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Healthy Eating at Panera: Breaking Down The Healthiest Panera Menu Options

If you find yourself in search of a healthy option on the go, Panera can be a fantastic option! In fact, it’s one of my go-to favorites for finding macro-friendly options when traveling. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Panera has some fantastic healthy options, so let’s explore them.


  • Panera offers a “You Pick 2” option, allowing you to pair a half sandwich, half salad, or soup/mac. This allows you to build the perfect macro-friendly option for your diet.
  • Since Panera offers a variety of bread options, you can substitute the bread on any sandwich to effortlessly save calories.
  • Panera allows you to customize your entree any way you’d like, so you can leave items out or double-up on other items (like protein) to fit your preferences.

If you’ve never visited a Panera Bread before, you may think it’s just some kind of a bakery, but they offer a ton of delicious, healthy entrees.

Panera bridges the gap between fast food joint and sit-down restaurant, and it’s a “fast casual” restaurant, much like Chipotle or Subway. They offer a ton of options, from breakfast sandwiches, to soups, to salads, and everything in between.

In this post we’re going to break down the full menu to find some of the best options to order for your diet.

Remember: there are no clear-cut “good” or “bad” menu items to order, and everyone has different food choices. We’re simply going to break down the Panera menu to help you decide for yourself which menu item is a good choice for your diet, and I’ll give you some tips for putting together the perfect Panera order for some healthier options.

Table of Contents

    Does Panera Use Healthy Ingredients?

    Panera bread exterior

    While the term “healthy” is certainly subjective, it’s clear that Panera is a great option in the realm of fast-casual food.

    Some fast food restaurants, like Taco Bell or Wendy’s, have had questions revolving around the quality of their ingredients, but the Panera Bread company does everything in its power to keep those questions at bay.

    Panera’s personal guarantee is that they will only use ingredients that they deem to be 100% clean. What exactly does this mean?

    According to the Panera Bread website, “clean describes food that does not contain artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and flavors along with colors from artificial sources.” They’ve compiled a list of nearly 100 ingredients they do not allow in their food due to the promise.

    If whole, healthy ingredients are what you are after, Panera Bread is a great option. With bread containing whole grains, eggs and avocado containing healthy fats, and plenty of fresh vegetables, there are tons of healthy options available.

    But what if your definition of “healthy” describes something that is low-calorie, low-fat, or something else? Well, let’s break down the menu to see which items fit your diet the best!

    Note: if you want additional nutrition information such as sodium, sugar, fiber / net carbs, cholesterol, etc, be sure to check the Panera website for full nutrition information for every menu item.

    Calories & Nutrition Facts for the Panera Breakfast Menu

    Panera serves breakfast before 10:30am, and they have a ton of sandwich options on their breakfast menu.

    All sandwiches are served on either a brioche roll or ciabatta bread, with the exception being the low-calorie egg white sandwich on a bagel flat.

    With any of Panera Bread’s breakfast sandwiches, you can swap the bread for any type you prefer! If the sandwich is not appealing as-is, you can choose any bagel or bread that Panera has in stock on that day.

    If you want to save calories on any sandwich, you also have the option to swap the scrambled egg for egg whites, which is a great way to bump up the protein content as well.

    And of course, if breakfast sandwiches aren’t your thing. Panera bread also offers souffles and steel cut oatmeal to switch things up.

    Lowest Calorie Panera Breakfast Sandwich

    Garden Avo & Egg White Sandwich: 340 Calories | 14g Fat | 36g Carbs | 19g Protein

    If you want to keep your calories low, the egg white sandwich is a great option. This sandwich is served up on a multigrain bagel flat, which is lower in calories than a typical bagel. Overall, with only 340 calories and still an impressive 19 grams of protein, this is a great option.

    Highest Calorie Panera Breakfast Sandwich

    Asiago Sausage & Egg Sandwich: 820 Calories | 51g Fat | 58g Carbs | 32g Protein

    With 51 grams of fat, this is easily the highest-calorie breakfast sandwich at Panera. If you’re in the mood for a sausage breakfast sandwich, the sausage, egg, & cheese on ciabatta is the way to go. With 590 calories, it’s still relatively high in calories, but contains over 200 fewer calories than the asiago bagel.

    How to Save Calories on Any Breakfast Sandwich

    Egg and Cheese on Brioche

    If you’re in search of a breakfast option that is a good choice for your specific diet, there are substitutions you can make to create the perfect breakfast sandwich.

    Since Panera offers a breakfast sandwich with egg whites, that makes it possible to swap the egg on any sandwich with egg whites. 1 portion of egg whites contains just 30 calories and 6 grams of protein, while the scrambled eggs contain 90 calories and 8 grams of protein.

    In addition, you can ask for any sandwich on a bagel flat, which contains just 180 calories compared to an asiago bagel or plain bagel with 320 and 280 calories, respectively.

    Whether you want to level up your breakfast sandwich or simply enjoy a bagel with cream cheese, Panera has lots of amazing bagel options to choose from!

    While they’re most famous for their Cinnamon Crunch Bagel, they have a large variety of options.

    Lowest Calorie Bagel at Panera

    Bagel Flat

    Multigrain Bagel Flat: 180 Calories | 2g Fat | 34g Carbs | 7g Protein

    The bagel flats at Panera are similar to “Bagel Thins” you might have seen at the grocery store, and are a great option if calories are a concern. While a bagel flat may not be quite as filling as a full bagel, you’ll be saving 100+ calories.

    Highest Calorie Bagel at Panera

    Cinnamon Crunch Bagel

    Cinnamon Crunch Bagel: 430 Calories | 7g Fat | 82g Carbs | 9g Protein

    It should come as no surprise that the sweetest option is also the highest calorie. The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel is baked with cinnamon and vanilla chips and topped with a cinnamon-sugar coating, making it the highest in carbs as well.

    Panera Bagel With the Most Protein

    Asiago Bagel

    Asiago Bagel: 320 Calories | 5g Fat | 55g Carbs | 14g Protein

    If high protein is your goal, the asiago cheese bagel is the way to go. With a layer of asiago cheese baked on top of this bagel, it adds an extra kick of protein compared to other bagel options.

    Calories & Nutrition Facts For Panera Sandwiches

    Bread is the glue that holds your sandwich together, and Panera has no shortage of sandwich options.

    A popular way of ordering at Panera is the “you pick two” option, which allows you to choose half of a sandwich paired with either a cup of soup or half salad.

    The nutrition listed here is for a full sandwich, so if you were to go with the “you pick two” option, or simply want to order a half sandwich, you’d just divide everything in half.

    When you order at Panera, you can customize your sandwich however you’d like, which means you can ask for ingredients to be left out, or you can ask for double meat to bump up the protein.

    Lowest Calorie Panera Sandwich

    Mediterranean Veggie: 500 Calories | 47g Fat | 77g Carbs | 18g Protein

    The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich is one of my favorites at Panera, and it does not contain any meat. Fresh vegetables are combined with feta and hummus, and the Tomato Basil bread really takes it over the top. If you need a low-calorie option, it’s a delicious choice!

    Highest Calorie Sandwich at Panera

    Toasted Italiano: 1,250 Calories | 61g Fat | 114g Carbs | 59g Protein

    The Toasted Italiano from Panera is a monster of a sandwich, packed with loads of soppressata and black forest ham. Panera doesn’t offer a nutrition calculator, but a fair amount of calories on this sandwich are likely coming from the garlic aioli. If I were guessing, I would estimate that opting for no garlic aioli would save around 200 calories per half, bringing the entire sandwich down to 850 calories with 59 grams of protein.

    Most Macro-Balanced Panera Sandwich

    Half Smokehouse BBQ Chicken: 365 Calories | 10g Fat | 45g Carbs | 25g Protein

    Finding a macro-balanced option at Panera may be more important to you than finding the lowest-calorie option, and the smokehouse BBQ chicken sandwich is actually a really solid option. While the full sandwich contains over 700 calories, ordering a half sandwich gets you a really balanced meal, especially when paired with another healthy option.

    A very similar option is the buffalo chicken melt, which contains 420 calories per half.

    Calories & Nutrition Facts for Panera Soup & Bowls

    What pairs best with bread? If you said soup, I could not agree more.

    Panera has a few rotating soups that will come and go with the changing seasons, but for the most part, they stick with the staples.

    We’re including the mac & cheese here since it needs a place to live on this menu breakdown, but I won’t compare it apples-to-apples with soup, because it’s obviously higher in calories than soup.

    All of the nutrition listed here is for a full bowl , but you also have the option to order a “cup” serving size instead. A cup is roughly 2/3 the size of a bowl for these purposes, so you can divide each by 1.5 to get a close estimation.

    For example, a bowl of tomato soup contains 370 calories, and a cup of contains 260 calories. While not exactly 2/3, it’s very close.

    Lowest Calorie Soup at Panera

    Chicken Noodle Soup: 150 Calories | 3g Fat | 17g Carbs | 14g Protein

    If you want low-calorie, look no further than the classic chicken noodle soup! While it may look like a typo, it’s true that a full bowl of chicken noodle soup at Panera contains only 150 calories, which means a cup of this soup contains only 60 calories.

    With 14 grams of protein to add to those 150 calories, the chicken noodle soup is a really solid option.

    Highest Calorie Soup at Panera

    Broccoli Cheddar Soup: 370 Calories | 21g Fat | 25g Carbs | 13g Protein

    While this is not necessarily a high-calorie item, it is higher in calories than the other soup options. Considering this is a vegetarian option, the 13 grams of protein turn this into a pretty solid option for anyone hoping to eat high-protein.

    Calories & Nutrition Facts For Panera Salads

    Panera salad menu nutrition facts

    Just like the sandwiches, you have the option to order half salads at Panera if you want to go with the “you pick two” option.

    Whether you choose a salad because you want to keep your calories low, because you want the micronutrients, or simply because you think salad is delicious, there are some great options.

    In my personal opinion, the Fuji Apple Salad (with grilled chicken breast) is one of the best salads out there.

    When it comes to salad, you can order all options with chicken or without. If you want the salad to be your main entree, including chicken is a great way to get the most out of your salad regarding both satiety and macros. If you are pairing your salad with another option, like a sandwich or soup, you may prefer going a lighter route and opting for no chicken.

    Lowest Calorie Salad at Panera

    Strawberry Poppyseed Salad: 240 Calories | 12g Fat | 34g Carbs | 5g Protein

    The strawberry poppyseed salad returns every year for summer, and it is a fantastic light option. The next lowest-calorie salad option is a caesar salad with 420 calories, making this the clear-cut winner.

    If you want micronutrients, this salad has got you covered; it includes blueberries, oranges, pineapple, and strawberries.

    Highest Calorie Salad at Panera

    Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains: 670 Calories | 40g Fat | 45g Carbs | 34g Protein

    If you prefer a bit more carbs and/or calories to your salad, this is the option for you. This salad is topped with farro & rice, which bumps up both the calories and carbs. Another high-calorie option is the southwest chicken ranch salad with 650 calories.

    Calories & Nutrition Facts for Panera Bakery Items

    Panera Bakery Menu

    Unlike the other sections of the Panera menu, I don’t think it’s really fair to break down the “healthiest” bakery items, for two reasons:

    1. When it comes to sweets, you likely just want to enjoy a delicious treat without worrying too much about calories.
    2. Each bakery item is SO different, so it makes comparison very tough.

    That being said, one item really stands out at Panera: the chocolate chip “muffie.”

    The muffie at Panera is a muffin top that contains nearly half the calories of a normal muffin. While a regular blueberry muffin contains 510 calories, the chocolate chip muffin contains only 340 calories. If you’re craving a delicious sweet but want to keep the calories in check, this is a great option to have!

    Not pictured in the menu above are also mini scones, which are a great option at Panera. While they are quite small, each mini scone contains just 150-180 calories, making them excellent dessert options for anyone on a low-calorie diet.

    Panera Calorie Saving Tips

    No matter what you order at Panera, there are plenty of swaps and substitutions you can make to save a few extra calories.

    1) Swap the bread

    When you order a breakfast or lunch sandwich, you can swap out the bread for any different type on the menu. If the ciabatta contains too many calories, you can go with a bagel flat instead.

    2) Dressing and sauces on the side

    Asking for salad dressing on the side is one of the easiest calorie savers there is. By adding the dressing yourself, or by dipping your salad into the salad dressing, you’ll often use way less than you otherwise would have if they had served it over your salad.

    Many people don’t realize you can do the same with your sandwiches and ask for the sauce on the side. That way, you can control exactly how much is being used.

    3) Order double meat for more protein

    Whether you’re ordering a sandwich or a salad, you can ask for double meat to get even more lean protein into your meal. While this won’t inherently lead to fewer calories, you can make the most of your meal this way, especially if you ask for “light” cheese or other ingredients to pair with your extra protein.

    4) Avoid the bread bowl

    Don’t get me wrong, I think bread bowls are absolutely delicious, but they will add a lot of extra calories to your meal while taking away some of your entree. Less food fits in a bread bowl than a regular bowl, so you’re depriving yourself of the good stuff in exchange for more bread. As an example, a bowl of cream of chicken soup contains 280 calories, and the same soup in a bread bowl contains 860 calories. Considering a bread bowl on its own contains 670 calories, than means you’re getting about half as much soup.

    5) Be mindful of your side choices

    It’s not uncommon to pair your lunch with a French baguette or side of chips, but there are other side options available to you that may be more appealing, not to mention more filling. You can order an apple or banana, a fresh fruit cup, or Greek yogurt on the side for fewer calories.

    6) Split your baked goods

    Everything in the bakery at Panera looks unbelievable, so I don’t blame you if you want a chocolate chip cookie, muffin, cinnamon roll, croissant, or anything else with your breakfast. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with ordering these items, it’s worth it to be mindful, because a single chocolate chip cookie contains nearly 400 calories. If you want to give them a try, it might benefit you to split it with someone!

    7) Take advantage of the “You Pick Two”

    You Pick Two means choosing two options out of a half salad, half sandwich, or cup of soup. By having multiple smaller portions, we often eat slower, which in turn gives us a chance to realize we are full and to feel more satisfied. While I can easily finish a whole sandwich in about 2 minutes, if I have half of a sandwich with a small salad, I’m bound to eat much slower.

    The Final Verdict: Is the Panera Menu Healthy?

    If you’re looking to eat healthy on the go, Panera is a fantastic option.

    Sure, there are certain menu items that may not support your dietary goals, but there is no shortage of substitutions and swaps you can make in order to create a meal that works for you.

    Panera calories are on-par with many other restaurants out there, but based on the breakdown in this post, it’s clear that it completely depends on what you are ordering.

    With fresh, quality ingredients, Panera is a great option for healthy eating, especially if you are on the road and in need of something quick.

    Share The Love


    Monday 16th of January 2023

    Thanks for the info, but I'm mainly interested in finding out sodium content. Where could I find that?


    Friday 20th of January 2023

    The Panera website has all of the sodium listed when you click into each item on their menu


    Sunday 2nd of October 2022

    Use a2 milk in recipes and as an option for coffee, because the a2 protein in this milk is easier for humans to digest, resulting in far less digestive problems.

    About Matt Rosenman

    With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More