Every Salad From Sweetgreen Ranked Worst To Best

When Sweetgreen emerged on the fast-casual scene, it caused some commotion. Here was a quick and tasty option for healthy eating that seemed to pop up around the country overnight. As Fast Company explains, the brand even dubbed itself the "Starbucks of salads" and is on track to have more than 1,000 locations across the country by the end of the 2020s (via Restaurant Dive). And whether it's incorporating a BBQ sauce free of refined sugar, or creating a fried chicken sandwich-inspired salad, there's a reason this chain stays on the tip of the industry's tongue.

But while the chain does have some stellar salad and bowl options (like salads, but with quinoa or rice), others are not so enticing. We love how Sweetgreen keeps its diner on their toes by releasing seasonal bowls and salads. But temporary dishes can only take the chain so far — it's the regular menu that customers grow to love. So to give you some guidance on how to navigate the menu, we've rounded up Sweetgreen's bowls and salads and ranked them from worst to best.

13. Buffalo chicken bowl

In sports bars across the country, Buffalo chicken is a treasured snack. Wings with an approachable spice level are paired with a blue cheese dip that helps to cool down the mouth and provide some tanginess. Sweetgreen emulated those flavors in its Buffalo Chicken Bowl, which is blackened chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, blue cheese, breadcrumbs, and pickles on a kale and romaine lettuce base. It's then served with a Caesar dressing and hot sauce to amp up those authentic Buffalo chicken flavors.

It's a promising combination, indeed, but it doesn't quite convey the flavor of Buffalo chicken. With Sweetgreen's credo containing taglines such as "building healthier communities," it probably wouldn't make much sense to bread and fry the chicken. But they could have opted for something comparable — almond breading and air frying, perhaps? The Flying Buffalo felt that the tomatoes provided too much liquid in the salad, and when you consider that the only moisture in traditional Buffalo chicken comes from the dip and the (we hope) moist meat, they might be on to something. For any other chain, this would probably be a knockout salad, but because Sweetgreen is its only competition, the brand's unimpressive Buffalo chicken salad ended up as the worst on our list.

12. Fish taco bowl

When the flavors of a well-made fish taco come together, they can transport you to a sunny beachside eatery in Baja, California, the place where the modern variation of the food developed, according to NPR. The avocado, cabbage, lime, corn tortilla, and cabbage all play so well together. So we had high expectations for Sweetgreen's Fish Taco Bowl. It's got fish, cabbage, cilantro, tortilla chips, avocado, cabbage, quinoa, and arugula, and is served with a hot sauce and lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette. 

The quinoa trips us up a bit, as it feels like it was thrown in as an afterthought to add texture. While the fish is decent, it doesn't have an outstanding flavor. While this salad earns a place close to the bottom of our list, it's got some redeeming qualities that we love. For example, it uses steelhead, which is the same species of fish as Rainbow Trout (via National Wildlife Federation), but isn't nearly as over-farmed as salmon. We don't hate it, but compared to some of Sweetgreen's other menu items, this misses the mark on flavor. One Trip Advisor reviewer also felt that the bowl was just average and suffered from some distribution issues.

11. Garden Cobb salad

Sweetgreen's Garden Cobb seems to be a lighter take on the traditional (read: heavier) Cobb salad, but there are just some things you don't mess with. A Cobb salad needs bacon and chicken. Otherwise, it's just a salad. The garden Cobb is avocado, hard-boiled egg, sweet potatoes, red onions, blue cheese, almonds, and tomatoes with lettuce served with a balsamic vinaigrette.

And there's a strong chance that if this wasn't called a "Cobb salad," it might have ranked higher on the list. It's packed with healthy ingredients and the balsamic vinaigrette is a nice swap. We also appreciate the size of each component because it makes for an easier eating experience. Overall, the flavor and quality are there, with one Yelp reviewer describing it as fresh. It's the concept that's lacking. There's always room for new takes on old classics, but the garden Cobb doesn't match the flavor of some of the other salads on Sweetgreen's menu.

10. Farmhouse Caesar salad

When we hear the words "Caesar salad," our ears perk up. Chicken, croutons, and Parmesan are all some of the most prominent and delicious parts of this classic salad. So reading Sweetgreen's Farmhouse Caesar ingredient list is a bit perplexing — a combination of sweet potatoes, raw beets, broccoli, tomatoes, Parmesan shavings, and crisps over kale and romaine — since it is a far cry from the salad we know and love. The brand does include a Caesar dressing with this salad, which feels like a last-ditch effort to offer diners some semblance of a traditional Caesar salad.

