Behind the counter of a Popeyes, in the company of nuggets, (in)famous sandwiches, and the best desserts in the fast food landscape, sit small packets of a special seasoning known to few but beloved by all who taste it. That seasoning blend is called Cajun Sparkle, and it is a game changing addition to your Popeyes order—no matter what you order.
The term “food hack” gets tossed around a lot these days, so The Takeout is extra selective about what makes the cut. But this writer recently discovered the existence of Cajun Sparkle thanks to the recommendation of a friend (shout out to you, Berenice), and this small but mighty seasoning packet is a meal enhancer that everyone should know about.
Cajun Sparkle, as a representative for Popeyes told The Takeout via email, “is an optional condiment/spice that is meant to be an extra flavor booster.” While the packet is meant to be used on the chain’s classic fried chicken, Popeyes noted that “it generally can make any piece of chicken ‘pop’ a bit more.” The special seasoning has been around for more than 20 years.
Unfortunately, the fried chicken chain apparently prefers to keep its sparkly secrets under wraps, as it did not specify what exactly is in the flavor booster. To attempt to demystify the spice packet, we must turn to internet wisdom. Some Reddit users have said the copycat recipes don’t get it quite right, but this is all we have.
Searches for “Popeyes Cajun Sparkle” yield a few copycat recipes, like this one from Top Secret Recipes containing salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, rubbed dried sage, paprika, MSG, and cayenne pepper. Another copycat recipe from Southernbytes uses almost all of the same ingredients with a couple minor differences, such as using kosher salt and a specific flavor enhancer.
But if you’re not interested in making Cajun Sparkle at home, you can at least learn the best ways to use it on your fast food order—or on your next home-cooked meal. Numerous TikTok videos and Reddit threads hail Cajun Sparkle as a game changing flavor boost for a wide range of foods.
“I get extra packets from Popeyes to season my scrambled eggs,” wrote one Reddit user. “You guys have to try it! Add a bit of garlic too.”
The original poster of a Reddit thread seeking the recipe for Cajun Sparkle wrote, “This stuff is insane. I can put it anywhere on top of fries biscuits hell I would even put it in my soda if I could.”
A TikTok video from user @rodericks.world suggests pouring honey and Cajun Sparkle over Popeyes’ nuggets and shaking it all up to evenly coat the poultry. Another TikTok video shows the seasoning being sprinkled over Popeyes fries. The #cajunsparkle topic has over 700,000 views on TikTok, so this little insider secret may not be so secret for very long.
You might be wondering why a flavor booster that’s been around for more than 20 years would be considered an under-the-radar menu hack. Fair point, dear reader. The catch here is that not every single Popeyes location has Cajun Sparkle on hand, and it’s not just any location that will send customers out the door with a handful of packets, either.
Popeyes told The Takeout that the seasoning has grown its own cult following “for those who can get it.” Don’t be too surprised if you walk into your local Popeyes location requesting Cajun Sparkle and are met with a confused look; some Reddit users report the same experience. The seasoning is not listed on the brand’s website, nor is it available on the app. You will have to sniff out the sparkle on your own.
If you do find it, take a page out of the book of those who have come before you and ask for at least a handful of packets. You may need to drop a little extra cash into the hands of an employee, as this Reddit user did, but it could be more than worth it for some extra pizzazz in your chicken.