10 Scary Restaurant Salads That Will Destroy Your Diet

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  407 comments   :  320,843 Views

Updated by Melissa Rudy, 9/20/16

Restaurants can be a dietary danger zone. With deep-fried appetizers, cheesy sauces and super-sized entrees lurking in every corner of the menu, the salad section may seem like a safe haven. You can't go wrong with fresh greens, right? The problem is, many eateries use those greens as a deceptively healthy foundation for a bevy of bad-for-you toppings that can send calorie counts skyrocketing into the four-digit zone.

Next time you head out for a bite, don't be fooled by these 10 scary salads.
 
1. Applebee's Southwestern Steak Salad
1,020 calories, 68 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium, 65 g carbs

Steak is always a high-calorie and high-fat choice, even when it's mixed with greens. When you add in the tortilla strips and dressing, you have a four-digit calorie count--and the sodium equivalent of 202 cans of soda.
 
2. TGI Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

1,080 calories, 71 g fat, 1,650 mg sodium, 76 g carbs

Boasting such healthy ingredients as cranberries, oranges, glazed pecans and bleu cheese, this salad might initially seem like a wise choice—but with the crispy pecan-crusted chicken and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, it will add nearly as many calories as two Big Macs from McDonald's.
 
3. Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad
1,103 calories, 84 g fat, 2,298 mg sodium, 67 g carbs

The slew of veggies and bed of fresh greens don't cancel out the crispy chicken tenders, bacon, cheese and croutons that send it well over the 1,000-calorie mark. This salad packs as much fat as six Hershey bars.
 
4. iHop's Chicken & Spinach Salad w/ Crispy Chicken
1,340 calories, 85 g fat, 2,690 mg sodium, 76 g carbs

Chicken and spinach is better than a stack of hotcakes, right? Not when it packs 1,340 calories and 85 grams of fat, courtesy of the crispy-fried chicken, cheese, bacon, honey-mustard dressing and a side of garlic bread.
 
5. Buffalo Wild Wings' Mediterranean Salad

1,380 calories, 104 g fat, 2,400 mg sodium, 62 g carbs

When you look beyond the healthy-sounding "Mediterranean" buzzword and the bevy of fresh veggies, you'll find a whopping 104 grams of fat and almost an entire day's worth of calories. Culprits include the pita chips, cheese and tzatziki-feta dressing.
 
6. Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
1,420 calories, 99 g fat, 1,530 mg sodium, 96 g carbs

The presence of Asian greens doesn't offset the mammoth calorie and fat content of this deceptive dish. Generally speaking, when fried chicken is the star of the salad, it's best to keep scanning for a healthier option. You'd have to jog at a 12-minute-per-mile pace for 2-1/2 hours to burn it off.
 
7. Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad
1,440 calories, 96 g fat, 2,410 mg sodium, 83 g carbs

Don't let the lettuce fool you—this so-called salad is nothing short of a deconstructed quesadilla. You'd need to walk at a moderate pace for more than six hours to burn off the calories consumed in this salad. Plus, it contains more than the recommended daily intake of sodium.
 
8. Chevy's Fresh Mex Chicken Tostada Salad
1,500 calories, 91 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium, 91 g carbs

Served in a tortilla shell and topped with sour cream, refried beans and cheeses, this dietary disaster has nearly as many calories and fat grams as three Big Macs. You'd have to do the elliptical machine for 2-1/2 hours to offset the calorie count.
 
9. California Pizza Kitchen's Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad

1,500 calories, 99 g fat, 1,380 mg sodium, 128 g carbs

With ingredients like butternut squash, avocado, red peppers, toasted almonds, beets and dates, it's hard to believe this salad has 1,500 calories and just under 100 grams of fat.
 
10. Cheesecake Factory Caesar Salad with Chicken
1,510 calories, 16 g fat, 1,450 mg sodium, 24 g carbs

It's hard to believe a seemingly innocent Caesar salad could pack more calories than two Whoppers from Burger King. The piles of parmesan cheese, high-fat dressing and croutons make this dish a danger for dieters.
 
