Panera Nutrition Facts: Menu Choices & Calories

Best and Worst Health Choices at Panera

Panera Nutrition
Classic Salad with Chicken. Panera Bread

Panera is a restaurant that many smart eaters visit because of the diverse and nutritious menu. If you're trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight, Panera is an easy place to grab a meal. But some Panera menu items are healthier than others

Analyzing the Panera Menu

Panera's menu is full of fresh sandwiches, soups and salads. The range of choices is broad and the ingredients are quite diverse. This is not a restaurant where you'll find typical fried fast food fare like hamburgers or French fries.

Instead, most items on the Panera menu are grilled or baked.

Panera also provides a wide range of choices for diners with special nutritional needs. There are items for vegans, vegetarians, low-sodium, gluten-conscious and high-protein eaters. The company is committed to serving food that does not contain artificial preservatives, flavors or sweeteners and colors from artificial sources. 

But not everything on the Panera menu is low in calories or low in fat. And this might be a tough restaurant choice for low carb dieters. Panera is known for its bread and many of the breads are relatively high in calories and very high in carbs.

Most Popular Panera Food

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Bowl (1.5 cups)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 360 
Calories from Fat 189 
Total Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 13g65%
Cholesterol 55mg18%
Sodium 1330mg55%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Dietary Fiber 6g24%
Sugars 6g 
Protein 14g 
Vitamin A 45% · Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 35% ·
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

The hearty soups at Panera are diner favorites. There are several options to choose from including Bistro French Onion, Vegetarian Autumn Squash, Baked Potato Soup, Creamy Tomato and New England Clam Chowder. 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup is one of the more popular choices. Unfortunately, however, it's not a very healthy menu choice.

It is very high in fat, high in saturated fat and even provides a gram of trans fat. And even though you will get 6 grams of fiber in the meal, it comes with 6 grams of sugar and a whopping 1330 milligrams of sodium.

Keep in mind that the nutrition facts provided are for a traditional bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Soup. If you get the bread bowl, the calorie count skyrockets to 890, and you'll consume 2180 milligrams of sodium. 

If you enjoy soup, consider the low fat Chicken Noodle Soup (160 calories) or the Turkey Chili (260 calories).

Healthiest Options on the Panera Menu

To find out what to order on the Panera Bread menu, I talked to the company’s in-house registered dietitian.  Katie Bengston, R.D., said that if you like to order salads and sandwiches, you can reduce total calories, fat and sodium by omitting or having sauces, condiments and dressing served on the side. “You can always customize your order,” she says, “to substitute or omit ingredients that do not fit into your diet.”

So what items does she recommend?

  She suggested a few Panera Bread menu items to try.

  • Classic Salad with Chicken (300 calories)
  • Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad (350 calories)
  • Low-fat Chicken Noodle Soup (130 calories) with a Sprouted Whole Grain Roll (160 calories)
  • Low- fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup (140 calories) with a Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (285 calories)

Katie also added that selecting the “You Pick 2” option is a great way to enjoy a variety of sandwiches, panini, soups and salads.  “It’s easy to create a meal under 600 calories by pairing half portions of a number of our menu items,” she said. “Or even eat half of the “You Pick 2” and save the other half for later!”

Unhealthiest Options on the Panera Menu

If you’re trying to lose weight, there are foods on every menu that you should avoid. At Panera these might include creamy items like Macaroni and Cheese (980 calories), or New England Clam Chowder (720 calories). Several of the panini are also very high in calories. The Steak and White Cheddar Panini (1050 calories) and Chipotle Chicken Panini (840 calories) are probably good items to avoid, unless you can eat a small portion and be satisfied.

But Katie says that at Panera Bread “we don’t want to tell you how to eat; we want to give you the options and information you need to make an informed choice. This is why Panera Bread was the first national restaurant company to voluntarily post calories on menu boards. We’re also leading the way with our website and Panera Bread mobile app which give full nutritional and ingredient information for all our menu items.”

So how do order the best Panera Bread menu and stick to your diet? It’s simple. Just plan in advance. There are plenty of diet-friendly Panera menu items, but some that probably aren’t the best foods to support your weight loss program. Check the menu online or download the app before you go to choose foods that are both satisfying and low in calories.

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