If you’re looking for a low calorie meal or side dish to enjoy, a salad might likely come to mind.

However, with countless types of salad ingredients, toppings, and dressings available, the calorie contents of salads can vary significantly.

This article takes an in-depth look at how many calories you’ll find in many popular salads, toppings, and dressings, so you can pick which one best suits your health goals.

cracking salt pepper over fresh saladShare on Pinterest
Photography by Aya Brackett

Caesar salad

Caesar salad typically contains romaine lettuce and croutons.

It also features Caesar salad dressing, which is made with anchovy paste, egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the calories in Caesar salad come from this dressing and the croutons. Some varieties of the dish also contain chicken, which adds protein to the dish.

One cup (100 grams) of Caesar salad without chicken contains (1):

  • Calories: 190
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Fat: 16 grams

Pasta salad

Pasta salad is a common side dish comprising pasta, mozzarella cheese, and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives, which are all tossed in a rich, tangy Italian dressing.

Given that it’s grain-based, it contains more calories and carbs than many other types of green salad.

One cup (204 grams) of pasta salad with Italian dressing contains (2):

  • Calories: 269
  • Protein: 7.5 grams
  • Carbs: 43 grams
  • Fat: 7.5 grams

Chef salad

Although the exact ingredients in a chef salad vary, most versions contain lettuce, cucumbers, cheese, tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs.

A chef salad also typically includes a type of cold meat, such as ham, turkey, chicken, or tuna, which boosts its protein content.

The type of dressing used also varies. Popular options include ranch, Thousand Island, and blue cheese dressings.

One serving (249 grams) of chef salad with turkey, ham, and ranch dressing contains (3):

  • Calories: 371
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Fat: 31 grams

Greek salad

A traditional Greek salad consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, red onions, and feta cheese.

It’s usually topped with a simple vinaigrette dressing that’s made from ingredients like olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.

Compared with other salads, Greek salad is relatively low in calories and carbs. It also contains a moderate amount of heart-healthy fats from ingredients like olives, feta cheese, and olive oil (4).

One serving (319 grams) of Greek salad contains (5):

  • Calories: 211
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fat: 15 grams

Cobb salad

Cobb salad is a common salad featuring ingredients like mixed greens, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, turkey, tomatoes, and avocados.

It’s often paired with a red wine vinaigrette, though it can also be enjoyed with other types of dressing.

Cobb salad contains more protein than many other salads thanks to its protein-rich ingredients like eggs, chicken, or turkey.

Yet, keep in mind that it includes several high calorie ingredients like bacon and avocados.

One serving (206 grams) of Cobb salad contains (6):

  • Calories: 290
  • Protein: 16 grams
  • Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fat: 23 grams

Tuna salad

Tuna salad is a cold salad centered around mayonnaise and tuna.

It may also contain ingredients like celery, onions, relish, or pickles, and it’s often enjoyed as is or in green salads, sandwiches, pita bread, or wraps.

The tuna makes it high in protein, while the mayonnaise increases its calorie and fat contents.

One cup (238 grams) of tuna salad contains (7):

  • Calories: 466
  • Protein: 24 grams
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Fat: 38 grams

Egg salad

Egg salad is typically made with hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, dill, and celery.

Similarly to other mayo-based salads, each serving contains a relatively high amount of fat and calories. Still, because it’s made with eggs, it provides a good amount of protein.

One cup (222 grams) of egg salad contains (8):

  • Calories: 571
  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Fat: 51 grams

Chicken salad

Chicken salad is made with chicken breast, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. It may also contain ingredients like red grapes, celery, green onions, peppers, or pickles.

This option is high in calories, fat, and protein. It’s also relatively low in carbs, depending on the specific ingredients used.

One cup (226 grams) of chicken salad contains (9):

  • Calories: 531
  • Protein: 32 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fat: 42 grams

Macaroni salad

In addition to elbow macaroni, this salad typically includes mayonnaise, onions, celery, peppers, and pickles.

Because macaroni pasta is the main ingredient, it’s generally lower in protein and higher in carbs than other mayo-based salads.

Adding hard-boiled eggs or chicken breast is a great way to boost the amount of protein in each serving to help round out your meal.

One cup (204 grams) of macaroni salad contains (10):

  • Calories: 451
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Carbs: 50 grams
  • Fat: 24 grams

Potato salad

Most recipes for potato salad include boiled potatoes mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, onions, and celery, along with a variety of herbs and seasonings.

Since it’s low in protein but high in carbs, calories, and fat, it should only be enjoyed in moderation or served as a side dish and paired with other nutrient-dense foods.

One cup (275 grams) of potato salad contains (11):

  • Calories: 462
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 43 grams
  • Fat: 31 grams


If you’re looking for some veggies on the go, know that Wendy’s offers a variety of salads on their menu.

However, keep in mind that Wendy’s options are typically high in calories from ingredients like cheese, avocados, and tortilla chips. Thus, you should enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Below are the calorie counts of Wendy’s salads (12):

  • Jalapeño Popper Salad: 660 calories
  • Parmesan Caesar Salad: 440 calories
  • Southwest Avocado Salad: 570 calories
  • Taco Salad: 690 calories
  • Apple Pecan Salad: 550 calories

Olive Garden

You may already be familiar with Olive Garden’s Famous House Salad, which is made with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, olives, croutons, red onions, and pepperoncini peppers.

Although it’s usually served with the restaurant’s signature Italian dressing, you can opt for low fat Italian or oil and vinegar dressing instead.

Here’s the calorie and fat content of Olive Garden’s Famous House salad (13):

  • Without dressing: 290 calories and 17 grams of fat
  • With Italian dressing: 370 calories and 25 grams of fat


Subway may be renowned for their sandwiches, but they’ve recently introduced salads, too.

Like other items on their menu, you can easily customize your meal by adding or removing vegetables, proteins, and dressings. Naturally, this will affect the nutritional value.

Here’s the number of calories for each salad on their menu if ordered as is (14):

  • Black Forest Ham: 120 calories
  • Chicken & Bacon Ranch: 460 calories
  • Cold Cut Combo: 160 calories
  • Italian BMT: 240 calories
  • Meatball Marinara: 290 calories
  • Oven Roasted Chicken: 130 calories
  • Spicy Italian: 300 calories
  • Steak & Cheese: 200 calories
  • Sweet Onion Teriyaki: 210 calories
  • Tuna: 310 calories
  • Turkey Breast: 110 calories
  • Veggie Delite: 50 calories

Panera Bread

Panera Bread specializes in providing fresh, delicious, and seasonal salads.

If you’ve ordered from Panera before, you may know that it offers both whole and half portions. Plus, you can customize the ingredients or add extra toppings for an additional fee.

Here is the number of calories in a full-sized portion of each option on their menu, ordered as is (15):

  • Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken: 360 calories
  • Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken: 530 calories
  • Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken: 580 calories
  • Caesar Salad: 330 calories
  • Caesar Salad with Chicken: 470 calories
  • Greek Salad: 400 calories
  • Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken: 430 calories
  • Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad with Chicken: 670 calories
  • BBQ Chicken Salad: 510 calories

The nutritional value of your salad can vary significantly based on which dressings and toppings you add.

Unfortunately, because many dressings and toppings are loaded with calories, going overboard can quickly turn a healthy salad into a high calorie meal. Thus, if you’re aiming to lose weight, consider moderating your portion sizes and selecting low calorie dressings and toppings.

Here’s how many calories you’ll find in a 2-tablespoon (30-gram) serving of common salad dressings (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22):

  • Ranch dressing: 129 calories
  • Blue cheese dressing: 145 calories
  • Thousand Island dressing: 114 calories
  • Caesar dressing: 163 calories
  • Chipotle ranch dressing: 170 calories
  • Italian dressing: 71 calories
  • Honey mustard dressing: 139 calories

Here’s the number of calories in popular toppings (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30):

  • Croutons: 122 calories per cup (30 grams)
  • Avocados: 234 calories per cup (146 grams)
  • Sunflower seeds: 165 calories per ounce (28 grams)
  • Almonds: 164 calories per ounce (28 grams)
  • Bacon bits: 33 calories per tablespoon (7 grams)
  • Parmesan cheese: 119 calories per ounce (28 grams)
  • Swiss cheese: 111 calories per ounce (28 grams)
  • Mozzarella cheese: 85 calories per ounce (28 grams)

Keep in mind, though, that despite having a high calorie content, whole-food toppings like avocados, nuts, and seeds are nutrient-dense and contribute health-promoting fats, fiber, and more (24, 25, 26).

While salads are typically considered to be healthy, weight-loss-friendly options, their nutritional values and calorie contents vary significantly depending on the ingredients used.

To maximize the nutritional value of your meal, opt for green salads with plenty of vegetables and a good source of protein.

If you’re aiming to lose weight, choosing low calorie toppings and dressings and moderating your portion sizes may also be beneficial.

Just one thing

Try this today: Creating a homemade salad is a simple way to create a healthy, nutritious meal that suits your taste buds and health goals. Stop by this article to get inspired by some mouthwatering summertime salad recipes!

Was this helpful?