What are some of the best and worst salad choices you've seen when dining out?


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Comments

  • KWALTERSHILL
    407
    I love the Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad so I go for lunch and get the smaller portion and ask for grilled chicken rather than the fried. I also budget for it. It's a rare treat, not even once a month so I don't feel like it destroys what I'm doing. - 9/22/2016   11:03:44 AM
  • 406
    Montana's Apple Pecan Salad - especially the small lunch size - is low in calories even with added grilled chicken added - as long as you skip the balsamic dressing! The dressing was more than the salad without the chicken. - 9/21/2016   10:56:24 PM
  • 405
    I'm not shocked by any of this, we don't go out much, and it's good to finally have a salad that tastes good for a change, the extra healthy ones are too boring, makes me choke to think of eating another one at home. I like spinach, but regular lettuce is so blah. Doesn't matter how you doctor it up, it's the same old stuff. - 9/21/2016   7:12:04 PM
  • 404
    Man, i'm bummed! When we go to Applebee's, which isn't very often, I have always gotten Oriental chicken salad. I eat half & eat the rest for lunch the next day. I had no idea it was so 'polluted"! - 9/21/2016   12:59:35 PM
  • 403
    Might as well have a nice burger. - 9/21/2016   8:38:50 AM
  • 402
    Amazing! For me some of the best and worst are often found at a salad bar....easy to heap on high fat and high calorie toppings and just as easy to fill it up with the healthier options. My choice. - 9/21/2016   7:49:45 AM
  • 401
    That's incredible! I know the calories are high but the Caesar had the least fat! That has to be a small plus? Can't believe most of these salads have around 100g of fat? Would be beneficial to know what type of fat and the values for each though. - 9/21/2016   6:16:58 AM
  • 400
    Last time I was out with the family at Cheesecake Factory I ordered a Caesar salad and patted myself on the back for making a good choice. Wrong! Oh well, live and learn. - 9/21/2016   5:55:02 AM
  • 399
    I make my own salads at home. Way cheaper and I know what's in them. - 6/20/2016   12:27:29 PM
  • 398
    I have KNOWINGLY eaten the Carolina Chicken Salad and the Southwestern Cobb. I just LOVE them, and so I budget for them and splurge! - 6/16/2016   7:31:42 PM
  • 397
    I get Togo's asian chicken salad (190 calories). The dressing is 370 calories, so I use 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount they provide. - 10/7/2015   12:54:08 PM
  • SUZIEQIAM
    396
    I had a Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad at Applebee's Saturday night thinking I was doing so well on my diet....HA Not only loaded with calories but carbs also!
    I am doing low carb so I figured the Bacon vinegarette would be fine...WRONG! 48 CARBS! - 10/5/2015   4:02:20 PM
  • 395
    These are perfect examples of why I choose to not eat out very often... they use the word salad and people think "healthy" when its not. - 10/5/2015   9:56:12 AM
  • 394
    most restaurant food is over the top with sodium and the calories can be ridiculous. I have gotten in the habit of checking them out on line first since I really do not eat a lot of salt and have not for almost 40 years. I have even been known to e-mail restaurant chains to discuss the menu items. People think they are getting healthy food choices because of marketing techniques but lots of hidden dangers in most restaurant food. Even Chipotle Grill having gone organic... way too high in the sodium and they told me that would not be changing... so I told them I would not be eating at their restaurant. I have even asked some "in good conscience, how can you promote these items and healthier choices when a large portion of America is either diabetic or prediabetic and the sodium is really not good for them?" - the response... NONE!!! - 9/17/2015   3:04:54 PM
  • 393
    Kind of shocked to see that Chevy's fajita salads is over 1,000+ calories especially when the portion size is kinda small (unless the dressing plays a big part of it). Might as well just order their plain fajita dish on its own! - 4/2/2015   10:28:35 PM
  • 392
    How many of those salad calorie counts include the dressing? It would be nice to include counts w/ and w/o the dressing.

