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The Unhealthiest Pasta Dishes in America

Avoid these calorie catastrophes.

When the craving for Italian food strikes, pasta provides it all. With the perfect mix of warm comfort and decadent flavors, even the pickiest eater can name their favorite noodle dish. Restaurant pasta dishes seem extra special, and after one bite, we often wonder how we can replicate the same kind of flavors at home. However, as with many restaurant meals, some of these unhealthiest pasta dishes get packed with fats, sugar, and salt to make the meal pop in our mouths.

Trying to decide which dishes avoid these caloric pitfalls can prove challenging, as many restaurants feature a wide range of reasonably healthy options and true diet-enders. If you love noodles and don't want to give them up when you eat out, have no fear! This list can get you started on which items to avoid at your favorite restaurants if you want to avoid the unhealthiest pasta dishes. Instead, you can always try cooking up a dish at home, from any of our 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make.


The Cheesecake Factory: Pasta Napoletana

pasta napoletana at the cheesecake factory
The Cheesecake Factory/
2,480 calories, 221 g fat (82 g saturated fat, 4.5 g trans fat), 5,150 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (11 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 65 g protein

The Cheesecake Factory offers up a wide mix of pasta dishes to choose from, but many of the options won't do your waistline any favors. This particular mix of Italian sausage, bacon, meatballs, and pepperoni could clog any artery. With a calorie count clocking in at almost 2500 calories, you rake in more calories than most people need in a day in this single meal. Factor in a whopping 221 grams of fat and a sodium count clocking in at over 5,000 milligrams and you have a meal that could feed you for days. Do yourself a favor and skip this dish next time you eat out.

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Olive Garden: Tour of Italy

Olive garden tour of italy
Courtesy of Olive Garden
1,550 calories, 98 g fat (50 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 3,150 mg sodium, 99 g carbs (7 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 72 g protein

Loading up a plate with chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and fettuccine Alfredo sounds delicious, but the cost to your daily eating plan completely negates ordering this meal. With a staggering 98 grams of fat and over 3,000 milligrams of sodium, this meal guarantees to make you feel sluggish for days to come. When a pasta craving strikes, opt for a much simpler meal next time you visit Olive Garden.

RELATED: 10 Controversial Secrets About Olive Garden's Food, According To an Employee


Carrabba's Italian Grill: Fettuccine Carrabba with Gluten-Free Pasta

carraba fettuccine carraba
Alice P./Yelp
1,500 calories, 76 g fat (45 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 2,050 mg sodium, 144 g carbs (16 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 58 g protein

This signature take on an Alfredo pasta should be approached with suspicion. Anytime a heavy cream sauce gets served on your pasta, you can guarantee the fat content of the meal shoots through the roof. The Fettuccine Carrabba predictably packs in a full day's worth of fat in one meal alone. After you factor in the 45 grams of saturated fat, one bite of this dish could make anyone feel overly stuffed for days. Skip this pasta if you want to stick to the nutritional straight-and-narrow.


The Cheesecake Factory: Pasta Carbonara With Chicken

pasta carbonara cheesecake factory
The Cheesecake Factory/ Twitter


2,340 calories, 159 g fat (71 g saturated fat, 3.5 g trans fat), 4,030 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (10 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 85 g protein

Pasta carbonara can make anyone exceed their daily caloric intake on a good day, but this take on the classic goes above and beyond by loading the dish with salt and fat. With smoked bacon and a creamy parmesan sauce, the meal seems tempting, but with over 2,000 calories, 71 grams of artery-hardening saturated fat, and 141 grams of carbs, this meal easily ruins anyone's waistline. When you add the extra serving of chicken into this, you add even more unnecessary calories into this dish, making it a no-go. Do your body a favor and avoid this nutritional disaster.

