Fresh vegetarian salad - take out food
Zocha_K/istockphoto
Fresh vegetarian salad - take out food
Zocha_K/istockphoto

Green With Envy

We’ve all been there: it’s inching past lunchtime and the only available options seem to be breaded, fried, and served with a large soda. Thankfully, more fast food chains realize that not every customer feels like a value meal (well, not all the time, anyway). But what to choose? Salads are great, sure, but when you start adding ingredients other than leafy greens or chopped vegetables, the nutritional count can soar. Luckily, we’ve crunched the numbers and found out what salads you should order (based on your wellness goals).


Related: 20 Fast Food Restaurants Then and Now

Arby’s Roast Chicken Salad
©TripAdvisor

Best Overall: Arby’s Roast Chicken Salad

250 calories, 690 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 25 g protein


Who knew Arby’s had such healthy options? The roast chicken salad doesn’t skimp on flavor, boasting a plate full of bacon, cheese, and a creamy buttermilk dressing. While the flavor of the salad can best be described as healthy, I made the salad taste brighter by snipping some fresh cilantro on top.


Related: This Beloved Arby’s Menu Item Is Making a Comeback

Chipotle Salad
Chipotle Salad by Michael Saechang (CC BY-SA)

Lowest Sugar: Chipotle Carne Asada Salad

265 calories, 755 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 30 g protein


Chipotle is an all-around great option for salads, with the carne asada salad clocking in with a slight 1 gram of sugar. The steak salad is also a great choice, with only 2 grams of sugar. Like everything else at Chipotle, this salad is great because you don’t have to think too much when building it: choose your salsa and limit the amount of cheese, and you have a great-tasting meal.


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Chipotle Chicken Salad
Jamal H,/Yelp

Lowest Calorie: Chipotle Chicken Salad

200 calories, 375 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 33 g protein, 2 g sugar


Chipotle comes in strong again with a healthy option. The chicken salad clocks in with a low 200 calories while still providing loads of flavor. The chicken salad clocks in with a low 200 calories while still providing loads of flavor. This is one of my favorite salads on the list. To bring out the flavors, ask for a few wedges of lime to squeeze over your plate. So tasty!


Wendy’s Taco Salad
©TripAdvisor

Highest Fiber: Wendy’s Taco Salad

690 calories, 1890 mg sodium, 68 g carbs, 15 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 30 g protein


While the sodium count is high at 1890 mgs for this Wendy’s salad, the fiber content is the highest of the salads we surveyed. Since this is basically a spiced-up burger with all the fixins served over lettuce, I actually halved the portions and had half as a salad, and saved the other half for an actual taco


Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb Salad
©TripAdvisor

Highest Protein: Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb Salad

700 calories, 1910 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 61 g protein


Brimming with lots of greens and vegetables, the Grilled Cobb Salad offers 61 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbs. Keep it healthy by choosing a lighter dressing like the chain’s lite vinaigrette. Full disclosure: while I love the salads at Zaxby’s, their dressings aren’t my fave. I love to drizzle a tablespoon of Litehouse’s Brown Sugar Balsamic salad dressing over my “Zalads” — sub out your favorite dressing for a meal that delivers on taste.


chick-fil-a spicy southwest salad
Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Best Spicy Salad

450 calories, 930 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 33 g protein


For those who prefer for their salads to be a little less polite, the Spicy Southwest Salad from Chick-fil-a offers diners a meal with a little kick. Feeling hungry? Sub out the grilled chicken for nuggets, and you’ve got a more substantial meal. Looking for some extra crunch and nutrition? Add the restaurant’s side of kale crunch salad to your Southwest Salad, mix them both together, and get an extra serving of vegetables.