Eating Healthy at Qdoba

So on Sunday we went to Qdoba and I didn’t check the nutritional information beforehand, I just kind of went with “what sounded good”—a definite mistake if trying to eat even semi-healthy at Qdoba!  After I got home I decided Eating Healthy at Qdoba needed to be the next post in my “Healthy Restaurant Guide” series.

Disclaimer: I recognize that fast food even “upscale” fast food is what it is—lots of sodium, processed food, probably GMOs, animals raised in factory farms—my point is NOT to laud fast food as the healthiest choice, but to help you discover some of the healthiest fast food options out there.

Eating healthy at qdoba - Some of the best picks for weight loss and healthy eating at qdoba! Bookmark this post for when you go!

Eating Healthy at Qdoba

I came across this little tidbit on their website: “Taste Buds Never Lie– What it all comes down to is having a passion for crafting something creative and special; food that your taste buds will love you for.”

Creating food that my taste buds love may have been all it was about when I was 14 or when I was gaining weight and not giving a darn about my health—but now that’s not all I want from my food.

I want food that yes, tastes good, but also won’t make me feel like crap, gives me energy, and fuels my body for more than a nap on the couch.


(P.S. They’ve since revamped their website and this photo and the quote above is no longer on it, but I still find it funny, these little hipsters biking along with their Qdoba)


Qdoba Pros

  • They have a simple to navigate online menu so you can check the nutritional information on your food choices BEFORE you get to the restaurant.
  • They have quite a few fresh options of veggies to top your food with—I also like the option of going veggie on their meals using fajita vegetables—yum!
  • Option of brown rice or salad to make your burrito!
  • Feels a bit more “fancy” and like you’re treating yourself more than fast food.

Qdoba Cons

  • As you can see from their website there is sort of a false sense of “healthiness” about Qdoba, like it’s okay to eat a giant burrito as long as you put black beans and brown rice on it.
  • It is really easy to add-on a LOT of extra calories with the toppings—sour cream, cheese, guacamole—it adds up fast!
  • Processed ingredients (I checked their full nutritional/allergen breakdown), high calorie items, and just in general, typical fast food.

Healthy Restaurant Cheat Sheet on ipad on top of white plate against a gray background

Get my Healthy Restaurant Cheat Sheets with the top healthy choices at all my favorite fast food and casual dining places!!


As I experienced on Sunday, it is HARD to make choices that support healthy eating at Qdoba just based on the menu.

I would ABSOLUTELY use their website beforehand to get the nutritional information and have your meal planned out before you walk in the door. With that being said, here are some things I would choose at Qdoba.

Healthy eating tips while at qdoba

Healthy Choices at Qdoba

Taco Salad with no bowl, with chicken, black bean and corn salsa, fat free picante ranch, salsa verde, fajita vegetables.  Calories: 345 Fat: 12.   Their mango salad without a bowl would also be a great choice!

Tacos with flour soft tortilla, shredded beef, roasted chile corn, salsa roja, lettuce and fajita vegetables.  1 taco – Calories:195. Fat: 6.  You could get the “Pick 2” option, get four tacos, eat two now, and save the other two for lunch tomorrow if you want to be healthy AND cheap!

Burrito Bowl – Their burrito bowl is one of my favorites! With chicken, rice, beans, fajita vegetables and sour cream it is 555 calories. Added in guacamole (a healthy fat) is another 130 calories. Depending on the day that could be “worth it” to you! Love me some guac!

Chicken tortilla soup in a small or large size is a good choice as well. Calories: 160  Fat: 8 in the “Pick 2” size; double that number for a large. Don’t get lured into adding “expensive” toppings like cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips.

Definitely Avoid at Qdoba:

To me, these are the foods Qdoba is known and loved for—nachos smothered in queso, giant burritos, quesadillas!

And yeah, they sound good, but (contrary to what Qdoba’s Ad team would like you to believe) your taste buds are not always right. Proceed with caution and make these more of an occasional treat then a regular occurrence in your healthy diet.

3 Cheese Nachos topped with ground beef, black beans, salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.  Calories: 1,035. Fat: 52

Queso Burrito with grilled steak, pinto beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Calories: 1285 Fat: 55  (I would like to note you could eat a quarter pounder with cheese, medium fry, and hot fudge sundae from McDonalds for less calories.)

Grilled Chicken Quesadilla with grilled chicken, shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Calories: 1095. Fat: 64

Bottom line: If you want good, (Americanized) Mexican food that is healthy and made with quality ingredients you can absolutely make it at home (like these delicious easy chicken enchiladas!!!) or you can plan ahead and choose some healthy options at Qdoba!

But life happens!

Sometimes you want or need a quick and easy dinner that someone else makes and cleans up the dishes afterwards.  There are some solid healthy choices on the menu for healthy eating at Qdoba!

Yes, eating healthy at Qdoba is totally possible, but it takes some planning and self control (why is the queso so tempting!!?!) to navigate this “healthier” fast food option.

Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

Is eating healthy at Qdoba possible? Yes, it completely is–with a little planning and self control you can navigate the sea of burritos and queso and find healthy choices at Qdoba!

I hope this post helps you find choices to support your healthy lifestyle!

Do you eat at Qdoba? Or other similar restaurants? What do you normally order?

If you like this post pin it for later here!Eating healthy at qdoba - Some of the best picks for weight loss and healthy eating at qdoba! Bookmark this post for when you go!

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  1. We don’t have a Qdoba but I go to Moe’s a lot and have learned to navigate them pretty well. One nice thing is they have a junior sized burrito and with my fillings, I can keep it under 400 calories (I typically eat 400-500 calories per meal). Nice when I really want the burrito, but like you said – watch out for the sour cream, cheese, etc.!

    1. That’s true–a smaller sized burrito would be nice, but I didn’t see that Qdoba offerred it. And yes, sometimes you just want a burrito! We used to eat at a Texas Moes/Qdoba/Chipotle type chain called Freebirds and they had a small burrito–about half the size of a regular that always hit the spot with me!

    1. I agree–I don’t eat there very often because Qdoba is closer. I DO know that Chipotle uses all natural ingredients, naturally raised meat products, and some organic products. I think the calories and fat might be equally high, but at least it’s a higher quality product!

      1. I realize this is an old old post but I thought I’d point out that you can get a kids menu “naked burrito” and then have them wrap it in a tortilla! It will have smaller portions of everything (and its cheaper).

        1. That’s a great idea! I’m really into their burrito bowls and naked taco salads with chicken and lots of veggies! So good!

  2. I kind of did the same thing this weekend, but I ended up looking at Chipotle’s online menu builder which helped me make some decisions!

    1. Yes! Those are so helpful! I’m glad more and more restaurants have them; it’d be great if they started offering more of that in the restaurant for the forgetful or spur of the moment types! 😉

  3. i know that, at least in denver, qdoba is part of a program called Smart Meal where they have a few menu options that are within a certain caloric and/or fat content range. so that makes it a *tiny* bit easier to navigate healthier choices but you are right! it’s hard if you don’t check ahead of time!

    1. Lynne, that is awesome! They don’t seem to have that here in Michigan, but that is a great idea and would be very helpful to have in all their locations!

    1. Yep, I think with successfully eating at any restaurant planning ahead is key–it’s great when restaurants have calorie informaiton, but you can’t count on it!

  4. I managed a Qdoba for the better part of a decade, however, I have been out of that game for 2.5 years. I suppose I was privy to ingredient labels from early on but I don’t think there is a single person who is concerned about their health who would also be surprised to find out that Queso is high in calories, or that a Queso Burrito roughly the size of a newborn is should be eaten in its entirety at once. Part of the bonus is that you can make two meals out of a 7 or 8 dollar purchase. Prior to the explosion of mobile devices, Qdoba provided in-store lists and trifolds outlining the nutritional information of popular menu items.

