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.
Best: Garden Salad
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
Due to the high calorie, carb, and sodium counts, Gulbin says, "This meal choice takes the concept of salad into unhealthy territory."
Best: Justaspud; Choose 2 Portion
"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
"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.
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.
Best: Grilled Chicken Club; Choose 2 Portion
"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
"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.
Best: Harvest Chicken Salad Sandwich; Choose 2 Portion
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
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.
Best: Garden Fresh Turkey Sandwich; Choose 2 Portion
"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
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
"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
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
"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.
"This high-calorie sandwich contains a load of sodium, as well as 41 grams of fat," Gulbin says.
Best: The Veggie; Choose 2 Portion
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
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.
Best: Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup; Cup
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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.
Best: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
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
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.
Best: Kids Toasted Cheese Sandwich
"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
"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.
Best: Unsweetened Tea
"With no added sweeteners and unprocessed hydration, this beverage is a great choice to order at McAlister's Deli," Gulbin says.
Worst: Strawberry Lemonade
"This 280-calorie beverage is loaded with 71 grams of sugar, which is roughly about 18 teaspoons," Gulbin says.