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The Best & Worst Menu Items at California Pizza Kitchen, According to Dietitians

We analyze the nutrition information from the California Pizza Kitchen menu and pick the healthiest and unhealthiest meals.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

California Pizza Kitchen isn't just a frozen take-home pizza brand. Outside of the fluorescent refrigerator aisle, CPK is one of America's favorite chain restaurants due to its variety of options and wide availability for those who are gluten-free or following a mainly plant-based diet. If you're looking for casual dining, it won't be hard to find the classic yellow sign as the chain boasts over 130 locations across the country.

But CPK offers more than just pizza—we're talking appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, and more traditional main dishes. Overall, their menu is pretty manageable and transparent when it comes to their nutritional density. On their nutritional webpage, you can easily customize your dietary preferences including how many calories you want to consume, as well as other values such as fat, sodium, and sugar.

Most of us probably aren't going to take the time to do this before heading out to dinner, and even if you do, those numbers tend to disappear when you're staring at the California Pizza Kitchen menu with an empty stomach. To help you make an informed, easy decision, we've pulled the "best" and "worst" dishes from each category to help keep you on track toward your health goals. Take a look below to see what dietitians are saying and what they're eating on their nights out.


Best: California Olive Oil with Mediterranean Herbs

Nutrition (per order): 110 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

Olive oil—a Mediterranean staple! This simple, tasty dish has earned our seal of approval for best starter at California Pizza Kitchen as it's low in sodium and has no added sugars. Olive oil has many proven health benefits as it contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat (aka, one of the "good" fats) that reduces inflammation and may even ward off certain cancers. The danger here comes from the sourdough baguette in which patrons can easily overindulge and find themselves no longer hungry for dinner. We suggest sticking to two slices of baguette—which comes out to about 130 calories—and saving room for a nutritionally balanced meal.

 13 Highest-Quality Olive Oils on Grocery Shelves

Worst: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower

California Pizza Kitchen Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 720 calories, 54 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 2,010 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (5 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 11 g protein

"While the Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower might seem like a nutritious option, this starter is one of the worst menu options because it is high in sodium," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, Owner of One Pot Wellness. "Each serving contains 2,010mg, which is 87% of the daily sodium intake recommendations provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans." Not only is the sodium high, but this starter includes 13 grams of added sugar "which can lead to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, fatty liver disease and tooth decay over time when consumed regularly," per Chun. She recommends looking for starter options that are baked, grilled, steamed, or broiled instead of deep fried.


Best: Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley Soup

California Pizza Kitchen Dakota Smashed Pea + Barley Soup
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 170 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 11 g protein

CPK's Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup is a protein-packed, no-fat soup that's entirely vegan and full of plant power. Made with peas, barley, carrots, onions, herbs, and scallions, you're fueling your body with the necessary veggies. As the CDC reports that only one in 10 Americans are meeting their daily fruit and vegetable needs, this can be a great option to help you reach your daily goals. Peas and barley are also packed with plant protein, both of which are packed with antioxidants. Additionally, peas are a great source of vitamin C while barley is full of soluble fiber which aids in keeping your gut regular.

Worst: Tomato Basil Bisque

cpk tomato basil bisque
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 270 calories, 20 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (2 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 3 g protein

Although this soup is made with lycopene-rich tomatoes, this soup had made the "worst" grade on our list. With only 3 grams of protein and a whopping sodium count of 750mg, this soup can leave you feeling bloated and thirsty. The American Heart Association recommends that the average adult aim for approximately 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for ultimate heart health, so a cup of this soup would take up over half of your daily sodium intake. High sodium can directly contribute to heart disease and stroke—even premature death—so, if you do order this cup of soup, we recommend you indulge in moderation.

