Noodles & Company: Healthiest And Unhealthiest Menu Items

Noodles & Company has seemingly done the impossible by turning pasta into a successful fast food franchise. Like any fast food restaurant, though, the menu is full of traps and pitfalls. While the menu offers a variety of great dishes, some are considered healthier than others.

There are plenty of customization options at Noodles & Company, and thanks to the company's nutrition calculator, it is easy to see the impact individual components make on a dish. Given the breadth of these customizations, we determined entries for this list strictly based on the regular-sized versions of the items the way they are presented on the menu. We chose them based on carbohydrate content and calories from fat. We have a more in-depth look at our methodology at the end of the article. 

Ordered as listed, these are the healthiest and unhealthiest dishes at Noodles & Company. As a bonus, we've also provided customizations that turn even the unhealthiest options in your favor.

Healthiest: Zucchini Pesto Cream with Grilled Chicken

One of the healthiest choices you can make at Noodles & Company is opting for zoodles, which also happen to be gluten free. Hip pasta fans will know this pasta substitute is just zucchini that has been run through a spiralizer and turned into noodle-shaped strands. It's a choice that frees you up to add your protein of choice and still have a lower calorie meal.

At only 500 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, and only 270 calories from fat, the Zucchini Pesto Cream with Grilled Chicken is an excellent low-carb option at Noodles & Company. Eating zucchini doesn't just cut the carbs you would normally get from egg-yolk-based pasta, either. The fruit, technically not a vegetable, is also high in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamin A. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin A helps prevent vision loss and night blindness, and can help lower your risk of certain types of cancer. 

Unhealthiest: Alfredo MontAmore with Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

If you want to fully indulge at Noodles & Company, you can't get much richer than this. Based on the methodology used for this list, the Alfredo MontAmore with Parmesan-Crusted Chicken is the unhealthiest dish at the pasta chain. At 1630 calories, 117 grams of carbs, and a remarkable 930 calories from fat, this artery-clogging dish could use a few adjustments.

The number of calories from fat is so astronomically high due to the 53 grams of saturated fat in the dish. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should be getting no more than 22 grams of saturated fat per day. For the most part, those come from the sauce. Alfredo is typically made with a lot of butter and cream, which are high in fat. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, eating too many saturated fatty acids can lead to liver fat accumulation.

An easy way to make this slightly healthier is to sub in grilled chicken. The parmesan-crusted chicken is adding some flavor, sure, but you are mostly getting extra carbs and sodium. If you are serious about cutting the carb load, though, the chicken won't make a huge difference. You are going to have to swap out the heavy Alfredo MontAmore for one of the lighter sauces offered.

Healthiest: Zucchini Roasted Garlic Cream

The Zucchini Roasted Garlic Cream might be the healthiest pasta dish at Noodles & Company. On paper, it has all the makings of a hearty vegetarian dinner with zucchini noodles, roasted zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach, all tossed in roasted garlic cream sauce. Even with a zesty sprinkle of MontAmoré cheese on top, the dish only comes out to 400 calories, 20 grams of carbs, and 270 calories from fat.

The only downside of this dish is that it's hampered by only containing 9 grams of protein. However, with many more carbs to work with in your day, even adding chicken, tofu, or shrimp to the pasta would still make it a delicious and healthy choice. 

There are more benefits to this garlic-based sauce than simply being low carb. According to a 2020 study in the journal Antioxidants, garlic is an excellent source of natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Eating this common aromatic can also help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular illness.

Unhealthiest: Pad Thai

On its surface, the Pad Thai might seem like an unassuming choice. With thin rice noodles instead of thick egg noodles, you'd think at very least this would be a lower carb option than, say, the spaghetti with Alfredo. But the Pad Thai at Noodles & Company ultimately weighs in at 1040 calories, 143 grams of carbs, and 380 calories from fat. In terms of carbohydrates per serving, it ranked the highest out of all the menu items. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends somewhere between 225 and 325 grams of carbs per day. This dish alone can account for over half of those. 

The problem is the Pad Thai sauce, which is very high in sodium and also provides a large portion of the fat calories in the dish. Looking at the chain's ingredient list, it seems that the likely culprit here is fish sauce, which is notoriously high in sodium. According to the FDA, sodium levels in your diet exceeding 2,300 milligrams per day can lead to health issues like hypertension. A higher average blood pressure can lead to kidney disease, heart failure, and stroke.

Healthiest: Backyard BBQ Salad

You might not come to Noodles & Company for salad, but this one is worth the hype. Packed with tons of veggies and full of protein, the Backyard BBQ Salad is a tasty and nutritious lunch option. With grilled chicken, tomato, and red onion topped with roasted corn and cheddar jack cheese, it comes out to only 470 calories, 24 grams of carbs, 34 grams of protein, and 250 calories from fat.

For a full meal, this is very well balanced compared to much of the rest of the chain's menu. Eating a diet high in vegetables can be a fast track to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

What's even more surprising is the nutritional info for the BBQ coleslaw dressing is. It has less salt than the other two salad dressings on the Noodles & Company menu with only 400 milligrams of sodium compared to the Med dressing's 430 milligrams. 

Unhealthiest: Spaghetti and Meatballs

This childhood favorite might indeed be best homemade. In terms of nutritional content, spaghetti and meatballs from Noodles & Company verge on unreasonable at 980 total calories, 102 grams of carbs, and 1580 milligrams of sodium and 430 calories from fat. In terms of pure caloric intake, that is nearly half the daily recommended limit of 2,000 calories for women and a significant chunk of the 2,500 recommended for men. 

Sadly, the Oven Roasted Meatballs are probably the wisest component to omit from the dish. When you do, the total calorie and fat totals drop drastically. However, at that point, you are still eating a plate of spaghetti that has 810 milligrams of sodium and just under 100 grams of carbs. If you still want something that feels like a balanced meal, try swapping out the meatballs for a lower-fat protein. The grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp make excellent, slightly more nutritious, pairings with the red sauce.

Healthiest: Chicken Noodle Soup

As it turns out, soup is good for more than just getting over a cold. Broth-based soups like chicken noodle or minestrone make surprisingly filling, low-calorie meal options. A study in Physiology & Behavior showed that many soups have a high satiety value, and concluded that eating them showed an increase of fullness comparable to solid foods.

As such, the Chicken Noodle Soup from Noodles & Company accomplishes the trick of feeling like a full meal with half the calorie count. A bowl of this soup provides you with a hot 360 calories (only 90 from fat), 41 grams of carbs, and a mere 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Even though it's low cal this soup does not skimp on the wavy egg noodles and large chunks of chicken breast, so you still might not have room for dessert. 

Unhealthiest: Chicken & Prosciutto Tortelloni with Smoked Gouda

There's a handful of stuffed pastas on the Noodles & Company menu. While none of them are exactly good for you, the Chicken & Prosciutto Tortelloni with Smoked Gouda takes the award for most unnecessarily indulgent.

Pasta pockets of chicken and prosciutto get topped with mushrooms, spinach, and a smoked gouda sauce for a total of 910 calories and 430 calories from fat. At 72 grams of carbohydrates, 2720 milligrams of sodium, and 21 grams of saturated fat, there are a lot of reasons to avoid the dish.

The sauce is doing a lot of work on the fat and salt front, so swapping it out could be a healthier choice in this instance. However, nothing will get past the inclusion of prosciutto, a processed meat. If you are watching your heart health for any reason, it's best to avoid these. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, processed meats are known causes of cancer and can also promote cardiovascular disease.

If you are craving a stuffed pasta option that's slightly healthier, opt for the 3-cheese tortellini with pesto which only has 770 calories, 1920 milligrams of sodium, and 360 calories from fat. 

Healthiest: The Med Salad with Chicken

This salad is the medicine you need, although that's not what Noodles & Company meant when it named this dish The Med Salad. Instead, this healthy choice is inspired by Mediterranean ingredients. Toppings include tomato, cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olives, spicy yogurt dressing, and feta cheese. Mixed with kale, grilled chicken, and cavatappi noodles, the salad is fully loaded with protein and complex carbs. After all that, the dish comes out to only 430 calories, 32 grams of carbs, and 160 calories from fat.

The Tuscan greens (a form of kale) that serve as the salad's base do a lot to keep this dish low in the categories we're assessing. They are also full of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C. The superfood is also a great source of calcium and vitamin K, which, according to the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, are critical to keeping your bones healthy.

Unhealthiest: Wisconsin Mac & Cheese

The macaroni and cheese is a fan favorite at Noodles & Company. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it a good choice, at least not by common health standards. For starters, there's over 1000 calories (390 from fat) in a bowl of Wisconsin Mac & Cheese from the pasta chain. With 122 grams of carbs and 23 grams of saturated fat per regular-sized entree, this is not a heart-healthy choice. Another red flag here is the 1.5 grams of trans fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a diet that includes trans fat may contribute to raising your LDL (or "bad) cholesterol levels.

We aren't even going to break out the BBQ and Buffalo chicken varieties as their own dishes, lest we spend this whole list discussing the reasons not to eat Noodles & Company mac. Suffice it to say that adding sodium-rich sauces and fried chicken to the ordeal only makes it unhealthier. 

Healthiest: Zucchini Rosa with Grilled Chicken

The final zoodle option on the menu is no slouch when it comes to packing a flavor punch that also won't ruin your day. The nutritious Zucchini Rosa with Grilled Chicken clocks in at a healthy 450 calories, 24 grams of carbs, an impressive 38 grams of protein, and 210 calories from fat. Featuring mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and grilled chicken, the pasta and toppings are tossed in Noodles & Company's slightly spicy and creamy Rosa sauce.

If you are craving a big bowl of pasta with all the fixings, this should be your top choice. The inclusion of meaty mushrooms and grilled chicken gives the dish plenty of filling (and protein-filled) components. When it comes to the proteins available at the noodle chain, grilled chicken is always going to be one of the best options since it's low in fat and high in protein. 

Unhealthiest: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

You would expect this salad to at least rank somewhere in the middle of the pack and not among the least healthy of a chain's options. But when it comes to just how many of the calories in this item come from fat, we had to give it up to the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad at Noodles & Company for being one of the unhealthiest available. With 410 of its 610 calories coming from fat and nearly 1500 milligrams of sodium, the Grilled Chicken Caesar is no side dish. The salad also boasts 45 total grams of fat, 10 of which are saturated.

Even though this salad is egregious in its own ways, it's true that Caesar is often one of the least healthy salad dressings. The rich, creamy sauce is a delicious accompaniment to boring Romaine lettuce because it's loaded with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese. However, both of these savory ingredients also come with plenty of fats. At Noodles & Company, you are better off choosing either of the other two salads.

Healthiest: Japanese Pan Noodles

If you're craving Asian food on your next trip to Noodles & Company, skip the Pad Thai and opt for the Japanese Pan Noodles instead. The vegetarian-friendly noodles are served with tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, and carrots. The dish comes out to 640 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 110 calories from fat. The Japanese Pan sauce is less of a salt bomb than the sauce used for the Pad Thai or the Korean BBQ sauce used for the Spicy Korean Beef Noodles.

We will note that at 114 grams of carbohydrates, this is one of the most carb-heavy dishes on the menu. So why does it make the healthy side of the list? While admittedly as high in carbs as other pastas, the Udon noodles at Noodles & Company are made with wheat flour. Whole-wheat flour noodles like these are high in fiber, which can help with digestion.  According to dietician Denise Hernandez who spoke to Real Simple, wheat flour noodles are a source of essential micronutrients, including B vitamins like thiamine.

Unhealthiest: LEANguini Alfredo MontAmore

The LEANguini line of dishes at Noodles & Company is a bit of a misnomer. While they all feature the chain's low carb linguine noodle option, not all of them are necessarily as healthy as they might seem. The prime culprit of this deception is the LEANguini Alfredo MontAmore. You're still getting over 2000 milligrams of sodium in this bowl of pasta, which is typical of many dishes on the menu, but this shouldn't be anywhere near the lean section of the menu.

At 770 calories, 50 grams of carbs, and 400 calories from fat, the lean in this name is purely for show. This is still Noodles & Company's Alfredo sauce on pasta, which is the heaviest of the bunch and full of saturated fats.

We recommend LEANguini Fresca with Parm instead. With its fresh balsamic sauce and veggies, it's a much leaner pick. According to a 2010 clinical trial published in the Journal of Science and Vitaminology, Balsamic vinegar can help lower cholesterol levels, and a 2021 study in Foods suggests it could aid in digestion. If you are serious about cutting down on carbs, though, you're better off ordering the zoodles.


When determining the healthiest and unhealthiest items on the Noodles & Company menu, we looked at the nutritional value of each of the listed menu items (not including desserts and sides). Due to the high number of customizations available, we chose the default regular-sized menu items and did not deviate from the pre-selected toppings.

Since sodium levels are high across the menu, we decided to focus on carbs and calories from fat as the two main metrics for judging health. In terms of finding unhealthy dishes, typically more calories from fat correlate with high levels of saturated and trans fats. These fats can have negative impacts on heart health and dietary health if consumed in excessive quantities. If a dish was lower in total calories but higher in calories from fat than dishes with similar calorie counts, that counted against it. 

After putting the nutritional statistics for each item in a spreadsheet, we sorted and listed them based on the nutritional categories established. This allowed us to easily find the dishes with the lowest and highest amounts of carbohydrates and fats.