What to Eat at Denny's: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Denny's

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Denny’s is a chain of American restaurants best known for its breakfast menu and diner-style food. When you open up the Denny’s menu, you’ll see large images of omelets, sausage links, burgers, and more. While these aren’t traditionally thought of as healthy choices, Denny’s has some menu items that are lower in calories, fat, and carbs, including salads, egg white dishes, and more.

Breakfast foods tend to be heavy with butter, sugar, and salt, but everything can be enjoyed in moderation. An easy way to fit pancakes and other classic American foods into your lifestyle is by planning ahead, sharing the meal with a friend, or putting a portion of the serving into a container for later.

What Experts Say

“If you are dining at Denny’s, it's easy to consume more than half a day’s worth of calories if you are not careful. If you are eating here regularly, check out the Fit Fare menu which includes nutrient-dense, healthier items served with lots of vegetables, such as grilled sirloin, wild Alaskan salmon, and egg white scrambles.” —Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN 

Navigating the Menu

Denny’s is known for their Slams, a breakfast meal consisting of a main entree and several sides. However, the menu also offers lunch and dinner options. The Denny’s menu is quite extensive. With so many choices, you are bound to find something that satisfies both your taste buds and your dietary preferences.

If navigating the menu in search of the healthiest options, you can always turn to the Fit Fare selections of the Denny’s menu. These are some of the lowest-calorie options that Denny’s has to offer, according to the Denny’s Nutrition Guide.

 Most Nutritious Option Least Nutritious Option
Beyond Burger (Burgers) America’s Diner Double (Burgers)
House Salad (Salads) Cobb Salad (Salads)
The Super Bird (Melts & Handhelds) The Big Dipper Melt (Melts & Handhelds)
Fit Slam (Slams) Lumberjack Slam (Slams)
Hearty 9-Grain Pancake Breakfast (Pancakes & Crepes) Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast (Pancakes & Crepes)
Mile High Denver Omelette (Omelettes) Ultimate Omelette (Omelettes)
Santa Fe Sizzlin’ Skillet (Classic Breakfast) The Grand Slamwich (Classic Breakfast)
Wild Alaska Salmon (Classic Dinners) Crazy Spicy Sizzlin’ Skillet (Classic Dinners)
Grilled Chicken on a Stick (Kids) Jr. Cheeseburger (Kids)

Most Nutritious Option

If you’re looking for the healthiest meal at Denny’s, the Fit Slam breakfast offers a large serving size while being lower in calories, fat, carbs, and cholesterol than other menu items.  

Burgers

Denny’s has a handful of burgers to choose from, each served with a side of your choice. Since burgers tend to be greasy and calorie-dense, the offerings on this section of the menu are typically higher in saturated fat, sodium, carbs, cholesterol, and calories. 

✓ Beyond Burger

Denny’s has partnered with Beyond Meat to bring the Beyond burger to its restaurants across North America. Since the patty is plant-based, it’s lower in calories and fat than beef burgers.

Each Beyond burger at Denny’s contains 780 calories, 48g fat, 15g saturated fat, 59g carbohydrates, 33g protein, and 2,050mg sodium (including the bun and toppings). You can also order a Beyond patty off the Build Your Own Burger menu; the patty alone has 270 calories, 19g fat, 6g saturated fat, 7g carbohydrates, 20g protein, and 860mg sodium.

✗ America's Diner Double

The America's diner double burger has the highest markers across the board in this category. Each serving contains 1,220 calories, 80g fat, 34g saturated fat, 55g carbohydrates, 69g protein, and 2,400mg sodium. Each serving also contains 270mg cholesterol. Opting for a single patty instead of two will cut back on these figures.

Salads

When it comes to navigating restaurant menus, the salad section is a go-to for many. Denny’s salad section is smaller than others with just two salads to choose from. However, you can customize your salad with toppings like avocado, grilled chicken, salmon, and more. There is also a small garden salad available as a side.

✓ House Salad

The house salad is a low-calorie option. It starts at 190 calories, 9g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 19g carbohydrates, 6g protein, and 340mg sodium. Adding dressing and toppings will change these nutrition facts.

✗ Cobb Salad

The Cobb salad at Denny’s contains 480 calories, 34g fat, 12g saturated fat, 23g carbohydrates, 22g protein, and 610mg sodium. Adding 3 ounces of blue cheese dressing increases the calories by 310 and fat by 32 grams, so order the dressing on the side and use a conservative amount or choose low-fat balsamic vinaigrette or fat-free Italian dressing.

Melts & Handhelds

Denny’s has almost a dozen sandwiches on its menu. Many of them contain chicken tenders, though some have deli slices or steak. Sandwiches made with deli slices tend to be lower in calories than other options.

✓ Super Bird Sandwich

The Super Bird sandwich features turkey breast slices and other toppings on grilled sourdough bread. Each sandwich contains 680 calories, 35g fat, 14g saturated fat, 44g carbohydrates, 46g protein, and 1,830mg sodium. Bacon is a recommended topping, but skipping it will reduce cholesterol and sodium.

