The Worst Chicken Dishes in America

30. Terrible Chicken Dish at A&W
Chicken Strips (3 pieces)

500 calories
29 g fat (5 g saturated, 2 g trans)
1,050 mg sodium

Go to KFC and you'll find the same order of Crispy Chicken Strips with 120 fewer calories and zero grams of trans fat. Chili dogs are hardly a paragon of nutritious nosh, but when you see them on the menu, it's usually a good sign that the rest of the entres are even worse.That makes ordering them a surprisingly reliable way to avoid making bigger mistakes.

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Coney (Chili) Dog

340 calories
20 g fat (9 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
900 mg sodium

29. Terrible Chicken Dish at Applebee's
Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl

1,880 calories
13 g saturated fat
4,250 mg sodium

No matter how many vegetables you throw in with it, fried chicken coated in viscous sauce of any kind will never be an even moderately decent meal. Order a drink, and you've just hit your entire day's calorie allotment in one sitting. Now, there are healthier chicken dishes at Applebee's other than the Margherita Chicken (try the Garlic Herb Chicken, if you really want to keep it low-cal), but you won't find one as decadent as the Margherita Chicken for fewer than 1,000 calories. Make sure you ask for a side of broccoli, though - the extra potassium will help balance out the high sodium intake.

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Margherita Chicken

700 calories
8 g saturated fat
2,420 mg sodium

28. Terrible Chicken Dish at Baja Fresh
Chicken Quesadilla

1,330 calories
80 g fat (37 g saturated, 2.5 g trans)
2,590 mg sodium

Quesadillas are second only to nachos in terms of belt-breaking potential. There's not one on the menu - not even the veggie quesadilla - with fewer than 1,200 calories. Instead, go for the Chicken Torta. Tortas are Mexican sandwiches loaded with grilled or braised meat, avocado, salsa, and other fresh fixings. At Baja, it's one of your best bets for a decent entree. Order this one and you'll cut 240 calories off your meal.

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Chicken Torta without chips

620 calories
23 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,330 mg sodium

27. Terrible Chicken Dish at Bojangles'
Cajun Spiced Chicken Thigh with Seasoned Fries

654 calories
42 g fat (5 g saturated)
945 mg sodium

Along with the wings, chicken thighs tend to be the fattiest part on the bird, meaning less protein and more calories per piece. Here, you'll end up with 200 extra calories and less than half the protein than if you go with the more satisfying breast-beans combo. Besides, the Cajun Spiced Chicken Breast may be the leanest piece of fried chicken you'll ever find. For 278 calories, you get a full 33 grams of protein. Translation: This is a hefty piece of chicken. Tack on the pintos for 110 calories, and feel good about taking in some fiber and antioxidants along with your deep-fried fare.

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Cajun Spiced Chicken Breast with Cajun Pintos

388 calories
17 g fat (0 g saturated)
1,045 mg sodium

26. Terrible Chicken Dish at Boston Market
Classic Chicken Salad Sandwich

800 calories
41 g fat (7 g saturated, 5 g trans)
1,900 mg sodium

It's not surprising to find a load of fat in a chicken salad sandwich. It's built around a deluge of sticky mayonnaise, after all. What's shocking is the egregious load of trans fat. We still can't figure out how they managed to squeeze twice the daily limit into one little sandwich.

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Dark Chicken Individual Meal (3 pieces) with Fresh Vegetable Stuffing

580 calories
30 g fat (7 g saturated)
1,850 mg sodium

25. Terrible Chicken Dish at Burger King
Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich

800 calories
46 g fat (8 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
1,640 mg sodium

Don't let trifling terms like "tender" distract you from more telling terms like "crisp," which is a fast-food euphemism for deep-fried. Not even the Whopper with cheese has this many calories. You're much safer off with the chicken tenders (8 pieces) with BBQ sauce. These are some of the lowest-calories fried chicken pieces in the treacherous world of fried food. Their only decent rivals are the nuggets at Chick-fil-A.

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Chicken Tenders (8 pieces) with BBQ Sauce

400 calories
21 g fat (4 g saturated)
920 mg sodium

24. Terrible Chicken Dish at Cheesecake Factory
Grilled Chicken and Avocado Club

1,752 calories
28 g saturated fat
2,309 mg sodium

Who would have guessed that a dish with a name like this could pack more calories than 11 scoops of Breyers All Natural Mint Chocolate Chips? Skip sandwiches entirely. The "lightest" on the menu is the 1,052-calorie Grilled Cheese. Surprisingly, your better option here is a burger, and it's one of the best burgers offered at any sit-down restaurant in America, in fact. So long as you swap out the fries for something healthier, it's also one of the safest entrees you'll find on Cheesecake Factory's misguided menu.

