14 Fast Food Salads, Ranked Worst To Best

When you're considering ordering fast food, salad probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But these days, many fast food restaurants have upped their salad games. A few new fast food and fast casual spots now focus on salad specifically. Even the more burger-and-fries-focused spots have started offering decent salads to the more veggie-inclined of their customers. Now, in many places, it's just as easy to grab a salad as it is to grab a burger at a drive-thru.

We love that veggies are more available at our favorite fast food joints than they once were — it's nice to have more quick and easy options for when you're on the go. However, that doesn't mean that every fast food salad you order is going to be a good one. We've compiled a list of some of the most popular fast food salads out there, and we've ranked them from our least favorites to the best of the bunch.

Ultimately, though, it's up to you to do some taste-testing for yourself so you know where to get the perfect salad when the veggie cravings hit. These salads are all a great place to start.

14. McDonald's Crispy Chicken Salad

It shouldn't come as any surprise that McDonald's, home of perhaps the most iconic fast food burgers of all time, isn't exactly making the world's best salads. The McDonald's Crispy Chicken Salad seems like a half-hearted attempt to put something somewhat nutritious on the menu so nobody makes another Super Size Me-style documentary about the company. Soggy lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and sliced red onions form the base for the crispy breaded chicken breast, which is easily half of the salad's mass. The balsamic dressing doesn't add much flavor to the very basic list of ingredients.

To be fair, this is a side salad, so it's not totally fair to compare this to salads that are meant to be enjoyed as meals. If you're looking for some veggies on the side of your burger and fries, this chicken salad will get the job done. It seems like it was an afterthought to the menu — an item that was added at the last minute. For those who are actually looking for an interesting, flavorful salad from a fast food restaurant, there are much better options out there to explore.

13. Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Salad

We love it when fast food restaurants that normally specialize in relatively heavy, fatty foods offer a lighter alternative for those times when you're just not feeling a burger. But more often than not, it seems like these salads aren't given much thought and are instead thrown together just to offer something "healthier." That certainly feels like the case with Jack in the Box's Grilled Chicken Salad. This salad features lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, croutons, and shredded cheddar cheese in addition to the grilled chicken, all dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. The result is a super-basic salad that anyone could easily make at home.

This salad isn't bad — it's just basic and bland. The shredded cheddar cheese is a strange choice, as the sharpness of the cheese doesn't pair well with the light, fresh veggies. The best way to describe the chicken itself is inoffensive, considering it tastes of very little at all. If we were desperate for a salad and the only place around to get one was Jack in the Box, we'd order this salad, but we wouldn't be happy about it. But how many people are going to Jack in the Box for salad, anyway?

12. Dairy Queen Crispy Chicken Strips Salad

Dairy Queen was once just a humble ice cream chain — and here they are now, actually selling salads alongside their signature soft serve. Admittedly, the brand's Crispy Chicken Strips Salad isn't anything too special — it's chopped-up chicken strips on a bed of lettuce, bacon, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's a random assortment of ingredients, probably none of which are used exclusively for this salad. But despite the fact that this salad is deeply boring, it's actually not bad.

Let's be honest: The chicken strips in this salad save it from fast food salad obscurity. Of course, that's not saying as much about the salad as it is about the brand's chicken strips, but it does mean that we'd be more likely to buy this crunchy, chicken-heavy salad over a couple of the other salads on this list. But what's with the cheddar cheese?

11. Subway Cold Cut Combo

Perhaps one of the strangest fast food salads on the market is Subway's Cold Cut Combo. Look, we get what they were trying to do here. They already have a bunch of vegetables and cold cuts just sitting there, waiting to be turned into a sandwich. Why not remix the ingredients so they can be used to make a salad as well? It makes perfect business sense. But we can't pretend like a salad full of deli meats isn't a bit strange. It's not an unpleasant experience — just an odd one.

This salad comes with both lettuce and spinach, which is a nice departure from most fast food restaurants' predilection of lettuce-only salads. You'll also find tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, green peppers, red onions, pickles, jalapenos, and banana peppers in your salad. Of course, the stars of the show are the sliced ham, salami, and bologna that sit on top of the veggies in a pink pile. Forking an entire slice of meat in your salad is a strange experience, even though the flavors seem to work together well. We do like that you get to choose from Subway's large selection of dressings to create the specific flavor profile you're craving.

