25 Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians

25 Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians

25 Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians

Fast food can be an easy solution for your busiest weeks. Many people turn to it when there’s no time to cook, and you just need to grab something quick and affordable. The problem is that if you’re trying to eat healthy, finding healthier fast food can be a challenge. Most fast-food chains offer unhealthy options of fried foods in calories, sodium, and saturated fat, as well as those low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, dietitians say there are some healthy fast-food options, as long as you know where to look.

To help you navigate these options, we spoke with dietitians who identified healthier fast-food choices at popular chains like Subway, Panera, and Wendy’s. These insights can help you make better decisions and find meals that support your health goals even when you’re on the go.

Tips for Ordering Healthy Fast Food

When you’re on the hunt for healthier fast food, check the menu for items that are lower in calories, fat, and sodium. For more tips, we talked with Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD about ordering healthier choices at your favorite fast-food chains, and here is her advice for making the best decision for your nutrition goals:

  • Choose grilled over fried: Opt for grilled or baked items instead of fried ones to reduce unhealthy fats and calories.
  • Go for whole grains: To increase fiber intake, select whole grain buns, wraps, or bread when available.
  • Load up on veggies: When you can, add extra vegetables to your sandwich, burger, or salad for added nutrients and fiber.
  • Watch your portion sizes: Order smaller portions or choose items from the kids’ menu to avoid overeating.
  • Skip the sugary drinks: Choose water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water instead of soda or other sugary beverages.
  • Customize your order when you can: Ask for sauces and dressings on the side to control how much you use or choose healthier options like mustard or vinaigrette.
  • Avoid extras: Skip high-calorie extras like cheese, bacon, and creamy sauces. Instead, opt for healthier add-ons like avocado.
  • Opt for bowls, wraps, or salads: These options typically contain more fiber, protein, and vegetables, and fewer refined carbohydrates and added sugars.

Not every order is doomed to weigh you down with unhealthful ingredients, and more and more restaurant chains are getting hip to the fact that many consumers actually want to eat right. So, here are 25 of the best healthy fast-food orders around. Read on, then check out 86 Unhealthiest Fast Foods on the Planet.

Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap

Wendy's Grilled Chicken Ranch WrapWendy's Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap
Wendy’s

Nutrition (Per wrap):
Calories: 420
Fat: 16 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 1,170 mg
Carbs: 42 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 27 g

The Wendy’s menu is packed full of calorie-dense burgers and sides, but hidden in there are a handful of healthier, lighter options, such as the Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap. “Grilled chicken is a lean protein source, and the use of a whole-grain wrap adds fiber while reducing refined carbohydrates,” says Sabat.

 10 Healthiest Wendy’s Orders

Subway 6-inch Oven Roasted Turkey Sub

Subway 6-inch Turkey SubSubway 6-inch Turkey Sub
Subway

Nutrition (Per 6-inch sub):
Calories: 270
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 820 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 21 g

According to Sabat, the Subway 6-inch Oven Roasted Turkey Sub is a quick and easy choice when you want something on the lighter side.

“It provides lean protein from the turkey and can be customized with a variety of fresh vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers,” she says. “Opting for whole-grain bread adds fiber, and choosing toppings like avocado can provide healthy fats. By avoiding high-calorie add-ons like extra cheese and creamy sauces and instead opting for mustard or a light vinaigrette, you can keep the sub nutritious and balanced.”

 9 Healthiest Subway Sandwiches To Order

Taco Bell Chicken Cantina Bowl

Taco Bell Cantina Chicken BowlTaco Bell Cantina Chicken Bowl
Taco Bell

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 490
Fat: 24 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,150 mg
Carbs: 44 g (Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 25 g

Taco Bell has a few different healthy options to go for, but one of the most filling and nutrient-rich is their Taco Bell Chicken Cantina Bowl.

“This can be a healthy choice because it provides a balanced mix of macronutrients and essential vitamins, and the slow-roasted chicken offers lean protein, while the seasoned rice and black beans contribute to fiber and complex carbohydrates, supporting sustained energy,” says Sabat. “Fresh vegetables like lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, and pico de gallo supply vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Healthy fats are included through guacamole, and the dish is enhanced with a moderate amount of cheddar cheese and reduced-fat sour cream, which helps keep the calorie count in check.” She notes, “Overall, it’s a nutrient-dense option with a good mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.”

 9 Healthiest Dishes to Order at Taco Bell

Burger King Royal Crispy Wrap

Burger King Royal Crispy WrapBurger King Royal Crispy Wrap
Burger King

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 310
Fat: 17 g (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 790 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 15 g

Burger King’s menu is full of calorie-heavy burgers, fries, and sandwiches, so the Royal Crispy Wrap is the perfect choice for a healthier and lighter item.

