When the craving for Italian food strikes, pasta provides it all. With the perfect mix of warm comfort and decadent flavors, even the pickiest eater can name their favorite noodle dish. Restaurant pasta dishes seem extra special, and after one bite, we often wonder how we can replicate the same kind of flavors at home. However, as with many restaurant meals, some of these unhealthiest pasta dishes get packed with fats, sugar, and salt to make the meal pop in our mouths.
Trying to decide which dishes avoid these caloric pitfalls can prove challenging, as many restaurants feature a wide range of reasonably healthy options and true diet-enders. If you love noodles and don’t want to give them up when you eat out, have no fear! This list can get you started on which items to avoid at your favorite restaurants if you want to avoid the unhealthiest pasta dishes.
2,480 calories, 221 g fat (82 g saturated fat), 5150 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (11 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 65 g protein
The Cheesecake Factory offers up a wide mix of pasta dishes to choose from, but many of the options won’t do your waistline any favors. This particular mix of Italian sausage, bacon, meatballs, and pepperoni could clog any artery. With a calorie count clocking in at almost 2500 calories, you rake in more calories than most people need in a day in this single meal. Factor in a whopping 221 grams of fat and a sodium count clocking in at over 5,000 milligrams and you have a meal that could feed you for days. Do yourself a favor and skip this dish next time you eat out.
1,680 calories, 104 g fat (54 g saturated fat), 3,290 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (9 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 83 g protein
Loading up a plate with chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and fettuccine alfredo sounds delicious, but the cost to your daily eating plan completely negates ordering this meal. With a staggering 104 grams of fat and over 3,000 milligrams of sodium, this meal guarantees to make you feel sluggish for days to come. When a pasta craving strikes, opt for a much simpler meal next time you visit Olive Garden.
1,500 calories, 77 g fat (45 g saturated fat), 2,100 mg sodium, 144 g carbs (16 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 57 g protein
This signature take on an alfredo pasta should be approached with suspicion. Anytime a heavy cream sauce gets served on your pasta, you can guarantee the fat content of the meal shoots through the roof. The Fettuccine Carraba predictably packs in a full day’s worth of fat in one meal alone. After you factor in the 45 grams of saturated fat, one bite of this dish could make anyone feel overly stuffed for days. Skip this pasta if you want to stick to the nutritional straight-and-narrow.
The Cheesecake Factory: Pasta Carbonara With Chicken
2,340 calories, 159 g fat (71 g saturated fat), 4,030 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (10 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 85 g protein
Pasta carbonara can make anyone exceed their daily caloric intake on a good day, but this take on the classic goes above and beyond by loading the dish with salt and fat. With smoked bacon and a creamy parmesan sauce, the meal seems tempting, but with over 2,000 calories, 71 grams of artery-hardening saturated fat, and 141 grams of carbs, this meal easily ruins anyone’s waistline. When you add the extra serving of chicken into this, you add even more unnecessary calories into this dish, making it a no-go. Do your body a favor and avoid this nutritional disaster.
Macaroni Grill: Mama’s Trio
2,110 calories, 129 g fat (56 g saturated fat), 3,940 mg sodium, 149 g carbs (9 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 103 g protein
When restaurants pile together their most popular menu items into one meal, you can guarantee the dish won’t do your diet any favor. The same rule applies in this meal, as chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, and fettuccine alfredo come together on one plate. Alone, these items present their own minefields of calories and fats to avoid, but combined together, their cumulative 129 grams of fat and almost 4,000 milligrams of sodium will throw off your eating plan for days. Avoid the sluggishness you would get from consuming this meal and opt for a simpler pasta for a healthier experience.
Olive Garden: Chicken Alfredo
1,620 calories, 100 g fat (57 g saturated fat), 1,680 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 84 g protein
The Amazing Alfredo menu at Olive Garden seems like the greatest thing ever if you can’t get enough of rich and creamy alfredo pastas. As with any pasta that relies on heavy cream-based sauce, your body won’t feel pleased after indulging in this super-rich meal. With almost 60 grams of fat, you can guarantee your arteries will glue shut even at the thought of ordering this pasta and if you need to stick to a 2,000 calorie eating plan, this dish easily pushes you to the limits. Skip the heavy cream sauces for a much lighter dining experience.
The Cheesecake Factory: Louisiana Chicken Pasta
2,120 calories, 125 g fat (65 g saturated fat), 4,030 mg sodium, 168 g carbs (10 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 83 g protein
If you ever wanted to make a fat-filled pasta dish even more unhealthy, topping the meal off with spicy fried chicken might be the most extreme way to go. The Louisiana Chicken Pasta leaves you feeling stuffed in the most over-the-top ways imaginable thanks to the meal exceeding 2000 calories. With over a day’s worth of sodium, fat, and calories, make sure to pass on this dish.
