The Best & Worst Menu Items at Au Bon Pain
Au Bon Pain is arguably one of the most popular casual restaurants, bakeries, and café chains in the country. Their extensive menu is equipped with a large selection of tasty soups, sandwiches, salads, breakfast foods, and sweet treats, which can make deciding what to order while dining there quite a challenge.
That said, we checked in with Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, and a nationally recognized nutritionist and healthy cooking expert, to educate us on some of the best and worst menu items available at Au Bon Pain. Some of the healthiest and unhealthiest options at the cozy establishment span far beyond their vast selection of baked goods, with different savory salads, soups, and sandwiches making the list in both categories.
Next time you stop at one of their over 200 locations (fun fact: they're owned by Panera Bread), pull out this handy list to help you decide what to eat. Here are the best and worst items you can order from the Au Bon Pain menu.
Best: Small Roasted Eggplant Soup
Not only is this blend of roasted eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and yellow onions low in calories, but it "has five times less saturated fat than the Baked Stuffed Potato Soup," Bannan says. She also pointed out that "it has 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, both of which can help crush hunger."
Worst: Large Baked Stuffed Potato Soup
This is one dish you're going to want to skip! This rich and creamy soup sounds hearty and delicious, but the smallest portion of it has nearly a third of the saturated fat and sodium for an entire day.
So as you could imagine, the large is way worse. "Opt for the large, and you will double that amount," Bannan says.
Best: Half Tuna Salad Sandwich
This tuna on multigrain with ABP's signature herb blend mixed with mayo, cucumbers, tomatoes, and field greens "is one of the options on the sandwich menu that is the lowest in both calories and saturated fat, while also providing a good dose of satisfying protein," Bannan says.
"It also has three grams of fiber, which can help keep you full longer, too," she says.
Best: Half Herb Chicken Salad Sandwich
"Much like the tuna salad, the herb chicken salad sandwich is one of the lower-calorie and saturated fat options on the menu, and the fiber and protein help satisfy," Bannan says.
But keep an eye out for the salt content while eating the antibiotic-free chicken mixed with ABP signature herb blend and avocado dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, and field greens on toasted semolina. "This sandwich, however, is relatively high in sodium, with about half the amount of sodium for an entire day," she says.
Worst: Newport Turkey
Although turkey may sound like a healthier option, this white bread sandwich packed with avocado, New York cheddar, and a touch of zesty honey mustard is far from that.
"Not only does that sandwich pack in 730 calories," Bannan says, "but also half a day's worth of saturated fat and sodium."
Worst: Chipotle Turkey & Avocado
While this antibiotic-free turkey with fresh avocado, New York cheddar, tomato basil bruschetta, arugula, and chipotle mayo on ciabatta sounds scrumptious, "this sandwich packs in the most calories on the sandwich menu," Bannan says.
"It also contains almost 75 percent of the amount of sodium for a full day, and as much saturated fat as 10 slices of bacon," she says.
Best: Napa Chicken Avocado Wrap
This wrap, packed with antibiotic-free chicken, fresh avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine, basil aioli, and lemon vinaigrette "is one of the lowest sodium options on the wrap menu with two times less sodium as the sweet turkey wrap," Bannan says.
"The avocado is full of heart-healthy fats, and the protein and fiber will keep you full," she says.
Worst: Sweet Turkey Wrap
While this turkey wrap with New York cheddar, apple cabbage slaw, field greens, and smoky BBQ sauce in a whole wheat wrap has roughly the same amount of calories and saturated fat as the Napa Chicken Avocado Wrap, it has way more sodium, Bannan points out.
"One wrap delivers over half a day's worth of sodium, as well as five teaspoons of sugar," she says.
RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.
Best: Egg Whites and Cheddar on Skinny Wheat Bagel
"This sandwich is one of the lowest in calories, saturated fat, and sodium on the breakfast menu," Bannan explains. "It also delivers 19 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber to satisfy."
Best: 2 Eggs on a Bagel
"Sometimes simple is best," Bannan says of this cheese-less option. "This option is one of the lowest in saturated fat, and sodium, while also providing 21 grams of muscle-building protein."
Worst: 2 Eggs, Sausage & Cheddar on Asiago Bagel
"This breakfast sandwich packs in about a third of your daily calories," Bannan says. "Not to mention over half a day's worth of saturated fat and sodium."
Worst: 2 Eggs on a Bagel with Bacon and Cheese
This traditional breakfast sandwich might seem like a classic, hearty choice, but it "has a third of your daily saturated fat limit, and more sodium than a large order of fast-food fries," Bannan says. It's best to avoid ordering this!
Best: Thai Peanut Chicken Salad
This savory mix of antibiotic-free chicken, romaine and field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, crispy wontons, and Thai dressing "is one of the lowest-calorie options on the salad menu, and has a third of the amount of sodium as the Chicken Cobb Salad," Bannan says.
But if you want to make this dish even healthier, "opt for dressing on the side to keep calories and sodium in check."
Worst: Chicken Cobb with Avocado and Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
This blend of antibiotic-free chicken, romaine and field greens, fresh avocado, hardwood smoked bacon, gorgonzola, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado green goddess dressing is one of the highest calorie options of all the salads.
"This option also has nearly half a day's worth of sodium and saturated fat," she says.
Breads, Croissants, and Bagels
Best: Whole Wheat Skinny Bagel
Yes, you're going to want to keep this bagel plain, but that's so you can add your own toppings to it instead.
"With only 90 calories and 6 grams of fiber, this bagel leaves plenty of room for some satisfying toppings like a nut butter, egg, or avocado spread," Bannan says.
Worst: Almond Croissant
This tasty treat contains "a quarter of your daily calories and as much saturated fat as two cheeseburgers," Bannan says. "You can also expect to find four teaspoons of added sugar in one, so if you do indulge, consider splitting it."
Muffins, Scones, and Danish
Best: Raisin Bran Muffin
"The muffin has 150 calories less than the double chocolate chunk muffin and two teaspoons less sugar," Bannan says. "It is also low in saturated fat, and is a good source of dietary fiber."
Worst: Double Chocolate Chunk Muffin
A muffin might seem like a harmless way to kickstart your day, but you're going to want to skip this option, thanks for its sugar content.
"This muffin eats more like a dessert with a whopping three tablespoons of sugar, a third of daily saturated fat, and nearly 600 calories in one serving," Bannan explains.
Cookies, Brownies, and Other Goodies
Best: Chewy Marshmallow Bar
This gooey sweet treat "is one of the lowest in calories and saturated fat, with a quarter the amount of saturated fat as the brownie bites," Bannan says.
Worst: Brownie Bites
Going for a sweet treat that seems smaller in scale isn't exactly the best move like you would think.
"Bites may imply these are smaller, but the calories, saturated fat, and sugar are far from small," Bannan says. "One serving has 640 calories, and as much saturated fat as nearly 13 slices of bacon. These brownies also pack in as much sugar as two full cans of soda." Yikes!