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14 Healthiest Fast-Food Desserts, According to Dietitians

You don't have to skip ordering a sweet treat at the drive-thru, as long as you're making the right choice.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Craving something sweet on the go? A drive-thru run can quickly and easily satisfy your sugar cravings. Though fast-food restaurants are primarily known for their main dishes like burgers, tacos, and pizza, most chains offer at least a few desserts.

Of course, many fast food dessert offerings mimic their entrees in terms of high calories and large portions. If you'd like something lighter, you'll want to avoid jumbo shakes, sizable cinnamon buns, and hefty sundaes. Instead, try choosing from this list of dietitian-recommended fast food desserts that offer smaller portions and better overall nutrition.

 86 Unhealthiest Fast Foods On the Planet

McDonald's Vanilla Soft Serve Cone

mcdonalds soft serv e cone
McDonald's
Nutrition (Per 1 cone):
Calories: 200
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 80 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 17 g)
Protein: 5 g

The McDonald's Vanilla Soft Serve Cone is the fast food world's original ode to dessert, and it's surprisingly decent for you! "It contains 200 calories and 17 grams of added sugar, which is less than the recommended amount of daily sugar from the American Heart Association," points out Amy Beney, MS, RDN, CDCES. "It also contains 180 mg of calcium, a key nutrient for bone health."

 The Entire McDonald's Menu, Ranked by Nutrition

White Castle Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

Strawberry Cheesecake White Castle
White Castle
Nutrition (Per 1 cake):
Calories: 150
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 105 mg
Carbs: 20 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 2 g

A cheesecake makes it on the healthiest desserts list? Yep! This petite strawberry swirled treat at White Castle comes in at just 150 calories and 9 grams of sugar. The real question is whether you'll have an appetite for it after a meal of sliders and chicken rings.

Chick Fil-A Icedream Cup

Chick Fil-A Icedream Cup
Chick-fil-A
Nutrition (Per 1 cup):
Calories: 140
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 90 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 25 g)
Protein: 4 g

Karolin Saweres, MS, RDN, LD, of My Nutrition & Me is a fan of Chick-fil-A's signature Icedream cup. As ice cream options go, it's quite low-calorie at just 140 cals. And if you'd like to add some extra flavor and extra nutrients to its plain vanilla, simply top it with the fruit cup!

Dairy Queen Small Strawberry Sundae

Dairy Queen Small Strawberry Sundae
Dairy Queen
Nutrition (Per 1 sundae):
Calories: 240
Fat: 7 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 95 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 34 g)
Protein: 6 g

What's the healthiest treat at the one fast food place we all go for dessert? Dairy Queen's strawberry sundae takes the cake—er, ice cream—in this category. The small size contains just 240 calories and 7 grams of fat. It also boasts a nice protein boost of 6 grams.

Carl's Jr. Chocolate Chip Cookie

Carl's Jr. Chocolate Chip Cookie
Carl's Jr.
Nutrition (Per 1 cookie):
Calories: 170
Fat: 9 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 160 mg
Carbs: 22 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 1 g

Some fast food cookies are pretty massive, but Carl's Jr's Chocolate Chip Cookie manages to keep things portion controlled. At 170 calories and 13 grams of sugar per cookie, it's a smarter choice for a small sweet treat.

Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists

taco bell cinnamon twists
Taco Bell
Nutrition (Per 1 serving):
Calories: 170
Fat: 6 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 115 mg
Carbs: 27 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 1 g

Crispy, puffed corn gets dusted with a cinnamon-sugar blend in these iconic Taco Bell twists. It's a combo that won't overload you with calories or fats. "Their 170 calories and no saturated fat can easily fit into a healthy eating plan," says Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, of Foodie Mom RD. "Plus, a dessert with the equivalent of only 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar isn't bad."

Wendy's Jr. Chocolate Frosty

wendys chocolate frosty
Wendy's
Nutrition (Per 1 serving):
Calories: 174
Fat: 4.6 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 200 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 23 g)
Protein: 5.2 g

Wendy's has pretty well cornered the market on the cold, creamy, chocolatey fast food dessert. The Frosty has been around for over 50 years! To this day, the junior size is a good bet for portion and calorie control.

