What to Eat at Kneaders: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

focaccia bread

Getty Images / Andrew1Norton

Known for its fresh artisan breads, bright green salads, daily homemade soups, and tempting bakery items, Kneaders Bakery and Café restaurant has locations in five states on the West Coast (Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Nevada) and Texas. Closed on Sundays due to religious owners, this restaurant offers healthy options for all three meals of the day; however, most include carbs and gluten for the more cautious dieters. Kneaders does note gluten-free and vegetarian items directly on the menu inside all locations for those with specific food needs.

Kneaders uses natural ingredients in all its menu items (minus the dessert menu), making this restaurant a sensible choice for eating out — you’ll eat less grease and fried food than typical fast food organizations, as well as consume fresher produce. 

What Experts Say

"Kneaders Bakery and Café bakes its artisan bread daily, but some choices are very high in calories, carbs, and sodium. For breakfast, try the vegetable omelets or plain oatmeal for lower calories, fat, sugar, and carbs. For lunch, opt for half of a veggie sandwich on whole grain bread for added fiber, or the large green avocado salad. Vegetable-based soups are healthy options, but enjoy in moderation as they are high in sodium."
Barbie Cervoni, RD, CDE

Navigating the Menu

The health community finds Kneaders an appropriate eating establishment for those looking for a range of healthy options. From green salads and soups with natural ingredients, you won’t consume a high number of preservatives and end up with grease on your fingers. But you should order in moderation, as many items contain a high amount of sodium and calories.

If you order half sandwiches, salads with low-fat dressing, and small cups of soup (skipping the slices of bread that come on the side of soup and salad orders), you can make Kneaders a regular part of a healthy diet, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook at home.

Kneaders offers a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu six days a week which include the following types of foods and beverages:

  • Smoothies
  • Breakfast pastries
  • Oatmeal
  • Coffee beverages
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Paninis
  • Cupcakes
  • Brownies
  • Sheet cakes
  • Individual pastries
  • Omelets
  • Pancakes
  • French toast
Most Nutritious Options
  • Half Turkey (Sandwiches)

  • Éclair (Pastries)

  • Thai Chicken (Salads)

  • Artichoke Portabello 8 oz (Soups)

  • No Dairy Berry (Smoothies)

  • Kids Pancakes with Caramel Syrup 2 oz (Pancakes and French Toast)

  • Ham & Cheese (Breakfast Sandwiches)

  • Frozen Hot Chocolate (Frappe)

  • Potato Rosemary (Bread Slices)

  • Kids Green Salad (Kids Menu)

Least Nutritious Options
  • Turkey Bacon Avocado on Focaccia (Sandwiches) 

  • Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding (Pastries)

  • Southwest BBQ Chicken (Salads)

  • White Cheddar and Poblano 8 oz (Soups)

  • Pink Pina Colada (Smoothies)

  • Pecan Pancakes - 3 Cakes and 4 oz Syrup (Pancakes and French Toast)

  • Sausage, Egg & Cheese (Breakfast Sandwiches)

  • White Chocolate with Strawberries (Frappe)

  • Focaccia (Bread Slices)

  • Peanut Butter & Jam on Wheat (Kids Menu)

If you’re looking for the healthiest meal at Kneaders, the Thai chicken salad’s nutrition profile makes this the best choice. You’ll even consume lower calories and sodium than ordering a green salad off the children’s menu.

Sandwiches

Kneaders offers a variety of cold sandwiches on freshly made hearth bread, as well as hot paninis and croissant sandwiches for lunch and dinner.

Sandwiches at Kneaders are generally a healthy choice if you’re looking for a meat- or veggie-based option. The best choices are found on the sandwich café classic menu, which includes protein-rich choices such as ham, roast beef, and turkey, as well as vegetarian-friendly veggie avocado. To half the calories, order half a sandwich, as well as a small salad for additional nutrition. 

Most Nutritious Option

The Half Turkey sandwich on one slice of bread provides 180 calories,13g fat, 5g saturated fat, 3.5g carbohydrate,14.5g protein, and 695mg sodium. Although a carb option, the amount of carbs remains relatively low and its protein count high. This café sandwich also has the lowest amount of sodium of any sandwich on the menu.

