The Best & Worst Menu Items at Outback Steakhouse, According to a Dietitian
Outback Steakhouse might've been born in 1988 in Tampa, Florida, but the Australian-inspired eatery has always prided itself on innovative creations, bold flavors, and traditional classics made the way you want it for affordable prices. If you're craving this popular steakhouse, you can certainly find healthy choices in the midst of the many options. There is, however, a possibility of falling into the comfort food calorie bomb traps that can have you rolling home. Below, you'll find some help navigating the lengthy Outback Steakhouse menu.
Whether you're looking for a soup or salad, a fried appetizer, a signature steak item, one of their seafood offerings, or are wanting to finish off your meal with a decadent dessert, the following list will help gain more knowledge of what this steakhouse chain has to offer and which items you may want to completely steer clear of next time you visit.
Here's a breakdown of the best and worst meals the Outback Steakhouse menu has to offer. Read on to find out what to order, and for more, don't miss I Tried Every Steak at Outback Steakhouse & There Was One Clear Winner.
Worst: Bloomin Onion
These fried onions are certainly one way to start off your meal. With close to 100 percent of your daily recommended calories (for the average American, it's 2,000 calories), you'll basically be reaching your total daily calories before the main dish even arrives. Unless you plan on sharing this one with a table of many people, skip it!
Best: Small Seared Peppered Ahi
If you're in the mood for an appetizer, seared fish is always a healthful choice. Tuna provides healthy omega-3 fats, which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health, cognitive health, and eye health. This small-sized option is probably best for two people to share as an appetizer, or you can even enjoy it as a main dish with a healthy side.
Soups and Salads
Worst: French Onion Soup
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 10% of total calories come from saturated fat—which is a max of 22 grams per day on a 2,000 average American diet. Eating a serving of French onion soup will get you 75% to that daily saturated fat maximum, which you'll easily surpass once you start eating your main dish. This, plus the other soups on the menu have a nice dose of saturated fat, probably from loads of cheese, heavy cream, and butter added. As this soup only comes in one size, opt to share it or a cup of the creamy onion or broccoli soup instead.
Worst: Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped Salad
Although blue cheese is tasty with pecans, mixed into a creamy dressing it can up the artery-clogging saturated fat and calories. This side salad has the same number of calories you should be getting in an entire meal, and the sodium is 56 percent of the total daily recommended amount.
Best: House Salad with Tangy Tomato Dressing
The house salad is always a nice way to take in vegetables. Oftentimes, however, the dressing can sabotage your simple side. That's why it's always important to crunch the numbers for the salad and the dressing. The Tangy Tomato Dressing has the least amount of calories and appears to be made with a plant-based oil, and is the best option to order with your side salad.
Worst: Slow Roast Prime Rib (24 ounces)
It's OK to love your meat, but 24 ounces of it takes portion control to a whole new level. Based on a 2,000-calories diet, you'll be taking in 105 percent of your total daily calories, 265 percent of your total daily fat, 390 percent of your total daily saturated fat, and 76 perfect of your total recommended maximum of sodium. And I wouldn't be surprised if that size portion doesn't leave you with a stomachache and heartburn afterward.
Best: Victoria's Filet Mignon (6 ounces)
A nicely portioned filet of six ounces will provide you with a lean choice of beef and is an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc. Opt for some healthfully cooked veggies and a starchy side (like a baked potato) for a well-balanced meal.
Surf and Turf
Worst: Sirloin (9 ounces) and Coconut Shrimp
Although both beef and shrimp can be part of a healthy meal, this meal sabotages these delicious foods in several ways. The meat is three to four times the recommended portion size, with a healthful portion being three to four ounces. Plus, the shrimp is fried, which is not the best way of cooking them.
Best: Sirloin (5 ounces) and Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie
If you're in the mood for Surf and Turf, this is the dish for you! A nicely portioned piece of beef and grilled shrimp provide a lower-calorie, higher-protein option that will keep you satisfied. Complement it with some delicious veggies, and you've got a winner.
Worst: The Bloomin' Burger
This oversized burger has 128 percent of the maximum total fat you should get in one day and 185 percent of the saturated fat. Although there are other "Forkless Features" on the menu, all the options have similar nutritionals. You'll find better choices throughout the menu, especially in the "Surf and Turf" and "Chicken, Ribs, Chops, and More" sections. But if you had to choose one…
Best: The Outbacker Burger Without Cheese
The one menu item from this category that is the least offensive is the Outbacker Burger without cheese. It's much lower in calories and sodium than The Bloomin' Onion Burger, but keep in mind that this is the nutrition information without any sides, so you're better off skipping the fries to stay as low-calorie as possible.
Straight from the Sea
Worst: Toowoomba Salmon
Although salmon is packed with omega-3 fats, this dish is served with sautéed shrimp, mushrooms, and a creamy Creole sauce. If you hold the sauce or order it on the side (to take a tablespoon worth), then it would cut back on some of that saturated fat and sodium.
Best: Lobster Tails Entrée: 5 oz, Steamed, 2 Lobster Tails
If you're craving lobster, steamed tails are a healthful choice. Be careful about how much butter you slather on your seafood delight though, and be sure to order up veggie sides that won't rack up unwanted calories from artery-clogging saturated fat.
Chicken, Ribs, Chops, and More
Worst: Chicken Tender Platter With Aussie Fries and Honey Mustard Sauce
If you're heading to a steakhouse, there's no reason you should be ordering chicken tenders—plain and simple. But if you are so inclined, be aware that this order has 165 percent of the saturated fat you should be eating in one day and 108 percent of your daily recommended max of sodium. There are certainly healthier ways to take in your protein on this menu without diving into this fried food health trap.
Best: Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (5 ounces) with Fresh Mixed Veggies
Grilled chicken and veggies are a simple, healthy way to go on this menu. The chicken is seasoned and cooked on a wood-fired grill with a signature BBQ sauce. If you're trying to cut back on sodium, ask for the BBQ sauce on the side or less of it.
Worst: Steakhouse Mac & Cheese
Although you may like ooey-gooey mac and cheese on the side of your steak, this side dish has close to the amount of saturated fat as the burgers on this menu. If it's a must-have, split it among several people at the table and use my "Toby's two-tablespoon rule" and enjoy two heaping tablespoons on the side.
Best: Grilled Asparagus
You'll be getting lots of nutrition for fewer calories in this side dish. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K and folic acid, shown to help decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C and the B vitamin thiamin.
Best: Fresh Mixed Veggies
This side is a combo of fresh seasonal veggies, including broccoli, squash, and carrots. Although the veggies are steamed (a healthy cooking method), the added fat comes from seasoned butter that is added. Ask for no seasoned butter if you're looking to cut back on saturated fat and sodium.
Worst: Chocolate Thunder From Down Under
This dessert is made up of pure sugar, and it's all likely coming from added sources. And if you eat this by yourself along with an entree, you're exceeding the number of calories you should be eating for the entire day in just one meal. If you really need something sweet, ask if you can have one scoop of vanilla ice cream, or just wait to get home and munch on a piece of fruit.
Best: Butter Cake
If you're not full after your meal and must have dessert, this cake is the best of all the choices available. It still has 810 calories and should be shared by 3 to 4 people or take a few bites and take the rest home for the kiddos.