Featuring a mashup menu of burgers, chicken sandwiches, and tacos, Jack in the Box has some of the most variety of any fast-food joint in the country. (It also has one of the most memorable mascots of any fast-food restaurant we know of—who could forget the commercials starring Jack himself?)
Like most fast-food menus, the one at Jack in the Box offers a spectrum from somewhat healthy to totally excessive. While a few salads, pitas, and sides provide decent nutrition, the majority of menu items are heavy on calories, fat, and sodium. If you want to make a good choice next time you swing by Jack in the Box, stick to this list of the best and worst items for your health.
Fries, Sides & Tacos
Best: Side Salad
Not surprisingly, the best choice for a side dish at Jack in the Box is a simple green salad. It's just 20 calories and 10 milligrams of sodium (without dressing, of course). Round out any meal with this healthy side.
Worst: Jumbo Egg Rolls
Jack's Jumbo Egg Rolls may be considered a side, but they're more than enough for a meal. Not only are they deep fried, but three of them will give you 8 grams of saturated fat and a hefty helping of sodium.
Worst: Loaded Tiny Tacos
Terms like "loaded" on menu descriptions are often a codeword for "high in fat and calories." That's definitely the case here! The Loaded Tiny Tacos come in at 600 calories and 33 grams of fat, not to mention 1,230 milligrams of sodium. If you're craving tacos, try the individual regular taco instead.
Shakes & Desserts
Best: Chocolate Overload Cake
Believe it or not, the Chocolate Overload Cake is the best dessert choice on Jack's menu. Then again, that's not saying much. It's only the best compared to other not-great choices. This dessert still packs 300 calories (but has a comparatively low level of saturated fat at 1.5 grams).
Worst: Large Oreo Cookie Shake with Whipped Topping
You know a large Oreo shake isn't going to be healthy food—but would you have guessed it clocks in at 990 calories and 25 grams of saturated fat? This saturated fat level provides 192% of the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake of 13 grams.
Worst: Large Chocolate Shake with Whipped Topping
Speaking of shakes, the large chocolate version with whipped topping isn't so innocent, either. If you slurp down the whole thing, you'll get 970 calories, 32 grams of fat (23 of them saturated), and a surprising amount of sodium.
Best: Jr. Jumbo Jack
It may have "jumbo" in its name, but the junior version of the Jumbo Jack burger is actually quite petite. Its nutrition reflects its smaller size. Pickles, onions, tomato, and lettuce add to its nutrient content.
Best: Jr. Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger
Adding a slice of cheese to your Jr. Jumbo Jack won't do much to detract from its nutrition. It only adds 40 calories (and might even provide some calcium). Try this cheeseburger when you're hankering for something on the lighter side.
Worst: Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger
You probably don't want to knock out nearly half the daily 2,000-calorie target with a single sandwich—but that's what'll happen if you polish off a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger at Jack in the Box. At 930 calories, 65 grams of fat, and 1,330 milligrams of sodium, it's a beast of a burger.
Worst: Ultimate Cheeseburger
Taking the bacon off the Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger shaves off a few calories, but the Ultimate Cheeseburger remains another of the least healthy choices at Jack in the Box. Its two beef patties, cheese slices, buttery buns, and buttermilk ranch sauce still add up to a belly-bombing 840 calories.
Best: Chicken Fajita Pita With Salsa
When you think of Jack in the Box, you might not think of pita sandwiches. But maybe you should! The Chicken Fajita Pita is one of the healthiest choices on Jack's menu, providing 4 grams of fiber and just 330 calories. Oh, and keep the salsa when you place your order—it'll add vitamins and minerals to your meal.
Best: 4-pc. Chicken Nuggets
A simple four-piece chicken nuggets order isn't a bad choice at Jack in the Box. These breaded chicken pieces have fewer calories than any of the burgers or chicken sandwiches on the menu. Pair them with a side salad and you've got a full meal!
Worst: Crispy Chicken Strips
Jack's chicken nuggets may be a decent option, but the same can't be said for the Crispy Chicken Strips. The battered strips are loaded with sodium (3,520 milligrams in six pieces) and high in calories.
Worst: Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club
Dripping with dressing and topped with bacon, the Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club is a whopper of a chicken sandwich. Its crispy batter isn't a selling point, either. Research has associated fried foods with a higher risk of developing obesity and overweight.
Best: Breakfast Jack
For a lower-calorie breakfast sammie, check out the Breakfast Jack. Here, ham, egg, and cheese fill a modestly sized bun for a total of just 280 calories. Sixteen grams of protein is another plus.
Best: 8-pc. Mini Pancakes
If you're not super hungry in the morning, the Mini Pancakes might be all you need to start your day. Even with eight pieces, they contain just 140 calories! Just be aware that they're pretty low in protein and fiber, so they might leave you with mid-morning cravings.
Worst: Extreme Sausage Sandwich
Other than plenty of protein, there's not much nutritional value from the two sausage patties, two slices of cheese, fried egg, and bakery bun of the Extreme Sausage Sandwich. This breakfast choice has 650 calories, 49 grams of fat, and 16 grams of saturated fat. Do you really want that weighing down your belly all morning?
Worst: Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito
Among the highest-calorie items at Jack in the Box (at 810 calories) is the Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito. Since red and processed meats have been linked to increased risk of several cancers, it's probably wise to limit your consumption.
Best: Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken
Fortunately, Jack in the Box offers a few lighter options that truly make the cut as good for you. The grilled chicken salad is the best of the bunch. A bed of greens underlies fresh tomatoes, shredded carrots, croutons, and chicken for a filling yet healthy lunch or dinner.
Worst: Garden Salad with Crispy Chicken
Not all of Jack's so-called "lighter" choices live up to their name equally. Swapping fried chicken for grilled on the garden salad adds calories and fat. If you include all the toppings on this salad, you'll also get 1,300 milligrams of sodium—more than most of Jack in the Box's burgers.
- Source: Sayon-Orea, C., Bes-Rastrollo, M., Basterra-Gortari, F. J., Beunza, J. J., Guallar-Castillon, P., de la Fuente-Arrillaga, C., & Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2013). Consumption of fried foods and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: the SUN project. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD, 23(2), 144–150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2011.03.014