The Cheesecake Factory may be a great place to indulge your sweet tooth, but if you are craving something a little more filling, it’s safe to say that this family-friendly restaurant can definitely deliver, especially since the menu has tons of scrumptious items to choose from.
However, big menus like these often come with the risk of ordering high sugar, calorie, and sodium-dense items, making it important to select your meal choices with care if you are looking to stay on track.
To help you pick delicious yet nutritious items, we spoke to a registered dietitian about all the best and worst appetizers, small plates, pizzas, and dessert choices to choose from next time you pay this restaurant a visit. Below are some of the things to order next time you are craving cheesecake big time.
Eggs, Omelettes, Saturday and Sunday Brunch
Best: Farm Fresh Eggs with English Muffin and Sliced Tomatoes
“Building your own breakfast is definitely the way to go at Cheesecake Factory,” says registered dietitian Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RD. Most brunch items will set you back well over 1,000 calories, she explains, so choosing fresh eggs, an English muffin, and sliced tomatoes is a great way to get protein, carbohydrates, and a serving of vegetables.
Worst: Bruléed French Toast with Bacon
“With a full day’s worth of calories, fat, and saturated fat, this brunch item is far too hardy for the average person,” Fillenworth suggests. “Plus the whopping 98 grams of sugar is equal to eating over three bags of M&Ms for breakfast,” she adds.
Small Plates & Snacks & Appetizers
Best: Fresh Basil, Tomato, and Cheese Flatbread
Fillenworth says this flatbread is the perfect shareable item, as it’s only 320 calories if you’re splitting in on date night.
Worst: Factory Nachos with Spicy Chicken
Just one serving of these nachos packs about 740 calories and about 980 milligrams of sodium, Fillenworth warns.
Best: SkinnyLicious Grilled Salmon
Salmon always makes for a perfect healthy entrée, Fillenworth says, as it’s omega-3 fatty acids have so many health benefits you really can’t go wrong with.
Worst: SkinnyLicious Asian Chicken Salad
“At first glance, this salad looks like a perfectly reasonable choice until your eyes hit the 2,720 milligrams of sodium,” Fillenworth says. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, its recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, she advises. Talk about one of the worst “lighter fare” menu items.
Best: Seared Tuna Tataki Salad
Fillenworth notes that seafood dishes tend to be leaner than their land animal counterparts. “This seared tuna salad has 42 grams of filling protein and only 18 grams of total carbs, which is a great choice for those watching their carbohydrate intake,” she explains.
Worst: Sheila’s Chicken and Avocado Salad
“This salad has 1,830 calories, which is almost as many calories as the average person eats in a day,” Fillenworth says. Plus, she suggests that the 130 grams of fat present in this meal is almost double the recommended amount of fat per day.
Best: Avocado Toast
“While I’m not too impressed with the 1,500 milligrams of sodium this avocado toast has to offer, I will say that the other nutrition components are reasonable,” Fillenworth says. “The 16 grams of fiber is perfect for keeping you full and for promoting digestive health,” she adds.
Worst: Vegan Cobb Salad
While vegan foods can absolutely be a healthy addition to any diet, Fillenworth suggests that this Vegan Cobb Salad option leaves little to be desired. And with 90 grams of fat (which is over the recommended fat intake for the day) and over 1,000 calories (which is half of the amount of calories that the average person needs), she says this is one meal option you’ll definitely want to pass on altogether.
Best: Margherita Pizza
Fillenworth explains that this pizza dish keeps it simple, as it’s loaded with delicious tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella slices, and fresh basil. And since it’s not smothered in cheese or meat like most pizzas, she suggests that the calorie and fat content are much lower in comparison.
Worst: The Everything Pizza
“This pizza is loaded with pepperoni and sausage which tends to be high in saturated fat,” Fillenworth suggests. Even splitting the 4360 milligrams of sodium will add up to 2180 milligrams of sodium per person, which is almost all of your sodium for the day.
Best:Fresh Grilled Salmon
“Most lunch specials on The Cheesecake Factory’s menu will be over the 1000 calorie mark, but this Fresh Grilled Salmon is a great lunch option at 790 calories,” Fillenworth says.
Worst: Fish & Chips
“Fish & Chips will definitely send you back to the office feeling like you’ve just consumed your weight in fried foods,” Fillenworth says. Its 1,830 calories is nearly a full day’s worth of food, not to mention you’re about double the limit of fat content for the day, she adds.
Glamburgers & Sandwiches
Best: Renee’s Special with One-Half Chicken-Almond Salad Sandwich and a Small Green Salad
“I know it’s not the most calorie-friendly choice, but this sandwich is definitely the best option of any sandwich or Glamburger,” says Fillenworth. It’s also one of the only entrees under 1000 calories and under 1,800 milligrams of sodium, she adds.
Worst: Bacon’Bacon Cheeseburger
“The Bacon Bacon Cheeseburger is loaded with 1,610 calories, 110 grams of fat, 45 grams of saturated fat, and 3,420 milligrams of sodium,” Fillenworth says. If that wasn’t bad enough, she suggests that this burger contains 3.5 grams of trans fat, which can cause adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease.
Best: Lasagna Verde
By looking at the nutrition facts alone, Fillenworth suggests that this is not the most ideal meal choice on the menu. However, when looking at all of the pasta options available on the menu, she explains that it is the best of the bunch.
When ordering this dish, she advises ordering a side salad and asking for a to-go box right away to cut your portion in half. “This creates a more nutritionally balanced meal, and still allows you to have pasta,” she says.
Worst: Pasta Carbonara with Chicken
Fillenworth says that this pasta dish definitely pushes the boundaries of nutrition, as it surpasses almost every category for recommended daily values. “One of the most alarming numbers is the 4030 milligrams of sodium, which is almost double the amount of recommended sodium per day,” she says.
Steaks, Chops, Fish & Seafood
Best: Filet Mignon
Fillenworth says it’s always a surprise to see red meat listed as a healthy option, especially since it tends to have a bad reputation. However, she explains that filet mignon is naturally a leaner cut of steak, and pairing it with a side of green beans, grilled asparagus, or oven roasted broccoli offers a nutritious meal option you won’t feel guilty about.
Worst: Fried Shrimp Platter
“With over half of its calories from fat, this shrimp platter will not do you any nutritional favors,” Fillenworth suggests. It’s better to choose proteins that are baked or grilled to avoid the excessive fat that fried foods typically have, she advises.
Best: Low Carb Cheesecake Sweetened With Splenda
Fillenworth notes that this low-carb cheesecake spares you from major calories and carbohydrates since it uses Splenda as a sweetener. However, if you have a sensitivity to sweeteners like Splenda, she recommends selecting the Original Cheesecake option instead, as it only has 830 calories and 58 grams of fat.
Worst: Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake
“This Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake is guaranteed to bring on the cavities,” Fillenworth says. It has an impressive 1,760 calories, but also contains 144 grams of added sugar, which is equivalent to almost ¾ of a cups worth, she adds.
Best: Kids’ Pasta With Marinara Sauce
This meal had by far the least amount of calories, fat, and sugar of any kid entrée, according to Fillenworth. “The 1,700 calories is high, but could be modified by asking for less sauce, or even opting to get it on the side,” she recommends.
Worst: Kids’ Macaroni and Cheese
“The amount of fat and saturated fat in this dish should come with a warning label to parents,” Fillenworth advises. At 47 grams of saturated fat, she explains that this dish has more saturated fat that is recommended for adults let alone kids (it’s recommended that less than 10% of all calories come from saturated fat according to the dietary guidelines).