Wendy's Apple Pecan Salad: What To Know Before Ordering

You don't have to be a gourmand to know that fast food isn't known for being at the forefront of health. One can say that burgers and fries are a lucrative market, and there's no sense in trying to branch out into healthy food when you already have a pretty good model. That may be true, but following the rise of more health-conscious consumers and documentaries such as "Super Size Me" exposing the effects of fast food (via Refinery29), those burger giants decided to revamp their menus with salads and grilled chicken sandwiches instead of bottomless sodas and overloaded cheeseburgers. 

Wendy's is one of the mainstream fast food players that offers a pretty impressive selection of healthy (relatively speaking) menu items. The chain's baked potato is remarkably popular among those seeking a healthier fast-food experience, according to Fox News, and they offer a selection of salads that you could replace your usual fries or nuggets with. One of these salads is the Apple Pecan Salad, a combination of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that promises to be both healthy and delicious. But is the company that's behind the massive Big Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger Triple capable of making a nutritious and filling salad, or are you better off just ordering that Baconator and a Coke?

What is Wendy's Apple Pecan Salad?

Introduced in 2010 as part of a new salad lineup (per NBC), the Apple Pecan Salad combines Wendy's signature "lettuce blend," diced green and red apples, dried cranberries, roasted pecans, grilled chicken, and blue cheese tossed with a pomegranate vinaigrette. According to Wendy's, the salad is "made fresh daily," so you don't have to worry about getting a salad that's been sitting in a container in the back of the cooler for a few days with your meal.

Believe it or not, salads aren't a new feature of Wendy's menu. They have been included through the years in a variety of ways. In 1979, Wendy's made fast-food history by being the first fast-food chain to install a salad bar (via The Washington Post). Wendy's "Superbar" was so popular that it expanded from serving salad to offering non-traditional items like spaghetti and pudding, before being removed in 1998 (via The Daily Meal). In 2002, the "Garden Sensations" line of salads was introduced, before being revamped as Premium Salads in 2010, per PR Newswire

Is it as healthy as it looks to be?

While Wendy's usual menu items aren't what comes to mind when you think "healthy," you would hope that a salad of grilled chicken, apples, and pecans wouldn't be too unhealthy, right? According to Fast Food Nutrition, the Apple Pecan Salad has 520 calories, 23 grams of total fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1,025 milligrams of sodium. The salad has a higher caloric content than the Bacon Double Stack, which clocks in at 480 calories. 

Eat This, Not That's review also criticized the Apple Pecan Salad for the unhealthy amount of fat and sugar in a full serving. Their gripe lies with the sweet pomegranate dressing, the sugary dried cranberries, and the blue cheese crumbles, which alone add 120 calories to the already hefty salad. They recommend you ask for some of the toppings to be withheld or, if you want to go all-in for health, to opt for a healthier salad. It's not the unhealthiest item on the menu, and if you're hungry for a light lunch, then the Apple Pecan Salad wouldn't be too bad of a choice.

Is it cheaper to get this over a burger?

It's a common complaint among health-minded critics that the crisis of poor nutrition can be traced back to the wide selection of processed foods that are far cheaper to purchase than healthier organic foods. In some ways, these complaints are correct. Studies from institutions such as U.S. National Library of Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have shown that focusing on a diet of healthier, less-processed foods is indeed more expensive than purchasing processed foodstuffs. After all, would you pay more for a salad when you can pay only a dollar for a cheeseburger? Does Wendy's follow the same trend, or is the Apple Pecan Salad a good deal over a burger and fries?

According to Fast Food Menu Prices, a half serving of the Apple Pecan Salad costs $4.69, and a full serving costs $6.99. While not too expensive, the half serving costs more than the 4 for $4 deal — a combination of a sandwich, fries, chicken nuggets, and drink. The full-size serving costs slightly more than Baconator, which is priced at $6.09, but cheaper than the Baconator combo meal. The full-size serving may be a bit too pricey for $7, but the price of a half-serving Apple Pecan Salad is close to what you would usually order at Wendy's.

Is the Apple Pecan Salad good?

Now, we get down to the basic question: Is this salad even good? If you're buying a salad over that rather tempting bowl of chili, you at least want to be satisfied. Will this salad taste fresh from the orchard, or will you be sacrificing flavor for health?

Delishably's E.B. Black describes the Apple Pecan Salad as her least favorite, although giving it the credit of saying all Wendy's salads are delicious. She describes the "heavenly" taste of the apples and the lettuce together but notes her dislike for the blue cheese and the pecans, which she claims have an odd "spicy" aftertaste. Black finishes by saying that she would order it again if she had to, thanks to the freshness of the ingredients.

The Nutritionist Reviews claimed that their Apple Pecan Salad was delicious. They praised the sweet pecan and apples, as well as the surprisingly tender chicken, which the reviewer had feared would have had a rubbery texture. They also learned that the salads are hand-chopped by the employees rather than shipped in pre-cut, which only adds credence to Wendy's claims that the salads are prepared fresh each day.

There's plenty of copycat recipes

After reading all that, you might be hungry for an Apple Pecan Salad. But the nearest Wendy's from you may be a far drive, or you just don't feel like heading out today. Fortunately, there are many easy recipes online that can help you prepare an apple pecan salad that will match, if not be better, than Wendy's.

CopyKat's recipe for the Apple Pecan Salad with Chicken requires only a handful of easy-to-find ingredients, such as boneless and skinless chicken breast, green and red apples, pecans, romaine lettuce, spinach, and blue cheese. It doesn't, however, include the recipe to make the sweet pomegranate dressing, but instead allows you to experiment with different dressing flavors. If the pomegranate dressing is what you're craving, Noshing with the Nolands gives the recipe to make your homemade dressing out of honey, white wine vinegar, pomegranate juice, and Dijon mustard.

If you're in the mood for a salad and something sweet, it's recommended you try Wendy's Apple Pecan Salad.