The Healthiest Takeout Orders From Every Cuisine

You can give your kitchen the night off and still eat well—promise.

While the best way to guarantee you're eating good, healthy meals is to make your food yourself, even seasoned home chefs need a little time off here and there. Also, there's something that feels so, so good about bypassing your kitchen for the night and letting someone else cook for you.

Add to that the rise of e-commerce services such as food delivery apps and the global COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans have seen a transformation in how we eat. According to the nonprofit research institution, the Brookings Institute, over one-third of U.S. adults have used delivery apps to order from a restaurant or store in the past year.

It's clear that the frantic growth of digital food services is redefining how Americans get their food.

Of course, there's a huge range of options with takeout, from the super healthy to the not-so-great, with plenty in between. "Takeout can be surprisingly healthy or it can be overloaded with fat, salt, and calories," Nutritionist Karen Ansel, RD, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life, told Health. "The key is to have a go-to rotation of dishes you know are good for you and delicious rather than just winging it."

Ordering takeout can even up your healthy eating game. "Despite its bad reputation, take out can also be a great opportunity to eat more healthy foods that you just don't have the time or the motivation to cook for yourself," said Ansel.

While every restaurant and cuisine is different, you generally want to make sure your takeout includes some produce—ideally a few different types—and has minimal dressings and sauces that run the risk of adding calories, fat, and sodium, Sonya Angelone, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health.

Remember that the right dressing can significantly boost the healthfulness of your bowl, while the wrong one can add all kinds of surplus calories, sugar, unhealthy fat, and artificial ingredients.

"Choose protein and vegetable dishes, and limit extra carbs, since you may get enough carbs during the day already," advised Angelone.

Don't feel like analyzing the menu every time you want to order takeout? Nutritionists swear these are the healthiest takeout orders to go for, no matter what cuisine you're into.



"Thai food can be a great way to work in some unique fruits and veggies that you wouldn't normally eat," said Ansel. And, while it's possible to eat healthy with Thai food, there are also some options that aren't so great for you. Order these.

Summer Rolls

Angelone recommended reaching for these instead of spring rolls, since they're steamed—not fried—and are packed with veggies and lean protein. While "Thai style vegetables are usually not high in fat," spring rolls "are higher in calories and fat since they are fried," said Angelone.

Chicken Satay

Seasoned, skewered, and grilled lean meat is a great option, said Angelone. Plus, it comes on a stick, making it fun to eat. Just ask for the peanut sauce on the side, to minimize added fat and calories.

Green Papaya Salad

This salad features julienned papaya, beans, Thai chilis, and peanuts for a deliciously spicy dish. It's "packed with fresh veggies so it won't weigh you down," said Ansel.


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Italian food gets a bad rap thanks to its plethora of carb-heavy dishes. But, said Ansel, "it's actually one of my favorite takeout options." The key, she says, is balance. A lot of this involves making substitutions vs. going for one particular dish over another. Try these.

Go For Tomato-Based Sauces

You're totally fine to enjoy a pasta dish, Ansel says—just go for a marinara or other tomato-style sauce vs. something creamy like carbonara. "These will be lower in oil and saturated fats," said Angelone.

Choose Thin-Crust

Love pizza? No problem. Just tweak it slightly. "Choose thin crust pizza to avoid the extra calories of thicker, processed flour crust," said Angelone. You can even add on vegetable toppings for extra nutrients.

If choosing between pasta and pizza, pizza is a better choice than pasta in terms of portion size. "Most restaurants give you at least six times the recommended ½-cup serving size of pasta," said New York City nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg, RD. "A pizza slice is like automatic portion control." After each piece, you're forced to stop and think, "Am I still hungry?"

Add Protein to Your Meals

If your dish doesn't have protein in it, said Ansel, it's a good idea to add it. That's especially true with pasta, which can leave you feeling hungry not long after you eat it if you have it sans meat. Her suggestion: "Balance it out with some lean protein from grilled shrimp in a pasta fra diavolo or add some grilled chicken to a penne pomodoro."



Chinese food doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to eating healthy, but nutritionists swear it's possible to eat good, nutritious food with this cuisine. Reach for these options and subs.

Order Brown Rice Over White Rice

This is a simple substitute, and it's often one that restaurants are happy to make. Brown rice offers "more fiber and micronutrients" than the white version, making it a better option, said Angelone. In fact, because brown rice is a whole grain, it keeps all of the original parts, providing more than twice as much fiber compared to white rice. As a whole grain, brown rice also packs higher levels of essential nutrients.

