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The #1 Healthiest Dessert at 14 Popular Restaurant Chains

Yes, there are some Eat This-approved desserts at your favorite restaurant chains!
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

After enjoying your favorite restaurant meal, treating yourself to a sweet dessert is a satisfying way to end a night out. But we all know that restaurant chain desserts are notoriously high in calories, sugar, and fat. So if you're looking for healthier options, we've got you covered with guilt-free indulgences from popular chains. With the help of registered dietitians, we analyzed the menus of 14 restaurants, prioritizing calorie counts, sugar content, and portion sizes to bring you the healthiest choices.

  • Total calories: Most desserts are going to be high in calories, particularly empty calories, meaning they're more about flavor, fat, and sugar than nutrition. That's why our registered dietitians hunted down options that won't weigh you down with excess calories.
  • Added sugar: Sugar is the reason we love dessert, and even the healthiest options will contain some added sugar. But we found healthy dessert options with the least sugar, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it.
  • Portion size: Who says you have to tackle that dessert solo? Consider opting for the kids' menu or sharing with a friend to keep portions in check while still getting your sugar fix.

Let's be real: sometimes you want to order your favorite desserts without worrying about the healthiest option, and that's totally okay! Choosing what your heart—or your taste buds—desire can help you feel satisfied and isn't the be-all and end-all. But if you're looking to make more mindful choices at the end of your meal, we have a guide for you.

Read on to find out what dietitians recommend for the healthiest dessert menu items at 14 popular restaurant chains.

Olive Garden Tiramisu

olive garden tiramisu
Olive Garden
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 470
Fat: 27 g (Saturated fat: 17 g)
Sodium: 125 mg
Carbs: 54 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 35 g)
Protein: 6 g

We love that Olive Garden's Tiramisu is one of the healthier dessert options on their menu. Typically a rich dessert made with mascarpone cheese and coffee-soaked lady fingers, this is the lowest-calorie, lowest-sugar item on Olive Garden's dessert menu. "One portion contains 470 calories, which is significantly lower in calories than most of the other selections. In terms of fat content, the Tiramisu has 28 grams of fat (17 grams of which are saturated), which makes it a rich dessert; however, as compared to the other available desserts, the Tiramisu contains much less than most of the others," says Michelle Rauch MSc RDN, for The Actors Fund.

 12 Healthiest Dishes To Order at Olive Garden

Applebee's Decadent Brownie Bite

Applebee's Brownie Bite
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 330
Fat: 15 g (Saturated fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 190 mg
Carbs: 48 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 35 g)
Protein: 4 g

Applebee's Decadent Brownie Bite is great for folks who want a sweet bite (literally) at the end of their meal but don't want a full dessert. "With just the right portion size to satisfy a sweet tooth, the Brownie Bite comes with an added scoop of ice cream and provides only 330 calories (compared to 1,620 calories in some of the other desserts on their menu)," says Jamie Adams, MS, RDN, women's health dietitian, founder and owner of Namaste Nutrition.

Chili's Mini Molten Chocolate Cake

Chili's Mini Molten Chocolate Cake
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 670
Fat: 31 g (Saturated fat:14 g)
Sodium: 700 mg
Carbs: 95 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 65 g)
Protein: 7 g

If you are a Chili's fan, then you likely know about their molten chocolate cake. But what you may not know is that the kids' menu offers a mini version that contains a fraction of the calories and less added sugar. While this cake is still rich in calories, it's significantly less than the regular adult order. "The Mini Molten Chocolate Cake is the perfect portion for one so you can get that rush of eating a rich dessert without going totally overboard. The 'Mini' contains 670 calories compared to its standard portion from the adult menu of 1,170 calories," says Rauch.

Outback Steakhouse Chocolate Thunder from Down Under

plate with outback's chocolate thunder from down under dessert
Outback Steakhouse
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 800
Fat: 53 g (Saturated fat: 29 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 79 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 68 g)
Protein: 9 g

Outback is not known for being a low-calorie restaurant, and even their healthiest dessert menu item is still clocking in at 800 calories and 68 grams of sugar. We recommend splitting this with a friend to make it even healthier which would bring your total down to 400 calories per person. We appreciate that this dessert is low in sodium and contains 4 grams of fiber, and you might consider adding a serving of fresh fruit on the side for even more of a fiber boost.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Dish at 8 Steakhouse Chains, According to Dietitians

IHOP Cinnamon Dippers

IHOP Cinnamon Dippers
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 250
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 80 mg
Carbs: 20 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 5 g

These donut dippers at IHOP deliver just 6 grams of total sugar, an impressively low amount for a dessert item. "If you're looking for a lower-calorie sweet treat from IHOP, go for the Cinnamon Dippers," says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD. "An order is 250 calories without sauce. The sauce will add another 150 calories and 32 grams of carbs, but if you drizzle the donut dippers and don't drench them, this will save you a bit."

Texas Roadhouse Strawberry Cheesecake

Texas Roadhouse Strawberry Cheesecake
Texas Roadhouse
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 800
Fat: 47 g (Saturated fat: 26 g)
Sodium: 550 mg
Carbs: 76 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 60 g)
Protein: 10 g

Of the three dessert options at Texas Roadhouse, their strawberry cheesecake is the healthiest choice. However, it's still packed with 60 grams of sugar per slice, so even if you share those with a friend you're still going to exceed the recommended added sugar allowance per day. Limit choices like this to a "sometimes" choice, and you can likely enjoy dessert from time to time with no major impact on your health.

