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The 15 Healthiest Menu Items at Panera

Check out the list to see if your favorite Panera soups, sandwiches, salads, and bowls made the cut.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

Panera has established itself as a national staple among breakfast and lunch restaurant chains thanks to its delicious freshly baked artisan breads, sandwiches, soups, salads, warm grain bowls, pizzas, flatbreads, and more. Since it first launched in 1987 as St. Louis Bread Company, the chain has grown, changed names, and has more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Much of Panera's appeal is because its menu is "100% clean" (meaning it only uses GMO-free, non-artificial ingredients) and offers many lighter, healthier choices at an affordable price compared to other fast-casual restaurant chains. But even though the menu contains loads of healthier options to choose from, there are also plenty of unhealthy choices, too. That's why we've identified the healthiest menu items at Panera, so you can order something tasty, satisfying, and nutritious the next time you find yourself at the chain.

Choosing the healthiest menu items at Panera

When it comes to choosing items that are truly good for you, there's much more to consider than "clean" ingredients. Here are some tips for making more nutritious choices at Panera:

  • Low-calorie: Choose options that have 700 calories or less.
  • Limit saturated fats: Keep saturated fat intake to less than 8 grams.
  • Limit added sugars: Look for choices that keep added sugars to no more than 20 grams (about 4 teaspoons).
  • Look for fiber: Find lunch or dinner options with at least 5 grams of filling fiber, and even more if possible.
  • Keep dressing on the side: Moderate your calorie and fat intake by asking for dressing on the side.
  • Opt for lean proteins. Skip high-fat add-ons like bacon and instead order lean proteins like grilled chicken.

Beyond following those general guidelines, we asked dietitians to look at Panera's menu and select 15 of the healthiest dishes to order. This round-up includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner options; seasonal items are excluded since they're only available for a limited time. Read on, and next, check out the 10 Unhealthiest Panera Menu Items.


Greek Yogurt With Mixed Berries Parfait

Panera yogurt parfait
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 250 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (2 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 16 g protein

"With only 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 16 grams of protein, the Greek Yogurt and Mixed Berries Parfait offers a satisfying and healthful option for those seeking a delicious breakfast or snack at Panera Bread," says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD.

This menu item "offers a balanced blend of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates," she says. "The whole milk plain Greek yogurt provides a rich source of protein and beneficial probiotics (which promote gut health), and the fresh blueberries and strawberries contribute essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, enhancing overall nutritional value." Adds Sabat, "The granola adds fiber and crunch, featuring wholesome ingredients like rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, while the modest amount of honey provides natural sweetness without the overwhelming sugar content."

Avocado, Egg White, Spinach & Multigrain Bagel Flat

Panera Bread Avocado, Egg White, Spinach & Cheese on Multigrain Bagel Flat
Panera Bread
Per whole sandwich: 340 calories, 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 730 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 19 g protein

This bagel flat sandwich is one of the best ways to start your morning at Panera. Avocado, egg whites, aged white cheddar, tomatoes, and spinach packed onto a multi-grain bagel flat makes for a tasty and nutritious sandwich—all for only 340 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat, 6 grams of rich fiber, and 19 grams of high-quality protein.

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries and Pecans

panera steel-cut oatmeal with strawberries and pecans
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 360 calories, 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 52 g carbs, (7 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 8 g protein

Eating breakfast away from home? Panera has some great options. Instead of a buttery croissant, pastry, or bagel from the eatery, order Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries and Pecans. Starting your day with a filling bowl of whole-grain, fiber-rich, steel-cut oats will help keep you satisfied. Oats have a great one-two punch of fiber and protein that enhances satiety to help you stay on track all day long. Order it with no cinnamon sugar to avoid a blood sugar spike first thing in the morning.