    The culture of this company has long been centered around providing you, the guest, with a pleasant food experience. I have not eaten at a competitorbut I can vouch that Qdoba serves an unprecedented amount of fresh, whole ingredients. The introduction of brown rice, for instance, came after years of guest requests for a healthier alternative to white rice. Same with the wheat torts. While they may be super marketing ninjas, they cannot be looped with McDonald’s, unlike Chipotle. I challenge anyone to walk into a Qdoba anywhere and ask to see the ingredients for ANY menu item. Preferably not when the line is to the door, but they would do anyway.

    1. Mary, yes you list some of the great pros that I also noted–fresh ingredients, easy access to nutritional stats. Obviously going to Qdoba and assuming a burrito, covered in cheese, queso, and more is a healthy option is quite silly. Now I almost always get two soft tacos and plain chips and salsa–yummy and still healthy!

  5. Just went to Q and was so misled.. I really didn’t know the chicken was processed, not for me!! Wish I had seen this blog beforehand…. Thanks!

  6. Naked Queso Burrito with Chicken, no rice, pinto beans, salsa verde, and fajita vegetables is only 455 Calories with nothing else on it. Not bad at all and its a lot of food.

  7. Qdoba is actually a very decent option for eating healthy when seeking fast food. Of course you want to avoid the sour cream, hard fried shells, tortillas (flour or wheat for enriched flours), and of course the cheese, regular and queso.
    I always get the salad, no shell, brown rice, black beans, chicken, pico salsa, hot sauce or the habenero salsa and sometimes guacamole.

    The guacamole is higher in calories but very good fats, being made with a little sugar it’s he worst part about it.

    Brown rice is a good carb, and you can save calories all around by going with salsa instead of dressings which again have sugars in them and high calories.

    The chicken and guacamole are both made with a little bit of sugar which is too bad, but I would guess its minimal.

    Sodium is probably the biggest concern with that salad but drinking enough water can help with that.

  8. I actually really want to bookmark this specific posting, “Eating Healthy at Qdoba” on my very own webpage.

    Do you mind in the event I personallydo it? Thank you -Julissa

    1. I’m glad you like it! I don’t mind as long as you give proper accreditation. Please link back to this site and do not post an extensive exert from the post on your own site. Thanks!

  9. If you’re doing Weight Watchers, the naked taco salad with chicken, Fat free picante ranch dressing, black bean & corn salsa, pico de gallo is 8 points. If you add cheese, it’s 10 points

  10. I eat a lot at qdoba and this article is a little misleading in my opinion. You put the stats up for the worst possible burrito you can make. How about a burrito where you’re eating grilled chicken and no extra cheese? Cut a lot of fat. How about mentioning that 90% of people can’t put away this burrito in one sitting? I don’t. I eat half and save half for later, complementing each meal with a small portion of chips and salsa. It is plenty of food for me for most of if not the entire day, and it costs under $10.

    Maybe, just maybe, we can find a health article somewhere that actually helps people with how healthy the food can be…if eaten correctly; not, “it’s healthy if you skip everything but the veggies and salsa.” Come on.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Chris. I’m glad you found a healthy option that will work for you at Qdoba which was the intent of my article–there ARE healthy options there for sure, three of which I highlighted in my article and that I tend to eat when I’m there. Splitting a burrito is a great strategy!

  11. I love Qdoba. However, I’m trying to cut as much sugar out of my diet as possible. Sugar is our problem – not calorie counting. It’s killing us! Well, in a momentary lapse of sanity, I ordered the nachos today. After not eating much sugar lately, I was stunned by how sweet the ground beef nachos w pinto beans, salsa, lettuce and queso tasted. Yuck! I would be curious to know just how many grams of sugar were in my lunch. I drank tap, BTW.

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