Fast Food Salad Shocker Could Make You Rethink Your Order

OMG 45

 chicken ceasar salad

Who makes the healthiest salads? You do, at home, of course. But when you eat out -- ever wonder what the best choice would be?

I was perusing a handly little infographic on eating at the wrong place and time when I came across some surprising information about the Chicken Caesar Salads we get when we eat out. If you had to guess, which salads do you think would be highest in calories -- the salad at a fast food restaurant or the salad at a casual dining restaurant?

If you're comparing the Chicken Caesar Salads at McDonald's, Wendy's, Panera Bread, Chili's, and Cheesecake Factory, the fast food salads come out the lowest in calories! Depending on your definition of healthy, it kind of looks like the fast food salads are healthier.

  • McDonald's: 330 calories
  • Wendy's: 440 calories
  • Panera Bread: 510 calories
  • Chili's: 630 calories
  • Cheesecake Factory: 976 calories

I guess the Cheesecake Factory calorie count shouldn't come as a surprise. Everything there is high calorie! I don't even know how they cram so many calories into one dish. But it still kind of defeats the purpose of eating a salad, don't you think?

But what if this is just a fluke?

I decided to take a look at the average calorie counts for salads at a few of these restaurants just to compare. I looked at McDonald's salads, Panera Bread salads, and Chili's salads:

  • Average salad at McDonald's: 227 calories
  • Average salad at Panera Bread: 486 calories
  • Average salad at Chili's: 718 (Quesadilla Explosion Salad clocks in at 1,300 -- yikes!)

Of course, the portion size at McDonald's is much smaller than the portions at Chili's. And Panera serves half-salads, which are probably closer to McDonald's size -- and which put them at the same level, calorie-wise. There's a whole lot more to nutrition than calories. Personally I'm a lot more worried about sugar and artificial ingredients. But there you go. Fast food lower in calories -- who knew?

Do you ever get a salad when you eat out?


Image via Alexandra Campo/Flickr

restaurants, eating out, healthy choices


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lalab... lalaboosh

Stop counting calories. Just eliminate the bullshit and the pounds fly off. I know, my clothes are TOOO BIG! When I eat out I enjoy my meal, I don't worry about the fat content. I eat healthy at home.


If I get salads when going out I get just a side salad. No cheese, no meat. Just lettuce, tomato, carrot, and cabbage. I get ranch dressing but still better than all that other crap.

Alway... AlwaysExpecting

If I am going to order a salad at a sit down restuarant - or any food for that matter, there is only one rule I follow, it had better taste good! 

If I wanted a low calorie salad I would make one, not go to chilis and be shocked that I just ate 1200 calories in salad form!

Jenny... JennyG0929

I used to get the Quesadilla Explosion all of the time until I read about the calories in "Eat this, Not That". Here I thought I was being "better", not "good" about my choices, little did I know it was downright awful!

I am now in the mindset now that if I am being treated out to eat (after eating healthy at home), I will order whatever the hell I want.

nonmember avatar Amy

Health is about more than calories. Grams of protein, grams of fiber, type of fats, grams of sugars...these things all matter so much more. You could eat 1500 calories a day of refined sugar or 2000 calories a day of fresh produce and lean protein with healthy, natural fats. Which diet is healthier?

nonmember avatar Britt

Old Weight Watchers trick to work around that...get the salad with dressing on the side, and then dip your fork into the dressing cup and THEN take forkfuls of salad. You will be amazed at the fact that you only use about a teaspoon of dressing for the whole salad since that is where the major calories come from. Plus it still tastes amazing because you get dressing in every bite!

jessi... jessicasmom1

sometimes not often it depends on if I am hungry for salad

Rushn311 Rushn311

When I am eating healthy, I get the chicken caesar salad from McDonald's but I don't eat the dressing. LOL I like it for their parmesan cheese and I top it with cripsy chicken and it STILL comes out to 330 or 360 calories. :D That's not bad for a lunch.

MamaM... MamaMandee

I do often like to get a salad so this is good to know, thanks!

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