The #1 Unhealthiest Order in Chilis, According to a Dietitian

Who doesn’t love an indulgent dinner at Chili’s? Whether it’s their Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Wings, Bacon Ranch Burger, Cajun Pasta, or my personal favorite, the 2-for-1 Margarita Deal, Chili’s is a restaurant chain full of hearty and delicious menu items. But it’s no secret that most of these dishes are considered pretty “unhealthy” when it comes to calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium levels.

Of all the items on your menu, which are the most unhealthy? we talked Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LDon that exact question, and picked what he considers to be the unhealthiest Chili’s menu item based on calories, fat, sodium and saturated fat. It doesn’t mean you have to stay away from this dish forever, but it can be helpful to eat it only in moderation or leave it as a “special occasion” meal.

Read on to see which item she chose, then check out some more nutritious alternatives with these 8 healthiest chili dishes to order.

The #1 Unhealthiest Chili Order is the 6 Piece Crispy Chicken Crispers Combo.


Chicken Crispers, which Chili’s says are the “grown-up version of chicken tenders,” are a staple on the chain’s menu. You can choose between Crispy, Nashville Hot, or Honey-Chipotle, and you can choose whether you want a 4-, 5-, or 6-count meal. Each order includes fries, white cheddar mac and cheese, ranch dressing and your choice of two other dips.

The Chicken Potato Combo (with fries and mac and cheese) is packed with:

Nutrition (by order):
calories: 1,880
total fat: 109 g (saturated fat: 23.5 g)
sodium: 5,490 mg
Carbohydrates: 139 g (Fibre: 8 g, Sugar: 1 g)
protein: 84 g

According to Sabat, Chili’s 6-Piece Chicken Crisper Combo “is a high-calorie, nutritionally unbalanced meal.” Regularly eating a meal like this can affect our health in several ways.

On the one hand, “high fat and carbohydrate content, along with low fiber content, can contribute to weight gain and other health problems such as high cholesterol levels and increased risk of disease cardiovascular,” says Sabat.

Not only that, but at a whopping 5,490 milligrams of sodium, this meal has more than double the recommended amount of sodium to consume in an entire day, and Sabat adds that excess sodium “can lead to high blood pressure and fluid retention”.

Sabat says that in general, this might be a dish you want to avoid when you’re with your loved ones at Chili’s. Or at least it’s a dish you probably won’t want to make a regular part of your routine. Fortunately, however, Chili’s still has plenty of healthier options to choose from.

RELATED: 11 Unhealthiest Dishes to Order at Chili’s

A healthier order to make at Chili’s: the Grilled Chicken Margarita

chili's margarita grilled chicken dish on a white table

Nutrition (by order):
calories: 630
fat: 16 g (saturated fat: 3 g)
sodium: 2,280 mg
carbohydrates: 68 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 9 g)
protein: 52 g

While Chili’s menu is full of unhealthy items like the Chicken Crisper Combo, it has a section called Guiltless Grill, which contains five lighter options to choose from when you’re looking for a more nutritious option.

If you’re craving chicken, but don’t want to derail your goals for the Chicken Crispers, you can order the Grilled Chicken Margarita, which includes black beans, pico, Mexican rice, and tortilla strips.

RELATED: The #1 Unhealthiest Olive Garden Order

With only 630 calories, 16 grams of total fat, 7 grams of fiber and 52 grams of protein, this chicken dish is a decent option when you’re at this chain restaurant. Just be aware that it contains almost 100% of your recommended daily sodium limit, so it’s important to watch your sodium intake throughout the rest of the day.

Other delicious Guiltless Grill offerings we love include classic tenderloin with avocado, ancho salmon and Sante Fe salad. So fear not, if you want to stay within your specific health goals, it is possible to do so even at a chain restaurant like Chili’s.

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