The Top 14 Salad Chains, Ranked

Fast food and fast-casual dining have come a long way over the years. These restaurants have transformed from offering menus of mostly burgers, sandwiches, fries, chicken nuggets, and maybe a few other assorted items to reimagining the idea of fast food altogether with healthier options, like vegan or gluten-free foods and deliciously good-for-you salads. Nutrition-focused food chains have popped up around the United States over the last decade or so. Perhaps, this higher focus on better nutrition is an effort to change the trajectory of the American diet, which is currently linked to many of the country's heart-disease-related deaths.

In this guide, we're emphasizing yummy salad options by bringing you a list of the best salad chains across the U.S. These restaurants have quick service without sacrificing fresh ingredients and nutrition, and they're proof that a salad doesn't have to be boring. If you're looking to make over your diet when you're on the go, or you're simply looking for a new place to grab a salad when you have a craving for one, consider exploring the following options.

14. Simply Salad

Simply Salad is truly the place to go if you want a customizable salad. You can build a salad in three easy steps, making it completely your own based on what type of flavors and ingredients you want on that particular occasion. First, you begin with your greens, like baby spinach or romaine lettuce. Then, choose from a wide selection of toppings, including edamame, croutons, red onions, black olives, or hard boiled eggs. Finally, top it off with your favorite dressing. You can even try barbecue sauce or sriracha if you're feeling rebellious.

Simply Salad also has several prebuilt salad recipes for you to choose from, like The Hipster, which adds apples, candied walnuts, goat cheese, chicken, and dried cherries to romaine lettuce. But, we personally love the tailored aspect of building your own salad. Customizing a salad this way is quite affordable with Simply Salad, with extra toppings at just $0.50 each after the five toppings your salad comes with. Unfortunately, Simply Salad is only available in California, so those outside of the area aren't able to experience its greatness as easily as others on our list.

13. Mixt

Mixt is somewhat of an upscale fast-casual salad restaurant that exudes freshness from the moment you walk in. Its menu has some of the most intriguing salads we've seen, like Falaf, which includes crumbled falafel, chickpeas, and a lemon tahini vinaigrette as toppings. There are also plenty of ingredients to choose from if you'd like to make your own, or you can grab a sandwich if you want something a little different occasionally. 

With high quality can come higher prices, though, and Mixt is a bit on the pricey side. A salad or grain bowl starts at $11.95 with five ingredients, adding $1 for extra toppings. The chef-crafted salad recipes are priced up to $16.95, which are prices you'd probably expect to pay at a traditional restaurant.  Many customers are willing to pay for the quality salads they get from Mixt, as evidenced by customer reviews. For instance, one Grubhub customer stated, "I like the Mixt products. They are consistent, high quality food and the portions are generous." So, if it's within your budget or you simply like to splurge on lunch or dinner once in a while, Mixt is a must-try. Otherwise, it ranks where it does because of its high cost. 

12. Tender Greens

Since its founding in 2006, Tender Greens has grown to offer 28 locations across California. Although it's technically a fast-casual spot, Tender Greens is anything but your ordinary quick-serve restaurant. In fact, it has a head chef at each location, ensuring that every order is prepared to customers' standards.

To be clear, Tender Greens is much more than just salads. It also carries sandwiches, bowls, and plates featuring proteins like chicken, tuna, or shrimp. Still, the salads it offers are one-of-a-kind, with options like Chipotle BBQ Chicken and Tuna Nicoise. And, its bowls and plates are like upgraded salads with lots of fresh ingredients and meats to keep you feeling satisfied. Tender Greens also includes plenty of vegan options, like sprouted rice and farro salad, to make it accessible to those with special diets. As an example, one Twitter user shared a video including all of the vegan-friendly items they ordered at a local Tender Greens. But, if you're looking for lots of salads to choose from, Tender Greens may not be the best choice, as many locations only have a few true salad options.

11. Grabbagreen

Grabbagreen began in 2013, but only two years later, its founder began franchising the company, allowing other business owners to own their own Grabbagreen spots. Today, Grabbagreen restaurants are available in California, Nevada, Minnesota, Texas, and Florida, allowing more widespread access to delicious salads than some other chains on our list.

What do we love about Grabbagreen? For starters, its salads are nontraditional, so you can always find something offbeat that you may not be able to find anywhere else. Technically called bowls, the salads feature a rainbow of flavors using Asian, Mediterranean, Southwest, and other flavor profiles. There's also a custom option for you to build a bowl exactly how you want it, adding grains, fruit, dressings, and other bases and toppers. And, many items are organic, gluten-free, and non-genetically modified.

We also love Grabbagreen's meal prep service, which provides up to ten bowls at a time, saving you tons of time on your meal prep routine. With smoothies, fruit bowls, bottled cleanses, and other nutrition-focused items, Grabbagreen has quickly become one of our favorite spots for good-for-you choices.

