The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Menu Items at Noodles and Company Gallery

Not all pasta dishes are bad for you

The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Menu Items at Noodles and Company

The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Menu Items at Noodles and Company
Jonathan Weiss/Dreamstime.com

Noodles and Company is a fast-casual chain that, as the name implies, serves mostly pasta. You’ll find comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and pad thai, as well as noodle-filled soups and salads on their varied menu. You might think that such a chain couldn’t possibly offer options that pass for healthy — but among the oodles of noodles on the menu, there are dishes with surprisingly healthy ingredients.

Noodles and Company actually gives a lot of thought to the nutritional value of their menu, making it one of the healthiest chain restaurants according to our ranking. They add fresh vegetables to many of their meals and only use soybean oil to sauté with.

Plus, just because they serve pasta doesn’t mean their food is not a healthy choice. It is possible to make a healthy pasta dish. Many meals based around pasta are loaded with cream- or butter-based sauces and cheese. Noodles and Company serves a balance of these items and ones with lighter sauce and heavier portions of vegetables. Sometimes you might really want a buttery bowl of carbs. Other times, you might want something with more fiber and nutrients. Here’s a breakdown of the healthiest and unhealthiest menu items at Noodles and Company.

Unhealthiest: 7. Spicy Korean Beef Noodles

Unhealthiest: 7. Spicy Korean Beef Noodles
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

You knew ramen wasn’t great for you, but this dish takes things to the next level. The regular size of the dish has a shocking amount of sodium, with 3,220 milligrams total, and 140 grams of carbohydrates. The Spicy Korean Beef Noodles contains 1,000 calories — not exactly a healthy way to satisfy your ramen noodle craving.

6. Truffle Mac

This is an over-the-top mac and cheese dish if we’ve ever seen one. The creamy, excessively cheesy pasta dish is paired with truffle, mushrooms, Parmesan, and a toasted layer of breadcrumbs to top it all off. The regular size of the Truffle Mac totals to 1,070 carb-filled calories and 43 grams of fat.

5. Steak Stroganoff

Steak stroganoff is a hearty comfort food classic, but you didn’t expect it to be this heavy. Noodles and Company’s version of the cream-based dish is 1,100 calories with 53 grams of fat. Twenty-one of those grams of fat are saturated fat, largely due to the red meat and cream — saturated fat is one of the main reasons some doctors suggest limiting your intake of red meat.

4. Buffalo Chicken Mac

4. Buffalo Chicken Mac
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

This menu item combines two American food classics: mac and cheese and Buffalo wings. Breaded chicken is doused in hot sauce and folded into rich globs of cheese and pasta — the only vegetable is the sprinkle of green onions spread over the top. This insanely cheesy bowl is 1,100 calories and 3,180 milligrams of sodium. The sodium is probably the fault of the hot sauce; your blood pressure could be at risk if you eat too much.

3. BBQ Pork Mac

3. BBQ Pork Mac
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Slow-braised pork, crispy jalapeños, and barbecue sauce cover a cheesy mountain of pasta, racking up 1,210 calories total. Barbecue sauce also has a significant amount of added sugar; this dish has 18 grams of sugar in addition to all the cheese and grease.

2. Pad Thai

2. Pad Thai
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

This street food traditionally from Thailand has become incredibly popular in America; but this version of the Asian dish is far from the healthiest thing on the menu. The stir-fried noodles are loaded with egg, peanuts, and cooking oils, driving up the calorie count to 1,240 for the entire dish. There are some vegetables such as cabbage and green onions cooked into the meal, but no added protein or greens. The dish has just 19 grams of filling protein for its 131 grams of carbs — not exactly an Atkins-friendly meal.

1. Alfredo MontAmore

1. Alfredo MontAmore
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Of all the carb-loaded, cheesy creations at Noodles and Company, the Alfredo MontAmore is the heaviest. The cream-soaked spaghetti dish has 1,410 calories and 84 grams of fat. If you’re trying to skimp on fat and calories when going out to eat, you may want to steer clear of anything Alfredo — despite the vegetables and chicken that improve the nutritional value of this dish, the sauce is rich enough to drive the calories over the edge.

Healthiest: 8. Zucchini Romesco

Healthiest: 8. Zucchini Romesco
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Noodles and Company’s menu isn’t all carbs and cheese. In fact, they’re trying out a new low-carb option on the menu — zucchini pasta, otherwise known as zoodles. If you don’t cook them right, a bowl of zoodles can taste tragic. But this chain covers them in a savory sauce and tops them with almonds so they feel a little more satiating. There are tons of vegetables in this dish; however, if you’re craving carbs, do yourself a favor and order real pasta. Zucchini just isn’t going to cut it. The Zucchini Romesco dish is 570 calories if you order the regular size; you could also order the small for 280 calories and pair it with a more satisfying side. Not all vegetable-filled meals have to be salad!

7. Pasta Fresca

7. Pasta Fresca
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Instead of a cream-based sauce, this pasta dish uses heart-healthy olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. It’s cooked with roasted garlic, which has many unexpected health benefits, as well as leafy greens and tomatoes. If you want a meal with a better balance of carbs and protein, order the small and add a protein such as chicken or tofu to this pasta dish; the small size has 440 calories without the added protein.

6. Penne Rosa

6. Penne Rosa
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Don’t order this if you don’t want something spicy — though the spice could kick up your metabolism a little. This pasta comes with tomato sauce with a kick, plus greens and mushrooms to complement the Parmesan- and feta-covered pasta. The small size of this menu item contains 360 calories. You can order your meal topped with a protein to make it more filling and nutritious.

5. Chicken Noodle Soup, Regular

5. Chicken Noodle Soup, Regular

Vinay R./Yelp

There’s nothing quite as cozy as a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup; and if you’re sick, the dish can actually help you to feel better. The regular size of Chicken Noodle Soup from Noodles and Company has 360 calories total; just be wary of the sodium. This might not be the wisest choice for those who are watching their blood pressure, since the soup has 2,320 milligrams of sodium.

4. Thai Green Curry With Shrimp

4. Thai Green Curry With Shrimp

Cory C./Yelp

Curry is one of the healthiest popular dishes from around the world, made with coconut milk and lots of fresh vegetables. Noodles and Company makes a Thai Green Curry with shrimp, which is a great lean source of protein, rice noodles, sesame seeds, and four types of vegetables. The pineapple and green curry sauce kick up the flavor — the small size of the dish is 460 calories total. There’s no need to opt for the zucchini noodles unless you genuinely want them, but if you do, it’s 260 calories for a small and 440 for a regular size.

3. The Med Salad With Chicken

3. The Med Salad With Chicken
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

At Noodles and Company, even some salads have pasta in them. But that doesn’t make them unhealthy — the Med Salad with Chicken is one of the most balanced options on the menu. It’s just 390 calories for the regular size and contains a good amount of fat and protein to keep you satisfied. It’s filled with nutritious toppings such as grilled chicken, vegetables, olives, and a yogurt-based salad dressing.

2. Thai Chicken Soup, Regular

2. Thai Chicken Soup, Regular
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

This soup offers all the health benefits of coconut alongside chicken for protein and vegetables for some fiber. Lemongrass pairs with turmeric, offering additional anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin from the orange-tinted spice. The regular size is 370 calories and has six different types of vegetables that offer a variety of nutritional benefits. Unlike broth-based soups, this bowl won’t leave you hungry since it’s filled with healthy fats.

1. Chicken Veracruz Salad

1. Chicken Veracruz Salad
Courtesy of Noodles & Company

Arguably the healthiest item on Noodles and Company’s menu is the Chicken Veracruz Salad. It’s not the lowest-calorie option, but that’s actually a good thing. This meal gets its 650 calories from a variety of nutritious ingredients such as corn, vegetables, chicken, and avocados. Unlike other salads that get their fats from things like crispy wonton noodles or blue cheese, this one uses the avocado, which has over 20 awesome health benefits.

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