19 Salads Worse Than a Whopper

19 Salads Worse Than a Whopper
19 Salads Worse Than a Whopper

Think salads are healthy? You’ll reconsider that notion when you see these restaurant salads that are worse than a Burger King Whopper.

We kinda love Whoppers. We bet you do, too. Meat, ketchup, mayo, pickles . . . what’s not to like?

How could we endorse the Whopper? Well, no one orders it thinking it’s a sensible menu choice. It’s an indulgence, and everyone knows it. Credit Burger King for being transparent with nutritional information.

Just as you wouldn’t order a Whopper because you’re trying to watch your waistline, you’d never order a salad because it sounds like the most delicious item on the menu. No, it’s a concerted effort put one of the healthiest foods on the menu into your body, flavor be damned.

Except, more often than you realize, that salad is the worst choice on the menu. Restaurants across the country have learned that “nutrition” sells, so they put these caloric calamities on the “light choice” side of the menu with cute little heart icons that make you think you’re making a healthy selection. We’ve rounded up 19 examples of salads so bad, you’d be better off ordering that Whopper after all.


Burger King Whopper

630 calories, 38 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 810 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 26 g protein


Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad

880 calories, 16 g saturated fat, 1,650 mg sodium

Romano’s has been one of the most responsive restaurants in the past few years — a number of items we’ve featured on our pages and online have shrunk or all but disappeared in the wake of such exposure. The bad news is that dishes like this one still exist on their menu.

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Warm Spinach and Shrimp Salad
440 calories, 5 g saturated fat, 1,600 mg sodium



Cobb Salad

713 calories, 55 g fat (12 g saturated), 1,331 mg sodium

Learn to Lighten Up! On sandwiches and salads that include Cosi Vinaigrette, this little phrase will switch you to fat-free vinaigrette. Easiest 300-calorie savings ever. Ordering salad out is risky business, but this Shanghai standby offers plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables without the normal salad pitfalls:

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Shanghai Chicken Salad
319 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 856 mg sodium



Chicken Salad with Black Beans, Red Salsa, Cheese, and Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

720 calories, 41 g fat (11 g saturated), 2,015 mg sodium

If you’re seeking solace in salads at Chipotle, be sure to pass on the one and only vinaigrette on the menu. With 260 calories and 25 grams of fat, it has three times more calories than the most caloric salsa at Chipotle. Your best bet is to turn the tangy green salsa (just 15 calories per serving) into your dressing and spend the 245 calories you save elsewhere.

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Barbacoa Burrito Bowl with black beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomato salsa
415 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,410 mg sodium


P.F. Chang’s

Chicken Chopped Salad with Ginger Dressing

730 calories, 48 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,280 mg sodium

The ginger dressing gives this salad a tangy Asian-style kick; it also packs in a whole day’s worth of sodium. Order this salad as a starter and you’ll be consuming the caloric equivalent of nearly three Snickers bars before your main meal even hits the table.

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Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic (large)
159 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated), 900 mg sodium


Taco Bell

Fiesta Taco Salad

770 calories, 42 g fat (10 g saturated, 1 g trans), 1,420 mg sodium

Deep-frying an oversize tortilla and using it as a salad bowl completely defeats the purpose of ordering a salad in the first place. No matter what you stick in it, it’s still going to be burdened with a dangerous load of greasy fat. Opt for the hard-shell taco instead. It’s still the best option on the menu after all these years, especially now that it’s available Fresco-style.

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Fresco Crunchy Beef Tacos
450 calories, 21 g fat (7.5 g saturated), 750 mg sodium



Panera cobb salad

Full Chicken Cobb with Avocado

650 calories, 48 g fat, 970 mg sodium

Panera has made their salads healthier over the past year, removing items slopped with shreeded beef and gorgonzola, for example. This Chicken Cobb with Avocado is the worst of the new bunch, but at least packs 41g of protein. Even better is the antioxidant-packed Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad.

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Full Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad
340 calories, 13 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 360 mg sodium


Jack in the Box

Crispy Chicken Club Salad with Croutons and Ranch Dressing

870 calories, 59 g fat (13 g saturated, 1 g trans), 1,710 mg sodium

The 2 ounces of ranch that top this salad contribute a third of the calories and half the fat. Switching to light ranch saves you 150 calories, but even if you eat your salad completely dressing-free, you’re far better off sticking with the Chicken Fajita Pita.

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Chicken Fajita Pita with Fire Roasted Salsa
326 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated), 987 mg sodium


El Pollo Loco

Chicken Tostada Salad with Light Creamy Cilantro Dressing

932 calories, 48 g fat (14 g saturated), 1,829 mg sodium

The dressing may be light, but this bowl is anything but. Rice and fried tortilla combine for a one-two punch of empty carbs, while the shredded cheese and sour cream lend these leaves more saturated fat than a dozen strips of bacon. Opt for the surprisingly healthy Chicken Caesar Bowl instead. This Itali-Mex hybrid bowl makes significant improvements on the standard Caesar that so routinely underdelivers. Plenty of fresh grilled chicken adds a big dose of protein, and the hulking scoop of salsa ensures that the lettuce isn’t mere token greenery.

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Grilled Chicken Salad
240 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 570 mg sodium



Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad

1,000 calories, 66 g fat (10 g saturated), 3,080 mg sodium

Half of the salads on Applebee’s menu break the 1,000-calorie barrier, making them just as dubious as any other menu item. Slash calories by switching over to the Strawberry and Avocado Salad on the Under 550 Calorie menu.

