What to Eat at Red Lobster: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Red Lobster

Verywell / Christian Alzate

At Red Lobster, you’ll find a wide range of popular fish and shellfish, as well as plenty of “land lover” fare like steak, chicken, and pasta dishes. Many types of seafood can be healthy meal options whether you’re dining out or at home. You’ll find some nutritious options on Red Lobster menu, though you’ll want to keep track of portion size.

Red Lobster offers an interactive menu online which you can use to view the nutrition data for individual menu items or combo meals, helping you keep track of calories and macronutrients if you visit Red Lobster regularly. Checking the nutrition of Red Lobster’s menu and estimating the calories of your order before you go can help you plan on a meal that’s in line with your dietary needs, preferences, and goals.

What Experts Say

“Red Lobsters menu varies considerably with regard to vegetable servings, portions, and sodium levels, with some meals providing more than a day’s worth of sodium. If you eat here on a regular basis, opting for the lower sodium choices and adding a side of veggies can help maintain daily balance.”

— Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

The Red Lobster menu features classic seafood dishes as well as pasta, sandwiches, bowls, and more.

What to Order & Avoid at Red Lobstr
 Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options
Signature Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (Starters) Langostino Lobster-Artichoke-and-Seafood Dip (Starters)
New England Clam Chowder (Soups) Lobster Bisque (Soups)
Classic Caesar Salad (Bowls) Baja Shrimp Bowl (Bowls)
Crispy Cod Sandwich (Sandwiches) Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich (Sandwiches)
Crab Linguini Alfredo (Pastas) Kung Pao Noodles with Crispy Shrimp (Pastas)
Simply Grilled Rainbow Trout (Classics) Fish & Chips (Classics)
CYO - Broiled Bay Scallops & 7 oz. Wood-Grilled Sirloin (Feasts) Admiral’s Feast (Feasts)
Broccoli (Sides & Additions) Loaded Baked Potato (Sides & Additions)
Garlic-Grilled Shrimp (Kids) Chicken Tenders (Kids)
Key Lime Pie (Desserts) Chocolate Wave (Desserts)
Iced Tea (Beverages) Peach Fruit Smoothie (Beverages) 

Most Nutritious Option

To gain the most nutritional benefits from your meal at Red Lobster, order the simply grilled rainbow trout, part of the restaurant's classic menu.

Starters

Red Lobster’s starters can be as high in calories as a full entree. Many options are fried or served with high-calorie sauces. Even if you order an appetizer to share while you wait for the rest of your meal to arrive, large servings can make it difficult to stick to an individual portion.

✓ Signature Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

Start your meal with the signature jumbo shrimp cocktail, which includes 130 calories, 0g of fat, 0g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrate, 21g protein, and 1,070mg sodium. This smaller-portion appetizer comes with chilled shrimp and cocktail sauce. Skip the cocktail sauce to lower the sodium intake.

✗ Langostino Lobster-Artichoke-and-Seafood Dip

Meanwhile, the Red Lobster langostino lobster-artichoke-and-seafood dip brings 1,190 calories, 74g fat, 21g saturated fat, 92g carbohydrate, 36g protein, and 2,160mg sodium.

You’ll find a few non-seafood options on the appetizer menu at Red Lobster, most of which are typical casual dining staples like fried mozzarella sticks and stuffed mushrooms. Seafood options such as the 340-calorie bacon-wrapped scallops, can be healthier starter choices—especially if you order them to share. 

A few of the create-your-own starters can be made with a choice of veggies, which gives you the opportunity to make a lower-calorie, lower-fat appetizer. Additionally, keep calories in check by looking for starters closer to single-serving size.

Soups

Red Lobster’s soup options are all milk-based chowders and creamy bisques. In addition to being high in calories and fat, many of these soups are also quite high in sodium. If you do choose a soup, go with a cup instead of a bowl.

✓ New England Clam Chowder (Cup)

A cup of the New England clam chowder brings 240 calories, 15g fat, 9g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrates, 7g protein, and 680mg sodium. While the Red Lobster menu only features two types of soup, the cup-sized portion of the chowder is the lowest-sodium and lowest-calorie soup option on the menu.

✗ Lobster Bisque (Bowl)

A bowl of the lobster bisque delivers 600 calories, 40g fat, 23g saturated fat, 27g carbohydrate, 18g protein, and 1,730mg sodium.

With 310 calories and 20 grams of fat, the cup-sized lobster bisque is a lower-calorie option if you're craving the bisque at Red Lobster. Try pairing it with a side house salad if you’re ordering a combo meal.

Bowls

You’ll find a mix of standard and seafood salads and bowls at Red Lobster, as well as a range of salad dressings and toppings.

