The Cheesecake Factory Survival Guide (2015), Full Nutritional Guide

Jul 15 2015
Do NOT head to The Cheesecake Factory without reading this first... We've got the best picks, shocking high-calorie skips, and more!

First, Some Need-to-Know Info...

The Cheesecake Factory doesn't provide full nutritional stats: just calories, saturated fat, sodium, and carbs. (That's why we couldn't calculate the PointsPlus® values for these menu items.) Still valuable info!

The name of the game here is SkinnyLicious. Nearly every item on the SkinnyLicious menu (which may or may not have SkinnyLicious in its official name… confusing!) has less than 600 calories. The only exceptions? The 640-calorie SkinnyLicious Fresh Vegetable Salad with Chicken and the 810-calorie SkinnyLicious Caesar Salad with Chicken.

If SkinnyLicious is in the name of your dish, don't forget to say it when ordering. There are regular versions of some of these meals elsewhere on the menu, and you could end up with a much higher-cal dish.

In case you're unaware, The Cheesecake Factory's menu is massive. Rather than dissect it line by line, we've called out some of the best picks in different categories, plus shocking high-calorie skips!

Looking for the nutritional 411 on a menu item not listed here? The Cheesecake Factory website doesn't provide these deets, but we've got you covered... Click here to download the official Nutritional Guide!

As with the majority of chain restaurants, most of the sodium counts on the menu are high. If you're closely watching your salt intake, you may want to limit dining out altogether. And check out these sodium-slashing hacks.

Small Plates, Apps & Flatbread

Mexican or Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos 1 order: 260 - 450 calories, 3 - 4g sat. fat, 616 - 1,068mg sodium, 14 - 46g carbs

Tacos wrapped with lettuce instead of tortillas? These couldn't be more HG if they tried! We're particularly nuts about the lower-calorie Mexican ones...

Beets with Goat Cheese 1 order: 360 calories, 4g sat. fat, 931mg sodium, 32g carbs

Feeling schmancy and a little adventurous? Here we have red and golden beets, topped with arugula, diced apple, pecans, and vinaigrette. Mmmm...

Edamame 1 order: 290 calories, 0g sat. fat, 1,250mg sodium, 27g carbs

If you feel the need for some pre-meal grazing, skip the bread and order some edamame for the table. Since you have to shell the beans, you won't wolf 'em down too quickly, which is always a bonus.

Fresh Basil, Tomato and Cheese Flatbread 1 order: 320 calories, 7g sat. fat, 746mg sodium, 32g carbs

Pizza cravings? Scratch that itch with this simple flatbread. Paired with a Tossed Green Salad (100 cals before dressing), we'd totally make a meal of this...

Ahi Carpaccio 1 order: 260 calories, 1g sat. fat, 1,410mg sodium, 13g carbs

This is our favorite! The tuna comes topped with aioli, plus a wasabi pesto on the side (which isn't even needed). If you wanna shave off some sodium, skip one of those sauces...

SHOCKER: Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes 1 order: 1,590 calories, 54g sat. fat, 1,152mg sodium, 112g carbs

Some of the appetizers are no-brainer calorie disasters. Fried Macaroni & Cheese? Obviously. Southern Fried Chicken Sliders? Doy. This corn-based app -- inspired by tamales, which are typically steamed or boiled -- sounds practically virtuous in comparison. But the cakes are fried and smothered with fatty toppings! Pass. P.S. The Fire-Roasted Fresh Artichoke is still as bad as ever -- click here for a DIY swap.

Salads

Seared Tuna Tataki Salad 1 order: 510 calories, 3g sat. fat, 1,496mg sodium, 16g carbs

How can you go wrong with mixed greens, avocado, tomato, lightly seared ahi, and wasabi vinaigrette? So much yum! And CF's tuna quality is majorly impressive...

SkinnyLicious Herb Crusted Salmon Salad 1 order: 480 calories, 4g sat. fat, 914mg sodium, 20g carbs

Fresh, healthy... fantastic. With greens and other veggies, this salmon salad is dressed with the super-tasty SkinnyLicious Vinaigrette. Go for it.

SkinnyLicious Fresh Vegetable Salad 1 order: 390 calories, 7g sat. fat, 1,559mg sodium, 40g carbs

This one's more fun than the name suggests! It's got asparagus, roasted beets, edamame, radicchio, apple, white cheddar cheese, and more. To slash some sodium, trade the vinaigrette for plain vinegar with a splash of oil.