    Note to save calories: have the dressing on the side. Stick your fork in the dressing, then stab the lettuce onto your fork. It won't be as flavorful at first but when you get used to it, it tastes pretty good.

    Ask them to leave off the fried tortilla strips, too. - 4/2/2015   2:39:55 PM
  • 391
    If the name is complicated it is a signal and designed to lure you into believing you are having a healthy meal. - 4/2/2015   1:18:41 PM
  • 390
    Oh my God! Salad is always my go to meal in restaurants. It just goes to show you their is salad and then their is salad. - 4/2/2015   10:07:32 AM
  • 389
    I've never had any of those salads. I typically don't eat salads in restaurants because I usually go for hot food, but it's good to know to stay away from these. - 2/6/2015   4:30:11 PM
  • 388
    NNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! The quesadilla explosion salad is my favorite!!! BUT! I'm wondering if mine is different (please say yes)!? I order the lunch portion, do not get the dressing it comes with and I opt for their house dressing, and ALWAYS have them put sliced avocado on it. It's just so yummy! - 9/3/2014   9:04:17 AM
  • 387
    I knew that chilis quesadilla explosion salad was going to be on that list. My family loves Chilis and it's one of the hardest places to find heathy option, though I know they have a few now. - 8/17/2014   9:11:02 AM
  • GHOULU
    386
    Why don't they ever post the carbs ? To me, carbs are the most important. they are the hardest to burn, and retain the longest. Seriously, people eat bread and load on cranberries. People need to understand carbs are the # 1 reason for weight gain. - 8/16/2014   11:13:43 PM
  • 385
    I get salads at Salsarita's and Moe's because I can tell them exactly what I want on it and their websites have a nutrition builder where I can type in what I am having and they add it right up for me. - 8/16/2014   9:43:34 PM
  • ARIZONATINA
    384
    I get the Grilled Chicken Salad at Chilis. Yummy. I don't remember the nutritional info but it's a lot healthier than the salads mentioned here. I get it without the corn and bean salsa because I prefer it that way. I get the dressing, which is a lime vinaigrette and a little sweet, but nutrition is still not bad. - 8/15/2014   9:07:56 PM
  • MEBADEB
    383
    We rarely eat out now. I used to like the Fajita Salad at On The Border with salsa instead of dressing but it makes me so thirsty afterwards that I cannot eat it anymore. What is the reason the sodium is so high in these salads? What every it is I'd love to know so I can stay away from it! - 8/15/2014   5:48:13 PM
  • 382
    I do eat out and I have no problem finding salads that are 230 cal or less. Wendy's strawberry fields salad-no cheese, seeds, or dressing is delish. Many restaurants have interactive nutrition calculators so you can see the nutrition info and add or remove ingredients and see the results - these are my favorites. Look for salads with dark greens/spinach and skip the cheese, croutons, dressing and other high calorie items that we are all aware of and you can find salads that will keep you satisfied and on plan.. - 8/10/2014   9:09:03 PM
  • 381
    I make my own greek salad with home made salad dressing. And if I'm having it for dinner I add one chicken breast sliced on top. It is very filling and taste great. - 7/17/2014   9:48:37 AM
  • 380
    Glad I rarely eat out!!! - 6/26/2014   8:25:17 PM
  • 379
    i'm surprised at how many people are still choosing 'fat-free' dressing as a 'healthy' choice. that crap is loaded with sugar in addition to the weird stuff they put it to thicken it up. enjoy modest amounts of olive oil and leave the fat free alone. - 6/26/2014   9:32:33 AM
  • 378
    really the only place i'v bought a salad is denny's or mcdonalds hope their okay i cot the grilled chicken from denny's and the plain sid from micky d's - 6/25/2014   12:30:44 PM
  • 377
    My new fav is Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad. The half size comes in at only 230 calories. And since I usually use only half the dressing it comes down to about 210. The full size is great for dinner and under 500 calories. - 6/25/2014   10:55:33 AM
  • 376
    My favorite salad BEFORE I started looking at calorie/fat/sodium was always California Pizza Kitchen's Thai Crunch. They do offer a "half" version, but I used to get the full salad: 1230 calories, 83g fat, 1560mg sodium.
    Delicious, but deadly! - 6/25/2014   9:01:06 AM
  • 375
    Boston Pizza Crispy Chicken Pecan Salad! - 6/25/2014   8:37:48 AM
  • EVIE4NOW
    374

    Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad has 1020 calories and 1650 sodium and a total fat count of 71. Loved it.... until I saw the numbers. - 6/25/2014   6:47:23 AM
  • 373
    These numbers are why I so rarely order salads at restaurants. Even when you are trying to make a good choice there are tons of added calories. It is getting harder and harder to find a good mixed green salad without the extra toppings that add all the calories.

    I'd rather spend 1000+ calories on pizza and a good drink! - 6/6/2014   11:08:38 PM
  • 372
    I've never had any of the salads listed. I found out this past week, however, that the McDonald's southwest salad with grilled chicken and the whole packet of southwest dressing is only 390 calories! It's my new go-to when I don't feel like chopping veggies or I'm running short on time. - 6/6/2014   9:36:58 AM
  • 371
    Zaxby's salads -- worst sodium content ever. - 5/19/2014   9:47:39 AM
  • 370
    I love the Chili's salad and I am not surprised that it is so high in calories. I will have to save that one for a "treat". - 6/7/2013   10:10:26 AM
  • DELLMEL
    369
    I make my own salad. I don't go out and buy salads. Glad I don't looking at all those calories. - 6/5/2013   11:45:31 AM
  • 368
    I love the quesadilla explosion salad from Chili's but four or five years ago I learned about the nutritional values and that was it for me. I can't eat a whole days worth of calories in one meal. - 4/28/2013   1:20:52 PM
  • 367
    I love the quesadilla explosion salad from Chili's but four or five years ago I learned about the nutritional values and that was it for me. I can't eat a whole days worth of calories in one meal. - 4/28/2013   1:20:51 PM
  • 366
    This is shocking to me. I don't eat at any of these places, but I used to be a regular McDonald's guest. I thought I was making the right choices. Now the only time I go to McDonald's is to stop for a black coffee. Personally, I have learned the best way to judge the healthiness of a salad someplace is to think about where I am. Chili's and Ruby Tuesday? Really? If you walk in those places, counting calories is the least of your troubles. - 4/19/2013   11:54:50 AM
  • 365
    I didn't see Taco Bell salad in there I love their salad I know their salad have to be up there but all them salad you all had there do sound good . - 3/24/2013   9:49:25 PM
  • JILLO137
    364
    Omg...!! I never thought any kind of salad could have sooooo much calories!! - 3/17/2013   9:49:36 PM
  • PEETBRIT
    363
    Gasp! - 3/17/2013   6:10:55 PM
  • 362
    I have never eaten salads at any of these places. I prefer homemade because I have to watch my sodium intake. I'm appalled at these numbers! - 2/11/2013   9:48:51 PM
  • 361
    Wish I had read this article before ordering the Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad today. Good news is that I didn't eat the Quesadilla's, had 1/2 the salad for lunch and the other 1/2 for dinner and only used a small amount of dressing on the side. I will make a wiser decision next time. - 6/24/2012   8:38:17 PM
  • 360
    Never had any of those salads, never been to any of those places, hooray! - 6/24/2012   12:30:46 PM
  • SASTOW
    359
    I love the Chili's Quesadilla Explosion. But I do make changes. I don't eat the quesadillas (most of the calories are probably in the cheese and flour). I ask them to leave off any cheeses on the salad. I also ask for dressing on the side. This makes it more tolerable for sodium and calories. - 12/13/2011   10:01:32 AM
  • 358
    WOW!!! That is a shame!!! I look at this stuff and I am not surprised I am obese. I never knew how horrible SALADS could be before SP. Nowadays, I normally ignore foods I can't find calories on. - 12/8/2011   4:24:34 PM

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