Written by SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD and also Rachael Link, MS, RD — median reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition — to update on April 19, 2021

Chinese food takeout is delicious, but just like other cuisines supplying takeout, some of the choices offered can be high in salt, sugar, oil, and also processed additives.

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American-Chinese food, in particular, tends to be lot sweeter and also saltier than traditional Chinese cuisine and also often functions its own distinct flavors.

Luckily, there room some healthy takeout choices if you’re desire Chinese food. Plus, you can always ask to have menu items adjusted to suit her taste. Furthermore, if you scan the menu, there room oftentimes a section that offers options that are lower in fat, sugar, and also salt.

Here room the 13 healthiest Chinese food takeout options, together with tips to choose entrées, next items, and sauces.


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1. Steam dumplings
Dumplings offered at a Chinese restaurant are pockets the dough filled v seasoned meat and vegetables, usually pork and cabbage.

They are often fried, but you can pick to have actually them steamed rather to cut down ~ above calories and also fat. One tool steamed dumpling is just 40 calories (1).

Although the soy-sauce-based dipping sauce is short in calories, it’s high in sodium, so try to limit how much sauce girlfriend use especially if she salt sensitive.


2. Hot and also sour soup or egg fall soup

Hot and also sour soup is made v mushrooms, bamboo shoots, eggs, and ginger in chicken broth. It additionally contains vinegar and also spices, which add the hot and sour components to the dish.

On the various other hand, egg fall soup is made simply with ribbons of cooking egg in chicken broth.

Both soups space low in calories — containing just 65–90 calories every 1-cup (240 mL) offer — and you can make them also healthier by preventing the fried lo mein noodles that are often readily available as a topping (2, 3).


3. Moo goo gai pan

Moo goo gai pan is a easy sauced chicken and also vegetable stir-fry food that consists of mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and also water chestnuts.

Because it’s full of vegetables and also lean chicken, it’s relatively low in calories. Furthermore, the chicken provides plenty the protein, making it a pour it until it is full dish. One cup (216 grams) includes only 160 calories while giving 15 grams that protein (4).

Ask if you deserve to have the sauce top top the next to manage how lot you consume since it might be high in salt and sugar.


4. Beef and broccoli

Beef and broccoli is a basic dish of stir-fried beef and also broccoli tossed in a light sauce.

It’s a reasonably healthy dish that’s low in carbs and also high in protein. However, it’s often made v fatty cut of beef. One cup (217 grams) includes 336 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 23 grams the protein (5).

You deserve to reduce the fat contents by asking for steamed instead of stir-fried broccoli and also asking if it’s feasible to offer the sauce on the side.


5. Chop suey

Chop suey is one more stir-fry dish made native meat, eggs, and also thinly sliced vegetable in a light sauce. It’s regularly made through pork, although some varieties might contain chicken, beef, or tofu.

Like various other stir-fries, that a healthier choice because it’s do from a protein resource and vegetables. One cup (220 grams) the pork chop suey with no noodles consists of 216 calories and also provides 23 grams of protein. It also contains about 9.5 grams that fat, and also a restaurant version might have more fat added during the stir-fry procedure (6).

Ideally, choose a irradiate sauce to more limit the salt and sugar content.


6. Chicken and also broccoli

Chicken and also broccoli is similar to beef and broccoli, consist of of chicken and broccoli stir-fried in a irradiate sauce.

However, that a leaner option than beef and also broccoli that still supplies plenty of protein. One cup (153 grams) offers 13 grams that protein and also only 145 calories. It additionally contains around 7 grams the fat (7).

If possible, questioning to have actually the dish steamed. You will shed the oil the it’s usually cooked in, i m sorry will lower its fat and also calorie contents to give it a healthy twist.


7. Small salmon

Many Chinese restaurants sell a small salmon option, which is a good choice.

Baked salmon is high in protein, affluent in healthy omega-3 fats, and free of carbs. A 3-ounce (85-gram) part cooked v butter consists of 156 calories, 21 grams of protein, and also 7 grams the fat (8).

Paired through a side of steam vegetables, small salmon is a perfect entrée because that low carbohydrate or keto dieters.


8. Happy family

Happy family, or triple delight, is a stir-fry do from vegetables and meat, such together chicken or pork, seafood, and vegetables.

It’s served in a thick brown sauce, commonly over rice. Back its precise nutrition information is not available, happy family members is high in protein due to the fact that it contains both meat and also seafood, when the vegetables include fiber.

Like various other stir-fries, you can pick light sauce to border the added calories, fat, sugar, and salt.


9. Buddha’s delight

Buddha’s joy is a good option because that vegans and vegetarians. That a stir-fry made with tofu and also steamed vegetables like bok choy, cabbage, and also broccoli in a light, savory sauce.

Because it’s totally plant-based, it includes some fiber, and protein indigenous the tofu. One cup (217 grams) gives 193 calories and contains 3 grams that fiber and 9 grams of protein (9).

Additionally, tofu is just one of the few complete proteins available to vegans and vegetarians, meaning it contains all nine of the necessary amino acids her body requirements to build new proteins (10).


10. Moo shu vegetables

Vegetables take center stage in this famous takeout dish, which commonly features ingredients choose stir-fried pork, shredded cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and also onions.

