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10 Scary Restaurant Salads That Will Destroy Your Diet

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Updated by Melissa Rudy, 9/20/16

Restaurants can be a dietary danger zone. With deep-fried appetizers, cheesy sauces and super-sized entrees lurking in every corner of the menu, the salad section may seem like a safe haven. You can't go wrong with fresh greens, right? The problem is, many eateries use those greens as a deceptively healthy foundation for a bevy of bad-for-you toppings that can send calorie counts skyrocketing into the four-digit zone.

Next time you head out for a bite, don't be fooled by these 10 scary salads.
1. Applebee's Southwestern Steak Salad
1,020 calories, 68 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium, 65 g carbs

Steak is always a high-calorie and high-fat choice, even when it's mixed with greens. When you add in the tortilla strips and dressing, you have a four-digit calorie count--and the sodium equivalent of 202 cans of soda.
2. TGI Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

1,080 calories, 71 g fat, 1,650 mg sodium, 76 g carbs

Boasting such healthy ingredients as cranberries, oranges, glazed pecans and bleu cheese, this salad might initially seem like a wise choice—but with the crispy pecan-crusted chicken and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, it will add nearly as many calories as two Big Macs from McDonald's.
3. Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad
1,103 calories, 84 g fat, 2,298 mg sodium, 67 g carbs

The slew of veggies and bed of fresh greens don't cancel out the crispy chicken tenders, bacon, cheese and croutons that send it well over the 1,000-calorie mark. This salad packs as much fat as six Hershey bars.
4. iHop's Chicken & Spinach Salad w/ Crispy Chicken
1,340 calories, 85 g fat, 2,690 mg sodium, 76 g carbs

Chicken and spinach is better than a stack of hotcakes, right? Not when it packs 1,340 calories and 85 grams of fat, courtesy of the crispy-fried chicken, cheese, bacon, honey-mustard dressing and a side of garlic bread.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings' Mediterranean Salad

1,380 calories, 104 g fat, 2,400 mg sodium, 62 g carbs

When you look beyond the healthy-sounding "Mediterranean" buzzword and the bevy of fresh veggies, you'll find a whopping 104 grams of fat and almost an entire day's worth of calories. Culprits include the pita chips, cheese and tzatziki-feta dressing.
6. Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
1,420 calories, 99 g fat, 1,530 mg sodium, 96 g carbs

The presence of Asian greens doesn't offset the mammoth calorie and fat content of this deceptive dish. Generally speaking, when fried chicken is the star of the salad, it's best to keep scanning for a healthier option. You'd have to jog at a 12-minute-per-mile pace for 2-1/2 hours to burn it off.
7. Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad
1,440 calories, 96 g fat, 2,410 mg sodium, 83 g carbs

Don't let the lettuce fool you—this so-called salad is nothing short of a deconstructed quesadilla. You'd need to walk at a moderate pace for more than six hours to burn off the calories consumed in this salad. Plus, it contains more than the recommended daily intake of sodium.
8. Chevy's Fresh Mex Chicken Tostada Salad
1,500 calories, 91 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium, 91 g carbs

Served in a tortilla shell and topped with sour cream, refried beans and cheeses, this dietary disaster has nearly as many calories and fat grams as three Big Macs. You'd have to do the elliptical machine for 2-1/2 hours to offset the calorie count.
9. California Pizza Kitchen's Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad

1,500 calories, 99 g fat, 1,380 mg sodium, 128 g carbs

With ingredients like butternut squash, avocado, red peppers, toasted almonds, beets and dates, it's hard to believe this salad has 1,500 calories and just under 100 grams of fat.
10. Cheesecake Factory Caesar Salad with Chicken
1,510 calories, 16 g fat, 1,450 mg sodium, 24 g carbs

It's hard to believe a seemingly innocent Caesar salad could pack more calories than two Whoppers from Burger King. The piles of parmesan cheese, high-fat dressing and croutons make this dish a danger for dieters.
What are some of the best and worst salad choices you've seen when dining out?

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Boston Pizza Crispy Chicken Pecan Salad! Report

Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad has 1020 calories and 1650 sodium and a total fat count of 71. Loved it.... until I saw the numbers. Report
These numbers are why I so rarely order salads at restaurants. Even when you are trying to make a good choice there are tons of added calories. It is getting harder and harder to find a good mixed green salad without the extra toppings that add all the calories.

