How many calories in a Popeyes regular mac and cheese?

Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that is loved by many. The creamy, cheesy pasta dish can be found on menus across the country, including at popular chicken chain Popeyes. But with its rich flavors and indulgent ingredients like cheese, cream, and butter, mac and cheese is also high in calories and fat. If you are watching your calorie intake or trying to eat healthier, you may be wondering just how many calories are actually in Popeyes regular mac and cheese side order.

Calories in Popeyes Mac and Cheese

According to Popeyes nutrition information, a regular side order of their mac and cheese contains 460 calories. This is for a serving size of 177g or about 6.2 oz.

Here is a breakdown of the full nutrition facts for Popeyes regular mac and cheese:

Nutrition Facts Amount
Calories 460
Total Fat 24g
Saturated Fat 14g
Trans Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 60mg
Sodium 930mg
Total Carbs 36g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 22g

As you can see, nearly half of the calories come from fat, with 24g total and 14g saturated fat. It also contains a sizable 36g of carbohydrates and 930mg of sodium.

Mac and Cheese Nutrition Facts

To put the Popeyes mac and cheese calories into context, let’s compare it to some other popular mac and cheese brands:

  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (1 cup prepared): 380 calories, 20g fat, 1,040mg sodium
  • Annie’s Organic Shells & Real Aged Cheddar (1 cup): 400 calories, 20g fat, 760mg sodium
  • Kraft Easy Mac Microwave Cup: 380 calories, 13g fat, 820mg sodium
  • Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese (1 container): 380 calories, 18g fat, 960mg sodium

Popeyes mac and cheese is on the higher side for calories compared to other leading brands. It has more calories per serving than Kraft, Annie’s, Easy Mac, and Stouffer’s pre-packaged mac and cheese options.

However, restaurants tend to serve larger portion sizes with more cheese and fat than pre-packaged mac and cheese. So the Popeyes version having around 400 calories is not completely out of line when compared to other restaurant mac and cheese dishes:

  • Panera Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese (bowl): 500 calories, 25g fat
  • Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (regular): 500 calories, 25g fat
  • Maggiano’s Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni (one serving): 610 calories, 32g fat
  • The Cheesecake Factory Famous Factory Meatballs & Macaroni (lunch portion): 1,040 calories, 59g fat

Considering this context, Popeyes provides one of the lower-calorie mac and cheese options from a restaurant chain.

Ways to Make Popeyes Mac and Cheese Healthier

If you want to enjoy Popeyes mac and cheese but are trying to lighten it up, there are some tweaks you can make:

  • Order a small size instead of regular or large. A small has around 230 calories and 12g fat.
  • Skip the cajun seasoning. It adds an extra 120mg sodium.
  • Ask for it without bacon. This cuts 50-80 calories and 4-7g fat.
  • Opt for a side salad instead of fries for a veggie pairing.
  • Cut the portion in half and save remaining to split with someone else.
  • Load up on veggies for your other sides to help fill up.
  • Split it as an appetizer/snack instead of a main meal side.

You can also make some healthier swaps:

  • Substitute grilled chicken breast instead of fried chicken.
  • Choose apple slices, green beans, or corn on the cob for your other side items.
  • Wash it down with water or unsweetened tea instead of soda.
  • Dip chicken in buffalo sauce instead of heavy gravy or butter.

With a few simple modifications, you can still enjoy this popular menu item while reducing the calories, fat, sodium and other unhealthy factors.

Tips for Ordering Low Calorie at Popeyes

Beyond just the mac and cheese, here are some helpful guidelines for ordering lower calorie meals at Popeyes overall:

  • Choose grilled chicken options when possible.
  • Go for blackened or naked tenders and chicken.
  • Opt for spicy seasonings like cajun and blackening vs. heavy gravies and buttermilk batter.
  • Skip the biscuit and pick cornbread muffin for your side item.
  • Order small or medium sizes instead of large.
  • Add extra veggie sides like green beans, red beans & rice or corn.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side to control the amount.
  • Enjoy a side salad with light dressing instead of fries.
  • Choose unsweetened tea or water as your drink.

