Ah, the great American appetizer. What is it about the app that excites us so much? At fine restaurants, it’s the little first course that starts our meal and makes us a little less hungry than we were when we first sat down (and a little bit more hungry for what’s to come), as well as a test of the kitchen’s prowess and a sign of what to expect. But at chain restaurants, appetizers have taken on a life of their own, and they tend to be anything but healthy. Here are the unhealthiest ones of them all.

When you think of the word “appetizer,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A dainty burrata and peach salad, perhaps, with microbasil and balsamic reduction? Or do you think of a platter bursting with boneless wings, jalapeño poppers, and mozzarella sticks? For most of the country, it’s the latter, but in reality those dishes aren’t appetizers at all; they’re bar snacks, drinking food intended to be shared.

So when exactly did appetizers become synonymous with drinking food? During the “bar and grill” boom of the 1980s and ‘90s, most likely, when groups of friends would head to the local TGI Friday’s and share a bunch of stuff while drinking beers and watching the game. You can’t exactly share a Chinese Chicken Salad with your bros, and wings are about as sharable as it gets.

If you look closely, however, many chains have abandoned the word “appetizers” altogether, and instead opt for something along the lines of “Shared Plates,” which makes a lot more sense, not only for the reasons outlined above, but because these dishes pack a caloric wallop. Eating one of these appetizers all to yourself, then downing a burger or a rack of ribs for your main course, followed by a molten chocolate cake for dessert, can easily push you past two days’ worth of calories in a single evening. So read on to learn which chain restaurant appetizers are unhealthiest from a fat and calorie standpoint, and remember: sharing is caring.

1. Outback Steakhouse: bloomin’ onion


deep fried onion flower with dipping sauce (iStock)

Fat: 160 grams

Calories: 1948

Sodium: 4,085 milligrams

2. TGI Friday’s: Jack Daniels sampler


Fat: 62 grams

Calories: 1810

Sodium: 4,510 milligrams

3. Chili’s: large Texas cheese fries



Fat: 119 grams

Calories: 1,720

Sodium: 5,310 milligrams

4. Red Lobster: crispy calamari and vegetables



Fat: 109 grams

Calories: 1,650

Sodium: 4,170 milligrams

5. Applebee’s: chili cheese nachos



Fat: 87 grams

Calories: 1,420

Sodium: 3,970 milligrams

See more chain restaurant appetizers that are incredibly unhealthy.

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