One of the pitfalls of eating out at a restaurant is that it feels nearly impossible to know exactly what you’re getting when you order a dish. You may order a meal thinking it sounds healthy, but what you don’t know is that it may be loaded with thousands of milligrams of sodium in order to pump up the flavor. Another common ingredient sneaking around in your favorite meals is sugar—and you may be shocked to learn just how much is in some of the highest-sugar restaurant meals at popular restaurant chains.
The tricky part about added sugar in restaurant chain dishes is that it often exists in meals where you’d least expect it. Sure, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Cupcake Pancakes from IHOP have 67 grams of sugar, but what about the fact that the Whiskey-Glaze Burger from TGI Fridays has even more?
To help put these sneakily high-sugar restaurant meals in perspective, we compared them to a Krispy Kreme Donut. In fact, all of the meals on this list have more sugar than four Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts—which totals 40 grams of added sugar. Not only that, but some of the meals on our roundup have more than seven donuts combined!
Read on to learn about the high-sugar restaurant meals with more sugar than four donuts, then make sure to check out The 20 Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians.
1,350 calories, 54 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 3,210 mg sodium, 160 g carbs (7 g fiber, 44 g sugar), 55 g protein
Mac & Cheese from a chain restaurant is almost always guaranteed to be calorie and fat-laden as is, but when you top this creamy dish with chicken tenders mixed in honey pepper sauce, you’ll get a meal loaded with calories, fat, sodium, and sugar.
That’s what you get when you order the Four Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders from Applebees. Sure, this dish is cozy and satisfying to the taste buds, but if you’re looking for a low-sugar option, this is not the best choice.
1,210 calories, 75 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,930 mg sodium, 98 g carbs (16 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 35 g protein
More often than not, meals made with barbecue sauce are going to be higher in sugar because this condiment often contains added sugars to create that beloved tangy sweetness. Even with this awareness, it is still surprising to see the Cheesecake Factory Barbecue Chicken Ranch Salad with such high levels of sugar, at 45 grams per meal.
1,400 calories, 57 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 3.5 g trans fat), 4,020 mg sodium, 196 g carbs (11 g fiber, 72 g sugar), 16 g protein
If you want a classic plate of wings on game day, Buffalo Wild Wings has a delicious selection of sauces to go on their popular chicken wings, as well as their plant-based cauliflower wings.
If you’re following a plant-based diet and opt for the cauliflower wings, just know that when you add on their flavorful Jammin’ Jalapeño sauce, you’ll be getting a whopping 72 grams of sugar per meal.
1,000 calories, 49 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,999 mg sodium, 91 g carbs (2 g fiber, 66 g sugar), 52 g protein
Speaking of game day wings, BJ’s is another restaurant chain with plenty of chicken and boneless chicken wing options. Their Bone-In Wings with Peppered BBQ Sauce are one of their most popular items, but downing 10 of these wings will bring your sugar count up to 66 grams—more than five Krispy Kreme Donuts!
Not only that, but 10 wings yield almost 4,000 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly twice as much as the daily recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams. If you’re really craving these, share with a friend (or two!).
1,400 calories, 84 g fat (41 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 3,660 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (7 g fiber, 43 g sugar), 52 g protein
You may not be surprised to find that the Famous Factory Meatloaf from Cheesecake Factory is heavy on calories, fat, and sodium, but you may be shocked to learn that this meal also has more sugar than four donuts! If that wasn’t already enough to think about, this dish is packed with three grams of trans fat as well, which is more than the recommended maximum of 2.2 grams per day.
1,810 calories, 123 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,910 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (22 g fiber, 57 g sugar), 26 g protein
You wouldn’t think that a salad topped with grilled chicken, avocado, carrots, cilantro, and tortilla strips would have almost 60 grams of sugar, but it’s the sneaky Citrus-Honey-Peanut Vinaigrette that sends this Sheila’s Chicken and Avocado Salad over the top.
530 calories, 19 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,310 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (7 g fiber, 41 g sugar), 53 g protein
Another salad to make this list of high-sugar restaurant meals is this Grilled Chicken & Strawberry Salad from Longhorn Steakhouse. Unlike most of the other items on our roundup, this salad is a decently healthy choice in regards to its calories and fat content. So, if you don’t mind the higher levels of sugar, this salad may be a nice and refreshing pick.
1,090 calories, 44 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 2,120 mg sodium, 120 g carbs (7 g fiber, 43 g sugar), 39 g protein
When you’re in the mood for some classic sesame chicken, rice, and vegetables, P.F. Changs has you covered. However, just know that their Sesame Chicken dish is one of their highest-sugar entrees, so if you’re watching your intake of sugar, this meal may not be the one for you. It also has almost an entire day’s worth of sodium, so keep that in mind as well as you peruse the menu.
1,430 calories, 89 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,020 mg sodium, 104 g carbs (11 g fiber, 52 g sugar), 56 g protein
You can see by now that a common denominator among these high-sugar restaurant meals is that many of them are salads with dressings that are loaded up with added sugars. Take the Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad from Applebee’s. This meal not only has over 1,400 calories, more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, and almost 90 grams of fat, but it also has a whopping 52 grams of sugar.
On top of all of that, there are also 14 grams of saturated fat in this salad, which is more than what the American Heart Association suggests you limit yourself to in an entire day.
1,060 calories, 51 fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,660 mg sodium, 108 g carbs (3 g fiber, 52 g sugar), 45 g protein
Chili’s version of chicken fingers—their Chicken Crispers—are already heavily battered and deep-fried, but when you douse them in a honey chipotle sauce, these Crispers will come out to over 50 grams of sugar. Not to mention the fact that this meal serves up 3,660 milligrams of sodium—which is way over your recommended daily limit.
1,140 calories, 56 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,150 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (2 g fiber, 85 g sugar), 40 g protein
The Signature Whiskey-Glazed Burger is one of TGI Fridays’ most beloved and longest-standing menu items, but what many customers may not realize when they order this dish is that not only are they going to be loading up on calories, fat, and sodium, but they’re going to be consuming upwards of 85 grams of sugar—something you wouldn’t expect with a burger and fries.
1,690 calories, 78 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,000 mg sodium, 239 g carbs (6 g fiber, 77 g sugar), 57 g protein
Orange chicken is a naturally sweet and tangy dish, so it may not surprise you that the Cheesecake Factory Orange Chicken would have a decent amount of sugar in it. However, what might surprise you is the fact that this high-sugar restaurant meal has almost as much sugar as eight Krispy Kreme donuts!
980 calories, 32 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,996 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (1 g fiber, 54 g sugar), 52 g protein
You may not be thinking about sugar when you order the Tri-Tip Sliders from BJ’s, but when you think of how many small buns and how much BBQ sauce you’ll be consuming, it makes sense that this dish would bring your sugar count up to almost 55 grams.