46 Most Caloric Dishes in America
As Americans become more aware about what they’re chowing down on, restaurants are providing healthier options in line with our evolving dietary needs. And while we might think the presence of the ever-expanding lighter fare selections on menus is helping us stick to our better-eating habits, that’s far from the case.
You see, Babson College researchers found that the mere presence of healthy options on a menu can actually cause people to select a less nutritious meal. Experts believe that we ultimately end up splurging because we take the fact that we considered ordering a healthy item as being virtuous, so it leads us to make poor food choices down the line.
Here’s the problem: those less healthy options lurking on menus are some of the least nutritious, most caloric, most horrifying choices we’ve ever seen on a menu. (And, trust us, we’ve looked.) In fact, with some of the dishes we discovered below, you can top over a day’s worth of calories—2,000—in just a single meal.
That’s right. The days of supersizing aren’t as far in the past as you might think. So when it comes to choosing a decent option when dining out, read on to discover the one (or two) things you definitely should not order. And if you’re trying to keep your eating habits on track in the office, don’t miss these 40 Healthy Snack Ideas To Keep You Slim.
From Least…. To Most Caloric
Bonefish Grill 3 Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
Bonefish serves you a dish filled with more than 100 percent of your day’s recommended intake of fat and sodium! This Mexican-inspired dish is far from authentic—the white carb-based tortillas, crema, and oil-soaked shrimp will leave you feeling like you need to unbutton your jeans. Even if you shared this dish with your friends, you’d be taking in more salt than what you’d get from seven servings of Cool Ranch Doritos. That doesn’t sound appetizing when you’re trying to lose belly fat.
Denny’s Brooklyn Spaghetti & Meatballs with Bread
Warning: this meal is far from your Nonna’s spaghetti and meatballs. It’s even far from what Brooklyn locals may be eating. This massive serving of carb-loaded spaghetti is topped with humongous meatballs and drenched in a thick sauce.
P.F. Chang’s Crispy Honey Chicken
Chicken may be one of the best proteins to keep that belly flat, but when it’s deep fried and smothered in sweetness and salt, it’ll put you in major diet debt. Not to mention this dish is void of vegetables and set on a bed of blood sugar–spiking white rice. We suggest taking a hard pass next time you visit P.F. Chang’s.
P.F. Chang’s Hokkien Street Noodles
Made with thin rice noodles, light curry sauce, chicken, shrimp, egg, and julienned vegetables, you might not even think that it possible a low-fat dish like this could be so high in calories. Wrong! A dish like this is a trap, and one you now know not to fall into.
Friendly’s New England Fish ‘N’ Chips
“Tavern-battered” cod fillets are deep fried and then served alongside a mayonnaise-drenched side of slaw and some tartar sauce. Maybe opt for a less battered piece of fish the next time you’re craving something from the see. With over a day’s worth of fat and almost sodium, you’re better off splitting this entree in half, or better yet thirds.
Denny’s The Grand Slamwich with Hashbrowns
Caution: Eat at your own risk. Denny’s took breakfast sandwich to a whole new level—and not in a good way. With eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, cheese, potato bread covered in “maple spice” (read: sugar) and hash browns you’re putting your dietary progress into major set back. In fact, this meal serves you nearly 70 percent of your day’s calories. And of that doesn’t give enough of a reason to declare this offer a foul ball try this: You’d be chowing down on just 4 grams less than two day’s worth of fat.
Red Lobster Cajun Chicken Linguini Alfredo
This Red Lobster pasta dish sounds like a mouthful because it is! Here’s a pasta hack: If it’s covered in white sauce, we advise you stay away. This creamy pasta dish is loaded up with cajun-spiced chicken, garlic parmesan sauce, all over a bed of carb-heavy pasta. The truth is: Pasta’s really not that bad—it’s the processed American pasta sauces loaded with excess calories, mounds of salt and buckets of added sugar that give the plates of noodly heaven such a bad reputation. Plus, meals like this are often made with oils that are full of inflammatory omega-6’s—a stark contrast to the fat-burning oleic acid found in extra virgin olive oil, which is used in authentic sauces.
To make sure you don’t make the same mistake at home, don’t miss our exclusive report: The Unhealthiest Pasta Sauces On The Planet.
P.F. Chang’s Walnut Shrimp with Melon
The enticing title may sound appealing for the beach body go-getter. In fact, both melon and walnuts can be a great snack together, packed with fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and protein. But for this dish, that is not the case. Based off deep fried shrimp, aioli sauce (a fancy term for mayo), and a heavy sugar-rich crusting on the nuts—this dish is a definite Not That! in our book.
McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
There’s a reason this breakfast ranked worst in our roundup of Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!. One meal is filled with hot cakes, biscuits, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash browns! Sounds like enough food to fill an entire table. In fact, this serving wipes out your entire day’s worth of fat, more than a day’s worth of saturated fat, and just skims your day’s worth of sodium and sugar. And chances are, you still have two more meals and a few snacks throughout your day. Next time you hit the Golden Arches, just say no to this option.
Olive Garden Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara
Olive Garden’s menu is in major need of a touch-up. Its average dinner-size plate of pasta packs a staggering 976 calories—thanks in part to the soggy plate of carbs pictured above. This particular seafood entree is swimming in pools of sodium and fat. It also serves up a day’s worth of trans fat, an artificial fat that’s been linked to heart disease. All of this is before you tack on the breadsticks and salad.
Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad
This salad is quite the deceiving demon. At first, it seems like the best of both worlds: You get a great bed of veggies and a few slices of gooey quesadillas. But if that sounds too good to be true to you, good! Your subconscious is telling you the truth. This salad holds onto more than the recommended daily intake of salt, fat, and saturated fat. And scariest of all, the salad also somehow manages to pack in trans-fat.
Chipotle Carnitas Burrito
Carnitas Burrito with White Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Romaine Lettuce, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Guacamole
It may be delicious, but it’s far from nutritious. This fully-loaded burrito from Chipotle has more than a day’s worth of salt and fat. In fact, it has more fat than six hot dogs—and who (aside from those crazy Coney Island competitors) would ever eat six hot dogs in one sitting? But that’s not all. This madman of a meal serves up more carbs than you’d find in nearly six whole-grain dinner rolls! Although almost everything in this burrito is carb-heavy, the tortilla carries 46 grams and the choice of white rice adds in another 40 grams—numbers which are destined to make our bellies feel bloated.
Cracker Barrel Sunday Homestyle Chicken with Sawmill Gravy
We give props to Cracker Barrel. They’ve managed to knock out a day and a half’s worth of fat and sodium in just one serving of beige, breaded, deep-fried chicken. And adding on two sides and biscuit, free of charge is certainly overkill. If you’re really craving this Cracker Barrel Chicken? Split it into four. You and your family members will have just the right amount of food. Your bellies and bank account will thank you.
Friendly’s Big Beef Honey BBQ Burger with French Fries
Friendly’s takes two USDA choice burger patties and smothers them in a sugar-laden honey BBQ sauce (to help you reach 60 percent of your DV of added sugars), melted cheddar cheese, crispy fried onion strings, applewood-smoked bacon, and Ranch dressing. If you hack the menu and order a Honey BBQ Double burger, you’ll ingest 9.5 ounces of beef (compared to the 8 ounces—or half a pound—you get with the Big Beef patties) and 1,520 calories,
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
A salad on this list—who would’ve thought? When craving some leafy crunch—this restaurant chain is not the place to go. That’s because a fair number of Applebee’s salads live around the 1,000 calorie mark, making them just as problematic as many of their other menu items. This Asian-inspired salad is no exception. Because of its sugar-soaked dressing and the fat overload from crispy noodles and fried chicken, this “healthy” option serves up more calories, fat, and sugar than the restaurant’s Quesadilla Burger.
iHop Cheeseburger Omelette
Dinner and breakfast mixed into one? No wonder this dish carries over two days of your recommended fat count. Stuffed with fatty meats, and paired with breakfast sides, it may not come as a shock that this egg treat is far from flat-belly-friendly. And guess what? This dish has six times the amount of fat than this chain’s massive three stack of pancakes. We never thought we’d say this, but you’d be far better off ordering some pancakes than downing this icky egg-based meal.
Applebee’s Clubhouse Grille with Fries
Who knew that you’d hit 500 calories shy of your daily limit by noon? We’ve never seen such a salty, high-calorie sandwich.
On The Border Dos XX 3 Fish Taco
For a relatively low priced meal, On The Border stacks your plate with nearly 75 percent of your day’s worth of calories. This deep-fried, beer-battered fish dish also carries too much sodium for comfort—you’ll be reaching for the nearest glass of H2O left and right! We didn’t even bother to throw in the side of Mexican rice and beans you can add on, which would tack on an additional 400 calories.
Olive Garden Tour of Italy
Although it’s cheaper than a flight to the homeland of pasta and pizza, this dish is far from authentic and it will set you back on nearly two days worth of fat. In other words, choosing this dish may be easy on the wallet but at a costly price to your body. And we can’t get over this dishes alarming sodium count of 3,250 milligrams. Not sure what that means? It’s estimated that those tiny packets of salt at fast food chains serve you 189 mg of sodium. So with this meal alone, you’re consuming nearly 17 of those!