Least Nutritious Option

Turkey Bacon Avocado on Focaccia has a hefty 845 calories, 36g fat, 11g saturated fat, 89g carbs, 44g protein, and 2,590mg of sodium. Off the famous sandwich menu, this option has almost the highest amount of calories. (The chicken, cheese, and ham on ciabatta has more calories, but offers less sodium.) You’re better off ordering from the café sandwiches menu if you prefer turkey, bacon, or avocado, as you'll find options with these ingredients that are healthier than this one.

Pastries

From cupcakes to double fudge brownies, walking into a Kneaders restaurant will offer your senses a sweet, sugary fragrance and shelves full of colorful pastries to tempt you. Although not recommended you eat them often, you might feel the need to splurge on one of these treats once in a while. Kneaders offers a buy five get one free pastry special, and if you have the willpower, you could save money and freeze them to eat on special occasions or head to a location with friends and share.

Most Nutritious Option

The popular classic Éclair made with choux dough and filled with cream has 250 calories, 15g fat, 9g saturated fat, 24g carbs, 3g protein, and 220mg of sodium. If you don’t want a pastry, but do want a dessert, your best option is Chocolate-dipped Strawberries, which only have 60 calories per serving. Another healthier option is the Pastry Tart, which contains fruit and remains relatively low in calories.

Least Nutritious Option

The Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding contains a whopping 1,010 calories, 53g fat, 28g saturated fat, 121g carbs, 10g protein, and 440mg of sodium. All the bread pudding choices are high in calories. If you prefer a bread pastry, you should stick with a cinnamon roll, which has 530 calories. (Yes, this is still a high amount of calories, but the roll is half the calories of a serving of bread pudding.)

Salads

The gourmet salads at Kneaders include fresh greens, healthy vegetables, seeds and nuts, and a range of dressings. To cut calories, ask for low-calorie and fat-free dressing options. The salads also come with your choice of two slices of artisan bread, but you can skip this to keep the carb count down.

Most Nutritious Option

The Thai Chicken Salad contains 130 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 10g carbs, 16g protein, and 293mg of sodium. This salad is the healthiest option on the menu for entrees. With fresh greens, grilled chicken breast, cashews, red bell peppers, red cabbage, cilantro, carrots, and sesame seeds, you get a healthy dose of iron, protein, and freshly chopped vegetables without adding a lot of calories and sodium to your meal.

Least Nutritious Option

The Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad provides 435 calories, 15g fat, 2g saturated fat, 54g carbs, 21g protein, and 662mg of sodium. For a chicken salad, you should instead order the Thai chicken (130 calories), chicken ala mondo (349 calories), or chicken raspberry nut (282 calories and a popular menu item) for an entree lower in calories and sodium.

Soups

You can order three sizes of soups, 8, 12, and 32 ounces, ranging from seasonal options such as Apple Butternut Bisque to creamy soups like Broccoli and Chicken and Wild Rice. The soups do change each day, and you'll need to visit or call to find out the daily offerings. All the soups also have a high sodium content, and you should stick to the smallest size to keep your salt intake down.

Most Nutritious Option

The Artichoke Portabello soup (8 ounces) contains 80 calories, 5g fat, 3g saturated fat, 7g carbs, 2g protein, and 650mg of sodium. You should skip the bread bowl option and bread that comes with a side salad if you choose to add greens to your meal. These pieces of bread could add an additional 160 to 500 or more calories to a meal.

Least Nutritious Option

The White Cheddar and Poblano soup (8 ounces) provides 370 calories, 33g fat, 20g saturated fat, 13g carbs, 6g protein, and 2,300mg of sodium. Because the soups do change each day, you should familiarize yourself with Kneaders's soup menu to ensure you know the calorie count and allergens, if necessary. As a rule, looking for vegetable-based broth soups is generally healthier than soups with cream and bisque in the name.

