We'll admit that Dairy Queen isn't the first place we head to when looking for a healthy meal. It's a great go-to for a splurge when you're craving a burger, a chicken strip basket, or a frozen dessert, but healthy? Not exactly. Regardless of your lifestyle, there may come a time or circumstance (say, a road trip or a busy weeknight) when swinging through your local Dairy Queen drive-through may be the best option for a meal or a snack. If you're trying to stay in a somewhat healthy place with your diet, is Dairy Queen even an option?
According to the FDA, the recommended amount of calories a person should consume in a day is 2000. Of course, everybody's nutritional needs differ. Where one person may need more protein, another might prioritize less sodium or more fiber. It's important to remember that everyone's calorie and nutritional concerns vary, but by using this caloric intake model as a baseline, we've rounded up some of the healthiest DQ offerings. With this list, you can go into any meal at Dairy Queen armed with the knowledge you need to make the best choice for you.
Chicken & Gravy Breakfast Burrito
Not every Dairy Queen restaurant serves breakfast, and the variety of items that are available at different locations that do serve breakfast varies. If you happen to come by a Dairy Queen that serves the chain's chicken and gravy burrito, know that it's not only delicious but also doesn't go too overboard in terms of nutrition. The burrito consists of a fluffy tortilla, eggs, melty cheese, hearty chicken sausage, and the chain's signature, white-cream gravy.
It holds up well as a standalone breakfast thanks to its 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat. Best of all, it only has 320 calories. Even with the addition of the gravy and flour tortilla, the chicken and gravy breakfast burrito from Dairy Queen only features one gram of sugar, which makes it a good choice for anyone looking to cut down on added sugars. The burrito does have 31 grams of carbs, which means it's not a great choice for those living a low-carb lifestyle. However, generally, it's a solid choice for an on-the-go breakfast that isn't over the top.
Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich With Ham
Another great breakfast option for anyone looking to have a lower-calorie breakfast that is Dairy Queen's biscuit breakfast sandwich with ham. You simply can't go wrong with a breakfast sandwich, and Dairy Queen has put a southern spin on its version of the classic breakfast item. The sandwich is made with a Dairy Queen biscuit, cooked ham, eggs, and melted cheese. The entire sandwich is only 350 calories, making it something anyone could easily work into a healthy lifestyle.
Although it's a low-calorie choice compared to other Dairy Queen breakfast items like pancakes or biscuits and gravy, the ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is still satisfying with 13 grams of protein. As for the other nutritional aspects of the sandwich, it contains 18 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, and only one gram of sugar. If you're lucky enough to live or work near a Dairy Queen location that serves breakfast, be sure to give the biscuit breakfast sandwich with ham a try!
Hamburger - Single
Other than its frozen dessert treats, Dairy Queen is probably most well-known for its burgers and fries. That said, health-conscious diners will be happy to know that the chain's original hamburger has made our list of the healthiest options available at Dairy Queen! The hamburger, which without modifications features an all-beef grilled and seasoned patty, ketchup, mustard, and pickles on a soft and toasted bun, is only 320 calories. In addition, it offers a whopping 15 grams of protein. There are 36 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar in the Dairy Queen hamburger, but those nutritional values can be altered if you modify the burger by removing the ketchup or asking for the burger to be wrapped in lettuce instead of served on a bun. These nutritional values also only pertain to the chain's single patty burger without cheese, so be sure to keep that in mind the next time you're at DQ.
Original Cheeseburger - Single
We are of the mind that no burger is complete without cheese. If you are the same, then you'll be pleased to find out that Dairy Queen's original, single-patty cheeseburger also tops the list of healthier options on the chain's menu. Dairy Queen cheeseburgers are made with 100% beef and are seasoned for additional flavor. After grilling the patty, Dairy Queen then serves it on a toasted bun with melty cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles. The cheeseburger will run you 370 calories but is made all the more filling by offering 17 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat. The cheesy burger does have 37 grams of carbs and 8 grams of sugar, but when added to a generally healthy lifestyle, it's a better choice than many other menu items on Dairy Queen's menu. When paired with something like Dairy Queen's side salad and an unsweetened iced tea, the DQ cheeseburger can easily fit into all lifestyles.
Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites Basket - Regular
One of the easiest things you can do to lead a healthier lifestyle is to switch out breaded and fried chicken products like nuggets and chicken patties for grilled chicken. With less breading, you can reduce your carbohydrate intake; without the need to be fried, grilled chicken is also lower in fat. Dairy Queen has jumped on the healthy living bandwagon by offering its own version of grilled chicken with its rotisserie-style grilled chicken bites. The chicken bites are made with 100% white meat chicken and seasoned to taste like a homestyle rotisserie chicken. Not only are DQ's chicken bites flavorful, but they're also healthier for you than other menu items.
In fact, you can have a whole Dairy Queen rotisserie chicken bites basket for only 540 calories. This includes six pieces of grilled chicken bites, a dipping sauce like ranch, a slice of buttery Texas toast, and the chain's signature French fries. Ordering the chicken bites with the fries and Texas toast will mean the meal has more fat and carbs (20 grams and 57 grams, respectively) but for a fast-food option it isn't bad. The grilled chicken bites also offer up 34 grams of protein, which will help you will feel fuller longer.
When we think of healthy options for snacks or dinners, we don't usually think of chili dogs. However, Dairy Queen's version of this classic American dish is healthier than you might expect from a fast-food restaurant. Each chili dog from the chain is only 360 calories, making it a treat you can easily fit into whatever healthy lifestyle you're leading. The chili dog is packed with 14 grams of protein. In addition, it has 22 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of sugar. For extra flavor without any added calories, try adding yellow mustard.
Dairy Queen's chili dog is made with a beef hotdog and hearty chili atop a pillowy soft bun. It may not be the go-to for a healthy meal, but it certainly isn't too bad nutritionally considering it might be just what you're craving while watching a baseball game or hanging out on a sunny day.
Soft Pretzel Sticks With Zesty Queso
Soft pretzels with cheese dip are a classic snack. Whether you like them shaped in the traditional pretzel twist or are willing to try new shapes, like bites or sticks, a soft pretzel hits the spot every time. It's the perfect, doughy, salty, and warm treat. Dairy Queen offers its take on the classic soft pretzel snack with its pretzel sticks and zesty queso, available on its snacks and sides menu. These pretzel sticks are served hot from the oven and have just the right amount of thick and crunchy pretzel salt. The zesty queso the sticks are served with is a flavorful and creamy cheese sauce.
For an indulgence, the DQ pretzel sticks are not bad calorie-wise. An order of three preztel sticks with queso is only 330 calories. Keep in mind that these sticks are not low-carb, and will run you 52 grams of carbs, but they do offer nine grams of protein.
When you're craving BBQ, there aren't many fast-food restaurants that offer it at all, let alone ones that do it well. As a fast-food chain known for its southern inspiration, Dairy Queen offers a BBQ sandwich that is flavorful and not overly unhealthy.
At only 280 calories, this sandwich can easily fit into any low-calorie diet. In addition, the BBQ sandwich features 14 grams of protein. It does, however, contain seven grams of fat, 39 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of sugar. The additional sugar is likely due to the sandwich's BBQ sauce, but the sandwich's nutritional value is not as bad as many items on the DQ menu overall. Categorized as one of Dairy Queen's "Local Favorites," a selection of menu items that are only available at participating regional DQ locations, the Dairy Queen BBQ sandwich is not available everywhere. For those who are located near a DQ that serves the sandwich, it's definitely something to order if you're looking for a higher-protein, lower-calorie option at the chain.
They say living healthy is all about moderation, and that means allowing yourself some sugar every once in a while. However, we understand that you still might want to stay within your calorie goals when you have a treat. Luckily, all of Dairy Queen's small ice cream sundaes are under 300 calories. We know it sounds too good to be true, but it isn't! For under 300 calories, you can enjoy Dairy Queen's signature soft serve ice cream with your choice of delicious topping. You can choose from any of the chain's flavors for their syrups, which include classics like strawberry, chocolate, hot fudge, and caramel as well as more inventive choices including pineapple and peanut butter.
If you've got a little more wiggle room in your calorie allotment, you can even upgrade your small ice cream sundae to a medium or a large in some flavors and still stay under 500 calories. Of course, all of the sundaes will be high in fat, carbs, and sugar, but what is life without a little ice cream splurge every now and then?
