Healthy Options at P.F. Chang’s, Part 2: Entrees

Healthy options at PF Changs

Last week I posted about P.F. Chang’s Healthiest Appetizers.  Here’s the followup with the rest of the menu.

It’s definitely possible to make some healthy & delicious choices, though you”ll need to be very careful with portion sizes and sodium.

The best thing on the menu — by a very wide margin, and worthy of special mention — is the Steamed Buddha’s Feast.  (But make sure you get it Steamed, not Stir-Fried!) [Update June 7, 2012: The Steamed Buddha’s feast used to be the best choice on the menu. Now they’re reporting the same (very high) amount of sodium as the fried version. Either their nutrition facts listing was wrong when I originally wrote this post, they’ve changed the dish, or it’s wrong now. I’ll email them.]

The nutrition info below is for ONE SERVING of each item.  I’ll let you know if an order contains more than one serving, which is almost always the case.

For the sake of brevity, I’m now simply listing the reason why something is on the “Worst” list.  The order of rankings is “high,” “very high,” “extremely high,” and “outrageously high.”

Lunch Bowls – Better Choices

All the lunch bowls are served with Egg Drop Soup or Hot and Sour Soup.  Both are about the same calories, but the Egg Drop has 640mg sodium, which is 360mg less than the Hot and Sour.

They also give the option of white rice or brown rice.  I recommend the brown rice, of course, since it adds fiber and extra nutrients — and fewer calories.  So all the info for lunch bowls assumes brown rice.

Buddha’s Feast, Steamed
Two 9-ounce servings, each with:
210 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 80mg sodium, 39g carbs, 5g fiber, 10g protein

Asian Grilled Salmon*
Two 9-ounce servings, each with:
320 cal, 1g sat fat, 6g total fat, 575mg sodium, 44g carbs, 3g fiber, 22g protein

Lunch Bowls – Worst Choices

Almond & Cashew Chicken (very high calories, outrageously high sodium)

Crispy Honey Chicken (extremely high calories)

Sesame Chicken (very high calories, extremely high sodium)

Beef with Broccoli (very high calories, extremely high sodium)

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce (very high sodium)

Pepper Steak (very high sodium)

Buddha’s Feast, Stir-Fried (high sodium)

Moo Goo Gai Pan (high calories, high sodium)

Chicken/Duck Entrées – Better Choices

Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken OK
Three 7-ounce servings, each with:
343 cal, 2g sat fat, 14g total fat, 187mg sodium, 30g carbs, 1g fiber, 26g protein

Chang’s Spicy Chicken
Three 6-ounce servings, each with:
323 cal, 2g sat fat, 13g total fat, 550mg sodium, 23g carbs, no fiber, 28g protein

Sweet & Sour Chicken
Three 5-ounce servings, each with:
370 cal, 3g sat fat, 19g total fat, 367mg sodium, 38g carbs, no fiber, 12g protein

Chicken/Duck Entrées – Worst Choices

Ginger Chicken with Broccoli (extremely high sodium)

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (extremely high sodium)

Ground Chicken & Eggplant (extremely high sodium)

Mandarin Chicken (extremely high sodium)

VIP Duck (high calories & extremely high sodium)

Almond & Cashew Chicken (extremely high sodium)

Mu Shu Chicken (extremely high sodium)

Kung Pao Chicken (very high sodium)

Sesame Chicken (very high sodium)

Moo Goo Gai Pan (high sodium)

Dali Chicken (high sodium)

Crispy Honey Chicken (high calories and fat)

Orange Peel Chicken (high sodium)

Beef Entrées – Better Choices

Although these are the best beef options, they’re both rather high in sodium.

Orange Peel Beef
Three 5-ounce servings, each with:
283 cal, 3g sat fat, 13g total fat, 833mg sodium, 21g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein

Hong Kong Beef with Snow Peas
Two 9-ounce servings, each with:
310 cal, 3g sat fat, 14g total fat, 926mg sodium, 24g carbs, 3g fiber, 24g protein

Beef Entrées – Worst Choices

Beef with Broccoli (extremely high sodium)

Mongolian Beef (very high sodium)

Wok-Charred Beef (very high sodium)

Asian Marinated New York Strip (high fat, high sodium)

Pepper Steak (very high sodium)

Beef À La Sichuan (high sodium)

Pork/Lamb Entrées – Better Choices

Chengdu Spiced Lamb OK
Three 5-ounce servings, each with:
237 cal, 3g sat fat, 12g total fat, 740mg sodium, 11g carbs, 1g fiber, 23g protein

Sweet & Sour Pork
Two 10-ounce servings, each with:
460 cal, 7g sat fat, 14g total fat, 950mg sodium, 72g carbs, 2g fiber, 14g protein

Pork/Lamb Entrées – Worst Choices

Mu Shu Pork (outrageously high sodium – 2,275mg, without the hoisin sauce!)