Carraba’s: Fettuccine Weesie
1,420 calories, 83 g fat (53 g saturated fat), 3,290 mg sodium, 104 g carbs (8 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 55 g protein
The combination of a lemon-butter sauce and shrimp seems innocuous, but don’t get fooled—this meal packs in almost 1,500 calories, pushing the acceptable limits of how many calories you can jam in a dish. The fat and sodium content take this pasta to the next unhealthy level, and when you combine that with 104 grams of carbs, you really don’t have to eat another full meal in a day after consuming the Fettucine Weesie. Take it easy and order a pasta that doesn’t feature a sauce based on butter for a healthier dining experience.
Applebee’s: Four-Cheese Mac&Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders
1,470 calories, 62 g fat (24 g saturated fat), 3,190 mg sodium, 166 g carbs (7 g fiber, 53 g sugar), 61 g protein
Macaroni and cheese and fried chicken tenders typically get loaded with tons of empty calories at any restaurant, so if you order this calorie bomb at Applebee’s you know what you’re getting into. Loaded with salt, fat, sugar, and carbs, the lack of solid nutrition in this dish is astounding. If the craving strikes, even ordering just the chicken tenders or mac and cheese would prove better than this combo of unhealthy options.
Macaroni Grill: Mom’s Ricotta Meatball and Spaghetti with Bolognese
1,460 calories, 105 g fat (36 g saturated fat), 3,320 mg sodium, 111 g carbs (10 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 73 g protein
Everyone has heard that saturated fat found in red meat doesn’t do your body any favors. When you dig into an order of beef and veal meatballs, ricotta cheese, and spaghetti topped with a tomato-meat sauce, consider the consequences of indulging in so much artery-clogging fat. With 105 grams of fat and almost 3/4 of the calories, you need in a day, ordering this dish guarantees to disrupt your diet for days to come.
TGI Friday’s: Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta, with breadstick
1,600 calories, 83 g fat (41 g saturated fat), 3,040 mg sodium, 132 g carbs (8 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 73 g protein
Salt and heavy cream come together in this perfect storm of cajun alfredo pasta from TGI Friday’s. With 132 grams of carbs, partially from an included breadstick, you couldn’t possibly stick to any kind of diet if you order this incredibly unhealthy pasta. With a total of 1600 calories, stay away from heavy cream sauces to save your waistline.
The Cheesecake Factory: Pasta Carbonara
2070 calories, 143 g fat (69 g saturated fat), 3,560 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (10 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 51 g protein
Pasta carbonaras never treat healthy eating plans well, and this chickenless variation of the dish still clocks in as one of the most unhealthy pasta options at The Cheesecake Factory. With 143 grams of fat, you take in well over the FDA daily recommended 44 to 77 grams. With enough fat for two days, this pasta dish proves to weigh you down all week.
Carraba’s Italian Grill: Rigatoni Campagnolo with Gluten-Free Pasta
1,260 calories, 50 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 3,030 mg sodium, 150 g carbs (20 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 51 g protein
Italian sausage and caprino cheese complement each other in the most unwholesome ways in this pasta, undoing any healthy eating you may have been sticking too. By packing in almost a full day’s worth of sodium into one meal, you have to watch your blood pressure levels. Make sure to get some extra exercise to burn off the whopping 150 grams of carbs present in the meal as well. Keep yourself on a healthy eating path and avoid this pasta next time you visit Carraba’s.
Olive Garden: Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara
1,390 calories, 94 g fat (50 g saturated fat), 2,050 mg sodium, 75 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 64 g protein
If you just see the pasta dish on the menu, it might not seem so bad at first glance. Upon closer examination, the addition of bacon and a rich creamy sauce takes the pasta’s fat content to the next level. The massive serving of sodium won’t do your blood pressure any favors and with 94 grams of fat, you easily exceed your daily intake by at least 20 grams. Opt to build your own pasta with fewer toppings instead of ordering this diet killer.
Macaroni Grill: Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken
1,370 calories, 72 g fat (36 g saturated fat), 2470 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (6 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 66 g protein
Fettuccine Alfredo comes up again as one of the unhealthiest pasta dishes to order if you want to stick to healthy eating options for one very plain and simple reason—the combination of butter, cream, and parmesan cheese that makes up the sauce easily clogs your arteries. With 72 grams of fat and over 1300 calories, this pasta shouldn’t even cross your mind. Skip the heavy dairy for a much friendlier pasta experience every time a noodle craving strikes.
Why not make healthier versions of your favorite pasta dishes with these 35+ Healthy Pasta Recipes.