Texas Roadhouse is famed for its buttery, fluffy rolls and honey cinnamon butter, however, the steakhouse fries up (quite literally) various other mouthwatering meals, sides, and pre-meal appetizers. We wanted to showcase a few Texas Roadhouse menu items, specifically the very worst and the very best from nine sections of the menu. To accomplish such a feat, we consulted nutrition expert Kelli McGrane MS, RD for Lose It!, a food tracking app, to pick out which items she thought were the best for your health as well as which ones are the absolute worst.
See which Texas Roadhouse menu items got the stamp of approval and which ones got the ax.
McGrane was torn between Texas Roadhouse’s Chili Cheese Fries and Cactus Blossom, but ultimately she said the giant fried onion is the worst for you of the two. While they are both very high in sodium, the dipping sauce is what puts the Cactus Blossom over the edge in calories, fat, and sodium.
“Before the sauce, the appetizer contains a whopping 1,700 calories—more than some of us need in an entire day—and more than twice the daily sodium recommendation,” she says. “With the sauce, you’re talking a meal-sized amount of calories, fat, and sodium.”
And to think this menu item falls underneath the “Just For Starters” portion of the menu. What could you possibly stomach after nibbling on this caloric beast?
From the Cactus Blossom to the Tater Skins, Texas Roadhouse doesn’t offer a lot of health-conscious choices in its lineup of appetizers.
“While all starter options are very high in sodium, your best bet is the grilled shrimp, which is the lowest in saturated fat (3 grams) and sodium (1,240 milligrams),” advises McGrane. “It’s also high in protein and contains just 240 calories.”
However, the dietitian suggests skipping the butter dipping sauce that comes with it, since it adds 18 grams of fat—8 grams of which are saturated—and 430 milligrams of sodium. Since the main meals served here are high in sodium, it’s best to keep this number as low as possible, especially since the shrimp itself will already cost you over 1,000 milligrams of the salty stuff. Consider splitting this appetizer between another person or two!
Imagine several pieces of grilled, plump, and salty shrimp atop this house salad.
“While it sounds lighter than some of the other options, the Grilled Shrimp House Salad is actually the worst option for a dinner-sized salad,” says McGrane. Why?
Without the dressing, this meal costs you just over 1,000 milligrams more sodium than you need in one day as well as a day’s worth of saturated fat.
“While 710 calories may not sound like much, even if you add the lowest calorie dressing (honey french), you’ll end up with a salad containing over 1,000 calories,” she says.
“While all salad options are quite high in sodium and saturated fat, the healthiest choice is their Chicken Critter Salad. Including dressing, it’s the lowest in calories and saturated fat,” says McGrane.
We suggest adding the honey French dressing or, if the restaurant offers, a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar as the dressing.
Steaks and Ribs
“The least healthy option is a tie between the Full Stack of Ribs and the 20-ounce Bone-In Ribeye. Both are over 1,400 calories and contain more than 40 grams of saturated fat,” says McGrane. “They’re also very high in sodium and thanks to the BBQ sauce, the ribs also contain 10 grams of sugar.”
The protein content with this meal is also outrageously high—your body cannot metabolize this much protein at one time. Experts say that the body can only properly break down and digest about 30-35 grams of protein per sitting. Excess protein consumed, and that’s not burned off through exercise, typically stores as fat instead of contributing to muscle mass.
This steak contains double the maximum amount of saturated fat you should consume daily. Save your heart from the stress it will endure trying to digest this beast and order something that’s less than half the size, such as the option below.
McGrane says that the healthiest steak option you could pick is the 6-oz Choice Sirloin since it costs you the least amount of calories and fat. It also contains more than enough protein. Add a vegetable on the side to complete the meal!
“At 1,510 calories it’s the highest option on the combo menu. It has 111 grams of fat—the same amount that’s in 10 tablespoons of butter, and a whopping 46 grams of saturated fat,” says McGrane.
Even more disturbing is the trans fat content at a whopping 6 grams. Considering you shouldn’t consume trans fat in your diet, this makes us very concerned that one meal packs so much artery-clogging fat. Steer clear of this menu item friends.
“The Grilled BBQ Chicken with 6-ounce Sirloin is your healthiest bet, as it’s the lowest in calories, saturated fat, and sodium,” McGrane shares.
“Avoid the Sierra Chicken Pasta, which contains nearly half of your calorie needs for the day, and is high in total and saturated fat. It also contains more than half of your daily sodium needs,” says McGrane.
Yeah, we’ll happily pass!
McGrane says the Grilled BBQ Chicken is hard to beat with under 300 calories and less than 400 milligrams of sodium. It also packs a lot of protein, so this chicken is satiating on its own.
“The Beef Tips are your least healthy option, regardless if you choose the ones with mashed potatoes or seasoned rice,” says McGrane. “While the mashed potato option is higher in saturated fat (24 grams compared to 17 grams), the seasoned rice is very high in sodium with 4,910 milligrams compared to 4,090 milligrams—both of which are almost double the amount of recommended sodium for the day.”
McGrane says that excluding the sodium content, the single Grilled Pork Chop is the healthiest option under the country dinner section of the menu at Texas Roadhouse.
“With just 290 calories it leaves plenty of room for a side dish. It’s also the lowest option in saturated fat while still providing filling protein. However, with 1,620 milligrams of sodium, it’s still a very high-sodium option,” she explains.
If the fish and chips dish with steak fries is offered at your local Texas Roadhouse, McGrane recommends you steer clear of ordering it.
“While it’s high in fat, what really makes it stand out is it’s 4,770 milligrams of sodium—more than twice as much sodium you should have in one day,” she says. “And this is all before adding the tartar sauce, which adds an additional 390 calories, 38 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 530 milligrams of sodium and 9 grams of sugar.”
If you’re craving something from the dockside favorites portion of the menu, the 5-ounce serving of salmon is undoubtedly the best option.
“With just 320 calories and 500 milligrams of sodium, it’s a healthier option that also leaves a little wiggle room for dipping in tartar sauce, which contains 260 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 360 milligrams of sodium,” says McGrane.
She suggests only using half of the tartar sauce given because the salmon already provides healthful omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation—no need to add more fat!
Burgers and Sandwiches
“With 1,200 calories and 33 grams of saturated fat, the Smokehouse Burger contains nearly 5 times more calories and 11 times more saturated fat than a regular hamburger from popular fast food joints,” says McGrane. “It also exceeds your daily recommended sodium limit, and remember, that’s all without any fries on the side.”
“While the BBQ Chicken Sandwich is slightly lower in calories and saturated fat, I recommend the Mushroom Jack Chicken Sandwich as you get the benefit of having mushrooms, which are good sources of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, copper, selenium, and potassium,” explains McGrane. “It’s also much lower in sugar than the BBQ Chicken Sandwich, with just 5 grams. However, at 820 calories and 16 grams of saturated fat, you may want to skip the fries.”
“The Loaded Baked Potato side is higher in calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium than the other side options. It contains as many calories as a main entrée and more than your daily recommended amount of sodium,” says McGrane.
“[At] just 90 calories, it’s one of the lowest sides in saturated fat and sodium, while still being nutritious thanks to mushrooms being naturally rich in several vitamins and minerals,” says McGrane.
Add this side to the 6-ounce Choice Sirloin or 5-ounce salmon for a boost in zinc!