Lowest Calorie Olive Garden Choices: 2024 Update

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Planning on dining at Olive Garden this evening and wondering what to order if you’re counting your calories. We’ve found the lowest calorie choice on the menu, and it was a bit of a surprise as it’s quite hidden. So, what are the low-calorie Olive Garden options to pick? And what should you eat if you’re also watching your salt, fat or on another healthy eating plan? Our guide to Olive Garden calories lets you in on the secrets…

Illustration of three plates of pasta with a fork in them. An oval above the top reads Lowest Calorie Choices at Olive Garden.

What’s the Lowest Calorie Meal at Olive Garden?

The lowest calorie meal at Olive Garden is a bit hidden… it’s on the Gluten-Sensitive menu, and it’s the 6oz Sirloin Steak served with broccoli.

On the regular Olive Garden menu, this comes served with a side of pasta, which takes the calories up to 890 calories – but, because those who don’t tolerate gluten can’t eat regular pasta, this is omitted on the gluten-sensitive option, and it slashes the calories down to 480

As with the regular menu, the gluten-sensitive menu comes with a choice of sides – including a salad (with no croutons) at 110 calories, or if you want something a bit more substantial, the Zuppa Toscano soup is 220.

Stock image: not Olive Garden

And, with the famous Olive Garden breadsticks not being offered with a gluten-sensitive combo (as breadsticks contain gluten), you don’t need willpower to eat everything on offer for 590-700 calories.

10 Other Choices Under 650 Calories

If you don’t feel like steak? Then check out the lowest calorie choices on the other parts of the Olive Garden menu. Remember, these don’t contain sides or breadsticks – more on those in a minute.

Shrimp Scampi490
Spaghetti with Marinara490
COP Angel Hair and Marinara500
Herb-Grilled Salmon Coho (some areas)510
Gluten Free Rotoni Pasta with Marinara530
Rigatoni with Marinara590
Herb-Grilled Salmon610
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce640
Grilled Chicken Margherita650
Angel Hair with Meat Sauce650

Don’t Forget the Side Dishes

Most meals in the Olive Garden come with a soup or salad as a side choice and two breadsticks. If you choose these incorrectly, you’ll add another 510 calories to your meal, which might bust your budget. So, what should you pick?

Stick to one breadstick – they have 140 calories each. And pick the House Salad without dressing, at just 70 calories.

Do you feel like soup? The lowest-calorie soup at Olive Garden is the Minestrone, which has just 110 calories.

Exterior of Olive Garden restaurant in the USA
Image: Olive Garden Press Gallery

What are the Lowest-Calorie Appetizers at Olive Garden?

Most of Olive Garden’s appetizers are made to be shared – and if you do that, then the lowest calorie appetizer is the Stuffed Ziti Fritta at 500 calories – split between two or four, that’s not too bad.

If you’re not a sharer, the lowest calorie single appetizer is a single breadstick – 140 calories – with a marinara dipping sauce, adding another 70 calories.

Walk away from the Alfredo sauce – that’ll add 870 calories!

8 Other Ways to Cut Calories in Olive Garden

Order Your Breadstick without Garlic Topping

This cuts the calories by 10 per stick – and halves the fat from 20g to 10g.

Swap to Low-Fat Dressing

The normal house dressing at Olive Garden contains 80 calories; swap to low-fat, and it has just 30 calories – not a bad saving.

Go at Lunchtime

This is the absolute best calorie-cutting hack at Olive Garden. It’s not so much the ingredients in the dishes that make them so calorific; it’s the portion sizes, but, at lunch, portions are smaller, and so many of the dishes cut their calories by half.

At lunch, you can even enjoy the Fettuccine Alfredo for 650 calories! Skip the side dishes, and that fits the recommended healthy intake of 500-700 for a main meal.

The absolute lowest calorie Olive Garden lunch is the Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce at just 290 calories – you can even add a breadstick and soup to that and come in under 600 calories.

