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The 8 Worst Restaurant Chain Nachos in America

Layers of high-sodium cheese, deep-fried tortilla chips, and fatty meats unquestionably make for an unhealthy dish, but these are the worst of the worst according to a dietitian.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Nachos are a crunchy, satisfying dish that doubles as an appetizer or meal. Whether enjoyed as a starter to a night out or shared during a game day gathering, nachos have secured their place as a beloved comfort food both at home and while dining out at restaurants. However, the delectable combination of crispy tortilla chips, which are typically deep-fried and contain high amounts of sodium, gooey cheese, and an array of additional toppings such as sour cream and guacamole might come at a greater nutritional cost than you realize.

"Although nothing against cheese, cheese is high in fat, specifically saturated fat, which can increase bad cholesterol levels and should be kept to a minimum," Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida, tells Eat This, Not That! "Other high-fat toppings may include sour cream and meats like bacon or shredded meat. Overall, nachos typically lack high-fiber, nutrient-dense toppings like veggies, and are high in calories, sodium, total fat, and saturated fat."

While nachos are a staple on many restaurant chains' menus, we all know the truth that most of them are loaded with unhealthy ingredients that can negatively affect your health when eaten regularly. The following nacho nightmares are the worst of the bunch, which should make you think twice before ordering that tempting order during your next meal out.

Here are eight of the unhealthiest restaurant nachos that you should stay away from, according to a registered dietitian. And note that you can always make your nachos healthy at home by limiting high-fat toppings. "For example, you could use an alternative type of chip, like a chip made from chickpeas or black beans, which is high in fiber," says Ehsani. "You could then top it with plenty of veggies that would work like onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms, and top it with healthy sources of fat like avocado slices or guac. Then top with lean protein options like shredded chicken or beans or even lentils."

Factory Nachos at The Cheesecake Factory

Factory Nachos at Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory
Per order: 2,670 calories, 192 g fat (84 g saturated fat), 2,680 mg sodium, 173 g carbs (21 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 63 g protein

These nachos have the highest fat content out of any other nacho in this list.

"The Factory Nachos at Cheesecake Factory contain a base of crispy tortilla chips (likely fried), topped with melted cheeses, sour cream, chili sauce, and salsa," says Ehsani. "They do state this dish serves two to four people, so when looking at the nutrition information keep that in mind, but it's still high in unhealthy nutrients. This dish even packs 5 grams of trans fat, which is one type of fat that all health experts agree should be avoided at all costs. If you choose the spicy chicken or pork to be added to your nachos, keep in mind total calories, fat, and sodium will all go up too."

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Chicken Nachos at Yard House

Chicken Nachos at Yard House
Yard House
Per order: 2,630 calories, 168 g fat (60 g saturated fat), 5,530 mg sodium, 164 g carbs (25 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 121 g protein

These nachos top the list for the highest calories of any nacho order.

"The Chicken Nachos at Yard House are insanely high in sodium, packing 5,530 milligrams of sodium per order. Although you likely aren't eating this dish all on your own, still this amount of sodium divided by two to four people, which is still too high," says Ehsani. "There are a lot of sauces on these nachos, which may be the culprit, along with the chips and multiple cheeses."

Applebee's Neighborhood Nachos with Beef

Applebee's Neighborhood Nachos with Beef
Per order: 1,940 calories, 130 g fat (55 g saturated fat), 4,440 mg sodium, 120 g carbs (12 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 76 g protein

The toppings on these nachos from Applebee's are all high-fat thanks to multiple types of cheese and sour cream.

"The Neighborhood Nachos with Beef has a base of fried tortilla chips, topped with ground beef, likely one not lean (low in fat), and has different cheeses topped including queso blanco and cheddar, along with sour cream and guac, all making it very high in total fat and saturated fat," says Ehsani. "It also is really high in sodium hitting 4,440 milligrams, nearly double your daily allotment."

Taco Bell's Nacho BellGrande-Beef

Taco Bell's Nacho BellGrande
Taco Bell
Per order: 730 calories, 38 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,130 mg sodium, 81 g carbs (15 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 17 g protein

Although lower in calories, it's still packed with fat and sodium for one serving.

"Taco Bell's Nacho BellGrande with beef packs nearly half your fat calories per day in one order," says Ehsani. "This nacho order is one that you might eat just on your own, rather than split amongst friends, which makes it high in total fat and sodium for just one person."

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On the Border's Grande Fajita Nachos- Fajita Steak

On the Border's Grande Fajita Nachos
On the Border
Per order: 1,510 calories, 102 g fat (47 g saturated fat), 2,260 mg sodium, 72 g carbs (13 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 74 g protein

Besides cheese, these nachos are topped with sour cream and guac, upping the fat content.

"Although it may be a beloved happy hour order for most to choose, it's packing tons of fat, saturated fat, and sodium beneath this pile of cheese and chicken," says Ehsani. "It hits your daily's worth of sodium in just order and hits way above the saturated fat limits for the day, hitting 47 grams when the most you should have is 13 grams per day, even split between a few people this is too high.

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Twin Peaks Double Stacked Brisket Nachos

Twin Peaks Double Stacked Brisket Nachos
Twin Peaks
Per order: 2,580 calories, 169 g fat (63 g saturated fat), 6,420 mg sodium, 183g carbs (6g fiber, 8 g sugar), 54 g protein

The sodium content in these nachos is almost double the recommended daily allowance by the American Heart Association.

"The Double Stacked Brisket Nachos at Twin Peaks is one you should skip, says Ehsani. "Hitting well above your daily sodium limits, eating this nacho order will get your blood pressure too high after digging into these. They also are quite high in total fat and saturated fat, which won't support a healthy heart."

Classic Nachos at Hard Rock Café

hard rock cafe nachos
Hard Rock Cafe
2,115 calories (no other nutritional information available)

There are six cheeses on these nachos from Hard Rock—a four-cheese sauce blend as well as melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese—which means they're incredibly high in fat and sodium.

"The Classic Nachos at Hard Rock Café is piled with a four-cheese sauce, melted cheddar, and Monterey jack cheese, [which] will definitely be bad for your cholesterol," says Ehsani. "It's probably a wiser choice to make your own nachos at home that just use one cheese, rather than ordering one from Hard Rock that packs up to six types of cheese."

Plus, those 2,000 calories you see don't even include additional animal proteins, just ranch-style beans, so "if you want to add meats like chicken or steak, it will add another 260 to 450 calories to your pile of nachos," Ehsani notes.

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BJ's Deep Dish Nachos with Tri-Trip

BJ's Deep Dish Nachos
BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
Per order: 2,130 calories, 118 g fat (62 g saturated fat), 5,750 mg sodium, 158 g carbs (18 g fiber, 68 g sugar), 111 g protein

These nachos top the charts with their sugar and saturated fat content.

"Yikes! The Deep Dish Nachos at BJ's is one you should absolutely not order," says Ehsani. "It's so high in sodium, packing 5,750 milligrams of sodium in one order, hitting well above double the amount of sodium you should be hitting per day. It also is well over saturated fat for the day, hitting 62 grams, when the goal is less than 13 grams per day. Finally, it also is high in added sugar, packing 68 grams of sugar, likely due to toppings and sauce. Skip this one!"