The Most Indulgent Diet-Ruining Appetizers at Popular Chain Restaurants

Diet-Busting Appetizers

Cheapism/ Lynda L., Angelica O., Shaly G. / Yelp

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Reuben Fritters
TJ B. / Yelp

Eat Up

Huge appetizers loaded with calories, fat, and sodium are often the most tempting items on a restaurant menu. While moderation may be the key to a healthy and happy life, sometimes you just need to cut loose and eat what you want. To help you on your way, we took a look at some of the most popular appetizers at family restaurant chains across the country, based on customer reviews, to find the most over-the-top, gut-busting options with impressively high-calorie counts or simply decadent ingredients. Here are the most irresistible appetizers, often fried and full of cheese, that you're bound to be tempted by — just be sure to proceed with caution.

Related: The Best Value Meal Deals at Chains Across the Country

Buffalo Blasts
Darryl C. / Yelp
Bloomin' Onion
Shaly G. / Yelp

Bloomin' Onion | Outback Steakhouse

This list wouldn't be complete without the original, high-calorie, over-the-top appetizer, the bloomin' onion from Outback. Just in case you haven't had this creation before, it's a whole large onion that's split into wedges in a way that makes it look like a flower. It's battered and fried and served with a creamy sauce for dipping. It's almost 2,000 calories, so it’s a big commitment for onion lovers. 

Related: 25 Grade-A Steakhouses That Are Worth the Splurge

Towering Onion Rings
Denise H. / Yelp

Towering Onion Rings | Red Robin

Red Robin's signature appetizer is an indulgent one. Thirteen huge breaded onion rings are stacked in a tower with campfire mayo and ranch dipping sauces on the side. They go almost as well with a burger as the bottomless steak fries, and at just about 100 calories per onion ring, they're just as filling.

Related: These Gut-Busting Cheeseburgers Have More Than 1,000 Calories

Langostino Lobster, Artichoke, and Seafood Dip
Andy B. / Yelp

Langostino Lobster, Artichoke, and Seafood Dip | Red Lobster

In addition to those amazing cheddar bay biscuits, Red Lobster has plenty of other buttery appetizers to consider. The most indulgent is the langostino lobster, artichoke, and seafood dip. Imagine creamy spinach and artichoke dip, then add chopped seafood, three kinds of cheese, and some pico de gallo for a little freshness. Scoop it up with warm tortilla chips and it could easily be a full meal — and with 1,170 calories, it’s almost all you should eat for the day. 

Loaded Nachos
Dawn J. / Yelp

Loaded Nachos | BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

The loaded nachos at BJ's are maybe the best bang for your buck on this list, at least in terms of calories: a whopping 2,750 for $16.95. What makes up all those calories? A huge pile of chips, Sriracha queso, cheddar and jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, jalapeños, and pico de gallo. There should be some kind of award for finishing these yourself, though we can’t recommend that.

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Pizza Skins
Angelica O. / Yelp

Pizza Skins | Uno Pizzeria & Grill

If you've ever eaten a deep dish pizza and wished it had more carbs, you should try the pizza skins appetizer at Uno. It's a mashup of potato skins and deep dish, with mashed red potatoes, bacon, and cheddar cheese baked in a buttery, mini deep-dish pizza crust. There's sour cream on the side for topping, bringing the calorie count to an even 2,100.

Avocado Club Egg Rolls
Lynda L. / Yelp

Avocado Club Egg Rolls | California Pizza Kitchen

Many restaurants jumped on the fried avocado trend, but California Pizza Kitchen took it one step further: adding chopped chicken, cheese, and smoky Nueske's bacon and rolling it all up in a wonton wrapper to fry. Two kinds of ranch for dipping come with it. Each of three rolls (cut in half) clock in close to 400 calories.

Strawberry & Cream Cheese Crispers

Strawberry & Cream Cheese Crispers | Perkins

Why not eat dessert first? At Perkins, a very dessertlike offering appears on the appetizer menu: strawberry & cream cheese crispers. Juicy strawberries and sweetened cream cheese are stuffed into pastry rolls, then deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

Loaded Cheese Fries

Loaded Cheese Fries | Main Event

No one said cheese fries were healthy, but Main Event's version really takes the cake. It's hard to imagine how the chain packed 2,730 calories into a pile of fries with cheese, queso, and ranch, but it's very impressive. 

Reuben Fritters
TJ B. / Yelp

Reuben Fritters | Bennigan's

How do you make a Reuben sandwich even better? Deep fry it, naturally. At Bennigan's, chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, cream cheese, and Swiss cheese are roll into a ball, breaded, and deep-fried for a crunchy coating with a cheesy, gooey interior. Dip it in thousand-island dressing to complete the bite.

Crispy Zucchini Fritte
Mon L. / Yelp

Crispy Zucchini Fritte | Maggiano's Little Italy

Fried zucchini might not sound all that unusual, but the way Maggiano's prepares it makes it a standout. Instead of wimpy little sticks of zucchini, the whole vegetable is sliced lengthwise into thick planks. You get lots of crispy breading that way, and lots of calories — more than 1,700.

Firecracker Stuffed Jalapeños
Harold P. / Yelp

Firecracker Stuffed Jalapeños | On The Border

On the Border kicks up the standard popper with its firecracker stuffed jalapeño. Six of the peppers are mounded with a thick chicken and cheese filling, then dipped in tempura batter and fried, coming out at 920 calories. In case you need more cheese, there's queso for dipping.

Jessica K. / Yelp

Shrooms | Houlihan's

Stuffed mushrooms don't sound so unhealthy, but when they're deep-fried they come out at more than 200 calories each. Houlihan's "Famous Shrooms" are filled with a garlic and herb cream cheese before being breaded and fried. The filling is gooey and the coating is crispy, making for an irresistible combo.

Sriracha Peanut Fries
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Sriracha Peanut Fries | Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social, a chain of "adult playgrounds," has quirky, game-filled restaurants and bars where sharing a bunch of apps is the norm. Sriracha peanut fries are covered in Asian flavors for something a little different than the usual cheese-laden variations. Hoisin, Sriracha, and creamy garlic mayo join pickled red onions and Fresno chiles, cilantro, and crushed peanuts for a big saucy pile of tastiness.