RELATED: 35+ Healthy Pasta Recipes for Weight Loss


Macaroni Grill: Mama's Trio

romanos macaroni grill mamas trio
Courtesy of Romano's Macaroni Grill
2,110 calories, 129 g fat (56 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 3,940 mg sodium, 149 g carbs (9 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 103 g protein

When restaurants pile together their most popular menu items into one meal, you can guarantee the dish won't do your diet any favor. The same rule applies in this meal, as chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, and fettuccine alfredo come together on one plate. Alone, these items present their own minefields of calories and fats to avoid, but combined together, their cumulative 129 grams of fat and almost 4,000 milligrams of sodium will throw off your eating plan for days. Avoid the sluggishness you would get from consuming this meal and opt for a simpler pasta for a healthier experience.

RELATED: The Best & Worst Menu Items at Romano's Macaroni Grill


Olive Garden: Chicken Alfredo

olive garden alfredo
Courtesy of Olive Garden
1,570 calories, 95 g fat (56 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 2,290 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 81 g protein

The Amazing Alfredo menu at Olive Garden seems like the greatest thing ever if you can't get enough of rich and creamy Alfredo pastas. As with any pasta that relies on heavy cream-based sauce, your body won't feel pleased after indulging in this super-rich meal. With almost 60 grams of fat, you can guarantee your arteries will glue shut even at the thought of ordering this pasta and if you need to stick to a 2,000 calorie eating plan, this dish easily pushes you to the limits. Skip the heavy cream sauces for a much lighter dining experience.


The Cheesecake Factory: Louisiana Chicken Pasta

Cheesecake factory louisiana chicken pasta
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
2,120 calories, 125 g fat (65 g saturated fat), 4,030 mg sodium, 168 g carbs (10 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 83 g protein

If you ever wanted to make a fat-filled pasta dish even more unhealthy, topping the meal off with spicy fried chicken might be the most extreme way to go. The Louisiana Chicken Pasta leaves you feeling stuffed in the most over-the-top ways imaginable thanks to the meal exceeding 2000 calories. With over a day's worth of sodium, fat, and calories, make sure to pass on this dish.

RELATED: 13 Secrets About The Cheesecake Factory Every Fan Should Know


Carrabba's Italian Grill: Fettuccine Weesie

carrabas fettuccine wessie
Courtesy of Carraba's
1,420 calories, 83 g fat (53 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,240 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (8 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 57 g protein

The combination of a lemon-butter sauce and shrimp seems innocuous, but don't get fooled—this meal packs in almost 1,500 calories, pushing the acceptable limits of how many calories you can jam in a dish. The fat and sodium content take this pasta to the next unhealthy level, and when you combine that with 104 grams of carbs, you really don't have to eat another full meal in a day after consuming the Fettucine Weesie. Take it easy and order a pasta that doesn't feature a sauce based on butter for a healthier dining experience.


Applebee's: Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders

applebees four cheese Mac and cheese with chicken
Courtesy of Applebee's
1,420 calories, 61 g fat (23 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,060 mg sodium, 153 g carbs (7 g fiber, 41 g sugar), 60 g protein

Macaroni and cheese and fried chicken tenders typically get loaded with tons of empty calories at any restaurant, so if you order this calorie bomb at Applebee's you know what you're getting into. Loaded with salt, fat, sugar, and carbs, the lack of solid nutrition in this dish is astounding. If the craving strikes, even ordering just the chicken tenders or mac and cheese would prove better than this combo of unhealthy options.

RELATED: 15 Things You Don't Know About Applebee's


Macaroni Grill: Mom's Ricotta Meatball and Spaghetti with Bolognese

macaroni grill spaghetti meatballs
Romano's Macaroni Grill/ Facebook
1,460 calories, 105 g fat (36 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,320 mg sodium, 111 g carbs (10 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 73 g protein

Everyone has heard that saturated fat found in red meat doesn't do your body any favors. When you dig into an order of beef and veal meatballs, ricotta cheese, and spaghetti topped with a tomato-meat sauce, consider the consequences of indulging in so much artery-clogging fat. With 105 grams of fat and almost 3/4 of the calories, you need in a day, ordering this dish guarantees to disrupt your diet for days to come.