Fridays Signature Whiskey-Glazed Ribs, Full-Rack (with coleslaw & seasoned fries)
We think this entree should come with a warning sign. It carries 3,660 milligrams of sodium—that’s equivalent to 4 huge soft pretzels from the mall. Covered in fat (not to mention nearly three days worth of added sugars), this dish will leave you feeling nothing but regrets—and a hankering for liquid for the rest of the day.
Friendly’s Clam Strips Platter
Unless you’re getting ready to host a party, or split this for the table, there’s no rhyme or reason to ever order a menu item that contains the word “platter.” More often than not it’s code for “way too many calories, carbs, and fat.” Don’t believe us? This bland bowl of beige serves you more fat than six servings of McDonald’s greasy, oil coated french fries.
Friendly’s Big Beef Sriracha Double Bacon Cheeseburger with Fries
This Friendly’s burger is far from our BFF. While it’s true that hot sauce can boost your metabolism, this hot n’ spicy burger is most definitely an exception to the rule. Topped with melted pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, crispy onions (code words for fat), lettuce, tomato, and creamy sriracha mayo this caloric calamity is a no-go in our eyes.
Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo
Yes, normally we say go for it when it comes to ordering a lean protein and carbs. But this fat-laden dish does not do the iconic pair any justice. Adding chicken to the creamy-based pasta does bump up the protein, but it also adds extra calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium to this already heavy carb dish.
On the Border The Big Bordurrito Steak
You knew it would be big, but ever wonder how big? Somehow, On The Border crafted a burrito with over two day’s worth of fat. For this insanely large wrap, you’d be chowing down on the equivalent of 12 Whoppers from Burger King. Here’s a trick: if the chain labels a dish as big, remember that it’s only going to make you even bigger.
Buffalo Wild Wings Cheese Curd Bacon Burger
You’d never hear us suggest heading out for a cheeseburger with fries—but the truth is, you’re better off ordering that compared to this measly meal. BWW manages to deep-fry cheese and place it on top of a burger. We are also disgusted to see that the chain packs in 4.5 grams of trans fat—that’s over two day’s worth of the fat that experts say can drain your brain and tax your heart.
Cheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta
What’s worse than eating an entire day’s worth of calories in one meal? Eating two days worth of trans fats in that same meal. Trans fats have been linked to heart disease, which makes any meal high in trans fats one of the The 35 Worst Restaurant Meals for Your Heart.
Applebee’s Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders + Breadstick
Attack of the sodium and sugar! Whenever your dinner is a mash-up of two of your favorite foods (like chicken tenders and mac and cheese), you know you’re in trouble. Choosing a dish like this is easily one of the 40 Bad Habits That Give You Belly Fat. The spice from the pepper may boost your metabolism, but it’ll be fighting an uphill battle against all those calories, fat, and sodium.
Applebee’s Fish & Chips
Applebee’s strikes again. Don’t blame the fish—the seafood is packed with lean, muscle-building protein and heart-healthy fats. No, the trouble here lies with a massively unbalanced fish-to-fat ratio. A coating of crispy batter and a heaping pile of deep-fried potatoes is no way to treat the golden child of nutrition. When it comes to seafood, always abandon ship on fried fish and opt for grilled instead.
Chili’s Bacon Ranch Beef Quesadilla
With nearly a day’s worth of calories and more fat than 10 hot dogs, this dish isn’t doing you any favors. And if you thought you could get a pass by splitting this with a friend, think again! You’re consuming 2.8 times the recommended daily intake of saturated fat from the American Heart Association. In fact, if you’re trying to keep that belly flat, you’ll want to avoid all options with the word quesadilla at Chili’s—every one of them has over 1,000 calories per serving!
Cheesecake Factory Fish & Chips
Fish is normally one of the healthiest foods for you, but that doesn’t count if it’s deep fried and served with a side of fries.
Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
You could almost eat three Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Rolls for the same number of calories
Cheesecake Factory Fried Shrimp Platter
“With over half of its calories from fat, this shrimp platter will not do you any nutritional favors,” says registered dietitian Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RD. It’s better to choose proteins that are baked or grilled to avoid the excessive fat that fried foods typically have, she advises.
O’Charley’s Nashville Hot Baby Back Ribs
These Nashville Hot ribs are served with two sides. We chose the same ones pictured in O’Charley’s marketing photos and we hit just over 2,000 calories. Consider swapping the fries for grilled asparagus to cut back on 340 calories and be sure to avoid the loaded backed potato or mac & cheese.
Cheesecake Factory Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Throw a breaded, fried patty of chicken between two slices of bread and serve with a side of fries—no wonder you’ll consume more calories than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s during your lunch break.
Cheesecake Factory Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic
Yet another pasta dish from The Cheesecake Factory? What are they putting in all of their sauces to make these pounds of pasta climb to thousands of calories? In this case, it’s apparently chicken, roasted garlic, and peas.