Are there better fast food salads to choose from? Sure. But where else are you going to get a pile of deli meat on a bed of veggies?

10. Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is one of the world's most iconic salads. It's fresh, crunchy, and deeply flavorful. But unfortunately, it's not on most fast food restaurants' menus. However, Boston Market is an exception. If you're looking for a quick Caesar salad on the go, the chain's Chicken Caesar Salad is certainly an option. For those who always eat fresh Caesar salads doused in homemade dressing full of anchovies, this salad from Boston Market is going to disappoint. But if you keep your expectations in check, you may just come to love this salad for what it is.

Since Boston Market specializes in rotisserie chicken, it should come as no surprise that the chicken in this salad is juicy and flavorful. The romaine lettuce offers the crunch you want from a traditional Caesar salad, and the three-cheese blend adds that savory note this kind of salad is known for. Of course, they deck it out with plenty of croutons as well. This salad isn't going to change a Caesar lover's life, but it'll get the job done when you're in a salad pinch.

9. Panera Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken

A lot of fast food salads out there look similar to one another, but if you're looking for something that's a departure from the norm, you may want to head to Panera. The brand's Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken is definitely a step up from your standard fast food salad, as it offers a combo of ingredients that you won't find everywhere. The base of the salad contains both romaine, chopped broccoli, kale, carrots, edamame, cilantro, and pickled red onions add a kick of flavor to the mix. The juicy chicken thigh meat is the star of the show, providing some protein and bulk to the meal. All of these ingredients work well together, creating a symphony of flavors that's surprisingly varied for a fast food restaurant.

The main problem the salad has is the soy ginger dressing. It is a bit too sweet for our taste, and it masks the flavors of the vegetables. The teriyaki drizzle adds to this sweetness even more, throwing the balance of the dish out of whack. This salad has potential — if you ask for the dressing on the side.

8. Quizno's Classic Italian Salad

When you're craving something fresh, you're better off going to Quizno's over many other fast food spots. However, you're probably thinking of a sub more than you are about the chain's salads. As it turns out, they're actually not bad. There are a few different options to choose from, but we prefer Quizno's Classic Italian Salad. This salad actually seems to have some thought behind it — we could easily see it being served at a sit-down Italian restaurant.

Romaine lettuce forms the bed of the salad, which is then dressed with ingredients like black olives, onions, banana peppers, and tomatoes. While Subway's inclusion of random cold cuts seemed strange, here, it seems natural: They pack this salad with spicy capicola, salami, pepperoni, and smoked ham in addition to a generous serving of provolone cheese. The bright, zippy red wine vinaigrette cuts through all that fatty meat to balance out the flavors in this salad beautifully.

Unsurprisingly, Quizno's doesn't have the best salad in the fast food game, which makes sense because their focus is on sandwiches. But for a chain where salads don't reign supreme, the Classic Italian Salad is a solid option.

7. El Pollo Loco Double Chicken Avocado Salad

El Pollo Loco is known for its fresh, chicken-focused offerings, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the brand's Loco Double Chicken Avocado Salad is one of the better fast food salads we've tried. We love this salad because it actually makes a great meal — all that chicken will fill you up fast, and the combination of vegetables they used works well together. You'll find pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and corn on top of the bed of lettuce. Of course, they pile on the avocado, so if you're a fan of the creamy green fruit, you're in luck. We think that creaminess pairs especially well with the chopped chicken. You can choose between creamy cilantro or ranch dressing, but we prefer the former — it matches the flavor profile of the salad.

When you're looking for a salad that's fresh and feels healthy but doesn't skimp on the quality ingredients, this option from El Pollo Loco should be at the top of your list.

6. Taco Bell Veggie Power Menu Bowl

For years, there has been anxiety over Taco Bell's meat offerings, with concerns being raised over the fact that Taco Bell's ground beef may not be 100% beef. But just because you may want to skip the meat-centric offerings at the affordable chain doesn't mean there aren't items on the menu that are worth your time — yes, even if you're craving a salad. In fact, we think that Taco Bell's Veggie Power Menu Bowl is one of the better salad options in fast food.