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The Factory Burger

737 calories
15 g saturated fat
1,018 mg sodium

23. Terrible Chicken Dish at Chick-fil-A
Chicken Caesar Cool Wrap

480 calories
16 g fat (7 g saturated)
1,810 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A joins two of the most overrated "health" foods--wraps and Caesar salad--into one handheld package. At some establishments, it would still be a "this," but at Chick-fil-A, it's one of the worst items on the menu. On the other hand, consider the Chargrilled Chicken Club sandwich. Most chicken clubs suffer from at least one of three major blights: mayonnaise, breading, or bacon overload. Thankfully this one avoids all, making it the only club sandwich we've seen with fewer than 500 calories.

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Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich

380 calories
11 g fat (5 g saturated)
1,560 mg sodium

22. Terrible Chicken Dish at Chili's
Southwestern Cobb Salad

1,080 calories
71 g fat (16 g saturated)
2,650 mg sodium

The lettuce in this salad only serves to lend a lean look to a disastrous dish. The greens certainly aren't responsible for the glut of fat and sodium—that would be the work of fried chicken, bacon, and avocado-flavored ranch dressing. Instead, choose the Cedar Plank Tilapia. This lean fish is topped with one of the world’s finest condiments, pico de gallo, which blends together the antioxidant-rich nutritional profiles of cilantro, tomato, garlic, and lime. And it’s far tastier than anything a deep fryer can do.

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Southwestern Cedar Plank Tilapia

600 calories
27 g fat (4 g saturated)
1,820 mg sodium

21. Terrible Chicken Dish at Church's Chicken
Spicy Thigh with Fried Okra

830 calories
57 g fat (16 g saturated, 6 g trans)
1,625 mg sodium

Want to avoid the glut of trans fat? Avoid any fried sides and peel the skin off your chicken. So long as Church's fryers are still filled with partially hydrogenated oil, you'll have to play it safe when choosing your meal.

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Original Legs (2) with Cole Slaw

370 calories
22 g fat (6 g saturated, 2 g trans)
730 mg sodium

20. Terrible Chicken Dish at Del Taco
Macho Chicken Burrito

920 calories
30 g fat (11 g saturated)
2,120 mg sodium

Del Taco might have Taco Bell beat with their ultralean tacos, but they don't even come close in the battle for a better burrito. This Mexican mistake has 40 percent more calories than the Bell's infamous Grilled Chicken Stuft Burrito. Since when was a bulging gut considered "macho"?

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Chicken Tacos Del Carbon (3 tacos)

450 calories
15 g fat (0 g saturated)
900 mg sodium

19. Terrible Chicken Dish at Domino's
Chicken Carbonara Bread Bowl Pasta

1,480 calories
56 g fat (24 g saturated, 1 g trans)
2,280 mg sodium
188 g carbs

Here’s the breakdown: The noodles here contribute 200 calories, the sauce and toppings another 440. And finally, the bread bowl itself contributes a staggering 840 calories and 138 grams of carbohydrates. It’s like eating 12 slices of Pepperidge Farm White Sandwich Bread alongside your pasta dish, and all of those calories are the kind that spike your blood sugar and force your body to store away more fat. We used to harp on Panera’s Sourdough Soup Bowl, but it looks tame next to the Domino’s disaster.

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Thin-Crust Ham & Pineapple Pizza (medium, 3 slices)

465 calories
21 g fat (7.5 g saturated)
720 mg sodium

18. Terrible Chicken Dish at Einstein Bros.
Bros Bistro Salad with Chicken

485 calories
14.5 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,115 mg sodium

We’re as perplexed as you are. How a salad that contains chicken manages to have twice as many calories as a chicken sandwich is a nutritional puzzle that only Einstein himself could solve. One of the few strategies that holds true across the spectrum of restaurants: You're always better off playing the chef. Here, that means tossing aside their high-calorie sandwich creations and crafting your own. We use lean grilled chicken, plenty of fixings, and even a bagel and still come in under 500 calories.

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Deli Chicken Sandwich on Onion Bagel with Swiss

485 calories
14.5 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,115 mg sodium

17. Terrible Chicken Dish at El Pollo Loco
Chicken Tostada Salad with Light Creamy Cilantro Dressing

910 calories
47 g fat (13 g saturated)
1,710 mg sodium

The dressing may be light, but this bowl is anything but. Rice and fried tortilla combine for a one-two punch of empty carbs, while the shredded cheese and sour cream lend these leaves more saturated fat than a dozen strips of bacon.

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Chicken Caesar Bowl

490 calories
22 g fat (4.5 g saturated)
1,200 mg sodium

16. Terrible Chicken Dish at Hardee's
Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich

630 calories
30 g fat (8 g saturated)
1,430 mg sodium

What goes into a club at Hardee’s? Cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise—the unholy trinity of sandwich toppings. Try the Little Thick Cheeseburger, instead. With this burger, Hardee’s has achieved what so many other restaurants fail to do: Create a quarter-pound cheeseburger with fewer than 500 calories. Remember this the next time you have a hankering for red meat.

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Little Thick Cheeseburger

450 calories
23 g fat (9 g saturated)
1,180 mg sodium

15. Terrible Chicken Dish at Hooters
Smothered Chicken Sandwich

800 calories

It’s not just fried and “crispy” chicken you need to watch for; even the straight grilled stuff often comes at an unexpectedly high caloric price. Truth is, this is nothing more than a chicken cheese steak with 200 mystery calories tacked on. Go for the Philly Cheese Steak instead. Yes, it’s hard to believe that a steak sandwich beats out a chicken sandwich, but we’ve seen stranger things at chain restaurants. Truth is, nearly half of this sandwich’s heft comes from a rewarding trio of onions, peppers and mushrooms, and if Hooters is using sirloin here (as many cheesesteak slingers do), then they’ve nailed the recipe for a solid sandwich.

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Philly Cheese Steak

600 calories

14. Terrible Chicken Dish at IHOP
BBQ Chicken

1,150 calories
11 g saturated fat
2,020 mg sodium

An entree is only as good as the sides that come with it, and this one hangs with some greasy characters. If you feel the need to order anything with this much sauce on it, go ahead and customize it by upgrading to some healthier sides. When at IHOP, seek out the term "Mediterranean." It indicates that the meal is well-seasoned, not fried, and served with vegetables on the side. Cut the superfluous calories by telling them to leave the hollandaise sauce off your broccoli.

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Mediterranean Lemon Chicken

690 calories
5 g saturated fat
1,440 mg sodium

13. Terrible Chicken Dish at Jack in the Box
Crispy Chicken Club Salad with Croutons and Ranch Dressing

840 calories
58 g fat (15 g saturated, 4.5 g trans)
1,980 mg sodium

The 2 ounces of ranch that top this salad contribute a third of the calories and half the fat. Switching to light ranch saves you 150 calories, but even if you eat your salad completely dressing-free, you're better off sticking with the Chicken Teriyaki Bowl. That might come as a surprise, considering that branching off into other cultures' cuisines tends to produce dangerous results in the world of fast food, but jack's Japanese-inspired dish manages to buck the trend. Not only does it come with a legitimate stack of vegetables, but it's also one of the few menu items to avoid a perilous load of trans fat.

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Chicken Teriyaki Bowl

580 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)
1,460 mg sodium

12. Terrible Chicken Dish at KFC
Hot & Spicy Chicken Breast

470 calories
28 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,310 mg sodium

The grilled chicken breast has less than half the calories you'll find in Extra Cripsy, Original Recipe, or Hot & SPicy. Make sure to order accordingly. Because, seriously - which would you prefer? The plate with the chicken, buttered corn, and red beans? Or the plate with the single lonely piece of fried chicken? Yeah, us, too.

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Grilled Chicken Breast with Red Beans and Corn on the Cob (3")

410 calories
7 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
780 mg sodium

11. Terrible Chicken Dish at Manchu Wok
Honey Garlic Chicken with Fried Rice

840 calories
34 g fat (6 g saturated)
2,100 mg sodium
34 g sugars

Why does this simple Chinese meal pack as much sugar as a pack of Skittles? Blame the Honey Garlic Sauce bathing the chicken. The Honey Garlic Chicken packs about twice the sugar as the Pineapple Chicken, so making that switch will automatically improve the dish. Do yourself one extra favor and wwitch to mixed vegetables instead of rice as a side. You'll earn flavor and nutrients while eliminating 280 calories.

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Pineapple Chicken with Mixed Vegetables

130 calories
17 g sugars

10. Terrible Chicken Dish at McDonald's
Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

530 calories
17 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,410 mg sodium

Mayonnaise and bacon destroy any benefit you might have earned by ordering this sandwich grilled instead of crispy. Go for the McDouble instead. This new addition to the Dollar Menu is the best double burger we’ve encountered, and even if you decide to add extra cheese, you’re only looking at a 50-calorie tariff.

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390 calories
19 g fat (8 g saturated)
920 mg sodium

9. Terrible Chicken Dish at Olive Garden
Garlic Herb Chicken con Broccoli

960 calories
41 g fat (18 g saturated)
2,180 mg sodium

The flavor and fat both come from the garlic-infused cream sauce. Any time you order a meal that comes with white sauce, you can cut hundreds of calories by asking to have it prepared with marinara instead.

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Venetian Apricot Chicken

380 calories
4 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
1,420 mg sodium)

8. Terrible Chicken Dish at Outback Steakhouse
Alice Springs Chicken

1,679 calories
115 g fat (53 g saturated)
2,686 mg sodium

This meal ought to be called "find the chicken." The game would be to see if you could eat your way through all that cheese before your heart gives out under the strain of sodium and saturated fat. Opt instead for the Grilled Chicken & Swiss Sandwich. It's by far the best sandwich on the menu. Just be sure to sub something in for the Aussie Fries, or you'll still wind up in trouble.

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Grilled Chicken & Swiss Sandwich

696 calories
33 g fat (10 g saturated)
1,323 mg sodium

7. Terrible Chicken Dish at P.F. Chang's
Crispy Honey Chicken

2,016 calories
60 g fat (12 g saturated)
750 mg sodium

This isn't a stir-fry; it's fried chicken with a cascade of caramel poured over the top. Even if you split this with a partner, you'd each still be consuming half of your day's calories and more carbs than you'd find in 2 pints of Ben and Jerry's butter pecan.

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Sweet & Sour Chicken

828 calories
39 g fat (6 g saturated)
840 calories

6. Terrible Chicken Dish at Panda Express
Orange Chicken with Steamed Rice

820 calories
20 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
840 mg sodium

This dish and the Sweet & Sour Chicken are the worst choices at Panda Express. The chicken alone--before adding rice--has more calories than the combined load of Pineapple Chicken and Broccoli Beef (which offers an excellent balance of protein and fresh produce, for what it's worth).

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Pineapple Chicken and Broccoli Beef

380 calories
16 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
1,430 mg sodium

5. Terrible Chicken Dish at Pizza Hut
Garlic Parmesan Bone-Out Wings (6)

840 calories
60 g fat (12 g saturated)
2,430 mg sodium

In the heirarchy of wings at Pizza Hut, "Bone Out" ranks even worse than the decadent-sounding Crispy Wings. Stick to the Traditional recipe, and you'll save hundreds of calories on every flavor-to-flavor matchup.

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All American Traditional Wings (6)

240 calories
15 g fat (4.5 g saturated)
960 mg sodium

4. Terrible Chicken Dish at Popeyes
Spicy Chicken Thigh with Red Beans and Rice

620 calories
43 g fat (14 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
1,200 mg sodium

A scoop of Red Beans and Rice on your plate will set you back 320 calories. Switch to Cajun Rice and you'll cut that number nearly in half. Or, switch to Legs over Thighs--unless you go skinless, the SPicy Legs are the leanest pieces of chicken on Popeye's menu. Pair it with mashed potatoes, or, if you want to go even more virtuous, green beans.

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Spicy Chicken Legs (2) with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

320 calories
14 g fat (6 g saturated)
1,030 mg sodium

3. Terrible Chicken Dish at Red Robin
California Chicken Burger

946 calories
57 g fat
2,002 mg sodium

Think chicken burgers grant you amnesty from the calorie conundrum presented by the rest of RR's burger lineup? Not quite. Two-thirds of these birds have more than 900 calories apiece.

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Natural Burger (on onion roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno and guacamole)

613 calories
27 g fat
914 mg sodium

2. Terrible Chicken Dish at Romano's Macaroni Grill
Chicken Florentine

1,020 calories
76 g fat (17 g saturated)
2,830 mg sodium

The spinach on this plate exists as a mere distraction from the oil-laden sidecar of "garlic lemon vinaigrette." Unless you craft it yourself from scratch in your own kitchen - and maybe not even then - the Pollo Caprese is one of the best pasta dishes you can eat. And if you ask to have it served with whole wheat noodles, you'll be served with an extra boost of belly-filling fiber, which should keep you feeling full for hours.

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Pollo Caprese

550 calories
20 g fat (5 g saturated)
1,660 mg sodium

1. Terrible Chicken Dish at T.G.I. Friday's
Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Pasta

1,420 calories

The "Cajun" flavoring here is actually seasoned butter, and the sauce is cream-and-cheese-infused Alfredo. That makes this the absolute worst pasta dish on the menu, and among the worst in the country.

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Blackened Chicken Alfredo

610 calories

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