✓ Classic Caesar Salad

Red Lobster's classic caesar salad has 520 calories, 46g fat, 9g saturated fat, 18g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 1,050mg sodium. While the most nutritious out of Red Lobster's salad and bowl options, this salad is relatively high in sodium.

You can easily save calories, fat, and avoid hidden sugars by ordering your salad without dressing, cheese, or croutons. Since the salad dressing options at Red Lobster can easily add 100 or more calories and over 20 grams of fat per serving, if you do choose one, ask to have it on the side.

✗ Baja Shrimp Bowl

The baja shrimp bowl includes shrimp, beans, quinoa rice, slaw, sour cream, pico de gallo, tortilla pieces, and more. It also has 1,130 calories, 70g fat, 15g saturated fat, 88g carbohydrates, 41g protein, and 3,410mg sodium.

Save carbs and sodium by skipping crunchy extras like sour cream, tortillas, and dressing. Instead, pack on the protein to make your salad more satisfying.

Sandwiches

Red Lobster offers three sandwich options — the crispy cod sandwich, Nashville hot chicken sandwich, and wagyu bacon cheeseburger — all of which also come with a choice of a side. If you're craving a sandwich or burger, opt for a low-calorie and low-sodium side to accompany the meal.

✓ Crispy Cod Sandwich

The crispy cod sandwich features a hand-battered and deep-friend fish, and also contains 830 calories, 46g fat, 7g saturated fat, 60g carbohydrates, 45g protein, and 1,410mg sodium. Choose the broccoli, green beans, or house salad side to incorporate more vegetables and nutrients into your meal.

✗ Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

The Nashville hot chicken sandwich includes chicken tenders, ranch sauce, peppers all served on a bun with a side.It also includes 1,140 calories, 69g fat, 10g saturated fat, 84g carbohydrates, 49g protein, and 2,210mg sodium. If you're craving a meat-based sandwich, the wagyu bacon cheeseburger has more protein than the Nashville hot chicken sandwich, and fewer calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.

Pastas

You won’t find a low-carb, low-fat, or low-carb option among Red Lobster’s selection of pasta. With such large portions of creamy linguine alfredo, even if you only ate half of the food on your plate you'd still be getting over a meal’s worth of calories, fat, carbs, and sodium.

✓ Crab Linguini Alfredo

The crab linguini alfredo dish includes 1,110 calories, 68g fat, 23g saturated fat, 75g carbohydrates, 46g protein, and 2,440mg sodium. Although the alfredo with crab contains 120 more calories than the same dish with shrimp, it saves you nearly 600mg of sodium.

✗ Kung Pao Noodles with Crispy Shrimp

The Kung Pao noodles with crispy shrimp come loaded with 1,360 calories, 35g fat, 8g saturated fat, 203g carbohydrates, 55g protein, and 5,700mg sodium. This pasta dish is substantially higher in sodium than all other pasta meals on the menu.

If you do opt for a pasta dish, ask for a half-order instead of the full meal and skip the starters or extra sides.

Classics

From salmon to steak to crab legs, you’ll find all your favorite seafood, shellfish, and meat dishes on the menu at Red Lobster. In addition to meals, some of these proteins are also used to create salads, pasta dishes, and combo meals. The chain also changes up its seafood offerings based on what’s available at certain times of the year and in particular regions.

✓ Simply Grilled Rainbow Trout

At 490 calories, 22g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, <1g carbohydrates, 67g protein, and 170mg sodium, the simply grilled rainbow trout classic dish is easily the most nutritious on the menu. As one of the lowest-sodium dishes on the menu, you can add in vegetable sides to further boost the nutrient content.

If you go for broiled, baked, or grilled dishes — like this nutritious dish — and avoid battered and fried versions, most fish options at Red Lobster can make a nutritious meal. In addition to being lower in calories and fat than other protein sources, fish is also a source of key vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and amino acids.

✗ Fish & Chips

The fish and chips dish at Red Lobster contains 1,230 calories, 65g fat, 8g saturated fat, 117g carbohydrates, 46g protein, and 2,910mg sodium. Whichever fish you choose, avoid the "endless" option that's available at lunchtime or during happy hour. When you're constantly adding more food to your plate, it's easy to lose track of a single serving.

Make any fish choice healthier by asking for it to be prepared with limited butter or oil. Better yet, skip the butter and opt for the cocktail sauce instead, which provides just 45 calories per serving.

Feasts

The Red Lobster feasts include multiple protein mains as well as two sides, and these packed plates can easily deliver a daily intake of calories, fat, and sodium all in one dish.

✓ CYO - Broiled Bay Scallops & 7 oz. Wood-Grilled Sirloin

Red Lobster allows for a Create Your Own (CYO) feast option, where visitors can choose any two proteins and two sides to fit their specific needs. For a nutritious option, order the broiled bay scallops and 7-ounce wood-grilled sirloin for 540 calories, 19g fat, 8g saturated fat, 22g carbohydrates, 72g protein, and 2,740mg sodium. This surf-and-turf combination delivers a healthy amount of protein, but keep in mind these nutritional values are for the proteins only.

✗ Admiral’s Feast

With deep-fried shrimp, scallops, clam strips, and whitefish, the admiral's feast has 1,570 calories, 94g fat, 9g saturated fat, 121g carbohydrates, 60g protein, and 4,610mg sodium. For smaller portions of shrimp and lobster, look to the Kid’s Menu and choose grilled or baked dishes, rather than deep fried options. 

Sides & Additions

Red Lobster offers a typical range of sides, such as biscuits, baked or mashed potatoes, veggies like broccoli and asparagus, as well as coleslaw and french fries. Other extras like butter and sauces, can also add well over 100 calories to your meal.

✓ Broccoli

Add a side of broccoli to your dishes for an additional 40 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 8g carbohydrates, 3g protein, and 270mg sodium. This low-calorie side not only has no fat and minimal carbohydrates, but also delivers heart health benefits, all in one serving.

✗ Loaded Baked Potato

The loaded baked potato at Red Lobster contains 520 calories, 26g fat, 12g saturated fat, 57g carbohydrates, 17g protein, and 2,170mg sodium. Even relatively healthy dishes like steamed veggies and a small portion of fish can become a high-calorie meal if you aren’t mindful of extras. 

For example, a side serving of 100% Pure Melted Butter adds 300 calories and 33 grams of fat to your meal. Tartar sauce, a traditional accompaniment to many seafood dishes, adds 210 calories and 19 grams of fat.

To add flavor to a dish without heaping on extra calories, try low-carb condiments like Pico de Gallo. Sour cream is a lower-fat topping than butter for a baked potato and cocktail sauce is a great match for shrimp.

Kids

The Red Lobster kids menu features smaller portions of some of the chain's most popular and favorite dishes, including the lobster tail, shrimp, fish, and chicken tenders. Opt for this menu to enjoy the restaurant's signature dishes in a healthier plate.

✓ Garlic-Grilled Shrimp

The garlic-grilled shrimp kids meal comes with 80 calories, 3.5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, <1g carbohydrates, 11g protein, and 580mg sodium. Add a side of broccoli, green beans, or coleslaw to round out the meal with additional vegetables and fiber.

✗ Chicken Tenders

The kids-menu chicken tenders meal provides 620 calories, 45g fat, 5g saturated fat, 28g carbohydrates, 24g protein, and 1,490mg sodium. Since this dish is already high in sodium order, make sure to choose a low-sodium side like coleslaw, green beans, or side house salad.

Desserts

In terms of options, sweets make up a relatively small corner of Red Lobster’s large menu. Though there are only a few to choose from, desserts are among the highest in carbs and sugar items at Red Lobster. 

✓ Key Lime Pie

The key lime pie dessert brings 500 calories, 21g fat, 10g saturated fat, 70g carbohydrates, 10g protein, and 190mg sodium. With an additional 55g of sugar, it's the lowest-calorie sweet option on the menu.

✗ Chocolate Wave

The chocolate wave, on the other hand, has 1,110 calories, 62g fat, 22g saturated fat, 134g carbohydrates, 11g protein, and 720mg sodium. Consider looking to the kid’s menu for a smaller portion of a sweet treat to help keep the calorie count of your meal lower.

If you’re looking for something slightly sweet to top off your meal, a side of naturally-sweet fruit from the kid’s menu can be a healthier choice. While they’re still a sugary option, you’ll also find kid-sized fruit smoothies, coolers, and slushies for under 200 calories.

Beverages

Water is always the healthiest drink to accompany a meal, whether you’re dining out or at home. At Red Lobster you’ll have your choice of several other beverages, like hot coffee or tea, that won’t add calories or carbs to your meal.

✓ Iced Tea

While water is always a nutritious option, for a flavored beverage, reach for the iced tea, which has 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 1g carbohydrates, 0g protein, and 15g sodium. It's best to stay away from the soda options as even diet fountain sodas don’t have calories or carbs, but they can be sources of artificial sweeteners or preservatives like aspartame, which you may want to avoid.

