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The #1 Unhealthiest Order at Chili's, According to a Dietitian

You may want to think twice before ordering these "adult chicken tenders."
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Who doesn't love an indulgent dinner at Chili's? Whether it's their Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Wings, Bacon Ranch Burger, Cajun Pasta, or my personal favorite—the 2-for-1 Margarita Deal, Chili's is a restaurant chain full of filling, mouthwatering menu items. But it's no secret that most of these dishes are considered quite "unhealthy" when it comes to calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium levels.

Out of all the items on their menu, what are some of the absolute unhealthiest? We talked with Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD about this exact question, and she chose what she considers to be the unhealthiest Chili's menu item based on the amount of calories, fat, sodium, and saturated fat. It doesn't mean you have to stay away from this dish forever, but it may be helpful to only consume it in moderation or leave it as a "special occasion" meal.

Read on to see the item she chose, then check out some more nutritious alternatives with these 8 Healthiest Chili's Dishes to Order.

The #1 unhealthiest Chili's order is…the 6-piece Crispy Chicken Crispers Combo.

platter of Chicken Crispers with fries and mac and cheese

The Chicken Crispers—which Chili's says is the "adult version of chicken tenders"—is a staple menu item for this restaurant chain.  You can pick from Crispy, Nashville Hot, or Honey-Chipotle, and you can choose whether you want a 4, 5, or 6-count meal. Each order comes with fries, white cheddar Mac and cheese, ranch dipping sauce, and your choice of two other sauces.

The Chicken Crispers Combo (with French Fries and Mac and Cheese) is packed with:

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 1,880
Total fat: 109 g (Saturated fat: 23.5 g)
Sodium: 5,490 mg
Carbohydrates: 139 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 84 g

According to Sabat, the 6-piece Chicken Crisper Combo at Chili's "is a highly caloric and nutritionally imbalanced meal." Regularly eating a meal like this can affect our health in several ways.

For one, "the high fat and carbohydrate content, coupled with low fiber, can contribute to weight gain and other health issues like elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases," says Sabat.

Not only that, but with a whopping 5,490 milligrams of sodium, this meal has more than twice the amount of recommended sodium to consume in an entire day, and Sabat adds that excess sodium "can potentially lead to hypertension and fluid retention."

Sabat says that overall, this may be a dish you want to avoid when you're hanging with your loved ones at Chili's. Or, at least is a dish that you probably won't want to make a regular part of your routine. Thankfully, though, Chili's still has plenty of healthier options to choose from.

 11 Unhealthiest Dishes to Order at Chili's

A healthier order to make at Chili's: the Margarita Grilled Chicken

plate of Chili's Margarita Grilled Chicken on a white table
Nutrition (per order):
Calories: 630
Fat: 16 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 2,280 mg
Carbs: 68 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 52 g

Even though the Chili's menu is full of unhealthy items like the Chicken Crisper Combo, it does have a section titled Guiltless Grill—which contains five lighter options to choose from when you're looking for a more nutritious choice.

If you're craving chicken but don't want to derail your goals for the Chicken Crispers, you can order the Margarita Grilled Chicken, which comes with black beans, pico, Mexican rice, and tortilla strips.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Olive Garden Order

With only 630 calories, 16 grams of total fat, 7 grams of fiber, and 52 grams of protein, this chicken dish is a decent option when you find yourself at this restaurant chain. Just be aware that it does contain nearly 100% of your daily recommended limit of sodium, so it's important to be mindful of your sodium intake over the rest of the day.

Other delicious offerings from the Guiltless Grill that we love include Classic Sirloin with Avocado, Ancho Salmon, and Sante Fe Salad. So fear not, if you're looking to stay within your specific health goals, it's possible to do so even at a restaurant chain like Chili's.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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