I'd rather spend 1000+ calories on pizza and a good drink! Report
I've never had any of the salads listed. I found out this past week, however, that the McDonald's southwest salad with grilled chicken and the whole packet of southwest dressing is only 390 calories! It's my new go-to when I don't feel like chopping veggies or I'm running short on time. Report
Zaxby's salads -- worst sodium content ever. Report
I love the Chili's salad and I am not surprised that it is so high in calories. I will have to save that one for a "treat". Report
I make my own salad. I don't go out and buy salads. Glad I don't looking at all those calories. Report
I love the quesadilla explosion salad from Chili's but four or five years ago I learned about the nutritional values and that was it for me. I can't eat a whole days worth of calories in one meal. Report
I love the quesadilla explosion salad from Chili's but four or five years ago I learned about the nutritional values and that was it for me. I can't eat a whole days worth of calories in one meal. Report
This is shocking to me. I don't eat at any of these places, but I used to be a regular McDonald's guest. I thought I was making the right choices. Now the only time I go to McDonald's is to stop for a black coffee. Personally, I have learned the best way to judge the healthiness of a salad someplace is to think about where I am. Chili's and Ruby Tuesday? Really? If you walk in those places, counting calories is the least of your troubles. Report
I didn't see Taco Bell salad in there I love their salad I know their salad have to be up there but all them salad you all had there do sound good . Report
Omg...!! I never thought any kind of salad could have sooooo much calories!! Report
Gasp! Report
I have never eaten salads at any of these places. I prefer homemade because I have to watch my sodium intake. I'm appalled at these numbers! Report
Wish I had read this article before ordering the Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad today. Good news is that I didn't eat the Quesadilla's, had 1/2 the salad for lunch and the other 1/2 for dinner and only used a small amount of dressing on the side. I will make a wiser decision next time. Report
Never had any of those salads, never been to any of those places, hooray! Report
I love the Chili's Quesadilla Explosion. But I do make changes. I don't eat the quesadillas (most of the calories are probably in the cheese and flour). I ask them to leave off any cheeses on the salad. I also ask for dressing on the side. This makes it more tolerable for sodium and calories. Report
WOW!!! That is a shame!!! I look at this stuff and I am not surprised I am obese. I never knew how horrible SALADS could be before SP. Nowadays, I normally ignore foods I can't find calories on. Report
Wholly cow!!! I thankfully, have never eaten one of these salads. I've never even been to any of the restaurants. Report
Its these salads that cause people to say "you can't make healthy food taste good without making it unhealthy". Why can't restaurants understand that when we want a healthy option, we don't just want a "vegetable". If you deep-fry broccoli then cover it in cheese, it is not healthy anymore!
That being said, these "unhealthiest salads" are calculated using the unhealthiest options available. I'm sure some of the toppings or dressings could be modified to make them at least reasonable as an eating-out choice. Report
Once you start really looking at what you're eating at some these restuarants, it's shocking how much salt and fat is in the selections. Report
Wow! I'm sad to say that I've eaten a couple of these in my past. (Not recently) I would typically only eat half of huge salads like this and get dressing on the side (fat free if possible), but even then, they are still far from being healthy with all of the 'toppings.' Report
OMG! Most of these salads, would leave me with 200 calories or less left for the day. The #1 salad is actually more than my upper calorie level. Report
When I eat out, I hardly ever select the salads as there are so many other good and healthy options ot choose from. I enjoy the normal lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber and feta cheese salads, real simple. Thanx for the knowledge! Report
I use to eat the Quiznos FlatBread Ceaser. While on Weight Watchers, I saw how many points one of those would cost me I decided I would stick to simple garden salads. Report
This made me nauseous, 1000+ for a salad! If your dieting thats at least half your daily allowance, and for and oil drenched salad. I'd rather have a big mac if I'm going to be that unhealthy. Report
I have to admit that I've never been a salad eater but I'm trying. I don't meat on my salads, just greens, and unfortunately I don't really like a lot of the veggies that go into salads so pretty much a salad for me is just lettuce, a little cheese and some egg with a fat free salad dressing. I used to only use Blue Cheese salad dressing but I've been good and have gotten away from using it. Report
I've had the Chili's boneless buffalo chicken salad more than once. Unfortunately, it's delicious! I wish restaraunts would put calorie counts on everything. I would definitely think twice about something that kills my whole day's intake of calories! Report
These salads include their dressings right?
I usually ask for the dressing on the side and then dip my fork in the dressing so each bite has a little added flavor. That usually makes the calories lower...BUT if these salads DON"T include their dressings and they are still 1,000 calories i'm in big trouble. eek. Report
Ok the 1,000+ calories gets my attention but check out that fat grams on most of these!!! Report
Never had one and never would. Why does a "salad" need all that junk? Report
Has anyone ever tried the salads at IHOP? I eat there all the time and I don't whats in that salad. By the way they're delicious. Report
Oh No! I eat the chili's cobb salad all the time. who would have thought it could be so bad?!? Report
From the name of those salads itself, it really means it has a lot of ingreadients.I still believe that if we want to monitor the calories that we eat,we should be the one preparing it bec the lesser the oil, the healthier it will be.I guess Ceasar's & Vegetables Salad is still the best for me.Not to forget " a teaspoon of Olive oil a day is like an apple a day keeps our doctor away" . Its like being responsible and aware of the foods we want to eat.But if u really cant avoid it...once in a while will be alright....bec sometimes we have to have a cheat day, since our body also needs some of it. ;) Report
I'm not suprised at all the the top 10 list although I've never heard of Chevy's. Especially seeing 2 of the 10 salads are from Chili's. Chili's I believe is up there on the list with the most fattening restaurant chains. I'm very aware of the ingredients and their nutrion value and when I go to a restaurant, I have a pretty good idea of 'how much' I'm getting of each nutrient in the food that I order. I believe a lot of the fat is coming mostly from the dressings and whatever ingredients that were added to the foods to make them worse than they actually are such as hydrogenerated butters and massive amounts of sodium. You have to take into consideration too of the salads that come prepared with salad dressing on the salad. A serving size of dressing is typcially 2 tbsp. and if you're ordering a 'dinner salad', that could have anywhere from 5-10 servings.