Wok-Seared Lamb (extremely high sodium)

Hunan Pork (extremely high sodium)

Seafood Entrées – Better Choices

Chang’s Lemon Scallops OK
Three 6-ounce servings, each with:
243 cal, 2g sat fat, 10g total fat, 540mg sodium, 28g carbs, 1g fiber, 11g protein

Steamed Salmon with Ginger*
Two 10-ounce servings, each with:
330 cal, 3g sat fat, 19g total fat, 605mg sodium, 12g carbs, 3g fiber, 31g protein

Shrimp with Candied Walnuts
Three 7-ounce servings, each with:
377 cal, 4g sat fat, 24g total fat, 654mg sodium, 25g carbs, 1g fiber, 16g protein

Asian Grilled Salmon with Rice*
Two 9-ounce servings, each with:
345 cal, 2g sat fat, 6g total fat, 715mg sodium, 38g carbs, 1g fiber, 32g protein

Seafood Entrées – Worst Choices

Oolong Marinated Sea Bass** (extremely high sodium)

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce (extremely high sodium)

Crispy Honey Shrimp (high fat, high calories)

Cantonese Shrimp (very high sodium)

Cantonese Scallops (very high sodium)

Kung Pao Shrimp (very high sodium)

Kung Pao Scallops (very high sodium)

Salt & Pepper Prawns (very high sodium)

Orange Peel Shrimp (very high sodium)

Lemon Pepper Shrimp (very high sodium)

Hot Fish (very high sodium)

Shanghai Shrimp with Garlic Sauce (very high sodium, but lower calories)

Lemongrass Prawns with Garlic Noodles (high sodium, high calories, high sat fat)

Mahi-Mahi (high calories, high sat fat)

Sichuan From the Sea with Shrimp, Scallops, or Calamari (high sodium)
They also tweak the serving sizes here, so they vary from 3-4 servings and 4-7 ounces per dish… sneaky.

Noodles & Rice – Better Choices

Garlic Noodles OK
Four 5-ounce servings, each with:
178 cal, 1g sat fat, 4g total fat, 360mg sodium, 31g carbs, 1g fiber, 5g protein

P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice with Beef, Chicken, or Shrimp
Four 7-8 ounce servings, each with:
273-303 cal, 1-2g sat fat, 8-9g total fat, 748-838mg sodium, 39-41g carbs, 1g fiber, 11-13g protein

Noodles & Rice – Worst Choices

Double Pan-Fried Noodles with Beef, Pork, Chicken, Shrimp (extremely high sodium)

Dan Dan Noodles (very high sodium)

Canton Chicken & Mushrooms (very high sodium)

P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice with Pork, or Combo (high sodium)

Singapore Street Noodles (high sodium)

Lo Mein with Beef, Pork, Chicken, or Shrimp (high sodium)

Cantonese Chow Fun with Chicken or Beef (high sodium)

Vegetarian Entrées – Better Choices

Buddha’s Feast, Steamed OK
Two 6-ounce servings, each with:
55 cal, no fat, 40mg sodium, 11g carbs, 4g fiber, 4g protein

Vegetarian Fried Rice OK
Four 7-ounce servings, each with:
190 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 230mg sodium, 38g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein

Vegetable Chow Fun
Four 7-ounce servings, each with:
250 cal, no sat fat, 2g total fat, 750mg sodium, 46g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g protein

Stir-Fried Eggplant
Four 6-ounce servings, each with:
270mg sodium, 3g sat fat, 22g total fat, 760mg sodium, 14g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Vegetarian Entrées – Worst Choices

Buddha’s Feast, Stir-Fried (extremely high sodium)

Coconut Curry Vegetables (very high fat and calories)

Ma Po Tofu (very high sodium)

Desserts – Better Choices

Mini Great Wall, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Apple Pie
100-150 cal, 1-2g  sat fat, 4-7g total fat, 50-115mg sodium, 18-29g carbs, no fiber, 1g protein
(Listed above from lowest to highest calories)

Desserts – Worst Choices

New York-Style Cheesecake (highest in calories of all the desserts)

Bana Spring Rolls (higher in calories)

The Great Wall of Chocolate™ (high in calories and fat)

Flourless Chocolate Dome (higher in calories)

Mini Cheesecake (higher in calories and fat)

Mini Tiramisu (higher in fat)

Mini Lemon Dream (higher in calories)

Mini S’mores (highest in calories of all the minis, higher in fat)

Kid’s Menu – Better Choices

Baby’s Buddha’s Feast, Steamed OK OK
Two 3-ounce servings, each with:
30 cal, no fat, 25mg sodium, 6g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g protein

Kid’s Chicken
Two 2-ounce servings, each with:
165 cal, 2g sat fat, 10g total fat, 120mg sodium, 10g carbs, no fiber, 9g protein
The Sweet & Sour Sauce has 90 cal and 210mg sodium, the Honey Sauce has 140 calories and 360mg sodium.

