While their gravity-defying Blizzards are what Dairy Queen is best known for, its menu is actually stocked with a variety of tasty lunch and dinner options, too. From cheeseburgers to hot dogs to onion rings and fries, you get the full American drive-thru experience.
But since many of the menu items have more than a day’s worth of calories, sodium, sugar, and saturated fat, it’s best to make your DQ trips an occasional treat. What’s worse is that many of their dishes also have artery-clogging trans fats. Still, it’s possible to make a less-than-terrible choice if you take the time to examine the menu. Here, we rank the best and worst menu items at Dairy Queen.
First, The Best Burgers
If you’re craving a heartier meal, their cheeseburger is your best bet. At 370 calorie, you get a 100 percent beef patty topped with melted cheese, pickles, and mustard and ketchup in a warm bun. Since the fat and sodium content is high, be sure to wash it down with a glass of water and watch what you eat the rest of the day.
Dairy Queen’s slightly larger deluxe cheeseburger offers up more calories and fat than the regular version, but it’s still not the worst choice they’ve got.
Quarter-Pound Cheese GrillBurgerr
While this burger is still on the low-end calorie-wise for the fast-food joint, the fat and sodium levels are off the charts, so make this pick the only thing you order at the drive-thru.
1/3-pound Double with Cheese
If a double cheeseburger is usually your jam, this choice isn’t all that terrible when you compare the nutritional details to the single-patty options. Just make sure to not double up your order with something else, or you could very well triple the recommended amount of sodium in one day.
The Best Sandwiches
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
You usually can’t go wrong when you opt for grilled chicken at lunch, and this sandwich isn’t really an exception. It has fewer calories, fat, and sodium than the other sandwiches on DQ’s menu.
Kansas City BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Although this sandwich is very high in sodium, the calorie and fat counts make it one of DQ’s better choices for lunch. Plus, it’s served on a pretzel roll, which makes it
The Best Chicken Options
Grilled Chicken BLT Salad
BLT lovers can rejoice: This salad version is healthier than most of the traditional sandwich variations, and grilled chicken adds a healthy dose of extra protein without piling on a ton of calories and fat.
Crispy Chicken BLT Salad
Even if you opt for fried instead of grilled chicken in the BLT salad, it’s still not a terrible choice when you’re trying to keep your diet goals in check.
The Best Hot Dogs
Classic Hot Dog
A hot dog is never a great pick when you’re trying to make a healthy choice, but if that’s what you’re craving, the plain version is your best bet on DQ’s menu as far as calories, fat and sodium are concerned.
As mentioned above, you’re better off keeping toppings to a minimum if you opt for a hot dog, but relish is a pretty safe choice as far as keeping calories and fat down.
The Best Snacks and Sides
If you’d like a side item your burger, sandwich or hot dog, this side salad is clearly the healthier pick than fries or onion rings.
Chicken Bacon BBQ Snack Melt
If you’d like a smaller option similar to one of DQ’s sandwich offerings, try this sandwich with a side salad or small order of fries.
Buffalo Chicken Snack Melt
Similar to the Chicken Bacon BBQ Snack Melt, this mini-sandwich won’t do too much damage to your diet goals.
If you’re at DQ for just a snack and skip the burger or sandwich, you can get away with a regular order of fries for minimal calories, fat and sodium than you otherwise might.
The Best Frozen Beverages
Sunshine Orange Light Smoothie
If you’d really like a frozen beverage at DQ but prefer a low-calorie and low-fat option, this light smoothie is your best bet.
Misty Slush (small)
As with the Light Smoothie, this fruity, dairy-free slush will satisfy your sweet tooth without as many calories and fat as a Blizzard or shake.
The Best Desserts
DQ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Treatzza Pizza
Who would have thought a dessert pizza could be one of the healthier options on DQ’s menu? It’s true! This peanut butter cup concoction is fairly low in calories, fat, and sugar compared to other options.
A simple vanilla ice cream cone is another good choice for keeping calories and fat on the low end at dessert time at DQ.
Peanut Butter Sundae
If you’re usually craving a peanut butter-flavored treat for dessert, this sundae is definitely a better choice than the Blizzard or shake offerings.
While the calorie count is higher than most of the healthier dessert options, a banana split is still a better pick than a Blizzard or shake, especially as the sizes get larger.
