Healthy Options at Denny’s, Part 2: Everything Else

On the heels of last week’s Healthy Breakfast Options at Denny’s, it’s time for the rest of the menu.

If you take away nothing else from this post, please remember this:  Avoid items with any of the following words  in the name:

  • Melt
  • Ranch
  • Sizzlin’
  • Fried
  • Breaded
  • Smothered
  • Cheesy
  • Smokin’
  • Three Pack
  • Rock Star
  • Sampler

Appetizers – Avoid

Sigh. These are all rich in calories and sodium, and not much else (well, most of them have a ton of fat, too).  Sorry to be such a downer on this, but even a 1/2 Size Sampler Platter will set you back an entire meal’s worth of calories (870) and a day’s worth of sodium (2,420mg).

Other heart-stopping options include Zesty Nachos (1,150 calories, 25g sat fat, 2,080mg sodium), Fried Chicken Strips (730 calories, 2,940mg sodium… and what part of the chicken is the “Strip,” I wonder?), or Fried Mozarella Sticks (750 cal, 2,270 mg sodium).

If you absolutely, positively, have to have an appetizer (really?), then please choose the 1/2 size Chicken Wings with BBQ Sauce — it’s “only” 220 calories and 700 mg sodium.

“Better Burgers” – Better Choices

I’m not really sure what makes these burgers “Better,” since their website doesn’t say.

On a positive note, you can substitute a Boca Burger Patty on any burger for no additional charge, and they’ll give you fruit instead of fries on the side (if you ask nicely).

Boca Burger, without fries
420 cal, 3g sat fat, 11g total fat, 1,300mg sodium (!), 57g carbs, 11g sugars, 8g fiber, 27g protein

Fit-Fare Boca Burger with Fruit
470 cal, 3g sat fat, 11g total fat, 1,460mg sodium (!), 71g carbs, 22g sugars, 11g fiber

“Better Burgers” – Worst Choices

Okay, so I’m putting every other burger in this category, sadly.  I’m only going to list the top and bottom offenders.

The Classic Burger (without Cheese!) is the least offensive of the batch, and the Smokin’ Q Three Pack — which is basically an entire day’s worth of food across the board — truly does steal the show.

All the other burgers fall somewhere in between. ‘Nuff said.

Classic Burger without Cheese X
790 cal, 14g sat fat, 3g trans fat, 40g total fat, 1,010mg sodium, 50g carbs, 11g sugars, 3g fiber, 55g protein
These numbers do not include fries.

Smokin’ Q Three Pack X X
2,020 cal, 22g sat fat, 3g trans fat, 110g total fat, 3,570mg sodium, 185g carbs, 35g sugars, 9g fiber, 79g protein
These numbers include the onion rings that come with it.

Sandwiches – Better Choices

As with the burgers, you can get fruit (or “Vegetable Dippers”) on the side.  The numbers below are for just the sandwiches, unless noted.

Fit Fare Chicken Sandwich with Fruit
450 cal, 1g sat fat, 6g total fat, 1,380mg sodium (!), 62g carbs, 36g sugars, 4g fiber, 21g protein

Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato
520 cal, 8g sat fat, 0.5g trans fat, 35g total fat, 620mg sodium, 35g carbs, 7g sugars, 2g fiber, 15g protein
Ask them to skip the mayo and you’ll cut the fat and calories significantly.

Club Sandwich
640 cal, 6g sat fat, 33g total fat, 1,530mg sodium (!!), 55g carbs, 9g sugars, 4g fiber, 27g protein
Ask them to skip the mayo and you’ll cut the fat and calories significantly.

Sandwiches – Worst Choices

For the sake of brevity, I’ll just list the important numbers here.

Prime-Rib Philly Melt X
730 cal, 43g total fat, 1,820mg sodium

The Super Bird X
700 cal, 2,550mg sodium

Chicken Sandwich (Grilled, with dressing) X
880 cal, 51g total fat, 1,940mg sodium

Chicken Sandwich (Breaded, with dressing) X
1,150 cal, 64g total fat, 2,830mg sodium

Grand Slamwichwithout any sides X X
1,320 cal, 42g sat fat, 90g total fat, 3,070mg sodium

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Melt X
870 cal, 41g fat, 3,820mg sodium

Chicken Ranch Melt X
800 cal, 2,540mg sodium

Smoked Chicken Melt X
950 cal, 55g fat, 1,820mg sodium

American Dinner Classics – Better Choices

I’m not sure what the difference is between these two (maybe it changes the default side dishes?), but either way, these are your Better Choices.

Grilled Chicken
280 cal, 1g sat fat, 4g total fat, 1,190mg sodium, 4g carbs, 2g sugars, no fiber, 55g protein

Fit Fare Grilled Chicken
380 cal, 2g sat fat, 10g total fat, 1,280mg sodium, 12g carbs, 6g sugars, 12g fiber, 57g protein

American Dinner Classics – Worst Choices

Again, I’m only listing the “relevant” numbers  — and with the exception of the Sizzlin’ Skillets, these do not include side dishes.