✗ The Nashville Hot Chicken Melt

Of all the sandwiches on Denny’s menu, the Nashville Hot Chicken Melt is the highest in calories, fat, and saturated fat. Each serving contains 1,260 calories, 81g fat, 25g saturated fat, 84g carbohydrate, 50g protein, and 2,910mg sodium. If you choose this sandwich, opt for a side garden salad instead of fries.

Slams

The most well-known section of the Denny’s menu is the Slams. The Original Grand Slam consists of two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips, and two sausage links. These items together result in a meal with enough calories for the whole day. To avoid a calorie overload, opt for the Fit Fare selection.

✓ Fit Slam

While you can build your own Slam or choose from a variety of other Slams, the healthiest option is the Fit Slam. It contains 450 calories, 12g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 59g carbohydrates, 27g protein, and 860mg sodium. The meal consists of egg whites scrambled with veggies, turkey bacon strips, an English muffin, and fruit.

✗ Lumberjack Slam

The Lumberjack Slam is similar to the original but it has more sides. In addition to pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausage, this Slam also includes grilled ham, hash browns, and bread. That means this spread provides 1,000 calories, 45g fat, 14g saturated fat, 110g carbohydrates, 37g protein, and 3,410mg sodium. The sodium and 160mg cholesterol are especially concerning for a single meal as they are more than what's recommended for an entire day.

Pancakes & Crepes

If you’re going to Denny’s, there’s a good chance you’ll be tempted to order the pancakes. Fortunately, there’s a nutritious way to enjoy this breakfast comfort classic. Just be mindful of the toppings high in sodium or sugar, such as butter, whipped cream, and caramel sauce.

✓ Hearty 9-Grain Pancake Breakfast

While not as fluffy as traditional buttermilk pancakes, the hearty 9-grain pancakes are lower in calories, sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium, making them the best choice in this category.

The serving contains 410 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 68g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 880mg sodium. It also contains 21g sugar, which pales in comparison to the other pancake breakfasts. Request berries and banana slices on top for an extra serving of fruit.

✗ Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast

As the name suggests, the cinnamon roll pancake breakfast with cream cheese icing is like a dessert. These pancakes provide 1,030 calories, 25g fat, 11g saturated fat, 188g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 1,660mg sodium. They are served with hash browns and eggs, but the nutrition facts here are for the pancakes only.

Omelettes

Omelettes are another classic breakfast food. Depending on location, Denny’s has only a couple different omelettes to choose from. When made with veggies and minimal meat, omelettes can be a hearty and nutritious breakfast. 

✓ Loaded Veggie Omelette

The Loaded Veggie Omelette is exactly what it sounds like: an egg dish served with ham, bell pepper, onion, and American cheese. Each omelette contains 500 calories, 38g fat, 12g saturated fat, 29g protein, 9g carbohydrates, and 680mg sodium.

✗ Ultimate Omelette

Unlike the other offerings in this category, the Ultimate Omelette contains multiple types of meat: bacon and sausage. This dish provides 720 calories, 59g fat, 19g saturated fat, 37g protein, 9g carbohydrates, and 1,250mg sodium.

Classic Breakfasts

While breakfast foods like pancakes and omelettes get their own menu categories, this section is reserved for the remaining options. Here you’ll find foods like country-fried steak, T-bone steak and eggs, various skillets, and more.

✓ Fit Fare Veggie Skillet with Salsa

The most nutritious option in this section, and perhaps the entire Denny’s menu, is likely the Fit Fare veggie skillet with salsa. It’s a skillet with potatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli topped with eggs whites scrambled with spinach and tomatoes. This is a vegetarian option that’s suitable for a variety of diets. The dish provides 390 calories, 16g fat, 3g saturated fat, 22g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 1,270mg sodium.

✗ Grand Slamwich

If you combine the classic Grand Slam with a breakfast sandwich, you get the Grand Slamwich. This consists of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, and cheese on bread. Each Slamwich contains 1,320 calories, 81g fat, 27g saturated fat, 52g protein, 95g carbohydrates, and 3,410mg sodium. It also contains 595mg cholesterol. If you have your heart set on the Grand Slamwich, consider splitting it with a friend or omitting some of the meat.

Classic Dinners

The menu at Denny’s is breakfast heavy, but it has a hefty amount of dinner options, too. Among the dinner entrées are steak, fish, pot roast, chicken tenders, and more. For the healthiest options, stick to steak or fish.

✓ Wild Alaska Salmon

The sirloin steak and the wild Alaska salmon are very similar in terms of calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. But if you're trying to reduce your intake of red meat, the salmon might be a better choice. The nutrition facts for the Wild Alaska Salmon are as follows: 540 calories, 31g fat, 8g saturated fat, 27g carbohydrates, 37g protein, and 1,130mg sodium.

