The Best and Worst Menu Items at Golden Corral
In 1973, the first Golden Corral restaurant opened in Fayetteville, North Carolina and the mission of the restaurant was to offer guests real, wholesome foods in a family-friendly atmosphere at a great value. Golden Corral's legendary endless buffet serves up breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner where diners can choose from over 150 items to load up on their plates. With such a vast selection, there are some not-as-good choices you'll want to avoid, but some that are better-for-you foods, too.
Here is a rundown of what you should order and what you should skip the next time you're dining at Golden Corral.
Best: BBQ Beef
If you're craving beef, this is certainly a dish to put on your plate. The calories are very reasonable for a 3-ounce portion and 18 grams of protein. The BBQ flavor does add a bit of sodium, so if you're watching your sodium then opt for the Roast Beef (below).
Best: Roast Beef
A really nice choice in the beef category with only 1 gram of saturated fat and 115 milligrams of sodium, which is the lowest of all the beef choices.
Best: Sirloin Steak
If you're craving some steak, opt for this sirloin cut which is leaner choice. Avoid topping it with any buttery sauces though, which will just add artery-clogging saturated fat.
Worst: Cheeseburger (6 oz)
If you're heading to Golden Corral, then there's a good chance you're going to try several of the options on the buffet, which is what dining at a buffet is all about. If you opt for this cheeseburger though, you won't have many calories left to try other items. You're better off selecting four or five healthier options instead.
Worst: Roast Beef Stacker
Skip this roast beef stacker which contains 23-percent of the daily recommended maximum of artery-clogging saturated fat and 42-percent of the recommended daily maximum of sodium.
Worst: Smoked Beef Short Ribs
Short ribs are a higher fat cut of beef. You can see the saturated fat is 50 percent of the recommended daily dose in a 3-ounce portion. There are certainly healthier beef options to choose from on this buffet.
Best: Basil Parmesan Flatbread
A flatbread is well…flat, so you are getting a reasonable portion, flavor from the basil and parmesan, and fewer calories than most of the other bread options. If you're craving bread, it's a great way to go!
Best: Mini Yeast Rolls
Another good choice is this mini roll with only 80 calories, which is equivalent to 1 slice of store-bought bread. Just avoid taking two or three!
Best: Flour Tortilla
Of all the bread choices, a flour tortilla has only 100 calories. Most store-bought tortillas have around 170 calories, which means this is a smaller sized tortilla and the perfect portion to put on your plate.
Worst: Blueberry Muffin
Although the muffin may seem healthy because it contains blueberries, it's actually one of the worst choices. The 54 grams of carbs it provides is equivalent to eating about 3 1/2 slices of store-bought bread.
Worst: Caramel Pecan Sticky Roll
Skip the sticky roll which contains lots of calories, fat, and especially added sugar. This bad boy contains close to 7 teaspoons of sugar!
Worst: Chocolate Chip Muffin
Skip the muffins at this buffet, especially these chocolate chips ones. With over 20 percent of your recommended daily calories (based on a 2,000 calorie diet), choose 1 or even 2 other bread choices instead.
Oats provide soluble fiber, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling satisfied after a meal. It's a home run choice on this buffet table.
Best: Made-to-Order Eggs
Enjoy a made-to-order egg and then pile your plate with fruits and veggies! Now that's the way to do a breakfast buffet.
Best: Raisin Bran Cereal
If you're looking for the healthiest choice at breakfast, grabbing this high fiber cereal is the way to go. Pair it with skim or low fat milk and sprinkle with a small handful of nuts and you've got a nicely balanced meal.
Worst: Breakfast Pizza
This breakfast pizza provides close to 55 percent of the recommended daily saturated fat and 35 percent of the recommended daily maximum for sodium. Let's not forget that the calories are also rather steep, especially if you're looking to try other items on the buffet.
Worst: Chorizo and Egg Burrito
There's just too much going on in this burrito. It contains close to 32 percent of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat, 33 percent of the daily recommended maximum of sodium, and practically no fiber. There are certainly better choices on the buffet table.
Worst: Sausage and Egg Burrito
Sausage is a high-fat meat that provides not only calories but way too much artery-clogging saturated fat for one dish (here it's 36 percent of the daily recommended max).
Best: Pulled Chicken in Poultry Gravy
Chicken that isn't fried is typically a good choice on the menu. Surprisingly, this pulled chicken with gravy weighs is at a very reasonable 80 calories and practically no saturated fat.
Best: Chicken Strips
These non-fried strips are another good choice on the buffet table and provide 11 grams of protein for a very reasonable portion of 3-ounces.
Best: Pulled BBQ Chicken
This BBQ Chicken is slightly higher in calories and sodium than the other two choices, but you're also getting that delicious BBQ flavor. It's still one of the better choices available.
Worst: Mini Chicken Pot Pie
There's no need to pick up this miniature version of a chicken pot pie. It provides 36 percent of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat and a whopping 50 percent of the recommended daily maximum of sodium.
Worst: Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Thighs
Another no-no on the buffet table is fried food, especially chicken thighs. These babies are typically served with the skin on which means that you'll be getting more saturated fat than you bargained for. The sodium is also out of control with close to 73 percent of the daily recommended maximum in only one piece.