Steamed Dumplings

Steamed dumplings are stuffed with veggies and/or protein, like shrimp, making them a smart choice over their fried cousins, said Angelone. The sauce usually comes on the side with these, but it never hurts to double-check. "Add a side of steamed broccoli or bok choy" to round things out, Angelone advises.

Steamed Chicken and Broccoli

Notice a theme here? "A steamed meat and vegetable entree is a good choice since it limits extra carbs and fat and includes a vegetable," said Angelone. If the dish at your go-to restaurant includes a sauce, just ask for it on the side.


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There's a wide range of foods to choose from with Japanese food. Go big on these orders.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is basically a bunch of miso-infused broth with some tofu, nori, and onions. "Miso soup is a good way to start the meal so you can reap the benefits of a fermented food," said Angelone. Just keep in mind that these soups can pack a fair amount of sodium.

Chicken Teriyaki

"When ordering Japanese, think veggies and protein," advised Ansel. That's why she recommends getting chicken teriyaki with vegetables. Conscious about your sodium intake? Order the sauce on the side.

Tuna or California rolls

Sushi, a collection of rice, vegetables, and cooked or raw fish wrapped up in a roll of seaweed has many healthy elements. But its preparation and seasoning can take away from the overall nutrition. "Rolls dipped in tempura and fried [and] then covered with a creamy sauce will not be the same as those wrapped solely in nori and packed with fish, rice and vegetables," Marisa Moore, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Atlanta, told Health.

Tuna or California rolls "are good options since they are flavorful and low in fat," said Angelone. Both contain a fair amount of protein, said Angelone, and tuna rolls can give you a nice dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have a range of health benefits.



You can get in the healthy eating weeds really quickly with Mexican food, but there are plenty of subs you can make to make these dishes good for you.

Choose Whole Beans Instead of Refried Ones

Refried beans are boiled in water and cooked "without the typical lard added to refried beans," said Angelone. As a result, they're lower in unnecessary fat and calories, delivering all the protein power of beans without add-ons.

Limit Cheese and Sour Cream

These can become calorie and fat bombs for your meal really quickly, said Angelone. But, if you can't picture yourself eating your favorite dish without them, just ask for these toppings on the side so you can control portion sizes.

Veggie Burrito Bowl

Ansel calls this her "go-to" Mexican dish: A veggie burrito bowl with brown rice, sautéed onions and peppers, a double order of beans, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa. "It probably contains a day's worth of produce and it's incredibly filling," said Ansel.



Indian food is packed with flavor and vegetables, but some dishes can secretly be loaded with fat and oil. Choose these healthy options.


Dal is a lentil-heavy dish that's loaded with delicious spices, like cinnamon and cumin. Some dals are made with coconut milk—Angelone recommended looking for one with a tomato base to save on fat and calories.

Chana Masala

The main ingredient in chana masala is chickpeas, which offer up plenty of protein, said Angelone. A nice perk of this dish: You can enjoy it as-is or over brown rice.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is packed with flavor, said Angelone, and it's a good way to get some protein into your meal. If you plan to enjoy yours with rice, "ask if they serve whole grain brown rice instead of white rice for more fiber and micronutrients," said Angelone.



While Greek food can be part of the Mediterranean diet, there are a few health traps in this cuisine. Order these dishes to avoid them.


There's plenty to love in hummus, a dish of ground-up chickpeas mixed with tahini. One cup of ready-to-eat chickpeas contains 10 grams of protein and about 10 grams of dietary fiber—which is 40% of the daily minimum target. Chickpeas are also packed with antioxidants and several other key nutrients.

Hummus provides "a dose of plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fat," said Angelone. Enjoy yours with fresh veggies or a whole wheat pita.

Fattoush Salad

This yummy salad features bread pieces and tons of greens—and it's healthier than some of its counterparts. "A Fattoush salad is a better option than a Greek salad, which is loaded with cheese and olives," said Angelone. She recommended enjoying yours with a vinegar dressing to save even more calories.



Given that America is a "melting pot," this cuisine can be a little vague. But there are a few options that are better than others when you enjoy American food.

Broth-Based Soup

"Broth-based vegetable soups instead of cream-based soups are healthier options," said Angelone, pointing out that the broth cuts out a lot of added fat and calories. Enjoy it with a salad to make it a meal.

Veggie Burger

While you could have a regular burger, these can be loaded with saturated fat. Instead, Angelone recommended reaching for a veggie burger and topping it off with tomato and lettuce for even more nutrients.

Vegetarian Chili

"A vegetarian chili can be a satisfying and filling choice," said Angelone. It's lower in fat and higher in fiber thanks to the beans when you compare it to traditional beef chili.

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