Magazine cover image Subscribe Now to the magazine

The Best & Worst Menu Items at McAlister’s Deli

Next time you want to satisfy your sandwich craving at McAlister's Deli, this ranking of the best and worst menu choices will help you stay healthy.
The Best & Worst Menu Items at McAlister’s Deli

When a sandwich craving hits, a trip to McAlister’s Deli might be on the table. However, anytime you visit a fast-food chain, it’s important to choose your meals carefully, because high sodium, calorie count, and sugar content can derail your health goals. To help you order the right items at McAlister’s Deli, we spoke to registered dietitian Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN, about the menu’s best and worst club sandwiches, soups, and stuffed baked potatoes (nicknamed Spuds here), including its “Choose 2” option, which lets you build a combo meal out of smaller portions. Below are some of the items she recommends ordering—or avoiding—next time you opt for a McAlister’s meal.

Salads

Best: Garden Salad

Garden salad Courtesy of McAlister's
310 calories, 20 g fat (10g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 18 protein

Gulbin suggests that the Garden Salad is a healthy salad option to order at McAlister’s Deli, as it is a reasonably low-calorie and high-protein choice.

However, Gulbin advises being cautious of the salad dressings. She recommends the Raspberry Pecan Fat-Free Dressing and the Fat-Free Chipotle Peach Dressing, which are low in calories and sodium.

Worst: Taco Salad

Taco salad Courtesy of McAlister's
940 calories, 61g fat (23g saturated fat), 1,540 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (12 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 33 g protein

Due to the high calorie, carb, and sodium counts, Gulbin says, “This meal choice takes the concept of salad into unhealthy territory.”

Spuds

Best: Justaspud; Choose 2 Portion

Just a spud Courtesy of McAlister's
370 calories, 9 g fat (6g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 66 g carbs (7 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 9 g protein

“This plain potato is the lowest calorie option in this group at 370 calories,” Gulbin says. In addition, she notes that this order contains only 90 milligrams of sodium, while providing seven grams of fiber and nine grams of protein.

And while a variety of different toppings can be added to your Spud order, Gulbin suggests that selecting veggies like broccoli, tomatoes, roasted peppers, and spinach can add extra fiber and nutrients to your potato.

Worst: Spud Max

Spud max Courtesy of McAlister's
1030 calories, 38 g total fat (20 g saturated fat), 1190 mg sodium, 135 g carbs (14 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 43 g protein

“This potato option contains the highest number of calories in the Spuds category, and also contains 1,190 milligrams sodium and 38 grams fat,” Gulbin suggests. She points out that this unhealthy mix comes from the toppings: applewood smoked bacon, butter, cheddar-jack cheese, and sour cream.

Get 5 Free Gifts When You Subscribe!

Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.

And while there are a variety of different Spuds toppings to choose from, Gulbin advises staying away from the blue cheese dressing, RO*TEL cheese sauce, and ranch dressing, which are packed with calories, fat, and sodium.

Clubs

Best: Grilled Chicken Club; Choose 2 Portion

Grilled chicken club Courtesy of McAlister's
410 calories, 18 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 820 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 25 g protein

“At 410 calories, 25 grams protein, and only 820 milligrams sodium, this sandwich option is the all-around healthiest option in the club category,” says Gulbin.

Worst: King Club

King club Courtesy of McAlister's
1,060 calories, 52 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 3,390 mg sodium, 124 g carbs (3 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 67 g protein

“The King Club sandwich is certainly not the king of healthy sandwiches since it has 1,060 calories, 3,390 milligrams of sodium, and 20 grams sugar (about five teaspoons sugar),” Gulbin says.

Chicken

Best: Harvest Chicken Salad Sandwich; Choose 2 Portion

Chicken salad sandwich Courtesy of McAlister's
360 calories, 24 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 11 g protein

Gulbin explains that, in the chicken section of the menu, this sandwich choice has the least amount of sodium and a low carbohydrate count. In addition, she notes that this sandwich provides you with a respectable 11 grams of protein and two grams fiber.

Worst: Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap

Grilled chicken caesar wrap Courtesy of McAlister's
850 calories, 51 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 2,080 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 43 g protein

Even though this sandwich is grilled, Gulbin explains that the combination of the dressing, wrap, and other seasonings puts it at the high end of calories, sodium, and fat.

Turkey

Best: Garden Fresh Turkey Sandwich; Choose 2 Portion

Garden fresh turkey sandwich Courtesy of McAlister's
330 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,200 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (5 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 18 g protein

“This fresh sandwich option contains just 330 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 39 grams of carbohydrates, of which there is five grams of fiber,” Gulbin says.

Worst: California Turkey Reuben

California turkey reuben Courtesy of McAlister's
950 calories, 46 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 3,860 mg sodium, 81 g carbs (6 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 51 g protein

Gulbin observes that this high-calorie sandwich packs an additionally unhealthy punch with 3,860 milligrams of sodium (nearly two days worth of sodium) and 46 grams of fat.

Roast Beef & Bacon or Ham

Best: Horseradish Roast Beef; Choose 2 Portion

Roast beef horseradish sandwich Courtesy of McAlister's
340 calories, 15g fat (4 g saturated fat), 740 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 18 g protein

“This sandwich option is the only one in this category that is less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium,” says Gulbin. She also notes that it contains only 340 calories, 35 grams of carbohydrates, and five grams of sugar.

Worst: Ham And Cheese Toastie

Ham and cheese Courtesy of McAlister's
700 calories, 30 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 2,160 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 37 g protein

Gulbin suggests that the Ham and Cheese Toastie tops the list of unhealthiest sandwiches in this category, as it contains 700 calories, 2,160 milligrams of sodium, and only two grams of fiber.