This salad doesn't skimp on flavor and it has become the go-to for some customers, like one Yelp reviewer. The spicy broccoli is a surprising punch and the beets add an earthiness that regular Caesar salad doesn't have. So despite the rant, we don't hate it. We just can't help but think how differently this would be perceived if it didn't try to pretend to be something it wasn't.

9. Chicken Pesto Parm Bowl

This is one for all the classic salad lovers. It's Sweetgreen's Chicken Pesto Parm and it's got chicken, broccoli, tomatoes, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and quinoa over spinach. The bowl is served with hot sauce and pesto vinaigrette.

The pesto is the saving grace in this otherwise boring salad. It's actually tasty, but there's nothing remarkable about the ingredients themselves. The combination also doesn't feel cohesive until it has the dressing. So if you swap it out for something else, you may be sorely disappointed. We'll also give Sweetgreen kudos for always having fresh ingredients. That should be the ultimate goal of a salad chain, and this is a salad that shows how important it is. With ingredients this fresh, even though the bowl is a little boring it's still better than what you get from most other fast food joints. It's definitely a dish that appeals to those with a preference for more pared-down flavors, and this feels like it was included to give those with an aversion to the wild and wacky an option. One Yelp reviewer divulged that this was his favorite bowl, and with the dressing and ingredient freshness, we can see why. Tasty? Sure. The best Sweetgreen has to offer? Definitely not.

8. Harvest Bowl

Those looking for an autumn-inspired meal any time of the year may want to keep an eye out for Sweetgreen's Harvest Bowl. It's got sweet potatoes, apples, roasted chicken, goat cheese, almonds, and rice, all served over kale with a balsamic vinaigrette. If we had to make one improvement, we'd swap out the dressing for something bolder. It's bordering on boring, but the sweet crunch of the apples helps to infuse a tiny bit of excitement. We also give a thumbs-up to the roasted almonds, which add texture. A reviewer at Redwood Bark noted that the goat cheese was clumpy and wasn't distributed throughout the bowl. That's a bummer because cheese can make or break a salad, and something zingier and harder like an aged cheddar could have made this bowl a success.

While it's also not quite aromatic enough for us — shallots, red onions? — it earned a place in the middle of our list for drawing on cozy fall flavors.

7. Super Green Goddess Salad

Sweetgreen's Super Green Goddess Salad feels like something Los Angelenos would eat on a daily basis. For those looking for a hearty and healthy bowl, here you have it. It's a veritable veggie delight, packed with chickpeas, lentils, sweet potato, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, beets, and almonds, served over spinach and kale. Green Goddess ranch brings it all together, and for what's offered, it's good. Unfortunately, some of Sweetgreen's other bowls do a better job of packing in different textures, but the shredded red cabbage does a nice job of adding some crunch.

One Yelp reviewer referred to this bowl as superb, and if you've got a hankering for a veggie-heavy meal without all of the shopping, chopping, and beet-dyed hands, then this might be a solid pick. Sweetgreen released a TikTok featuring the ingredients of its Green Goddess ranch: salt and pepper, red onion, garlic, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, hot sauce, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, yogurt, and mayo. It adds a nice punch of herbs and spices that keep this from being just another veggie bowl.

6. Chicken tostada bowl

Sweetgreen's Chicken Tostada Bowl isn't too different from some other items on the menu, so it didn't automatically stick out as a must-try. And while it's not mind-blowingly delicious, it's worth tasting if you're looking for your next lunch option. This bowl contains blackened chicken, raw carrots, tomatoes, cilantro, goat cheese, and crispy tortilla pieces, along with quinoa and two dressings. While this salad is pretty tasty, we'd deduct some points for its lack of creativity compared to some of Sweetgreen's other offerings. Even some red onion would have given this bowl a much-needed jolt of pizzazz. But that doesn't stop it from being one Yelp reviewer's favorite option.

Warm rice would have been a better fit for this bowl than quinoa. Faults aside, the flavor is overall enjoyable and we love the crunch from the chips and carrots. There's a good chance it'd be lackluster without the lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette and the hot sauce, but they help to carry this bowl a long way. 

