A buffalo chicken wrap is a popular menu item at many restaurants and cafes. It typically consists of a flour tortilla stuffed with grilled or fried chicken coated in buffalo sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and ranch or blue cheese dressing. With its combination of spicy and creamy flavors, it makes for a tasty yet filling meal. However, like any restaurant entrée, the calorie count can vary greatly depending on the specific ingredients and preparation methods used. For those watching their calories or macronutrients, it’s important to understand exactly what goes into a buffalo chicken wrap and how to customize or swap ingredients to create a lower calorie version. This article will break down the typical calorie counts and macronutrient values of each component of a buffalo chicken wrap made with grilled chicken. We’ll also provide tips for reducing the calories while still keeping all the flavors you crave.
Calories in Grilled Chicken
The chicken itself is usually the main source of protein and a major contributor to calories in a buffalo chicken wrap. Using grilled chicken breast without skin saves a significant number of calories compared to fried chicken.
A 3 oz serving of grilled chicken breast contains approximately:
- Calories: 110-140
- Protein: 25-30g
- Fat: 1-3g
- Carbs: 0g
So a standard 6 oz grilled chicken breast in a wrap would provide 220-280 calories just from the chicken alone.
Opting for a leaner cut like chicken breast and grilling instead of frying cuts out a lot of the fat and calories compared to fried chicken pieces with skin. And removing the skin saves about 50 extra calories per 3 oz.
Calories in Buffalo Sauce
While buffalo sauce adds lots of flavor, it can also add calories from oil or butter. A 2 tablespoon serving of traditional buffalo sauce contains approximately:
- Calories: 60-80
- Fat: 6g
- Carbs: 0-1g
The calories are largely from the oil or butter used to make the sauce. Making your own buffalo sauce at home with just hot sauce and vinegar would eliminate most of the calories from oil or butter.
Ask for the sauce on the side and use it sparingly to help reduce calories. Or choose lower calorie substitutes like hot sauce mixed with plain Greek yogurt instead of oil or butter-based buffalo sauce.
Calories in Tortilla
Wraps and tortillas can quickly add calories from carbohydrates. A standard 10-inch flour tortilla may contain:
- Calories: 140-180
- Carbs: 30-40g
- Protein: 5-7g
- Fat 2-3g
Choosing a high-fiber, whole wheat tortilla instead of white flour will provide more nutrition. Or opting for a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla is an easy way to eliminate those carb-based calories.
You can also ask for a smaller 8 or 9-inch tortilla to save about 50 calories compared to a large 10-inch wrap. Or use a low-carb tortilla made with things like coconut flour or almond flour to cut the net carbs.
Calories in Cheese
Cheese is often used generously in buffalo chicken wraps, which can pile on saturated fat and calories. About 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese may have:
- Calories: 110
- Protein: 7g
- Fat: 9g
So ask for just 1-2 tablespoons of cheese sprinkled on top instead of a whole cheesy layer in the wrap. Part-skim mozzarella or reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese are lower calorie options. Or leave the cheese off altogether.
Calories in Veggies
The vegetables in a buffalo chicken wrap – usually lettuce and tomatoes – provide bulk along with vitamins and minerals, without adding many calories.
1 cup each of chopped lettuce and sliced tomatoes contains about:
- Lettuce: 5 calories
- Tomatoes: 30 calories
Loading up on these low calorie vegetables can help fill you up on fewer calories. Don’t skimp on the fresh produce when customizing your wrap.
Calories in Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing
While sandwiches aren’t complete without a sauce or dressing, these can be surprising sources of added fat and calories. Two tablespoons of ranch or blue cheese dressing may contain:
- Calories: 140-180
- Fat: 16-18g
Ask for the dressing on the side and dip your wrap sparingly. Or choose lower calorie dressing options like vinaigrettes, Greek yogurt ranch, or mixing Dijon mustard with plain Greek yogurt for a creamy dip.
