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

Wendy's

Verywell / Christian Alzate

With locations in 30 countries, Wendy's is one of the most popular global fast-food chains. Its menu has expanded to include French fries, chili, salads, chicken sandwiches, and the chain's famous Frosty for dessert.

Whatever your dietary needs, preferences, and goals, this fast-food chain has dozens of options and can be customized for most dietary preferences. Knowing the nutrition content of the menu before you order can help you create the most nutritious meal anytime you visit the restaurant. The signature menu and its many varieties of dishes can be enjoyed guilt-free whether you're stopping by for a quick snack or a full-sized meal.

What Experts Say

"Wendy’s has multiple salad options that can boost veggie intake, but much of the menu doesn’t provide enough fiber-rich ingredients and contains higher sodium levels. If you eat here on a regular basis, choose vegetables, whole grains, and lower sodium ingredients when you can to help balance out overall daily nutrition."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

You can order breakfast at Wendy's, with options including breakfast sandwiches, an oatmeal bar, or a breakfast burrito. For lunch and dinner, Wendy's offers hamburgers, chicken options, salads, and a variety of sides, desserts, and drinks. Kids' meals are available as well.

What to Order & Avoid at Wendy's
Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options
Oatmeal Bar (Breakfast) Breakfast Baconator (Breakfast)
Jr. Hamburger (Beef) Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple (Beef) 
4 Pc. Crispy Chicken Nuggets (Chicken) Spicy Pretzel Bacon Pub (Chicken)
Parmesan Caesar Salad (Salad) Taco Salad (Salad)
Apple Bites (Sides) Chili & Cheese Baked Potato (Sides)
Jr. Vanilla Frosty (Dessert) Lg. Chocolate Frosty (Dessert)
Nestle Pure Life Bottled Water (Beverages) Lg. Hi-C Flashin' Fruit Punch (Beverages)

Most Nutritious Option

If you're looking for the healthiest meal at Wendy's, the Parmesan Caesar Salad is the best choice; and you can either skip the dressing or only use half if you want to reduce overall fat, calorie, and sodium content.

Breakfast

Wendy’s breakfast menu features many sandwiches—which you can get on a croissant, biscuit, or hamburger bun—as well as a few other items, such as a burrito or oatmeal bar. Many of these are high in fat, calories, and sodium.

To make your breakfast sandwich healthier, consider an option without cheese and bacon. You may also want to stay away from the breakfast combos (which come with a side of fried seasoned potatoes) or ask to substitute apple bites for the potatoes.

✓ Oatmeal Bar

Wendy's Oatmeal Bar provides 270 calories, 10g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 44g carbohydrate, 3g protein, and 230mg sodium. This bar is healthier than the other options because it has about half of the fat (both total and saturated) and is higher in fiber (4g per bar).

✗ Breakfast Baconator

Wendy's Breakfast Baconator provides 730 calories, 50g total fat, 19g saturated fat, 37g carbohydrate, 34g protein, and 1,750mg sodium. If you're in the mood for sausage, bacon, and eggs, Wendy's burrito can satisfy this craving with around half the calories, fat, and sodium.

Beef

Wendy’s is known for its classic hamburger, but the burger menu has expanded to include a variety of options, including different bun and topping choices and even multiple patties. Though, many of these options add even more calories and fat.

To make your burger healthier, consider leaving off the cheese and bacon and swap mustard for the mayonnaise. One-patty options will be the lowest in fat and calories and, if you want to make a single-patty burger more filling, ask for extra lettuce and tomato.

✓ Jr. Hamburger

Wendy's Jr. Hamburger provides 250 calories, 11g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 25g carbohydrate, 13g protein, and 420mg sodium. Out of all of the burger options, this one is the lowest in calories and fat while also being lower in sodium.

✗ Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple provides 1,520 calories, 106g total fat, 45g saturated fat, 54g carbohydrate, 89g protein, and 1,940mg sodium. Order a single Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger, and you can cut your fat and calories in half. Swap the pretzel bun, and you can reduce both even more.

Chicken

In addition to beef, Wendy’s offers a wide selection of crispy chicken sandwiches and nuggets, with some that are a bit spicy. Many of these options are healthier than Wendy's beef choices because they have lower amounts of calories and fat.

When looking at Wendy's chicken sandwich menu, grilled is healthier than fried and remember that each item you add (e.g., bacon, cheese, pretzel bun) will likely make your meal a little less healthy. Choose veggie toppings instead, or go with chicken nuggets to avoid unhealthy condiments altogether.