This salad may have a seasoned rice base, but we like the extra carbs for a more filling salad-eating experience. You'll also find lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and an avocado ranch sauce in the bowl, with the option to add on a wide variety of other ingredients. We like adding some chicken when we're craving more protein and onions when we want a bit more flavor.

5. Chick-fil-A Spicy Southwest Salad

Chick-fil-A has garnered plenty of controversy over the years, but some have managed to overlook the company's problematic views to indulge in its chicken. Though the brand's chicken biscuits and sandwiches may be the most recognizable menu items, that doesn't mean that they don't do chicken salads well. Chick-fil-A's Spicy Southwest Salad is a departure from some of the less-interesting salads on this list, with its inclusion of black beans, poblano chiles, and roasted corn. The grilled chicken breast is significantly more flavorful than most of the other fast food grilled chicken we've tried, and the grape tomatoes add another element of freshness to the lettuce-based salad.

What really makes this salad shine, though, is the seasoned tortilla strips and the chili lime pepitas, which deliver saltiness, flavor, and most importantly, crunch, to the finished salad. The creamy salsa dressing brings it all together in one flavorful, texturally rich meal.

4. Wendy's Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

If you've never tried adding fruit to your salad, this is your sign to do so. Or at least head to Wendy's to try out their Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. For a fast food chain that's primarily focused on burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, we've always been impressed by Wendy's salads — many of them are creative, featuring mixtures of ingredients you can't find at every fast food joint. This salad is no exception. The apples provide crunch and just a touch of sweetness to the lettuce-based salad, and the pecans are there to provide maximum texture. For fruit lovers, cranberries add some tartness and even more sugar, while the blue cheese tempers all that sweetness with some complex acidity. Add in the pomegranate vinaigrette, and it's clear why we're such a fan of this salad.

Worried that all of these fruits and vegetables won't be filling enough for you? Don't worry — they also add in a generous serving of chicken breast, so you'll undoubtedly be full by the time you finish the bowl.

3. Chopt Classic Cobb Salad

Now, we're getting into the really good stuff. It's not every day that you see a Cobb salad on a fast food menu, but Chopt isn't your normal fast food spot. This chain focuses specifically on salads, so it makes sense that they have a wide variety of amazing salad options to choose from. Although there may be more unique and creative salads on the menu, we happen to like the Classic Cobb Salad best. It's exactly what you're thinking of when you're craving a Cobb salad: romaine, grape tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese, and avocado. Of course, there are plenty of hard-boiled eggs as well, and for even more protein, you'll also find grilled chicken.

It's hard to beat the classics, which is exactly why we love this Cobb salad. They're not doing anything too unusual at Chopt, but they use fresh, high-quality ingredients that make this salad shine. When we want to go back to our salad roots, this is exactly what we order.

2. Saladworks Summer Berry Salad

Saladworks is another salad-focused chain that offers some of the most creative salads on the fast casual market. If you're looking for a salad that's light, refreshing, and perfect during the summer months, you have to give Saladworks' Summer Berry Salad a try. This may just be the ideal salad for all the fruit lovers out there. The super green base is complemented by both strawberries and blueberries, which add a lovely balance of sweetness and tartness to the mix. The honey pecans provide just the right amount of crunch, while the feta cheese offers a bright acidity to the dish. Grilled chicken transforms it from a side salad to a meal, and it all comes together with the poppy seed dressing.

The Summer Berry Salad feels like something you would make at home when you feel like impressing your guests, but at Saladworks, it's easy to grab a bite of this flavorful salad even when you're on the go and don't have time to make a whole salad from scratch.

1. Sweetgreen Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

Sweetgreen is one of the biggest names in the salad game right now, and it's easy to see why when you take a look at their menu. It's bursting with interesting salads that boast ingredients you won't see at any other fast food spot. Although there are countless tasty options to choose from at Sweetgreen, our favorite has to be the Peach and Goat Cheese Salad. Ripe peaches really get the chance to shine in this salad that also contains a spring mix and shredded kale along with mint, basil, cucumbers, and roasted almonds. The goat cheese provides not just a touch of creaminess to the salad but also makes it heartier, and the subtle balsamic vinaigrette pulls it all together.

Sure, there are other fast food salads that will get the job done when you're craving something fresh. But if you're looking for a salad specifically, you're best off going to a place like Sweetgreen, where you can try the Peach and Goat Cheese salad and many, many other options.