TGI Fridays: Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Pasta, with breadstick

tgi fridays cajun shrimp and chicken pasta bowl on black background
Courtesy of TGI Fridays
1,600 calories, 83 g fat (41 g saturated fat), 3,040 mg sodium, 132 g carbs (8 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 73 g protein

Salt and heavy cream come together in this perfect storm of cajun alfredo pasta from TGI Fridays. With 132 grams of carbs, partially from an included breadstick, you couldn't possibly stick to any kind of diet if you order this incredibly unhealthy pasta. With a total of 1600 calories, stay away from heavy cream sauces to save your waistline.

RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis's Favorite Fall Pasta Is a Kind You've Never Heard Of


Olive Garden: Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara

Olive garden chicken and shrimp carbonara
Olive Garden
1,390 calories, 94 g fat (50 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 2,050 mg sodium, 75 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 64 g protein

If you just see the pasta dish on the menu, it might not seem so bad at first glance. Upon closer examination, the addition of bacon and a rich creamy sauce takes the pasta's fat content to the next level. The massive serving of sodium won't do your blood pressure any favors and with 94 grams of fat, you easily exceed your daily intake by at least 20 grams. Opt to build your own pasta with fewer toppings instead of ordering this diet killer.


Carrabba's Italian Grill: Rigatoni Campagnolo with Gluten-Free Pasta

carrabas rigatoni campagnolo
Carrraba's Italian Grill/ Facebook
1,270 calories, 50 g fat (23 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,000 mg sodium, 150 g carbs (20 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 52 g protein

Italian sausage and caprino cheese complement each other in the most unwholesome ways in this pasta, undoing any healthy eating you may have been sticking to. By packing in almost a full day's worth of sodium into one meal, you have to watch your blood pressure levels. Make sure to get some extra exercise to burn off the whopping 150 grams of carbs present in the meal as well. Keep yourself on a healthy eating path and avoid this pasta next time you visit Carrabba's.


UNO Pizzeria & Grill: Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

uno deep dish buffalo chicken mac and cheese
Uno Nyc/Facebook
2,200 calories, 133 g fat (58 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 4,310 mg sodium, 160 g carbs (6 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 96 g protein

At UNO Pizzeria & Grill That title belongs to UNO Pizzeria & Grill's Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. It has more calories than most people should consume in an entire day and nearly two days' worth of sodium. For the sake of your health, do not order this meal and if you do, be sure to split it with a ton of friends. If you're interested in cooking up your own version of mac and cheese, this is the easy way to make healthier comfort foods.


Macaroni Grill: Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

chicken fettuccine alfredo
Lyn M./Yelp
1,370 calories, 72 g fat (36 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 2,470 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (6 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 66 g protein

Fettuccine Alfredo comes up again as one of the unhealthiest pasta dishes to order if you want to stick to healthy eating options for one very plain and simple reason—the combination of butter, cream, and parmesan cheese that makes up the sauce easily clogs your arteries. With 72 grams of fat and over 1300 calories, this pasta shouldn't even cross your mind. Skip the heavy dairy for a much friendlier pasta experience every time a noodle craving strikes.

RELATED: 20+ Easy Healthy Recipes That Start with a Rotisserie Chicken


Olive Garden: Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken

olive garden tortelloni alfredo
Courtesy of Olive Garden
1,980 calories, 131 g fat (76 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 3,720 mg sodium, 95 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 112 g protein

Olive Garden brought back this creamy pasta dish in 2020, but perhaps this was better left staying a Ghost of Menu Items Past. With 131 grams of fat, you take in well over the FDA daily recommended 44 to 77 grams. With enough fat for two days, this pasta dish proves to weigh you down all week.

Instead of ordering out, try one of our healthy recipes tonight!

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Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more