Big & Bold

Best: Memphian; Choose 2 Portion

Memphian sandwich Courtesy of McAlister's
350 calories, 14 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 1,160 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 25 g protein

“This chicken sandwich is the healthiest in this category even though the sodium (at 1,160 milligrams) is a bit higher than what would be desired for a healthy choice,” Gulbin explains.

Worst: Reuben

Reuben Courtesy of McAlister's
900 calories, 41g fat (12 g saturated fat), 3,980 mg sodium, 76 g carbs (7 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 52 g protein

“This high-calorie sandwich contains a load of sodium, as well as 41 grams of fat,” Gulbin says.

Vegetarian Sandwiches

Best: The Veggie; Choose 2 Portion

The veggie sandwich Courtesy of McAlister's
350 calories, 17g fat (2 g saturated fat), 730 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 7 g protein

Although this sandwich choice has 350 calories, Gulbin explains that it contains five grams of healthy fiber, 17 grams of fat, and a decent sodium content.

Worst: Four Cheese Griller

Four cheese griller Courtesy of McAlister's
660 calories, 31g fat (16 g saturated fat), 1,260 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 37 g protein

Although the sodium in this sandwich is less than in other vegetarian sandwich options on the McAlister’s Deli menu, Gulbin notes that this meatless choice is low in fiber and has a pretty high 660 calories.

Soup

Best: Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup; Cup

Fire roasted vegetable soup Courtesy of McAlister's
60 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 4 g protein

Containing 60 calories, 700 milligrams of sodium, four grams of sugar, and a decent two grams fiber, Gulbin suggests that this cup of soup is the healthiest choice in the soup category.

Best: Vegetable Chili; Cup

Veggie chili Courtesy of McAlister's
180 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 960 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (9 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 9 g protein

“Vegetable chili is another great meal choice if you’re looking to eat a healthy soup as your main entrée, since it is only has 180 calories, and contains a rich source of fiber and protein,” Gulbin says.

And if you choose to put toppings on top of your soup, Gulbin recommends selecting tortilla chips, as they add contain only 70 calories per half ounce, are low in sodium, and provide one gram of fiber and protein.

Worst: Traditional Chili (Meat); Bowl

Classic chili Courtesy of McAlister's
540 calories, 36 g total fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,610 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (8 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 30 g protein

“This heavy soup option contains 540 calories, is loaded with 1,610 milligrams of sodium, and contains 36 grams fat, of which 14 grams is saturated,” Gulbin explains.

And while a bowl portion (12 ounces) of soup at McAlister’s Deli can pack on calories and sodium, Gulbin suggests that bread bowls are even worse, as they add an additional 500 calories and 1,170 milligrams of sodium to your order.

Shareables & Sides

Best: Steamed Broccoli

Steamed broccoli Courtesy of McAlister's
80 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g fiber), 3 g protein

“This vegetable choice is a healthy option at three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and only 80 milligrams of sodium,” Gulbin says.

Worst: Nacho Basket; Serves 2-4

Nacho basket Courtesy of McAlister's
1,560 calories, 86 g fat (28 g saturated fat), 3,510 mg sodium, 168 g carbs (16 g carbs, 12 g sugar), 36 g protein

At 1,560 calories, 86 grams of fat, and 3,510 milligrams of sodium, Gulbin says this Nacho Basket, listed as a shareable item on the menu, is an unhealthy way to start any meal or social outing.

Worst: Cheetos Crunchy Mellow Cheese Snacks

Cheetos crunchy mellow cheese snacks Shutterstock
310 calories, 21 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein

Aside from being the highest-calorie side dish on the menu, Gulbin explains that this is one of the most highly processed sides, which contains 21 grams of fat and 500 milligrams of sodium.

Desserts

Best: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Oatmeal raisin cookie Shutterstock
380 calories, 18 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 85 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (2 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 5 g protein

At 380 calories, Gulbin suggests that this cookie is not the healthiest dessert of all time by any means. However, at this restaurant, she explains that it is the best dessert option, as it is low in sodium, contains a decent amount of fiber, and provides five grams of protein.

Worst: Colossal Carrot Cake

Colossal carrot cake Courtesy of McAlister's
1,130 calories, 73 g fat (29 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 116 g carbs (4 g fiber, 89 g sugar), 10 g protein

At 73 grams of fat and 89 grams of sugar (nearly a half cup of sugar), this dessert definitely tops the unhealthiest dessert list, Gulbin explains.

Kids Menu

Best: Kids Toasted Cheese Sandwich

Kid's toasted cheese Courtesy of McAlister's
280 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein

“This entrée choice has a good balance of fiber and protein,” Gulbin says. And with a low sodium count at 500 milligrams, she explains that this is the best choice in this category for growing children.

Worst: Kids French Bread Pizza

French bread pizza Courtesy of McAlister's
460 calories, 20 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3g sugar), 22 g protein

“This entrée choice is the unhealthiest kids choice at 460 calories and over 1,000 milligrams of sodium per serving,” Gulbin explains. It is also high in saturated fat at 10 grams per serving, she adds.

Beverages

Best: Unsweetened Tea

Unsweet tea Courtesy of McAlister's
0 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

“With no added sweeteners and unprocessed hydration, this beverage is a great choice to order at McAlister’s Deli,” Gulbin says.

Worst: Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry lemonade Courtesy of McAlister's
280 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 74 g carbs (0 g fiber, 71 g sugar), 0 g protein

“This 280-calorie beverage is loaded with 71 grams of sugar, which is roughly about 18 teaspoons,” Gulbin says.

Get 5 Free Gifts When You Subscribe!

Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.