Smoothies

If you aren't a breakfast eater, Kneaders offers smoothies as a morning alternative (although they are available all day long, unlike their breakfast menu). Full of tropical fruits, such as guava, razzleberry, and mango, you can get loads of vitamins A and C in one drink. All smoothies come in a 16-ounce size, but you should consume them in moderation. Because of their high calorie counts, you should drink a smoothie as a meal replacement instead of as a meal supplement.

Most Nutritious Option

The lactose-intolerant will be happy to know that the No Dairy Berry Smoothie is the healthiest on the menu. This option provides only 220 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, 48 carbs, 1g protein, and 20mg of sodium. For those who experience any food allergies, this smoothie doesn't contain any of the main food allergens, making this safe for the pickiest and most allergic of eaters.

Least Nutritious Option

The Pink Pina Colada smoothie offers a massive 830 calories, 17g fat, 13g saturated fat, 172g carbs, 4g protein, and 90mg sodium, which is nearly half the calories you need for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. You should just say no to this beverage; all the smoothies are fruit-based, and you can get your fruit fix in another option.

Pancakes and French Toast

Breakfast is served at Kneaders until 11 a.m., and you'll find plenty of sugary options that include whipping cream and caramel syrup to load up on pancakes and French toast. But not all choices are sweet; you can find better options—Kneaders also offers steel-cut oatmeal and vegetable-filled omelets for healthy eaters.

Most Nutritious Option

Pancake eaters can order the kids size (not included on the kids menu) and still get a sizeable amount of flapjacks for a morning meal. Three individual cakes and two ounces of caramel syrup contain 460 calories, 10g fat, 6g saturated fat, 88g carbs, 5g of protein, and 560 mg sodium.

The caramel syrup (2 ounces) contains 186 calories, 6g fat, 4g saturated fat, 36g carbs, 0g protein, and 124mg sodium. One of the most popular items on the menu, the syrup's ingredients are butter, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.

Least Nutritious Option

The Pecan Pancakes (three cakes and four ounces syrup) offers 1,070 calories, 46g fat, 13g saturated fat, 154g carbs, 10g protein, and 860mg sodium. Even if you order the homemade pancakes without nuts, you're only saving 100 calories (970 calories for three cakes and four ounces of syrup).

If you're not a pancake eater, Kneaders's famous Chunky Cinnamon French Toast contains only 20 calories less than the pecan pancakes (1,050 calories per serving for two slices of toast and two ounces of syrup—still not the best option).

Breakfast Sandwich

Served until 11 a.m., Kneaders offers a few breakfast sandwich options available on your choice of bread or croissant. They range in calories from 455 to 850 per sandwich with protein counts from 21 to 36 grams each. Those with any type of food allergies might want to stay away from these menu items as they contain dairy, egg, and wheat.

Most Nutritious Option

The basic Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich contains 455 calories, 28.5g fat, 7.5g saturated fat, 29g carbs, 22g protein, and 1,100mg sodium. To make this sandwich even healthier, you can substitute the eggs for egg whites and then subtract 100 calories.

Least Nutritious Option

The Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich has 850 calories, 65g fat, 16.5g saturated fat, 30g carbs, 38g protein, and 1,400mg sodium. If you enjoy your breakfast sandwiches, you might want to consider eating half for your morning meal and saving the other half for lunch to split up the calories.

Frappe

Kneaders beverages include smoothies, hot and iced coffees, and frappes. For anyone who prefers to drink their desserts, you'll find chocolate, chai, and caramel options.

Most Nutritious Option

The Frozen Hot Chocolate has 440 calories, 8g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 79g carbs, 17g protein, and 160mg sodium. On a hot summer day, this makes for a refreshing alternative when you're craving a hot chocolate, but the outdoor temperatures don't truly permit you to indulge your craving.

Least Nutritious Option

The White Chocolate with Strawberries contains 830 calories, 12g fat, 9g saturated fat, 165g carbs, 16g protein, and 330mg sodium. With such a high amount of calories, you really should stick to darker chocolate options, such as the frozen hot chocolate or double chocolate frappe if you need a treat.

Bread Slices

You can purchase hearth and American style bread either by the slice or an entire loaf, of which Kneaders will cut into perfect slices for you if you ask. Calories range from 90 to 450 calories per slice.

