Fast food chain Dairy Queen first opened its doors in 1940 and has been serving up burgers and ice cream treats ever since. The chain’s motto is Grill and Chill, referencing their focus on not just burgers and fries like other fast food places but on ice cream, too. The dual emphasis sets Dairy Queen apart from other fast-food chains. And while Dairy Queen never became as popular as the two big burger chains, it really made a name for itself when it started making the Blizzard. If you have never had a Dairy Queen blizzard, you need to drop everything and go try one; seriously, they are amazing. However, just like the fast food chains, many of the menu items at Dairy Queen are not great for your diet. So, to help you make good healthy choices, we will look at some of the unhealthy menu items, from burgers to desserts to the Dairy Queen menu, and what to order instead.
We all know that fast food isn’t the best option. There are multiple studies that explain all of the terrible things that regularly eating fast food does to the mind and body. But that doesn't stop people from hitting the drive-thru and grabbing some salty fries, greasy burgers, and cold ice cream. As much as many of us know how and why we should eat better, it doesn’t stop the urge to hit the fast food chains for a quick bite. Sometimes, it is a craving; other times, it’s just plain convenient; whatever your reasons are for hitting up Dairy Queen, you should know about the most unhealthy Dairy Queen items so you can decide if a splurge is worth it or not.
1. Backyard Bacon Ranch Signature Stackburger
Dairy Queen fans know that their burgers are made as double and triple, which sets them apart from some of the other chains. However, we have some bad news about this burger in the triple burger, and it is a doozy. It has over 1,000 calories, or to be more exact, it has 1,020 calories. But the calories aren't the worst news. It also has 67 grams of fat and a whopping 2,310 mg of sodium. As a reminder, The American Heart Association advises keeping sodium to 1,500 milligrams per person per day. So it is well over the daily amount. Don't get us wrong, we aren't saying it’s a tasty burger because it obviously is, and it's a big hit on the menu, but that is a lot. On the bright side, it boasts 50 grams of protein. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make it worth eating. You could shave some calories off by ordering it as a double instead and skipping the cheese, but even then, it's still an unhealthy option.
2. FlameThrower ½ lb. Signature Stackburger
Another burger bites the dust. This mouthwatering burger features the patties stacked on top of each other and topped with bacon, cheese, and spicy sauce. Surprisingly, it comes in at under 1000 calories; the whole shebang is 910 calories with 1820 mg of sodium. It will fill your belly, and the spicy sauce will probably give you heartburn. There is some evidence that eating spicy foods speeds up the metabolism, but when you are pairing this spicy burger that has 65 grams of fat, we don't think the hot pepper metabolism boost will help all that much. You could try skipping the bun to lower the carbs, but let’s be honest; three greasy beef patties and bacon are still a salt bomb and will derail any diet.
3. Chicken Strip Basket (6 pieces)
There is no denying that chicken is a lean protein, so it's surprising that this is one of the unhealthy Dairy Queen items on the list. But this chicken strip basket isn't just chicken. It includes not just six pieces of breaded chicken tenders but also Texas toast, fries, and dipping sauce. The whole thing has 1,250 calories and 3,210 milligrams of sodium. That is two days' worth of sodium in one meal, yikes. While we love some chicken tenders, we don't love them enough to get high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
4. Honey BBQ Sauced & Tossed (6 pieces)
If you thought the chicken basket was bad, wait until you check out the version with sweet honey barbecue sauce. This meal is just like the chicken basket with Texas toast and fries, but it has even more calories and sodium, with 1,480 calories and 3,750 milligrams of sodium. This meal is tasty but terrible. But we have to give props to Dairy Queen for actually sharing the nutritional value because, with a nutritional profile like this, we can see why they might not want to share it with their customers. The chain offers much better chicken options than this one.
5. Cheese Curds
Rubbery and squeaky cheese curds are an acquired taste. They are kind of like a cousin to fried mozzarella sticks, which we are surprised is not on the menu. These cheese curds are battered and fried. For a large order of cheese curds, you're looking at 1,000 calories and 1,960 milligrams of sodium. Keep in mind this is a side usually eaten with a burger and soda. And let's be real: most people are going to dunk these fried balls of gooey goodness in Ranch or ketchup, adding even more calories. Don't get us wrong, fried cheese curds are yummy, but maybe order a small and share with a friend or two so you can enjoy it but not overindulge.
6. Brownie Cookie Dough Blizzard
This blizzard is a double whammy of chocolate brownie mixed with cookie dough ice cream. It is sweet and chocolatey with some textured cookie dough mixed in; it is perfect for a cheat day special occasion treat. But at 1,510 calories and 125 grams of sugar, you might want to divvy it up into three separate portions or share it with a friend.
7. Royal New York Cheesecake Blizzard (Large)
Who says a blizzard has to have chocolate? It doesn't. This New York cheesecake blizzard is a mix of ice cream and creamy cheesecake. It is the perfect mix of velvety cheesecake and luscious ice cream, but that decadence is going to cost you 1,350 calories and 700 milligrams of sodium. The only good thing besides the amazing taste is that it provides 25 grams of protein. It probably isn't the best way to get 25 grams of protein, but we bet it's the tastiest.
8. Oreo Brookie Blizzard (Large)
If you love cookies as much as the cookie monster, then chances are you have already tried the Oreo. The Oreo Blizzard is one of the original flavors and a defiant fan favorite. But it comes in at 1,590 calories and 155 grams of sugar. And not to give you more bad news, but it also has 1,000 grams of sodium. If you aren't ready to break up with an Oreo blizzard just yet, try getting small or sharing with a friend or two.
9. HEATH Caramel BrownieCupfection
Heath candy bars don't get the fanfare that Snickers or Milky Way do, but this candy bar is really good. It is kind of a slept-on favorite. But when it's mixed with a caramel brownie, it should get all of the attention for being so good. Luckily, this sweet treat only has 70 calories and 90 grams of sugar. The 390 milligrams of sodium are well under the daily limit. This might just be one of the treats you can indulge in when you feel the need to hit up Dairy Queen without going too off the rails on your healthy eating plan.
10. Brownie and Oreo Cupfection
Brownies and Oreos are a match made in heaven. This dessert is for chocoholics who appreciate their desserts. This ice cream, brownie, and Oreo mix-up is 720 calories with 330 milligrams of sodium and 96 grams of sugar. It offers 10 grams of protein, but other than that, it's pure pleasure without much substance. Like the other delicious Dairy Queen desserts, you might want to enjoy them in moderation.
Dairy Queen has been around for a long time, making burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream treats. It is just as good as the other fast food chains and even has a few things on the menu you won’t find at other spots, like chili hot dogs and cheese curds. For that, we celebrate the chain of their food and their transparency about sharing the nutrition information so everyone can make their own choices about hitting up the Dairy Queen drive-thru to Grill and Chill.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock.com.