McDonald's Baked Apple Pie

mcdonald's baked apple pie
McDonald's
Nutrition (Per 1 pie):
Calories: 230
Fat: 11 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 100 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 14 g)
Protein: 2 g

"The McDonald's Baked Apple Pie is a relatively healthy choice compared to many other fast food desserts," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT. She notes that it has fewer added sugars (13 grams) than many other drive-thru options, and its fruit-based filling may have some redeeming qualities for health.

Starbucks Birthday Cake Pop

Starbucks Birthday Cake Pop
Starbucks
Nutrition (Per 1 cake pop):
Calories: 160
Fat: 8 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 95 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 16 g)
Protein: 2 g

It doesn't have to be your birthday for you to enjoy this mini dessert at Starbucks. Amidst the coffee shop's many larger pastries and sweet drinks, the birthday cake pop stands out as a more moderate choice. Choose this one for an everyday celebration.

 8 Best Starbucks Menu Hacks, According to Baristas

Tim Hortons Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries and Almond Granola

Tim Hortons Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries and Almond Granola
Tim Hortons
Nutrition (Per 1 parfait):
Calories: 270
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 0.3 g)
Sodium: 90 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 25 g)
Protein: 15 g

For a sweet treat that'll leave you feeling satisfied (and won't send your blood sugar for a wild ride), check out this fruity parfait from Tim Hortons. "With 15 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, it will help fill you up and prevent your blood sugar from crashing later," says certified fertility and prenatal dietitian Elena Usdenski, RD, MScFN. "Greek yogurt is also packed with calcium to help keep your bones strong, and berries are loaded with antioxidants to help combat inflammation."

 9 Healthiest Frozen Yogurts on Grocery Shelves—and 3 To Avoid

Chick-fil-A Fruit Cup

chick fil a fruit cup
Chick-fil-A
Nutrition (Per 1 cup):
Calories: 70
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 16 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 1 g

Fruit is a healthy dessert option, especially after a fast-food meal. Saweres recommends the fruit cup at Chick-fil-A. "It's a nutritious fruit mix made with chopped pieces of red and green apples, mandarin orange segments, fresh strawberry slices, and blueberries." We dare you to find another fast-food dessert with so many antioxidants.

Jamba Juice Peach Perfection Smoothie

jamba juice peach smoothie
Jamba Juice
Nutrition (Per 1 smoothie):
Calories: 200
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 25 mg
Carbs: 51 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 44 g)
Protein: 2 g

Swing by Jamba Juice for a cold and creamy dessert that'll hit the spot in the summertime (or any time!). The small Peach Perfection smoothie combines real peaches with several other fruits and a juice blend, providing 60% of your daily vitamin A and 70% of your vitamin C. We'd say that's just peachy.

Chick Fil-A Frosted Lemonade

Chick fil a frosted lemonade
Chick Fil-A
Nutrition (Per small lemonade):
Calories: 320
Fat: 6 g (Saturated fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 65 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 63 g)
Protein: 6 g

At Chick-fil-A, wash down fried chicken (or, better yet, a healthier choice like the market salad or grilled chicken sandwich) with a sweet frozen lemonade. "It's the perfect creamy texture and just the right amount of tang from the lemons," says Courtney Vickery, MS, RD, LD.

Plus, you can shave calories and carbs when you opt for diet lemonade instead of regular. "Choosing the diet version makes it around 70 calories less than the regular, but the real savings is the 20 grams of carbs you save! While I'm not a dietitian who encourages calorie counting, I think it's important to know carbohydrates, especially for diabetics," Vickery says.

Panera Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries

Panera yogurt parfait
Panera Bread
Nutrition (Per 1 parfait):
Calories: 250
Fat: 9 g (Saturated fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 80 mg
Carbs: 29 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 18 g)
Protein: 16 g

Panera may be known for its baked goods, but here you'll find another winner of a dairy treat. "This parfait includes fresh strawberries and blueberries as well as granola made with whole grain oats," says Mandy Tyler, RD, CSSD, LD. Its 16 grams of protein are hard to beat, too!

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Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah