If you’re thinking about shelling out for some seafood at Red Lobster tonight, we have all the envy. We loved Red Lobster when we used to visit the US – I still think about the cheesy biscuits! But, if you want to eat at Red Lobster while counting calories, what are the best options to order that won’t leave you feeling crabby. Our guide to Red Lobster calories, by Louisa Smith, can help you narrow it down.
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What We Found in the 2023 Update
We have updated this post in July 2023 as the Red Lobster menu has changed since our first version of this post – and, the bad news is, calories at Red Lobster have increased.
This is mostly because the side dishes have increased in calories which adds more to every main meal. Most options at Red Lobster allow you to pick two sides – pick the right ones and you’ll add just 220 calories, pick the wrong two and you could add an extra 900 calories (which is more than some of the main meals!). Choosing the right sides is therefore as important as picking the right main part of your meal.
This is all spelled out clearly within the Red Lobster nutritional information but, it does take a bit of fiddling about to determine exactly what you can have within your particular calorie budget for that meal. But, don’t worry, we’re going to help you sort through it.
The latest menu also sees some of the lower-calorie main meal choices disappear, but that doesn’t mean you need to blow your diet though, you can still keep things under 600 calories, if you try. So, read on to discover the lowest-calorie meals at Red Lobster.
The Absolute Lowest Calorie Meal in Red Lobster
The lowest calorie main meal (with sides) at Red Lobster is the 6oz Filet Mignon Steak (270 calories) paired with Coleslaw (110 calories) and either a House Salad from the Premium Sides Menu (110 calories) or Mashed Potatoes (190 calories). This hearty meal comes in at 490-570 calories.
This is different from when we first wrote this post – as we said, it seems the side dishes have gone up quite a bit in the last menu update, which is going to push up the general calorie counts, so, watch out for those – but, yay! Mashed potatoes!
What’s the Deal with the Cheddar Biscuits?
These are my favorite thing in Red Lobster – crumbly, cheesy, buttery – and, every entree in Red Lobster comes with two of them.
So, what difference do these make to things you might wonder… well, each Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit is 160 calories, so, your side serving is 320 calories.
None of the numbers below include the crumbly biscuits of joy so you’re going to need to factor them in if, like us, you can’t leave the biscuits.
Or maybe ask your server not to bring them (hahahahaha – not happening on our table).
So, now look at the lowest calorie options on the rest of the Red Lobster Menu.
The Lowest Calorie Starter at Red Lobster
Again, the past lowest-calorie option is now more (RIP Shrimp Cocktail) but, the Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms also aren’t a bad choice at 390 calories. Particularly considering it’s a pretty hefty portion so you could easily share.
You could also pick the Mushrooms as a main course and then also add a veggie side and/or a salad as an extra and still be under 600 calories.
If you are a Sharer, you can actually have quite a few starters in Red Lobster for around 300 calories each (split between 2) – like the Jumbo Coconut Shrimp which is 305 calories a portion when shared between two.
You might also consider the Lobster Pizza which, split between two, is 350 calories a serving.
Do not be fooled by the mussels. I was thinking ‘ooh, they’d be a good choice’ – but because they come in a creamy sauce with bread you’re looking at 880 calories before you even get on to the main course.
The Crispy Green Beans are also a deceptively high 720 calories! See, this is why I love writing these posts – you’re always going to find a surprise!
Best Low-Calorie Soup Option
What I like about Red Lobster is that if you don’t want a full starter but you need a little something to keep you going, you can get a cup of soup instead of a full bowl.
A cup of New England Clam Chowder is mouth-wateringly good and is only 240 calories per cup. Slightly more in calories, but still tasty, a Lobster Bisque-Cup is only 310 calories.
People who start their meal with soup or salad eat less at their main course say studies. Admittedly, this does require you to use willpower to leave some of the big portions that come next so you don’t have to be rolled out of the restaurant.
A full bowl of soup can also make a good choice for a main meal – especially if you’re at lunch.
If you pick the large, the lowest calorie bowl of soup at Red Lobster is the New England Clam Chowder at 470 calories. It’s big enough to be a main meal – especially if you add a side of broccoli, coleslaw or house salad – all of which will see you under 600 calories.
