Is the chicken bake at Costco healthy?

The chicken bake is a popular grab-and-go option at Costco food courts. It consists of diced chicken, bacon, Caesar salad dressing, and cheese baked inside a large tortilla wrap. With its creamy, cheesy filling and crispy outer shell, the chicken bake is a tasty treat that many Costco shoppers look forward to. However, with its high calorie, fat, and sodium content, some shoppers wonder if the chicken bake is actually a healthy choice or just a guilty pleasure. This article will examine the nutrition facts of a Costco chicken bake and help determine whether it can be part of a balanced diet.

Nutrition Facts

According to the Costco website, one chicken bake contains 770 calories, 43g of fat, 33g of carbohydrates, and 29g of protein. It also has 1580mg of sodium, which is over half of the recommended daily value. Here is a breakdown of the key nutrients:

Nutrient Amount Daily Value
Calories 770 38%
Total Fat 43g 66%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Trans Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 170mg 57%
Sodium 1580mg 67%
Total Carbohydrates 33g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 29g

As the table shows, the chicken bake is very high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium compared to most dietary recommendations. Just one chicken bake provides over half the suggested sodium intake for an entire day. The high saturated fat and cholesterol levels are also concerning from a heart health perspective. On the positive side, the chicken bake does contain 29g of protein and 2g of fiber. But overall, the nutritional profile is quite heavy.


Analyzing the ingredients list also provides insight into the chicken bake’s nutritional value:

– Chicken – The primary protein source. Chicken is a lean, low-fat meat when cooked without skin.

– Bacon – Adds a significant amount of fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

– Cheese – High in saturated fat and sodium. Also adds calcium.

– Caesar salad dressing – Contains oil, egg yolks, cheese, anchovies, and often added sugar. Adds calories, fat, and sodium.

– Tortilla – Can be made with refined grains and contain hydrogenated oils. Better options would be whole wheat or spinach tortillas.

– Anti-caking ingredients – Additives like silicon dioxide to improve texture. No nutritional value.

The main ingredients of concern are the bacon, cheese, and creamy Caesar dressing which load the chicken bake up with saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Healthier alternatives could include grilled chicken, avocado, light dressing, and whole grain tortilla.

Calorie Density

With 770 calories, the chicken bake is a very calorie-dense food. The average adult male should consume about 2,500 calories per day, and the average adult female about 2,000 calories. So the chicken bake alone contains over a third of the average person’s total daily calorie needs.

Foods that pack a lot of calories into a small package make it easy to overeat without getting very full. The chicken bake only weighs about 7.5 oz, but contains far more calories than 7.5 oz of foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Furthermore, the chicken bake’s palatable flavors and ingredients like cheese and bacon encourage eating quickly and mindlessly. Those who struggle with portion control may find it difficult to limit themselves to a single chicken bake.

Macronutrient Balance

Ideally, a balanced meal contains protein, carbs, and fat in sensible proportions. Different diets recommend different macronutrient distributions, but general healthy ranges are:

– Protein: 10-35% of total calories
– Carbohydrates: 45-65% of total calories
– Fat: 20-35% of total calories

The chicken bake provides about:

– 38% of calories from protein
– 17% of calories from carbs
– 45% of calories from fat

With nearly half its calories coming from fat, the chicken bake is clearly heavy on fat compared to the recommended percentage. It is also relatively low in carbohydrates. Someone trying to follow a low-carb diet may find this macronutrient breakdown convenient. But in general, the chicken bake is quite unbalanced nutritionally.


Beyond just calories and macronutrients, foods also provide essential vitamins and minerals. The chicken bake is not a significant source of any micronutrient. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain far more vitamins and minerals per calorie. The chicken bake is mostly a delivery vehicle for fat, sodium, cholesterol, and protein with minimal nutritional benefit. It should not be considered a healthy meal option on its own.


How filling a food keeps you feeling satisfied is referred to as its “satiety value.” Foods that rank high in satiety include those with high protein, fiber, and water content. The chicken bake’s combination of protein and fat can be somewhat satiating. However, it is relatively low in fiber and high in calorie density. The rich tastes and textures also make it very easy to consume quickly. Overall, while it may fill you up initially, the chicken bake is not very satiating per calorie. It is not likely to keep you full for long after eating it.

Health Claims

No major health claims can be made about the chicken bake. Unlike some foods marketed for weight loss, athletic performance, or other benefits, the chicken bake is simply a tasty convenient meal. In no way can it be considered a “health food.” Depending on someone’s overall eating pattern, consuming a chicken bake in moderation may not be detrimental. But it provides no notable health advantages either. Calling the chicken bake “healthy” would be misleading.

Nutrient Density

Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients a food provides compared to its calorie content. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial compounds relative to their calorie count. Examples include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains. The chicken bake is extremely low in nutrient density. It provides high calories with minimal nutritional value. Other than protein, it does not offer much in the way of valuable vitamins or minerals.