Most Nutritious Option

The popular Potato Rosemary has 90 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, 20g carbs, 20g carbs, 3g protein, and 190mg of sodium per slice. You can ask for this bread on any of Kneaders sandwiches to save calories and add an herbaceous flavor profile to your meal.

Least Nutritious Option

Although delicious, a slice of regular Focaccia Bread contains 440 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 80g carbs, 15g protein, and 1,040mg of sodium. The Rosemary Focaccia, however, only has 100 calories per slice, 0.5g of fat, and no saturated fat, making this a much healthier alternative and providing an herb flavor to your bread.

Kids Menu

The kids menu offers a few different sandwich options and a green salad. The combo meal comes with grapes or chips, a choice of soda, milk, or apple juice, and a kid's size sugar cookie. Kneaders doesn't allow for substitutions. If your child isn't a sandwich eater or has allergies to nuts or dairy, your only choice is the cup of green salad.

Most Nutritious Option

The kids Green Salad contains 150 calories, 6g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 15g carbs, 9g protein, and 290mg of sodium, and is the only non-sandwich option on the children's menu. You can also add grapes and milk in a combo meal to create a heartier lunch or dinner.

Least Nutritious Option

The Peanut Butter and Jam on wheat provides 350 calories, 14g fat, 2g saturated fat, 47g carbs, 10g protein, and 390mg of sodium. Ordering a combo meal will add at least 590 calories to the meal, depending on the child's beverage and side choice.

Diet-Specific Options

Kneaders offers a few choices for gluten-free and vegetarian diets, but as the restaurant is known for its fresh bread, the options are limited. Those looking for low-carb options should stick to Kneaders's salads and vegetable soup choices.

Gluten-free Diet

Most items contain gluten, as Kneaders is known for its artisan bread (even the salads come with your choice of bread). To stay gluten-free, skip the free bread.

These five options are suitable for those following a gluten-free diet:

  • Turkey Bacon Avocado Salad
  • Large Green Avocado (skip the bread and croutons)
  • Thai Chicken
  • American Omelet
  • No Dairy Berry Smoothie

Vegetarian

Vegetarians will find options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, vegans will have a much more challenging time as most entrees include dairy, and most of the pastries are made with eggs.

Menu items for vegetarians include:

  • Veggie Avocado Sandwich
  • Provolone & Muenster Cheese Melt
  • Large Green Avocado Salad
  • Broccoli Sunflower Salad
  • Fresh Fruit Salad

Low-Sodium

When eating out, you tend to consume far more sodium than what you would dining at home, especially at Kneaders where sodium counts are high.

To stick to your low-sodium diet, look for these options:

  • Veggie Avocado Half Sandwich
  • Potato Rosemary Bread
  • Blueberry Lemon Sweet Bread
  • Broccoli Sunflower Salad
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal

Food Allergies and Safety

Kneaders offers a fairly healthy menu, but those with egg, gluten, and wheat allergies should be cautious because many items include bread. Items such as soups, pastries, and sandwiches (bread), are made with milk. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance or who follow dairy-free diets will find ordering to be challenging.

To ensure you stay safe when you order, download the nutrition menu online, which lists the following allergen information for all items:

  • Wheat
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Peanut
  • Tree nut
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

When in doubt, ask an employee for assistance on what ingredients are used in each menu item, as well as what type of environment the food is cooked in, i.e., near tree nuts.

A Word From Verywell

Kneaders offers convenient, healthy options for eating on the go, especially for a quick lunch or dinner without the grease and high-calorie foods. To keep the salads low in fat, ask for low-calorie and fat-free dressing options. You can also substitute spinach on salads for an additional cost if you want to up your iron count.

Although they look appetizing, skipping the pastries and high-calorie smoothies can keep down your calories.

To avoid selecting an entrée that doesn’t meet your diet-specific needs, be sure to download Kneader’s printable menu to know your choices ahead of time.

On occasion, you can order a more indulgent dessert item, even in a combo meal that comes with chips and a drink.

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  • Kneaders Bakery and Café. kneaders.com/nutrition last updated October 30, 2020.