Romano Grill’s Mama’s Trio
Mamma mia! This trio of chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, and fettuccine alfredo hits your caloric limit for the day and then stacks on an extra 1,600 milligrams of sodium.
Cheesecake Factory Cajun Chicken ‘Littles’
This southern take on chicken tenders with a sumptuous succotash will serve up more calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium than the FDA recommends you consume in an entire day. And this isn’t the only menu item you’ll see from The Cheesecake Factory on this list. The 250-item menu contains 10 items that climb over 2,000 calories per serving. If this restaurant is one of your favorites, take a peek at our guide The Best and Worst Menu Items at The Cheesecake Factory to ensure you don’t pick any dietary landmines.
Cheesecake Factory Pasta Carbonara with Chicken
We give the Cheesecake Factory props for rolling out some lighter options as of late, but its menu is still home to some of the most caloric fare in the nation. This creamy pasta dish, topped with peas, bacon, and chicken, has more than a day’s worth of calories and more saturated fat than 50 eggs!
Cheesecake Factory Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken
You could eat an entire box of Barilla’s Fettucine and still have 660 calories left over before you hit the same number of calories found in this menu item.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill Deep Dish Individual Chicago Fire Pizza
Since 1943, Uno has been delivering diet-derailing pizzas—and not all pizzas are created equal. The issue with deep dish pizza is not just the empty calories from the crust. It’s that the thick doughy base allows extra room for layers of cheese, sauce, and greasy toppings. The final product? A pizza for one with more than an entire day’s worth of calories. And that’s not all, the dish delivers 2 days worth of saturated fat. Next time you need your pizza fix think like this: the less crust, the fewer calories. For more healthy swaps, don’t miss 25 Food Swaps That Cut 2,500 Calories a Week.
Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo
Jalapeno-Cheddar Smoked Sausage, Ribs (Dry Rub), Smoked Brisket
As seen above, Chili’s really creates over-the-top meals. But this time, they’ve outdone themselves. The combo allows you to chose any three types of meat, and load them up next to ribs and sides. (We picked the three featured in Chili’s photo, but if you sub the Brisket out for Honey Chipotle Crispers, you could actually consume upwards of 2,725 calories.)
Forget about having to choose a side or two, you’ll get four—roasted street corn, homestyle fries, chile-garlic toast, and garlic dill pickles. That base alone totals 995 calories and 1,580 milligrams of sodium. According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, ordering this combo was worse than chowing down three of the chains sirloin steak dinners. That’s 10 ounces of sirloin covered in fattening garlic butter, with the addition of three orders of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
Cheesecake Factory Bruléed French Toast with Bacon
Just two slices of egg-soaked toast and a few slices of bacon will cause you to meet your caloric match before noon.
Chili’s Crispy Honey Chipotle & Waffles
Chili’s somehow took the classic waist-widening thought of chicken and waffles and made it even worse! The chain uses their crispy honey-chipotle Chicken Crispers and places them on top of 4 Belgian waffles, which they then stack with applewood smoked bacon, jalapenos, and drizzle ancho-chile ranch all over it. Thinking you’ll need more food? Don’t worry, you’ll also get a heaping handful of fries. With two day’s worth of fat and saturated fat—we’re seriously wondering why this dish filled with foods that cause inflammation is even an option!
Red Lobster Admiral’s Feast
With French Fries, Caesar Salad & Caesar Dressing
You can argue we specifically picked French fries to get the highest calorie count we could find—and you’d be right. But even picking broccoli instead of the fries still brings you up to 2,280 calories. Switch to a Garden Salad and Honey Mustard dressing with broccoli and you’re still at 2,000 calories. You can thank the deep-fried shrimp, bay scallops, clam strips, and flounder for the sky-high calorie count. Forget this meal if you’re looking to lose weight, and then read up on these 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism to enhance your pound-dropping efforts.
Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Large Thai Curry Wings
At Buffalo Wild Wings people often think the bigger the better, because come on it’s only chicken! But beloved BWW fans, think again. Among their list of 20-plus variations of wing sauces and seasonings, Thai Curry is the worst! These are soaked in sodium, fat, and of course calories. Like we always say less is more—stick with a simpler rendition of the chicken wing to cut back on the chub adding culprits.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill Whole Hog Burger & Fries
Uno wasn’t joking around when it said the whole hog. This burger is massive with over a pound of meat and pork—hamburger, sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. It also has three types of cheese, garlic mayo, and pickles. In case that isn’t enough, you’re given fries and onion rings too! This burger carries over three days worth of fat, and four days worth of saturated fat! If you’re trying to lose 10 pounds—or even just avoiding a premature heart attack—stay far, far away from this horrible excuse for a meal.