✓ Crispy Chicken Nuggets

Wendy's 4 Pc. Crispy Chicken Nuggets provide 170 calories, 11g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 10g carbohydrate, 9g protein, and 340mg sodium. Choosing nuggets over a sandwich helps you bypass the fat and calories in many sandwich toppings. It's also a good option if you're eating low-carb because there is no bun.

✗ Spicy Pretzel Bacon Pub

Wendy's Spicy Pretzel Bacon Pub provides 840 calories, 42g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 71g carbohydrate, 42g protein, and 1,790mg sodium. If you're in the mood for a chicken sandwich, ask for grilled chicken versus fried and consider leaving off the bacon, cheese, or both.

Salads

Wendy’s offers a handful of fresh-made salads, each with different topping choices. Generally, these options are the healthiest because they are more nutrient-dense. Salads are also a good option if you're watching your carb intake.

When selecting your salad, look for one with toppings such as fruit, more vegetables, or nuts. Toppings that are fried (such as croutons or taco chips) will increase the meal's total fat and calories. Dressing choice matters, too, with low-calorie options usually being the healthiest choice.

✓ Parmesan Caesar Salad

Wendy's Parmesan Caesar Salad provides 300 calories, 14g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 5g carbohydrate, 41g protein, and 790mg sodium. This is one of the menu items lower in fat that also supplies fiber (3g) and a good dose of other nutrients, such as potassium.

Add the full dressing packet and you'll add 140 calories, 14g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 2g carbohydrates, 1g protein, and 320mg sodium. Aim to use only half of the dressing or request a lower-calorie option instead.

✗ Taco Salad

Wendy's Taco Salad provides 620 calories, 34g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 67g carbohydrate, 3g protein, and 1,890mg sodium. A healthier option with the same taste profile is a small chili. Opting for the chili will cut your calories and fat by two-thirds. It also reduces your sodium by half.

Sides

Wendy’s menu of sides includes French fries, baked potatoes, chili, and apple bites. Overall, many of these options fall on the less healthy side, mainly because of their additional toppings such as cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

The healthiest sides are those that are in their most natural form, such as a plain baked potato or apple bites. If you want something warm, a small chili offers more nutritional value than fries or a baked potato with higher-calorie toppings.

✓ Apple Bites

Wendy's Apple Bites provide 35 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 8g carbohydrate, 0g protein, and 0mg sodium. They are a great side option if you are watching your fat intake or if you are eating a low-sodium diet. It's also one of the few menu items that do not directly contain allergens.

✗ Chili & Cheese Baked Potato

Wendy's Chili & Cheese Baked Potato provides 500 calories, 14g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 74g carbohydrate, 20g protein, and 860mg sodium. You can make your baked potato side healthier by ordering it plain.

Dessert

The company's menu of sweet treats offers what it's best known for: the Frosty. For those who don’t want a cool treat, its bakery menu also includes a couple of flavors of cookies. Some options are as high in fat and calories as a sandwich, so it's helpful to keep this in mind.

You can make your Frosty healthier by choosing "junior" or small serving sizes over mediums or larges. And if you're in the mood for a cookie, the oatmeal bar offers more nutrition than other options.

✓ Jr. Vanilla Frosty

Wendy's Jr. Vanilla Frosty provides 190 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 32g carbohydrate, 5g protein, and 90mg sodium. These amounts are relatively low for a dessert, enabling you to satisfy your sweet tooth while staying within your desired calorie and fat range.

✗ Large Chocolate Frosty

Wendy's Large Chocolate Frosty provides 590 calories, 15g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 99g carbohydrate, 17g protein, and 260mg sodium. You can get your chocolate fix while staying within your dietary guidelines by choosing a junior or small serving. If you're watching your calories or carbs, a chocolate chunk cookie is a better option.

Beverages

At Wendy's, you can get both hot and cold drinks. They have hot and iced coffee, as well as a wide selection of sodas and lemonades. You can also order milk or water. There are a variety of choices, some that are healthier than others.

If you don't want to add any fat or calories to your meal, water, coffee, and iced tea are the best choices. Milk is a good option if you're trying to increase your calcium intake. If you do order a drink that is higher in calories or fat, choosing smaller portion sizes can help.

✓ Nestle Pure Life Bottled Water

Order a Nestle Pure Life Bottled Water and you get a beverage with no calories, no fat, no carbs, no protein, and no sodium. This leaves more in all of these categories for your actual meal. Plus, when it comes to beverages, water is always a top choice.