Sorry this was so long, but as a Health Promotion major in school, I really enjoy learning about living a healthy lifestyle.

Brian Report
I try not to eat out simply because I do not know what I'm eating calorie and quality wise. Report
I agree with post 338. How about someone rewrites this article, adds photos of the salad and the ingredients and where all the calories are and how we can eat that salad in a healthy manner. Like was all the dressing actually included. I always get the dressing on the side and barely use any. I also exclude croutons now that I am gluten free and I have asked for no cheese or on the side. I was once allergic to dairy and once I could eat cheese again they put way too much cheese on everything. Before that I could not have enough cheese and that is a ton of calories. Report
Let's get an article like this telling us the 10 BEST salad choices at restaurants! Report
Wow!! Having knowledge is so important when deciding what to order. Those salads are more than I eat in a day! Report
I think I may have eaten one of the ones at chilis maybe the explosion one? but im a vegetarian and have them take the meat out. still its a lot even without it. didnt know it was that much! Report
OMG! These salads are crazy. I have actually never eaten any of them, and don't plan to in future. Just think how naive I was before Sparkpeople. Report
I'd ask what the BEST 10 are, but I think that's self explanitory. Just yummy assorted greens & various fresh veggies & fat free dressing. What could be easier? Report
I'm vegetarian and about 9 outta 10 times, those really bad fattening salad's have meat in them. How bout go for the side salads instead? Report
I can honestly and happily say I've never eaten any of these salads. I make yummy salads at home for myself with fake chicken (I don't eat real poultry of any kind), cheese and half an avocado, and it only costs me 400 calories. This is one of the main reasons I don't enjoy eating out anymore, unless I know ahead of time what the damage is. Chefs can't be trusted not to load everything with fat and salt! Report
I just had the Ruby Tuesday Carolina Chicken Salad the other day. As soon as it arrived I knew I had made a mistake. Should have read the list of ingredients more closely. The chicken is coated and fried of course, I should have asked for grilled. That would have helped. But the extras included in the salad are what added up. Fortunately, they did bring the dressing on the side and I was able to use a minimal amount. Not able to eat the whole thing either so that helped some too. Report
What a bummer.........I went out to dinner at Chili's today after church....picked a Buffalo Chicken Salad.....I went over my calories for the day....and I haven't even eaten dinner....but that's okay because I am not hungry...only thirsty from all the stinking sodium.....I went over calories all week because of eating salads out.....I have learned my lesson today.....thank you for all the good information.... Report
Wow! This is why I don't eat out as much since joining SP and I cook more meals at home. Thanks for the info!! Report
You know this is probably why a simple side salad is the way to go when out to eat. Also goes to show you that you can't trust others to prepare your food. Diligence is hard at the hands of someone else. Report
I'm a vegan, so I've never had any of these salads. But because I'm sometime restricted to the salad section of the menu when I eat out, I will say that each of these menu items absolutely ruins the very idea of a salad, which is healthy greens, fresh veggies, some lean protein (like beans), and some light dressing. I don't know how anyone can find, let alone taste, their vegetables when they're buried underneath that much meat, cheese, croutons, and heavy dressing. But perhaps that's the point... Report
Thankfully I've only had the Ruby Tuesdays Carolina Chicken Salad. Won't be eating that anymore. Thanks for the list! Report
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