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We Blind Tested Fish Sandwiches From Popeyes, Wendy’s, And Carl’s Jr — Here’s The Undisputed Champion

Fast Food

Ah, fish sandwich season. That special time of year when restaurants across the fast food universe turn their focus from chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers to the mighty fish sandwich. We’re about a month deep into the season (which begins on February 14th to coincide with Lent) and we’ve already launched one big fish sandwich ranking by Uproxx’s resident whiskey and fish sando expert, Zach Johnston.

While I stand behind and fully co-sign Zach’s ranking, I couldn’t help but notice his ranking left off a few of my personal favorites (which aren’t as easy to come across down Kentucky way). So to give you the full and comprehensive picture of fast food fish sandos (Zach’s word, I’m stealing it!), I decided to hit the sandwiches Zach couldn’t get to and pit them against one another in a blind taste test.


Fish sandwiches are best enjoyed when they’re piping hot, so I kept this list relatively short and picked up the sandwiches I could collect quickly to ensure they were still hot. Here is our tasting class today:

  • Carl’s Jr Panko-Breaded Fish Sandwich
  • Popeyes Spicy Flounder Fish Sandwich
  • Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

Luckily, where I’m located I can pick up all three of these sandwiches and get back to my apartment in just 15 minutes, which is a fast food blind taste test record for us.

Once I had the sandwiches in my apartment, I took some pictures and then had my girlfriend shuffle them up and serve them to me one at a time under the cover of a blindfold.

Here are the results:

PART I — The Fish Sandwich Blind Taste Test

Taste 1:

Fish Sando
Dane Rivera

A pungent garlic and onion flavor balanced by a bright, slightly sweet, and buttery fish flavor, with a crispy bite, and a slightly salty finish. The bun is buttery, nice and spongey, and a great canvas for the rich flavors.

We’re off to a good start!

Taste 2:

Fish Sando
Dane Rivera

The fish here is markedly different than Taste 1, it’s sweeter, and milder, with a very clean and buttery flavor. I’m also tasting a bit of cayenne spice and smoked paprika which pair nicely with the pickles.

I’m not tasting any tartar sauce here, what we have instead is something far smokier that sort of… ~sizzles~ on the aftertaste in a very addicting way.

This sandwich pulled me in for another bite.

Taste 3:

Fish Sando
Dane Rivera

This one is just lacking. The lettuce is noticeably wilted, the tartar sauce is runnier and not as rich as Taste 1, and the fish itself isn’t very flavorful. The panko breading surrounding it is nice and crispy, with a great crunch, but I’m just not getting a whole lot of flavor here.

It’s clear that his is the weakest of the bunch.

PART II — The Fish Sandwich Ranking:

3. Carl’s Jr. — Panko-Breaded Fish Sandwich

Fast Food
Carls Jr.

The real draw of Carl’s Jr.’s Panko-Breaded Fish Sandwich is that you can pick up two for only $6, which hovers around the cost of just one sandwich from Wendy’s or Popeyes.

I love a deal as much as the next person but if what you’re after is flavor, this one is going to leave a lot to be desired.

The Bottom Line:

The sandwich isn’t as thick and luxurious as the competition, but at two for $6, this is the best deal you’re going to find.

2. Wendy’s — Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

Fast Food

For some people, Wendy’s is going to be the number one choice. If you want that classic Alaskan Pollock meets tartar sauce flavor profile, this sandwich delivers.

This sandwich has a great flavor, all of the ingredients are well considered and work harmoniously, plus it has cheese — always a welcome addition and brings a bit of creaminess into the equation. But it didn’t win me over like our number one choice.

The Bottom Line:

If what you love about fish sandwiches is that mild and delicate fish meets rich tartar sauce flavor profile, this sandwich is one of the very best in all of fast food.

1. Popeyes — Flounder Fish Sandwich


Two things make this sandwich a cut above the rest. The first is that it uses that winning Popeyes flavor profile that makes the chicken sandwich such a game changer. It takes that same spice blend and pairs it with a spicy and savory cayenne-based sauce. It’s savory, smokey, and rich.

It also has a novelty factor. Most fast food fish sandwiches utilize Alaskan Pollock, which is a fine option, but Popeyes uses flounder, which tends to have the same delicate flavor profile but a more flaky texture. That textural difference makes the Flounder Fish sandwich melt in your mouth in a way the other fast food sandwiches just don’t.

The Bottom Line:

Our favorite fish sandwich in this taste test, to be sure! It’s only available for a limited time, so be sure to hit up Popeyes before the month’s end if you want to experience what makes this sandwich special.