5. Crispy rice bowl

When Sweetgreen added crispy rice to the menu as a healthy alternative to fried foods, its popularity took off, explains Forbes. It was once part of Sweetgreen's take on the crispy chicken sandwich wars. But today it's the star ingredient in the chain's Crispy Rice Bowl, which contains blackened chicken, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, cilantro, almonds, and wild rice over arugula with a spicy cashew dressing.

We love that this bowl isn't a riff on anything. It's an original creation that is packed with solid ingredients. A staff writer from The Forest Scout gave the crispy rice bowl a 9.5 out of 10 points for not only the variety of vegetables but how the flavors all worked together. We're fans of the texture of the rice and how it interplays with the rest of the ingredients, but really this dish gets a spot near the top because it is downright delicious.

4. Miso bowl

The real star in Sweetgreen's Miso Bowl is its miso sesame ginger dressing. Thankfully, the founder decided to share the full ingredient list on Goop alongside a recipe for another bowl called Shroomami. It's a combination of miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, and more and is so tasty that it would probably work drizzled over almost anything. The dressing recipe is such a hit that it has its own Reddit thread.

But when it's added to the miso bowl — which contains blackened chicken, cabbage, roasted almonds, rice, kale, and miso root vegetables — it's utter perfection. This is a bowl we would happily eat day in and day out. The combination is hearty, while still feeling incredibly healthy, which is sometimes a hard balance to strike. The only flaw we can think of is that we would like a bit more dressing because moderation is not something we would consider using when digging into this bowl.

3. Guacamole Greens

Mexican-inspired flavors are always a win in our book, so Sweetgreen's Guacamole Greens get high ranks from us. The brand packs avocado, tomatoes, cabbage, tortilla chips, red onions, roasted chicken, and lettuce mix in a bowl and dresses it with lime cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette. We love the textures in this salad bowl. From crunchy tortilla chips to the smooth avocado and to the tangy dressing, it's a real delight for the palate. Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Reviews was also a fan of the salad's freshness and big flavors, which is always tricky to pull off with a food that's both gluten- and dairy-free.

It's not the most creative combination of flavors, but it's a salad that relies on familiarity and solid execution. Because the Sweetgreen Guacamole Greens Salad is so light and packed with bright flavors, it won't bog you down and bring on post-meal fatigue, making it the perfect midday pick-me-up.

2. Shroomami Bowl

We don't want to be influenced by the fact that Sweetgreen's Shroomami Bowl is co-founder Jonathan Neman's favorite, according to Goop. So instead we'll focus on why we ranked it second-best, for reasons all our own. This bowl has quite a few components that, while possible to reproduce at home, are much more enjoyable when ordering out. There's the roasted sesame tofu, and warm portobello mushrooms alongside beets, cucumbers, rice, kale, and sunflower seeds. The bowl is topped with a miso sesame ginger that is, hands down, our favorite Sweetgreen salad dressing of the bunch.

The tofu and mushrooms were complementary, according to one A Billion reviewer, and as its name suggests, this bowl is fulfilling our umami dreams. Our favorite part of this bowl is how every bite reveals something different. You may get sunflower seeds and tofu in one forkful and rice and mushrooms in the next, making each bite more exciting than the last. The components are also well-mixed, so there's an enjoyable balance throughout the whole bowl.

1. Kale Caesar salad

Hail, Caesar! The Caesar salad is one of the culinary world's best creations. There's something about the combination of the sharpness of the Parmesan, the crunch of croutons, and the creamy texture of the Caesar dressing that is familiar and comforting. Naturally, Sweetgreen put its own spin on the beloved salad by using kale as a base. It then added roasted chicken, tomatoes, a squeeze of lime and Parmesan crisps, and shaved Parmesan. It made Refinery29's roundup of fast food salads and was noted for the flavorful and balanced ingredients that made the salad stand out. There are some dressing deficiencies here, and while we don't need a salad drenched in dressing, we do appreciate it enough to offer solid coverage for every component. While this salad needs more dressing, the issue is easily resolved by just ordering another portion.

Sweetgreen's Kale Caesar Salad is our favorite from the chain for its nod to the classic version while still maintaining enough of a variation to keep things exciting.