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The 10 Healthiest Menu Items at Applebee's, According to Dietitians

From baby back ribs to whiskey bacon burgers, Applebee's menu is full of diet bombs, so dietitians prepared this guide of healthy options.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Applebee's is America's neighborhood grill and bar. Known for its Bourbon Chicken and Shrimp, Boneless Wings, and Baby Back Ribs, this restaurant chain might serve some delicious dishes, but it isn't exactly the pinnacle of health. In fact, most of the most popular dishes have thousands of calories. And if you think going with a salad is guaranteed to be healthy, think again. The Quesadilla Chicken Salad is the most caloric item on the Applebee's menu (yes, even higher in calories than the Whisky Bacon Burger with fries) at 2,090 calories.

As is the case whenever you're dining out, eating healthy at restaurants is not the easiest feat as many restaurants go overboard on portion sizes, added salt, sugar, and fat. But you can still eat out and enjoy the convenience of restaurant meals while still paying attention to your health—even at Applebee's.

When it comes to choosing a healthy meal at Applebee's, there are a few factors to consider. The total calories or portion size, the sodium content, and any sources of added fat. These are three major factors that can make or break a menu item at Applebee's when it comes to being considered a healthy choice.

We spoke to dietitian experts to find out exactly which menu items at Applebee's they say are the healthiest.

How we chose the healthiest Applebee's menu options

  • Total calories: The total calories of a dish tend to be higher when eating at a restaurant. Choosing options that are lower in total calories, modest in portion size, or modifying them to be leaner can go a long way.
  • Sodium: Restaurants are a major source of added salt as it simply makes food taste better, acts as a preservative, and is usually an ingredient in sauce, fried foods, and garnishes. While you will be challenged to find lower sodium options on Applebee's menu, you can do your best to ask for food to be unsalted when possible.
  • Added fat: Added fat usually comes in the form of fried food, dressings and marinades, butter, and other oils, but the good news is that you can order this part of the menu item on the side. Ask for your options to be grilled or steamed, order sauce on the side, and ask for light butter and oil while cooking.

Read on to find out exactly what dietitians recommend you order off Applebee's menu.

Grilled Chicken Breast

applebees grilled chicken
Nutrition: 550 calories, 22 g fat (8 g sat fat), 1,730 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (6 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 48 g protein

Typically, you can't go wrong with chicken breast, and Applebee's is no exception. One of the healthier menu options at Applebees is the Grilled Chicken entree, shares Michelle Rauch MSc RDN, of The Actors Fund. "At only 190 calories for the chicken breast, this choice leaves some leeway for your side dish options. You can't go wrong with the steamed broccoli and garlicky green beans to keep this meal under 500 calories," she adds.

 8 Healthiest Fast-Food Chicken Sandwiches

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

Applebees Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad
Nutrition: 850 calories, 49 g fat (8 g sat fat), 1,790 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (10 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 52 g protein

The Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad is one of the lighter fares at Applebee's. With 52 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and 850 calories, this option should be filling and delicious. Although it tends to be higher in sodium and fat, we recommend ordering The dressing on the side to moderate your intake yourself.

Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl

Applebee's Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl
Nutrition: 710 calories, 27 g fat (4.5 g sat fat), 2,070 mg sodium, 91 g carbs (10 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 30 g protein

Shrimp is one of the leaner, low-fat protein options, with 30 grams of protein and lots of flavor, you won't feel like you're missing out with this bowl.

The Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl is a flavorful and fresh entree perfect for someone wanting bold flavors and a lean, high source of protein, shares Jessi Holden, MS, RDN Culinary Dietitian and owner of The Kitchen Invitation. "With the pico, black bean salsa, avocado, and fresh greens you'll get a solid amount of fiber and protein to keep you full and satisfied," she says.

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Southwest Chicken Bowl

Applebee's Southwest Chicken Bowl
Nutrition: 830 calories, 29 g fat (5 g sat fat), 2,070 mg sodium, 91 g carbs (10 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 30 g protein

If you're looking for a balanced burrito bowl with great sources of protein and fiber, look no further. With just 830 calories and 6 grams of sugar, this balanced bowl will keep you full for hours without overdoing the portion size or Unnecessary added sugar.

Blackened Shrimp Caesar Salad

Applebee's Blackened Shrimp Caesar Salad
Nutrition: 860 calories, 58 g fat (11 g sat fat), 2,100 mg sodium, 57 g carbs (8 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 31 g protein

If you are a Caesar salad person, you'll likely love this healthy twist on the classic. The blackened seasoning offers delicious flavor without the added calories, and you'll get 31 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and just 860 calories to boot. Considering that most salads are easily over 1000 calories at restaurants, we think this is a hit.

Blackened Cajun Salmon

applebee's Blackened Cajun Salmon
Nutrition: 600 calories, 28 g fat (9 g sat fat), 1,790 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (7 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 43 g protein

Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD offers her Applebee's recommendation: "Blackened Cajun Salmon at Applebee's is a nutritious option. The salmon provides 43 grams of protein as well as healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids because our bodies cannot produce them. Thus, enjoying the salmon at Applebee's is a great way to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Make sure to select nutritious sides, such as steamed broccoli, green beans, cole slaw, or a side salad to enjoy with the meal."

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Applebee's Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Nutrition: 970 calories, 60 g fat (12g  sat fat), 2,060 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (7 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 55 g protein

With a whopping 55 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 970 calories in this grilled chicken Caesar salad, we think you'll walk away feeling full and satisfied without overdoing it on portion size. Although 970 calories is a bit higher than other options on our list, this salad has nearly double the protein of other options on Applebee's salad menu.

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Grilled Chicken Salad

Applebee's Grilled Chicken Salad
Nutrition: 1,000 calories, 61 g fat (17 g sat fat), 1,840 mg sodium, 57 g carbs (6 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 60 g protein

It doesn't get more simple than a grilled chicken salad, and this option delivers when it comes to a healthy restaurant choice. With 60 grams of protein in this menu item, you will likely find that the salad will keep you full four hours after you leave the restaurant. You might even opt to take half of it home, splitting the portion size in half.

Chicken Wonton Tacos

Applebee's Chicken Wonton Tacos
Nutrition: 600 calories, 26 g fat (5 g sat fat), 1,530 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (3 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 32 g protein

Technically this item is an appetizer, but when you take a look at the nutrition facts, it could also make a pretty balanced meal. Coming in lower calorie than most of the salads at Applebee's, these tacos will deliver 600 calories and 32 grams of protein.

 6 Healthiest Fast-Food Tacos to Try Right Now

Double Crunch Bone-In Wings

bone in wings from applebees
Nutrition: 580 calories, 35 g fat (9 g sat fat), 1,940 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (2 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 60 g protein

Wings may not be your first guess for healthy options that Applebee's, but if you order the bone-in variety, this low-carb menu option will grant you 60 grams of protein for 580 calories. Although the sodium content is quite high here, we recommend ordering your sauce on the side and dipping the wings into it as needed.

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