America is seeing a health revolution. Grocery stores are selling green juices instead of soda and many restaurant menus now flag “gluten free” or “healthier” options. And people looking to stay healthy typically opt for salads.
But what many often forget is that salads can also be unhealthy. When loaded with fat-laden dressings and sugary toppings, they can do more harm to your waistline than a fast-food burger.
Using nutrition data from ESHA Research (named for its founders Elizabeth Stewart Hands and Associates), HealthGrove crunched the numbers to find 25 salads that have more calories than a 530-calorie McDonald’s Big Mac. These are just a few of the most calorific salads out there, so you’ll surprised how many blow the iconic fast-food staple out of the water.
#25. Denny’s Chicken Strip Deluxe Salad
If you, for some reason, decide to opt for this salad instead of a stack of Denny’s famous pancakes, you won’t be cutting very many calories.
#24. Trader Joe’s Baby Spinach Salad
Just because the name of this salad is “spinach” doesn’t mean you’re eating air. The blue cheese, dried cranberries and candied walnuts make it more calorific than a Big Mac.
#23. Olive Garden Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Olive Garden has never been known as a nutritional option, but even its most basic grilled chicken caesar salad packs a whole bunch of fat.
#22. Panera Bread Chicken & Avocado Cobb Salad
One chicken and avocado cobb salad from Panera accounts for almost half of your daily recommended sodium intake.
#21. Johnny Rockets Breaded Chicken Club Salad
The line between salad and deconstructed-sandwich-with-lettuce-sprinkled-throughout is very thin. This dish is more sandwich than salad at 660 calories.
#20. Costco Food Court Chicken Caesar Salad
After a long shopping trip, the food court at Costco seems like an oasis in the desert. But watch out — even a simple chicken caesar salad packs 40 grams of fat and 2680 milligrams of sodium.
#19. Panera Bread Steak & Blue Cheese Salad
This salad from Panera packs almost as much sodium as a Big Mac, which has 960 milligrams.
#18. Burger King Chicken Apple & Cranberry Garden Fresh Tendercrisp Salad
Rule of thumb: Opting for a salad at a fast food joint isn’t necessarily a healthier choice than a burger. This salad from Burger King is 680 calories, much more than a McDonald’s Big Mac.
#17. Taco Bell Beef Fiesta Taco Salad
In general, taco salads are usually more taco than they are salad. The taco shells that hold them also add an extra boost of fat and carbs.
#16. Original Green Burrito Chicken Taco Salad
Like the taco salad from Taco Bell, this salad from the Original Green Burrito is just a deconstructed taco with a sprig of lettuce. No wonder it’s 810 calories.
#15. Bertucci’s Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
A grilled chicken caesar salad at Bertucci’s may seem like a light meal or even a side. But it is much more calorific than a Big Mac, and has a similar nutritional value to a chicken taco salad from the Original Green Burrito.
#14. Del Taco Deluxe Taco Salad (no longer sold)
The sour cream, cheese and taco shell on this salad make it more calorific than a Big Mac.
#13. Taco Del Mar Fish Taco Salad
Fish is usually a good, lean option at many restaurants. But in this case, this fish option won’t do your waistline any favors.
#12. El Pollo Loco Chicken Tostada Salad
Between this salad’s 1430 milligrams of sodium and 42 grams of fat, if you want a light option you’re better off not ordering anything at all.
#11. Sbarro Primavera Pasta Salad
The word “pasta” in any salad name should be a tip-off to its nutritional value.
#10. Red Robin Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
This salad has nearly two times as many grams of fat as a Big Mac (27g).
#9. Carl’s Junior Beef Taco Salad
At 880 calories, the Carl’s Junior Beef Taco Salad is a poor excuse for a salad.
#8. Mimi’s Cafe Bacon & Bleu Cheese Salad
This salad is deceptive. Though it seems relatively healthy, its toppings — bacon, strawberries, blue cheese — and dressing are what really raise the calorie count.
#7. Uno Chicago Grill Honey Crisp Chicken Salad
This salad is loaded with extra less-than-healthy toppings and “crispy” (essentially just fried) chicken, adding up to a whopping 960 calories.
#6. The Old Spaghetti Factory Chicken Caesar Salad
Though caesar salads are widely considered a simple dish, they can be packed with calories — especially if you include their fat-filled dressing. This one passes the 1,000 calorie mark.
#5. Baja Fresh Steak Salad
If you’re on a common 1,200-calorie diet, this salad will take care of the entire day.
#4. On The Border Beef Grande Taco Salad
You already know that the word “taco” and “salad” are a risky combination. Adding “grande” to the mix is a recipe for disaster — a 1,280-calorie disaster, to be exact.
#3. The Old Spaghetti Factory Cobb Salad
If the caesar salad from The Old Spaghetti Factory is bad news, the cobb salad (think blue cheese, bacon, egg, etc.) is next level.
#2. Jason’s Deli Chili Taco Salad
And the award for the most calorific taco salad on the list is from Jason’s Deli. The added chili isn’t doing your diet any favors.
#1. Red Robin Crispy Chicken Tender Salad
At 1,348 calories, you can forget calling this a salad at all. It has 2,325 milligrams of sodium and 92 grams of fat, making a Big Mac look like a bag of spinach by comparison.