Cheesy potatoes are a delicious and popular side dish or main meal consisting of potatoes and cheese. They can be made in various ways – some recipes call for sliced or diced potatoes that are boiled, baked, or fried and then mixed with cheese, while others call for mashed potatoes to be blended with cheese. However they are made, cheesy potatoes are the ultimate comfort food that packs a lot of calories and fat due to the combination of starchy potatoes and high-fat cheese. If you are watching your calorie intake, it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes of cheesy potatoes. Let’s take a detailed look at the calorie count in different types of cheesy potatoes and tips for lightening them up.
Calories in Baked Cheesy Potatoes
Baked cheesy potatoes start with raw potato slices or cubes that are roasted in the oven until tender. Sliced potatoes or potato cubes are tossed with olive oil or butter, garlic, salt, and pepper and roasted at a high temperature until browned. Shredded cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, or gruyere is then sprinkled on top and melted under the broiler. The calories in baked cheesy potatoes can vary greatly depending on:
- Type of potato used – russet, red, yellow, etc.
- Whether the skin is left on or peeled off
- Amount of oil/butter used to coat potatoes
- Type of cheese used
- Amount of cheese added
- Serving size
As an example, 1 cup of baked cheesy potatoes made with russet potatoes, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese has approximately:
So in a standard side dish portion of 1 cup, baked cheesy potatoes have 220 calories. Of course if you have a larger portion, or make them with higher fat ingredients like butter instead of olive oil or full fat cheese, the calories will increase.
Calories in Fried Cheesy Potatoes
While baked cheesy potatoes are a healthier option, fried cheesy potatoes are another popular preparation. For fried cheesy potatoes, raw potatoes are cut into cubes, sticks, slices, or wedges and fried until crispy and browned. The fried potatoes are then topped with cheese and broiled to melt. Standard fried cheesy potato recipes call for:
- 1-1.5 lbs potatoes
- 1/4 cup cooking oil for frying (vegetable, canola, etc)
- 1-2 cups shredded cheese
A serving of 1 cup of fried cheesy potatoes made with vegetable oil and cheddar cheese has about:
As you can see, fried cheesy potatoes contain significantly more calories and fat compared to the baked version, coming in at over 300 calories per 1 cup serving. The oil used frying adds a lot of extra calories and fat. If you are watching your fat and calorie intake, baked cheesy potatoes are the healthier choice over fried.
Calories in Loaded Cheesy Potatoes
Loaded cheesy potatoes take this indulgent side to the next level. Loaded cheesy potatoes start with fried, baked, or roasted potatoes. Then they are piled high with cheese as well as fatty, calorie-dense toppings like bacon, sour cream, and butter or oil. A fully loaded cheesy potato is truly a gut bomb. Here’s the breakdown for a typical 1 cup serving:
- 1 cup baked potatoes
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- Chives for garnish
As shown above, loaded cheesy potatoes can contain nearly 500 calories and 36g of fat per serving! So while they may be incredibly delicious and indulgent, loaded cheesy potatoes should be enjoyed occasionally in small portions if watching your calorie intake.
Ways to Lighten Up Cheesy Potatoes
If you love cheesy potatoes but want to reduce the calorie count, there are several easy ways to lighten them up:
- Use lower fat cheese options like part skim mozzarella or reduced fat cheddar
- Limit the amount of full fat cheese used
- Bake or roast potatoes instead of frying
- Use a small amount of olive oil instead of butter for roasting potatoes
- Skip high-fat toppings like bacon, sour cream, and extra butter
- Load up on low-cal veggies like broccoli, peppers, onions, etc instead
Following the tips above, you can make a lighter version of 1 cup cheesy potatoes with only around 150 calories, 10g fat, 20g carbs, and 5g protein.
Healthier Cheesy Potato Recipes
Here are some healthier recipe ideas for cheesy potatoes that cut back on fat and calories:
Baked Cheesy Potatoes with Broccoli
- 1 lb russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss potato cubes and broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Spread seasoned potatoes and broccoli on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake 25 minutes, flip/stir halfway through. Remove from oven.
- Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top.
- Bake 5 minutes more until cheese is melted.
- Serve warm.
Cajun Skillet Cheesy Potatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb russet potatoes, diced 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar
- In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Add potatoes and Cajun seasoning. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add onion and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes more until potatoes are browned.
- Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle cheddar over top, cover, and cook 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.
- Season with extra Cajun seasoning if desired. Serve warm.
Cheesy Potato Calories in Popular Dishes
Cheesy potatoes are served at many restaurants and fast food chains. Here are the calorie counts for cheesy potatoes from some popular menus:
|TGI Fridays – Loaded Baker with Cheddar Cheese Sauce
|Chili’s – Cajun Chicken Pasta with Garlic Parmesan Crusted Potatoes
|Applebee’s – Bourbon Street Chicken & Shrimp with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
|Outback Steakhouse – Cheese Fries
|Wendy’s – Baked Potato with Cheddar Cheese
|Burger King – Cheesy Tots
As shown above, restaurant cheesy potato dishes can range from 350 calories for a side like cheesy tots up to over 1800 calories for an loaded entree like chili’s cajun pasta with cheesy potatoes. Be mindful of portions and added toppings when ordering cheesy potatoes from a restaurant.
Cheesy potatoes are a tasty indulgence, but should be enjoyed in moderation, especially if watching your calorie and fat intake. Baked or roasted cheesy potatoes with light toppings are your healthiest preparation, or opt for skillet style potatoes limited oil and reduced fat cheese. Limit high-fat loaded toppings, and stick to reasonable side dish portions around 1 cup. With some adjustments, cheesy potatoes can still be part of an overall balanced diet. Just be mindful of your total daily calorie needs, and balance out richer dishes with lighter options.