10 Healthiest Fast Food Options, Ranked (2023)

10 Healthiest Fast Food Options, Ranked (2023)

Now that Thanksgiving weekend is behind us it’s as good a time as any to, you know, actually start caring about what we’re eating on a day-to-day basis. Don’t get us wrong, we are by no means passing judgment on what you’re eating. You do you, but we know we can’t be the only ones who are getting a little carried away with all the indulgent foods and snacks that somehow taste even better at this time of year than any other. It’s not our fault, it’s biological (maybe). It’s a winter thing, we can’t help but want to eat slice of pie after slice of pie.

Don’t blame yourself. Blame nature!

Anyway, our point is that the holiday season isn’t over and we’re not going to let this time of year come and go without indulging in ham, tamales, and any other food that makes us feel nice and cozy during these colder months. So it’s probably smart to cut calories where we can, and if you’re relying on fast food for most of your meals, that’s not going to be easy.

Luckily, there are a few healthy dishes out there in the fast food universe that actually taste delicious and today we’re listing off 10 of the most popular and best-tasting healthy meals in fast food. A quick note: keep in mind that when we say “healthy” we’re talking relative to fast food — so the sodium content of this food is still probably too high to truly be considered “healthy.” Think of this list as “healthy… for fast food.”

We’ll be sure to list the calories, fat, sodium, protein, and carb content of each meal. Okay, enough talk, let’s dive in!

10. Starbucks — Spinach Feta and Egg White Wrap

Healthy Fast Food

Calories: 290

Fat: 8 grams

Sodium: 840mg

Carbs: 34g

Protein: 19g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

Look, every ranking has to have a bottom and I’m sorry to Starbucks fans but, this time around, you’re it. The Spinach Feta and Egg White Wrap is straight-up not very good.

What you get here is egg whites mixed with spinach, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomato cream cheese inside a whole wheat wrap. The spinach’s major tasting note is dirt, and the combination of egg and feta cheese is a bit too salty. That makes the two major tasting notes: dirt and salt.

I will say this though: that sundried tomato cream cheese saves the whole dish. It’s tangy, and bright, and brings a sense of umami to this bland wrap.

The Bottom Line:

As a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, this dish gets the job done. But if you want to actually enjoy your food rather than just eating for the sake of fuel, look elsewhere.

Find your nearest Starbucks here.

9. Taco Bell — Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme

Healthy Fast Food
Taco Bell

Calories: 520

Fat: 18g

Sodium: 1100mg

Carbs: 77g

Protein: 12g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

What is any fast food list without some Taco Bell? It may not seem like it at first glance, but Taco Bell offers some dishes that, while high in sodium and carbs, are relatively healthy, like the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme.

Eating this Crunchwrap feels like cheating — the stats aren’t that bad but it still feels like you’re eating junk food, which let’s face it, is a nice feeling.

Instead of meat, what you have here is a mix of black beans, salty nacho cheese sauce, tomatoes, sour cream, and lettuce on top of a tostada shell wrapped in a giant flour tortilla. The black beans have a nice textural element and an earthy flavor that, honestly, is better than most Taco Bell meat options anyway, while the cheese sauce provides that indulgent salty quality characteristic of Taco Bell.

The Bottom Line:

The sodium and carbohydrate content is pretty high, but this is just as satisfying as a greasy burger or chicken sandwich at less than half the calories.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

8. Wendy’s — Apple Pecan Salad

Healthy Fast Food

Calories: 450 + 90 (Dressing)

Fat: 25g + 3g (Dressing)

Sodium: 1230mg (Fried Chicken) + 190mg (Dressing)

Carbs: 28g

Protein: 32g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

Wendy’s makes a damn good salad. This salad features a mix of sweet and tangy red apples (my guess is Fuji) and sour green apples, pecans, cranberries, blue cheese crumbles, and any Wendy’s chicken filet of your choice, including spicy, homestyle, and grilled over a bed of mixed green. We listed the caloric information for the spicy option because that’s all Wendy’s will tell us on their site, but obviously, you’re probably going to want to go with the grilled chicken to cut down on the calories, carbs, and sodium.

The grilled chicken is pretty good, it’s a bit dry but Wendy’s gives you pomegranate vinaigrette to pour all over your salad which remedies the dryness and adds sweet and tart notes to the dish, complimenting the mix of fruity, nutty, and salty notes.

As is the case with most fast food salads, the weak link here is the lettuce. It’s a basic mix of greens and romaine lettuce and really serves as nothing more than texture. No tasty arugula or spinach leaves at all, unfortunately.

The Bottom Line:

A great tasting salad that even with fried chicken, is still pretty healthy compared to something like a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.

7. El Pollo Loco Classic Double Chicken Chopped Salad

Healthy Fast Food
El Pollo Loco

Calories: 490

Fat: 14g

Sodium: 900mg

Carbs: 14g

Protein: 48g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

The great thing about El Pollo Loco is that the chain deals with grilled chicken, so even a two-piece meal with the right sides is a healthy choice. But rather than suggest some bone-in chicken with corn and broccoli as your sides, which sounds incredibly boring, we’re just going to go ahead and suggest something that is both healthy and delicious, the Double Chicken Chopped Salad.

What you get here is a double dose of grilled white meat chicken mixed with slices of buttery avocado, pumpkin seeds, creamy queso fresco, greens, pico de Gallo, and a creamy cilantro dressing. The chicken is delicious with a mix of charred flavors with some citrus zest, while pico de Gallo adds a sense of freshness which pairs nicely with the peppery dressing.

If you want to take this to the next level, pour some avocado salsa all over the salad for more intense heat.

The Bottom Line:

A delicious, meaty, and flavorful salad. How many other salads can you describe as “meaty”?

Find your nearest El Pollo Loco here.

6. Panda Express — String Bean Chicken Breast

Healthy Fast Food
Panda Express

Calories: 190 + 380 (White Rice)

Fat: 8g

Sodium: 840mg

Carbs: 34g + 87g (White Rice)

Protein: 19g + 7g (White Rice)

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

Yes, it’s easy to be tempted by dishes like Orange Chicken, Chili Crisp Shrump, and Honey Sesame Chicken Breast, but the String Beach Chicken offers less than half the calories of those sugary breaded dishes and tastes just as good.

The chicken is tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked and is tossed in a light ginger and soy sauce that is subtly sweet and floral. The combination of string beans and onions gives a nice crunch with some lightly sweet vegetal notes. It’s a great dish even without the rice, but we’re going to assume you want rice, so we suggest white.

It’s not the healthiest option (super greens are), but it’s significantly less sodium-rich than the chow mein and fried rice.

The Bottom Line:

Panda Express’ healthiest dish doesn’t sacrifice big flavors for low calories. This is a great dish.

Find your nearest Panda Express here.

5. Chick-fil-A — Spicy Southwest Salad

Healthy Fast Food

Calories: 680

Fat: 49g

Sodium: 1220mg

Carbs: 27g

Protein: 33g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

As much as I like Wendy’s Apple Pecan salad, Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Southwest puts it to shame. This salad features your choice of chicken on a bed of mixed greens with grape tomatoes, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, roasted corn, black beans, poblano chilies, and red bell peppers.

At Chick-fil-A, you can get this sandwich with a spicy grilled filet, grilled filet, nuggets, chicken strips, or a fried filet (spicy or regular), which is great for customization, but honestly, I think the plain grilled filet works best with the rest of the build.

Each forkful here is a mix of fresh sweet and peppery flavors with a mild heat on the backend which slowly builds on the palate. The poblano chilies are the obvious star of the show here, but we also have to shout out the mix of black beans, tortilla, and corn which add some nice texture to the salad.

The Bottom Line:

Quite possibly the best salad in all of fast food.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

4. Chick-fil-A — Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Healthy Fast Food

Calories: 390

Fat: 12g

Sodium: 770mg

Carbs: 44g

Protein: 28g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

Most people I know who are hardcore Chick-fil-A fans don’t even know this sandwich exists, which is a shame because it’s way better than you might expect. It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A knows how to make chicken, and that skill extends to the chain’s grilled bird.

The breast filet is well marinated, juicy, and tender, with a lemon and black pepper flavor with a hint of grill-charred notes. The sandwich sits atop green leaf lettuce, juicy tomatoes which bring a nice umami character to the dish, and a toasted multigrain bun that brings some subtle sweetness to each bite. Overall, it’s a well-thought-out and built sandwich, and the chicken is juicy enough that you don’t need sauce.

What other chicken chain can claim the same?

