Fast food chains just don’t seem to invest much in their dessert menu. Chipotle still doesn’t offer anything sweet, though the possibility remains on the table. McDonald’s all-day breakfast pastries don’t have a lot of heart in them, and Wendy’s occasional new Frosty flavors fail to best the original. We’ve even added “better fast food desserts” to our year-end wish list before, that’s how badly we want them. But there is one fast food chain that keeps putting out consistently great sweets, even at a time when it could rest on its laurels. Love that dessert from Popeyes.
Popeyes recently announced the limited-time-only return of two different desserts to the menu, the Blueberry Lemon Pie and the Strawberry Cheesecake Cup. Technically, “Blueberry Lemon Pie” is a bit of a misnomer; it features blueberry filling paired with cream cheese and “a touch of lemon flavor,” per the press release. The Strawberry Cheesecake Cup, meanwhile, is a miniature cheesecake on a graham cracker crumb crust in a cup with strawberry puree swirled into the filling.
The turnover-style pies at Popeyes are consistently great, and the crust in particular stands out because the pastry dough comes deep-fried—a big improvement over McDonald’s Apple Pies, which since 1992 have been baked rather than fried. I love how flaky Popeyes’ crust gets, and if you eat a pie that’s still piping hot, you’ll probably wonder why you don’t get them more often as a treat. The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie introduced at Popeyes in 2019 was a seasonal highlight.
Popeyes’ cake-in-a-cup form factor is hard to beat. Last August I tried the seasonal Banana Cream Cake on a nice summer day, and I still remember how much I loved the thing, even months later. This coming from a guy who almost always skips dessert in favor of chowing down on another piece of fried chicken.
The Popeyes cake is so good, in fact, that it’s worth going out of your way to get it as an afternoon pick-me-up, even if you don’t grab any chicken while you’re there—and it’s a dessert that pairs well with a cup of black coffee.
If there’s one dessert associated with Popeyes’ home state of Louisiana, it’s beignets. In the past, the chain has released variations on the dessert, including Chocolate Beignets complete with a dusting of powdered sugar on top. It’s that kind of attention to detail that we appreciate, even if you’d never mistake Popeyes’ beignets for Cafe du Monde. Dessert isn’t an afterthought at Popeyes, but rather an area of focus. Yes, the dessert menu is concise, never amounting to more than a few options at a time, but the limited-time seasonal offerings make this section of the menu something to look forward to upon every visit.
Fast food chains of America, please take note of how Popeyes considers and curates its dessert menu. Just because it’s known for one thing—and we all know what that one thing is—doesn’t mean dessert has to be an afterthought.