The Healthiest (and Unhealthiest) Things You Can Order at Panera Bread

Panera Bread cafes are like one of your oldest friendships. They’re cozy, pretty consistent (with a few seasonal twists), and they’re there for you no matter where you live.

But all friendships can have healthy and unhealthy choices. Steer clear of Panera’s unhealthy sandwiches, salads, and soups and opt for some of these nutritious picks instead.

Healthiest breakfast

Oatmeal with nut toppings in a bowl.

Grab some oatmeal on your way to work — no guilt here. | Mizina/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The tie for the healthiest breakfast option goes to Panera Bread’s Steel Cut Oatmeal and its Turkey Sausage, Egg White & Spinach Breakfast Power Sandwich. According to Health, a good breakfast is relatively high in calories, protein, and fiber. Both of these options fall in the 300-calorie range.

For a meal higher in fiber opt for the Steel Cut Oatmeal with almonds, quinoa, and honey. If you’re looking for something higher in protein then the Power Sandwich is your best bet.

Unhealthiest breakfast

Whole Grain Bagels on a table.

A bagel and cream cheese has more calories than you think. | Bhofack2

Avoid Panera’s bagels and bakery items! Most of them have a high carb count and all of their bagels with cream cheese pack more fat than is recommended in the morning.

Also steer clear of the breakfast menu’s Spinach and Bacon Soufflé. It has the highest saturated fat content at 18 grams, only 1 gram of fiber, and 910 milligrams of sodium is way too high.

Healthiest smoothie

An assortment of fruit smoothies on a table.

Greek yogurt smoothies are refreshing and filling. | Breaking The Walls/iStock/Getty Images Plus

If you believe in the power of smoothies to help curb cravings, Panera has some good options. Their Superfruit Smoothie with Greek yogurt has the highest protein and lowest sugar content of all their smoothies. It’s also low-calorie and high in fiber.

Unhealthiest smoothie

Green kale smoothie

Not all green smoothies are made equal. | Jenifoto/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t let Panera’s Green Passion smoothie fool you. Just because it sneaks in spinach and mango doesn’t make it a healthy option.

This smoothie is the lowest in protein out of the bunch at only 2 grams and packs the most sugar at 47 grams.

Healthiest sandwich

A roasted turkey sandwich on a table.

Just avoid the temptation to slather on too much honey mustard. | Rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

Panera Bread’s Turkey Breast Sandwich on Whole Grain is a good variation of some of their healthiest sandwiches. It’s one of the lowest in calories, fat, sodium, and sugar without compromising healthy levels of protein and fiber.

Check out the full list of ingredients and nutrition facts here.

Unhealthiest sandwich

A steak and cheese panini on a table.

The steak sandwich may look sensible, but it’s loaded with calories. | GladiusStock/iStock/Getty Images

While the Steak and White Cheddar Panini tastes as good as it sounds, it’s not your best bet for a nutritious lunch. It’s one of the sandwiches that’s high in sodium, saturated fat, and carbs. With over half of your recommended daily caloric intake, it’s on the list of the unhealthiest items you can order at Panera.

Healthiest salads

Apple cranberry chicken salad with parmesan

The grilled chicken in this salad will satisfy your mid-day hunger. | Jatrax/iStock/Getty Images

The Green Goddess Salad with Chicken is one of the most balanced and healthiest protein-packed salads on the menu. It’s an updated classic that is usually only featured on their summer salad menu.

Try the Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa for a vegetarian option that has just as many nutrients and an impressive amount of protein.

Unhealthiest salad

A big heart salad full of toppings and dressing on a table.

Steer clear of the ranch dressing, cheese, and fatty toppings! | Philly077/iStock/Getty Images

Another seasonal salad that is a customer favorite is the Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad. Unfortunately, it’s the highest in calories, fat, and carbs.

Panera Bread’s website offers an at home recipe that you can alter to lower the calorie and fat content of the salad.

Healthiest soup

A vegetable soup in a pot.

A cup of Panera’s vegetable soup will fill you up without weighing you down. | Marcomayer/iStock/Getty Images

The Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto was ranked the healthiest Panera Bread soup by Eat This, Not That and has the benefits to prove it. It’s the only soup that’s under 1,000 milligrams of sodium and 200 calories.

In addition, it has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fat out of the soups. Its ingredients include zucchini and appetite-suppressing barley, and its sure to keep you energized for hours.

Unhealthiest soup

Clam chowder in a white soup dish with crackers in the back.

Clam chowder (along with the dozens of crackers we tend to sprinkle inside) should only be an occasional lunch treat. | Louno M/iStock/Getty Images

While none of Panera Bread’s cream-based soups are particularly good for you (how we wish the Broccoli Cheddar soup had hidden health benefits) the New England Clam Chowder ranks the lowest. It’s the highest in calories, packs 62 grams of fat (41 are saturated fats!), and nearly as much sodium as you’re supposed to consume in one day.