Small & Medium Cones
No matter what age you are, there is nothing like going to your local Dairy Queen for a soft-serve ice cream. Bonus points if you make it a dipped cone! As we get older and more health-conscious, we might think we have to give up these nostalgic treats. Fortunately for ice cream lovers everywhere, Dairy Queen's cones and dipped cones are not as heavy on calories as you might think. One of DQ's most popular and world-famous items, the dipped cones are made with the chain's soft-serve vanilla ice cream and dipped in warm flavors that create a shell-like texture on the outside.
All of the ice cream chain's small and medium dipped cones are under 500 calories each. This means that you can enjoy Dairy Queen's iconic vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone dipped in chocolate, cherry, or butterscotch without going too far over your calorie intake for the day.
Original Chicken Strip Sandwich
There is nothing better than Dairy Queen's southern-style chicken strips, except perhaps when DQ uses its signature chicken strips to create a delicious chicken strip sandwich. The original chicken strip sandwich from DQ features two of the chain's all–white meat seasoned chicken strips on a toasted bun. The sandwich is topped with crisp green lettuce, freshly sliced tomatoes, and tangy mayonnaise. The result is a delicious meal that features the southern flavors you love in a unique way.
Luckily for fans of the chicken strip sandwich, it is only 550 calories. This means you can easily pair the sandwich with a side salad or eat it on its own to have a to-go meal that isn't too heavily caloric. Keep in mind that the sandwich does have a lot of carbs (62 grams to be exact) because the chicken strips are breaded. If carbs aren't your concern, this sandwich can be a good fast-food option for your lower-calorie diet.
Mini Butterfinger Blizzard
Whether you're committed to living a generally healthy lifestyle or are pursuing a weight loss goal, it's hard to imagine a life without ice cream. Dairy Queen does ice cream better than anyone, and one of the best treats on the chain's menu is its signature Blizzard treats. Luckily, if you're a fan of Butterfinger candy bars, you can enjoy a mini-sized Blizzard for under 400 calories. Of course, there are other nutritional factors to consider, including the dessert's 12 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates, and 41 grams of sugar. However, for an occasional treat, the 350 calories in DQ's Butterfinger Blizzard is not as bad as you might expect from a candy-filled ice cream treat.
Dairy Queen's Butterfinger Blizzard blends the chain's iconic soft-serve ice cream with chunks of Butterfinger candy bar. The buttery, chocolatey flavor pairs perfectly with DQ's vanilla soft-serve for a treat that is worth every single calorie.
Mini Snickers Blizzard
Another surprising addition to our list of healthy-ish Dairy Queen menu items is the miniature Snickers Blizzard. Even though this dessert is chock full of the wonderful and sweet ingredients in an iconic Snickers bar — milk chocolate, chunks of peanuts, gooey caramel, and fluffy nougat — as well as vanilla Dairy Queen soft-serve, the snack size Blizzard tops out at a mere 350 calories. That's a small price to pay for something so good! Keep in mind that this mini Blizzard does still have high amounts of sugar (45 grams) and carbohydrates (45 grams), but it could fit into almost any diet if consumed in moderation.
In addition to Snickers candy bar chunks, the DQ Snickers Blizzard treat also includes chocolate topping blended into the vanilla soft-serve ice cream, making for a dessert worthy of any chocoholic. Although it's in a mini size, this Blizzard will satisfy your craving for something sweet without going overboard on calories.
Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Blizzard
If you have a favorite candy brand, it is likely that Dairy Queen has (at one time or another) blended it up with the chain's iconic vanilla soft-serve ice cream. For some brands, like Reese's peanut butter cups, candy-filled Blizzard confections are a permanent staple on the Dairy Queen menu. For those who are Reese's fanatics, it's great news that DQ's Reese's peanut butter cup Blizzard is available in a miniature size at a caloric intake that won't be too overwhelming.
This little Blizzard is just 360 calories, but it will curb your sugar craving with the right amount of vanilla soft-serve and Reese's peanut butter cup chunks. Although this Blizzard is under 400 calories, it does have 14 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbs, and 43 grams of sugar. Even so, the sweet and peanut buttery dessert is mighty in flavor, making it worthy of a mid-afternoon splurge or a weekend treat.
Read the original article on Mashed.