 17 Best Soup Recipes For Weight Loss


Best: Banh Mi Power Bowl

california pizza kitchen Bahn Mi Power Bowl
California Pizza Kitchen / Facebook
Nutrition (per order): 490 calories, 31 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (8 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 26 g protein

When it comes to salads, our number one pick takes a bit of a turn away from the traditional. The Bann Mi Power Bowl "is a stellar balanced meal…bursting with colorful vegetables, chicken, quinoa, and avocado," says Megan Huff, RD, LD, Atlanta-Based dietitian. Additionally, "compared to the other salads on the menu, it has half the amount of calories." This salad is also a nutritional powerhouse as each serving comes with 26 grams of protein—over half of an average adult's daily needs, according to the FDA – and also provides 8 grams of fiber to help you keep your gut regular and productive.

Worst: The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

California Pizza Kitchen bbq salad
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 660 calories, 42 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 930 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (8 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 29 g protein

It's not surprising that a salad with "BBQ" in the name has scored the worst in terms of nutritional value. This salad contains 10 grams of saturated fat, and as the AHA recommends no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day, you're really using up your daily value in one meal. Additionally, this salad contains 10 grams of sugar and a whopping 930 milligrams of sodium. Besides the high protein and fiber counts, this salad really doesn't do much for your health. If you do order this salad, we recommend going light on the BBQ sauce and herb ranch which are both almost completely devoid of nutritional value.

Main Plates

Best: Cedar Plank Salmon

cpk cedar plank salmon
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 650 calories, 34 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 52 g protein

With an incredibly high protein count of 52g per serving, California Pizza Kitchen's Cedar Plank Salmon is a relatively low-calorie, low-sodium entree. Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids—specifically EPA and DHA—which are essential nutrients that aid in cardiovascular disease prevention and may even slow health issues like age-related macular degeneration. This dish is also served with a healthy side of white corn and spinach succotash which will provide levels of fiber and iron, respectively.

Worst: The West Coast Burger "The WCB"

cpk west coast burger
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 1,520 calories, 94 g fat (35 g saturated fat), 4,110 mg sodium, 110 g carbs (6 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 50 g protein

Perhaps it's not surprising that our worst pick for main plates is California Pizza Kitchen's West Coast Burger (commonly known as "The WCB"). Burgers are notorious for being loaded with unnecessary fats and oils, and the WCB is no exception. We were shocked by the sodium levels—4,110mg for one meal—which is nearly triple the daily recommendation while also loading consumers with 23 grams of sugar. Additionally, this burger is loaded down with saturated fats which may contribute to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Many of these fats and calories are derived from the side of crispy potatoes, so if you're hoping to cut down on these counts, consider holding off on the fries or swapping for a side salad.

 All of Burger King's Burgers & Sandwiches—Ranked by a Dietitian


Best: Shrimp Scampi Zucchini

cpk shrimp scampi zucchini
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 480 calories, 26 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 27 g protein

If you're hitting the pasta at CPK, we recommend the Shrimp Scampi Zucchini. "It's got tasty, sautéed shrimp with zucchini noodles, offering a lower-carb alternative," says Alyssa Simpson RDN, CGN, CLT, owner of Nutrition Resolution in Phoenix, AZ. "The lean protein in the shrimp, reduced carbs from zucchini noodles, and flavorful lemon-garlic butter sauce make it a delicious and healthier choice with added veggies for nutrition." Zucchini is also packed with nutrients such as Vitamin A, which aids in immunity health and is essential for growth and development, as well as lesser-known nutrients such as manganese which is loaded with the antioxidant enzyme SOD which breaks down free radicals and reduces inflammation.

Worst: Jambalaya Linguini Fini

California Pizza Kitchen Jambalaya Linguini Fini
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 1,230 calories, 71 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 2,340 mg sodium, 94 g carbs (8 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 58 g protein

Although this dish boasts 58 grams of protein, we want to look beyond this figure at the more menacing nutritionals including 1,230 calories (well over half the average daily 2,000 caloric need), 19 grams of saturated fat, and—get this—2,340 grams of sodium. This pasta features blackened chicken and shrimp, Andouille sausage, and Tasso ham without any vegetables in sight. Although meat isn't intrinsically "bad" for you, it's important to remember that trusted organizations such as the AHA recommend eating no more than one servin grams of meat a day with one serving the equivalent of 3oz. Additionally, processed meats such as Andouille sausage have been linked to certain cancers, so try to eat these in moderation.


