When you’re on the hunt for satisfying lunch options that won’t pack on pounds, some spots are better than others. Panera Bread is one that’s on the top of the list for health-conscious chains but, like some others in its category, the restaurant has no shortage of items that are diet disasters.
The trouble is, while the company attempts to appeal to those who eat clean, the giant menu of carb-heavy options, creamy pastas, and delectable sweets ends up staring you right in the face as soon as you approach the counter. It’s difficult to say no to some of these tasty temptations, but you’ll benefit in the long run by being aware of just how unhealthy some of the menu items are. The next time you’re at Panera, steer clear of these unhealthy sandwiches.
1. Steak & White Cheddar Panini
Filling? Yes. One of the healthier options? Definitely not. Seared steak, caramelized onions, and Vermont white cheddar come together to deliver a treat for your taste buds. The drizzle of horseradish sauce makes it even better. But with 940 calories, 48 grams of fat, and 1,520 milligrams of sodium, this steak and cheese sandwich is just too much. It certainly contains plenty of protein and fiber, but the calorie count is hardly worth it.
2. Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich
It’s tough to say no to the savory smell of applewood-smoked bacon. Combine it with smoked turkey, creamy Gouda, lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, and sauce on tomato-basil bread, and you’ve found yourself a tasty lunchtime sandwich. But be careful, as this bacon and turkey meal has 630 calories, 25 grams of fat, and entirely too much sodium. If you can’t say no to this sandwich, stick with half.
3. The Italian
You probably automatically assume an Italian sandwich isn’t the healthiest option, and this holds true even if it does come from Panera. The chain’s Italian sandwich piles smoked ham, salami, sopressa, and provolone on a hoagie roll with a few veggies and some basil mayo. The sandwich has 880 calories and 47 grams of fat, 15 of which are saturated. With so much meat, it’s no wonder this meal makes our list of sandwiches to avoid.
4. Frontega Chicken Panini
Who doesn’t love a classic tomato, basil, mozzarella mashup? With the Frontega Chicken Panini, Panera delivers an upgraded version of just that. But be careful the promise of added protein doesn’t cloud your judgement or pull the shades over the fact that the sandwich is still super rich. The smoked pulled chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onions, chopped basil, and chipotle mayo get piled onto focaccia for a meal that clocks in at 750 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 2,050 milligrams of sodium. Clearly, it’s not the healthiest option on the menu.
5. Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt
Sometimes, the simplest foods are the best for you. Take a chicken sandwich, for example. But with added condiments and rich bread, the meal is suddenly a lot less saintly. Panera’s Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt rings in at 770 calories and 43 grams of fat thanks to a hefty squeeze of chipotle mayo, avocado, and smoked Gouda cheese. If you go for half a sandwich and a cup of broth-based soup instead, you’ll do a lot less damage.
6. Ham & Swiss Sandwich
This classic combination is one you probably remember from your childhood, and Panera’s sandwich delivers the same delicious flavors. Unfortunately, you’re getting more than you bargained for with this Ham & Swiss Sandwich. A full sandwich delivers 730 calories and 32 grams of fat — you can thank the cold cuts and mayo for that. You’re better off making your own at home, or at least asking to skip the cheese and mayo to cut down on the saturated fat.
Additional reporting by Lauren Weiler.