Putting it All Together
Based on the typical calorie counts for each component, a buffalo chicken wrap made with grilled chicken may contain around:
- Grilled chicken: 220-280 calories
- Buffalo sauce: 60-80 calories
- Flour tortilla: 140-180 calories
- Cheese: 110 calories
- Veggies: 35 calories
- Dressing: 140-180 calories
That brings a standard buffalo chicken wrap with grilled chicken to approximately 705-945 calories total.
Of course, the counts can vary based on exact serving sizes and ingredients used. More generous amounts of chicken, cheese, or dressing will push the calories higher.
Lower Calorie Options
Here are some simple ways to create a lighter buffalo chicken wrap:
- Use lettuce leaves instead of a tortilla
- Choose a smaller, low-carb tortilla
- Skip the cheese
- Use hot sauce instead of creamy buffalo sauce
- Choose Greek yogurt-based dressing
- Load up on veggies
Implementing some of these swaps can save over 200 calories compared to a loaded, traditional wrap.
You can also save some calories by splitting the wrap in half and having the rest for another meal. Or ordering a side salad instead of fries as your side dish to make it a lower calorie meal.
Buffalo Chicken Wrap Calorie Chart
Here is an overview comparing the approximate calories for a traditional buffalo chicken wrap vs. a lower calorie version:
|Ingredient||Traditional Wrap (calories)||Lower Calorie Wrap (calories)|
|Grilled Chicken Breast||280||140|
|Lettuce & Tomatoes||35||35|
As you can see, just by making a few simple swaps and reductions, you can save over 500 calories in your buffalo chicken wrap!
Benefits of a Lower Calorie Wrap
Some benefits of choosing a lower calorie buffalo chicken wrap include:
- Lower calorie meal helps manage weight
- More room for nutritious side dishes
- Helps meet macros if tracking nutrition
- Avoid feeling overly full and sluggish
- One wrap provides two lighter meals
You still get great flavor and satisfaction from the spicy buffalo chicken and creamy ranch dressing. Scaling back just a few high calorie ingredients makes it an overall healthier and lighter meal.
Should You Be Concerned About the Calories?
How concerned you need to be about the calories in a buffalo chicken wrap depends largely on your overall daily calorie needs and health goals.
If you have a high daily calorie requirement and are physically active, one higher calorie wrap may fit into your diet without issue. But if you are more sedentary and watching your weight, the extra calories could lead to unwanted pounds over time.
Here are some general calorie intake guidelines based on activity level:
- Sedentary: 2,000 calories/day for women, 2,500 for men
- Moderately Active: 2,200-2,400 calories/day for women, 2,600-2,800 for men
- Active: 2,400-2,800 calories/day for women, 2,800-3,000 for men
A wrap with 700-900 calories would account for a substantial portion of your daily intake if you are sedentary or moderately active. So enjoying these as an occasional treat or splitting with a friend may be best.
But active individuals can likely work a buffalo chicken wrap into their regular diet without issue, as long as they balance it with other nutrient-dense meals and snacks.
Those on weight loss plans aiming for daily intakes closer to 1,200-1,500 calories will want to opt for one of the lower calorie preparations to save those calories for other foods.
Healthier Alternatives to Try
If you love the flavors of buffalo chicken but want to make it a regular lighter meal, here are some healthier recipe ideas:
- Buffalo chicken salad with grilled chicken, lettuce greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and light dressing
- Buffalo chicken stuffed peppers or zucchini boats
- Buffalo chicken packed lettuce wraps
- Grilled buffalo chicken served over cauliflower rice
You can also turn it into a healthier dinner entree by pairing your buffalo chicken wrap with:
- Side salad with light dressing
- Vegetable soup
- Fresh fruit
This provides extra nutrition and fills you up without overloading on calories.
Focus on reasonable portions and lighter preparations for the best nutritional balance.
A buffalo chicken wrap can range from 700-900 calories depending on the size and ingredients used. Opting for grilled chicken, lighter sauces, a whole grain tortilla, extra veggies, and reduced cheese and dressing can all help cut down on the calories while still providing a satisfying flavor. Be mindful of portion sizes and your overall calorie requirements to determine if this entrée fits into your regular diet or is best saved for an occasional treat.