Best: California Veggie Pizza on Thin or Cauliflower Crust

california pizza kitchen veggie toppings
California Pizza Kitchen / Facebook
Nutrition (per slice): 160 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 8 g protein

"For a healthier pizza option, go with the California Veggie on a thin crust—it's loaded with colorful veggies, reducing overall calories and carbs," says Alyssa Simpson RDN, CGN, CLT, owner of Nutrition Resolution in Phoenix, AZ. Veggies include broccolini, grilled zucchini, Cremini mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes, corn, and red onions. This colorful medley offers multiple nutrients such as calcium from the broccolini and fiber from the Cremini mushrooms. "For an even lighter choice, try the cauliflower crust, offering the same veggie goodness with fewer carbs," says Simpson. So, there are multiple options if you're following a low-carb lifestyle or just want that little bit of extra veggie power.

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Best: Thai Chicken Pizza

cpk thai chicken pizza
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per slice): 110 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 8 g protein

We also recommend CPK's Thai chicken pizza as it is loaded with heart-healthy veggies such as bean sprouts, carrots, scallions, and cilantro while also providing lean protein from grilled chicken. Additionally, this pizza has low sodium counts, only 2 grams of saturated fat (from the mozzarella cheese), and relatively low calories for those aiming to manage their weight. Unfortunately, this pizza doesn't come in a thin crust version, but with only 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you're already consuming less than other options. That being said, carbohydrates include fiber, so don't discount carbs as the enemy.

Worst: Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage

California Pizza Kitchen Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage Pizza
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per slice): 200 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

Although this pizza has "mushroom" in the name, this pizza comes with an abundance of high-fat meats including both pepperoni and sausage. As pork is one of the highest-fat meats, it's important to indulge in moderation, and it's equally important to keep a close eye on your sodium intake when eating processed meats. In just one slice, you're consuming 500 milligrams of sodium which is exactly a third of your daily sodium recommendations. Most of us aren't going to CPK to just have one slice of pizza, so this sodium can really add up and even exceed your heart-healthy threshold of 1,500mg a day.

Worst: Pepperoni

California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per slice): 190 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

We hate to knock a classic, but it's perhaps quite obvious that a pepperoni pizza isn't going to be your healthiest option. With no veggies in sight, you're consuming high fat counts with no added nutritional benefits. Recently, the World Health Organization labeled processed meats as a carcinogen, as research has found a correlation between ample processed meat consumption and cancers including colorectal and prostate. Of course, we're not telling you to cut processed meats out of your life completely, as that's probably not a reality for most of us. Therefore, try to consume this pizza in moderation and perhaps start with a heart-healthy salad to ensure that you're getting your daily greens.


Best: Key Lime Pie

California Pizza Kitchen Key Lime Pie
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 790 calories, 44 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 94 g carbs (1 g fiber, 75 g sugar), 10 g protein

As a dietitian, it's hard to label desserts as "healthy" because, well, most of them are not. However, if you're looking for a dessert with the least amount of fat and calories, CPK's key lime pie takes the cake (no pun intended). Although this dessert still has 44 grams of fat and a pretty intense 75 grams of sugar, it's the best option as it also boasts 10 grams of protein. Additionally, lime juice includes ample amounts of vitamins C and flavonoids which act as both anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. That being said, it's better to just eat a lime or add it as a garnish to your glass of water instead of eating it in a pie, but hey, it's something!

Worst: Butter Cake

cpk butter cake
California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition (per order): 1,090 calories, 66 g fat (41 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 122 g carbs (1 g fiber, 86 g sugar), 7 g protein

With the word "butter" being the first word in the description of this dessert, it should come as no surprise that we deemed this one the worst. The FDA recommends that added sugars constitute less than 10% of your daily caloric intake. This cake itself exceeds 100% of your daily added sugars, so you have to consider whether or not this dessert is worth it. If you do order this cake, we recommend sharing and foregoing an additional scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren
Sources referenced in this article
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