Now, The Worst Burgers
Quarter-Pound Bacon Cheese GrillBurger
When you add bacon to a burger, which is already known for not being a low-calorie or low-fat choice, be prepared to kick the calorie, fat, and sodium counts to skyrocket.
Half-pound Cheese GrillBurger
Increasing the size of the patty on your Cheese GrillBurger will raise the levels of calories, fat, and sodium. We say stick to the smaller version.
Half-pound FlameThrower GrillBurger
Between the double patties, bacon, and extra cheese, it’s no surprise this burger is a monster bomb of calories, saturated fat, and sodium. It’s best to stick to a regular cheeseburger order.
The Worst Sandwiches
Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich
While the calories are on the lower end and the solid protein count is a win, the high fat and sodium counts (thanks to the bacon and ranch) make this sandwich a less-than-healthy choice.
Turkey BLT Sandwich
You’d think adding turkey to a BLT sandwich might be an effort to make it healthier, but this sandwich still ranks very high on the fat and sodium charts.
The Worst Chicken Options at Dairy Queen
Crispy Chicken Sandwich
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that a fried chicken sandwich would end up on the unhealthiest list. While the calorie count might not look terrible, this sandwich definitely doesn’t offer the fat and sodium make it one of the worst choices.
6-piece Chicken Strip Basket
The insanely exorbitant calorie, fat and sodium counts on this basket easily make it one of the worst choices, period, on the DQ menu.
The Worst Hot Dogs
If you’ve opted for a hot dog at Dairy Queen, you already haven’t made the healthiest choice. Adding cheese simply ups the calories, fat, and sodium to even more unhealthy levels.
Chili Cheese Dog
Again, while the calorie count may not seem that high, a hot dog likely won’t fill you up, and you definitely want to stay away from an item like this with that much sodium. Yikes!
Bacon Cheese Dog
If there are any trends with the DQ menu, it’s that any items containing bacon have sky-rocketing amounts of sodium. This hot dog is no exception.
The Worst Snacks and Sides at Dairy Queen
Pretzel Sticks with Zesty Queso
While its nutritional value counts, for the most part, aren’t the worst out there, 330 calories is high for a snack, and a not very wholesome one at that.
If you’re on the hunt for a healthy snack, you definitely want to stay away from anything deep-fried, like the onion rings.
No snack item should ever contain over 500 calories and 1,000 mg of sodium. There’s nothing healthy about this pick.
The Worst Frozen Beverages
Don’t ever be fooled by thinking that the word “smoothie” implies a beverage is healthy, especially at a fast-food joint. Believe it or not, you’re better off eating a vanilla cone, which offers fewer calories and sugar.
This high-calorie coffee drink might wake you up at the moment, but it’s sure to send you into a sugar crash later in the day.
Midnight Mocha Frappe
Another coffee drink that’s really a dessert sugar bomb in disguise. This one isn’t your best bet if you’re just looking for a caffeine buzz.
Peanut Butter Shake
Even if you opt for a size small, most of Dairy Queen’s shake options are terrible choices that pack in calories, fat, and sugar. Either go for a mini-size, or just a plain ice cream cone to get your fix.
The Worst Desserts
Triple Chocolate Brownie Dessert
If you’re watching what you eat at all, just stay away from this dessert. 72 grams of sugar at the end of the day is not going to do you any favors.
Caramel Funnel Cake
Funnel cake is fried carnival food, so are you really surprised it’s on the high end as far as calories, fat, and sugar are concerned? There’s really nothing healthy about this dessert choice, even if it’s not the worst pick on the menu.
Fudge Stuffed Cookie Dessert
This is basically two desserts in one, and it certainly packs in the calories, fat, and sugar that would come in two items. Just say no to this one.
Peanut Buster Parfaitt
Peanut butter lovers, prepare to be disappointed yet again. This dessert is way too high in calories, fat, and sugar for it to be a good choice. Again, if you really want a peanut butter fix in the form of dessert, we say opt for a mini-size version of a shake or Blizzard.
Salted Caramel Truffle Blizzard
This one is the worst of the worst on the Blizzard menu. Even in a small size, this dessert packs in an obscene amount of calories, fat and sugar. We say consider other flavors, especially in a mini size.