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The Best & Worst Menu Items at Sweetgreen, According to a Dietitian

Navigate Sweetgreen's menu like a pro with a dietitian's top picks for healthy orders and warnings on which options to avoid.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

Sweetgreen, a fast-casual salad chain boasting over 140 locations across 13 states, was born in D.C. from the vision of three business school students at Georgetown University. Their mission was to provide healthful and sustainable "fast food" with a focus on a farm-to-table experience.

As a dietitian, I appreciate Sweetgreen's emphasis on plant-based ingredients and their use of high-quality oils like extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil instead of less expensive seed oils. Sweetgreen's salads, warm bowls, and plates all feature fresh, whole-food ingredients, many of which are sourced as locally as possible to the restaurants that serve them.

However, like many restaurant options, some dishes here can be high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars. Despite this, even the worst options are generally better choices than traditional fast food fare since they're loaded with vegetables—which 9 in 10 Americans don't eat enough of. However, you still have to be mindful of additional calories, fat, and sodium.

To help you navigate the menu and make the best choices for your nutritional needs, we've compiled a guide to the best and worst options at Sweetgreen, categorized by menu sections. You'll also see Sweetgreen's newest menu items released in early May 2024, featuring grass-fed, pasture-raised steak—a first in the restaurant's history!

Read on, then check out The #1 Healthiest Salad at 7 Popular Salad Chains.

Protein Plates

Best: Carmelized Garlic Steak Plate

bowl of caramelized steak from Sweetgreen
Nutrition (Per Plate):
Calories: 860
Fat: 40 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 2,010 mg
Carbs: 89 g (Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 31 g

The Carmelized Garlic Steak Plate is a new menu plate that packs a significant amount of protein and fiber, making it a healthy option. While it is high in sodium, this is generally unavoidable when ordering restaurant fare. As long as you keep processed foods to a minimum on the days you eat out, your sodium intake will balance out.

 11 Popular Fast-Food Salads—Ranked by Sugar Content

Best: Hot Honey Chicken Plate

sweetgreen Hot Honey Chicken Plate
Nutrition (Per Plate):
Calories: 835
Fat: 39 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 2,190 mg
Carbs: 75 g (Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 43 g

Made with roasted chicken and sweet potatoes, veggie slaw, and herbed quinoa, the Hot Honey Chicken Plate is a delicious option at Sweetgreen. It is high in calories, so you can ask for half the quinoa to lighten it significantly. With 11 grams of fiber and 43 grams of protein, this is a substantial lunch or dinner that may be best to enjoy as two separate meals or to share.

To cut down on sugar, ask for a "light" portion of the Hot Honey Mustard dressing, which contains 9 grams of sugar per serving, or consider swapping it for Sweetgreen's famous Sweetgreen Hot Sauce, which has only 2 grams of sugar per serving, and a squeeze of lime.

 The Best & Worst Fast-Food Salads

Best: Miso Glazed Steelhead Plate

Sweetgreen Miso Glazed Steelhead Plate
Nutrition (Per Plate):
Calories: 840
Fat: 41 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,422 mg
Carbs: 84 g (Fiber: 12 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 35 g

The Miso-Glazed Steelhead does have more added sugar than many Sweetgreen menu items due to the miso glaze on the fish. However, this option is high in fiber and protein and can fit into a balanced diet if you watch your sugar intake for the rest of the day because it's a good source of healthy fish.

While most Americans eat some seafood, they generally do not eat enough to meet federal dietary guidelines: at least 8 ounces (about two servings) of seafood per week. Eating fish provides countless benefits, from supporting heart health to decreasing the risk of certain cancers.


Best: Chicken Pesto Parm

Sweetgreen Chicken Pesto Parm
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 540
Fat: 21 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 1,451 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 39 g

Sweetgreen's Chicken Pesto Parm is made with roasted chicken, broccoli, baby spinach, tomatoes, parmesan, herbed quinoa, and a pesto vinaigrette. It's one of the best bowls, as it keeps total fat and saturated fat in check and delivers a lot of protein and fiber to keep you satiated with less than 500 calories.

 6 Fast-Food Chains That Serve the Best Bowls

Best: Shroomami Bowl

sweetgreen Shroomami Bowl
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 600
Fat: 35g (Saturated fat: 4g)
Sodium: 1,118mg
Carbs: 49g (Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 5g)
Protein: 21g

The Shroomami Bowl, one of the vegetarian options on Sweetgreen's menu, is made with tofu, portobello mix, tons of veggies, and wild rice and comes seasoned with a miso sesame ginger dressing. This bowl hits the nutritional marks for its fiber and protein counts and lower sugar and saturated fat. Like most restaurant options, it is higher in sodium than generally recommended for a meal.

 The 10 Best Salad Chains In America

Worst: Steakhouse Chopped Bowl

Chopped steak bowl from Sweetgreen
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 815
Fat: 57 g (Saturated fat: 14 g)
Sodium: 2,293 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 35 g

This new addition to Sweetgreen's menu exceeds the recommended amount of calories, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium for a main meal. Weighing in at 815 calories, this bowl provides nearly half the calories many of us should have in an entire day. The fat content is also excessive, so this is a definite item to skip unless you split it over two meals.