Best Low-Calorie Bowls
If you’re looking for a fresh salad bowl with tons of flavour, then the Classic Caesar Salad is the lowest calorie bowl at Red Lobster at an agreeable 520 calories.
This is one of the few options for vegetarians and vegans as it is served without meat or fish, though vegans will need to ask their waiter for a dressing alternative.
Admittedly, the plain salad is unlikely to leave you full for long, so, if you do eat meat or fish, you might want to add some protein to your salad, the Classic Caesar Salad with Seasoned Shrimp is the lowest calories bowl with seafood at 660 calories, or you could try the Classic Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken at 720 calories.
Obviously, most of the calories in these come from the dressing, so, ask for that served on the side and you can reduce things.
Pasta can be a low-calorie choice, but sadly, the pasta dishes at Red Lobster did not get this memo . The pasta dishes are by far the highest in calories on the menu, as their all over 1,000 calories per meal.
If you’re looking for one, big hearty meal, you could try the lowest-calorie pasta meal at Red Lobster, which is the Cajun Chicken Linguine Alfredo (1070 calories).
The other brilliant option – get a to-go box as soon as your meal is delivered and split it in half.
One reason the pasta calories are so high is that the portion sizes are immense. Split the meal in half and a coleslaw side and you can at least bring it in close to 600 calories.
If pasta is your normal choice at a restaurant, you’re probably going to want to check out our guide to the best choices in Olive Garden after this one.
The Lowest Calorie Sandwiches
Red Lobster may have a lot of tasty sandwich options, but unfortunately, they do not come in low-calorie form. The lowest calorie sandwich option would be the Dockside Cheddar Burger at 660 calories. And that’s without your choice of side.
All the other sandwich options are packed with over 900 calories or more – before you add the sides.
Okay, now the choice is looking up.
The nutritional information for Red Lobster tells me the classic section is full of tasty food options that are below the US’s recommended 800 calorie per meal intake for active women who want to maintain their weight (although if you’re trying to lose weight you might want to keep it closer to 600 calories which is where we cut off in this post).
Those choosing from the classic menu will need to choose a meat/fish dish, and two sides. So, when choosing a low-calorie main meal at Red Lobster, you will need to take the side dishes into consideration too!
As we said before, the lowest calorie main meal is a 6.oz Filet Mignon Steak at 270 calories with a side order of Coleslaw (110 calories) and House Salad (110 calories) or Mashed Potato (190 calories). The total number of calories per meal would be 490-570 calories.
The second lowest calorie main meal is the 7.oz Sirloin at a modest 290 calories per portion. Again, you would need to add a selection of sides, but at that low calories, you can easily even add mashed potatoes and coleslaw and sneak under 600 calories (see the exact numbers in the table below).
Steak and seafood are also two of the most popular choices to eat over at Benihana – and if you want to know what to order there without busting your calorie budget, you need our Benihana calorie guide.
Lowest Calorie Feasts
If it’s a special occasion you might want to go all out and looking at the choose your own feast menu. You can choose between two or three dishes, with two sides.
The lowest calorie feast combo at Red Lobster would be a 7 oz. Wood-Grilled Sirloin with Walt’s Favorite Shrimp (560 calories).
For the two side dishes, the lowest calorie combo would be to add the Coleslaw (110 calories) and the House Salad (110 calories).
This comes to 780 calories – which is higher than our 600 cut-off, but, remember, there’s no such thing as one bad meal – even when you’re trying to lose weight. Just have a lighter lunch and enjoy your night out!
Low-Calorie Sides and Add-Ons
Most meals at Red Lobster come with sides you choose yourself and, as we said above, these can make or break your daily calorie count.
As you may have worked out above by the amount of times they are mentioned above, the lowest calorie side dishes are Coleslaw at 110 calories, the House Side Salad (from the Premium Side Menu) (110 calories), the Fresh Broccoli (170 calories) or the Mashed Potatoes (190 calories).
Don’t be fooled by the Crispy Brussels Sprouts though – they have 380 calories a serving. To be fair, the word crispy should give away that something extra yummy has been done to them!
Are there Low-Calorie Dessert Options?
If you’re looking for something sweet without breaking your calorie limit, well, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong restaurant.