Worst: Sweet Buffalo Chicken Thighs
Again, thighs are rather high in saturated fat due to the fact that it is a dark piece of meat and that it is served with the skin on. There is also added sugar in the sauce, which is reflected in the 6 grams of sugar (that's equivalent to 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar).
Best: Carved Salmon
Pick up an excellent source of omega-3s on the buffer table. You will find that salmon does provide fat, but it's the healthy type that has been shown to support heart, brain, and eye health.
Best: Honey Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Skewer
Shrimp is a very low calorie protein choice and a good choice on this buffet table. You will find a small amount of sodium and added sugar from the sauce, but overall it's a top pick.
Best: Salmon Lemonata
Another smart choice from the fish options, salmon provides those EPA and DHA omega-3s, which have been shown to be the most protective of the heart.
Worst: Crispy Fish Taco
One taco provides more carbs than 2 slices of bread and over 52 percent of the daily recommended amount of sodium. For 360 calories and the fact that it is a fried option, it is one to skip.
Worst: Mandarin Orange Shrimp
Shrimp is a very low-calorie protein, yet 6 pieces are way more calories than it should be. Plus, the flavoring contains the equivalent of 2 slices of bread. Skip it for a better shrimp option.
Worst: Buffalo Shrimp
The buffalo flavoring on this shrimp option jack up the calories, sodium, and carbs. You'll find over 27 percent of the daily recommended amount of sodium in 6 shrimp and the amount of carbs in close to two slices of bread.
Best: Boneless BBQ Pork Ribs
If you're craving ribs, this option is the way to go. The sodium, calories, and even saturated fat are within reasonable limits. Just make sure you don't pick up more than one or two and compliment it with lots of fruits and veggies.
Best: Glazed Ham
Ham is a nice lean option, but the glaze does come with some sodium and added sugar. Overall, it's a nice selection for the reasonable 3-ounce portion.
Best: Sliced Ham
If you don't want the added sugar of the glazed ham, then choose the sliced version. The added sugar in this variety of less than 1 teaspoon and a nice choice calorie-wise as well.
Worst: Mandarin Orange Pork
Skip this pork dish which has over three times the calories and three times the saturated fat of the sliced ham. It also has an absurd amount of sodium for a 3-ounce portion at 48 percent of the recommended daily maximum.
Worst: Smoked Cajun Sausage
Steer clear of the sausage, which is a high-fat meat choice and has close to 64 percent the recommended daily amount of saturated fat in this 3-ounce portion.
Worst: Smoked Pork Spare Ribs
Another extremely high fat pork choices are these spare ribs with 22 percent the recommended daily maximum of sodium and lots of unnecessary calories. You can choose 2 or 3 other proteins for the same amount of calories.
Best: Okra and Tomato Stew
Many of the vegetables on the buffet table have added oil or butter. However, this stew is a nice combination of okra and tomatoes and provides only 60 calories and lots of good-for-you nutrients. The sodium is on the higher side, but it's most likely from the added flavoring of the stew.
Best: Sautéed Onions and Peppers
Another rather low-calorie choice on the buffet table is sautéed onions and peppers which taste great over steak, fish, or pork.
Best: Diced Sautéed Onions
If you don't mind the onion breathe, pile high on this veggie choice which seems to be the lowest in calories than many of the other vegetable choices.
Worst: Breaded Ravioli
Just the title of this dish screams too many carbs. Four pieces of this pasta provide more calories and sodium than most of the main dish options on the table.
Worst: Smokehouse Macaroni and Cheese
Another choice that is very high in saturated fat and sodium with 36 percent the recommended daily maximum of saturated fat and 27 percent the recommended daily maximum of sodium—and remember, this is only a side dish.
Worst: Sweet Corn Pudding
This corn pudding is made with butter or heavy cream, which is what increases the calories and saturated fat. These are not foods you want to indulge in regularly, and your best bet is to skip it especially if you dine at Golden Corral often.
Best: Strawberry Spinach Salad
Get a healthy dose of fruit and vegetables in this salad! Top it with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette for a lovely side dish.
Worst: Macaroni Salad
Made with tons of mayonnaise, this carb and fat-laden dish provides and the same amount of carbs as in three slices of bread. Instead, choose a more colorful side dish filled with fruit or vegetables.
Best: Cajun Chicken Soup
This spicy chicken soup is a nice choice if you're trying to keep your calories and carbs low. The sodium is on the high side because of the cajun seasoning, but if you're not worried about your sodium it's a tasty choice.
Worst: Green Chili Stew
One cup of this soup has 18 percent the recommended daily maximum of saturated fat and only 1 gram of fiber. There are numerous other soup options for fewer calories that are more nutritious.
There really is no "best" in the fruit category. As 85 percent of Americans don't get the recommended amount of fruit, do pile up on nature's candy for dessert. If you're trying to watch your waistline and want the fruit with the fewest calories, then watermelon is the lowest on the menu.
Bananas are certainly a healthy fruit with lots of potassium but if you're looking to cut back on calories either split a banana with a friend or take it for later as an afternoon or evening snack.