How many carbs are in a grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing?

Eating healthy can be challenging, especially when dining out. Salads are often viewed as a healthier option, but some salads can contain just as many calories and carbs as other menu items. One popular salad choice is a grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing. But how many carbs does this salad actually contain?

The Carb Content of Grilled Chicken Salad Ingredients

To determine the carb count of a grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing, we need to look at the carb content of each ingredient:

  • Grilled chicken breast (without skin): 0 grams of carbs
  • Romaine lettuce: 2 grams of carbs per cup
  • Tomatoes: 5 grams of carbs per cup
  • Bacon bits: 0 grams of carbs
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: less than 1 gram of carbs per ounce
  • Ranch dressing: ranges from 2-8 grams of carbs per 2 tbsp serving
  • Croutons: 15 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup

As you can see, grilled chicken, bacon bits and cheddar cheese contain minimal or no carbs. The carb content starts adding up when you factor in veggie toppings like lettuce and tomatoes, croutons and the dressing.

Typical Carb Count for Entire Salad

Now let’s put it all together to analyze the carb count for an entire grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing:

  • Grilled chicken breast (6 oz): 0 grams
  • Romaine lettuce (2 cups): 4 grams
  • Diced tomatoes (1/2 cup): 5 grams
  • Bacon bits (2 tbsp): 0 grams
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (2 tbsp): Less than 1 gram
  • Ranch dressing (2 tbsp): ~5 grams
  • Croutons (1/4 cup): 8 grams

Total estimated carb count: Around 22 grams of carbs

So a full-size grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing has approximately 22 grams of net carbs. This estimate can vary depending on exact ingredient amounts and ranch dressing carb count. Going light on high-carb ingredients like croutons and dressing can reduce the carb content.

Strategies to Reduce Carbs in Your Salad

If you’re limiting carbs, there are some easy ways to reduce the carb content of your grilled chicken salad:

  • Ask for the salad without croutons or with just a sprinkling. Croutons can add 15+ grams of carbs for just 1/2 cup.
  • Choose a lower-carb salad dressing like olive oil and vinegar or an oil-based vinaigrette. Stay away from thick, creamy ranch and Caesar dressings.
  • Limit high-carb veggies like corn, peas, carrots and bell peppers. Focus on low-carb options like cucumbers, peppers, spinach and kale.
  • Swap out shredded cheese for crumbled feta or goat cheese. They add flavor with less carbs.
  • Order the salad without tortilla strips, beans or other starchy toppings.
  • Request the salad undressed and dip your fork in the dressing to control how much you use.

Making Your Own Low-Carb Grilled Chicken Salad

Your best bet for controlling carbs is to make your own grilled chicken salad at home. Here is a delicious homemade recipe:


  • 6 oz grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper for dressing.
  2. Toss greens, cucumber, feta and bacon bits.
  3. Top with sliced grilled chicken breast.
  4. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad.

This salad comes out to around 5 grams of net carbs for the entire salad when dressed with 1 tbsp of the homemade vinaigrette. And it doesn’t skimp on flavor or satisfaction.

Other Tips for a Low-Carb Grilled Chicken Salad

Here are some other suggestions to reduce carbs in your grilled chicken salad:

  • Skip the starchy croutons and use chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts for crunch instead.
  • Add avocado slices or mashed avocado for a creamy, satisfying addition.
  • Top your salad with a fried or hard-boiled egg for extra protein.
  • Go easy on sweet ripe tomatoes if watching carbs – they have the highest sugar content.
  • Get creative with salad greens – try spinach, kale, arugula, radicchio, Boston lettuce or other non-starchy greens.
  • Make your own creamy dressing with plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and your favorite seasoning.

Low-Carb Protein Options Beyond Chicken

While grilled chicken breast is a go-to low-carb salad topper, feel free to substitute with other proteins:

  • Steak: Grilled steak tips or thinly sliced steak make a hearty salad topping.
  • Fish: Grilled salmon, tuna steak or shrimp skewers are excellent sources of protein for salads.
  • Tofu: Grilled tofu can be marinated in sauce and sliced over greens for a meatless option.
  • Eggs: Hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs or fried eggs lend protein to a salad.
  • Cheese: Grilled halloumi, goat cheese or feta provide a delicious protein boost.

Mix up your salads by swapping out grilled chicken for lower carb alternatives. This adds flavor and variety to your healthy low-carb salads.

Simple Low-Carb Salad Dressing Options

Your choice of salad dressing can make or break the carb content of your grilled chicken salad. Here are some easy homemade dressings to try:

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Greek Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Avocado Dressing

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Salt to taste

These versatile dressings can also be used for grilled chicken, veggies, grain bowls and more. Make a batch at the start of each week for quick salad toppings all week.

Healthy Low-Carb Salad Recipe Ideas

Try out these delicious low-carb salads for flavorful, satisfying meals:

Steak Cobb Salad

Grilled steak, eggs, bacon, avocado, tomatoes and blue cheese on a bed of greens.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese and creamy Caesar dressing.

Taco Salad

Taco-spiced ground beef or turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese, guacamole and sour cream.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Fried buffalo chicken tenders, mixed greens, cheddar cheese, celery, ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Greek Chicken Salad

Grilled chicken, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

Chicken, apples, celery, walnuts, grapes, lemon juice dressing.

BLT Salad

Crispy bacon, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar, ranch dressing.

Shrimp Louie

Grilled shrimp, romaine, hard boiled egg, avocado, thousand island dressing.

Low-Carb Salad Dressing FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about low-carb salad dressings:

What are the best low-carb salad dressings?

Vinaigrettes made with oil and vinegar or lemon juice are great low-carb options. Ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, and other creamy dressings tend to be higher in carbs.

Can I use olive oil and balsamic as a salad dressing?

Yes, combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a simple, delicious low-carb vinaigrette dressing. Use a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Add herbs and garlic to taste.

Is Italian dressing keto-friendly?

Most bottled Italian dressings contain added sugars or starch thickeners that make them too high in carbs for keto. Make your own using oil, vinegar, seasonings.

What’s the lowest carb salad dressing?

Vinaigrettes made with just oil and vinegar or lemon juice are your lowest carb options, with 0-1 grams of carbs per serving. Stay away from honey mustard, sweet dressings.

Is ranch dressing keto?

Most bottled ranch dressings are too high in carbs for keto due to added sugars and starches. A homemade ranch with Greek yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice and herbs can fit into a keto diet when used sparingly.

Key Takeaways

  • A full-size grilled chicken salad with ranch dressing contains around 22 grams net carbs.
  • Croutons, ranch dressing, and starchy toppings like corn and peas contribute the most carbs.
  • Request salad without croutons or high-carb veggies and use oil-based dressing to reduce carbs.
  • Make your own grilled chicken salad and dressing at home for maximum control of ingredients.
  • Get creative with low-carb proteins, greens, dressings and toppings to keep salads exciting.

Watching your carb intake doesn’t mean salads are off the menu. With a little planning, you can enjoy flavorful, satisfying grilled chicken salads as part of a healthy low-carb diet.

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