Chipotle Chicken, Egg & Avocado on Ciabatta

Chipotle Chicken, Egg & Avocado on Ciabatta
Courtesy of Panera
Per sandwich: 550 calories, 30 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 910 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 27 g protein

For a healthier egg sandwich, this is a crowd-pleaser. It's made with delish ingredients including smoked, pulled chicken, Peppadew peppers, and avocado, and is served on an artisan ciabatta roll. This one is a bit higher in saturated fat than we'd normally suggest, but it is lower in calories, fat, and sodium than many of the other breakfast sandwiches offered at Panera. You'll also get 27 grams of protein—a great way to start your day.


1/2 Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich

half Napa Chicken Salad Panera
Panera Bread
Per 1/2 sandwich: 320 Calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 490 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein

"If you're opting for a sandwich at Panera Bread, ordering the half portion of the Napa Almond Chicken Salad emerges as the best choice for several reasons," says Sabat. "First, at 320 calories for a half serving, it provides a satisfying meal without excessive calorie intake." She adds, "The chicken used is raised without antibiotics, ensuring a higher standard of poultry sourcing, and the chicken salad itself is a flavorful combination of diced celery, sliced red grapes, toasted almonds, and a special dressing, offering a balance of savory and sweet flavors while adding texture and nutritional value."

She also notes that the mixed greens and tomatoes offer additional vitamins and minerals that your body needs. If you order the half sandwich, pair it with a cup of their Chicken Noodle Soup, Autumn Squash Soup, or one of their many salads like the Green Goddess Cobb or Chicken Apple Fuji. Just be mindful of the fact that combining the half sandwich and a full portion of soup or salad will change the overall nutritional picture somewhat (that's where the guidelines above come in handy!).

 Every Panera Sandwich—Ranked by Nutrition

1/2 Tuna Salad Sandwich

Panera Tuna Salad
Panera Bread
Per 1/2 sandwich: 350 calories, 17 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 15 g protein

Being able to choose a half portion of any sandwich, soup, or salad is one of the best parts of Panera's menu. For a nutritious option, we suggest half of the Tuna Salad Sandwich, which will give you 15 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat—all for only 350 calories.

 11 Best Canned Tunas on the Market, and 3 to Stay Away From

Deli Turkey Sandwich

Panera Deli Turkey Sandwich
Panera Bread
Per whole sandwich: 560 calories, 12 grams fat (2 g saturated fat), 1,690 mg sodium, 79 g carbs (5 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 35 g protein

This tasty Panera sandwich is made with lean turkey, greens, tomatoes, and mustard and comes on delicious bakery sourdough bread. This sandwich stands above many of the other options nutritionally due to its high levels of fiber and lower levels of calories and sugar. It also provides 35 grams of filling, high-quality protein.

Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich

Panera Mediterranean Veggie
Panera Bread
Per whole sandwich: 630 calories, 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,650 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (7 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 23 g protein

Another good sandwich pick at Panera is the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich. It's filled with classic Mediterranean ingredients, including peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and hummus, and it comes packed with 23 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 630 calories. Ask for whole wheat bread to up the fiber count even more.

 9 Best Mediterranean Diet Snacks for Weight Loss


Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken

Fuji Apple Salad Panera
Panera Bread
Per whole salad: 550 Calories, 34 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (6 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 29 g protein

If you're in the mood for both savory and sweet, the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken is a deliciously healthy choice.

"Panera's Fuji Apple Salad stands out as one of the healthiest salad options due to its combination of nutrient-rich ingredients and flavorful components," says Sabat. "Featuring chicken raised without antibiotics as the protein source, it provides 29 grams of protein, an essential nutrient for muscle maintenance and satiety. Including romaine, mixed greens, grape tomatoes, and red onions offer a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for overall health and digestion. Additionally, the toasted pecan pieces contribute healthy fats and a satisfying crunch, while the Gorgonzola cheese adds depth of flavor."

