How many calories are in a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal?

Quick Answer

The number of calories in a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal can vary depending on the specific items ordered. However, on average, a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal contains around 1,300 – 1,500 calories. This estimate is based on getting a 4 piece chicken tenders meal with Zax sauce and ranch dressing, french fries or fried zucchini, and a 22oz drink. The chicken tenders, sauces, side, and drink all add a significant number of calories to the total meal.

Calories in Each Zaxby’s Meal Item

Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories for each component of a typical 4 piece Zaxby’s meal:

Meal Item Calories
4 Piece Chicken Tenders 760
Zax Sauce (1.5oz) 180
Ranch Dressing (2oz) 220
French Fries (Medium) 420
Fried Zucchini (Small) 260
22oz Drink (sweet tea) 220

As you can see, the 4 chicken tenders alone account for around 760 calories. Adding on a side, sauces, and drink can easily bring the total meal calories over 1,300.

4 Piece Chicken Tenders (760 calories)

The 4 piece chicken tenders are the main source of calories in a Zaxby’s meal. Each chicken tender contains about 190 calories.

Chicken tenders are breaded and fried, which adds a lot of calories from fat and carbohydrates. The chicken itself also provides a good amount of protein and fat.

Most fast food chicken tender meals provide 3-4 tenders. So getting 4 tenders at Zaxby’s gives you more fried chicken than many other similar chain restaurants.

Zax Sauce (180 calories)

Zax sauce is Zaxby’s signature sauce. It’s a creamy, tangy sauce made with mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, spices, and other ingredients. A typical serving of Zax sauce is around 1.5oz, which contains about 180 calories.

Since Zax sauce is mayonnaise-based, it’s high in fat and calories. Just a couple tablespoons equates to nearly 200 calories from the oil and egg yolks in mayo. So dipping chicken tenders in Zax sauce adds a lot of extra calories to the meal.

Ranch Dressing (220 calories)

Like Zax sauce, ranch dressing adds a lot of calories from fat. Most fast food ranch dressings provide around 200 calories per 2oz serving.

The high fat dairy ingredients like sour cream, mayonnaise, and buttermilk account for most of the calories. Since ranch dressing is so dense, even a small amount like 2oz weighs a fair bit and contains over 200 calories.

When paired with the fried zucchini side, getting ranch dressing as a second dipping sauce piles on the calories.

French Fries (420 calories)

A medium order of french fries at Zaxby’s contains about 420 calories. The fries are fried in oil, which significantly increases their calorie density.

For comparison, a baked potato of the same weight would contain around 160 calories. But frying potatoes adds a lot of oil and almost triples the calorie count.

So while french fries taste great with chicken fingers, opting for a lower calorie side like coleslaw or fruit can save hundreds of calories.

Fried Zucchini (260 calories)

Fried zucchini is one of the lower calorie side options at Zaxby’s, providing around 260 calories in a small size.

Since zucchini has a high water content, it’s lower in calories than starchy sides before frying. But deep frying still adds a lot of oil, bumping up the calories.

The small fried zucchini has about 30 less calories than a medium fry. So it’s a somewhat better option for keeping the meal calories a bit lower.

22oz Drink (220 calories)

A large 22oz drink at Zaxby’s contains around 220 calories if ordering a sweet tea, soda, or lemonade.

Of course, the calories can vary based on the specific drink:
– Sweet tea: 220 calories
– Soda: 200-240 calories
– Lemonade: 200-220 calories
– Diet drink: 0 calories

Going with a smaller size drink or water will reduce meal calories. But most combo meals come with a large drink, which adds over 200 calories from sugar.

How Many Calories Does the Average Person Need?

To determine if a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal fits your calorie needs, it helps to look at the recommended daily calorie intake.

The average sedentary woman needs around 2,000 calories per day, while the average sedentary man needs around 2,500 calories. More active individuals need even more calories.

So a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal provides well over half of the average person’s calories for the entire day.

For example:

Person Daily Calorie Needs Zaxby’s Meal Calories % Daily Calories
Sedentary woman 2,000 1,500 75%
Sedentary man 2,500 1,500 60%

As you can see, the Zaxby’s meal provides 60-75% of daily calorie needs for an inactive person. So it would be very difficult to eat a 4 piece Zaxby’s meal and stay within a 2,000 – 2,500 calorie diet.

For active individuals that require 2,500-3,000+ calories per day, the Zaxby’s meal would provide a smaller percentage of their total daily needs.

Ways to Reduce Calories in a Zaxby’s Meal

Here are some tips for reducing calories in your 4 piece Zaxby’s meal:

– Choose grilled chicken tenders instead of fried. Grilled chicken saves approximately 300 calories compared to fried chicken tenders.

– Opt for a small vs medium or large fry or zucchini. Small sizes save 100-300 calories.

– Skip the Zax sauce and/or ranch dressing. Get your tenders plain or use a lower calorie sauce like honey mustard.

– Choose a lower calorie drink like unsweetened ice tea, diet soda, or water. This saves around 200 calories compared to a sugary soda or sweet tea.

– Split the meal in half and share with a friend or eat half now and save half for later. This cuts the calories in half.

– Replace the fries or zucchini with a side salad with light dressing or coleslaw to save 200-300 calories.

Making a couple simple substitutions like these can slash hundreds of calories from your Zaxby’s meal. While it’s still a high calorie meal, these changes make it slightly more manageable in the context of a healthy daily diet.

Health Impact of Frequent Zaxby’s Meals

While an occasional Zaxby’s meal is fine, regularly eating these high calorie meals can negatively impact your health over time. Some potential effects include:

– Weight gain: The excess calories can easily lead to putting on extra pounds, especially if pairing it with other high calorie beverages, snacks, etc.

– Increased inflammation: Heavily processed foods like fried chicken and fries may cause higher inflammation levels. Chronic inflammation is linked to diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

– Higher cholesterol: The high amount of saturated fat can raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Too much LDL cholesterol increases risk of heart disease.

– Higher blood pressure: Excess sodium intake from fast food meals is linked to hypertension. Fried chicken and sauces are very high in sodium.

– Increased disease risk: Frequent consumption of highly processed fast foods raises your lifetime risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illnesses.

So while the occasional indulgent fast food meal is unlikely to do much harm, it’s best to limit these high calorie, low nutrition choices in your regular diet. Focus on more balanced, home cooked meals with lean proteins, fiber-rich produce, and healthy fats most of the time.


A typical 4 piece fried chicken tender meal from Zaxby’s contains around 1,300 – 1,500 calories. This accounts for 60-75% of the daily calorie needs for an inactive person. The fried chicken tenders, starchy sides, sauces, and sugary drinks all contribute substantial calories, fat, sodium, and refined carbs to the meal. To reduce the impact, customize your Zaxby’s order by choosing lower calorie options like grilled chicken, lighter sides, and diet drinks. For your health, it’s best to enjoy these indulgent fast food meals only occasionally and continue emphasizing more nutritious foods in your regular diet.

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