A salad might likely come to mind if you’re looking for a low-calorie meal or side dish to enjoy.
However, with countless types of salad ingredients, toppings, and dressings available, the calorie contents of salads can vary significantly.
This article takes an in-depth look at how many calories you’ll find in many popular salads, toppings, and dressings, so you can pick which best suits your health goals.
Caesar salad typically contains romaine lettuce and croutons.
It also features Caesar salad dressing made with anchovy paste, egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the calories in Caesar salad come from this dressing and the croutons. Some varieties of the dish also contain chicken, which adds protein.
One cup (100 grams) of Caesar salad without chicken contains:
- Calories: 190
- Protein: 4 grams
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fat: 16 grams
Pasta salad is a common side dish comprising pasta, mozzarella cheese, and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives, all tossed in a rich, tangy Italian dressing.
Given that it’s grain-based, it contains more calories and carbs than many other types of green salad.
One cup (204 grams) of pasta salad with Italian dressing contains:
- Calories: 269
- Protein: 7.5 grams
- Carbs: 43 grams
- Fat: 7.5 grams
Although the exact ingredients in a chef’s salad vary, most versions contain lettuce, cucumbers, cheese, tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs.
A chef’s salad also typically includes cold meat, such as ham, turkey, chicken, or tuna, which boosts its protein content.
The type of dressing used also varies. Popular options include ranch, Thousand Island, and blue cheese dressings.
One serving (249 grams) of chef salad with turkey, ham, and ranch dressing contains:
- Calories: 371
- Protein: 15 grams
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fat: 31 grams
A traditional Greek salad consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, red onions, and feta cheese.
It’s usually topped with a simple vinaigrette dressing made from olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.
Greek salad is relatively low in calories and carbs compared to other salads. It also contains moderate heart-healthy fats from ingredients like olives, feta cheese, and olive oil.
One serving (319 grams) of Greek salad contains:
- Calories: 211
- Protein: 6 grams
- Carbs: 13 grams
- Fat: 15 grams
Cobb salad is a common salad featuring ingredients like mixed greens, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, turkey, tomatoes, and avocados.
It’s often paired with a red wine vinaigrette, though it can also be enjoyed with other types of dressing.
Cobb salad contains more protein than other salads thanks to protein-rich ingredients like eggs, chicken, or turkey.
Yet, keep in mind that it includes several high-calorie ingredients like bacon and avocados.
One serving (206 grams) of Cobb salad contains:
- Calories: 290
- Protein: 16 grams
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Fat: 23 grams
Tuna salad is a cold salad centered around mayonnaise and tuna.
It may also contain ingredients like celery, onions, relish, or pickles, and it’s often enjoyed as is or in green salads, sandwiches, pita bread, or wraps.
The tuna makes it high in protein, while the mayonnaise increases its calorie and fat contents.
One cup (238 grams) of tuna salad contains:
- Calories: 466
- Protein: 24 grams
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fat: 38 grams
Egg salad is typically made with hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, dill, and celery.
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Similarly to other mayo-based salads, each serving contains a relatively high amount of fat and calories. Still, it’s made with eggs and provides a good amount of protein.
One cup (222 grams) of egg salad contains:
- Calories: 571
- Protein: 23 grams
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Fat: 51 grams
Chicken salad is made with chicken breast, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. It may also contain red grapes, celery, green onions, peppers, or pickles.
This option is high in calories, fat, and protein. It’s also relatively low in carbs, depending on the ingredients used.
One cup (226 grams) of chicken salad contains:
- Calories: 531
- Protein: 32 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fat: 42 grams
In addition to elbow macaroni, this salad typically includes mayonnaise, onions, celery, peppers, and pickles.
Because macaroni pasta is the main ingredient, it’s generally lower in protein and higher in carbs than other mayo-based salads.
Adding hard-boiled eggs or chicken breast is a great way to boost the protein in each serving to help round out your meal.
One cup (204 grams) of macaroni salad contains:
- Calories: 451
- Protein: 9 grams
- Carbs: 50 grams
- Fat: 24 grams
Most recipes for potato salad include boiled potatoes mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, onions, celery, and various herbs and seasonings.
Since it’s low in protein but high in carbs, calories, and fat, it should only be enjoyed in moderation or served as a side dish and paired with other nutrient-dense foods.
One cup (275 grams) of potato salad contains:
- Calories: 462
- Protein: 4 grams
- Carbs: 43 grams
- Fat: 31 grams
Popular dressings and toppings
The nutritional value of your salad can vary significantly based on which dressings and toppings you add.
Unfortunately, because many dressings and toppings are loaded with calories, going overboard can quickly turn a healthy salad into a high-calorie meal. Thus, if you’re aiming to lose weight, consider moderating your portion sizes and selecting low-calorie dressings and toppings.
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Here’s how many calories you’ll find in a 2-tablespoon (30-gram) serving of common salad dressings:
- Ranch dressing: 129 calories
- Blue cheese dressing: 145 calories
- Thousand Island dressing: 114 calories
- Caesar dressing: 163 calories
- Chipotle ranch dressing: 170 calories
- Italian dressing: 71 calories
- Honey mustard dressing: 139 calories
Here’s the number of calories in popular toppings:
- Croutons: 122 calories per cup (30 grams)
- Avocados: 234 calories per cup (146 grams)
- Sunflower seeds: 165 calories per ounce (28 grams)
- Almonds: 164 calories per ounce (28 grams)
- Bacon bits: 33 calories per tablespoon (7 grams)
- Parmesan cheese: 119 calories per ounce (28 grams)
- Swiss cheese: 111 calories per ounce (28 grams)
- Mozzarella cheese: 85 calories per ounce (28 grams)
Remember, though, that despite having a high-calorie content, whole-food toppings like avocados, nuts, and seeds are nutrient-dense and contribute health-promoting fats, fiber, and more.
While salads are typically considered healthy, weight-loss-friendly options, their nutritional values and calorie contents vary significantly depending on the ingredients used.
To maximize the nutritional value of your meal, opt for green salads with plenty of vegetables and a good source of protein.
If you aim to lose weight, choosing low-calorie toppings and dressings and moderating your portion sizes may also be beneficial.