✗ Crazy Spicy Sizzlin’ Skillet

Skillets can be an excellent source of protein and veggies, but they can also be an overload of calories, sodium, and fat. That looks like the case when it comes to the Crazy Spicy Sizzlin’ Skillet at Denny’s. It’s made of chorizo, chicken, cheese, queso, veggies, and a spicy sauce. Though it’s a mouthful of flavor, each serving packs 860 calories, 56g fat, 19g saturated fat, 41g carbohydrates, 50g protein, and 2,600mg sodium.

Kids

Denny’s often has promotions for kids’ meals, so it’s no surprise that kids have lots of options to choose from. If you’re looking for the healthiest option on the Denny’s kids menu, it’s not the pancakes or Jr. Grand Slam. In fact, it’s the Jr. Spaghetti.

✓ Jr. Spaghetti

You can order the regular Jr. Spaghetti with a choice of side and drink. Opt for broccoli and apple juice for a well-rounded kid's meal. The Jr. Spaghetti with Broccoli & Appley Ever After juice contains a total of 270 calories, 1.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 9g protein, 52g carbs, and 450mg sodium.

✗ Jr. Cheeseburger

The Jr. Cheeseburger is likely a popular choice on the Denny’s kid’s menu, but it’s quite high in sodium and calories. Each burger contains 470 calories, 25g fat, 12g saturated fat, 27g protein, 34g carbohydrates, and 1,000mg sodium.

Diet-Specific Options

Denny’s offers choices for gluten-free, low-carb, and vegetarian diets, but people following vegan, low-FODMAP, low-fat, and diabetes-friendly diets may have a more difficult time finding suitable options..

Gluten-Free

Denny’s has several gluten-free menu items that are clearly labeled. Though many items are served with bread, Denny’s offers gluten-free English muffins upon request.

  • Fit Slam
  • Hearty skillet
  • Sirloin steak
  • Loaded veggie omelette
  • Build Your Own Slam with meat, eggs, hash browns, and fruit

Low-Carb

Since a lot of Denny’s menu is heavy with animal products, it’s no surprise that people on a low-carb diet recommend the restaurant. Some low-carb favorites on the menu include:

  • My Hammy and Cheese Omelette
  • Lumberjack Slam
  • The Grand Slamwich
  • T-Bone steak and eggs
  • Sirloin steak

Low-FODMAP

One of the major challenges of the low-FODMAP diet is maintaining the diet while eating out. Since the diet usually omits wheat, dairy, and some fruits and vegetables, options at Denny's are limited.

  • Fruit (omit apples, watermelon, and peaches)
  • Wild Alaska salmon
  • Mediterranean grilled chicken
  • House salad (omit dressing and substitute oil and vinegar)

Diabetes-Friendly

People with diabetes should generally limit dairy, starchy vegetables, and sweets. Some recommended foods include foods rich in protein, fiber, and good sources of carbs and fats. The Fit Fare menu options may be suitable.

  • Fit Slam
  • Fit Fare Omelette
  • Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet
  • House salad

Low-Fat

For those following a low-fat diet, sticking to vegetarian options instead of those that contain a lot of meat can be a good strategy.

  • Fit Slam
  • Hearty 9-grain pancakes
  • Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet
  • House salad

Low-Sodium

Finding low-sodium options can be challenging at nearly any restaurant. At Denny’s, it’s difficult, but not impossible. To avoid high-sodium meals, avoid large serving sizes such as Build Your Own Slams. 

  • Egg white omelette
  • Grilled chicken
  • Fruit
  • English muffin
  • Fresh avocado

Vegetarian

Denny’s is very vegetarian-friendly. If you avoid meat but still consume dairy and eggs, you’ll have no problem navigating the menu. Note that the tomato sauce contains pork and chicken, so avoid dishes with tomato sauce.

  • Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet
  • Loaded Veggie Omelette
  • Pancakes
  • Fit Slam (omit bacon, sausage, and ham)
  • Beyond burger

Vegan

If you follow a vegan or plant-based diet, there are just a few vegan options at Denny’s. These usually require modifications. Some of the sides are also vegan-friendly with modifications.

  • Beyond Burger (omit cheese and American sauce)
  • Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet (omit egg whites)
  • English muffin or toast (swap butter for jam)
  • Oatmeal (request that it be made with water instead of milk)
  • Hash browns

Food Allergies and Safety

Denny’s provides an allergen guide, but warns that cross-contamination is possible in its kitchens. Though Denny's offers dairy-free and gluten-free options, people with allergies should be aware that these foods may come in contact with dietary allergens.

It is generally safe for people with allergies to soy, fish, peanuts, and shellfish to enjoy a meal at Denny’s. However, many menu items contain dairy, eggs, and wheat. People with those food allergies should be extra cautious.

A Word From Verywell

Denny’s is a popular restaurant because of its extensive and affordable menu with American classics like pancakes, sandwiches, and burgers. It’s also a common chain restaurant with more than 1,700 locations, so you’re likely to come across a Denny’s at some point.

If you stop at a Denny’s, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the menu. The menu items tend to be high in calories, sodium, and fat, but one indulgent meal won’t derail your long-term health plans. When in doubt, order off the Fit Fare menu. If you can’t say no to a stack of pancakes, enjoy a trip to Denny’s on special occasions.

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