canada411 (across all provinces) and results were found.
                                                  The *do* have a WEB site and locator where you enter the zip code.

                                                  1. re: Connoisseur

                                                    On another note - what about the Chubby Chicken from A&W? I tried it the first time not too long ago... I mean, its not crispy .. its kinda like the KFC kind. But flavour is good! AND they have OH-SO-YUMMY onion rings. :)

                                                    1. re: jennjen18

                                                      Don't get me going on the root beer in freezing cold glasses from decades ago.
                                                      The A&W drive-in ... now *that* brings back memories :).

                                                      1. re: allanc

                                                        That brings back memories! They would deep freeze large 16 oz mugs for an hour or more, then fill them with root beer on tap. The mug became very frosty, and the root beer was chilled to perfection.Regret to say that we college kids would try to steal a mug or two, and use it for frosty beer. I wonder why moral responsibility was not part of my undergraduate course of study.

                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                          I have been told that at least one of the A&W's in a mall is serving their root beer in mugs. I forget which mall and I do not know if the mugs are frozen.

                                                          1. re: allanc

                                                            Don't most A&W locations serve root beer in mugs? I've only been maybe once in Ontario in the past few years; and once in Calgary, but both served root beer in mugs. The one near the T&T in Mississauga uses mugs (at least, at the time I ate there maybe 6 months ago?)

                                                            1. re: tjr

                                                              Ya basically any A&W that has their own seating serve in mugs still I think

                                                    2. re: Connoisseur

                                                      I second that about Church's being the best fried chicken. There were two locations in Durham Region till a few years back. They don't seem to do well in Ontario. They are a mainstay in BC.

                                                      1. re: Connoisseur

                                                        I think I saw their sign hanging off a convenience store on Gerrard near Pape Square. Can't pin it down more closely.

                                                        1. re: Pincus

                                                          That's a Chester Fried chicken sign. Church's had been gone from the GTA for many years. I'm not sure, but I think the Lahore Tikka House may once have been a Church's.

                                              2. I have neglected to reply about Popeyes for several reasons. When the franchises opened decades ago, all was well, then, I have to say that no matter what location you went to, the oil, whatever, you almost were ill, yes a feeling of illness from a change. I gave up for a long time and returned after years and all was well. Well, sort of, their fabulous Onion Rings were changing without public announcement to crummy non descript frozen non Onion Rings. The last time I ordered them was on Albion Road, asked if they were made fresh and was told yes --- and I ended up with what looked like the great Onion Rings, but they were so salty, they were inedible, and I wonder if it was a purposeful forced corporate move away to the frozen and ordered in ones. There was talk a few months ago on Chowhound about a change in flavour and I resisted, but after several months, I decided to order and the chicken was absolutely pathetic!!!! Have not been back, don't intend to again ever from my above described experiences!! Here is my thought, that the company is on the way out with it's most recent Franchisees to suffer. To be cynical, someone else might conclude that earlier Management and Franchisees with many locations have been cashing in big and ready to take the money and run, and then look for a Popeyes location! No matter what that cynical person may think, I personally have seen a roller coaster, changes from good to bad to good to bad, and really WHY????? You do not screw around with a winner, KFC, Harveys, McDonalds, etc. hold on and deliver, but good or bad the product. You fool around too much and witness the New Coke go kapung!!! The changes at Popeyes, perhaps to save money, perhaps all had a timetable, an aim, and a finaliztion that will reward the few ----- and an unhappy result for many. Changes, I had to become from the previous decades/years, a now past customer --- and the financial end as described to me, makes sense, I think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: Jar

                                                  It was I who started the original thread re the batter and spiciness changes.
                                                  If I remember correctly, some of our neighbors to the south (USA) responded in either this thread or another saying that *their* version of the recipe had not changed recently.
                                                  I also mentioned earlier in this thread that I had sent a WEB form query regarding the change and never received a reply.
                                                  Great service to add to the great flavour.

                                                  1. re: allanc

                                                    I am from Louisiana and Popeye's is a HUGE tradition in the New Orleans area. The recipe in NOLA has never changed. If you go to a Popeye's anywhere else, it is

                                                    - blander; in Louisiana it is almost unbearably spicy
                                                    - soggier
                                                    - not fresh

                                                    Even in Atlanta, Popeye's is different than it is in NOLA.

                                                    BUT... Popeye's is still my all-time fave. Haven't been to a TO location but I can tell you it is not going to be as spicy or crispy...

                                                    1. re: almond3xtract

                                                      You *should* try it here ... if only for the culture shock :(.
                                                      If you do, I would be interested to know if the branding on the cups, tray liners, etc is the same.

                                                      1. re: allanc

                                                        I did try Canadian Popeye's last week. The seasoning was close but still slightly mild compared to how it is back home. It was slightly over fried but just slightly.

                                                        The biscuit was TOO DRY!! Not enough butter. The Cajun rice ("dirty rice" as we call it) was also WAAAAYYY too dry and didn't have any gizzards... If you get the dirty rice down South it has lots of nice gizzards & livers.