Sabat adds "What sets this salad apart is the incorporation of apple chips, which not only provide natural sweetness but also offer additional fiber and antioxidants. Tossed in a sweet white balsamic vinaigrette, this salad strikes a perfect balance between savory and sweet flavors, making it a delicious and nutritious choice at Panera."

Note that the salad comes with your choice of a side (not reflected in the nutritionals above); stick with the apple instead of opting for chips or a baguette.

 20 Best & Worst Panera Breakfast Orders

Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken

Green Goddess Salad Panera
Panera Bread
Per whole salad: 480 calories, 27 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,020 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (7 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 37 g protein

The avocado slices, antibiotic-free chicken, pickled onions, and mixed greens are tasty ingredients that make up this salad, but what truly makes this menu item so delicious is the Green Goddess dressing.

On top of being an option that will satisfy your taste buds every time, this Panera salad is also a safe choice when you're watching your nutrition. Ordering the "whole" portion will bring only 480 calories but packs in 37 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. However, the sodium is over 1,000 milligrams, so it may not be the best choice if you're specifically seeking to lower your sodium intake. If you choose this, you may want to consume less sodium in your other meals for the day.

Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken

Asian Sesame Salad Panera
Panera Bread
Per whole salad: 410 calories, 22 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 780 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (6 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 29 g protein

For a salad with fewer calories and less sodium than the Green Goddess, you can order Panera's Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken. With only 410 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat, as well as 29 grams of high-quality protein from the antibiotic-free chicken, this tasty salad is a great choice.

 10 Best Restaurant Salads to Order, According to Dietitians



Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup

Squash Soup Panera
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 330 calories, 16 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,210 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (5 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 8 g protein

For a bowl of cozy soup, Sabat suggests opting for the Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup.

This soup is packed "with flavorful ingredients like squash, onions, carrots, and spices, and it offers a rich blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants," says Sabat. "The addition of Neufchatel cheese provides a creamy texture while contributing to the soup's protein content, and the inclusion of ginger and curry powder not only enhances the taste but also offers potential health benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties."

One bowl has only 330 calories, and it contains 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. For more high-quality protein to round out your meal, order a half portion of the Green Goddess Salad with Chicken or the Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken.

 Every Panera Soup—Ranked by Nutrition

Turkey Chili

Panera Turkey Chili
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 300 calories, 10 grams fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 690 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (14 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 21 g protein

A cup of slow-cooked turkey chili is a great option at Panera because of the modest calories, and high fiber and protein counts. Made with a variety of vegetables, chickpeas, and kidney beans, Panera's Turkey Chili is an excellent choice to keep your diet on track while eating out.

Sabat also points out that the 9 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein in this chili can help "promote satiety and aid in digestion."


Mediterranean Bowl with Chicken

Panera Mediterranean Bowl
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 570 calories, 29 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,310 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (8 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 26 g protein

A main course salad from the Panera menu is a great option when you want a healthier meal. One of the most nutritious options is the Mediterranean Bowl with Chicken made with a variety of greens, quinoa, cucumbers, hummus, olives, and feta with a creamy dressing. This salad packs in 26 grams of protein, thanks to the chicken and hummus. The addition of 8 grams of fiber will help keep you satisfied as well. If you want a vegetarian version, opt for the regular Mediterranean Bowl, which is the same recipe, but without the chicken.

Baja Bowl

Baja Bowl Panera
Panera Bread
Per bowl: 680 calories, 34 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,480 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (13 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 27 g protein

As one of the higher-fiber options on the entire Panera menu, this Southwestern-inspired dish includes a brown rice and quinoa base, black bean and corn salsa, tomatoes, avocados, and greens. It's a substantial meal that packs a lot of protein and fiber from the beans and veggies.

 I Tried Every Soup at Panera & One Can't Be Beat

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, copy editing, and to remove outdated information.

Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
Julie Upton is an award-winning registered dietitian and communications specialist who has written thousands of articles for national media outlets, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, and USA Today. Read more about Julie
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