There was a point when I was in college where I damn near lived on biscuits from Popeyes. There’s something about the buttery, flaky, and glutenous mounds that just struck a nerve. Part of it was that my grandmother always made me biscuits and gravy when I’d go stay with her over the summer. Part of that is that I love biscuits in general and have since childhood. Butter, honey, bread — it’s not exactly rocket science.
The thing is, I never really cared about the biscuits from KFC. The only sides I cared about at KFC were the mashed potatoes and brown gravy. But I had a KFC biscuit recently and it was way better than I remembered. Whereas the Popeyes biscuit is buttery and dense, the KFC biscuit I tried was light, very fluffy, and somehow felt home-baked and not mass-produced. I was charmed, to say the least.
Was it a fluke? Was I misremembering the tastes and vibes of each of these biscuits? Was my love of Popeyes blinding me to KFC’s biscuit prowess? I knew I had to answer these questions with a side-by-side comparison — based on three variables:
- Presentation (looks)
- Flake or crumb (buttery? dry? dense?)
- Taste (self-explanatory).
And away we go!
Price: 99 cents
Look at the image above! This looks like it’s goddamn homemade. It’s funky, bulbous, unique — the opposite of mass-produced. There’s a nice browned top with a pure white body, which is what you want in a classic biscuit.
This biscuit has more of a crumb than a flake. I think this works better as a biscuit and gravy biscuit. It’s a little closer to a dinner roll than a flaky biscuit, which has its place in the pantheon of great biscuits and is a little more traditional, rather than following the hipster trend that every biscuit be layers of quick bread.
The biscuit has a nice, almost sour vibe with a savory edge. There’s really no butteriness at all. This is all about the quick bread. It’s also very light and fluffy (as you can see from the images). That being said, this is definitely a biscuit that needs gravy, butter and jam or honey.
It’s kind of a miracle that a biscuit as popular as KFC’s feels this authentic and real. Still, this was more a dinner roll than a buttery biscuit bomb so I’d give it 2 out of 3 star-shaped biscuits.
Price: 79 cents
This feels a lot more cookie-cutter and massed produced. That being said, it’s uniform, clearly flaky, and well-browned. It’s very tidy and neat which feels a bit disingenuous when talking biscuits. Where’s the character?
This has a perfect balance of dinner roll crumb and flaky quick bread with plenty of butteriness. Truly, this stuck a balance that’s hard to achieve at home without some skills when mixing quick bread. It was the best of both worlds.
This really didn’t need gravy to amp up the flavor. It was already a nice little savory and buttery bomb. It didn’t melt in your mouth but it was close. It was a little denser — you could use this biscuit as a spoon/scooper if you needed to. But that density didn’t really take away from the overall experience.
Just like the KFC biscuit, this is 2 of 3 star-shaped biscuits for me. The taste and flake were the real high point of this biscuit but the shape and look were a little too industrial for me. It felt a little… loveless.
The KFC biscuit lost a point for a mediocre flake/crumb that felt more like a dinner roll than a biscuit. The Popeyes biscuit lost its point for the look of the biscuit. But not all points are equal here — taste always trumps presentation in the case of a tie. So Popeyes wins this. It’s just a better overall biscuit experience. That butter flake and soft crumb in the Popeyes biscuit alongside a really savory taste simply cannot be beaten in the fast food galaxy.
Hack of the day: crack a few of these in half, lay some spicy chicken fingers inside, butter and honey the top biscuit half and you have a salty-savory-spicy chicken slider that hits notes of a certain famous sandwich AND chicken and waffles.