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

Stack of whole grain pancakes topped with fruit

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In This Article

Denny’s is a chain of American restaurants best known for its signature breakfast Slams. For more than 65 years, Denny’s has been a go-to spot for classic breakfast items like pancakes, bacon, and hashbrowns, though they also have lunch and dinner options.

There are more than 1,700 Denny’s locations in North America, with the vast majority located in the United States. Other countries with Denny’s locations include Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

When you open up the Denny’s menu, you’ll see large images of omelettes, 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 whites, skillets, 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. If you’re headed to Denny’s soon, here’s what you need to know about the most and least nutritious options.

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, RD, CDE 

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 more than one dozen categories and dozens of options to choose from. 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 Options
  • Beyond Burger® (Burgers)

  • House Salad (Salads)

  • The Super Bird® (Sandwiches)

  • Fit Slam® (Slams)

  • Hearty 9-Grain Pancake Breakfast (Pancakes)

  • Loaded Veggie Omelette (Omelettes)

  • Fit Fare® Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet (Breakfast Favorites)

  • Wild Alaska Salmon (Dinner Classics)

  • Grilled Chicken on a Stick (Kids)

Least Nutritious Options
  • America’s Diner Double (Burgers)

  • Caesar Salad (Salads)

  • Mega Philly Cheese Melt w/ Prime Rib (Sandwiches)

  • Lumberjack Slam® (Slams)

  • Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast (Pancakes)

  • Ultimate Omelette® (Omelettes)

  • The Grand Slamwich® (Breakfast Favorites)

  • Crazy Spicy Sizzlin’ Skillet (Dinner Classics)

  • Jr. Cheeseburger (Kids)

If you’re looking for the healthiest meal at Denny’s, the Fit Fare® Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet 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, this section of the menu is on the higher end when it comes to saturated fat, sodium, carbs, cholesterol, and calories. 

Most Nutritious Option

Recently, Denny’s partnered with Beyond Meat, bringing the Beyond Burger to restaurants across North America. Since the patty is plant-based, it’s lower in calories and fat than the beef alternatives.

Each Beyond Burger at Denny’s contains 740 calories, 47g fat, 14g saturated fat, 48g carbohydrates, 33g protein, and 1,930mg sodium. It’s the option that’s lowest in trans fat and cholesterol.

Least Nutritious Option

The America’s Diner Double has the highest markers across the board in this category. Each serving contains 1,250 calories, 83g fat, 36g saturated fat, 52g carbohydrates, 74g protein, and 2,520mg sodium. Each serving also contains 290mg 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 three salads to choose from. However, you can customize your salad with toppings like avocado, grilled chicken, salmon, and more.

Most Nutritious Option

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

Least Nutritious Option

While salad appears to be a low-calorie food, the dressing alone can pack hundreds of calories. That is the case with the Caesar Salad at Denny’s, which contains 440 calories, 40g fat, 10g saturated fat, 9g carbohydrates, 13g protein, and 930mg sodium. Adding caesar dressing increases the total calories by approximately 500, so order the dressing on the side and use a conservative amount.

Sandwiches

Denny’s has almost a dozen sandwiches on their 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.

Most Nutritious Option

The Super Bird Sandwich consists of turkey breast slices and other toppings on grilled sourdough bread. Each sandwich contains 600 calories, 28g fat, 10g saturated fat, 43g carbohydrates, 40g protein, and 1,780mg sodium. Bacon is a recommended topping but skip the extra meat to cut back on cholesterol and sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

Of all the sandwiches on Denny’s menu, the Mega Philly Cheese Melt w/ Prime Rib is the highest in calories, fat, and saturated fat. Each serving contains 900 calories, 51g fat, 18g saturated fat, 49g protein, and 2,220mg sodium. The same sandwich can be made with grilled chicken breast instead of prime rib, and the nutrition facts are slightly healthier.

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.

Most Nutritious Option

While you can build your own Slam or choose from a variety of Slams, the healthiest option is like 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, English muffins, and fruit.

Least Nutritious Option

The Lumberjack Slam is similar to the original but it contains more sides. In addition to pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausage, this Slam also contains grilled ham, hash browns, and bread. This spread comes to a whopping 970 calories, 48g fat, 15g saturated fat, 96g carbohydrates, 39g protein, and 3,250mg sodium. The sodium and 140mg cholesterol are especially concerning for a single meal as these nutrition facts are more than what's recommended for an entire day.

