Outback Steakhouse has some pretty iconic dishes. Among these classics are the Melbourne Porterhouse steak, the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under cake, and the infamous Bloomin' Onion appetizer, a colossal deep-fried onion blossom served with a zesty "bloom" sauce. In case it's not immediately obvious, there's no shortage of indulgent menu options awaiting diners at this Aussie-themed restaurant.
While Outback offers a range of options to suit various tastes and dietary preferences—yes, there are some healthy options and strategies you can use to make your meal at the steakhouse more balanced—certain menu items stand out for their sky-high calorie counts and other nutritional pitfalls.
We set out to uncover the unhealthiest choices at Outback with the help of the experts: registered dietitians. Armed with their insights, we've compiled a list of the 10 menu items that could derail even the most well-intentioned dining plans. From monstrous steaks to decadent desserts, the unhealthiest Outback Steakhouse dishes pack a serious caloric punch that may leave you feeling more stuffed than satisfied.
So, let's go down under and uncover the dishes that dietitians advise you to approach with caution at Outback Steakhouse. And note that while an occasional splurge at Outback won't have any lasting negative consequences on your health, if you're making a habit of ordering from this list, you might want to consider pulling back on dining out or finding ways to make healthier options at home.
How we identified the unhealthiest menu items at Outback Steakhouse:
When the unhealthiest menu items at Outback, here were the biggest factors we considered.
- Calories: Total calories as well as empty calories were the biggest deciding factor as to whether or not these Outback menu items were healthy. "Empty calories" come from added oils and added sugars. In excess, these foods are not any more filling for the amount of energy they give us.
- Saturated fat: Saturated fat has been associated with a greater risk for heart disease, so it's best to limit your intake as much as possible. The Outback Steakhouse menu is littered with saturated fat-containing items like red meat, dairy, and butter, and many of these meals ended up on our list.
- Sodium: Salt is used to make food taste better, but too much sodium in your diet can be linked to high blood pressure, weight gain, and bloating. The fried foods, sauces, and other heavily seasoned food options on Outback's menu all are higher in sodium than some of the healthier orders at the steakhouse.
Chocolate Tower Cake
With nearly 6 times your daily sugar allowance, the chocolate tower cake at Outback is one of the least healthy things you can order on the menu.
The chocolate tower cake is one of the unhealthiest options on the menu, adds Megan Huff, RDN, LDN, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian. "This cake is a sugar bomb with 170 grams of sugar, 233 grams of carbs, and 84 grams of fat. Avoid a spike in your blood sugar by passing on this cake. If you still want a dessert, opt for the butter cake which has 50% fewer calories, carbs, and sugars," she says.
Aussie Cheese Fries
"It's no surprise that Outback's cheese fries are a significant source of sodium, with a whopping 300% more than the daily recommended allowance of 1 teaspoon of salt in our diet. The Aussie Cheese Fries are one of the worst appetizers on the menu at Outback Steakhouse," says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant.
"An order of the Aussie Cheese Fries is incredibly high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and calories. A diet that is rich in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends reducing trans fats, limiting saturated fat to no more than 6% of total daily calories, and limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day," she adds.
Kookaburra Wings Mild
Not only are these wings high in calories and saturated fat, but they are also a triple whammy with nearly double the amount of sodium allowance Americans need in a day. "With over 1,700 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 4,000 milligrams of sodium, the Kookaburra Wings appetizer stands out as one of the least healthy offerings at Outback Steakhouse. For reference, The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day and saturated of less than 20 ggrams per day for most," Edwina Clark, MS, RD, CSSD tells us.
Outback's Bloomin' Onion
Everyone's favorite Bloomin' Onion is sadly not the healthiest menu item. This particular menu item is high and empty calories as the entire onion will get you over 1,600 calories without much protein or fiber to keep you full.
"Diets high in saturated and trans fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, elevated LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, and contribute to obesity and weight gain. Plus, diets high in sodium can increase one's risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease," says Michelle Rauch, MSc, RDN, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for The Actors Fund.
Queensland Chicken and Shrimp Pasta
While this menu item might initially look like lighter fare, the entire plate clocks in at over 1300 calories. You might consider sharing this menu item with someone else, and you'll both walk away with a more moderately portioned meal and still 40 grams of protein each.
"The Queensland Chicken and Shrimp Pasta might be looked at as lighter since not fried and it has chicken and shrimp instead of steak. However, the pasta has an alfredo sauce that's loaded with tons of calories and unhealthy fats. It comes in at just under 1300 calories, 48 grams of fat and 121 carbs. That equals about eight slices of bread," says Bess Berger, RDN, is a registered dietitian specializing in PCOS and menopause at Nutrition by Bess in NJ.
3 Crab Cakes Entree
The crabcakes at Outback are a significant source of fat and sodium. With over doubled the daily recommendation of saturated fat and more than once daily requirement of added sodium, this meal is not the healthiest at Outback.
"The 3 Crab Cakes Entree at Outback Steakhouse stands out as one of the unhealthiest choices on the menu. With an astonishing 35 grams of saturated fats, exceeding the daily recommended amount by 175%, and a sodium content of 3,000 milligrams, nearly double the daily recommendation, this dish raises serious health concerns. It's also important to note that these alarming numbers don't even account for additional items like appetizers, drinks, sides, or desserts, emphasizing the importance of practicing portion control and prioritizing nutrient-rich foods when dining out," says Samantha Turner, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of OakStone Health and Nutrition located in Martinsville, Virginia.
Tim Tam Brownie Cake
The Tim Tam Brownie Cake at Outback is one of their newer menu items and is one of the unhealthiest items that you can order, says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, Owner of One Pot Wellness. If you don't share this cake with a friend, you will serve yourself 1500 calories and 130 grams of added sugar. We know that empty calories do not keep us very full for long and do not provide much nutrition otherwise.
"The cake consists of layers of chocolate brownie, peanut butter, and chocolate mousse topped with a caramel sauce. The combination of these ingredients results in a dessert that has 130g of added sugars, 49g saturated fat, and 790 milligrams of sodium. An excess consumption of all of these nutrients can contribute to various health issues including obesity and heart disease," Chun concludes.
The Prime Rib Sandwich
While a sandwich might seem like a fairly balanced choice at most restaurants, the prime rib sandwich at Outback packs over 100% of your daily recommended sodium allowance and a whopping 42 grams of saturated fat. "This sandwich contains 1,330 calories, 42 g saturated fat, and 2,850 milligrams of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. This sandwich alone exceeds the daily recommended sodium limit. For a healthier option, consider Outback's grilled chicken on the barbie," shares Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD.
New York Style Cheesecake
Cheesecake is notoriously rich in calories and certainly better off being a "sometimes" indulgence. With 62 grams of total fat and nearly two times the amount of your daily saturated allowance, this cheesecake is full of empty calories and lacks nutrition balance. If you're looking for dessert, consider splitting this with a friend and choosing to make it a special occasion.
Chicken Tender Platter
Consisting of almost all fried foods, the chicken tenders and fries turn out to be one of the highest-calorie menu items. With 1,300 calories, a whopping 49 grams of saturated fat, and 150% of your daily sodium allowance, this meal is the trifecta of the least healthy foods to order at Outback. If you want to lighten up this dish, consider adding a side of fruit and foregoing the fries to decrease the calories, added fat, and excess salt.