25 restaurant salads that have more calories than a Big Mac

Posted at 2:54 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 14:59:01-05


America is seeing a health revolution. Grocery stores are selling green juices instead of soda and many restaurant menus now flag “gluten free” or “healthier” options. And people looking to stay healthy typically opt for salads.

But what many often forget is that salads can also be unhealthy. When loaded with fat-laden dressings and sugary toppings, they can do more harm to your waistline than a fast-food burger.

Using nutrition data from ESHA Research (named for its founders Elizabeth Stewart Hands and Associates), HealthGrove crunched the numbers to find 25 salads that have more calories than a 530-calorie McDonald’s Big Mac. These are just a few of the most calorific salads out there, so you’ll surprised how many blow the iconic fast-food staple out of the water.

#25. Denny’s Chicken Strip Deluxe Salad

Calories: 590

Fat: 29g
Protein: 42g
Carbohydrate: 43g
Sodium: 1180mg

If you, for some reason, decide to opt for this salad instead of a stack of Denny’s famous pancakes, you won’t be cutting very many calories.

#24. Trader Joe’s Baby Spinach Salad

Calories: 610

Fat: 49g
Protein: 11g
Carbohydrate: 37g
Sodium: 560mg

Just because the name of this salad is “spinach” doesn’t mean you’re eating air. The blue cheese, dried cranberries and candied walnuts make it more calorific than a Big Mac.

#23. Olive Garden Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Calories: 610

Fat: 40g
Protein: 43g
Carbohydrate: 19g
Sodium: 1230mg

Olive Garden has never been known as a nutritional option, but even its most basic grilled chicken caesar salad packs a whole bunch of fat.

#22. Panera Bread Chicken & Avocado Cobb Salad

Calories: 640

Fat: 47g
Protein: 42g
Carbohydrate: 14g
Sodium: 1040mg

One chicken and avocado cobb salad from Panera accounts for almost half of your daily recommended sodium intake.

#21. Johnny Rockets Breaded Chicken Club Salad

Calories: 660

Fat: 45g
Protein: 38g
Carbohydrate: 23g
Sodium: 1510mg

The line between salad and deconstructed-sandwich-with-lettuce-sprinkled-throughout is very thin. This dish is more sandwich than salad at 660 calories.

#20. Costco Food Court Chicken Caesar Salad

Calories: 670

Fat: 40g
Protein: 48g
Carbohydrate: 35g
Sodium: 2680mg

After a long shopping trip, the food court at Costco seems like an oasis in the desert. But watch out — even a simple chicken caesar salad packs 40 grams of fat and 2680 milligrams of sodium.

#19. Panera Bread Steak & Blue Cheese Salad

Calories: 680

Fat: 48g
Protein: 36g
Carbohydrate: 29g
Sodium: 940mg

This salad from Panera packs almost as much sodium as a Big Mac, which has 960 milligrams.

#18. Burger King Chicken Apple & Cranberry Garden Fresh Tendercrisp Salad

Calories: 680

Fat: 42g
Protein: 24g
Carbohydrate: 53g
Sodium: 1010mg

Rule of thumb: Opting for a salad at a fast food joint isn’t necessarily a healthier choice than a burger. This salad from Burger King is 680 calories, much more than a McDonald’s Big Mac.

#17. Taco Bell Beef Fiesta Taco Salad

Calories: 780

Fat: 42g
Protein: 26g
Carbohydrate: 74g
Sodium: 1590mg

In general, taco salads are usually more taco than they are salad. The taco shells that hold them also add an extra boost of fat and carbs.

#16. Original Green Burrito Chicken Taco Salad

Calories: 810

Fat: 44g
Protein: 40g
Carbohydrate: 64g
Sodium: 1730mg

Like the taco salad from Taco Bell, this salad from the Original Green Burrito is just a deconstructed taco with a sprig of lettuce. No wonder it’s 810 calories.

#15. Bertucci’s Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Calories: 810

Fat: 55g
Protein: 43g
Carbohydrate: 34g
Sodium: 920mg

A grilled chicken caesar salad at Bertucci’s may seem like a light meal or even a side. But it is much more calorific than a Big Mac, and has a similar nutritional value to a chicken taco salad from the Original Green Burrito.