✗ Hi-C Flashin' Fruit Punch

Wendy's large-sized Hi-C Flashin' Fruit Punch provides 560 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 14g carbohydrate, 0g protein, and 120mg sodium. A healthier sweet drink option is Minute Maid Light Lemonade. Even a large-sized portion provides only 30 calories, though it is higher in sodium with 240 grams.

Diet-Specific Options

The Wendy’s menu offers a number of options if you follow a specific diet, such as low-carb, diabetes-friendly, low-fat, low-sodium, vegetarian, and vegan; though, your selection is a bit more limited if you follow a gluten-free diet or low-FODMAP diet.

Gluten-Free

  • Plain hamburger (no bun)
  • Grilled chicken (no bun)
  • Any salad but Taco or Jalapeño Popper
  • Fries
  • Chili

Wendy’s doesn't offer any certified gluten-free items, but it does say which items contain wheat. If you are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, review the nutrition info and ingredients list carefully before you order.

Gluten-free salads are good choices as they are higher in nutrients. Just watch the amount of dressing you use or choose a lower-calorie option if you are limiting your fat and calorie intake.

Low-Carb

  • Parmesan Caesar salad
  • Plain hamburger (no bun)
  • Grilled chicken (no bun)
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Apple bites

French fries and baked potatoes are high in carbs, so you might want to avoid these food items if you're following a low-carb diet. Ordering sandwiches without the bun helps reduce your carb intake, too, as does getting salads with no high-carb toppings such as croutons or tortilla chips.

If you want something filling, a salad or bun-less burger and chicken are good options. If you're looking for something a bit lighter, a four-piece chicken nugget or apple bites are the better choices.

Low-FODMAP

  • Fries
  • Baked potato (with cheese, if tolerated)
  • Salad (without croutons, onions, or dressing)
  • Grilled chicken (no bun, with cheese if tolerated)
  • Plain hamburger patty (no bun, with cheese if tolerated)

If you follow a low-FODMAP diet, your options may be especially limited when it comes to fast food. Check the menu in advance to see which items contain grains, fruit, and dairy, and aim to avoid those. Plain meat and potato items are typically safer choices.

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Grilled chicken
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Apple bites
  • Jr. hamburger (no bun)
  • Parmesan Caesar Chicken or Southwest Avocado Chicken salads

If you follow a diet for people with diabetes, look for menu items that are lower in carbs. Order sandwiches without the bun and choose salads with low-carb toppings like nuts and cheese. Salads are the best choice because they are nutrient-dense, but grilled chicken is a good choice, too.

Low-Fat

  • Chili
  • Jr. hamburger
  • Plain baked potato
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Salads without cheese or dressing

One way to cut your fat while eating at Wendy's is to avoid fried foods. You can also lower your fat intake by ordering a salad without any high-fat options like cheese or full-fat dressing. Chili is a good low-fat option for a cold day, while a salad can fill your belly without weighing you down.

Low-Sodium

  • Jr. hamburger
  • Plain baked potato
  • Apple bites
  • Salad with no croutons, cheese, or dressing
  • Chocolate or vanilla Frosty (Jr. size)

If you're watching your sodium intake, you likely want to avoid the French fries. Many of the sandwiches are also high in sodium. A better option is to order a salad minus the croutons, cheese, or dressing. You can also lower the sodium of a burger by nixing the cheese and bacon.

Vegetarian & Vegan

  • Fries
  • Baked potato (chives only)
  • Apple bites
  • Salad (without meat and cheese)

Even though Wendy’s is known for its burgers, the chain does have a few options if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you eat dairy, a Frosty is a sweet option. Though, a baked potato and apple bites will provide more nutrients.

Food Allergies and Safety

Many of Wendy's food items contain commonly known allergens. Though, it does account for the presence of many of these food allergens on its U.S. menu, some of which include:

If you have a food allergy, inform the employee taking your order. In many cases, your food can be prepared with certain ingredients left out. When placing an online order or using the mobile app, you also have the option to “hold” an ingredient.

A Word From Verywell

With a range of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sides, Wendy's is one fast food restaurant where you'll have choices even if you’re on a special diet or are aiming to stay within certain nutritional parameters to achieve your health goals.

It helps to look at the menu in advance so you know the nutrient content of the foods you want. Deciding your meal before you go also helps lead to better food choices as you'll be less swayed by options outside your dietary plan.

Making healthy food choices benefits your overall health. Most foods can be included as part of a healthy diet as long as it is in moderation. The best diet is one that you can follow and stick with as a lifestyle as long-term changes provide long-term results.

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