Kid’s Menu – Worst Choices

Baby’s Buddha’s Feast, Stir-Fried (very high sodium)

Kid’s Fried Rice with Chicken (very high sodium)

Kid’s Lo Mein (very high sodium)

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-better,” more or less.

Don’t miss Part 1: Healthiest Appetizers at PF Chang’s.

* A note on Salmon: The Salmon that PF Chang’s serves is most likely farmed, and therefore should be avoided.  Check out this important fact sheet on farmed salmon from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (PDF).  (I’ve emailed them and will update if I hear back. See their reply in the comments.)

** A note on Sea Bass: Chilean Sea Bass has been severely overfished, and PF Chang’s doesn’t specify what type of sea bass, so it’s best to avoid this one.  Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s info on Chilean Sea Bass.  (I’ve emailed them and will update if I hear back. See their reply in the comments.)

P.F. Chang’s Nutrition Information

P.F. Chang’s Menu (there’s a small link at the bottom to their nutrition info)

Photo by pinkbelt.

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April 13, 2014 3:35 pm

I just want to add that the Sesame chicken (“Chicken/duck entree-worst choice”) which was on the list for high sodium actually has less sodium than Chang’s Spicy Chicken (“Chickn/duck entree- best choice”). To me this doesn’t make sense. Not only that, but the sesame chicken has more fiber (12 grams compared to 0 grams), more protein, and fewer calories. Maybe it should be added to the best choice list?

March 19, 2013 2:13 pm

I ate the lunch portion of Buddha’s Feast today with brown rice and am having trouble coming up with the right numbers. Their website shows 440 cal/serving (for the lunch portion w/white rice), but you say 210… just trying for some clarification!

S. Coulter
S. Coulter
February 7, 2013 10:34 am

If you look on P.F. Chang’s own nutional info site, you’ll see that the first column of data is the serving size; the second is the number of servings on a plate. Garlic noodles are a 5oz. serving, and there are 4 servings per order (ie, per plate). They show 360 miligrams of sodium PER SERVING. Since there are four servings on the plate, the sodium total would be 4 x 360=1440mg of sodium, if you eat the entire order.
My objection to the way they handle nutrition data is that, for many items like garlic noodles, there’s no way to separate one serving on the serving plate from another. I think most people just eat the full order.

February 6, 2013 2:14 pm

In reference to the garlic noodles: Are you saying that the portion they give you equals 4 – 5oz. servings? According to their website the nutritional information is as follows: Garlic Noodles 720 calories, 11 grams fat, 2990 mg sodium. If I divide the sodium by 4, I don’t get the numbers you came up with. They are much higher.

Amanda Cowan
January 7, 2013 1:53 pm

When I went recently to PF Changs and ordered the Buddha’s feast lunch portion (no rice), I asked for no salt/oil/soy sauce to be added. It was VERY CLEAR to me that there was no oil or salt added to my food. I cook very carefully at home and I know what those veggies taste like with even a dash of oil or salt. So for that visit, I felt it was a success.

Having said that, eating out is still something I would rather not do on a regular basis, because whether you try to make healthy choices or not, you can never be sure what will come out of the kitchen. And while fat and whatnot might be easier to avoid if you know the right things to look for, sodium is always going to be a huge issue with eating out.

S. Coulter
S. Coulter
November 15, 2012 10:42 am

It’s pretty clear that there is no “healthy” way to eat a P.F. Chang’s; the reality is that, like most restaurants of its type, a dump truck of salt is used on a daily basis.
Most of there dishes are described as somewhere between 2 and 6 portions per dish. Those portions are rather small, and are not separated from each other on the plate. I suspect most people just eat the whole plateful, not catching that they’re eating 2x, 4x, or 6x the sodium (and everythink else).
Like Applebees, Macaroni Grill, Olive Garden, etc. etc., it’s best to just avoid such places.

October 19, 2012 4:52 am

Thanks for the info.! I’m a bit confused, though. I’m looking at the nutrional informatin on Chang’s website, and it states that the Sweet and Sour Chicken is 860 calories per dish. I did notice that on here you state that it’s 370 cals for 3 5-ounce servings. Is that 370 calories for all 3 or for 5 ounces? Also, how can I tell how many ounches servings are?

June 7, 2012 10:14 am

Great website, very helpful. One note though — you note that I should get the steamed not stir fried Buddha’s feast because of the high sodium. The PF Changs website says they have the same sodium amount. Stir fried does have more fat, but the same sodium.

April 28, 2012 10:12 am

Thankyou so much! Now i know what to order, this was so helpful!!

Andrew Schoen
Andrew Schoen
March 26, 2012 8:28 am

I came accross this website today. What a fantastic resource! Thank you! I am going to PF Changs…….Do the chicken dishes listed above count for the rice that is served?