#14. Del Taco Deluxe Taco Salad (no longer sold)

Calories: 820

Fat: 47g
Protein: 34g
Carbohydrate: 66g
Sodium: 1670mg

The sour cream, cheese and taco shell on this salad make it more calorific than a Big Mac.

#13. Taco Del Mar Fish Taco Salad

Calories: 840

Fat: 51g
Protein: 27g
Carbohydrate: 74g
Sodium: 1320mg

Fish is usually a good, lean option at many restaurants. But in this case, this fish option won’t do your waistline any favors.

#12. El Pollo Loco Chicken Tostada Salad

Calories: 860

Fat: 42g
Protein: 41g
Carbohydrate: 77g
Sodium: 1430mg

Between this salad’s 1430 milligrams of sodium and 42 grams of fat, if you want a light option you’re better off not ordering anything at all.

#11. Sbarro Primavera Pasta Salad

Calories: 870

Fat: 13g
Protein: 29g
Carbohydrate: 163g
Sodium: 1450mg

The word “pasta” in any salad name should be a tip-off to its nutritional value.

#10. Red Robin Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

Calories: 873

Fat: 51g
Protein: 49g
Carbohydrate: 48g
Sodium: 1705mg

This salad has nearly two times as many grams of fat as a Big Mac (27g).

#9. Carl’s Junior Beef Taco Salad

Calories: 880

Fat: 53g
Protein: 36g
Carbohydrate: 67g
Sodium: 1780mg

At 880 calories, the Carl’s Junior Beef Taco Salad is a poor excuse for a salad.

#8. Mimi’s Cafe Bacon & Bleu Cheese Salad

Calories: 900

Fat: 60g
Protein: 48g
Carbohydrate: 47g
Sodium: 1770mg

This salad is deceptive. Though it seems relatively healthy, its toppings — bacon, strawberries, blue cheese — and dressing are what really raise the calorie count.

#7. Uno Chicago Grill Honey Crisp Chicken Salad

Calories: 960

Fat: 62g
Protein: 51g
Carbohydrate: 58g
Sodium: 1770mg

This salad is loaded with extra less-than-healthy toppings and “crispy” (essentially just fried) chicken, adding up to a whopping 960 calories.

#6. The Old Spaghetti Factory Chicken Caesar Salad

Calories: 1120

Fat: 90g
Protein: 54g
Carbohydrate: 30g
Sodium: 1820mg

Though caesar salads are widely considered a simple dish, they can be packed with calories — especially if you include their fat-filled dressing. This one passes the 1,000 calorie mark.

#5. Baja Fresh Steak Salad

Calories: 1240

Fat: 45g
Protein: 65g
Carbohydrate: 149g
Sodium: 3440mg

If you’re on a common 1,200-calorie diet, this salad will take care of the entire day.

#4. On The Border Beef Grande Taco Salad

Calories: 1280

Fat: 85g
Protein: 53g
Carbohydrate: 80g
Sodium: 2250mg

You already know that the word “taco” and “salad” are a risky combination. Adding “grande” to the mix is a recipe for disaster — a 1,280-calorie disaster, to be exact.

#3. The Old Spaghetti Factory Cobb Salad

Calories: 1290

Fat: 105g
Protein: 64g
Carbohydrate: 25g
Sodium: 2560mg

If the caesar salad from The Old Spaghetti Factory is bad news, the cobb salad (think blue cheese, bacon, egg, etc.) is next level.

#2. Jason’s Deli Chili Taco Salad

Calories: 1310

Fat: 78g
Protein: 45g
Carbohydrate: 110g
Sodium: 1510mg

And the award for the most calorific taco salad on the list is from Jason’s Deli. The added chili isn’t doing your diet any favors.

#1. Red Robin Crispy Chicken Tender Salad

Calories: 1348

Fat: 92g
Protein: 58g
Carbohydrate: 73g
Sodium: 2325mg

At 1,348 calories, you can forget calling this a salad at all. It has 2,325 milligrams of sodium and 92 grams of fat, making a Big Mac look like a bag of spinach by comparison.

Research More Nutritional Information on HealthGrove