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Strawberry and Avocado Salad
480 calories, 27 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,020 mg sodium


California Pizza Kitchen

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

1,133 calories, 16 g saturated fat, 1,460 mg sodium

You know something’s amiss when the salad packs more than twice as many calories as the pizza. California Pizza Kitchen’s menu is a minefield of viscous calorie bombs, and if you try to venture far from the beaten path, you’ll likely find yourself with a barrage of clandestine calories clambering for real estate in—and on—your belly.

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Classic Caesar Salad with Shrimp
649 calories, 15 g Saturated fat, 1,338 mg sodium



Oriental Chicken Salad

1,340 calories, 98 g fat (15 g saturated; 1.5 g trans), 1,200 mg sodium

Why is this salad so hefty? Part of the blame goes to the ìtasty Oriental vinaigrette,î for sure (the secret is always, at least partially, in the sauce). Another reason: It’s topped with ìcrispy noodlesî (carbohydrate overload). And to complete the triumvirate of dietary doom: Fried chicken to boot. What exactly makes this a ìsaladî again?

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Strawberry Avocado Salad
480 calories, 27 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,020 mg sodium


Ruby Tuesday

Carolina Chicken Salad

1,101 calories, 46 g fat, 1,057 mg sodium

We’re as perplexed as you are. How a salad that contains chicken manages to have twice as many calories as a chicken sandwich is a nutritional puzzle that only Einstein himself could solve. Your better option is to choose something from the Fit and Trim menu.

<strong>Eat This Instead!</strong>

Roasted Spaghetti Squash
54 calories, 3 g fat, 69 mg sodium


T.G.I. Friday’s

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

1,080 calories, 71 g fat (16 saturated), 1,650 mg sodium

In chain-restaurant parlance, “crusted” is a euphemism for “fried.” Add sugar-coated pecans, sugar-coated cranberries, and a heap of blue cheese, and you have all the makings of one of America’s worst salads. Go for the Cobb and hold the dressing.

<strong>Eat This Instead!</strong>

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad
590 calories, 39 g fat (14 saturated), 1,230 mg sodium


Quesadilla Explosion Salad

1,400 calories, 89 g fat (28 g saturated), 2,360 mg sodium

Chili’s highest-calorie salad will supply you with 1.5 days’ worth of fat, thanks in no small part to its “garnish”—an order of cheese quesadillas! While the Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken does have a concerning 25 grams of fat, it’s the least scathing salad on the menu.

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Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken
610 calories, 25 g fat (4 g saturated), 800 mg sodium


California Pizza Kitchen

Thai Crunch Salad with Fresh Avocado & Additional Thai Peanut Dressing

1,408 calories, 10 g saturated fat, 1,064 mg sodium

Shredded carrots, edamame, cabbage, fresh avocado: The menu reads like an Intro to Nutrition class at the local junior college. If that’s the case, CPK is flunking out of school, since this seemingly harmless salad will saddle you with more calories than a pound and a half of sirloin from Applebee’s. Blame the two different dressings, the shower of fried wonton strips, and the sewer-cap size plate.

<strong>Eat This Instead!</strong>

Half Chinese Chicken Salad
376 calories, 0 g saturated fat, 1,254 mg sodium


Chevy’s Fresh Mex

Tostada Salad with Chicken

1,547 calories, 94 g fat (37 g saturated), 2,213 mg sodium

Containing nearly a day’s worth of calories and as much fat as 19 Twinkies, this bowl of leaves qualifies as one of the worst salads in America. Opt for the Grilled Chicken Tacos instead. Though it is not a healthy food, they are the lesser evil. Drop the cheese and the chipotle aioli and you’ll skim off another 130 calories and 13 grams of fat.

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Grilled Chicken Tacos
590 calories, 24 g fat (6 g saturated), 1,140 mg sodium


California Pizza Kitchen

Waldorf Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

1,561 calories, 31 g saturated fat, 1,821 mg sodium

CPK’s salad menu is littered with gigantic gut-bombs like this one. There’s no reason that this salad should saddle you with three-quarters of your daily allotment of calories. According to the CPK website, it contains: ìField greens, chilled-grilled chicken breast, seedless grapes, Granny Smith apples, candied walnuts, celery and Gorgonzola cheese.î When mixed together in reasonable proportions, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these ingredientsóin fact, most of them are good for you. It’s just that CPK jumbo sizes their menu items. Choose the half-size of the Roasted Vegetable Salad instead and consider it your main meal, not a starter dish.

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Half Roasted Vegetable Salad
297 calories, 3 g saturated fat, 396 mg sodium


On the Border

Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef and Chipotle Honey Mustard

1,600 calories, 116 g fat (39 g saturated), 2,640 mg sodium

The dismal dawn of the 1,600-calorie salad is upon us. With as much saturated fat as 38 strips of bacon and more calories than 11 Taco bell Frsco Beef Tacos, this abdomen expander ought to be the Worst Salad in America (at one point, it was).

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House Salad with Fat-Free Mango Citrus Vinaigrette
280 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated), 405 mg sodium


Cheesecake Factory

Santa Fe Salad

1,720 calories, 17 g saturated fat, 2,636 mg sodium

This is the absolute worst salad in America. Truth be told, nearly every Cheesecake Factory salad dwarfs a Whopper (or two, or even three). The exception is the Weight Management salad menu, which provides rare decent options.

<strong>Eat This Instead!</strong>

Weight Management Spicy Chicken Salad
440 calories, 1 g saturated fat, 771 mg sodium

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