When time is tight and your tummy is rumbling, grabbing a fast-food chicken sandwich may seem like a healthy and satisfying choice. Chicken is a lean protein that can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet, but with some fast-food chicken sandwiches, you may wonder how much of it is actually chicken.
We already know which chicken sandwiches rank healthiest to least healthiest, but what about the ingredients? Not all fast-food chicken is 100% meat. Some chicken patties are filled with additives like textured vegetable protein or soy products. These additives cost less than chicken, which saves the fast-food chain money but can also spell trouble for people with food allergies or those hoping their chicken is just chicken.
While it’s almost impossible to stay away from preservatives in a fast-food meal, these fast-food chicken sandwiches have the higher quality ingredients than most. Or, if you’re in the mood for fast-food tacos, check out 5 Fast-Food Tacos With the Highest Quality Ingredients.
Per sandwich: 380 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 760mg sodium, 43g carbs (3g fiber, 11g sugar), 28g protein
The ingredients can’t get simpler or more delicious than in the Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich. This marinated boneless chicken breast is served on a multigrain bun with lettuce and tomato. The marinade includes ingredients like garlic, onion, sugar, vinegar, and oil.
The chicken does include calcium disodium EDTA to protect the quality of the patty, which is safe to use in foods. This sandwich has just 380 calories, 12 grams of fat—including only two grams of saturated fat, and 760 grams of sodium.
Per sandwich: 550 calories, 31g fat (7g saturated fat), 1,170mg sodium, 34g carbs (0g fiber, 6g sugar), 33g protein
The Shake Shack’s Chicken Shack sandwich is made with cage-free chicken breast, free from hormones and antibiotics. At 550 calories, 31 grams of fat (with 7 grams of saturated fat), and 1,170 grams of sodium, a fried sandwich may not be the healthiest option on their menu, but with whole white meat chicken that’s antibiotic-free and a non-GMO potato bun, the ingredients are higher quality than what you might find in most other fast-food chicken sandwiches.
Per sandwich: 350 calories, 8g fat (1.5g saturated fat), 850mg sodium, 35g carbs (1g fiber, 7g sugar), 32g protein
A marinated chicken breast, grilled and topped on a premium bun with lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayonnaise. The chicken itself is 86% chicken breast meat and the rest is made up of ingredients like potato and rice starch, as well as onion, garlic, and paprika powder for spices. This chicken sandwich avoids MSG and is low in sodium compared to many other fast-food chicken sandwiches.
One Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich clocks in at 350 calories, 8 grams of fat (with only 1.5 grams of saturated fat), and 850 milligrams of sodium. It’s lower in calories, fat, and sodium than many other fried sandwiches, making it a much healthier option.
Per sandwich: 651 calories, 35g fat (7g saturated fat), 1,770mg sodium, 53g carbs (3g fiber, 9g sugar), 32g protein
A hand-breaded, white meat chicken breast topped with mayonnaise and pickles on a brioche bun, this Church’s sandwich is juicy and flavorful with simple quality ingredients. You’ll want to be cautious if you’re following a heart-healthy diet or limiting your sodium intake though, because one Church’s chicken sandwich has 651 calories, 34 grams of fat (7 grams of saturated fat) and 1,770 milligrams of sodium.
Per sandwich: 699 calories, 42g fat (14g saturated fat), 1,768mg sodium, 50g carbs (2g fiber, 7.5g sugar), 28g protein
This all-white meat chicken breast fillet is marinated in Louisiana-style seasonings and coated in a buttermilk batter. Even though these ingredients are high-quality in the realm of fast food chicken sandwiches, Popeye’s chicken sandwich is high in fat and sodium (thanks to the deep-fried chicken).
One sandwich has 699 calories, 42 grams of fat with 14 grams of saturated fat, and 1,768 milligrams of sodium. For a 2,000 calorie diet, it’s recommended by the USDA to get less than 10% of your calories from saturated fat, or 22 grams.
As we mentioned earlier, a few of these fast-food chicken sandwiches would not necessarily be considered “healthy,” and you may want to consider consuming them in moderation if you’re trying to watch your saturated fat or sodium content. However, what makes these on the list stand out from others is that they have a shorter list of ingredients and fewer preservatives than many other fast-food options.