                                                        1. re: almond3xtract

                                                          Thanks for the comparison!
                                                          That was an interesting comment about the seasoning because I think that it is currently way too mild compared to before (here, in Toronto).
                                                          And, if I remember correctly, you said that the spicy was really, really hot in New Orleans.
                                                          Which means, I think, that the Popeye's up here *was hotter* than what you are used to in the USA, correct?
                                                          (My analytical background is shining through).
                                                          I think that years ago, I had a small spoonful of the rice and did not care for it at all (compared to the fries).
                                                          I would really like to try it with gizzard and livers (seriously).

                                                          1. re: allanc

                                                            Whoa. Where in my post did you read me say Popeye's in spicier here than in the US? You got that totally backwards.

                                                            1. re: almond3xtract

                                                              I think that my post was overly complicated. Sorry.
                                                              What I was saying is that in my opinion, the spicy *now* at Popeye's here in Canada was much milder than maybe a year ago (in Canada).
                                                              So, if you were saying that the Popeye's now in Toronto is slightly milder than in New Orleans .... then maybe a year ago up here, the spicy would have been hotter than down south.

                                                              1. re: allanc

                                                                I'm sorry, but I HIGHLY doubt the spiciness of anything in TO is comparable to anything in Louisiana. Most of the food I've had here has really lacked in flavor, even the Mexican food. The only place I've eaten that wasn't afraid to use spice is Gandhi, and they are notorious for the spice factor.

                                                                When you order spicy chicken at Popeye's in Louisiana you will need a jumbo sized sweet tea to wash it down even if you are a native.

                                                                1. re: almond3xtract

                                                                  I will have to make sure that I try Popeye's in Louisiana *if* I ever visit that state.

                                                              2. re: almond3xtract

                                                                almond3xtract, do you know the location of the one you tried? because there seems to be inconsistency even among the Toronto ones.

                                                            2. re: almond3xtract

                                                              Was it one of the Halal locations you tried? All the locations I have access to are Halal. Just curious. I read somewhere one of the rice dishes has a pork base in the US, which made me think the Toronto Halal locations can't possibly be using the same bases/recipes for everything. Interesting there are so many regional variations.

                                                      2. re: Jar

                                                        BTW - I do not think that I agree with you regarding Harveys.
                                                        Yes, I have fond memories of their burgers (15-20 years ago).
                                                        However, the burgers have resembled hockey pucks the last couple of times that I have tried them at their locations within Home Depots.

                                                      3. Yet another victim of corporate greed. Just like Tim Hortons who used to bake their doughnuts in house and then switched to the mass factory frozen crap. I'm sure they've changed suppliers (do you really think they hand breaded the chicken at the store?) and thus the recipe is changed.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: sbug206

                                                          Supposedly they did, somewhat supported by the extreme inconsistencies among stores. As with the onion rings, it is quite possible that they don't anymore.

                                                          1. re: sbug206

                                                            I have not watched that particular process in maybe 6 months.
                                                            However, before that, I used to see them (at the Yonge / Steeles location) do that.

                                                            1. re: allanc

                                                              Surprised that nobody has mentioned the Dixie road location or the Hurontario ones in Mississauga. I have frequented both and do think that they lowered the spice level in the past couple of years.

                                                              The service we have received is a little iffy in both of these stores as well. Sometimes you have to wait 10 minutes for a batch to finish cooking, and the staff is sometimes distracted and self-absorbed.

                                                              I love the spicy chicken, but when it becomes too much of a bother to pay attention to service and consistency then it's much less appealing...

                                                              1. re: stephen

                                                                And the amount of batter, right?

                                                            2. re: sbug206

                                                              BTW - I was at the Yonge / Steeles location last week.
                                                              The definitely hand breaded the chicken.

                                                            3. Popey's is anazing, crushes KFC, it's even better than Stockyards ;)

                                                              1. Did not read any of these posts but the best Popeyes is at lawrence and mcowen hot and fresh.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Crispy skin

                                                                  @crispy skin
                                                                  We are located around Dufferin and finch.
                                                                  That is quite a drive!

                                                                  Dufferin Cafe
                                                                  2917 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3S7, CA

                                                                2. My observations of Popeyes are these:

                                                                  1) Why do most of the locations have jail bars on them? No other fast food chain does this, it really puts me off eating there, you'd think Toronto was demilitarized zone!

                                                                  2) I've never seen a chain where so many staff do so little. I don't eat their often, but when i do, I fine that almost never is there any chicken ready, and if there is, there are no fries ready, and this is in the middle of lunch; but with the place 2/3 empty.

                                                                  3)The staff are invariably absent, and when seen minutes later, can be found talking on their phone, reading the paper or arguing with one another.

                                                                  If the above could be ironed out, its really not a 1/2 bad place for fast food. I wouldn't dine there weekly; but I would stop by more often when the fried chicken craving struck.

                                                                  ** as an side note, I did complain once, a number of years ago, at the time Popeyes didn't have a Canadian website, I don't know if it does now or not. But the U.S. site was riddled with spelling mistakes, had the addresses of the Canadian locations wrong, it was really quite dreadful.

                                                                  1. there is one opening in the Yonge Wellesley area soon very soon

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. Still inconsistent, sometimes its not hot, then, next time it warms me up. Love it every once and awhile.

                                                                      1. I only eat at Popeye's every 4-5 years to remind myself why I only eat there every 4-5 years....