“With 310 calories and 15 grams of protein, this wrap offers a satisfying meal without excessive calories, it contains 4 grams of fiber, contributing to digestive health, and its 3 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat make it a better option for heart health compared to other fast-food items,” says Sabat. “The inclusion of juicy tomato and crisp lettuce adds vitamins and minerals, while the spicy Buffalo glaze and creamy Buffalo sauce enhance flavor without significantly increasing sugar content.”

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Burger King

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich on a white backgroundChick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich on a white background
Chick-fil-A

Nutrition (Per sandwich):
Calories: 390
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 770 mg
Carbs: 44 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 28 g

Chick-fil-A is famous for its chicken sandwiches—original and grilled. Good fast-food grilled chicken is harder to find these days, but Chick-fil-A is one of the experts. For a healthier sandwich option, try their Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

“Chicken is lean protein, and opting for whole-grain bread and minimal toppings keeps the sandwich relatively low in calories and saturated fat,” says Sabat. “It comes in at 390 calories and 12 grams of fat.”

Arby’s Classic Roast Beef

Arby's Classic Roast BeefArby's Classic Roast Beef
Arby’s

Nutrition (Per sandwich):
Calories: 360
Fat: 14 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g, Trans fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 970 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 38 g

We don’t love a few things about this sandwich, like the small amount of fiber and 0.5 grams of trans fat. However, compared to other menu items at Arby’s and other fast-food sandwiches in general, the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich is pretty decent for your health. You’re only getting 5 grams of saturated fat, which is pretty low compared to other red meat fast-food sandwiches. It also provides 38 grams of protein and only 360 calories, making it a filling but light sandwich to keep you going.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Arby’s

Panera Tuna Salad Sandwich

Panera Tuna SaladPanera Tuna Salad
Panera Bread

Nutrition (Per sandwich, whole):
Calories: 550
Fat: 29 g (Saturated Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,060 mg
Carbs: 50 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 24 g

Panera’s menu is extensive, and it has its fair share of both healthy and not-so-healthy items. One of our favorite healthy fast-food sandwiches is the Panera Tuna Salad Sandwich, which provides healthy fats, fiber, and protein, all for only 550 calories. Our only qualm is the heavy sodium count of 1,060 milligrams, so we recommend trying something else if you’re specifically watching your sodium intake.

Chipotle Balanced Macros Bowl

Chipotle Balanced Macros BowlChipotle Balanced Macros Bowl
Chipotle

Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 700
Fat: 33 g
Carbs: 61 g
Protein: 45 g

Chipotle doesn’t list the full nutrition information for its Balanced Macro Lifestyle Bowl, so we don’t know exact numbers for things like sodium, saturated fat, or fiber. But when you learn what this bowl is made of, you’ll see why it’s on the list for healthy fast-food orders.

“The Balanced Macro Bowl at Chipotle is an excellent healthy option when craving a Mexican dish, as this bowl consists of rice, chicken, black beans, fajita vegetables, fresh salsa, guacamole, and extra romaine lettuce,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN. “This bowl consists of all the macronutrients, as well as other vitamins and minerals, and the chicken and black beans are great sources of protein. The black beans also contribute to the fiber content of the meal, and the guacamole gives the meal heart-healthy fats.”

Taco Bell Fresco Soft Tacos

soft taco from Taco Bellsoft taco from Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Nutrition (Per taco):
Calories: 180
Fat: 8 g (Saturated Fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 500 mg
Carbs: 18 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 9 g

You can personalize quite a bit about the soft tacos at Taco Bell. If you choose a Fresco Style Soft Taco—which adds diced tomatoes—you can add some veggies to your order and limit your calories to just 180 per taco with only four grams of saturated fat.

“Choosing Fresco-Style substitutes high-calorie ingredients like cheese and sour cream with a flavorful pico de gallo, reducing overall calorie and fat content,” Says Sabat. “These changes make for a better choice when going to Taco Bell.”

10 Fast-Food Burgers with Over 1,000 Calories

KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken

KFC Grilled ChickenKFC Grilled Chicken
KFC via Facebook

Nutrition (Per chicken breast, grilled):
Calories: 210
Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 710 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 38 g

You may have a hard time imagining anything besides fried chicken from KFC, but their grilled options are just as flavorful and satisfying. Save the fried chicken for special occasions when you really crave that crispy outer layer, but if you’re craving juicy chicken, the grilled varieties will fulfill those needs.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken is a healthier alternative to fried chicken because of its lower fat content,” says Sabat. “For 210 calories and only seven grams of fat, this is the healthiest option on the menu.”

Subway Grilled Chicken No Bready Bowl

Subway grilled chicken bowlSubway grilled chicken bowl
Subway

Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 200
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 480 mg
Carbs: 9 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 35 g

You can certainly find a handful of healthy sub and wrap options at Subway, but if you’re more in the mood for a bowl, their No Bready Bowls are a great healthy fast-food choice.

“With only 200 calories and four grams of fat, you can load up the Grilled Chicken No Bready Bowl with vegetables for a satisfying high-fiber, high-protein, and low-carbohydrate choice,” says Sabat.

Panera Bread Greek Salad

Greek salad from PaneraGreek salad from Panera
Panera

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 410
Fat: 36 g (Saturated Fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 1,090 mg
Carbs: 17 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 8 g

When you’re craving a hot cup of coffee with your lunch, Panera is the perfect fast-food choice—especially if you’re also trying to stick to some healthier options. Sabat suggests the Greek Salad from Panera if it’s a flavorful and light salad you’re in the mood for.

“It’s a healthy choice because it includes a variety of vegetables and healthy fats from olives and feta cheese,” Sabat says. “Plus, it’s a lighter option, just 410 calories, compared to some of the calorie-heavy sandwiches and pastries on the menu.”

In-N-Out Burger Protein Style Burger

in-n-out protein style double doublein-n-out protein style double double
Melissa Z. / Yelp

The exact nutrition information is not known.

Have you tried the “Not So Secret Menu” at In-N-Out yet? It feels like a secret menu because it includes items that aren’t on their regular list, but these options are also completely open to the public eye and featured on their website. One of the healthier burger styles on the “Not So Secret Menu” is the Protein Style Burger, “which removes the refined carbohydrates from the bun and replaces it with lettuce, reducing overall calorie intake,” says Sabat.

Panda Express String Bean Chicken Breast

Panda express chicken and green beansPanda express chicken and green beans
Panda Express

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 210
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 560 mg
Carbs: 30 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 12 g

One of the benefits of eating at Panda Express is being able to customize your experience. You can choose a base of either low mein, white rice, brown rice, or steamed vegetables, then choose from a list of deliciously savory protein toppings. One of their popular flavor choices, the String Bean Chicken Breast, is also one of the healthier choices on their menu.

“This dish is a better choice because it features lean chicken breast and steamed vegetables, minimizing the use of high-calorie sauces,” says Sabat.

Starbucks Spinach, Feta, and Egg White Wrap

Starbucks Spinach, Feta & Egg White WrapStarbucks Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap
Starbucks

Nutrition (Per TK):
Calories: 290
Fat: 8 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 840 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 20 g

Starbucks has more to offer at breakfast than just coffee. If you’re swinging through the drive-thru in the morning, try their Spinach, Feta, and Egg Wrap for a healthy first meal of the day.

“It’s a good source of fiber and protein, which help us to start our day out feeling full and energized,” says KeyVion Miller RDN, LDN, culinary nutritionist and owner of The Miller’s Kitchen. “The second ingredient on the ingredient list is whole wheat flour. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a common characteristic of a diet associated with positive health outcomes includes whole grains.” Miller points out that the wrap also comes pre-loaded with veggies.

Dunkin’ Wake-Up Wrap

Dunkin' Donuts menu-wrapDunkin' Donuts menu-wrap
Courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts

Nutrition (Per wrap):
Calories: 180
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 470 mg
Carbs: 14 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 7 g

People mostly go to Dunkin’ for the donuts and coffee, but there are some light but filling menu items that can help you have an even better start to your day. Take the Wake-Up Wrap, for example. We wish it had a bit more protein, but at only 180 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 10 grams of total fat, this wrap is an easy choice for people who need a lighter option. And even if it only has 7 grams of protein, it’s still more filling than starting your day with nothing but a sugary donut.

Chick-fil-A Spicy Southwest Salad

Spicy Southwest Salad from Chick-fil-ASpicy Southwest Salad from Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A

Nutrition (Per salad):
Calories: 680
Fat: 49 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,570 mg
Carbs: 27 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 33 g

“I’m obsessed with Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Southwest Salad featuring cold grilled chicken,” says Stacey Bender, MA, RD. “It’s a protein and fiber powerhouse, thanks to the abundance of pepitas. These pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack loaded with heart-healthy fats and all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.” Meanwhile, this salad’s seven grams of fiber make it one of the highest-fiber options on the Chick-fil-A menu.

