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The Best & Worst Menu Items at Culver's, According to Dietitians

From burgers to milkshakes, ordering healthy at Culver's might seem impossible, but dietitians say there are a few good options.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Culver's, a beloved fast-food chain known for its delectable ButterBurgers, fresh, frozen custard, and signature Wisconsin cheese curds, was founded in small-town Sauk City, WI but now boasts over 900 locations across 26 states.

The Culver's menu is brimming with mouthwatering options beyond the classic fast-food items like burgers and chicken tenders. From a butterfly shrimp dinner to a grilled Reuben melt to a fried pork loin sandwich, there's no shortage of tasty choices that satisfy your cravings.

It's common knowledge that dining at fast-food establishments like Culver's may not always be the healthiest choice; however, there are specific selections available at Culver's that are better for your health. We interviewed nutrition experts and dietitians to gather their recommendations for making more nutritious choices when patronizing this popular fast food chain.

How we chose the best and worst Culver's menu items

  • Lean proteins: Opt for grilled proteins instead of fried options to reduce your calorie intake, unhealthy fats, and excess sodium. Choosing grilled chicken, for instance, provides you with a lean source of protein without the extra calories. In our evaluation of Culver's menu items, we assessed the amount of protein you can get from these lean protein sources.
  • Sodium content: It's challenging to avoid added salt when dining at fast-food restaurants. Even with your best efforts, your sodium intake will likely be higher than if you prepared the same meal at home. We considered sodium content as a factor that can either enhance or diminish the healthiness of your dining experience at Culver's.
  • Empty calories: Extra calories from condiments, sauce, and cooking oil can quickly add up at fast-food establishments. Seek out options that are not accompanied by extra sauces or condiments, or request your sandwich without these additions. We ranked these items based on their calorie content to identify the best and worst orders on the Culver's menu.

Now, let's get into the insights provided by dietitians regarding the best and worst orders when dining at Culver's.

The Best Menu Items at Culver's

Best: Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Culver's Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Per sandwich: 390 calories, 7 g fat (2.2 g saturated fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 41 g protein

Lean protein options like this grilled chicken sandwich can go a long way in reducing total empty calories and added fat when you grill instead of fry the chicken.

"The grilled chicken sandwich at Culver's is delicious and nutritious! This warm, tasty sandwich is a lower-fat option at Culver's plus it is packed with 41 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs sure to satisfy your hunger and give you an energy boost, says Katie Schimmelpfenning, RD and Founder of Eat Swim Win.

 8 Healthiest Fast-Food Chicken Sandwiches, According to an RD

Best: Chicken Cashew Salad

culvers chicken cashew salad
Per salad: 460 calories, 24 g fat (8.5 g saturated fat), 870 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 46 g protein

It's rare that you'll find heart-healthy fat in your meal at a fast food restaurant, but this Chicken Cashew Salad at Culver's delivers just that.

Culver's Chicken Cashew Salad is one of the best menu items for several reasons, says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness. "The Chicken Cashew Salad includes a generous helping of whole roasted cashews, which add a satisfying crunch and healthy fats to the dish. The mixed greens, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, making this salad a nutritious and well-rounded meal option. The salad is also gluten-free and can be customized to fit different dietary needs," Chun shares.

 11 Healthiest Salad Dressings To Buy, According to a Dietitian

Best: Beef Pot Roast Sandwich

Culver's Beef Pot Roast Sandwich
Per sandwich: 410 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 740 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 31 g protein

With just 410 calories and 31 grams of protein, this beef pot roast sandwich offers a balanced meal for a fast food option. With 740 milligrams of sodium, we think this meal is about as low calorie and low salt as you can find at a quick service establishment.