TGI Friday's Kid's Oreo Madness

Oreo madness from TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays/Facebook
Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 540
Fat: 23 g (Saturated fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 320 mg
Carbs: 79 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 52 g)
Protein: 6 g

TGI Fridays does not have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to seeking healthy choices off their dessert menu. However, we found this option on the kids' menu, clocking in at the lowest calorie and sugar choice for dessert. This menu item still delivers 540 calories and 52 grams of sugar, so it's not exactly "low calorie" or "low sugar", but it's the best you can do at TGI Fridays.

Red Lobster Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Red Lobster Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Red Lobster
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 690
Fat: 49 g (Saturated fat: 25 g)
Sodium: 440 mg
Carbs: 56 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 43 g)
Protein: 9 g

The vanilla cheesecake at Red Lobster might surprise you as the healthiest choice you can make on the dessert menu, but that's because all the other options are higher in calories and sugar.

Megan Huff, RD, an Atlanta-based dietitian, explains: "Out of all of the dessert options at Red Lobster, the vanilla bean cheesecake has the lowest amount of calories, fat, carbs, and sugar. This dessert is still high in calories and sugar, so consider splitting a slice with a friend to decrease the portion size and make it a healthier choice."

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Cheesecake Factory Low-Licious Cheesecake

cheesecake factory low licious cheesecake
The Cheesecake Factory
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 570
Fat: 44 g (Saturated fat: 26 g)
Sodium: 460 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 10 g

"The Low-Licious is the healthiest dessert item at Cheesecake Factory with a mere 570 calories per slice," says Alyssa Simpson RDN, CGN, CLT, owner of Nutrition Resolution in Phoenix, AZ. This menu item is a lower-calorie alternative to their traditional cheesecakes. It has fewer calories and less fat than other cheesecake varieties on the menu. Keep in mind that it may contain sugar substitutes or reduced amounts of added sugar compared to regular cheesecakes. Some folks might have intolerances or unpleasant side effects like gas, bloating, or diarrhea with these additives.

P.F. Chang's Banana Spring Rolls

plate with p.f. chang's banana spring roll and a scoop of coconut-pineapple ice cream
P.F. Chang's
Nutrition (Per 2 spring roll serving):
Calories: 470
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 240 mg
Carbs: 75 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 23 g)
Protein: 7 g

The banana spring rolls at P.F. Chang's are the lowest calorie and lowest sugar option on the dessert menu with just 470 calories and 23 grams of sugar. One serving of two spring rolls is perfectly split amongst yourself and a friend if you are willing to share.

"With only 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, 11 grams of added sugar, and 120 milligrams of sodium, these spring rolls can be a healthy dessert choice when consumed in moderation," shares Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, owner of One Pot Wellness based in Indianapolis, IN.

Cracker Barrel Peach Cobbler

cracker barrel peach cobbler dessert
Cracker Barrel
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 370
Fat: 13 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 220 mg
Carbs: 60 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 37 g)
Protein: 3 g

Cracker Barrel infrequently has a healthy menu item, but the chain's peach cobbler is the healthiest on the dessert menu. It's the lowest calorie with 370 calories per slice and the lowest sugar option with 37 grams per serving. Keep in mind that one serving still contains a significant amount of sugar, but making this choice from time to time in moderation likely will not impact your health significantly.

"Getting a yummy dessert when eating out helps meet your vitamin P needs — P for pleasure. Fortunately, choosing the peach cobbler at Cracker Barrel can help you end your meal with a sweet treat and not break your nutritional bank. The cobbler, without ice cream, is just 370 calories, and although it does contain 37 grams of sugar, some of that is natural from the peaches themselves," says Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD.

LongHorn Steakhouse Strawberries and Cream Shortcake

LongHorn Steakhouse Strawberries and Cream Shortcake
LongHorn Steakhouse
Nutrition (Per slice):
Calories: 640
Fat: 37 g (Saturated fat: 14 g)
Sodium: 630 mg
Carbs: 74 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 49 g)
Protein: 7 g

Sarah Alsing, MS, RD, owner of Delightfully Fueled shares her take on the healthiest dessert at Longhorn Steakhouse: the Strawberries & Cream Shortcake. "I love a dessert that includes fruit so you enjoy the sweetness with the benefits of the vitamins and minerals fruit provides. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. The Strawberries & Cream Shortcake has the lowest amount of calories, fat, and sugar of the desserts offered at Longhorn Steakhouse," she says.

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Ruby Tuesday Kid's Chocolate Sundae

Ruby Tuesday Kid's Chocolate Sundae
Ruby Tuesday
Nutrition (Per sundae):
Calories: 360
Fat: 17 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 100 mg
Carbs: 55 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 36 g)
Protein: 6 g

"The Chocolate Sundae from the Kids' menu contains only 360 calories compared to the 780-calorie cheesecake," says Rauch. Choosing an item off the kids' menu is a great way to feel satisfied with a smaller portion size. The kid's chocolate sundae at Ruby Tuesday's is the lowest calorie option on the menu and low in sodium.

Red Robin Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie

Red Robin Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie
Red Robin
Nutrition (Per cookie):
Calories: 350
Fat: 14 g (Saturated fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 360 mg
Carbs: 51 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 28 g)
Protein: 3 g

Deliciously, the fudge-stuffed chocolate chip cookie at Red Robin is the healthiest dessert choice you can make. With 350 calories per cookie and 28 grams of sugar, this is the lowest calorie and lowest sugar item on their menu. "This cookie is the perfect serving size—one cookie—to satisfy your sweet tooth. And it's low in calories compared to many of the other desserts at Red Robin that top more than 1,000 calories," Rauch says.

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