Unfortunately, the lowest calorie dessert at Red Lobster is the, not very low at all, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake at 700 calories.
Sorry sweet toothers, you can’t have it all!
The Lowest Calorie Vegetarian Option at Red Lobster
There aren’t really any balanced vegetarian options at Red Lobster. On the menu itself, you have only one option – a Caesar Salad at 520 calories per meal – but it’s going to be low in protein.
Otherwise, you’re going to have to combine some side dishes – maybe a House Salad (110 calories) and a Baked Potato without the butter or sour cream (270 calories). As much as I love RL, it’s not the most veggie-friendly choice I’m afraid.
Can you eat gluten-free at Red Lobster? You can – and if you’re also watching calories, fat or sodium, you’ll want to check out our guide to the healthiest gluten-free choices.
15 Lowest Calorie Choices in Red Lobster
Once upon a time, this was a super long list of 40 items under 600 calories, but, the new changes mean we’ve had to shrink it and add a few options over our normal 600-calorie cut-off. We’ve also added options like starters with a side to give you the best possible number of options.
|6oz Fillet Mignon with House Salad and Coleslaw||490 calories|
|Stuffed Mushrooms (starter) with House Salad or Coleslaw||500 calories|
|Classic Caesar Salad||520 calories|
|6oz Fillet Mignon with Coleslaw and Mashed Potatoes||570 calories|
|7 oz Fillet Mignon with Broccoli and Coleslaw||570 calories|
|Clam Chowder (bowl) and a House Salad||580 calories|
|7 oz Fillet Mignon with House Salad and Mashed Potatoes||590 calories|
|Lobster Bisque (bowl)||600 calories|
|Stuffed Mushrooms (starter) with Orzo Rice||610 calories|
|Rainbow Trout with Coleslaw and House Salad||610 calories|
|6 oz Filet Mignon with Orzo Rice and House Salad||610 calories|
|Live Maine Lobster (steamed) with Coleslaw and House Salad||660 calories|
|Lobster Topped Stuffed Flounder with Coleslaw and House Salad||730 calories|
|Maple Bacon Chicken with Coleslaw and House Salad||740 calories|
|Surf and Turf with Coleslaw and House Salad||780 calories|
4 Ways to Cut More Calories at Red Lobster
If you want to try and reduce the calories a bit further in your favorite at Red Lobster, there are a few ways to do it. They aren’t necessarily rocket science, but, keep them in mind…
Serve Salad Dressing on the Side: The nutritional information at Red Lobster doesn’t break out the calories in the dressing, but, in their condiments listing, the Caesar Salad has 300 calories… so, that’s going to account for a hefty amount in the Caesar Salad. Leave at least half of the dressing on the side and you could actually add chicken to the Caesar Salad to make it more filling and not alter the calorie count that much.
Swap the Loaded Potato for Baked Potato and Sour Cream: The loaded baked potato side has 520 calories – a plain potato with a dollop of sour cream has just 255 and will taste, pretty much the same. Oh, and the sour cream also has fewer calories than the butter.
Order First: If you’ve used this post to decide what to pick, make sure you order first – people get swayed by others in their group. If everyone else is ordering Fried Shrimp, you might feel left out ordering a steak – get in first though and they might follow you!
Get Your To-Go Box First: Portions in Red Lobster are pretty filling, so the easiest way to reduce your calories, is to take half of it home for lunch or dinner tomorrow. But, do not wait for willpower to kick in, or for you to start feeling full and leave food before you decide what to take out. Both reactions occur more slowly than you can eat! Get your box first and put half your meal in it before you start
To Sum Up
If you weren’t sure what low calories dishes to eat at Red Lobster, we hope you are now! If you’re favourite Red Lobster meal wasn’t in our guide, it probably means it’s over our 600-calorie cut-off – but as we said, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat it. If it’s a special occasion go for it, if it’s just a Saturday night out go for it, but adapt your meals for the weekend to counteract it.
You can find all the calorie content of Red Lobster’s meals by checking out their menu.
That concludes our guide to low-calorie meals at Red Lobster. Are you hungry for some seafood? What’s your favourite way to spend your Red Lobster Calories – and, have you ever managed to say no to a Cheddar biscuit? Let us know in the comments.
All images c/o Red Lobster press gallery.
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.