SkinnyLicious Factory Chopped Salad 1 order: 580 calories, 9g sat. fat, 1,470mg sodium, 34g carbs

This thing is hard to resist. It's got chicken, avocado, bacon, corn, blue cheese, apple... Yes! Skip the bacon and/or blue cheese to shave off calories and sodium.

SHOCKER: Sheila's Chicken and Avocado Salad 1 dinner order: 1,890 calories, 15g sat. fat, 2,641mg sodium, 140g carbs

It might sound similar to the SkinnyLicious Factory Chopped Salad, but this avo-chicken salad is a calorie catastrophe! Tortilla strips, cashews, and a honey-peanut dressing all play their part. Get it together, Sheila...

HG tip: If you go with a standard salad, skip the default dressing. Ask about the SkinnyLicious dressings, and get one on the side.

Entrées

Grilled Steak Medallions 1 order: 590 calories, 19g sat. fat, 867mg sodium, 21g carbs

Angus beef with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. NICE. Over dollops of mashed potatoes. AMAZING. In a Madeira wine sauce. DELICIOUS. We can hardly believe it's guilt-free, but it totally is...

SkinnyLicious Chicken or Shrimp Soft Tacos 1 order: 500 - 510 calories, 3 - 4g sat. fat, 822 - 1,242mg sodium, 49 - 51g carbs

The regular Baja Chicken Tacos are a mess -- 1,210 calories! What's the point when you could get these simple soft tacos instead? Don't be silly...

Tuscan Chicken 1 order: 590 calories, 2g sat. fat, 755mg sodium, 17g carbs

What a glorious pile of protein, veggies, and grains. We're talkin' tomatoes and farro mixed with grilled chicken, capers, artichokes, and basil. We can taste the freshness from here...

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp 1 order: 590 calories, 13g sat. fat, 573mg sodium, 55g carbs

HG menu hack: Ask if you can get a side of veggies instead of that angel hair pasta. Then mix it in with the extra sauce and asparagus. Then this dish will have even fewer calories and more fiber -- mega score!

SkinnyLicious Chicken Enchiladas 1 order: 590 calories, 8g sat. fat, 1,220mg sodium, 45g carbs

That's right, enchiladas. CF's regular Chicken Enchiladas have 1,340 calories and 21g saturated fat. Not these! Topped with red chile sauce, shredded cheese, and corn salsa, these also come with Mexican-style marinated veggies.

SHOCKER: Chicken Piccata 1 dinner order: 2,120 calories, 58g sat. fat, 748mg sodium, 111g carbs

"Sautéed Chicken Breast with Lemon Sauce, Mushrooms and Capers. Served with Angel Hair Pasta." You'd hardly guess from that description this is a 2,000-plus-calorie entrée. And you'd likely be stunned to learn this meal has more calories than the Famous Factory Meatloaf with its gravy and mashed potatoes. Yikes.

Cocktails, Wine & Beer

* There are no calorie listings for the SkinnyLicious cocktails (boo), but they've been promoted as having 150 calories or less (yay!). Choose from Skinny Red Sangria, Margarita, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, and Long Island Iced Tea.

* CF's nutrition guide lists wine as 120 calories for 5 ounces... but then admits their pours are 6.5 ounces. So that's more like 156 calories per glass, FYI.

* A regular 12-oz. beer has 150 calories; a light beer has 100 calories.

Dessert

Just how bad are the cheesecakes? The regular cheesecake slices run from 830 calories (for the Original) to 1,570 calories (for the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake). The Low Carb Cheesecake isn't much better, with 620 - 630 calories per slice. Head home for a piece of HG-style cheesecake instead!

A shockingly good find... We love that there's a Bowl of Fresh Strawberries on the menu! Served with a side of whipped cream, the whole thing has 250 calories and 11g saturated fat. Pair that with a coffee sweetened with no-calorie sweetener, and you're all set.

P.S. Word on the street is that CF is adding a "Superfoods" section to its menu. No word yet on nutritional info or specific items, but we’re excited to learn more!

Chew on this:

Today, July 31st, is… National Raspberry Cake Day? Not terribly common, but we're down. Toss some fresh raspberries over this two-ingredient chocolate cake...

Your favorite dining companions need this info, and so does everyone else you know! Click "Send to a Friend" now…

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SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as Weight Watchers when calculating the SmartPoints® value* for a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)

*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark.