17 Best Salads at Fast Food Restaurants
Fast food has a universal reputation for being salty, fatty, and generally unhealthy. When most people think of fast food, burgers, fries, and pizza are the first things to come to mind.
However, many fast-food chains have lighter options on their menus, allowing you to enjoy an affordable meal that’s still (relatively) healthy and nutritious.
If you find yourself at a fast-food restaurant craving something healthier than chicken tenders or fries, we’ve got you covered!
We’ve compiled a list of the best fast food salads in America, so you’ll know what to look for!
17. Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad
Jack in the Box’s specialties include chicken tenders, burgers, tacos, and fries.
However, if you’re at Jack in the Box and are looking for a healthier option, look no further than the Grilled Chicken Salad.
This classic salad is made with iceberg and romaine lettuce, flame-grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, seasoned croutons, and low-fat balsamic dressing.
A Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad is only 220 calories and contains 9 grams of fat, 520 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbs, and 23 grams of protein.
16. Panera Bread Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
Panera Bread’s Strawberry Poppyseed Salad is a fresh and fruity favorite.
This delicious salad is made with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken breast, fresh strawberries, pineapple and blueberries, mandarin orange segments, roasted pecans, and Panera’s poppyseed dressing.
You can order a whole Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with a side baguette, apple, or bag of chips.
A whole-size Strawberry Poppyseed Salad is 340 calories and contains 14 grams of fat, 560 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein.
15. Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
Another popular Panera salad option is the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, which has a savory, Asian-inspired flavor profile.
This flavorful salad is made with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, almonds, sesame seeds, wonton strips, and cilantro, dressed in Panera’s Asian sesame vinaigrette.
This salad is also available in whole and half sizes, as well as part of the “You Pick Two” deal.
The whole-size Asian Sesame Chicken Salad is 410 calories and contains 22 grams of fat, 800 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbs, and 27 grams of protein.
14. Panera Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken
A final Panera salad favorite is the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken.
This delicious salad is built on a bed of romaine, kale, red-leaf lettuce, and arugula.
On top, there’s grilled chicken breast, grape tomatoes, red onion, gorgonzola cheese, roasted pecans, and dried apple chips, all dressed in Panera’s white balsamic apple vinaigrette.
Like all Panera’s salads, the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken is available as a whole or half salad and as part of the You Pick Two deal.
A whole-size Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken is 560 calories and contains 35 grams of fat, 840 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbs, and 27 grams of protein.
13. Chipotle Build Your Own Salad
Like Chipotle’s other menu offerings, you can customize your salad with the exact toppings you like.
Chipotle salads start with their Supergreens lettuce blend, made from romaine, baby kale, and baby spinach, at the bottom of your bowl.
Then, you’ll get to choose your toppings.
First, you’ll choose a protein or veggie from the following options:
Then, you’ll get to choose either white or brown rice. (Or no rice if you’d like.)
Next, you’ll choose from black beans or pinto beans. (Or no beans.)
Finally, you’ll finish your salad off with additional toppings. You’ll get to choose from options like:
- Fresh Tomato Salsa
- Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa
- Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa
- Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa
- Sour Cream
- Fajita Veggies
- Queso Blanco ($1.35 extra)
- Guacamole ($2.35 extra)
Your salad will be served with a side serving of Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette.
The nutritional content of a Chipotle salad varies based on the exact toppings you choose.
12. Arby’s Roast Chicken Entree Salad
The Roast Chicken Entree Salad is made with a blend of iceberg and leaf lettuce, crispy bacon, roast chicken, diced tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese, dressed in Marzetti Buttermilk Ranch dressing.
Arby’s Roast Chicken Entree Salad is 250 calories and contains 14 grams of fat, 690 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein.
11. Qdoba Citrus Lime Chicken Salad
Qdoba serves delicious burritos, bowls, tacos, and quesadillas, but for a lighter option, they also serve salads.
One of the most popular salads at Qdoba is the Citrus Lime Chicken Salad.
This salad is made with a bed of fresh romaine lettuce, topped with grilled adobo chicken, chile corn salsa, mild pico de gallo, and crispy tortilla strips, dressed in a citrus-lime vinaigrette.
The Citrus Lime Chicken Salad is 540 calories and contains 22 grams of fat, 1180 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbs, and 36 grams of protein.
10. Qdoba Impossible Taco Salad
If you’re a vegetarian but still craving the delicious flavor of a taco salad, you might want to try Qdoba’s Impossible Taco Salad.
This salad is served over a bed of romaine lettuce and contains pinto beans, fresh pico de gallo, roasted tomato salsa, shredded three-cheese blend, crispy tortilla strips, and of course, Impossible meat.
If you’ve never tried it before, Impossible meat is a plant-based meat substitute made from soy and potato proteins, which tastes like real beef.
The Impossible Taco Salad has 510 calories.
It also contains 22 grams of fat, 1110 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbs, and 31 grams of protein.
9. Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl
Taco Bell is most well-known for its tacos, quesadillas, and even its infamous Mexican Pizza.
However, if you find yourself at a Taco Bell looking for a lighter, healthier option, you might want to consider the Power Menu Bowl.
This menu item is somewhere between a salad and a burrito bowl.
It contains lettuce, seasoned rice, guacamole, tomatoes, black beans, cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, and avocado ranch sauce.
You can also customize it to include additional toppings like chicken, steak, and jalapeno peppers.
Without any add-ons, the Power Menu Bowl has 420 calories.
It contains 20 grams of fat, 870 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein.
8. Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad
Chick-fil-A is famous for its chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets.
However, if you want to enjoy Chick-fil-A’s delicious chicken while getting your daily dose of vegetables, try their Cobb Salad.
The Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad starts with a bed of mixed greens.
It’s then topped with roasted corn, shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, sliced hard-boiled egg, and grape tomatoes.
It is served with Charred Tomato and Crispy Red Peppers and pairs well with Chick-fil-A’s Avocado Lime Ranch dressing, although you can pick whichever dressing you want.
Chick-fil-A allows you to top your Cobb Salad with:
- Chicken Nuggets
- Spicy Grilled Filet (sliced grilled spicy chicken breast)
- Grilled Nuggets
- Grilled Filet (sliced grilled chicken breast)
- Chick-fil-A Filet (a whole breaded chicken breast)
- Spicy Filet (a whole spicy breaded chicken breast)
The nutritional content of the salad varies depending on what kind of chicken you choose to top it.
If you choose the standard chicken nugget topping, the Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad is 850 calories.
It also contains 61 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbs, and 42 grams of protein.
7. Chick-fil-A Market Salad
Another popular Chick-Fil-A salad option is their Market Salad.
If you like fruit in your salad, this is the one for you!
The Market Salad is built on a bed of mixed greens.
It also contains red and green apples, strawberries, blueberries, and blue cheese crumbles.
Like the Cobb Salad, you can pick from a wide variety of chicken options to add to your salad.
However, Chick-fil-A recommends that you pair their grilled filet (sliced grilled chicken breast) with the Market Salad.
It is also served with Harvest Nut Granola and Roasted Almonds and pairs best with Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
The Chick-fil-A Market Salad is 540 calories when paired with a grilled filet.
It also contains 31 grams of fat, 41 grams of carbs, and 28 grams of protein.
6. Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Salad
Most people go to Subway for their sandwiches, but if you’re not a big sandwich person, you might want to try their Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Salad.
This salad starts with a bed of lettuce and spinach.
Then, it has tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, black olives, red onions, and grilled chicken strips added.
Finally, it’s dressed in Subway’s Sweet Onion Teriyaki Sauce.
If you’d prefer, you can also order the Sweet Onion Steak Teriyaki Salad, which is the same as the chicken version, except it has steak and comes with American cheese.
Not including the dressing, the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki salad has 210 calories.
It contains 3 grams of fat, 630 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbs, and 19 grams of protein.
The Sweet Onion Teriyaki sauce is 70 calories and contains 0 grams of fat, 320 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein.
5. Wendy’s Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad
However, they also serve salads, including the Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad.
It is made with romaine lettuce, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, and grilled chicken breast, dressed in Marzetti Simply Dressed Southwest Ranch.
The salad itself is 420 calories, with 25 grams of fat, 930 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbs, and 39 grams of protein.
The Southwest Ranch dressing is an additional 140 calories, with 14 grams of fat, 320 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of protein.
4. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Salad
Another popular Wendy’s option is their equally delicious Apple Pecan Salad.
This slightly sweet and crunchy salad is made with romaine lettuce, red and green apples, dried cranberries, roasted pecans, blue cheese crumbles, and grilled chicken breast, dressed in Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
The Apple Pecan Salad itself is 460 calories, with 23 grams of fat, 1090 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbs, and 39 grams of protein.
The Pomegranate Vinaigrette is an additional 90 calories, with 3 grams of fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of carbs, and contains no protein.
3. Zaxby’s The Cobb Zalad
Zaxby’s is most famous for its chicken sandwiches, wings, and tenders.
However, they also offer Big Zalads, which are a healthier menu option.
One of the most popular Big Zalad options is the Cobb Zalad.
It is made with mixed greens, red cabbage, carrots, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, a hard-boiled egg, fried onions, cheddar, and Jack cheese.
Then, you can choose to top your salad with either fried or grilled chicken.
Finally, the Cobb Zalad is dressed with Zaxby’s Lite Ranch dressing and served with a slice of Texas toast.
When made with grilled chicken, the Cobb Zalad is 700 calories and contains 36 grams of fat, 1910 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbs, and 61 grams of protein.
2. Zaxby’s The House Zalad
Another popular Big Zalad option that Zaxby’s offers is the House Zalad.
The House Zalad is made with mixed greens, red cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, cheddar and Jack cheese, and fried onions.
Like the Cobb Zalad, you can choose to top your House Zalad with either grilled or fried chicken.
It is also served with a delicious slice of Texas toast.
When made with grilled chicken, the House Zalad is 580 calories and contains 27 grams of fat, 1720 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbs, and 52 grams of protein.
1. Cosi Smart Fit Salad
Cosi is best known for its melts, sandwiches, and flatbreads, but they also sell salads.
One of their most popular salads is the Smart Fit Salad, which is great for vegetarians looking for a nutritious and healthy lunch option.
It is made with baby kale, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, avocado, edamame, shredded cabbage, and roasted cauliflower and is dressed in chili-lime vinaigrette.
Like all Cosi’s salads, the Smart Fit Salad is available in whole and half sizes.
A whole size is 403 calories and contains 25 grams of fat, 595 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of protein.
The chili-lime vinaigrette is an additional 120 calories and contains 14 grams of fat, 220 milligrams of sodium, and 5 grams of carbs.
Whether you’re trying to cut calories, eat more veggies, or just adopt a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to find suitable options at fast-food restaurants.
However, many fast food places offer salads as lighter menu options. These salads are a great way to enjoy the speed and convenience of fast-food restaurants while making more nutritious choices.