10. Fresh&Co

Fresh&Co is an East Coast-based fast-casual restaurant that got its start in 2010. The company has a strict focus on using only the best ingredients by partnering with local farmers and communities. Fresh&Co also gets its meat from 100% vegetarian-fed animals.

To ensure that you, as a customer, get the freshest, tastiest salads, Fresh&Co only prepares its ingredients and meals in small batches, so nothing ends up sitting in a case or warmer for hours on end. Instead, when you come in to order, you'll get a salad that was freshly prepared for you. Fresh&Co has chef-designed salads, like the Mexican Caesar Salad and Shanghai Chicken Salad, all of which are under 400 calories. Or, craft your own recipe at select locations with Market Table, which lets you choose your base ingredient, a protein, and two sides. Kale and mixed greens are options for the base, allowing you to build a unique salad. One Grubhub reviewer stated that Fresh&Co is "my favorite salad bar place in the city," while another said, "I love this place! Relatively healthy food that tastes great and doesn't break the bank. One of my go to delivery spots."

The only complaint we have about Fresh&Co is that we wish it had more than 12 locations for more people around the country to enjoy.

9. Salad and Go

As its name suggests, Salad and Go is all about nutrition and convenience, like many of the other salad chains on our list. However, Salad and Go is also heavily focused on making its healthy options accessible to as many people as possible by keeping its prices affordable. Unlike many other salads from chain restaurants that easily cost more than $10—for some, even closer to $20—Salad and Go's salad options are less than $7 at most locations. That means that you can have a filling, satisfying salad, like the Roasted Autumn Salad or Greek Salad, for an affordable, lunch-worthy price. One Facebook reviewer shared that they, "Had the best Cobb salad I've ever had in my 55 years at this place and it was only $9.75."

A build-your-own salad is also an option, with up to four regular and two premium toppings included for no extra cost. Additional toppings are as little as $0.30 each, and adding an extra protein costs $1.44-$2.39. We're all about getting good-for-you food into the hands of more people, so Salad and Go is a clear winner in our book.

8. Saladworks

Saladworks has among the best selection of salads and other foods out of the chains on our list. If you choose to frequent this chain, you probably won't ever feel like you don't have enough options. Saladworks features 12 signature salads, including the Farmers Market Salad, Bently Salad, and Buffalo Bleu Salad. If you want something a little different from your usual salad, you can swap out the lettuce in any salad for grains. Custom salads are also available with up to five toppings for no additional cost. Plus, the options are incredibly delicious. One Twitter user even said that Saladworks made her "feel like I'm cheating on Panera."

Most salads are also available in wrap form, which is an excellent way to have your salad and all of its yummy ingredients when you're on the go or eating in the car. Kids can even join in on the nutrition at Saladworks with the Kids Works menu, which features a create-your-own salad, quesadilla, or wrap. With locations in 22 states, including 34 restaurants in Pennsylvania alone, you might even be able to find a Saladworks to try as you travel, even if you don't live near one.

7. Chipotle

Chipotle may not be one of the first places you think of when you want a salad, but it may surprise you. This chain is all about making food your way using fresh ingredients, including protein, veggies, and rice. Several toppings, like corn salsa, fresh tomato salsa, and sour cream, are free to add to keep your salad affordable. One of our favorite ways to eat a salad at Chipotle is to order a tortilla on the side and bundle up the last few mouthfuls of salad in the tortilla to eat as a wrap. We're drooling just thinking about it.

You can also order a Lifestyle Bowl, a newer addition to the menu that we like to think of as a super salad. These bowls differ from the Burrito Bowl Chipotle offers in that they're somewhat more salad-focused and tailored to specific types of diets, like Whole 30 and Keto. Still, they offer the same kinds of toppings you can get in a salad with the convenience of having a few premade recipes to choose from. Chipotle also has an excellent rewards system for frequent customers to earn points when they shop. If you earn 1625 points, you can get a free salad on one of your next visits.

6. Chopt

Although it goes by Chopt, this chain restaurant's full name is Chopt Creative Salad Co., thanks to its incredibly unique menu options, dressings, and flavors it adds to its salads. As an example, where else can you find Smoky Bacon Russian dressing or a Lemon Crush Bowl with cauliflower rice? That's just one of the many options found at Chopt, along with numerous other salads on the menu year-round and new items that make their way to the menu when other ingredients are in season. This chain makes your salads fresh in front of you, and a descriptive TripAdvisor reviewer described the experience: "You can order something on the menu, add to it, take stuff away, or even make your own creation. Whatever you want."

Another feature we love about Chopt is Chopt Drop, a service specifically designed for offices that want to make it easy for employees to order nutritious lunches. Chopt Dropt creates a unique ordering link for an office through which its employees can order their lunch ahead of time. Then, when it's lunchtime, Chopt will prepare the office order and deliver everyone's lunch simultaneously. Employees can even continue to earn Chopt rewards for every order.

5. Panera Bread

Panera Bread has loads of irresistible food on its menu, including sandwiches, breakfasts, soups, and bowls. Although it has bread in its name, some of the best items from Panera Bread are completely breadless, like its salads. The company typically has about ten salads to choose from, depending on your location, with flavorful options like the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken or the Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken. Available for 630 calories or less, the prebuilt salad recipes could be an excellent addition to a calorie-mindful diet.

Panera Bread also has one of the best rewards programs of any chain that offers salads. It's called MyPanera, and it lets you earn points on all your purchases, get a free item on your birthday, and access exclusive deals only available for rewards members. It's free to join, making it an excellent way to save money on your salad obsession.

4. Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen is a well-known name in the salad chain industry, which was one of the first of its kind, founded in 2007. Since then, the company has opened locations in 18 states and has plans to add even more to its roster in the upcoming months.

This salad chain is best known for bringing plant-based, nutritious foods to the masses using ingredients that don't harm the environment. We love the sustainability focus and the fact that Sweetgreen is planning to become carbon-neutral by the time 2027 rolls around.

Sweetgreen's salads are loaded with ingredients like black lentils, shredded kale, and roasted sweet potatoes, making them anything but the traditional salads you pick up at local delis and supermarkets. One Reddit user claimed, "I could talk about Sweetgreen every day, I love it so much," adding that they order the same delicious custom recipe they've grown to love every single week. Various restaurants have their own local additions to the menu, too, like Atlanta's Blackened Catfish Bowl and Houston's Harvest Bowl, so you can find new items to try when you're traveling. You can also create a custom bowl with traditional and premium toppings, but beware that these can get quite pricey when you add everything your heart desires.

3. Crisp & Green

Hop into Crisp & Green if you have one nearby, and you'll be in for a treat. This restaurant is based on top-tier hospitality, community involvement, and nutritious items that customers keep wanting to come back for. Like many other salad chains, you can create a one-of-a-kind salad here by mixing your favorite greens, toppings, and dressings. But the crafted recipes are some of our favorites, including the new BBQ Smokeshow with a barbecue chicken thigh, blue corn chips, and a smokey barbecue ranch sauce. The salads are right around 500-600 calories and offer a good balance of fat, carbs, and protein for those who are keeping tabs on macros

Convenience also plays a huge role in why we love Crisp & Green. It focuses on speed and convenience, so it's easy to grab a healthy salad for lunch when you're in a time crunch.

Something else we love about Crisp & Green is that it's working hard to expand its foods to more states by the end of 2023. According to BizWomen, the company signed a deal in early 2023 to open restaurants in 15 additional states, which is almost double the states it's currently in. By 2028, all 40 new locations are slated to open, giving more people across the United States access to Crisp & Green's mouthwatering salads and grain bowls.

2. Just Salad

At first glance, Just Salad may not seem too different from several other salad chains on our list in terms of its menu items. Sure, it has lots of salad and grain bowl options and the opportunity to build your own salad. But where it really stands out for us even more than its appetizing salads and quality ingredients—which we also love, by the way—is its commitment to building a more sustainable future.

Unlike other salad restaurants, Just Salad offers a reusable salad bowl for customers to purchase for only $1. The company has had this option available since its founding in 2006 to promote sustainable practices and encourage customers to recycle containers. The bowl is easily washable, and you can return to any Just Salad location with your bowl to receive one free topping with your order. Plus, you do something good for the environment whenever you bring back your bowl.

Some locations also have an option called BringBack, which can help customers who typically order using the mobile app. With this program, place your order on the app and choose the BringBack option. Just Salad makes your order in a reusable bowl that you can return to a location the next time you visit.

1. Roots Natural Kitchen

Roots Natural Kitchen is a business built on natural foods, and its founders have strived to create a place where people can eat real food that still tastes good. And that's exactly what it's done, crafting a menu of bowls and salads that offer high-quality ingredients that make you feel good about eating them while exciting your taste buds. 

The Create-Your-Own option lets you choose one or several bases to start with, like kale or spinach leaves, or you can choose bulgur or rice if you want to add mix in some wholesome grains. Then, add up to five ingredients for free and pay only 60 cents per additional topping. Finish off your custom salad with a protein, or leave it entirely veggie-based if you prefer.

In addition to providing its customers with feel-good nutrition, Roots Natural Kitchen also caters to families. The chain lets kids 12 and under eat free if they visit the restaurant with an adult who purchases a grain or salad bowl. If you have two adults ordering, you can also get two free kids' bowls if your kids are with you. This welcome feature pushes Roots Natural Kitchen over the edge for us as a top salad chain you should definitely test out.