Pick the Spaghetti

If you’re using the Create Your Own Pasta menu, the spaghetti has the lowest calories. The Angel Hair pasta comes a very close second.

Get a To-Go Box

If you’re eating at other times of the day, you can cut a lot of calories by getting a to-go box before you start your meal – and adding half of your serving to take home for tomorrow. Do it before you start eating, though, or you’ll probably eat more of the yumminess than you thought (or is that just me?)

What About the Famous Alfredo Dishes?

Want an Alfredo dish for under 1000 calories? Not a chance. The lowest calorie Alfredo is the Fettuccine Alfredo at 1,310 calories.

And if you’ve ever wondered what has the most calories at Olive Garden. The answer is the Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken at a whopping 1980 calories – before you add the sides!

That’s almost your entire calorie intake in just one meal for one day.

Other Healthy, Low-Calorie Choices at Olive Garden

So, that’s the basic guide to Olive Garden calories, but what if you’re also watching your diet in other ways? What are the healthiest options in Olive Garden that are also low-calorie?

Spaghetti with a dollop of tomato sauce wound around a fork

Lowest Calorie, Lowest Fat Choice at Olive Garden

If you’re watching saturated fat and calories, pick Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce, which has just 490 calories and 0.5 grams of saturated fat.

What to Choose When Watching Calories and Sodium

If you’re watching sodium and looking for low-calorie choices, pick the Salmon Coho (if it’s available in your region), which has 510 calories and 1020mg of sodium.

If you can’t find that, go for the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, which has 640 calories and 1050mg of sodium.

To see more about sodium counts at Olive Garden, including finding the lowest sodium side dishes, look at our longer guide to eating low sodium at Olive Garden.

Lowest Calorie, Lowest Sugar Option at Olive Garden

Your lowest sugar option is also the overall lowest calorie option, the 6oz Tuscan Sirloin on the Gluten Sensitive menu.

Low-Calorie Vegetarian and Vegan Choices

The good news is there are some great options for vegetarians and vegans. But the lowest calorie choice would see you hitting up the Create Your Own Pasta menu for the Spaghetti and Marinara Sauce option, which is vegan – as we said above, that comes out at 500 calories without the extras.

The breadsticks are also vegan, as is the Minestrone Soup.

If you ask for the Vegan salad, it comes with no croutons and an olive oil dressing.

The Olive Garden Nutritional Information doesn’t give an exact number of calories for this – but it’s likely to be the same as the gluten-free salad at 110 calories.

Are There Any Low-Calorie Gluten-Free Meals?

Olive Garden does have a gluten-sensitive section of the menu.

What this means is that the meals themselves don’t contain any gluten – although, if you’re avoiding gluten for medical reasons rather than a lifestyle choice, check with your server whether these are safe from cross-contamination.

But, of the gluten-sensitive meals, the lowest-calorie choice is the 6oz Sirloin Steak, as we mentioned above, with the Coho Grilled Salmon as a close runner-up – or, try the Gluten-Free pasta option. The Gluten Free Rotini Marinara has 530 calories.

Both come with a crouton-free salad at 110 calories.

If you’re watching other elements of your diet, like fat or sodium, while avoiding gluten, also check out our guide to the healthiest gluten-free choices at Olive Garden.

So there you have it, all the low-calorie meals and healthy options at Olive Garden. As you can see, it is possible to eat lower-calorie at Olive Garden – if you steer clear of the Alfredo sauce and don’t go mad with the breadsticks!

What to Read Next

You might want to look at some of the other entries in our calorie guide section.

We show you how to customize your omelets in IHOP to make them super low-calorie – and the other low-calorie options you’ll find on their menu.

We will show you what to order on the Benihana menu to keep your calories low.

And, if you’re a big fan of Italian, then have a look at our guide to calories in Carrabbas– or, if you’re keener on the pizza side of Italian menus, you might want to look at our guide to calories in California Pizza Kitchen

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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