Worst: Harvest Bowl

Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 765
Fat: 41 g (Saturated fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 1,180 mg
Carbs: 63 g (Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 17 g)
Protein: 38 g

This is by no means the worst option at Sweetgreen, but when it comes to the bowls, the Harvest Bowl is higher in calories and saturated fat, and with 15 grams (nearly 4 teaspoons!) of sugar, it's not our first pick. Some of that sugar comes from the apples, but more of it is found in the sugary balsamic vinaigrette.

We do love that it's made with wholesome ingredients like roasted chicken and sweet potatoes, kale, apples, goat cheese, almonds, and wild rice. If you want to cut down on sugar, ask for balsamic vinegar and olive oil instead of the balsamic vinaigrette

Worst: Chicken Avocado Ranch Bowl

Chicken Avocado Ranch Bowl
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 705
Fat: 41 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,125 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 23 g

The Chicken Avocado Ranch Bowl is made with chicken, avocado, pickled onions, apples, tortilla chips, white rice, chopped romaine, and green goddess ranch dressing. It's not one of our favorite bowls at Sweetgreen due primarily to its calories and saturated fat content.

While it does contain 8 grams of sugar, all of those come from the apples or other whole food ingredients, as there is no added sugar in the Green Goddess Ranch dressing. Another plus is that this bowl packs in more fiber than most other bowls. If you want to order this popular menu item, share it or split it over two meals.

Worst: Fish Taco Bowl

Sweetgreen Fish Taco Bowl
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 835
Fat: 49 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,265 mg
Carbs: 60 g (Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 14 g)
Protein: 34 g

Although the Fish Taco Bowl features a beautiful piece of salmon, we had to put it on our worst list due to the high calories, added sugar, and saturated fat. It's made with wholesome ingredients like salmon, avocado, arugula, and herbed quinoa, but the miso sauce adds too much sugar (11 grams) than we feel comfortable with adding to the "best" list.

 The 5 Healthiest Fast-Food Fish Sandwiches—and 9 To Avoid


Best: Kale Caesar Salad

Sweetgreen Kale Caesar Salad
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 510
Fat: 32 g (Saturated fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 1,283 mg
Carbs: 15 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 39 g

The Kale Caesar Salad is protein-packed thanks to the roasted chicken and nutrient-rich from the kale and tomatoes. It also has less than a teaspoon of sugar, which is great for anyone striving to follow a low-carb diet or lifestyle.

 11 Best Low-Sugar Salad Dressings

Best: Super Green Goddess Salad

Sweetgreen Super Green Goddess Salad
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 455
Fat: 29 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 1,116 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 12 g

We love that the vegetarian Super Green Goddess Salad is made with fiber-rich chickpeas and lots of dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, and shredded cabbage. It's served with a green goddess ranch dressing. It is higher in sugar than I would normally recommend, but it isn't excessively high in sugar.

Best: Guacamole Greens Salad

Sweetgreen Guacamole Greens
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 575
Fat: 33 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 604 mg
Carbs: 36 g (Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 27 g

The Guacamole Greens Salad is made with roasted chicken, avocado, spring mix, and romaine and is dressed with a no-sugar-added lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette. It's an excellent source of fiber, containing 50% of your recommended daily intake of the under-consumed nutrient.

 10 Amazing Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet

Worst: Kale Caesar Steak Salad

kale steak salad from Sweetgreen
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 720
Fat: 54 g (Saturated fat: 16 g)
Sodium: 2,2296 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 39 g

If you order the salad as-is from the menu, the Kale Caesar Salad is a no-go for us because of its high calorie, fat, and saturated fat counts. What's more, it packs in more than twice the sodium of other salads on the menu. With so many better options on the Sweetgreen menu, don't let the "kale" in the name of this salad fool you into believing it's a better-for-you option.

One modification to get the sodium count under control is to skip the parmesan crisps, which alone add 480 milligrams of sodium. You're still getting the shaved parmesan, so you won't be without cheese. If you want the crunch, ask to swap in the crispy onions, which only have 30 milligrams of sodium and contain half the calories of the crisps.

Worst: Garden Cobb Salad

Sweetgreen Garden Cobb Salad
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 745
Fat: 56 g (Saturated fat: 15 g)
Sodium: 1,019 mg
Carbs: 36 g (Fiber: 16 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 22 g

The Garden Cobb Salad is a dietitian's least favorite option because it's so high in calories, saturated fat, and sugar while being low in protein. It's made with spring mix, romaine, avos, a hard-boiled egg, and sweet potatoes. While most of the ingredients are healthful, the portions are too large, and the saturated fat is too high to recommend it to health-conscious diners.

You can boost the protein count by swapping out the hard-boiled egg for roasted chicken. You'll jump from 22 to 36 grams of protein for only 22 additional calories. Opting for the Green Goddess Ranch instead of the Balsamic Vinaigrette will reduce your sugar from 15 to 11 grams.

Worst: BBQ Chicken Salad

Sweetgreen BBQ Chicken Salad
Nutrition (Per Salad):
Calories: 480
Fat: 25 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 904 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 27 g

Sweetgreen's BBQ Chicken Salad is made with chicken, romaine, kale, and cabbage. It features tortilla chips, honey BBQ sauce, and green goddess ranch dressing. This is a higher-calorie salad, but it is one of the worst options due to its higher sugar count from the honey BBQ sauce. It has nearly four teaspoons of sugar, more than most of the other salads on the menu.

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
Sources referenced in this article
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