Health Impact

Regularly eating high amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol is associated with poor health outcomes. Diets heavy in processed meats, fatty cheeses, fried foods, and rich sauces correlate with higher risks of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers. The chicken bake provides large quantities of these unhealthy nutrients in just one serving. Frequent consumption would likely raise risks for chronic disease over the long term. Those with pre-existing conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol need to be especially cautious about chicken bake intake.

Weight Loss Compatibility

At 770 calories, the chicken bake is not conducive to weight loss for most people. To lose 1 pound per week, the average person needs to maintain a daily 500-calorie deficit. Consuming even one chicken bake could make that deficit difficult to achieve. The high fat and sodium content can also cause water retention, which hides any progress on the scale. For these reasons, limiting or avoiding chicken bakes is best for those trying to lose weight. It packs far too many calories for a single snack or light meal.

Ingredient Alternatives

To make the chicken bake lower in fat, sodium, and calories, substituting some ingredients could help:

– Chicken: Use grilled or roasted instead of fried. Remove skin.

– Bacon: Omit completely or use turkey bacon.

– Cheese: Use part-skim versions or smaller amounts of strongly flavored cheese.

– Dressing: Opt for light Caesar, Greek yogurt sauce, or oil-free options.

– Tortilla: Switch to whole wheat or spinach version. Lower carb wraps are also an option.

– Veggies: Add spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, or roasted red peppers.

With some simple tweaks, the chicken bake could be modified into a healthier alternative while keeping its general flavor and texture. However, it still needs to be consumed in moderation.

Portion Size

One chicken bake from Costco weighs 7.5 oz and is intended to be eaten by itself as a single-serving meal. Eating multiple chicken bakes in one sitting is certainly not recommended, as that would greatly increase intake of calories, fat, and sodium. Even one whole chicken bake is quite high in calories, providing over a third of most people’s daily needs. Those trying to lose weight or watch their cholesterol should consider splitting one chicken bake into two smaller 3.75 oz portions. This reduces calorie density while still providing satisfaction.

Frequency of Consumption

Given its high fat and sodium content, the chicken bake should be considered an occasional indulgence rather than a regular part of one’s diet. Enjoying it as a once-a-week treat is unlikely to cause harm, but more frequent consumption would not be prudent. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to 1,500mg per day, and saturated fat to 13g per day for the average adult. The chicken bake blows past both those limits in just one serving. For the best health outcomes, consume it sparingly.

Preparation Methods

Costco prepares their chicken bakes via baking in a convection oven. This results in a crispy outer tortilla with melted, gooey cheese inside. While not as bad as deep frying, commercial baking still adds a considerable amount of fat and calories compared to homemade versions. Preparing a chicken bake at home allows control over ingredients and cooking methods. You can opt to grill or broil the chicken to reduce fat, and steam or pan-fry the tortilla lightly. Homemade chicken bakes can be much healthier depending on preparation.


What you eat with the chicken bake also affects its nutritional impact. Pairing it with side dishes that are low in fat, carbs, and calories helps balance out the meal. Good options include a green salad, vegetable soup, raw veggies and hummus, or fresh fruit. Avoid serving it with fried side dishes or creamy pastas and sauces. Drinking water or unsweetened tea are healthier beverage choices than soda. Make sure accompaniments compliment rather than compound the chicken bake’s heavy attributes.

Avocado-Spinach Chicken Wrap

An alternative to consider is this avocado-spinach chicken wrap loaded with nutrition:

– 1 whole wheat tortilla
– 3 oz grilled chicken breast, sliced
– 1⁄4 cup hummus
– 1⁄2 cup baby spinach
– 1⁄4 avocado, sliced
– 2 tbsp shredded carrots
– 1 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

This wrap provides protein from the chicken breast, healthy fats from the avocado and hummus, and fiber from the whole wheat tortilla and spinach. It contains far more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than a chicken bake while being lower in calories, sodium, and saturated fat.

Nutrition for wrap:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 385
Total Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 3g
Sodium 520mg
Carbohydrates 33g
Fiber 5g
Protein 28g

This wrap makes for a far healthier light meal or snack compared to a chicken bake. You get plenty of nutrition and satisfaction for under 400 calories.

Healthier Fast Food Options

If purchasing a grab-and-go meal, there are healthier fast food options than the Costco chicken bake. Choices like:

– Subway 6-inch turkey sub
– Panera half chicken salad sandwich
– Taco salad with grilled chicken
– Burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, chicken and salsa

While not extremely low in calories, these meals offer more balanced nutrition with less saturated fat and sodium compared to chicken bakes. You can also customize ingredients and portions for a healthier result.

Is Chicken Bake at Costco Healthy: The Verdict

Based on its high calorie, fat, and sodium content, lack of vitamins and minerals, and unbalanced macronutrient profile, no – the Costco chicken bake would not be considered a healthy meal option. It is essentially a delivery mechanism for large amounts of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. The chicken bake is tasty and convenient, but should be consumed only occasionally and in moderation. While it provides protein, the overall nutritional value is low. There are many healthier grab-and-go meal choices available for those seeking convenient food court fare. For the best results, the chicken bake can be one small part of an overall nutritious diet, rather than a dietary staple.

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