Although the exact nutrient content can vary based upon which ingredients room used, one cup (151 grams) commonly contains roughly 230 calorie and nearly 16 grams of protein. Also, that contains about 16 grams of fat, however like many stir-fry dishes, fat content deserve to vary depending upon the restaurant (11).

To maximize the potential heatlh benefits, walk light on the sauce and also consider skip the side of pancakes that it’s usually served with.


11. Eggplant v garlic sauce

Eggplant through garlic sauce is a dish consisted of of smoky, grilled aubergine topped through a rich and also tangy garlic sauce.

Eggplant, the star ingredient the the dish, is low in calories and also a great source of several vital nutrients, consisting of fiber, manganese, folate, and also potassium (12).

It additionally features several other nutrient-dense ingredients, such together garlic, ginger, and peppers.

Opt because that a next of brown rice fairly than white rice to bang up the fiber content of your meal and squeeze in an extra serving of entirety grains.


12. Kung pao chicken

Kung pao chicken is a spicy Sichuan dish that consists of stir-fried chicken through peanuts, chili peppers, and vegetables.

Not just is the high in protein and also micronutrients favor niacin and selenium, however it’s likewise topped v peanuts, which are a an excellent source the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (13, 14).

Try questioning the restaurant to throw in part extra veggies and consider limiting your part size if you’re maintaining an eye on your sodium intake, as it sometimes has high quantities of salt.


13. Shrimp v lobster sauce

Despite its name, shrimp through lobster sauce does not actually save lobster. Instead, it’s made making use of a fermented black bean sauce often used come prepare lobster in classic Cantonese cuisine.

In addition to stir-fried shrimp, the dish commonly contains veggies like peas, carrots, garlic, and scallions.

Compared to many other takeout options, it’s relatively low in calories and also high in protein, through 31 grams of protein and also 279 calorie in a 1-cup (185-gram) serving. It also contains 14.5 grams that fat (15).

You can also boost the obtainable fiber, vitamins, and also minerals by requesting extra vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, or bell peppers.


Choosing a healthy and balanced entrée

When trying come order healthy Chinese takeout foodstuffs or any type of takeout foods, it’s crucial to be aware of the cooking technique that’s used.

Many entrées at Chinese restaurants are battered and also deep fried, and also should it is in avoided, together they’re high in included fat, starch, and calories.

Others might be water-velveted, or coated in cornstarch, to administer the smooth, velvety structure of the meat in many stir-fries. Water-velveting is healthier than deep frying, yet it quiet adds extra starchy carbs and calories.

Ideally, girlfriend should pick entrées that are baked, steamed, boiled, or sautéed in a small amount of oil.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider serving size. The nutrition information listed here is because that a 1-cup offer (200–240 grams), i beg your pardon is the usual serving dimension for a takeout entrée — specifically stir-fry dishes. However it’s necessary to keep in mind that a single order that takeout may contain approximately 4 cups.

To border calories, measure the end an appropriate portion size and also save the rest for other meals.

Summary

You should shot to select entrées that are baked, steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Water-velveting adds part carbs and calories, if deep-fried entrées space much greater in fat, carbs, and calories.


Healthiest side items

Another important consideration when picking healthier Chinese food takeout options is her side item.

Typical side dishes choose fried rice, lo mein noodles, crab rangoon, and also egg rolls room high in calorie — and fat.

Healthier choices include steamed brown rice, sautéed or steamed vegetables, feather rolls, or soups like egg drop soup or hot and also sour soup.

Veggie-based items favor edamame, lettuce wraps, braised bamboo shoots, or cucumber salad space a few other good options you can try.

Summary

Healthy Chinese food takeout sides incorporate steamed brown rice, sautéed or steamed vegetables, feather rolls, soups, and also veggie-based items choose edamame, lettuce wraps, or salads.


Most American-Chinese food takeout dishes are likewise served in some kind of sauce. Sauces have the right to be a far-ranging source that calories, fat, sugar, and also salt in meals — also if it doesn’t seem choose there’s much sauce.

Generally, thicker and also stickier sauces, together as general Tso’s, are higher in sugar and calories, while diluent sauces are reduced in calories unless they’re an extremely oily.

Order her dish through light sauce or sauce ~ above the next so friend can regulate how much is included to your food.

Summary

Sauces have the right to be a huge source of calories from sugar, fat, and also salt. Try to select light sauces or ask for the sauce top top the side.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a controversial additive that’s found in some American Chinese food dishes. It’s likewise found in other takeout foods as well as canned soups, dressings, and also snacks.

It’s a concentrated resource of salty and savory umami flavor and also has a flavor file reminiscent of soybean beans sauce (16).

However, MSG has actually long been the subject of clinical controversy. Some people claim the it causes headaches, asthma, and weight gain, yet there’s small evidence to assistance these cases (17, 18, 19).

Recent study has discovered that MSG presents small risk of injury to most human being when consumed in moderate quantities (21).

Regardless, if you concerned around MSG in your food, be sure to ask your local Chinese restaurant if they use it. Considering the debate surrounding the substance, some Chinese restaurants have actually chosen to protect against using the additive.

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Summary

MSG is a common yet controversial ingredient in countless Chinese food takeout dishes. Still, this additive is safe to consume in regular amounts.