Mushroom Swiss Chopped Steak X
940 cal, 24g sat fat, 4g trans fat (!), 66g total fat, 1,710mg sodium

Homestyle Meatloaf with Gravy X
600 cal, 17g sat fat, 3g trans fat (!), 46g total fat, 1,880mg sodium

Country-Fried Steak with Gravy X X
1,000 cal, 22g sat fat, 5g trans fat (!!), 65g total fat, 2,580mg sodium

Country-Fried Steak & Eggs X
660 gcal, 15g sat fat, 2g trans fat, 43g total fat, 1,620mg sodium

Prime Rib Sizzlin’ Skillet Dinner X X
900 cal, 17g sat fat, 42g total fat, 2,480mg sodium

Grilled Chicken Sizzlin’ Skillet Dinner X
770 cal, 2,020mg sodium

Sweet & Tangy BBQ Chicken X
650 cal, 2,290mg sodium

Chicken Strips
560 cal, 24g total fat, 1,300mg sodium
By the numbers these aren’t horrendous, but the serving size is smaller than the others, and it’s just fried chicken strips…

Steak & Seafood – Better Choices

With the exception of the Fit Fare Grilled Tilapia, these do not include side dishes.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers
370 cal, 2g sat fat, 10g total fat, 1,140mg sodium, 39g carbs, 2g sugar, 2g fiber, 32g protein

Fit Fare Grilled Tilapia
600 cal, 3g sat fat, 11g total fat, 1,560mg sodium, 66g carbs, 7g sugar, 3g fiber, 58g protein

Tilapia Ranchero
470 cal, 5 g sat fat, 17g total fat, 1,090mg sodium, 57g carbs, 4g sugars, 4g fiber, 54g protein
This is served with “Creamy Ranchero Mashed Potatoes” which I’d bet you could substitute for something else a bit healthier.

Steak & Seafood – Worst Choices

T-Bone Steak
740 cal, 25g sat fat, 56g total fat, 740mg sodium, no sugar, no fiber, 59g protein
This is a 12 ounce steak — four times the recommended “serving” of meat, and therefore way too much saturated fat.

T-Bone Steak & Eggs
780 cal, 1,210mg sodium
This is just the same steak as above, plus a side of eggs.  As if you weren’t getting enough protein.

T-Bone Steak & Shrimp Skewer
830 cal, 26g sat fat, 900 mg sodium
This is just the same steak as above, plus a skewer of shrimp on the side.  As if you weren’t getting enough protein.

T-Bone Steak & Breaded Shrimp X
920 cal, 27g sat fat, 1,490mg sodium
Seeing the pattern yet?

Dinner Sides – Better Choices

Dippable Veggies (without dressing)
30 cal, no fat, 70mg sodium

Tomato Slices (3 slices)
10 cal, 3mg sodium

Green Beans (frozen)
45 cal, 2g fat, 140mg sodium

Cottage Cheese
70 cal, 2g fat, 300mg sodium

130 cal, 3g fat, 250mg sodium

Fiesta Corn
135 cal, 3g fat, 300mg sodium

Grilled Shrimp Skewer (one skewer)
90 cal, 3.5g fat, 160mg sodium

Dinner Sides – Worst Choices

Onion Rings X
520 cal, 36g fat, 980mg sodium

Country-Fried Potatoes X
390 cal, 28g fat, 560mg sodium

French Fries X
425 cal, 23g fat, 95mg sodium

Hash BrownsX
210 cal, 12g fat, 650mg sodium

Mashed Potatoes (plain)
170 cal, 510mg sodium

Ranchero Mashed Potatoes
140 cal, 460mg sodium

Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
120 cal, 380mg sodium

Vegetable Rice Pilaf X
200 cal, 820mg sodium

Breaded Shrimp (6) X
190 cal, 8g fat, 750mg sodium

Garlic Bread
170 cal, 9g fat, 350mg sodium

Dinner Rolls X X
260 cal, 4g sat fat, 2g trans fat (?!!), 9g total fat, 330mg sodium

Green Beans (canned)
45 cal, 480mg sodium

260 cal, 22g fat, 520mg sodium

Rock Star Menu – Avoid

If you want to die young like a rock star, sure, go for it.   They’re all high in calories and fat, and the sodium for every single choice is four digits.

The $2 $4 $6 $8 Value Menu – Avoid

Just like my recommendations for breakfast, it’s impossible to find anything on the value menu that isn’t too high in either calories, fat, or sodium — with one exception, the Lemon Pepper Chicken (which is also on the regular menu).

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

See Also: Healthy Breakfast Options at Denny’s

Denny’s Nutrition Facts (PDF)


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Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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August 18, 2010 7:37 pm

Love the Menu Mondays! For a trendy twist, might I suggest Food Truck Thursdays? (Tuesdays would work too!) 🙂