Healthiest Popeyes Menu Items

Referencing Popeyes nutrition data, these are some of the lower calorie menu items to consider ordering:

  • Blackened Chicken Breast (105 calories)
  • 3pc Chicken Tenders with Naked sauce (420 calories)
  • Red Beans & Rice (190 calories)
  • Green Beans (35 calories)
  • Biscuit (170 calories)
  • Mashed Potatoes (150 calories)
  • Corn on the Cob (90 calories)
  • 1pc Fried Chicken Breast (190 calories)
  • Side Salad with Light Dressing (60 calories)

Aim for grilled chicken dishes, lighter sides and smaller or shared portions. With some moderation and adjustments, you can satisfy your Popeyes cravings without going overboard on calories.

High Calorie Menu Items to Avoid

On the other end of the spectrum, here are some of the highest calorie Popeyes menu picks that you may want to avoid or only enjoy occasionally:

  • Chicken Sandwich Combo (1,443 calories)
  • 5pc Bonafide Meal (1,225 calories)
  • Rip’n Chick’n Tenders Platter (1,190 calories)
  • 4pc Chicken Meal (869 calories)
  • 3pc Tenders Combo (1,102 calories)
  • Chicken Winglets (1,034 calories for 12pc)
  • Buttermilk Biscuits (460 calories for 3 biscuits)
  • Mac & Cheese Bowls (500-800 calories)

Fried chicken, combos with multiple sides, large tenders platters, and biscuits or mac and cheese as sides are typically high in calories, fat, carbs, and sodium. Keep portions of these menu items small or consider healthier swaps.

Making Your Own Healthy Mac and Cheese

In addition to tweaking your order at Popeyes, you can also make healthier baked mac and cheese at home. Here is a recipe for lightened up mac and cheese:


  • 8oz whole grain macaroni
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, yogurt, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Heat over medium stirring frequently, until thickened to a sauce consistency, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth.
  5. Drain pasta and return to pot. Mix in cheese sauce until fully coated.
  6. Transfer to a baking dish and top with panko crumbs and olive oil.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and crumbs are golden brown.
  8. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

With just 380 calories per serving, this light mac and cheese is a healthier alternative to enjoy that still tastes decadent and creamy.

Should You Eat Popeyes Mac and Cheese?

Popeyes mac and cheese is certainly a tasty indulgence. But is it a healthy choice to eat regularly?

Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Provides protein from the cheese
  • Contains some calcium for bone health
  • Relatively low cost as a side item
  • Convenient fast food option
  • Satisfies comfort food cravings


  • High in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol
  • Lower in nutrients than whole foods
  • Higher calorie side item
  • Unhealthy when eaten frequently
  • Not a balanced meal component

Overall, Popeyes mac and cheese is very high in calories, fat and sodium compared to more nutrient-dense foods. While fine as an occasional treat, it should not be a regular part of your diet if watching your health and nutrition.

Healthier Alternatives to Popeyes Mac and Cheese

If you are looking for healthier comfort food options, here are some alternatives to consider instead of indulging in Popeyes mac and cheese:

  • Baked sweet potato topped with black beans, salsa and guacamole
  • Vegetable fried brown rice with tofu
  • Quinoa bowls with roasted veggies and hummus
  • Chicken or shrimp soup with low-sodium broth
  • Greek yogurt bowls with fresh fruit and granola
  • Grilled salmon with sweet potato and sautéed greens
  • Tuna salad lettuce wraps with tomato and avocado
  • Vegetable and bean chili
  • Baked chicken nuggets with roasted broccoli

Focus on getting more whole foods, lean proteins, fiber and nutrients. This will provide longer lasting energy and satisfaction than the quick fix of indulgent comfort foods like mac and cheese.


Popeyes mac and cheese contains a hefty 460 calories and 24g fat per serving. Though it can make for an indulgent comfort food treat, it is high in calories, saturated fat, carbs, and sodium compared to more nutritious options. Follow some of these tips like ordering a smaller size, skipping high-calorie sides and dipping sauces, splitting portions, and adding veggie sides to cut some calories when enjoying it occasionally. But try to limit having this high-calorie side too often if you are watching your health and nutrition.

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