 21 Best Low-Sodium Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians

Worst Menu Items at Culver's

Worst: Culver's Curderburger

Culver's Curderburger
Courtesy of Culver's
Per sandwich: 920 calories, 51 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 1,455 mg sodium, 76 g carbs (3 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 35 g protein

I would stay away from the Culver's Curderburger which has an astounding 920 calories, 19 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, and 1,540 milligrams of sodium, offers Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES consultant for Consumer Health Digest. "Eating foods like this puts you at risk for heart disease as trans fat has been banned and saturated fat is recommended to limit to five to six percent of total daily calories (or about 13 grams for most people) according to the American Heart Association. About half the calories and fat come from the cheese crown, so skipping on that could help a lot," she concludes.

Worst: Bratwurst Pub Burger

culver's bratwurst burger
Per sandwich: 1,010 calories, 65 g fat (28 g saturated fat), 2,100 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 53 g protein

You'll get nearly an entire day's worth of sodium in this order, which is why we named it one of the worst options at Culver's. The Bratwurst Pub Burger at Culver's is considered unhealthy due to its high calorie and fat content, as well as its high sodium content, Chun comments.  "One serving of the Bratwurst Pub Burger contains 1,010 calories, 65 grams of fat (28 grams of saturated fat), and 2,100 milligrams of sodium. Consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke," she says.

Worst: Butterfly Jumbo Shrimp Dinner

culvers butterfly shrimp dinner
Per meal: 530 calories, 22 g fat (4.3 g saturated fat), 1,700 mg sodium, 63 g carbs (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 17 g protein

Even before you add sides to this order, you'll meet nearly three-quarters of your daily sodium allowance. I would stay away from the Butterfly Jumbo Shrimp Dinner, which is high in calories, fat, and sodium, Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD tells us. "The 10-piece shrimp dinner served with fries and coleslaw provides 1,330 calories, 66 grams of fat, and 3,210 milligrams of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends individuals consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day – this one meal alone exceeds the recommended daily limit," she advises.

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Worst: The Culvers Bacon Deluxe

culver's bacon deluxe
Per sandwich: 850 calories, 57 g fat (22 g saturated fat), 1,205 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 43 g protein

With a whopping 57 grams of total fat and 22 grams of saturated fat in this order, you will meet your daily recommended allowance for calories from fat and saturated fats in your diet. This burger also packs 1,205 milligrams of sodium and just 1 measly gram of fiber. If you're looking for a healthier fast-food sandwich, I might recommend the pot roast sandwich order instead.

Worst: Grilled Reuben Melt

culver's Grilled Reuben Melt
Per sandwich: 660 calories, 38 g fat (14.5 g saturated fat), 1,840 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 37 g protein

The Grilled Reuben Melt at Culver's isn't the healthiest choice. This sandwich is notably high in fat, with 38 g of total fat, including 15 grams of saturated fat per serving. Added fats can pose health risks, particularly for individuals with existing heart conditions or elevated cholesterol levels. Packing in over 1,800 milligrams of sodium per serving, this amount of sodium can be unhealthy for folks with high blood pressure.

Worst: North Atlantic Cod Dinner

Culver's North Atlantic Cod Dinner
Per meal: 920 calories, 67 g fat (10.9 g saturated fat), 950 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 37 g protein

The 2-Piece North Atlantic Cod Dinner with medium fries, medium coleslaw, dinner roll, and tartar sauce is one of the worst menu items at Culver's, adds Megan Huff, RD, LD, an Atlanta-based Cardiac ICU Dietitian. "With a whopping 1,500 calories, 99 grams of fat, and 1,740 milligrams of sodium, this meal is no good for your heart health. It has more than half of the daily recommended value of sodium and is well over the daily FDA fat recommendation of 78 grams," she shares.

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Worst: Culver's Deluxe

Culver's Deluxe
Per sandwich: 810 calories, 53 g fat (21 g saturated fat), 1,045 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 40 g protein

This order clocks in at 810 calories, 53 g of total fat, and 21 g of saturated fat. If you were making a similar option at home, you could nearly cut the calories in half from this order. With 1,045 milligrams of sodium, you have met nearly half of the recommended daily allowance for added salt in your diet with almost half a teaspoon in this order alone.

Caroline Thomason, RDN, RD, LDN, CDCES
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline