Walking Guide

Food on the Run: McAlister's Deli

By , SparkPeople Blogger

In our ongoing Food on the Run series, today we look at a new sensation for fresh food and quick service. McAlister's Deli has an extensive menu with over 100 items including sandwiches, potatoes, salads and soups as well as their famous sweet tea. With all those options, is there anything healthy to select?

Cautions to Consider
  • McAlister's Deli has made box lunches and catering options a focus of their business. There is an extensive catering menu including a variety of options for most every catering need from box lunches, breakfast and break trays, to entrée salads, All-Day menus, Spud Bar, deli and dessert trays. It might be something to keep in mind for your next catering need.
  • They encourage you to get your salad, sandwich or spud just the way you like it so don't be afraid to add or subtract items when you order to maximize nutrition when possible.
  • While McAlister Sweet Tea is something they are known for, they do not include calorie content on their nutrition information. According to some former employee shared information I located, there are about 10 calories per ounce. Therefore, a 32 oz glass of Sweet Tea could contain as much as 320 calories. While it may be a signature item, it is not something we would recommend.
  • When making your own sandwich the bread you select can make a big difference. A croissant would be your highest calorie and fat choice with 360 calories and 21 grams of fat. A wheat hoagie on the other hand would be your best choice with only 195 calories and 2 grams of fat.
  • Sauces can add flavor and moisture to a sandwich but they can also add additional calories and fat very quickly. Although it can taste great, it would be best to skip the Horseradish sauce, which provides 132 calories and 12 grams of fat in a 2-tablespoon serving. Instead, consider the Fat Free Chipotle Peach Sauce with only 60 calories and no fat in a 2-tablespoon serving.
  • Giant Spuds are intended to provide two servings so plan to split one with a friend or save half for a second meal.
  • If you like soup, this is the place for you! There is an extensive soup menu including both 8 oz cup and 12 oz bowl serving sizes. Many times, we do not encourage the bread bowl but in this case, the small bread bowl option might be a nice addition to your soup to round out your meal since it only contributes an additional 140 calories, 1 gram of fat, 310 mg of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of protein.
  • When looking for healthier options for your children, consider Mac & Cheese with a side of applesauce. The 6 oz serving provides 302 calories, 16 grams of fat, 714 mg of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein with the applesauce providing an additional 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein in a 4 oz serving. It would be best to avoid the PB & J that provides 687 calories and 31 grams of fat.
  • Side items can make or break your health conscience meal. Your best choice when selecting a side item would be the 5 oz serving of fruit salad, which provides 81 calories, o grams of fat, 13 mg of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Another good choice would include applesauce with 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein in a 4 oz serving. It would be best to avoid the Macaroni & Cheese which provides a 6 oz serving containing a whopping 302 calories and 16 grams of fat which is too high for a side item.
  • You will find diet focused recommendations on their website for vegetarian, higher fiber, calorie smart, carbohydrate savvy, lower fat and gluten-free highlighted information to help you plan ahead.

Here are some better choices you can select to help you keep your entrée selection below 250 calories and 10 grams of fat or your complete meal below 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat.

Soups and Chili

Cheddar Potato
Calories – 213 cup / 330 bowl
Fat – 15 grams cup / 21 grams bowl
Sodium – 773 mg cup / 1139 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 13 grams cup / 27 grams bowl
Protein – 5 grams cup / 7 grams bowl

Chicken Chili
Calories – 150 cup /196 bowl
Fat – 3 grams cup /4 grams bowl
Sodium – 490 mg cup / 639 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 20 grams cup / 26 grams bowl
Protein – 20 grams cup / 26 grams bowl

Golden Lentil
Calories – 213 cup / 278 bowl
Fat – 3 grams cup / 4 grams bowl
Sodium – 831 mg cup / 1083 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 35 grams cup / 46 grams bowl
Protein – 12 grams cup / 15 grams bowl

Country Vegetable
Calories – 93 cup / 135 bowl
Fat – 1 gram cup / 2 grams bowl
Sodium – 973 mg cup / 1384 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 17 grams cup / 27 grams bowl
Protein – 3 grams cup / 5 grams bowl

Calories – 220 cup / 298 bowl
Fat – 10 grams cup / 14 grams bowl
Sodium – 690 mg cup / 935 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 24 grams cup / 33 grams bowl
Protein – 8 grams cup / 11 grams bowl

Cheesy Chicken Tortilla
Calories – 150 cup / 194 bowl
Fat – 6 grams cup / 8 grams bowl
Sodium – 1470 mg cup / 2152 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 13 grams cup / 17 grams bowl
Protein – 10 grams cup / 13 grams bowl

Fresh Salads

Grilled Chicken Salad
Calories – 374
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 1322 mg
Carbohydrates – 16 grams
Protein – 35 grams

McAlister's Chef
Calories – 254
Fat – 12 grams
Sodium – 1242 mg
Carbohydrates – 14 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Sweet Chipotle Chicken Salad with dressing
Calories – 425
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1242 mg
Carbohydrates – 58 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Chipotle Peach Dressing
Calories – 170
Fat – 0 grams
Sodium – 567 mg
Carbohydrates – 40 grams
Protein – 0 grams

Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Calories – 170
Fat – 17 grams
Sodium – 652 mg
Carbohydrates – 9 grams
Protein – 0 grams

Platters and Wraps

Chipotle Chicken Wrap
Calories – 444
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1313
Carbohydrates – 57 grams
Protein >– 27 grams

Pot Roast Classic – sides would be additional
Calories – 398
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 1384 mg
Carbohydrates – 24 grams
Protein – 34 grams

Giant Spuds – each is intended to be 2 servings and both are represented in this information

Grilled Chicken Spud
Calories – 558
Fat – 12 grams
Sodium – 870 mg
Carbohydrates – 70 grams
Protein – 41 grams

Pot Roast Spud
Calories – 538
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1048 mg
Carbohydrates – 72 grams
Protein – 40 grams

Spud Ole with Veggie Chili
Calories – 591
Fat – 18 grams
Sodium – 860 mg
Carbohydrates – 83 grams
Protein – 26 grams

Veggie Spud
Calories – 585
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 907 mg
Carbohydrates – 77 grams
Protein – 25 grams

Best Sandwich Choices

New Yorker – as listed on menu
Calories – 465
Fat – 13 grams
Sodium – 2427 mg
Carbohydrates – 49 grams
Protein – 42 grams

Chicken Breast on Wheat Hoagie with Havarti Cheese
Calories – 384
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1316 mg
Carbohydrates – 43 grams
Protein – 33 grams

Smoked Turkey on Sliced Wheat with Cheddar Cheese
Calories - 472 cal
Fat – 10 grams
Sodium – 1800 mg
Carbohydrates – 41 grams
Protein – 32 grams

Have you tried McAlister's Deli? How do you think it compares in price, atmosphere, menu and nutrition to other fast food options?

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KHALIA2 2/27/2018
Very informative. Thanks for sharing! Report
ELRIDDICK 1/17/2018
Thanks for sharing Report
Good to know there is such a wide selection of not too bad for me food! Report
USMAWIFE 4/23/2017
not a fan of their food. Report
Should be "your health conscious meal..." not 'conscience' (in the Bullet item about "Side items....".

Years ago I went to a McAlisters Deli, when they firs opened up. Their two locations that I know of are too far away and too awkwardly located for us to go their often. But the times I went, I was underwhelmed with their food. The sweet tea is way too sweet and in retrospect, I suspect it was sweetened with HFCS (I didn't know about HFCS at the time, but I knew I didn't like the way it tasted.). It all seemed like processed food, and I never felt good afterwards. Again, at the time, I wasn't as aware of the effects of ingredients like soy proteins and other soy derivatives, but now that I do, when I think back on the meals I did eat, I have to wonder exactly what they are using.

We have so many local places sourcing with local foods that I have a difficult time getting friends to go to corporate places like McAlisters with me. So I'll have to go try another day by myself. Or ... given the ridiculous carb amounts for many of the foods listed, it's evident they are not low carb friendly... so maybe not. Report
Thank you for including the sodium. So many of us need that information. Report
I love McAlisters deli. They have healthier option meals listed inside which really helps. We also do the pick 2 options. Report
While we do have McAlister's in Nashville, there are none near our home. I don't love their food but would go there if I was near one and was eating out. Of course, I would need to figure out what to eat BEFORE I got there! Report
I ate at McAlister's yesterday for lunch. After reading this article I felt I was armed with the info necessary to make a great chioce both calorically and nutritionally. I got the fire roasted veggie soup (it was not outstanding) in the bread bowl. Thinking I was choosing wisely. Well, came home to enter my intake and was rather shocked to learn that the bread bowl is 470 calories, carbs 99 and so on. Thankfully I didn't eat much of my bowl, so was still well withing my limits. I know it says that they have a small bread bowl for 140 calories in the text above. Well, they sure don't at my location. I still love McAlister's even if my favorite menu item is the chopped Italian salad at 690 calories. They do have many menu options available to those of us that are really being aware of what we choose to eat. Just step away from the bread bowl....... Report
McAlister's Nutrition Calculator lists a bread bowl at 470 calories, not 140 like this article says. It looks like multiple websites list the 140 calorie version and I think that McAlister's has recently updated their nutrition calculator, revealing that the bread bowl adds a lot more calories than previously thought. If you want to see for yourself, Google "McAlister's Nutrition Calculator," and it should be the top link. Report
I love McAlister's! I try not to eat out, but when I really want to for a treat, I like to go here. I like to get a grilled chicken salad or a cup of tortilla soup and half a sandwich. I'm so glad to see the nutritional value is what I thought it was. If not, I was going to be really upset! Report
The problem with being a sparklady from Botswana is -'I dont know what you are talking about'.. All these foods and the the '10 worst foods of 2010' are not available here.. I was hoping you were going to give me more direction such as , do not eat banas, whih foods increase metabolism (accelerates fat burn) and which dont. Anyway, some I can locate the similarities in our fsat foods restaurants... So which foods are good in accelrating fat burn?? and which ones slow it down. Report
Sounds great, but I haven't seen this place yet. Sounds like they have a lot of good, healthy options. I wish more places would take this lead. Report
I'm slightly addicted to McAlister's. The sweet tea is definitely my weakness, but thankfully the closest one is about 10 miles away, so I only go on a weekend. The mac n' cheese is also tasty, and I'm glad to know it won't do me in. ;) Report
I am totally confused by the comment on the spuds. Does this mean that the nutition information is for both servings, or just one, since each potato is two servings? If it does not include the facts for both, then that would be over 1000 calories - for a potato! Report
We love McAlister's. I usually order the soup and salad which has a cup of soup and half an entree salad. I never drink sweet tea so my calories usually end up around 400 for lunch and considering fast food places are almost the same cost for a meal ($8.00) and much less nutritious, I think it is a great deal. I live in Texas and first ate at McAlister's in the Dallas Area, now we have one in San Angelo (west Texas). Report
Not located here in Maryland but googled it and found out that there is one in Murfreesboro TN where my son goes to school. Will have to try it when I visit him in October. Report
I have never even heard of this place. I live in Washington State... Do we have one here? Report
I love McAllister's Deli! We have one close to us and I ate the whole Spud with Vegi Chili and just counted my calories for breakfast and dinner to make sure I didn't exceed 1500 for the day. It was delicious! I love it that you can go on their website and find the nutritional counts. I have not tried the chiipotle peach dressing yet, but it sounds delicious. Report
Tanya and SP,
I have a suggestion, - I read through all the comments so far and it sounds like half of us have not heard of this restaurant. I suggest that you keep on with this series as it is very informative, and helpful.
But - and finally the suggestion: It would be helpful if you checked the restaurants website for their locations and include a statement or two letting us know if the restaurant is nationwide, only on the east or the west coast, or where generally located. I feel it is important for you to continue to "review" these restaurants - just may be helpful to us to know where we can find them in a general range.
Thanks for the info and if I were to come across this restaurant would probably go in to it now. Report
I think the food tastes great but because of the high sodium content I view it as a treat rather than a staple restaurant. My favorite thing is the grilled chicken sandwich with orange cranberry sauce. YUM! Report
Too much Sodium. although we don't have any in our area. So I won't have to worry. Report
The mac and cheese is the best! I get the kids mac n cheese meal and enjoy every bit of it! Report
I've never heard of this chain. I haven't heard of about half of the chains featured in these articles, lol. (I'm in NJ, by the way.)

- Josie Report
We have one in our neighborhood, close by as a matter of fact, But I haven't yet tried it. With the descriptions above and the points you have made here, I am more likely to try them now. Thanx for the veiw. Report
In Knoxville TN, it is a very common resturant. I personally believe it is expensive for what you get. Without counting calories or fat a typical lunch costs you around $9.00. Report
There's one near me, but I haven't tried it. Unfortunately, sweet tea is a big weakness of mine so I don't know if I dare go in. Report
Never heard of this chain. Maybe in Detroit . . . I don't go there though. Too much traffic! Report
never heard of mcallister's Report
I'm in Pensacola, Florida so never heard of this. Report
Oh my goodness!! I just found out that we HAVE the McAlister Deli restaurant here in Georgia!! Can't wait to try em' and what a nice break down on the nutrition list. THANKS! Report
I'm from Massachusetts, and we do not have McAllister's here. Sounds a bit like Panera Bread, though. Report
The cheesy chicken tortilla soup is great. It often comes with just a few chips and it is a great meal for around 300 calories. Report
Wish we had one---will keep an eye out in case one comes our way or when go on vacation. Like their varied menu options. Report
Never been to this place. I don't know if there are any in my area. Report
We have a couple of these close to home but I always forget to go there. Their menu is pretty large and flexible. Glad to know about all the "good" options for us at McAllister's Deli. Report
High Blood Pressure pitfall with these very high sodium foods. I am sure they are delicious but someday will come back to haunt you. I sure can't eat any of them. I would like to see more offerings geared to health problems like this (heart disease and/or diabetes.) I know the majority can eat this stuff, but many simply cannot. Report
When you do these.. can you put the actual sugar grams on there. I have to watch my sugar and nine times out of ten, no one puts that on the list.. just total carbs. Thanks Report
I didn't realize McAlister's was an actual chain. We had one in the union at my university, but I didn't realize they existed elsewhere. Guess I should have known since we also had, like, the only Chick-fil-a in IL at the time. Report
never heard of this place.......must not be near-by Report
Sounds nice, but this deli does NOT exist in Arizona. Report
I have eaten at McAllister's. My husband is not a fan so I haven't been there more than a couple of times. I like their grilled chicken sandwich with cranberry orange sauce. Since you didn't list it, I am sure it is probably one of the worst things to eat on the menu! Report
I had eaten at McAllister's in Gainesville and really liked it as an alternative to regular fast food. Now we have one in our mall. But of course, like all restaurants, although the food is freshly made, it is very high in calories and sodium. Thanks a LOT for this article -- I will definitely be more careful if I go again. Report
too much sodium!!! Report
They are also famous for UNSWEET tea. With lemon it is a real treat! Report
These numbers always suprize me
We have two McAlister's Deli in town but I haven't tried them yet. After seeing how much sodium was in some of the recommended choices, I don't think I'll want to go there. How can they have so much sodium in a New Yorker sandwich? More than our daily allowance. Report
Great place to have lunch with lots of choices. Report
I need to remember this blog! I like McAllisters. Thanks for all the information. Report
We have these delis in San Antonio. I love the sweet tea and doing without it is tough. Their sandwiches are delicious and I'm glad to learn the soups are healthy. Report
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