Pancakes

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

Most Nutritious Option

While not as fluffy, the Hearty 9-Grain Pancakes are the lowest in calories, sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium. The serving contains 410 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 68g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 880mg sodium. They also contain 21g sugar, which pales in comparison to the other pancake breakfasts. Be sure to request berries and banana slices on top for an extra serving of fruit.

Least Nutritious Option

As the name suggests, the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes are the most indulgent of the pancake breakfasts. Essentially, they are like a dessert. These pancakes contain 1,030 calories, 25g fat, 11g saturated fat, 188g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 1,660mg sodium. They also contain a shocking 127g sugar per serving. These nutrition facts do not include any sides or drinks, so reserve this breakfast for special occasions.

Omelettes

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

Most Nutritious Option

The Loaded Veggie Omelette is exactly what it sounds like: an egg omelette served with veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. Each omelette packs 620 calories, 44g fat, 14g saturated fat, 31g protein, 24g carbohydrates, and 970mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

Unlike the Loaded Veggie Omelette, the Ultimate Omelette contains multiple types of meat: bacon and sausage. This increases the nutrition facts to 890 calories, 71g fat, 22g saturated fat, 38g protein, 20g carbohydrates, and 1,590mg sodium.

Breakfast Favorites

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.

Most Nutritious Option

The most nutritious option in this section, and perhaps the entire Denny’s menu, is likely the Fit Fare® Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet. It’s a skillet with potatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli topped with egg whites scrambled with spinach and tomatoes. This is a vegetarian option that’s suitable for a variety of diets. The nutrition facts are as follows: 390 calories, 16g fat, 3g saturated fat, 22g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 1,270mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

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, 85g fat, 28g saturated fat, 52g protein, 87g carbohydrates, and 3,320mg sodium. It also contains a shocking 595mg cholesterol. If you have your heart set on the Grand Slamwich, consider splitting it with a friend or omitting some of the meat.

Dinner Classics

The menu at Denny’s is breakfast heavy, but they have a hefty amount of dinner options, too. Among the dinner items are various steaks, fish, pot roast, grilled chicken, and more. For the healthiest options, stick to grilled chicken and fish.

Most Nutritious Option

Between the grilled chicken and salmon, the Wild Alaska Salmon contains fewer calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. The nutrition facts are as follows: 350 calories, 23g fat, 6g saturated fat, 1g carbohydrates, 32g protein, and 830mg sodium. This is an excellent option for low-carb diets.

Least Nutritious Option

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 1,040 calories, 70g fat, 23g saturated fat, 44g carbohydrates, 59g protein, and 2,980mg 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 Grilled Chicken on a Stick.

Most Nutritious Option

Denny’s likely makes a skewer out of grilled chicken so kids will have more fun eating healthier foods. Whatever the reasoning, the Grilled Chicken on the Stick offers a high-protein meal for kids that’s not too high in sodium, fat, or sugar. Each serving contains 200 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 29g protein, 0g carbs, and 330mg sodium. Denny’s recommends serving it with a side of broccoli, dipping sauce, and apple juice for a filling kid’s meal.

Least Nutritious Option

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 490 calories, 26g fat, 13g saturated fat, 29g protein, 34g carbohydrates, and 1,130mg sodium.  

Diet-Specific Options

Denny’s offers choices for gluten-free, low-carb, and vegetarian diets, but could improve its selection for vegan, low-FODMAP, low-fat, and diabetes-friendly menu items.

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 bread upon request.

  • Fit Slam (Request gluten-free muffin)
  • Hearty Skillet
  • Sirloin Steak
  • Loaded Veggie Omelette (Request gluten-free muffin)
  • 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. 

  • 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. Denny’s could improve its low-FODMAP selection.

  • Fruit (Omit apples, watermelon, and peaches)
  • Wild Alaska Salmon
  • Mediterranean Grilled Chicken
  • House Salad (Omit dressing and substitute with 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, you may have luck sticking to vegetarian options instead of those that contain a lot of meat.

  • Fit Slam
  • Hearty 9-Grain Pancakes
  • Fit Fare Veggie Sizzlin’ Skillet
  • House Salad

Low-sodium

Finding low-sodium options can be difficult at nearly any restaurant. At Denny’s, it’s difficult, but not impossible. To avoid high-sodium meals, avoid the 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.

  • 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 (Made with water instead of milk)
  • Hash Browns

Food Allergies and Safety

Denny’s keeps an up-to-date allergen guide, but they warn that cross-contamination is possible in their kitchens. Though they offer dairy-free and gluten-free options, people with allergies should be aware that allergen-friendly 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 allergens like 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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