Taco Bell Bean Burrito Fresco

Bean burrito from Taco BellBean burrito from Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Nutrition (Per burrito):
Calories: 360
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,080 mg
Carbs: 54 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 13 g

Some Mexican fast food tends to be heavy and high-calorie—but not Taco Bell’s Bean Burrito Fresco! This healthy fast-food meal has 360 calories, 10 grams of fat, 8 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of protein, so it actually gives you a fairly well-balanced meal! It’s important to note that, like many fast-food meals, this one is still pretty high in sodium at 1,080 milligrams. If you’re trying to lower sodium, maybe avoid this burrito.

Sweetgreen Super Green Goddess

Sweetgreen Super Green Goddess SaladSweetgreen Super Green Goddess Salad
Sweetgreen

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 415
Fat: 25 g (Saturated Fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 1,046 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 11 g

You can’t go wrong with Sweetgreen when looking for a nutrient-rich meal, but we specifically love the Sweetgreen Super Green Goddess.

“This bowl is a healthy choice because it is packed with nutrient-dense ingredients,” says Sabat. “Chickpeas and roasted almonds provide plant-based protein and healthy fats, while roasted sweet potatoes and raw carrots offer fiber and essential vitamins like vitamin A. The spicy broccoli and shredded cabbage add crunch and additional vitamins, particularly vitamins C and K, and the base of baby spinach and shredded kale is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and iron.”

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Sweetgreen

Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

Wendy's Apple Pecan Chicken SaladWendy's Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Wendy’s

Nutrition (Per salad):
Calories: 450
Fat: 24 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,170 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 19 g)
Protein: 31 g

Even the salads can pack excessive calories and fats at certain fast-food joints. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad is a noteworthy exception and a healthy fast-food option. According to Dan LeMoine, RD, co-founder of Re:Vitalize Weight Loss and Wellness and author of Fear No Food., its ingredients are mostly healthy, whole foods. “This salad features a blend of greens, grilled chicken breast, diced apples, dried cranberries, roasted pecans, and crumbled blue cheese. It’s a flavorful and filling salad option,” he says.

Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap

Chick-fil-A Cool WrapChick-fil-A Cool Wrap
Chick-fil-A

Nutrition (Per wrap):
Calories: 660
Fat: 45 g (Saturated Fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 1,420 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 43 g

What’s so cool about a Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap? “It’s packed with fiber and protein and will keep you feeling full without the sluggish feeling after fast food,” says Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES. “For fun, I love to wash it down with a diet lemonade!”

Chipotle Salad Bowl

Chipotle burrito bowl saladChipotle burrito bowl salad
iStock

Nutrition (Per salad, with chicken):
Calories: 580
Fat: 25 g
Carbs: 50 g
Protein: 42 g

In terms of health, Chipotle stands out for its totally customizable smorgasbord of Tex-Mex ingredients and healthy fast-food options. Next time you’re at the fast-casual chain, make your own salad bowl of nutritious veggies. “I usually ask for a little less rice and add sautéed peppers and onions,” says Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN, of Steps 2 Nutrition. “This way I get more vegetables in my meal, which adds more fiber. The vegetables are also naturally more filling with fewer calories.” You can also go easy on the sour cream and cheese for fewer calories and less fat.

Panda Express Mushroom Chicken

Panda express mushroom chickenPanda express mushroom chicken
Courtesy of Panda Express

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 170
Fat: 9 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 750 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 12 g

Mushrooms are a rich source of potassium and B vitamins, and when you combine them with lean chicken and a savory sauce in Panda Express’ Mushroom Chicken entree, you’ve got a tasty and healthy Asian meal. “The Mushroom Chicken offers a good balance of protein and vegetables, making it a healthier choice compared to some other options on the menu,” says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, of One Pot Wellness. “Pairing it with steamed rice and a side of mixed vegetables can create a well-rounded meal.”

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Nuggets

8ct grilled nuggets chick fil a8ct grilled nuggets chick fil a
Chick-fil-A

Nutrition (Per order, 8-count):
Calories: 250
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 1,210 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 27 g

Chick-fil-A wins again with their Grilled Chicken Nuggets. “These are a healthy fast-food option for individuals looking to add a lean source of protein to their meal,” says Mandy Tyler, MEd, RD, LD. You can balance out your meal by adding a tasty veggie side order of the Kale Crunch Side.

Panera Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains

Panera Mediterranean Chicken Greens with GrainsPanera Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains
Panera

Nutrition (Per salad, whole):
Calories: 670
Fat: 40 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,410 mg
Carbs: 45 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 34 g

You’re probably aware of the array of benefits of a Mediterranean diet, from reduced inflammation to lower risk of chronic disease. When you’re trying to stick with this healthy eating plan, you can opt for the Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains at Panera. The sodium in this one is a bit higher than what we look for in healthy fast-food meals, but we love the 34 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber you’ll get with this one.

This story has been updated to include new information, fact-checking, and copyedits.