The healthiest and unhealthiest fast food kids meals, ranked – INSIDER

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The INSIDER Summary:

  • There are healthy options for your children to eat at fast food restaurants.
  • Here is a ranking of the healthiest fast food joints, including the healthiest and unhealthiest items to get at each.

#10 Dairy Queen

#10 Dairy Queen

Hollis Johnson

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 737 calories

Healthiest Meal: 603 calories

Chicken strips, applesauce, soda, and ice cream cone

Unhealthiest Meal: 883 calories

Cheeseburger, fries, soda, and a Dilly bar

OK, so maybe it’s not suprising that a chain known best for its ice cream has this list’s most unhealthy kids’ menu. The meals begin with a choice of chicken strips, hamburger, cheeseburger, or hot dog followed by fries or applesauce, and soft drink. Of course, a true DQ feast would not be complete without dessert, so kids have a choice of either a Dilly bar, ice cream sandwich, or cone. 

#9 Quizno’s

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 613 calories 

Healthiest Meal: 455 calories

Ham melt sandwich, chips, and a soda

Unhealthiest Meal: 773 calories

Cheesy toasted cheese sandwich, cookie, and soda

The meal options for kids at Quizno’sinclude a combination of toasted sandwiches with cheese, ham, and turkey along with either chips or a cookie and a soft drink. 

#8 Sonic Drive-In

#8 Sonic Drive-In

Dominick Reuter/Reuters

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 556 calories

Healthiest Meal: 410 calories

Chicken strips, apples, and juice

Unhealthiest Meal: 740 calories

Grilled cheese, French fries, and chocolate milk

When looking at a kids’ menu that boasts options like corn dogs and cheeseburgers it’s hard to believe the most gut-busting meal features grilled cheese. The real culprits here are the thick-sliced pieces of Texas toast that Sonic uses to make sandwiches. Equally surprising is that when it comes to choosing a side, an order of fries has 70 more calories than the same size order of tater tots (did you know that!). 

#7 McDonald’s

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 527 calories

Healthiest Meal: 380 calories

Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers, and apple juice 

Unhealthiest Meal: 700 calories

Cheeseburger, French fries, and chocolate milk

McDonald’s made headlines this weekafter announcing the details of its revamped kids’ menu. The new and improved meals include either chicken nuggets, a hamburger, or a cheeseburger along with a choice of fries or apple dippers and low-fat milk, juice, or a small soft drink. 

#6 Wendy’s

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 502 calories 

Healthiest Meal: 283 calories

Chicken nuggets, apples, and a soft drink 

Unhealthiest Meal: 623 calories

Chicken sandwich, fries, and a soft drink

The options available on the Wendy’s kids’ menu are pretty standard — the main choices are nuggets, a hamburger, or a cheeseburger along with either apples or fries. The real variety comes with the drinks; kids can choose from a wide variety of soft drinks or go for milk or a classic vanilla or chocolate Frosty instead. 


#5 KFC

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 446 calories 

Healthiest Meal: 280 calories

Chicken strips, string cheese, corn, and a Capri Sun

Unhealthiest Meal: 663 calories

Popcorn chicken, string cheese, potato wedges, soda

Kids’ meals at KFC are characterized by their quantity. Without doubt, this menu offers the largest combos, but not the heaviest on average. There are also a lot of choices, beginning with either a drumstick (grilled, original recipe, or extra crispy), strips, or popcorn chicken follwed by a choice of a small side, string cheese, and a drink. 

#4 Chick-fil-A

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 441 calories

Healthiest Meal: 260 calories

Chicken strip, low-fat milk, and a fruit cup

Unhealthiest Meal: 660 calories

Chicken nuggets, low-fat chocolate milk, and fries

One of Chick-fil-A’s meal options includes a single measly chicken strip as the main component. What’s that all about? That’s a meal? That said, calorie-wise, it’s interesting to note the difference a few nuggets and a serving of fries make.

#3 Taco Bell

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 414 calories

Healthiest Meal: 360 calories

Crunchy taco, cinnamon twists, and juice 

Unhealthiest Meal: 580 calories

Bean burrito, cinnamon twists, and juice

Taco Bell’s menu is full of surprises — the bean burrito (traditionally considered a healthy choice) is the heaviest main component, and crunchy tacos have fewer calories than soft tacos. All options include a side of crunchy cinnamon twists and a juice box. 

#2 Burger King

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 390 calories

Healthiest Meal: 350 calories

Chicken tenders, apple fries, and low-fat milk

Unhealthiest Meal: 430 calories

Hamburger, apple fries, and apple juice

Burger King is not taking its healthy makeover lightly. It’s the only chain on this list that extended its initiative to its breakfast menu. In addition to the breakfast sandwich meal, options include either chicken tenders or a hamburger with apple fries and apple juice or milk. It does seem curious that the only place on Burger King’s website to get a detailed description of its kids’ meals is on their secondary Club BK site, one targeted at kids. 

#1 Subway

#1 Subway

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER

Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 372 calories

Healthiest Meal: 345 calories

Veggie Delite sandwich, apples, low-fat milk

Unhealthiest Meal: 395 calories

Roast beef sandwich, apples, low-fat milk

Considering their health-conscious reputation, it’s no surprise Subway has the healthiest kids’ menu on this list. Their meals include a three-inch sandwich, apples, and milk. However, a corporate representative explained that some franchises will allow you to sub in chips or a soft drink. 

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