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Taste Test: Can Church’s New Chicken Sandwiches Topple Popeyes?

Popeyes might have a problem on its hand. It has, unquestionably, the best chicken sandwich in the fast food universe and for two years every fast food chain — and yes we mean every fast food chain has been swiping for the top spot. Nobody has come close, but what about the few fast food chains that are at least competitive with Popeyes?

In our definitive ranking of the best fast food chicken sandwiches, Shake Shack, Church’s, Jollibee, and Wendy’s filled out the top five, just under Popeyes. If one of those other brands were to drop an exciting new chicken sandwich, suddenly that top spot is back in play, right?

Popeyes knows this. It’s why they dropped this year’s Hottie Sauce Chicken Sandwich and got Megan Thee Stallion to promote it. I called the sandwich an improvement over the original. But there is a new kid on the block, or well, three new kids technically.

Church’s — our number three pick for best chicken sandwich — has just unveiled a trio of new sandwiches, the Texas-Cut Bacon Chicken Sandwich trio. The bacon-adorned trio is available at Church’s chicken restaurants nationwide until December 26th, so if you want to get your hands on one of these sandwiches, you’ll have to move fast.

We tried the whole flight so you know where to best spend your money, and more importantly, how they stack up against the GOAT. Let’s eat!

Texas-Cut Bacon Chicken Sandwich

Church's Texas Chicken Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

The OG Church’s Chicken Sandwich consists of a breaded chicken breast filet on a mayo-smeared bun with thick crinkle-cut pickles, so the only thing that makes the Texas-Cut Bacon version different is the inclusion of bacon. It’s not a big change, but a chicken sandwich with bacon is superior to the same chicken sandwich without bacon every single time, so this is an easy win for Church’s.

The breast filet here is massive and on all three occasions juicy with a crunchy and craggy pepper-forward batter that strikes the perfect balance of the meat-to-breading ratio. The bacon itself is good, but it leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not as thick and glorious as Church’s press photos would suggest, these are unfortunately very thin pieces of bacon, but they add a nice smokey flavor to the whole sandwich, and for $1 more you can get double the bacon. Definitely do that.

How Does It Compare To Popeyes?

The inclusion of bacon elevates this chicken sandwich, but not quite to the heights of what Popeyes has going for them. If we were to redo our ranking today, we’d still give Shake Shack its well-deserved number two spot. But Church’s is definitely onto something.

Texas-Cut Bacon Smoky Honey-Q Chicken Sandwich

Church's Texas Chicken Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

The Honey-Q is Church’s answer to Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Chicken Sandwich. It features a new sauce —Honey-Q — that attempts to blend the smokey and sweet flavors of BBQ with honey mustard and what Church’s calls “Texas seasoning.” Not really sure what that means, but overall this sandwich has an artificially smokey flavor that I just can’t get down with.

It’s a shame because the sauce on its own is pretty good, I’d love to use it as a dip, but when paired with the already smokey bacon this thing just comes off as overly smoked. It doesn’t have balance like the other two sandwiches in this review and that’s what makes it not quite as good as the Popeyes sandwich it’s trying to imitate.

This flavor isn’t without its merits though, as I said the sauce is good. So here’s the play: Order the Texas-Cut Bacon Spicy Chicken Sandwich with a side of Honey-Q and then dip. This will allow you to control the sauce distribution and will keep it from becoming overwhelming.

How Does It Compare To Popeyes?

It has some things going for it and we’re happy Church’s is stepping out of their comfort zone by dropping a radically reimagined chicken sandwich. Definitely worth ordering if you’re curious, but keep your expectations in check.

Texas-Cut Bacon Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Church's Texas Chicken Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

The Spicy version of the Texas-cut swaps out the mayo for a much more delicious and complex spicy mayo, and it makes the sandwich significantly better. The spicy mayo leans on the slightly sweet side, to my taste buds it’s a mix of Sriacha and mayo with a bit of cayenne pepper which pairs really nicely with Church’s black pepper-forward batter.

It strangely helps to highlight some hidden sweet notes that I’ve never noticed in this sandwich. But before things get too sweet the smokiness of the bacon balances things out, resulting in crunchy bite after crunchy bite of balanced hot, sweet, and smokey flavors. It’s not the spiciest chicken sandwich you’ll ever have, but it’s one of the most flavorful on the market. Church’s often gives you a side of fried Jalapeño poppers with every order of their spicy sandwich. Definitely put those poppers into your sandwich if you love flavor. It’ll add a bit more of a spicy kick, more crunch, and ooey-gooey cheese, which can never be a bad thing.

How Does It Compare To Popeyes?

This sandwich comes incredibly close to being as good as Popeyes, but at the end of the day we’re still going to have to give it to the GOAT. Popeyes batter just has a better flavor, there are notes of garlic and onion powder that this Church’s sandwich just doesn’t have. Having said that, this one has bacon, so if you have a craving for the smokey crunch of bacon, that’s something Popeyes just can’t satiate.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the thing, at the end of the day I still think Popeyes makes a better chicken sandwich. But ultimately, it’s going to come down to whether or not you want bacon. If you want a chicken sandwich that is piled high with bacon, order the Church’s Texas-Cut Bacon Spicy Chicken Sandwich with extra bacon. You can’t get that at Popeyes, and you’ll probably never be able to.

The sandwich — especially when smartly hacked — is delicious enough that you won’t miss or even think about the Popeyes sandwich. Even if it isn’t quite as good.

Find your nearest Church’s here.