✗ Peach Fruit Smoothie

The peach fruit smoothie at Red Lobster contains 470 calories, 6g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 96g carbohydrates, 7g protein, and 240mg sodium. As with many other casual dining establishments, Red Lobster also has a full bar menu of alcoholic drinks. If you choose to imbibe, make sure to factor in the calorie and carb count of your cocktail when you’re planning your meal.

Diet-Specific Options

Red Lobster has meal options for gluten-free, low-carb, diabetes-friendly, low-fat, low-sodium, vegetarian, and vegan diets, but does not have low-FODMAP meals.

Gluten-free

  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Surf’s Up Sundae
  • Chesapeake Corn
  • Half-Shell Oysters
  • Baked Potato with Butter

Red Lobster doesn’t have any specific gluten-free options, but there are items on the menu that aren't made using gluten or wheat.

However, because all the meals are prepared in the same kitchen it's possible your meal will come into contact with gluten or wheat-containing ingredients during the storage, prep, or cooking process.

If you need to avoid gluten or have Celiac disease, it’s always best to exercise caution when dining out.

Low-carb

  • Soy-Ginger Salmon
  • Garlic Shrimp Scampi
  • Steamed Maine Lobster
  • Fresh Wood-Grilled Tilapia
  • Wild-Caught Snow Crab Legs

To put together a low-carb meal, opt for the soy-ginger salmon, which will also heart health and mood-boosting benefits thanks to the fish.

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Maine Lobster Tail
  • Classic Caesar Salad
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings
  • Wood-Grilled Sirloin Steak
  • Yucatan Shrimp Tasting Plate

Choose the classic caesar salad or the Maine lobster tail — each of which are lower in sodium than the alternatives — to keep your meal diabetes-friendly.

Low-fat

  • Walt’s Shrimp
  • Seafood Gumbo (Cup)
  • Maple-Glazed Chicken
  • Tuna Poke Tasting Plate
  • Oven-Broiled Bay Scallops

Stick to a low-fat diet while at Red Lobster by ordering the oven-broiled bay scallops. Choosing the oven-baked seafood dish also saves on calorie and fat thanks to the cooking method.

Low-sodium

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Wood-Grilled Shrimp Skewers
  • Over-Broiled Wild-Caught Flounder
  • Petite Chilled Lobster & Shrimp Roll

Keep your meal low-sodium by ordering the simply grilled rainbow trout, which is also the most nutritious option on the menu.

Vegetarian

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cheddar Bay Biscuits
  • French Fries, Mozzarella Sticks
  • Langostino Lobster Pizza (no meat)
  • Linguini Pasta with Alfredo Sauce (no meat)

With a menu that’s based on fish, you won’t find many vegetarian-friendly dishes at Red Lobster. Since the chain also uses many other animal products, like poultry and dairy, to create meals, some meat-free dishes prepared in a shared kitchen may not work for you, depending on the type of vegetarian diet you follow.

For fully vegetarian meal, order the linguini pasta with Alfredo sauce. Just be sure to ask for no meat.

Vegan

  • Rice Pilaf
  • Dragon Broccoli
  • Kid’s Menu Side of Fruit
  • Garden Salad (no croutons) with Champagne Vinaigrette
  • Baked Potato (no butter) with Pico de Gallo or Pineapple Relish

You may be able to create some vegan dishes from choices across the menu as well as some clever substitutions and modifications. Order the garden salad with a baked potato side for a vegetable- and carbohydrate-filling meal.

Food Allergies and Safety

Generally, Red Lobster can accommodate diners who have a milk, egg, soy, gluten, sulfite, tree nut, peanut and MSG allergy, but those with a shellfish or fish allergy should be careful while dining at the restaurant.

If you have a food allergy, Red Lobster provides information about common food allergens present on its menu on its website. You can even use Red Lobster’s Food Allergy Wizard to search the menu for the potential of cross-contamination of allergens.

As the website notes, this can be especially important if you are allergic to fish or shellfish, as you may be allergic to more than one type. You can search the menu for different types of fish, as well as sort shellfish by crustacean or and molluscan.

Red Lobster reminds diners that because all menu items are prepared in shared kitchen space, cross-contamination of allergens is possible. Therefore, the chain cannot guarantee your meal will be completely free from a specific allergen.

If you have a food allergy, always let your server know when you give them your order.

A Word From Verywell

Red Lobster’s menu gives you a wide range of seafood, chicken, steak, and salad choices—which also range widely in nutrition. Eating nutritious meals at Red Lobster is possible if you are mindful of portion sizes and the nutritional makeup and benefits of each meal. The best way to plan a healthy meal is to use Red Lobster’s online nutrition tools to find items on the menu that best suit your tastes and dietary needs.

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5 Sources
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