The Bottom Line:

On some days, calorie-cutting be damned, Chick-fil-A’s Grilled sandwich hits the spot better than its fried counterpart can.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

3. Panera — Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Country Rustic Sourdough

Healthy Fast Food

Calories: 640

Fat: 25g

Sodium: 970mg

Carbs: 78g

Protein: 27g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

It’s sandwiches like the Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Country Rustic Sourdough (ridiculous name) that make me think, “Am I sleeping on Panera?” This sandwich is straight-up delicious, whether you’re watching what you eat or not.

The build is a mix of thin slices of white meat chicken, and diced celery, which bring a nice peppery crunch, red grapes, toasted almonds, a sweet honey and vinegar-based sauce, tomatoes, emerald greens, and salt and pepper on chewy, tangy, sourdough.

The greens here are great, they provide a slightly bitter base that melds well with the soft nutty tones of the almonds, the peppery quality of the celery, and the sour sweetness of the grapes. The sauce combines floral honey notes and cider vinegar, creating a slight mustardy tang with some umami sumptuousness from the tomatoes.

If you’re willing to add an extra 90 calories and some healthy fats, you can beef this sandwich up with avocado which brings a nice buttery rounded character to the sandwich.

The Bottom Line:

A delicious sandwich that tastes even better once you add the slices of avocado.

Find your nearest Panera here.

2. Chipotle — Burrito Bowl (Our Best Tasting Build, Modified)

Healthy Fast Food
Dane Rivera

Calories: 690

Fat: 21g

Sodium: NA

Carbs: 78g

Protein: 44g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

We’ve done extensive testing in the past to build the greatest Chipotle Burrito Bowl and filtered down our findings for three different bowls: the “best tasting,” bowl, the “best-tasting keto,” bowl, and the decadent “anything goes” bowl. We stand by those bowls, but rather than recommending the keto bowl here, I’m going to propose a fourth build, a modified version of our “best-tasting” bowl.

Here is the build:

  • barbacoa
  • pinto beans
  • white rice
  • extra fajita veggies
  • tomatillo red salsa
  • roasted chili corn salsa
  • cheese and lettuce
  • a dash of jalapeño Tabasco.

The end result should be a savory and flavorful salad with smokey, earthy, and spicy notes with a mild and sweet finish. The barbacoa provides herbal clove and oregano notes into the mix, which pair perfectly with the cumin-heavy pinto beans which soak nicely into the bed of rice. Overall, the dish is incredibly aromatic thanks to the extra fajitas and it’s so good that you’ll be blown away that it clocks in at well under 1000 calories.

If you’re looking to cut back even more, here is another modification: drop the rice and you’re looking at 480 calories, 17 grams of fat, 40 grams of protein, and 38 grams of carbs, which leaves some room to add guacamole. You can also swap out the barbacoa for the chicken but we are going to reccomend strongly against that. Barbacoa is what brings in that rich herbal flavor — you need that element.

The Bottom Line:

Chipotle makes eating healthy without sacrificing big flavor easy. This bowl will blow your mind.

Find your nearest Chipotle here.

1. Flame Broiler — Korean Spicy Chicken

Healthy Fast Food
Dane Rivera

Calories: 510

Fat: 14g

Sodium: 360mg

Carbs: 49g

Protein: 44g

Tasting Notes & Thoughts:

Choosing a number one for this list was honestly a no-brainer, I said it in my original review of the dish: Flame Broiler’s Korean Spicy Chicken is the best tasting and healthiest dish in all of fast food. This isn’t just healthy for fast food by the way, this is a well-balanced nutritious dish, full stop, and it tastes so f*cking good.

The chicken is a flavor bomb of chili spice, offering layers of sweet and savory sensations. Because it is thigh meat, it’s juicy and tender, and the heavy gochujang-inspired sauce transfers to your bed of vegetables and rice, ensuring every bite is full of flavor.

We strongly suggest adding some additional Magic Sauce (Flame Broiler’s version of Teriyaki) to your bowl. Yes, it’s going to up the sodium, calorie, and sugar content, but in this dish, you can spare it and it’ll help to deepen the sweeter notes and bring some umami qualities to the forefront.

The Bottom Line:

Hands down the best-tasting healthy dish in fast food right now. A must order whether you’re trying to eat healthy or not.

Find your nearest Flame Broiler here.